“River Chronicles: Pursuing Browns, Discovering Wins”

“River Chronicles: Pursuing Browns, Discovering Wins”

Yesterday, our team ventured out to conduct some research, hoping to observe brown trout looking up. Despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions that led to limited caddis activity, we managed to uncover some promising findings.

I embarked on a fishing trip with Jack and Michael aboard the Eclipse, targeting the Norfork River in anticipation of a more active bite to keep our rods engaged. However, our plans were swiftly disrupted when the water flow commenced at 8 am, persisting until 4 pm, accompanied by the continuous operation of two flood gates and the unexpected release from an additional spillway. This sudden turn of events injected a surge of excitement into our day, as I predicted it would incite a feeding frenzy, particularly with white fly patterns. As expected, we landed numerous high-quality rainbows, though none measuring up to the coveted twenty-inch mark. Unfortunately, photographic documentation eluded us. Despite the initial excitement, the fish gradually lost interest, prompting us to explore other sections of the river. Upon returning later, we managed to hook a few more before the bite subsided, prompting us to switch to alternative fly patterns. Despite the prevalent caddis activity on the Fork, our attempts with the Sunday Special proved futile, as the fish showed a preference for other flies—a surprising turn of events. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that the fish will soon zero in on this particular fly pattern across both tailwaters.

Given my experience, this river consistently yields better results when fishing with caddis patterns on the surface during low water conditions, as opposed to using nymphs during high water. I eagerly anticipate the White River to become abundant with caddis patterns throughout its entire stretch. The Norfork River, particularly, exhibits a penchant for fish feeding on the surface during low water periods. However, with the current rainfall and generation patterns, we might not experience many low water days. Interestingly, when low water does occur, it tends to coincide with weekends.

While my perspective might not align with everyone’s, I hold a strong preference based on my own experiences and fishing style. Currently, the emergence of caddis is evident downstream from Cotter. However, I personally favor fishing from Wildcat up to the dam when these bugs are active, and I anticipate the river will soon be teeming with activity. Here’s my rationale, though it may not resonate with everyone: as the caddis hatch downstream, the population of brown trout diminishes. While it’s still possible to hook some browns in that area, I prefer to focus on targeting more browns rather than the abundance of rainbows feeding voraciously downstream. My preference leans towards quality over quantity, and I’m willing to sacrifice quantity for the chance to land more browns. As we await the optimal conditions, our team relies on backup patterns to keep us engaged. Sometimes, when anglers migrate to the Norfork or downstream on the White River, it leaves the dam area relatively deserted, offering a unique opportunity for solitude and prime fishing conditions.

Daron, Lisa, and Jeremy – Report

Originally slated to guide Jack and Michael for another day, we opted to err on the side of caution due to forecasted storms. Surprisingly, the storms skirted below us, leaving us untouched by rain. Anticipating a slow day with folks returning home from the Eclipse, we posted our contact information on the shop door, ready to assist any anglers in need. With sporadic sunshine yielding to clouds, insect activity remained minimal. We retreated to the dam, focusing on enticing larger fish. Despite the subdued river traffic owing to weather and travel, our patience paid off when a hefty brown finally took our offering. While I didn’t fish much myself, I favored shad patterns, inspired by a recent trip where my colleague missed several sizable browns while using wiggle minnows. Though I had a few bites, it was Daron who shone, landing several impressive browns. As we’re grooming Daron for guiding, both Lisa and I gladly let him take the lead in casting, finding satisfaction in his success. Our first catch, albeit small, came at the tail end of Cane Island, prompting us to return to the dam. There, we hooked a better-sized brown almost immediately, followed by the prized catch we had been seeking—an elusive fighter that tested our skills as much as our patience. Despite her attempts to flee to the safety of nearby structures, we managed to secure her, capturing the moment with a photograph. With such a triumphant catch, we called it a day, savoring the experience as a team—a testament to the camaraderie and shared passion that drives us in this business.


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