Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 5/11/23

Guide Tadd Fore introduced Russell to this sweet brown

Ah, rain. The taps of raindrops are dotting my window as I sit in the dry writing this report. The scattered chances of precipitation that were forecasted have finally culminated into a few healthy showers here in north central Arkansas. A dry spring has allowed our twin lakes to reach normal levels and our smallmouth streams to fall into unseasonably low flows. With substantial moisture, however, the creeks will tic up a bit and the whole valley could regain new life.

The White River has been hovering around 10,000 to 13,000 cfs this week – much akin to the latter half of last week. We’ve typically seen mornings of about 175 mwh with a bump to 210-260 mwh by midday. Steady flows have been producing steady fishing, though we seem to be seeing our prolific caddis hatch begin to wane.

John Walker found this brown with Steve Dally working with Chad Johnson

The hatch, as well as the fishing in general, has become very sunshine-dependent. Cloudy days have meant less bugs in the air. When the sun pokes through, even for just minutes at a time, caddis begin to pop and fishing turns on. Several brown trout are still being fooled up top, but expect to go hunting for these ghostly risers.

Per usual, stick to slow pockets behind structure and edges of current seams along the banks. These fish have seen lots of pressure over the last few weeks, so knowing when and where to go is critical for success. Downsizing your offerings towards the end of any hatch is a great strategy, as the fish become more selective.

Thick Bull Shoals Rainbow for Rick Cotter fishing with guide Duane Bell

Look to throw size 16 and size 18 dry flies from here on out. The standard issue E/C Caddis, E-Z Caddis, and Headlight Caddis are still turning heads. Attention grabbers, like Davy’s Skating Caddis and the Elk Hair Caddis, have just enough action to trigger some instinctive takes on those tougher days.

Most fish are still being caught sub-surface. Sticking with a tandem of a caddis and a midge is the best route to take, though fish are also being fooled during the midday bump on pink Mega Worms and even Mop Flies. Holding to the old adage of “dark day, dark fly; bright day, bright fly” has proven its reputation recently.

Sid Elliott enjoying some White River brown trouts with Mike Sexton

On those cloudy days, toss a Sunday Special, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear, or Jigged Hare’s Ear with a Root Beer Midge, Dally’s Tailwater Jig in Black/Copper, or a purple Lightning Bug Jig for sustained success. When the sun decides to shine, stick with the same few caddis flies, but trail these with a pearl or pink Lightning Bug Jig, Elk Creek Caddis, Ruby Midge, or Dally’s Tailwater Jig in Ruby or Cranberry.

Michael Cotter found this big tailed brown with Duane Bell

The Norfork Tailwater has continued offering the best of both worlds for anglers, as the mornings have been low and wadable and the afternoons have bumped to 40 mwh for a great afternoon bite from the boat. The window for generation has been short, usually only 4 or 5 hours, but the fish are actively feeding on a multitude of fly choices.

During low water, access the river via Ackerman Access and begin your trek up to the first island. This stretch is all catch and release, so fish with only barbless hooks. Much of the shoal running around the first island is great fishing, so pick a current seam and go at it.

Luke Coffey showing Phil Overton’s caddis brown trout

Nymphing with Sunday Specials, Jigged Hare’s Ears, and Pheasant Tails are always productive. A lead with an orange bead-head GloBug is usually a great option, as well. Trailing with Ruby Midges, Root Beer Midges, and Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackles in red, green, or black is the way to go.

During the afternoon, similar rigging is necessary with the addition of pink Depth Charge Worms along the banks. Add in Crossfit Jigs in red, Lightning Bugs Jigs in pink, and Elk Creek Caddis for several winning combinations.

As caddis season starts to fade, our minds begin to daydream about the forthcoming sulfur hatch. We expect to start seeing our lovely mayfly friends within the next 45 days, so begin preparing for another buggy month or two. Pheasant Tails, Frenchies, Crack Backs, and Two-Bit Hookers will soon be on the menu.

The upcoming weather feels familiar, as we have another week of spotty showers and warm temperatures. All signs are pointing to a great summer as we enjoy the last full month of spring and its life-giving showers.

Before you know it, the Dally’s All-Species Odyssey will be here and we will all get to celebrate the richness of our region together. If you haven’t signed up for this epic event, here’s a friendly reminder that the Odyssey is only a month away. Give us a call at the shop for more information, and as always, talk to the shop crew for the most up-to-date fishing and water conditions. See you out there.