White River stream report 08 March, 2013
After scratching my head and trying to solve the “midge problem” on Taneycomo for a couple of weeks, I decide it was time to tie on some BIG flies!
We headed down to the White River in hope of an early start to the caddis season.
On a whim I decided to check some different water at Buffalo Shoals so we drove down the western bank of the river until a friendly Park Ranger pointed out that there is no access to the river at Buffalo Shoals on the west side! Bugger! And I don’t mean the wooly type!
A little back tracking and then along Highway 62 to Buffalo City where we found easy river access, beautiful scenery with incredible river bluffs but poor bottom structure and higher than desirable water level as the previous night’s generation was still passing through.
So back track again (or is that back back track!) and we headed for Rim Shoals.
It had been worth spending the extra time because the water at Buffalo Shoals has potential. I intend to try it again after the water has been off for more than twentyfour hours which should give almost cross river wading.
The parking lot at Rim Shoals was practically empty even at eleven in the morning and with hardly a single boat trailer on the ramp we had high hopes of having the stream to ourselves.
The water was slightly up from the previous generation, although perfectly suitable for wading and was a cool 48 degrees with the normal crystal clarity.
It was immediately apparent that the caddis were in evidence and a swipe with landing net revealed that they were tan winged, olive bodied caddis at about #18.
A tan elk hair caddis adult with an olive body tied in an emerger style worked really well apart from being rather difficult to see in the chop created by the brisk wind that was blowing down the river.
Catching was steady for about an hour when it was obvious that the hatch was beginning to change and the white winged olive bodied caddis were replacing the tan.
A switch to my #16 CDC/bleached Elk hair olive emerger pattern was the perfect choice and the fun really began!
It wasn’t exactly a fish on every cast but pretty darned near. My biggest problem was choosing the fish to cast too! The takes were positive from the larger fish while the smaller fish were a little more exuberant.
After two heavy eighteen inch browns and couple of fat sixteen inch rainbows I was beginning to feel we had made the right decision coming down here rather than messing with those darn midges!
The hatch came in waves and the fish responded accordingly. I’m not sure if the fish dropped back into deep water between hatches but they certainly headed back into the riffles once the hatch recommenced. The number of fish rising was incredible and some of the heads breaking the surface were huge!
At one point there were so many naturals on the water that I really couldn’t spot my artificial! Although these heavy hatches only lasted a few minutes, they were certainly some of the most concentrated I have ever witnessed on the White since I have been fishing it.
That kindly Park Ranger and his buddies were burning woodland downstream and slowly we suffered from a smoky haze which began to obscure the sun. The air temperature dropped and the hatch began to slow down until it finally ceased at about four in the afternoon when the fish had stopped feeding on the adults.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that the hatch ended when the smoke haze started, because Caddis hatches are prompted by a combination of sunlight and water temperature.
After that it was time to tie on a “Green Butt” and swing it through the lower riffle. Not quite as exciting as those mouthed dries but I wasn’t complaining!
Days like this don’t come too often and I can assure you that there was an idiotic grin on my face for about four hours that day which probably helped stretch out the worry lines from fishing those darned midges on Taneycomo!!
What I found amazing was that when we returned to the parking lot a few anglers were complaining that it had been a “slow” day! When I asked what they had been using the answer came back as “sowbugs”! How could they have missed all those bugs flying upstream and not figured out that today was not the day to use sowbugs! I think a copy of “Matching the Hatch” might be a good idea for somebody’s Christmas stocking!