White River stream report: Jan, Feb, Mar, April and May 2014 (not to mention Oct-Dec 2013)!
Wow is it really that long since I put my fingers on the keyboard and wrote a fishing report!
The delay in posting was initiated a lot earlier; and probably started after I had returned from a less than satisfying trip to Utah and Idaho last fall. To be fair the fishing in Utah was stupendous but I made the mistake of not preparing for one of the worst Ragweed encounters of my life! Added to the abundant Ragweed was a nasty little character called “Rabbitbrush” which grows prolifically alongside the Green River. Those of you that know me will be aware of my allergy problems and top of that list is said Ragweed. Unfortunately I hadn’t thought allergies would be a problem on the trip because Missouri’s Ragweed season had finished prior to our trip. Well what do you know, the Utah season was in full swing and this little Englishman arrived after gleefully quitting his allergy medications some weeks before, duh!!!
It was a tad difficult to enjoy some of the best dry fly fishing we have ever had on the Green when one’s head feels like the Spanish Inquisition is applying one of its instruments of torture. Oh well, my journal now has highlighted notes on that subject for future reference.
So what else went wrong with the trip? Well a few days diversion to one of our favorite rivers, the Henry’s Fork showed that it’s a river to avoid in late summer because of weed (moss) growth and generally “yucky” water conditions, not to mention a tornado warning (in Idaho!) and really heavy summer thunderstorms. Another note to self in journal!
Anything else? Well I could tell you about some of the heaviest rain the west has seen in 50 years or snow in September but I will save you from any more of my complaining.
When I arrived back in White River country it took a long time to recover from that little escapade and of course closely on its heels came one of our coldest, snowiest winters in many a year.
Oh well there is always the Springtime Caddis hatch to look forward too isn’t there; remember all those amazing reports from last year.
2014 rolled in with the pleasure of hosting my beautiful daughter and her delightful friend for a couple of weeks which started the year off in a most splendid manner.
So enough of the personal stuff what about the fishing?
Well those lovely folks who decide when the White River needs to by allowed through the dams chose the spring of 2014 to begin one of the longest runs of generation since I have lived here. Days, weeks, and then months rolled by with hardly any respite in the flow through the system. In fact it wasn’t until half way through February that I managed to dip my wader clad toes into the waters of Taneycomo, and the middle of May before I hit the White below Bull Shoals.
When I did find myself casting a fly onto the waters below Table Rock dam it was generally to be found that those flies were in the range considered small. My micro soft hackles (#20) came to the fore on many occasions and when they were not being used it was those wonderful grey midge adults that produced the results. I could have found more days to cast loops over Taneycomo as generation was off a few other days and its waters still produce some great fish But yours truly has been spoiled by those waters about two hours drive south of here.
What of all those other wonderful Missouri streams you might ask, well once again the noise of fluttering Caddis on the White River has all my attention these days.
Now I was a little unfair on those power generating folks in my earlier comment because to be honest they are trying to do their bit by introducing “minimum flow” below Bull Shoals dam. This practice creates flow even when there is no planned generation and aids oxygenation throughout the river system and I wish it would catch on with those who operate Table Rock dam.
It would seem the flow that has been agreed on is in the region of 650 cfs which provides a level (measured at the dam) of roughly 452.5 where “no flow” is usually 450. One can see that the additional 2.5 feet will make inaccessible some areas previously accessible when wading. Although it does make those areas that dry during no flow very fishable so there is some balance to be found.
The plan has caused some controversy, although in my opinion minimum flow is good for the river system.
Folks will find the water level during this routine rather more difficult to negotiate and need to exercise extra care when wading particularly near the dam as increased flow can happen without the normal horn warning.
So anyway here we are in mid May and I can’t believe that I have only just made my first White River journal entry of 2014.
Having missed the olive Caddis hatch of late March, April and early May, I had no expectations of finding too much surface action on my first visit to the water. What a pleasant surprise when a reasonable number of Tan Caddis made an appearance once the water temperature had risen to around 50 degrees. Water currently being released from Bull Shoals is edging past 40 degrees as the warming sun begins to act on the lake and river. By the time it reaches Rim Shoals it is in the mid 40’s by mid morning, so hatches are late in the day when water temperature is optimum and the sun is passed its zenith.
Those who arrive earlier in the day may find spotty action with a Caddis dry and the best I located was in the shallow water riffles.
For consistent action throughout the day I rely on my trusty Partridge and Peacock Soft Hackle or maybe John Berry’s Greenbutt as there are still a few Olive Caddis around. Midges are present as always and tipping your soft hackle offering with a trailing micro soft hackle or maybe a WD40 is going to increase your chances. As you may know by now I am not a fan of “buggers and nymphs” but there is no doubt that these are catching fish if you are so taken.
I did make one pass up the bank to see if my large friends were back in residence, but it would seem that I will have to wait for the warmth of summer to increase the population of terrestrials for this action to hot up.
For the main event of the Caddis hatch I would recommend a lightly dressed Tan Caddis with a natural Elk hair wing and tan foam body on a #16 dry fly hook. A slightly larger pattern is useful for the heavier riffles where the fish are less discerning. Some of the naturals are smaller although I haven’t found the need to use a smaller artificial. Cover all the agitated riffles and pocket water and try for natural drag free drifts. Expect fluctuating action as the Caddis hatches come in waves but stick with it because the fish are certainly keyed in on those tasty bugs. My journal shows reasonably consistent Caddis action into June then switching to terrestrials for the summer months if you want to target those White River monsters.
Generation still remains variable although as we move into the drier months we can expect less of the heavy flows and more consistent wading conditions.
See you on the water.