Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 3/17/24

Corey Lawson from NH enjoyed this streamer brown with Steve Dally

What a difference a week makes. If you were around 10 days ago, you enjoyed near 80-degree days with bursts of shad tumbling out of Bull Shoals in the latter part of the day. In the blink of an eye, we saw an about-face to freeze warnings, rain, and high generation on both the White and the Norfork.

I would not get too worried, however, as the upcoming forecast ushers in mid-60s and a lovely mix of springtime sunshine and rain. The last week has reminded many of us to not take the White’s little sister for granted, as the Norfork’s bite has been true and steady most days.

Paco Eby with a pretty hen fishing with Morgan Guss

The White has treated us to upwards of 16,000cfs virtually around the clock for several days. Overall, the bite has been slow. The fish must be adjusting to the time change as well as my three-year-old daughter.  Most days are spent cycling through a list of usual suspects in our fly boxes until eventually a solid fish bends a rod.

Those willing to stick it out through thick and thin have frequently been rewarded with a few solid browns, or bows, or both. The bite near the dam has been the most consistent. Water temperatures got as low as 46 degrees and the fish felt it. Honing in on shallower runs in the bright sunshine seem to produce more frequent hookups per drift.

Thick rainbow for Ron who was fishing with Tadd Fore

Even with all the volume coming from the dam, midges have had no problem hatching in full force. Fish were caught this week on midges like the Dally’s Tailwater Jig in Ruby, Rainbow Warriors on those bright days, and larger Ruby Midges.

Trailing these behind mop flies, white Mega Worms, Slush Eggs, the Depth Charge Worm in pink, or Blobs offers an attention-getter that the fish readily gulp down. A few solid rainbows were plucked from the murky depths on caddis, so do not hesitate to throw Nick’s Fat Caddass, Jiggy Caddis Pupa, or a Jigged Hare’s Ear behind these same lead flies.

Spillway gates filling in for a generator down for maintenance on the Norfork Luke Coffey image

Fishermen experienced quite the surprise this week on the Norfork. If you were one of the unlucky ones to be on the ‘Fork midday on March 13th, you found yourself dodging logs and turbid water seemingly out of nowhere. One generator unit went offline for maintenance, so floodgates were opened. Flows ever since have reached 9,000cfs- quite a lot for that little tailwater.

Kris Danaher from NH with a nice streamer brown fishing with Steve

Prior to this event, the bite was excellent for numbers. Once that trashy water arrived, the bite came to a screeching halt. However, for those stubborn enough to wait it out, a reward awaited near the dam. After a two-hour delay, the bite came back with a fervor. A puff of shad found its way into the river and fish found motivation to fall head over heels for a well-presented mop fly.

This “presentation” just so happened to be 9 feet of tippet below a big Airlock with two heavily weighted attractor flies (mops, Depth Charge Worm in red, Slush Egg). Flood gates are still pouring out on the ‘Fork and the bite still remains excellent.

The best fishing is had with a big orange Cheeto or Blob followed by either a Dally’s Tailwater Jig, red Depth Charge Worm, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear, or Frenchie, as midges, mayflies, and caddis have all been hatching periodically. Fish deep and heavy and focus on slack water or deep pools shielded by the raging current. 

The Sowbug Roundup is only a week away. Though there is no guarantee, be watching for a drop in generation next weekend. Warmer temperatures and longer days should usher in the arrival of our long-awaited caddis, so stock up now on Jigged Hare’s Ears, Sunday Specials, Dally’s Mother’s Day Caddis Jigs, and Jiggy Caddis Pupas. In the meantime, swing by the Dally’s booth at Sowbug to load up on goodies and swag. 

By Tadd Fore

Clayton Farabee out with Luke Coffey