Norfork River stream report 04 April, 2013
Spring has certainly sprung; well at least I think it has! The Service Berries are in bloom, the Peepers have been at it for weeks and the May Apples are poking their heads up to see if its time.
They had forecast low generation for the day although on this occasion it didn’t happen and we were presented with higher water at Rim Shoals making wading “marginal”. We decided the White River Caddis would have to wait for another day and we headed for the Norfork tailwater as they promised to have its water off all day.
It seemed like everyone else had the same idea as the parking lot was rather full although most seemed to have concentrated their fishing on the lower section so a little walking found some less crowded water.
The water had been off for days and the lack of flow had evidently allowed that invasive algae Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) or “Rock Snot” as it is descriptively called, to completely cover the subsurface rocks.
Flies fished on the bottom come away with strands of Didymo and wading breaks away sections of Didymo which then float downstream, catching onto dry flies and fouling hooks. It’s a disgusting situation and quite sad that a once famous stream has been reduced to this. Norfork has been infected for many years now, along with the White River, although the White’s flows and lower temperatures upstream of it’s confluence with the Norfork seemed to have reduced its impact.
Didymo is an International problem being present even in the rivers of New Zealand and the country of my birth, so we are not alone.
Here is a video on the development of a Didymo bloom on the Gunpowder Falls River in Maryland. Filmmaker Jason DuPont spent many hours shooting underwater film through the bloom on his home water, a tailwater like many of our own trout rivers. It makes for depressing viewing although he does give us hope that the biomass is not as badly affected as we might suspect and even the reproduction of the trout population continues under the onslaught of this disgusting addition to our home waters.
If you didn’t need a reason to practice invasive species prevention, this video should give you a nudge! Felt soled wading boots should now be a thing of the past and sanitation between fishing trips should be normal practice unless we want this awful thing to happen on all our trout streams.
I know some will say “why bother” because it’s only scratching the surface and we will never get 100% compliance but I say “why not” we have to try! Encourage others you meet to do “their bit” and maybe we might slow down its affect.
Boots wear out, so when they do replace them with rubber soled. I have been using this type of boot for many years now and a long time before they banned the use of felt on my home water.
The addition of a wading “Cleaning Station” at the main access point on Taneycomo was welcomed and at least Missouri is “trying”, hopefully other States will follow suit.
Throwing your Gortex waders in the washing machine is beneficial and will actually ensure improved performance and increase their useful life, so why not do it! Here is link to Gortex’s site that gives care instructions: Gortex washing instructions
I am lead to believe that Didymo is also in some of our Ozark lakes, so maybe we should encourage our Bass fishing friends to wash down their sleek Bass boats and flush out their high powered motors!
So now I’m climbing down from my soapbox and moving onto how the fishing was on Norfork!
With the water flowing at 48 degrees and with an air temperature hovering around 45 the only insects making an appearance were midges. Fish were rising to take these on the surface although with all the foam and floating Didymo it was difficult to see any of my #22 midge adults. I solved this by tying on a #20 black “mini” soft hackle with a grizzly hackle and working the seams below one of the riffles. It nicely did the trick and provided about twenty fish in a very short time. Although none were huge, a nice 16 inch Brown gave me a tussle and all fish seemed to be in good condition without any evidence of oxygen deprivation.
As the day wore on I began to notice Caddis making an appearance, first were some white winged olive bodied and then a tan winged species. In among the caddis were Craneflies which often fool the fly fisher into believing they are seeing either large midges or even Mayflies because of the Cranefly’s habit of trailing their legs as they fly.
The fish didn’t seem to be keying onto the Caddis and stayed on the midges and Craneflies. They also reacted more favorably when the dry was given “action” on the surface imitating the active naturals.
I have some nice Cranefly patterns that I purchased in England last year although these were bigger than the natural on the Norfork. I solved this by fishing a soft hackle which I dressed and fish as a dry. It worked similar to what we often refer to as a “Spider” fly.
So at the end of the day the number of fish caught was pleasantly high and a few had been nicely proportioned.
The only down side to the day’s fishing was the increased amounts of Didymo particularly the floating sections which makes for an “ugly” stream. One can only hope that the forecast rain for April will produce some “occasional” increased flows on the Norfork thereby scouring out the Didymo, although many people will be unhappy with that because it will reduce fishing opportunities!