Recently, everyone who has stepped into a boat on the White or Norfork to start their morning has said something to the effect of, “Man, it’s nice out here.” Mornings are crisp and refreshing, and undeniably beautiful when the sun ignites the rising fog into a glowing pink cloud overhead. Bald eagles can be spotted gliding along the bluffs and steep hillsides which are just starting to show hints of autumn in orange, yellow, and red. If you find yourself on a quiet stretch of water and you’re also a bit lucky, you might see a family of river otters hunting trout or a big mature whitetail buck sniffing out pawpaws on a river bank.
Except for a brief, unprojected drop in flow yesterday, down to around 7,000cfs for a few hours, the White has been flowing high and steady around the clock, fluctuating slightly between 13,000cfs and 16,000cfs. The morning bite can be a little tricky because it’s often necessary to fish fairly deep with a San Juan Worm and a Tailwater Jig, or a Girdle Bug and Devil Jig, in order to get bit right out of the gate. Fishing deep with heavy flies first thing in the morning however when the light is not penetrating the water and you can’t see the snags equals many hangups. It might take some playing around with the depth of your setup and the depth of water you’re fishing to find what’s comfortable and effective. As the day wears on and the temperature increases, a decent amount of small tan caddis start buzzing around, which can get fish looking up in slow seams and deep slow edges. A #14 Elkhair Caddis is far larger and bulkier than the real bug on the water, but it makes an effective searching tool to blind cast along the edges of the river and catch fish. Small hoppers like More-or-Less Hoppers, small Fat Alberts, and Hippie Stompers also work great.
Norfork, like the White, is running high and steady at about a unit and a half, or approximately 3,700cfs. Lake turnover effect on Lake Norfork has the tailwater a bit stained in color and low in oxygen, but the siphon is adding back much of the oxygen to the water, and the dark water just makes trash fly patterns like worms, eggs, Cheetos, Blobs, etc., that much more effective. Spaghetti and meatballs baby! Fish are biting, fighting hard, and swimming off strong. Smaller, more natural patterns like Jig Hare’s Ear, Sunday Special, Frenchie Jig, DW Super Midge, Rainbow Warrior, are also highly effective, especially in the afternoon once midges and caddis and tiny mayflies have become more active.