There is nothing quite like motoring upstream on the White River during the height of its annual caddis hatch. Clouds of insects fill the air. Geese protect their young on the river bank. Fish rise in steady cadence in every eddy. Cool, crisp mornings wane into comfortably warm afternoons. If one can manage to see through bug-caked sunglasses, Dally’s guides are putting guests on bent rods and good times from one bank to another. As you will see from the following pictures, life is good on the White River these days.
Bull Shoals Lake is inching ever closer to power pool, now resting just above 5 feet. With forecasts for rain not coming to much fruition over the last week, the USACE has taken advantage and continued to push water to lower the lake.
After a weekend of generation in the 5-6,000 cfs range, the White bumped back up on Tuesday to a dirty 15,000 cfs before settling out between 12-13,000 cfs, give or take. The dirty rise hindered Tuesday’s fishing a bit, but once flows settled and water clarity returned, the brown trout began to eagerly gobble up midges and caddis once more.
At 13,000 cfs, many browns are holding tight to softer, slower banks. Fishing about 7 feet deep with a BB-sized split shot has been a good starting point. For nymphing, brown trout continue to slurp Sunday Specials, Nick’s Fat Caddass, Holy Grails, Elk Creek Caddis, and Bling Caddis. Trail these tasty morsels with midges. The unsung hero during the caddis hatch, the midge is hatching just as thick or thicker right now.
Dally’s Tailwater Jigs are a crucial must-have. Size 18s in Ruby or Black/Copper have been mainstays during the last few weeks. Brighter days call for brighter flies, so trailing a Rainbow Warrior Jig below a caddis on a sunny day continues to fool browns aplenty. Ruby Midges, Root Beer Midges, and pink Crossfit Jigs are working, too.
For those wanting to weed through the rainbows and target only browns, look to fish a day full of dry flies. Browns are rising periodically throughout the day. Focus on long, slow holds and big eddies. They are picky, but with enough persistence they can be fooled. A solid presentation with either an E/C Caddis, E-Z Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, or Davy’s Skating Caddis will bear fruit for your efforts. Go get ‘em.
The Norfork, when generating, has been great. Rainbows are readily dining on caddis, midges, and egg patterns. The lake is now below the current power pool, so the tailwater is seeing long bouts of minimum flow. Friday’s forecast shows 40 mwh starting around 1PM, so enjoy the versatility of a morning of wade fishing and an afternoon in the boat.
On foot in minimum flow, nymphing with Sunday Specials, Ruby Midges, Root Beer Midges, and Dally’s Tailwater Jigs will bring many fish to the net. I would suggest ditching the big, bulky indicators for something less invasive like Palsas or Lightning Strike Pinch-Ons.
Swing by the shop to restock. Perhaps even more fun, however, would be swinging soft hackles through the shoals. Seize the opportunity and grab a handful of Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackles and Mother’s Day Soft Hackles and go to town. Fish will readily move into the shoals at low flow seeking to dine on emerging caddis.
Rain is in the forecast, yet again, but all signs point to spotty and scattered events. Warm weather is here, as we will start to see temperatures in the mid-80s over the weekend and extending into next week.
So long as heavy rain never finds home in our area, expect generation to continue as the USACE looks to reach power pool. Enjoy this time of year. It was a long winter and the warmer weather, green trees, blue skies, and hungry fish are something we should all be experiencing together. See you out there.
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