IT even sounds weird saying it, but today is your last day to catch a trout in 2021.
Never again will such a feat be possible not matter whether its a trophy brown, jewel-like brookie, pink sided rainbow or even one of those radioactive yellow hatchery creations. Hang around for 24 hours and you can get in on the first day of 2022 as well. Saturday’s weather looks like a big fish day (or so we like to tell ourselves as we gird our loins and gear up), but Sunday looks brighter.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will be closed for the formalities of our annual inventory, which among other diabolical tasks, including sorting and counting every fly in the fly bins. It’s not the task we used to have when we first moved into this building but it still has to be done, so apologies if you are in town hoping to drop in. Make sure you get to the shop before 2.30 close on Sunday and back open Thursday morning.
The year 2021 has been a doozy with some unusual twists and turns, and unseasonable weather, yet some spectacular fish caught.
Streamer season just started to get going when the cold air swept in eventually dropping water temps on the White into an almost unheard of high 30s. Its a miracle any big fish were caught at all, when their metabolism drops down in those temperatures.
Everyone’s thoughts turned to shad kill, which was decidedly lacking despite the bitter cold. Perhaps we mused last September’s Shad kill had reduced the shad populations close to the dam?
The Caddis hatch, turned on as reliable and spectacular as every despite cold than normal water. Nate Barber and Marc Poulos’ fish was a high point but there were many many trophy fish caught and released in the season. If you want to join in the fun, seriously call as early as you can in January.
Its always fun taking the little guys fishing, some of the originals Chad I started with pre2011 are now grown with kids of their own. But perhaps we are just larger kids with more expensive toys but opening up the world of fly fishing with children is something seriously fun
Hopper season was spectacular on the high summer flows and perhaps even better when the water dropped in early fall, and the browns just seemed to keep eating off the top.
Some late flurries of water, in an unseasonably warm October even stirred a little shad kill action which was amazing for those who were able to get in on the bite.
So let’s roll on 2022 and get fishing
I should know better than to make water predictions for Christmas week, given my Crystal Ball was swept away in the 2011 flood. Taking the top off the pre-Christmas spate took longer than expected with flows starting to ease tomorrow.
The forecast is for a bump of 2.5 units from 7am to 9am tomorrow and less than a unit the rest of the day. All 4 lakes are now down below flood stage.
Streamer fishers will be chasing the morning push to stir up some predatory instincts. Three units is a nice flow, targetting ledges and structure. White, Olive/White and Gray/White has been productive, particularly in the 6″ range for Twerking Minnows, Double Deceivers, Sluggos, and Tiny Dancers.
The one unit flow, overnight and then from 10 to 5 is a user friendly flow for nymphers, both from boats and wading.
Be conscious of avoiding fishing off redds, as the AGFC warned fishers about trampling on the redds (trout nests) and that removing a large brown trout from a redd can not only “cause harm to an already stressed fish, but enables predators, including other trout, to destroy the redd.”
Fishing away from redds with an egg pattern and midge is a legitimate technique, but if you pick up a brown this way be careful in lifting a fish as you don’t want to be dropping eggs, or milt, away from where they belong.
Tailwater Jigs have been solid, as have Pheasant Tails and Wotton Midges. There are still some BWO nymphs in the drift. Buggers, Coneheads and small streamers can also be productive on these flows.
Norfork has been running high and hard around the clock since the spate. But tomorrow there is a scheduled drop from the high 6000 cfs down to perhaps 3000 cfs mid morning.
Its one of those generation forecasts that can make a prop driver nervous, as the water fall out exposing bedrock and gravel. The big question always is how low will it go. Give yourself a wide margin of error and hang close to where you launched during the drop _ just in case.
The big drop has been fishing consistently with blobs and Cheetos in tandem with Sunday Specials or Tailwater Jigs. The lower flow you can downsize and lighten up your rig, to perhaps a Sunday Special and Tailwater Jig or Rainbow Warrior Jig
See you Next year