Visualize with me; it’s a cool sixty-two degrees, slightly overcast with a light drizzly mist in the air. Sitting on the porch sipping coffee, you can see and feel the heat from the cup as you raise it to your face. You’re wearing a soft worn-in flannel and your favorite slippers. To your left lays a gun dog, relaxed, yet moderately attentive as the wildlife scampers in nearby trees.
The curve ball, it’s mid-august and this is not theoretical. It is here and now as I write this article. Our prayers have been answered. Just last week we saw 100-degree days with drought-like conditions and now the forecast is showing cool mornings and plenty of rain to go around. Arkansas is once again showing its versatility. What makes this even better is the fishing! It’s been stellar. August is questionably one of my favorite times to fish the White River and it is because the quality of the fish you catch has a very strong correlation to the skills you possess.
To me, this is what drives my desire to come back and continue to develop and hone my skills. With that being said, the fishing has been extremely welcoming to all skill levels ranging from first-timers to the most elite of flyfishermen.
Although the general rule of thumb is that as the cast gets further from the boat and the drift gets cleaner, the fish get bigger. As the old saying goes, “big fish get big for a reason.” As the summer progresses the presentation becomes more and more important when trying to coerce bigger fish.
Hopper season is still in full swing, especially on the White. Fat Alberts in Pink, Psycho Ants, and Beatle patterns seem to be the hot ticket. In lower water, a hopper dropper rig continues to produce both numbers and the occasional quality fish. Try throwing a Lightning Bug Jig, Ruby Midge, Tailwater Jig, or even a softhackle as your dropper. As the water rises and gets a little dingy, nymphing similar things with an attractor like an egg pattern or a Mega Worm can keep the fish coming to the net. In the bigger water, girdle bugs and even some streamers have been good ways to wrangle in a good one.
The Norfork continues to hold off on turning on the water until mid-morning. This obviously keeps the majority of the guides on the White River. That being said, the Norfork is fishing well. Hoppers can be effective if put in the right places. Fat Alberts in pink, Psycho Ants, and Beetle patterns; just like what is happening on the White.
The nymphing game does vary a bit though. The attractor seems to be of greater importance, specifically as the water is rising. Egg patterns seem to be the ticket, however, Mega Worms, Cheetos, and Blobs are all good tools to have on hand. Scud/Sowbug patterns such as Sunday Specials, Hunchback Scudds, and Wotton’s Sowbugs seem to still be the top producers for now. However, Ruby Midges, Softhackles, and Tailwater Jigs are definitely in the mix.