Day two on the White started out promising. Temps in the low 40’s, spitting rain, and no wind. We hit the first strong riffle and my buddy hooked into a decent little rainbow, a ~16 inch brown, and a really big brown, all on nymphs. The two smaller fish came unbuttoned and the larger one broke him off.
Because flows were so low and the stream so clear it was a challenge to not spook ‘em. Deeper riffles provided the best action although we spotted a few bruisers sitting really shallow. By the end of our 5 the float we each landed one fish. It was determined that we’d do the same float at dark to mouse.
I went 1/5 missing an absolute giant and a few good ones. My buddy had one good strike but couldn’t connect. Although we were both a little disappointed we couldn’t help but reflect on how neat it is to float fish with mouse patterns at night! Stay tuned for a report from today/tonight.
Made it down to Dally’s Fly Shop in Cotter, AR, picked up a license, supplies, and local knowledge, and headed to check out the water. Air temps were in the low 50’s. Flows on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam can fluctuate between ~800cfs to well over 20,000cfs. We hoped for higher flows and planned to fish streamers, as those high flows push big brown trout (up to 40lbs) toward the banks making the easier to locate. With low flows planned for the rest of the week we switched it up.
After frying up som venison back strap and prepping our gear we decided to give mousing a go. Because we’ve never fished here before we approached the stream more tentatively then we otherwise may have. Things started slow. I may have had a little bump but nothing substantial for the first hour. Then.
I made a downright heroic mile and a half long cast into the middle of the River. About three strips in I heard a splash and felt pressure. After a stout strip set the battle was on. He put up a great fight. After a brief photo session he was returned to the drink. We then switched locations. My buddy had abandoned the mouse in favor of a streamer, but after my success he switched back.
Now he too knows the joy of stripping mouse flies to big brown trout. Stay tuned to see what today (and tonight) have to offer!
Although temps didn’t rise as much as an early week forecast suggested 27 degrees was warm enough for me. I’m on call until Monday but there’s one spot close to home where I have reception close to where I park. I arrived on stream around 11am under cloudy skies. I started off using a sz 16 red Brassie but only landed a few really small ones. A sz 18 grey mayfly nymph fished well.
Shortly after I got started the snow came! I landed a few more on the mayfly nymph before tying on a sz 16 soft hackle as a dropper. The soft hackle was the most productive fly of the day.
Pictured above is the second best fish of the day. The largest, a stout brown of around 16 inches, was released without picture for the sake of preserving my hands. I left around 1230pm with numb hands and a sense of satisfaction. Water was crystal clear and fish spooked easily. No fish were spotted rising to feed on the surface. Fishing should be really good during the warmup. Midges, small stoneflies, scuds, small nymphs, and maybe a streamer are likely flies to try. Bonus-temps over 32 and you won’t have to deal with iced guides!
It’s been way to cold to chase trout over the last few weeks, but that should change as the weekend approaches. I’d expect slow fishing conditions for the first few days of the warmup as water temps slowly heat up. Nighttime lows will probably contribute to slow fishing so look for warm days with higher overnight low temperatures and your window for good fishing will be longer. Also, many streams are fairly iced over in their lower reaches. Look higher in watersheds this weekend for better open water. The weekend is looking ok, but conditions middle of next week will be better. I’ll be otherwise indisposed this weekend. Who knows, maybe I’ll sneak out for an hour or so;)
I’ve been busy tying up small fly orders and streamers for an upcoming trip to the White River in Arkansas. It’ll be nice to beat the cold. Around these parts typical winter fare should produce-scuds, zebra midges, Griffiths gnat, Matt’s midge, small nymphs, little black stoneflies and maybe some smaller streamers. Streams remain low and clear; tough conditions necessitating a stealthy approach. Long leader/tippet, small flies, small indicators, and long casts are a must. Keep a low profile and keep your shadow off the water. Clouds help, but only so much this time of year.
Hwy 74 heading north out of Saint Charles is closed just before Whitewater State Park. If your headed to the park you’ll have to detour on 9 west, 10 north, then 39 east into the valley. If you’re headed south there are plenty of ways to get south of the park but plan that same detour if you drive up the whitewater valley. Hit me up with any questions. I think this will last into the early fall:(
Also, waaaay too cold to fish this weekend. Wednesday and Thursday should fish well although Thursday is forecast to see 3-5 inches of snow. Mid winter patterns should fish well. Various streamers if your patient, scuds in orange or pink, zebra midges, small (sz16) nymphs, Griffiths gnats, and small black stonefly patterns should fish well. I’ve had surprisingly good luck fishing a sz 16 soft hackle behind a smaller tungsten beaded nymph, so maybe try that!