White River Dry Fly Magic
THERE is no other way to describe the dry fly fishing on the White River right now than amazing. Our spring caddis hatch this year would rival anything on the Arkansas’ in Colorado (famed for the same caddis hatch) or on any of the other famous western dry fly waters. The White is better known as a nymphing river but this hatch is as good as anything I have fished out west, in Michigan or even my homewaters in Tasmania.
Just how long these phenomenal conditions will last is anyone’s guess, so get in now. I have my first weekend off since early March coming up and I’d love to share the dry fly action with you. Put me to work 🙂
Dean Teal and his son Adam drove down from Kansas to fish on Saturday. They had purchased a trip I donated to the Free State Fly Fishers last year _ the Free Staters have fed my family handsomely at numerous events so it was the least I could do. Originally Dean had wanted to take the trip in February for the shad kill but unscheduled shoulder surgery forced us to pick another date _ it couldn’t have worked out any better.
The flooding plaguing east Arkansas and even worse TN (our thoughts go to our friends in Nashville and surrounds) meant the tap has turned off on the Bull Shoals Dam for much of the day over the last week. The low flows meant the trout would finally turn onto the adult caddis, not just the pupa. Our caddis hatch, mainly Brachycentrus (the Mothers Day Caddis) and Rhycophilia but there have been other species mixed in, has been underway since early March.
I knew it was going to be a good day, but even little sleep, taking a chunk out of my pointer finger and bleeding profusely at the Rim Shoals Ramp, and having a head feeling like a pumpkin courtesy of oak pollen, couldn’t shake my confidence. The water was a little turbid courtesy of the previous night’s rain so I rigged pupa as a safe bet but after the second drift I was seeing enough risers I rigged caddis adults and soft hackle/graphic caddis droppers.
It was on, set up a drift, turn the motor off and drift down on a drag chain nice and slow. Dean and Adam haven’t been fly fishing long, they were musky experts before taking up the fly Dean still holds a line tackle musky world record, but they took to this pretty well with a minimum of “oopses”.
Nymph fishing with a White River guide makes the technical aspects of nymphing, the balancing of water depth, leader length and weight, much easier. Dry fly fishing under these situations demand a little more from the angler. There is more casting, the mends have to be way more refined with a dry than one would get away with an indicator. Dean and Adam handled it pretty damn well.
There is a couple of tricks that make it a little easier, a slackline reach cast slightly downstream, sets up a longer drag-free drift. And on dry fly takes strike in accordance to the what the fish does. A fast “caddis-type” of take warrants a quick reaction, the slow deliberate takes warrant a more circumspect approach until the trout turns down.
The guys had plenty of opportunity to refine their techniques catching a mess of fish and missing plenty more. Adam had the hot hand, finishing with a gorgeous 19″ rainbow, a 17″ cutt and browns up to 16″. Dean caught a much bigger percentage of browns up to the same mark, including several at the 16″ and rainbows to 17″
One heck of a great day and the dry fly action will continue while the water remains low. Get in fast.