The past week has been delightful weather for late July – some welcome rain over the weekend, and highs in the eighties ever since. By the end of this week and heading into the weekend, temperatures will climb into the nineties, but a few clouds and a light breeze will help keep conditions comfortable. Mornings are especially beautiful on the river all summer long. A delightfully cool fog usually hangs over the water until close to 10am, and sometimes returns to the river corridor in the evening when humidity is high. Shade is never hard to find – just duck under any of the many overhanging trees leaning off the banks for a few minutes of rest in between catching fish. Put some 50degree White River water on your head and neck and you’ve got instant relief.
The sulfur mayfly hatch is waning, but there’s no shortage of food for trout to eat. The terrestrial bite is on: beetles, ants, grasshoppers, cicadas, and other such unlucky bugs that fall out of trees and shrubs along the banks make happy meals for trout lurking in the shadows. Watching a nice brown trout engulf your dry fly is always memorable, and there can be a whole range of attitude or style to the way the fish takes the fly, from a slow gentle slurp to a violent explosion on the surface. The aggressive loud takes are exciting and always catch you by surprise, but the slow gentle takes are the quintessential fly fishing experience, requiring self control from the angler to not set the hook too soon. Sometimes a wily brown will toy with your fly, bumping it, circling it, inspecting it, or following the fly as it drifts downstream only to overtake the fly in the downstream direction. Once you’ve seen a good day of dry fly fishing it’s easy to understand why so many fly fishermen obsess over dry flies.
A variety of terrestrial dry flies are working well: Evan’s Baby Foam, Fat Albert, Western Lady, Micro Chubby Chernobyl, Wily’s Ant and Psycho Ant, to name a few. Black, purple, pink, and tan are favorite White River terrestrial colors, but size is probably more important than color. Match your size to the water level you’re fishing. When fishing a moderate volume of water (we’re seeing flows under 10,000cfs most mornings), size 10 and 12 is highly effective. When fishing bigger water (flows can reach up to 17,000cfs by late afternoon), it helps to present a larger profile size 6 and 8.
If the dry fly bite isn’t happening for you, nymphing should produce some action with Tailwater Jigs #14-16 in black or red, Frenchies #14-16, and Copper Johns #14-16 in red or copper.
Streamer junkies would be wise to fish the evening hours, when the water is high and swift, the boat traffic is nil, and the light is fading. Fish fast sinking lines and weighted, large profile flies like BFH Double Deceiver, BFH Twerking Minnow, White River Deceiver, and Big Johnson.