Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 12/31/20

A willing fish, guide Larry McNair, and a happy fisherman

Wet and cold weather creeps across the Ozarks, creating a somber but beautiful landscape of silver skies, grey hillsides, and black water. The same spaces that are so green and busy and alive in summer are now quiet and still and exposed, laid bare to the viewer, the lack of color and distraction offering a clear view straight to the core of the land – a simple truth of stone and wood and water.

Precipitation should end sometime Friday morning, with a south breeze lifting the temperature into the upper forties by afternoon, and Saturday looks cold but overcast with a light breeze: good brown trout weather. Sunday it’s all sunshine and fifty degrees by afternoon: comfortable. It’s gonna be a great weekend to fish!

Mark Rorex finding success with guide Duane Bell

Flows are hard to predict on the White lately; no two consecutive days are the same, but that’s to be expected around here and both the fish and the fishermen learn to deal with the inconsistency. Last weekend there were wade fishing opportunities, especially last Sunday when the White and Norfork were at minimum flow all day. Perhaps we’ll see more low water this weekend. Or we might see the double pulse pattern, where we get a large pulse of water in the morning, then a large reduction in flow, then another large pulse in the afternoon/evening. Double pulse days are notoriously tricky to fish as water is either on the rise or the fall basically all day, but big fish do tend to bite on rising water, so the savvy boat angler can take advantage of those pulses. We could also see a moderate but steady flow as we did on Wednesday this week, when the White stayed at approximately 3,500cfs all day, which is wadable in places, and easy boating.

Winter weather and brown trout

Minimum flow on either tailwater is best fished with light weight indicators, modestly weighted egg patterns, and any number of choices for a second fly, from midges to mayfly nymphs to crustaceans. Ruby and Redneck midges, small Copper Johns and Micro Mayfly nymphs, Hunchback Scuds and DW Sowbugs are all strong choices. Swinging Tailwater Soft Hackles, DW Juicer, and small Wooly Buggers across moving water is fun. Moderate flow can be fished effectively by increasing the depth and weight of your egg-nymph combo. Use larger indicators, larger egg patterns, split shot if necessary, and favorite local nymphs like Dally’s Tailwater Jig, Wotton’s Super Midge, or the ubiquitous Rainbow Warrior. Small streamers stripped across current and structure are also good in moderate flow situations – try Sparkle Minnows, Mini Dungeons, Barely Legals, and Micro Changers. Large pulses of high flow should be fished aggressively whether you’re using indicators or streamer fishing. Drift dead baitfish patterns like Meat Whistles, Flesh Flies, AR Beadheads, or aggressively strip full profile streamers like Sluggos, Modern Deceivers, Twerking Minnows, and Bangtails.

Dale and a friend, courtesy of guide Duane Bell