Gusty March winds, changing flows, and cold water temperatures are a few of the challenges facing White River anglers right now, but the reward for persistence could be a personal best brown trout. A few large browns came to the net in the past few days, despite overall fishing being a little slow at times. Honestly, though, it seems perfectly fair to trade a bit of grinding and struggling here and there for the opportunity to fish waters that are known to produce big brown trout.
No two consecutive days are alike right now, with both shifty weather and water, so the White River angler has to be shifty as well, ready to adjust to each new day’s conditions. From minimum flow and delicate nymphing tactics to 17,000cfs and big bobber/worm rigs or sinking lines and streamers, and everything in between, we’re seeing it all and using it all.
Today’s projection calls for a rapid increase in flow, from minimum to approximately 15,000cfs between six and nine a.m., then a decrease down to 3,500cfs by eleven a.m., and steady at that volume till evening. With ongoing maintenance scheduled on the generators, we could see deviation from that projection, though yesterday’s water release did mirror the projection. Generally speaking, it’s best to be prepared for a variety of scenarios. Minimum flow is usually accompanied by hatching caddis this time of year, and there have been some very brief windows of opportunity to capitalize on by dead drifting small nymphs (Riffle Nymph, 307 Nymph, green copper johns) and midges (DW Whitetail Midge, Super midge). Moderate to light flows of 3,500-6,000cfs have been quite common lately, and can be fished in a number of different ways. Stripping small streamers (Sparkle Minnow, Micro Changers, Mike’s Pec) on short sink tip lines is a fun way to search for fish. Dead drifting baitfish patterns like AR Beadhead and Croston’s Euro Jig Minnow will produce quality fish. Mega Worms with a Dally’s Tailwater Jig trailer is pretty effective. Heavy flows are providing brief opportunities to work large streamers (White River Deceiver, Big Johnson, Twerking Minnow) on long sink tips.
Norfork is either off or running two units. When off, a quick wading trip can be accomplished with Root Beer midges and Hunchback Scuds, just plan your exit and monitor the water level. When on, dead drifting Blobs and Mega Worms with Sunday Specials or Hare’s Ear nymphs as trailers is quite effective. Croston’s Euro Jig Minnow and Lightning Bug Jigs are also great on Norfork.