Now that I have dove into the world of guiding the last 6 years of the sport of fly fishing has changed significantly from the previous 17 and along with it comes writing something down from time to time, something I have avoided pretty darn well for the most part.
So, here we go, bear with me as I start my new journey into the world of fishing reports, as this one will just be over a few things I remember off the top of my head.
Instead of starting off with my last few trips on Taney I will start with a wrap up this past year, which may include anything from guide trips on Lake Taneycomo, Norfork tailwater, and the White river, along with a few trips when Jeremy and his clients that invite me to tag along and even a few when I get to break out and fish with some of my old buds from when I was a fly shop bum and spent all of my free time away from my daughter and the factory hanging on the words of anyone that talked anything about fly fishing in general.
January was like most, cold and filled with plenty of time to tie, and to get everything organized so it can become unorganized as the year goes on.
I was able to get several streamers loaded back into the boxes, work on my notorious pink mouse patterns for the White at night, and put myself in good shape with plenty of midges for introductory fly fishing trips on Taney and Norfork and due to all the excess rainfall we had this year I should be in great shape for 2020. I also can say I have become an expert on brushing out scuds along with my daughter to help Jeremy out with some of his larger winter orders.
February and March
February and March were spent on the White for the most part rowing guys down the river slinging articulated streamers during the day and a few nights running mouse patterns in the cover of darkness. During the day I would watch boats with motors hitting every bank I wanted to hit, in hopes of hooking into that unicorn we are all looking for. The few nights I did get out the flows were a bit more than the Corp had projected but we still managed to bring a few to the net.
My most memorable trip was with a couple of guides that fish the Eagle and various rivers in Colorado and though we didn’t find the big one, the days were filled with 18-20 in browns and me just sitting back and watching the show and laughing so hard at Ryan's jokes tears started to freeze on my eye lashes.
I usually get one caster that is better than the other but these two could flat put some 400gr line out and put it where it needed to be every time no matter which arm they were casting with. That look you get as a kid when you see the most amazing thing, yep that was me.
They showed up with boxes of streamers but not one Double Deceiver of significant size in the standby yellow, olive, and white variations so I was glad I hit that vice in January!
I did have a few trips on Taney during this time and was able to stay in the soft water and get into and around the islands and fish midges. It seemed like every time I had a trip I had cloud cover so I stuck with black and copper zebra midges.
April started off like a typical March in the Ozarks sunny and 65 one day and snowing the next. I was able to fit in my yearly White Bass shenanigans with my old pal Tim Young.
Equipped with the Hooligan XL raft we were able to get to some areas we had never been able to hit before but as with all trips with my faithful buddy there is always a snag along the way. When I got ready to hookup the trailer the garage door spring broke which put a slight delay on the day but as always we didn't let that set us back, but the most irritating hick-up was yet to come. My old type 3 line that I snaked from Jeremy may have looked good on the surface but within a few casts the coating started to flake off making casting those Clouser Minnow’s just a bit more difficult for this girl.
I sat back and watched Tim pick off those sand bass while I sipped on Stella’s and then finally, I couldn’t take it anymore I needed to get back in the game regardless of my handicap and was able to pick up a good one right before dark and was reminded why I put myself through this every spring.
Just when the white bass fever was setting in, it was snowing and I was due back on Taney and then off to the White.
At the end of the month I was helping Jeremy out with some group trips covering the White River in the mornings fishing Adult Caddis with a root beer dropper and Miracle Flies dropping smaller midges and Caddis Larva off of them. A quick boat swap and we would make a mad dash to the Norfork in search of low water in in the afternoons trying our luck with Megaworms, Miracle Flies, and Root Beer Midges.
Taney had all 10 gates open and this girl went from my most booked time of the year to cancellations and rebooking’s due to the high water, I was bummed right up until I got on the White.
It was pure Caddis Craziness whenever they would not surge the water and dirty it all up with the mossy nastiness that would follow.
Jeremy got me on to an absolutely perfect specimen of a rainbow after a big surge which shut the caddis bite down for us, so I cannot complain about that day other than getting a call from the school nurse and rushing back to Branson to take care of our little man who managed to lick up the last germ of the school year.
I was able to get out in the boat the next week and that’s when the caddis bite was on fire.
There were so many caddis in and on the water that you couldn’t even talk without the possibility of one landing in your mouth and swarming behind your sunglasses but that was fine with me since the rods stayed bent with browns most all of the day. Along with Mike Decker, Jeremy and I fished right up until the pop up thunderstorm shut us down.
Caddis larva with another caddis dropper seemed to weed out the rainbows in tan and olive throughout the day.
I was able to make a short drive down to throw mouse patterns for one evening during the month, naturally it was not the text book time as far as the moon phase goes, but when you have the right water you just have to make due. John Holston was able to row me into a few browns that evening and it was nice to catch up with what all he had going on since the streamer bite in the beginning of the year.
I spent the daytime hours with Jeremy working grassy banks and throwing Hoppers with great success for that particular time of the year.
It seemed to work for me so I never seen a reason to change up the color variations as the season went on.
Despite hitting banks that other boats just went thru we were still managing to get fish looking up which was nice.
I had Ryan and his step father out from Colorado. It was not only great to see him land his first brown ever but it was only the second fish ever on his second day casting a fly rod. What a way to start!
I had one trip on the White before the much anticipated Power Drifter was added to the the lineup. Kyran showed up a week late on the shad kill, but we still managed to work the grass beds with Pink San Juans and hit the banks with Hoppers and Streamers down to Cotter.
After countless hours of watching boats go upstream to run banks more than once, she finally arrived. Jeremy let me build the boat exactly how I wanted it with the exception of needing his stereo for his tunes, she was everything I wanted.
Color, options, and rather simplistic looking compared to our drift boats in the past. My days of shuttles and getting low holed are over….okay that’s probably all still going happen, but not as much!
I’ve been out every day I can in it, after guide trips, to as soon as I meet my daily quota for fly tying. I have been scooping up Billy Wayne every chance I get before it gets too cold for him and with this mild December we have been having he's been loving it.
I ran one trip in the Power Drifter on the Norfork in November and was able to get decent numbers of rainbows in the dingy looking one unit water fishing micro San Juan worms in cerise and worm brown. After the trips I would hit the White in the evenings for a short hour before dark playing around with midges in front of Gastons. Jeremy was able to fit me in on the White in late November in which we were able to pick up a few Browns before the years end. Taney has been all over the place on river flows with the rainfall the last part of the year. The end of October they still had some gates open which made for some nice shad action. One day last week when they ran the 60mw water, the mega-worm in the 80th oz was the ticket, I generally stayed across from the boat ramp and then went river left to the end of Point Royale hitting the soft water heading down since I was fishing , rowing, and motoring alone. The two unit water in the 90-100mw range keeps me running the Cerise San Juans producing doubles over and over again all the way down to Acacia, I am sure scuds would work but I brushed enough of those in January!