For a lot of years I held onto the notion that the overstuffed brown trout in Arkansas’ White River were only catchable with wispy 14-foot leaders and flies too small for those with sausage fingers and failing eyesight. Enter Steve Dally, the Tasmanian transplant guide and fly shop owner who is promoting an entirely different theory.
A few years ago, Steve’s guide crew began toying with the idea that brown trout might be hungry when they finish their fall/winter spawn. Instead of tiny nymphs on 6x during low water times, they started targeting the high water days when the big browns tuck in tight to the banks and use structure to ambush actual food. When he pointed me toward his website and showed me the browns they were catching on stout leaders and six-inch baitfish patterns, I got all fidgety.
Last week, I arrived at Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher with three fellow Texans. Adorning the walls of the shop were framed prints of all the 10-plus browns that they’ve caught during “streamer season”. We didn’t catch a brown worthy of Steve’s hall of honor, but we caught a few good ones, and after three days of pounding the White River banks with 8-weights and flies with appendages, I now fully appreciate the challenge involved in that pursuit. Steve told us going in that it’s not a big numbers game. Go at it hard and you might catch a lifetime fish. I’m not sure if that was the one that freight-trained my fly and wrapped me around a boulder, but I was happy to have briefly tangled with him.
Click here to see the entire shoot.
Foggy start on the White River
Steve Dally on the sticks
This thing eats sow bugs like m&m’s
Tantalizing and scintillating
Small hen on a flooded bank
Big buck on a flooded bank
Worth every cast
The banjo player was on break
Beats watching Idol