A lot of big fat browns were caught over the last week, including several “personal bests” for folks visiting the White for the first time. The White as a fishery has a tendency of making that big first impression on people. It can spoil you, actually, if you aren’t careful to appreciate all fish everywhere, into disregarding “average” trout. Fishing egos, too, can swell to immense proportions after a stellar day on the White. Catching multiple browns over 20 inches in short order can make you feel like a fly fishing god. Just remember that the river had to grow those fish for you to catch, and the river needs our love, appreciation, and protection to continue growing those fish.
The White is generally flowing at about 10,000-11,000cfs in the morning hours, and increasing up to around 17,000cfs in the afternoon. Weather has been hot but some much needed rain will grace the area this week and lower temperatures slightly. The accompanying cloud cover will surely produce great fishing conditions.
Hoppers are on everyone’s mind of course, as this is the time of year when terrestrial dry flies usually start producing well. Popular patterns like Fat Alberts and Evan’s Baby Foam have certainly been catching a few fish, but it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of nymphing right now.
Large rubberleg nymphs like Girdle Bugs and Rubberleg Jig in particular are catching big browns. There is some debate as to whether these rubberleg flies imitate the aquatic larval stage of dragonflies, which are quite a sight on the river right now, swarming the water feeding on hatching midges. It is unlikely that the immense swarms of dragonflies are hatching from the river itself, as dragonflies primarily use still waters to complete their life cycle, but it certainly seems possible that some dragonfly nymphs inhabit the backwater sloughs and creek mouths on the White, and that trout occasionally encounter them as a food source. (Ed. There is also strong suggestions this is a migration on the humid summer breezes).
What is not a mystery is that big rubberleg bugs are working, and they are effectively complimented by Tailwater Jigs, Devil Jigs, DW Super Midges, and Rainbow Warriors. Large worm and egg patterns are always effective in high water, and serve as a fail safe for catching fish when dredged over mid river structure. Twitching Rubberleg Wooly Buggers, Mini Dungeons, Sparkle Minnows, and other small streamers around heavy cover is a fun alternate technique as well.
For those dying to catch fish on dry flies, consider wading Crooked Creek at any of the Arkansas Game and Fish Accesses. Try Boogle Bugs, and literally just about any floating terrestrial you want, in shady pockets, along weedy edges, and anywhere that just plain looks fishy.