White River stream report 17-18 October, 2012
With the weather just about perfect and the generation in our favor it seemed about time for slipping away to our favorite part of the White River and a two day expedition. It was a bit of a gamble because the forecast was for high winds and possible storms. We were pleasantly surprised to experience lighter winds than forecast and one quick storm just as we were heading back to the vehicle at the end of the first day. Personally I like the challenge of windy conditions and it certainly has a positive effect on the fishing, particularly when using dries.
It doesn’t matter how many times I fish the White below Cotter, it always has the ability to make me realize how lucky I am to have such fantastic water almost on my door step. Although Taneycomo is only a few minutes’ drive compared to Cotter’s ninety minutes there is no comparison in both the fishing and the scenery.
Generation had shut off during the night and the level was still dropping when we arrived after a fairly leisurely start for the drive south. Remember that although the water takes roughly six hours to reach Rim Shoals from the dam it actually takes far longer for the level to drop. I really don’t mind the extra flow so long as it isn’t much more than a couple of feet up.
Water temperature was in the upper fifties although the second day we found it had dropped to 54 degrees overnight with a slow rise during the day to 59 degrees. Clarity was good on both days even after the late evening rain which we had expect to bring down some runoff. The first day we had cloud cover all day and anywhere else it would probably have been an amazing BWO day. The second day was quite to opposite with sun and blue skies all day. All the fish we caught were in great condition with full bellies and there didn’t seem to be any evidence of oxygen depletion.
Fishing pressure was light on both days and we mostly found that we had the water to ourselves particularly when we strayed some distance from the parking area like we normally do.
Over the two days we experienced a hatch of #18 tan caddis and although not in huge numbers there were enough to stimulate surface action. My dry fly of choice for both days was a #16 black foam caddis which has been so successful on the Arkansas River. When I wasn’t finding rising fish I changed to my cream and black soft hackle which took its normal amazing amount of fish. One of these days I will tie enough of these to offer them as a part of a soft hackle collection along with a few other favorites, so keep an eye on my website for my offerings. On the second day we found #18 white mayflies coming off in small numbers.
My partner William worked the bank with a Klinkhammer on both days although he didn’t find fish holding along the edge like they normally do. We wonder if this is because of the cooler temperatures, both air and water, or because they have all gone upstream for the spawn. During the summer months we could almost guarantee finding at least one good fish tucked into the bank just waiting for a big dry fly to land on his head.
During the first day we were serenaded by a mating pair of Bald Eagles, my first of the year. One even came down and landed on a gravel bar mere yards from where I was standing. I suspect we are going to see more of these beautiful creatures in the weeks to come.
There is one particular run that I always enjoy working with dries and it didn’t let me down on this occasion, producing my biggest fish of the trip, an 18 inch rainbow. Mind you I am sure that one of these days I am going to get myself a monster because once again I almost stepped on a brown exceeding 20 inches! These big fish like to tuck themselves into the channels between the moss covered rocks. They probably lay there during the day and do most of their hunting under cover of darkness.
A wonderful two days of great fly fishing and companionship. The next trip can’t come soon enough.