Steve Dally's White River Fly Fishing Guide Service


Epic Streamer Fishing Monday

Look at the hump on this gorgeous White River brown trout - Marc Poulos pic

I’m not sure how long it has been since my friend and fellow guide Marc Poulos and I fished together, but its been a while. I’d met Marc my first summer in Arkansas and we both ended up here on the White working for the Mountain River Fly Shop, indeed he played a fair role in getting me here.

We are very different characters, he’s a little more intense, and particular about things, I’m more laid back, lets work with whats at hand. Both of us have fished all over the country, but funnily enough few of the same places. The conversation is always interesting and wide roaming.

I’d rung Marc a couple of times of late when we had a seat in a boat for a streamer float, but usually he begged off with chores that needed to be done on the iffy days. Ive been fishing every window I could at this time of year, and hang the conditions. Well Monday our schedules aligned, the cloudy overcast conditions we both liked were spot on and Marco had selected the float we would do in his riverboat, trying to time the expected water rise.

The first hole was a blank but the fish above came half a mile from our put-in a gorgeous humpbacked male that ate the “Super Bunny” a double hooked, heavy eyed Double Bunny variant that I’m having increasing success with. I’ll try to get a video or tutorial up shortly.

Marco's first brown just beautiful

Marco tied on a Sex Dungeon, I assummed the oars in his Boulder Drift Boat and it really was only a mile and he banged this nice 20+” female. The gray skies and low light had the browns on the bite, tight into the banks.

As we rowed under the Cotter Bridge I banged the fish of the trip, which stopped the bunny dead. I’m not so good at estimating size, it was hefty but Marco called it at 25″. The water’s quite fast there and both hands on the sticks are required. I had the fish in a nettable position twice, but I couldn’t get to the net and Marc couldn’t let go of the oars. No problem this bloke was behaving reasonably, until Marc did dive to pass me the net and he did a big headshake and popped my 25lb braid tippet. I think Marc was more horrified at the loss than I was. But some pics would have been nice.

Marc had next stint and I still have a vivid picture of a 24″ fishing coming out hard from the bank grabbing the fly and stopping, one big headshake and he through the hooks. He was banged several more times but they weren’t grabbign the Dungeon’s as well.

I switched to yellow and an absolute shark beat me for speed, I was watching as the fish rose on a settling fly and I still didn’t have ime to stripset. But both of us will remember the final fish of the day for a long time.

The last fish of the day that left us both giggling

Id made a long cast to a deepish slot close to the bank and looked downstream while I waited for the fly to settle. Its really handy to know what good spots are coming up 2-3 or 4 casts ahead. I hate missing good slots  because Im stripping my fly through dead water.

At this point I heard an explosion of water from roughly the direct the fly has been in. I’ve been in that position too many times dry fly fishing not to set on instinct, and the fish was on.

The spray was still falling and Marc Poulos, on the oars, was exclaiming “he slammed it, there was spray 2′ high.’ You set on the sound didn’t you?” We both expected a mid-teens brown not this gorgeous 23″ fish, to be holed up that shallow, but you just never know when your timing is right on the White River.

Note: STREAMER fishing should be good on the higher flows though June. If you can, time your trip for inclement weather for best results. Give me a call or email and we can go chase some true White River trophies.

Guide Season Highlights 2009

A little movie of highlights from the Mountain River Fly Shop Guide Service I put together for Christmas. If you are looking for guides that work their butts off to make sure you have a great time its hard to go past this crew. We let the results speak for themselves.

Thanks to all those that fished with us and sent us their pics, and of course Clint, Marc, Kevin and Chad for their efforts.

Hope you enjoy.

2010 So Far

Robert Hime, Ar, with a 22" brown at Bull Shoals

WHAT a winter its been. For an admittedly cold-phobic Aussie this snowy cold winter has been tough to bear but the fishing has been pretty good.

I’m sitting here at the kitchen table in a patch of sun, thinking I should be out on the water on what is a very spring-like day. But this blog has been neglected for too long, it often takes second fiddle to the fly shop blog, the Mountain River Journal, I bash out more consistently. All the best pictures have been heading there.

But looking back January and February have been a lot of fun, making new friends and greeting old friends, (plus quite a few personal days) and getting to share this phenomenal winter fishery with them. So I thought I’d add a few pics from our winter with y’all. Enjoy and if you want to join the fun drop us a line.

Brown Trout Release - January trip with the boys from Tx



After The Fishing – New Restaurants


One nice surprise if you are coming back to Mountain Home this year is two very nice new restaurants, that have  had a few visits from Bec and myself over the last few months.


While You Were Staying Warm – Photo Essay

Bill Morgan running uphill at Bull Shoals


Bad weather has always fascinated me, and sometimes just being out in the worst of it is an experience worth having. 

My wife thinks I’m crazy but she’s probably right. Finding like-minded lunatics isn’t always easy. Last winter, to break the ice storm blues Chad and Marc came on a memorably  18 degree day with 15 knots blowing last winter. But during the snowstorm earlier this week I stumbled across the cheery visage of Bill Morgan, who confessed to wanting to fish that afternoon. 

With schools closing, and people dwindling on the roads, it seemed a safe bet to slip to the Dam with Bill for a couple of hours, just to see how the shad kill was progressing. Its coming along with shad-type flies and san juans proved to be killer. 

We didn’t land any big fish, though one was lost though my own operator error on the first drift, it was more about seeing what it was like, snow blowing down hard, fingertips red and cold, you would have been crazy not to be fishing …. 

Enjoy the photos 

Winter Rainbow



Of Shad, Snow and A Brown

Say Hi

It was nice to get back to “The Office” yesterday, even with snow on the ground, and reintroducing myself to the resident population of browns and bows, and testing some new shad patterns.

The Bull Shoals Catch and Release Zone opened Monday with high water and a sniff of shad in the air. Reports were fair, lake temperatures are nudging the magic mark, but there is nothing like seeing for yourself. It was also nice to be back on the water with some of my fellow guides like Jimmy Traylor and Ron Yarborough to share a gag with. There were probably another 7 boats on the river, so at times you would be zigging and zagging up the river as brown’s cows drifted down.

But largely the mass tended to follow the obvious “guide boats”, being alone and in a less conspicuous craft I snuck off in the other direction, and for much of the day fished alone. Which was a pity with the above brown who jumped all over the river, before coming to the net and measuring in at 20″ with some girth.

The rainbows were feisty, and two were very fat, perhaps a little shad enhanced. The kill needs some more cold night and some snowmelt to really kick off. But its coming.

Talking With Lefty

Rabecca and Lefty share a joke

Rabecca and Lefty share a joke

Over the 12 years in the fly fishing biz as a writer, guide and flyshop hack Ive been lucky enough to share time with some absolute legends. A few Ive come to know well as friends, and a few I even knew before they became famous, though that could be a sheer product of luck and age. But for all that I’d never spent any time with Lefty Kreh.

Which, when I count up all the shows and events I’ve done, and the number of friends of Lefty I know _ remembering Lefty has probably taught half the fly fishing world to cast _ had left me feeling somewhat lacking. Spending some time with Lefty, even if its watching one of his classes is something no fly fishing education should be without. (more…)

The Joy of A First Fish On Fly


Another gorgeoues White River Trout On Low Water
Another gorgeous White River Trout On Low Water


The past two weeks have been a lot of fun. Low water plenty of wading, and making old and new friends on the river.

Its back to the simple pleasures, water around your legs and introducing newcomers and/or relative novices to the pleasures of fly fishing. We have spent so much time on high water locked into chasing big fish this season, its been a pleasure to see the shock and joy of someone catching a trout on fly for the first time.

Holding your first fly caught trout, then watching it swim free. Theres nothing like it

Holding your first fly caught trout, then watching it swim free. There's nothing like it

And then it happening again, and again. And then you ease away from your novice and let them do it all by themselves. Hard to beat that sort of fun. And the White River is that sort of river, where on your first morning you can catch 10-20-30 trout. 

Newcomers to fly fishing get a lot of positive reinfocement when they do things right courtesy of the high trout per mile counts on the White River. And unlike many other waters your not going to get punished too brutally when you get it wrong. Mistakes happen its part of the learning curve.

Get a good drift, with the right setup and you are going to catch fish. Learning how to mend your line and extend your drift, detect a take on an indicator nymphing rig, and how to hook and control a fish on fly is something you learn through experience. Its like learning golf casting a fly rod is like driving from a tee, but the rest is the short game. Its about feel and touch and the more you do it the better you get.

A low water wading trip will give you lots of those experiences. We have been variously indicator nymphing, swinging soft hackles and during the quiet part of the afternoon tossing woolly buggers to great effect.

As a guide the hardest thing is explaining not all river systems are like this.





Taking A Different Point of View

Unusual angles can make a picture

Unusual angles can make a picture

MODERN digital point and shoot cameras are a godsend for fly fishers capturing memories, easily quickly and at phenomenal quality, in a light and easy to carry package. Heck not only are they capable of taking the spills, stumbles and splashes of everyday fly fishing they can even shoot stunning pictures underwater.

But what the brains haven’t come up with is an extra pair of hands to hold and control the fish for the solo fly fisher. If you are like me most of the time you are fishing solor, even when you have a fishing buddy along. It might be fine dragging him off his spot for a trophy but taking shots of “everyday” pretty fish is another matter. And Bec has given orders that I’m to shoot pics of every pretty fish as inspiration for her watercolors.

So here’s a few shooting tips for fly fishers carrying point and shoots along and want some quality pics for inspiration back home. (more…)

In Praise of the Farm Pond – Photo Essay

I CAN’T think of a more quintessential mid-west fly fishing experience than a truck, a cooler, some poppers and a farm pond. To the fevered imagination of this Aussie its about as American as a drift boats, cowboys hats, cutthroats and the Rockies.

Perhaps its just John Gierach’s reveries on the subject that make me think that way. But on the other hand there is a certain goodfiness about leaving high faluting trout water, just to go screwing around in dirty brown water after lowbrow species.

Strip off the pretentions along with your vented multi-pocketed tech-shirts, your lanyards and tech vests, leave the goretex and polartec at home. Pull on a t-shirt,  turn up a country station loud, slide into some flip flops, get some cowshit between your toes.

 A pocket full of poppers and a handful of Clousers, a spool of tippet and some nippers and pliers and your good to go.

It had been a while since I’d done the farm pond thing, and I needed the change. We’d had to put off invitation after invitation from Joey all summer, not any longer. This was a family outing as it should be, with Bec, Crystal and Lynsey along for the fun.

Click on the pics for larger views.


Farm pond fun _ hybrid bluegill

Farm pond fun _ hybrid bluegill



Reel Aid _ A Night To Remember


JUMP onto the Reel Aid website now to get your ticket for the Benefit Concert in Memphis on August 7. It should be a great evening’s entertainment for a great cause.

Reel Aid is a Benefit Concert for 3 charities, Reel Recovery, Casting for Recovery, and Project Healing Waters. All three charities offer fly fishing retreats at no cost to its participants. These weekend retreats incorporate counseling, educational services and the sport of fly-fishing to promote mental and physical healing.

The goal is to raise money that is then allocated to be used in TN, MS, AR and MO to bring free fly fishing retreats to our area, for our men and women who are battling cancer or our military who are rehabilitating to attend.

 Reel Aid Benefit Concert features live entertainment by four great bands, a silent auction, a raffle, and food and beverages available for purchase.

Texans come to play

I had two Texans Nathan and his son Nolan on the water yesterday, for Nathan’s first time fly fishing. Nolan, who is 6, had been with Clint Wilkinson’s wife Danielle for his first fly rod outing on Dry Run Creek the previous day. Nolan is a great kid with a serious passion for the outdoors, he’s got a super-inquisitive nature, and he’s going to be a redhot hunter/fisher but the time he gets old and gray like myself.

Nathan picked it up incredibly easily, so much so it wasn’t till mid-afternoon I even realised it was his first time, I thought he’s been fly fishing for a couple of years. (more…)

White River Welcome For April Vokey

New Friends _ April Vokey and Colby

New Friends _ April Vokey and Colby

THE cast splashed down deep into a nook in the bank, right where it needed to land, the mass of wool, marabou and steel  composing itself into something fishy enough to attract the interest of the Lord of the Eddy. The fly sashayed its way out into the current, a BIG shadow below and astern and closing. It was about this time I lost my guide cool.

“Strip April, Strip, Faster Strip, Strip Strip,” echoed across the water in an Aussie accent _ it would only be later that we got the giggles, as we were both intent on that fish, the one we were after, tracking the fly out further and further, into the current, and right up to the stern. Here I though it would have turned away, but now it followed all the way to the rod tip. This brown was not boat shy.

 How big? I’m a chronic under estimater when it comes to fish in the water, but it had mid-20s length and big girth probably 10+ maybe more, it doesn’t really matter. April’s eyes were huge, and words were coming in a rush. ” I didn’t know trout could be so predatory. Wow they aren’t like rainbow’s at all.”

And this wasn’t the only monster brown we would meet.


Been A While Coming

Robert Hime and one very nice brown

Robert Hime and one very nice brown

ROBERT Hime was seriously due for a nice brown. So yesterday’s early start paid off with this nice 20″ brown, which fell to a Whitlock Deep Shad, fished on 25′ of Rio T-11 tungsten sinking line.

I started fishing with Robert several years ago on Beaver _ his son Mason has been in Coach Hunt’s fly fishing club at Fayetteville High and had inspired Robert to pick up the lond wand too. He subsequently joined me over here for a couple of trips, including a memorable tangle with a seriously big brown at CaneIsland on high water last year.

So we went early and banged the banks yesterday looking for a big fish, we had some shots and swipes and a bunch of follows, plus several smaller fish, but it was finally Robert’s Day

Kaenon Kore Review

Kaeonon Kore _ Sunset at Wildcat

Kaeonon Kore _ Sunset at Wildcat

IF the topic of polarised sunglasses has ever come up in conversation, you have probably heard me grouching over the lack of choices for those of us with less than 20/20 vision. If you are one of us and are serious about your sightfishing then you have heard many time sunglass retailers and optometrists etc telling you “Oh no that frame doesn’t come in Rx. We can’t do wraps like that”.

Thank the Good Lord for Kaenon putting it on the line and making 8.8 base wraps like my new Kaenon Kore in prescription. I have to thank Arty Hargrove and Jon Sherrell at Kaenon who got me sorted. My opinion guys: After a couple of weeks wearing these in a variety of conditions from bright sun to cloudy rain, these are the best glasses I have had in 15 years of serious sight fishing and I’ve had a few pairs. (more…)

Back To The Dam

Sean Spangler  with a nice 18 bow

Sean Spangler with a nice 18" bow

BACK to the Dam today with Bob Sue and Sean Spangler from Tx. Ive known Bob and Sue for several years, since we occupied booths next to each other at the first Fly Fishing Show in Arlington.

But today was the first time we have had a chance to fish together. The morning was fairly weird, as the generation fell 3 feet in an hour. We were picking off fish on a mix of worms, eggs and midges, but the takes were funky and we missed a fair few. But even then a slice of luck would have had a bunch more fish at the boat. I can’t count the number of flies that pulled out over the day.

After lunch we did well on whitetail midges, including a couple of really nice ‘bows for Sean, until the sulphurs started and how. It was probably the thickest mayfly hatch Ive seen since Idaho. And even better the fish were on them on top. (more…)

Big Brown in the Fog

Joeys hard work paid off

Joey's hard work paid off

GETTING on the water, opening the throttle and getting a cool breeze going was bliss after the day Joey Pucket and I had had. We almost would have been happy simply riding around but we wanted a fish or two, preferably brown and preferably big. (more…)

Speaking In Kansas City

IT’S back to Kansas City next week, when I return to the Heart of America Fly Fishers for a presentation on The White River _ Better Than Ever?


The Rain Has Gone.


Rainy Day Brown

Rainy Day Brown

 THIS Entry deserves a little musical accompaniment. Jeff Hearn mightn’t have said exactly that the rain was gone, but that was his intent. I think he was keen to fish.


Back at the Dam

Nice to be back at the Dam

Nice to be back at the Dam

Spent some time on the White on Low water. Good times with good buddies, and some very nice fish, and most times without the crowds. Read the report Low Water and Shad on the Mountain River Journal.

Spring Creek Escape

Chads Rockbridge Rainbow

Chad's Rockbridge Rainbow

In January, Chad, Tony and myself ran up to Rockbridge in Missouri to check out this private spring creek trout fishery as a potential high water escape. Having heard the tales of the fish size (nothing is stocked under 2pounds) in here were were chafing at the bit, not even 17 degree temperatures and snow, could slow us down.
Read the report and more photos on the Mountain River Journal.
The restaurant is superb! I have already had a few fly fishers jump all over this venue as part of a multi-day trip later in the summer. The terrestrial/ hopper fishing is going to be killer

Fishing with the Dugans

A nice 18 bow for Brenda

A nice 18" bow for Brenda

Perhaps it was recognition of a shared obsession and attitude but I’d wanted to fish Jim and Brenda Dugan for about as long as I’d known them. Jim, when he is in town for their regular visits, is regular as clockwork arriving around the time the doors open for a morning coffee, and a yarn while allowing Brenda some extra sleep.

Jim is a gear head, with a love for fine toys, a serious student of the intricacies of fly fishing and tying, but wrapping it all in a serious sense of fun. If we pondered it together I think we probably both agree this is just a game for big kids. So when Jim and Brenda’ name was drawn in the Marlene Hada Benefit I knew it was going to be a fun day. (more…)

Fall colors and Fat Fish

Skip and a hefty White River Rainbow

Skip and a hefty White River Rainbow

I spent the past 2 days on the White River, and contrary to reports, the fishing was a lot of fun. It was certainly a lot better than I was expecting too, what with the low DO levels and high water temps. Perhaps it was the cool change, perhaps karma, all that really matters is you are having fun. (more…)

Streamer Time

Streamer Eating Brown

Streamer Eating Brown

Little break from guiding what with the Conclave, orders in the shop to do and finally a weekend with the family. I’ve been on the water the past two Monday’s tossing streamers with friends. Its a fun way to fish and there is nothing like watching fish come an monster that fly. (more…)