Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 9/16/22

Tom Dent (at the rear) enjoyed this brown with guide Luke Coffey

For most brown trout in the U.S., October marks the beginning of spawning season which often lasts throughout December. During this period the fish will venture, often many miles, up river in search of the “American Dream”; a place to set up and start a family.

Though these matchups are not exactly long-term relationships, they will encounter their fair share of hardships and tribulations along the way. Some of our fish are subtly starting to prepare for this. Their colors are becoming more vibrant, they are slowly transitioning upriver and congregating on top of shoals, and they are becoming more violent toward other fish.

Steve Dally borrowing Mark Jones’ brown for a pic

This pre-spawn bite, if you will, is often a decent time to throw streamers. As the spawn takes hold and for a while afterward, many trout will become very excitable over egg patterns. As with most things in the Ozarks, things are not always simple and our brown trout spawning season is no exception. Some of our trout have been starting their venture later and later, now to the point where some browns are just beginning to spawn in December. This can make the traditional fishing tactics of pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn more difficult because you essentially have groups of fish going in and out of their breeding cycle throughout a three to four-month time period.

Fishing this time of year can oftentimes develop into a hotbed of discussion and moral dilemmas with most everyone primarily focused on preserving the successful natural reproduction of our Brown Trout. This unorthodox and sporadic spawning period in some ways helps mitigate some of these issues by letting anglers fish all three methods throughout the spawning season because essentially you have groups of fish in all three stages at the same time. Regardless of fishing tactics, one thing we can all agree on is the importance of safe fish handling, especially in the upcoming months. 

Luke Coffey on some down time last night

The White continues to fish extremely well, especially in the lower more stable water. Since the water has been so clear, our traditional flashy attractors can be a little hit or miss. Things like prince nymphs, tactical hare’s ears, and smaller girdle bugs are a great “natural” alternative. Match these up with ruby midges, lightning bug jigs, and tailwater jigs and you’ll most likely be in for a good day. The hopper dropper rig continues to produce nice fish however, it is becoming evident that perhaps they have seen this tactic a few times already. As mentioned, smaller streamers are starting to pick up a little in productivity. The more natural colors seem to be what they are favoring most. Try sticking with tan, olive, black, and as always white. 

The Norfork continues to wait until the afternoons to start pumping water. This is a good thing for wade fishermen. Similar subtle attractors of prince nymphs, hare’s ears, small girdle bugs, and Sunday specials would be a solid choice. Team these up with soft hackles, ruby midges, lightning bug jigs, and tailwater jigs. This time of year, especially when wading, I would almost always at least attempt the age-old wooly bugger. As for the boaters willing to wait until the afternoon, brighter attractor flies like mega worms, egg patterns, and blobs work well in the deeper/ dirtier water.

By Adrian Hubbard