Steve Dally's White River Fly Fishing Guide Service

Trips

Winter Is Streamer Time

 

Gabe Levin's 32" Brown Trout,

 IT’S winter a time for a fly fishing blogger’s post count to climb, but its been way too hectic for that. January kicks off serious streamer fishing time, and oh its been good. Really good, there are so many 20″ to 23″ brown trout in the river right now its crazy, it seems silly but you are wading through those to find the real fish.

And then there was Gabe Levin’s fish, pictured above, a hell of a fish caught and release on not great conditions. Gabe is the younger brother of good mate Ben Levin, who is on our guide team. Gabe, a college senior, doesn’t get to fish that often, so was red hot to fish, Ben and I had practically given up the day given the 35mph wind gusts we’d been fighting on our shifts on the oars. Within half a mile of our lunch spot Gabe stuck this monster male, the biggest any of our network has landed on a streamer.

The browns are pretty much off the spawn and actively hunting food now, looking to get back to condition, which is why we have been pinging some skinny fish. If we can get a decent shad kill next month, and some good water flows it will really help put some condition on these browns.

If you can get a chance to get on the water at this time, just rug up and its worth it. But there is a bit of a learning curve to go through, casting a sinking line, line control, stripping speeds and then th size of the flies themselves. Bill Oliver landed in my lap last week, raw as a gourd on streamers, but eager to learn. But the time we had got through Wildcat Shoal he was hitting some dang nice casts, and was rewarded by two 20″ fish and two way better lost, plus some overly ambitious rainbows and cutts. Other trips have been rewarding, good friends and good fishing, enjoy the pics, most from my new Canon EOS T2i.

The White has a gothic beauty at this time of year

 

Pretty Day, pretty fish

Feed them some meat

 

Solid Fish ate a Zoo Cougar

Start of another day

Bill Oliver, Co, welcome to streamerville

Reflections

I can't get over the gill plates & throat on this fish

Muky Mike meets Salmo Trutta

Streamer Surprise, an Ozark brownie on a Steroid Sculpin yesterday

Nate from MS getting in on the streamer action

Sometimes I even get to fish

The girth on Gabe's fish was huge 19"

Advertisements

Low Water Floating Fun

You will forgive me not shaving

ITS seriously nice to be back on the White River on low flows, and happily I’ve had a few days playing on the water with some good friends.

Bull Shoals Dam is back down below below flood stage for the first time in a few years and we are getting some lower overnight flows, and the odd night with no generation, the latter situation should become more common as August moves on. And the fishing has been pretty good, with some nice browns coming to hand.

Its also been very nice to be back in the driver’s seat of a drift boat for a few days running, with some of the old tricks coming back. We will definately be doing more trips out of the Clackacraft in the right conditions, everyone has enjoyed it immensely.

Drift boats are quiet (and to some proper fly fishing vessels) and definately nice to run on the low flows. The downside is you get one shot at the fish on your path downstream since they pretty much are a one way vessel. The Supreme River Boat is very efficient for honing into fishing, and allows you to cover way more river. They are both great tools for a specific job, being able to offer both types of craft means more ways to give y’all a great day on the river.

The Clacka At Repose

But back to the fishing. The fish number have been silly good on relatively simple low water rigs, just two flies, no split shot and smallish indicators or a big foam ant to suspend them. Its pretty easy to catch a bunch of fish, and we have managed some better fish, the number of double hookups has been crazy.

Paul Kauerz celebrates his 30th anniversary with a dry fly cuttie

Its actually warm enough to wet wade, though the first 10 minutes, and any deep hole after that will have you huffing and puffing a bit, its actually nicer than stiffling in your waders.

Out on the river with good friends

It really is a great time to be here. Just bring plenty of sunscreen, a big broad brimmed hat and a sense of adventure. We have the boat stocked with plenty of cool water, staying hydrated is a serious issue _ and we also have a spot for an icecream or a cold candy bar on the way down stream.

Familiar scenery from a different perspective


White River Dry Fly Magic

Adam Teal, KS, with a 17" dry fly White River Cuttthroat

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 🙂

Adam with his great 19" rainbow on a caddis dry

(more…)


Wading Norfork Again

  

 

WELL it was good to be back wading on the ‘Fork today, like meeting an long-lost old friend. I think this was my first trip to Norfork in 14 months. Yep the White has been that good. 

But yes the same old stuff still works, midges, sowbugs and soft hackles were my choice. The water was a little cloudy courtesy of Sunday’s rain but it was good fun to be back with the water around the legs and a light rod in the hand, despite the wind. 

Winter Cutthroat on Norfork

 

(more…)


A Big Day for the Young Fella

Derrick Graham now 18 and his first fly fishing outfit

nOTHING like introducing newcomers to the water, particularly kids, but when they are your stepkids its something especially fun. Click here for an article I did for the Mountain River Journal on Derrick’s Day at Christmas. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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.

 

 

 

.


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

 

(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.

(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…)