Steve Dally's White River Fly Fishing Guide Service


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 ūüôā

Adam with his great 19" rainbow on a caddis dry

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2010 Conclave Mountain Home

Don’t miss the 2010 FFF Southern Council Conclave in Mountain Home September 30 to October 2

What a Weekend

Casey with a fat 18"+ rainbow at Bull Shoals

What a long weekend. Three days on the river, 6 fly fishers, torrential rain, bright sun, caddis on top, 50 mph wind gusts, a tornado warning, midge hatches, plenty of laughs and some quality fish. I crawled into bed Sunday night rode hard and put up wet, and I wasn’t coming off longer stretches like a couple of colleagues.

Friday, Sunday I was working for Kevin Brandtonies who had a big group in from northern Mo. Saturday I took out long time customer Pat Connell and his boss Fr Steven Boes.

FRIDAY: was spent at Rim Shoals, drifting among the disturbed moss and algae from dam releases. The algae has been riling a lot of folks, but I told Casey and Rob just to concentrate on making sure they got a dead drift.

The theory being in a dead drift the flies are travelling at the same speed as the current so they won’t pick up moss as badly as a dragging fly or worse one being held across the current. Plus it kept the guys minds on the job, and Rob in particular did well, picking off some nice fish on caddis.

 After lunch I had Matt and Rob, Matt was the only guy skunked in the morning, and his luck turned in a big way picking up four fish in the first two drifts. But the caddis bite slowed, even spaghetti and meatball rigs slowed. So went went and tried some dries along the edge. Both guys had a hoot with this.



Fr Steven Boes and Pat Connell staying on the job through a downpour

SATURDAY: Woke to heavy rain thunder and lightening but a check of the radar showed it would go through in a couple of hours. Kevin and his crew were headed to Norfork, so I went to Bull thinking the crowd might be slightly less.

Fr Boes, who insisted I call him Steve, is a relative newcomer to fly fishing, coming to the sport by way of his first love technical rock climbing. Pat, who is very well travelled as a fly fisher was really keen for me to get him into some fish and show off one of his favorite places. And on way lower water levels the Dam showed off her good side.

 The guys caught a lot of fish despite the intermittent thunderstorms which kept rolling through, including one which brought some 50mph winds and looked quite tornadic. The conversation was wide-ranging and highly entertaining. Fr Boes is the national executive director of Boys Town, the Catholic organisation based in Nebraska caring for troubled boys.

I’ve fished with 3 of the management team now, courtesy of Pat, and I have to say¬†all the bad press the Catholic Church has been copping lately tends to over shadow there are a whole bunch of good people going above and beyond in organisations like this.

We did well on Davy Wotton Whitetail Midges in red and black and later in the day on some sowbugs. Fr Boes developed a nice feel for the fish durigng the day and landed the fish of the weekend, a heck of a nice rainbow a goodly bit over 19″. The pics are coming.

SUNDAY: Back to the Dam with Kevin, Clint Wilkinson and Will Brandtonies. The fishing was different to the previous day, definately a few fish has been sorelipped the day before, but we were finding more quality fish over 17″.¬† And they all had big deep bellies.

Casey and Micheal were a hoot working on their own little competition. The guide, knowing the day was proving a little tough and attention to the job at hand would be the key, kept egging them on. All in good fun. By the afternoon the guys had even both caught enough fish that they had basically forgotten about competition and were delighting in each others captures. A lot of fun

Whitetails were the fly of chocie and the fish were definately on them. Good morning of fishing, after lunch things becaame a little more sporadic, but we finished up the day with several really nice fish again.

Junior’s Monster Brown


Junior and That Fish

I had an email land in my inbox this week from my old stomping grounds on the Beaver Tailwater of an absolute hawg of a brown.

Nope it wasn’t a fly rod capture but its one of the most strikingly beautiful monster fish I’ve seen in a long time.

Junior Mullins, the son of my colleague and Beaver guide Lisa, bagged this 33″ long, 23″ girth brown on a jig while fishing for walleye. Lacking a net he was forced to lip the fish, tearing his thumb up pretty nicely. Big wraps for Junior for releasing this fish.

Beaver isn’t well known for fish like this, but it always held a few. In fact tucked away from view, but yet within a stone’s throw of one of the most popular fishing spots you could almost always find 2 or 3 big fish laid up on the bottom. BTW I’m not too concerned about hot spotting these fish, apparently their sanctuary was lost during the flood in ’08 and is now under 2′ of gravel.¬† But then to reach them required a long cast, and get your fly to the right depth was almost impossible because of the current and accessibility. To compound the problem inevitablely when the fish were in this spot they were absolutely not feeding.

I and a few others worked these fish quite a bit, even at night, and finally decided they were only catchable when they weren’t in this quiet spot, their sanctuary, instead when they were activelyhunting usually on overcast days or at night.

Often these fish would take when you weren’t quite set. I lost one one morning when I felt some serious weight but my frozen right hand refused to open fast enough to let the line slide. I’d misjudged the temperature and was fishing without gloves.

Speaking In Columbia Tuesday


I’ll be heading north to Columbia, Mo to speak to the Capital City Fly Fishers, Tuesday night, about the White River and its amazing fishery. I’m working away on a couple of new slideshow presentations, it started off rejigging one, but I had sudden inspiration. So we shall see which one gets finished first.

Either way it shoudl be a fun night and I’m hope to open a few more eyes to the possibilities of high water fly fishing. Yep we all love wading but if you want to fish more you have to adapt to the river conditions. The meeting will be held at the Bass Pro Shop in Columbia at 6:00 p.m. If you are in the area drop on by.

Speaking of speaking to clubs, I have several different programs available now for clubs and organisations and if your looking for something a little different for your meeting schedule drop me a line.

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.

New Water Discovery


A nice brownie from new water on the black Super Bunny


Fly Fishers tend to be creatures of habit, and I’m no different really. We all tend to fish the same sections, the same flies we know will work. But sometimes just trying something new and unfamiliar is a joy in itself.

When I arrived full time on the White I spent the first 8 months really trying to step up my knowledge of the river without the pressure of guiding to become intimate with its habits under different flows, the holding places, the rocks, eddies and current lines.

That was the grounding, then its a matter of water time watching the cycles year after year and with this river, seeing at as many different water levels as possible. Through all this time I’d focussed my efforts on the first 36 miles from Bull Shoals Dam to Buffalo City, plus the Norfork. But Ive had a hankering to explore more water,¬†particularly downstream of Buffalo City. So when Michigan guide Alex Lafkas (who ran our streamer class at the shop)¬†suggested Buffalo City to Shipp’s Ferry float I was all over it. Read the rest of this page »

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


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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


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