Category: Fishing Reports

Photo by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle

There are essentially two larva stages of the caddis life cycle, the only major difference is species other than that is how they live in their laval stage which amounts to the fact they either make a case and reside in it during their growth or they are termed as free swimmers or net spinners.

In either cases both are vulnerable to trout either by the fact that trout pick them up from the stream bed or they become vulnerable during the stages of behavioral drift. That is when the larva by choice choose to use the natural movement of the stream to move further downstream.

In the case of our tail waters often as not caddis larva are forced to move as water levels rise and fall or are subject to the force of water flow that dislodges them from the substrate, either way there are many zones through the White River system that contains many millions of caddis larva of the different species known to habit our waters.

Depending on the caddis species and the available matter which would include aquatic vegetation, gravel, sand all of which are if you like house building materials. Some species are in fact very particular in so far as what they choose to use to form the case which is also a means to identify specific species.

Bear in mind also that after the egg of the larva is deposited by the adult caddis there is growth, in some cases caddis larva will produce a case as long as 2 inches, often known as stick caddis, in this case generally formed from small sticks.

There are many fly patterns tyed to represent either the free swimmers or cases caddis, that said in general terms it is not necessary to go to great lengths to tie elaborate fly patterns, all that is generally needed is a good representation of the caddis case. Often as not due to the fact that you need to fish the fly close to the river bed losses can be high.

In our case for the White River, caddis larva particularly at this time of the year are a good bet for sure, more to the point both Bows and large Browns love ’em. Do not let the high water deter you from fishing caddis larva, sure the water levels may change but the larva are still there. 

Past two days at Rim have produced for my fisherman some 1st class fishing.

Many of the materials you need for these flies are low cost such as peacock herl, hares ear dubbing in different colors of tan and olive. 

You may add a bead head or another preferred alternative is to lead the hook shank, which is one of my preferences or you can use the free bead method which gives you the choice of both bead color and weight.

My rigs are set up by 4 methods and generally include a dropper,normally a white tail midge.

If there is one big mistake anglers make it is fishing weight either too close to the fly or too much weight or both, it is largely a issue related to your overall leader length and the drift time to allow for the flies to sink to the productive zone.

1st Rig is simply build by tying a stop knot 1ft below this a detached dropper 1ft below that is the position for the tail fly, normally the caddis larva is tied to the dropper, weight is added above the stop knot.

2nd Rig is built by tying a dropper, 1ft to 15 ins below a stop knot 1ft to 15 inches below the tail fly is tied. Weight is added above the stop knot.

3rd Rig is built by tying a dropper, 1ft to 15 inches below a bead of choice, put on the leader then the caddis larva is tied for the tail fly.

4th Rig is built by tying a dropper, 1ft to 15 inches below the second dropper, below that 1ft to 15 inches, next you tie a stop knot, your weight is added above this stop knot.

Why do l choose to use different rigs, the answer is very simple, they all cause the flies to drift in a different manner to the stream bed, one of which will be the lost productive, the other main reason is due to the nature of the substrate l am fishing over, is it clean gravel, rocky bottom. Further the above rigs are also related to all other means of fishing a two fly nymph rig.

Caddis Flies tied by Davy Wotton July 2016 (Photo by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle)

There are many variations tied to represent caddis cases, that is more close copy by sticking to the hook shank small stones, grit, sand, snails and so on, not to mention those patterns termed as peeping caddis with and without legs.  My long term experience is this, they may look real good in the vice are they more practical than a simple pattern, l have never found this to be the case !!

I prefer to tie my flies on small jigs hooks sizes 12/14 and in some cases where there are larger cases larva 10s and even size 8 long shank hooks.

Weight can be added either by bead or a lead wire underbody, the deal is this, you need to fish the fly close to the river bed, too much weight and you will have hang ups and lost flies. My rigs explain further how to rig up for your drifts. The advantage of jig hooks is they hang up way less

Two tips l will give you is not too make the patterns too flashy, black and copper beads are good if you use them. 2nd reverse rib the fly body with peacock herl or ostrich herl, this adds more effect to the fly body.

Caddis larva that are non case makers are a different deal here so far as suitable fly patterns. Two being most used is the green inchworm and hydropsychidae larva all be it this species forms a caddis case.

Dave Phillips with a rare Rim Shoals Trophy Rainbow Trout  measures  22″ x 16″. Caught on a DW Cased Caddis _ Davy Wotton image. July 2016


Bob Korose, from Florida has a terrific reason to smile. Davy Wotton photo

Looks like we have a good turnaround at BSD after last years didymo mess which most certainly caused the fish at the dam to suffer due to loss of food base.

The past months of high water more or less blew out the didymo and has allowed at least some better aquatic vegetation some of which is a pain in the arse.
Due to the amount of undesirable chemical issues in the lake it seems each year we see worse issues of filamentous alga, it not going to hurt
the fish, but having to make sure our flies are clean at all times is a pain. (Its going to get worse once the alga starts to die off which it will as water temps rise and generations break it.
The deal here is to avoid rising water at the time.)


Dave Chamberlain enjoys his annual Spring fishing on the White River, no wonder why. Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton.

The deal at Bull Shoals Dam is to know depths you are fishing and set your rigs up in such a way as you are not dragging flies on the river bed, further more contrary to what others may say it is not necessary to have your flies drag the river bed.
Trout are well capable of seeing your flies and for that matter naturals at least a one foot if not more above the river bed.
Natural stream hydraulics’ and varying depths not to mention structure move food sources at all depths within the water column. 

In some case l may well set my rigs up so as the flies are suspended two foot above. Its all related to the type of fly patterns you are using and how you wish to present them.


New Jersey John - Speechless, but happy! Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton

Bull Shoals Dam, as most know has always been one of my go to sections of the river, after some 20 years fishing it l am more than familiar with its whims and ways which are so very different to any other section of the White River and for the most part the habits of the trout that reside there are the same. They are very much influenced by what is going on generation wise, they chop and change where they will choose to feed in given zones based on which gates are open and there is never a constant so far as what is needed to catch them in any number or for that matter choice of flies and method those flies are presented.

Sure you can run a simple rig with a worm or nymph and maybe catch a few or none or the flies you are using will be totally ignored. I would say in all honestly that my fly box for BSD contains more different patterns than needed for the rest of the White river. Nymphs, dries, emergers, midges , soft hackles wet flies, streamers, bait fish patterns you name it, they are all needed at times.


Bob Korose said, "these fish are something else." Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton.

Gone are the days when trophy bows were somewhat the norm at the dam, 20 inch fish are for sure a prize by todays standards, and for me that is what l choose to target for my customers, way more worthy than a 20 inch Brown, l know how to catch them if they are in a feeding mood. That said we do catch a whole bunch of smaller fish.

Recent weeks at the dam have been good both for numbers and many fish from 18 to 24 inches, fish in the 3 to 5 lb class weight.


Seeing spots sure makes a guy smile, ask Mike Lloyd! Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton

Do l have a secret fly? No, not at all; it’s based on experience. 100’s of trips fishing that dam and knowing what flies to use at the time that will get the fish interested. That said the majority of my fly patterns will be related to my White Tail various chironomid patterns, super and prism midges in various colors and patterns of my grass worms.

If the fish are surface feeding then other fly patterns will come into play as will a shad kill.

Davy Wotton

(posted by Teresa “TBird” Van Winkle April 7, 2016)

18, 000 cfs generation is not every bodies cup of tea.
When it comes to fishing the White River, granted fishing high, fast water is not quite the same as the lower flows. We fish for risers taking caddis, mayfly and midges.
Nevertheless it’s what you have to deal with when the dates are booked, which was the case when my regulars- Ed, Jim, Bob, Ted and Saxon arriving for their regular fall fishing trips with me.

That is not to say the fishing is worthless, far from it.
What it requires is intimate knowledge of the river so far as where the fish will likely be found and given the zone you are fishing; what is going to be your best option.

Some days it may be a large dry that induces a trophy Brown to show up, maybe a streamer at times, or deep water nymph tactics, not to mention traditional style wet fly, which for myself is always a good bet.

Contrary to belief neither is fishing rigs with large gaudy flies or heavy weight the only game in town. 
Each section of the river may require a different approach. 
Granted a good choice is to fish close to banks, but not always. Mid-stream shallows over gravel bars and rock structure will likely hold fish, as will slow water run offs from fast water seams.
Fishing over grass and moss beds may also be productive at times.
Fact is fish will tend to move around during high water flows.
Even better, high water flows are good for the Rainbows to add some weight.

Generally at this time of the year the Browns have packed on weight in readiness for the spawn season and may not be as aggressive as they were earlier in the year.
Often as not the females are heavy with eggs and are less likely to have interest in larger food sources. It is at such times that smaller flies will better the larger patterns, which was certainly the case for my fisherman.
Racking up between them some impressive numbers of Bows, Browns and Cutthroats, some of which are included in the pictures shown.






By the way two of the larger Browns were caught fishing DW style wet fly tactics, size 12 hook flies !!!


(Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle)

Monday was to be a guide fishing day with our friend Jeff Hearn, recently back in the States for a short holiday vacation from his now employment in China teaching English.

For some reason we were also blessed with a period of minimum flow after some weeks of continual high water flows. That gave me the perfect break in lower water levels to fish the Rim Shoals to Buffalo Shoals section of the river, to which l new we would find good fishing after weeks of high water;  flows which to some extent do allow more fish to survive.

More to the point, l wanted to introduce Jeff to the Welsh way of fishing which more or less means fishing teams of traditional wet fly patterns, all be it some of the flies l now use are those of my own innovation.


Lines of choice would either be a dry line or a intermediate, flies included for the 3 fly rigs included muddler daddys, dunkeld, olive dabbler, and red arse caddis, all of which nailed fish, top fly being the muddler daddy. Long 14 foot leaders of 5x.


We motored upstream to Rim Shoals, pulled to shore while l built the rigs.
Started Jeff with the intermediate line while l fished the dry line, as by use of this line l would know how the fish would react to flies fished closer to the surface which is always a issue when we have blue skies and very bright light.
That said, l also chose to fish sections of water that l know the incidence of penetrated light is not so much a issue for the fish to see the flies above them.

From the get go we were into fish at an alarming rate, in no time l had boated 25, most by working my dropper flies in and off the surface.
Enough for me at that time so handed my rod to TBird who had never fished a 3 fly rig before.
Meanwhile Jeff was hooking and loosing more fish than he got to hand, which required me to instruct Jeff that all one needs to do is to watch for the take and not wait till you feel it and then react with a fast hook set, it takes practice to do this, as takes at times are very subtle, very unlike stripping a streamer, that’s not to say all fish that take will do so softly, in some cases particularly for Browns they will hammer you, as Jeff found out when he hooked and landed a fine 18 incher.


Effort and attention to instructions always pay off when learning a new style of fly fishing. Friend, Jeff Hearn with his flawless Brown and Davy. TBird photo.

Meanwhile TBird was starting to get the hang of it, hooking, loosing and landing fish.

First and foremost you must be able to make a direct straight line cast with the 14 foot leader and flies landing in a straight line, second you must have instant direct control of your fly line and connection to the flies, if not you will rarely be able to detect the takes which can come at any time during the recovery of the flies to the point when you work the dropper to and through the surface film, it requires a constant focus, no doubt about that.

We decided around mid day to pull in for a lunch break, while doing so we noticed the water rising, given the time schedule from the dam l knew that once again the generation forecast was wrong, we should not have seen rising water at 12:pm.
Okay lets get going- as l knew new water would kill us with crap.  We shot off downstream a few miles at least to give us a hour or so break with good water.

Decided to hook a few more myself and was satisfied with another 20 fish, before handing my rod back to TBird.


While fishing and demonstrating proper techniques of wet fly fishing to Jeff, Davy is rewarded with one of the biggest Cutthroat that we had seen in a long time. TBird photo

I would say for the next hour or so catching was fast and furious before the trash more or less put the fish down, that worked out okay as it was 3:pm and getting hot, we had more than our fair share of fish for the day.

I know for a fact that between the three of us well over 100 fish were caught.
Fish of the day for me was a fine 16 inche Cutt, hard to find those guys on the White River now days.

All in all for a five hour fishing trip it was as good as you could get, one of which will leave some memories for Jeff fishing the Welsh way !!!


(Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle August 20, 2015)


(Posted on June 26th, 2015- 7:30AM)

Hello All,

I’m sure a lot of you are aware of the situation at Beaver Tailwater.  The COE has had a mechanical failure of both turbines at the Dam and has started releasing water from only the spillway gate.  The major concern of course, has been high water temperatures in the tailwater.  Trust me, I am as concerned as anyone about the implications this has for the trout fishery.  I assure you, AGFC has been aware of this since nearly minute one and have been closely monitoring the situation.  With the lake at the top of the flood pool, and water still coming in to the lake, the COE has no choice at this time but to release water from the flood gates.  However, I would like to point out that they have considered every alternative we have offered in an attempt to alleviate the situation; unfortunately at this time they are still trying to come up with an alternative that will not be unsafe to overall Dam operations. 

Personnel from our Program  have been on the tailwater the past two days checking temperatures.  Yesterday, temperatures from the Dam downstream to Bertrand Access ranged from 75.6 F at the dam to 78.3 F at Bertrand.  All temperature readings we took, regardless of whether they were taken right bank, left bank, surface, or bottom, were within that range.  Today, we floated that same stretch and temperatures were slightly cooler (73.6 F) due to overnight temperatures being lower.  We also floated the stretch from Bertrand downstream to Houseman today.  A bit of good news is that we found a lot of areas between the Hwy. 62 Bridge and Houseman Access where the temperatures approximately 12 ft. below the surface were in the 50-60 F range.  That is great and I hope that means the lack of trout we saw over the last two days (dead or alive) is because they have sought refuge in the deeper, more cool water.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We have only seen about 8 dead trout over the last two days (all catchable size (10”-11”) rainbow trout, some freshly dead some older).  There is no way to attribute those few deaths to the high temperatures.  Also, it’s not unusual to see a few dead fish anytime you float a river.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will check temperatures and for stressed fish regularly until the situation with the turbines has been resolved.

I will send out a more detailed map of our temperature readings for anyone who is interested.  I am still putting together all of the information.  I appreciate the calls and concerns that have been expressed by everyone and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.  I will get back to you with any answers ASAP.


Christy Graham
Trout Biologist Supervisor
E-mail: | P: (870) 424-5924 | M: (870) 404-0477

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
201 East 5th St. | Mountain Home, AR | 72653
O: (877) 425-7577 | F: (870) 425-6596

(Re-posted from email received today: June 4th,2015)

Hey All,

I was notified on Tuesday that the Norfork Siphon has had a malfunction (a sensor this time) and it is out of service.  I waited to let everyone know in hopes that it would be resolved quickly.  However, it is still out of service today.  While the siphon is offline, the Corps folks are meeting the minimum flow needs using the speed-no-load option (i.e., a low level of generation).  This is a much better alternative than the spillway gates that they used at this time last year to run minimum flow when the siphon was out of service.  Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll let you know when the siphon is operational again.





Christy Graham

Trout Biologist Supervisor

E-mail: | P: (870) 424-5924 | M: (870) 404-0477


Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

201 East 5th St. | Mountain Home, AR | 72653

O: (877) 425-7577 | F: (870) 425-6596

We feel for our friends in Texas, Oklahoma with the pounding of rain they have copped this spring, but in Arkansas only the western fringe has seriously heavy rain.

THE US Army Corp of Engineers announced yesterday that Beaver Lake spillways gates had been opened to cope with the excess flood water. Beaver has been kept high while work has been done on the damaged turbines at Table Rock.

Spillway releases had been used to supplement the working generators on Table Rock, to keep the lake level down. Beaver is expected to crest today at 92% of its relatively small flood pool, while Table Rock is holding around 7% of flood capacity.

Bull Shoals is currently at 25% of flood pool and Norfork at 18%

Statement from the USACE below

We began spillway releases at noon today from Beaver Dam.

The seven spillway gates were opened one-half foot releasing 3,700 cubic feet per second in addition to the 8,500 c.f.s. being released through the turbine generators. The total release is 12,200 c.f.s. The lake is cresting today at 1,129.1 feet above sea level.

Future rainfall may cause us to adjust releases at Beaver Lake.

Lake elevation forecasts can be found at the Little Rock District water management website:…/repor…/remote/lakfcst.htm.

Please use caution when boating and fishing below the Beaver Dam while water releases are in effect. For more information, contact the Beaver Project Office at 479-636-1210.

(Re-Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle )


Bob Irish with a 21.5 inch fish. Guided by Davy Wotton May 2015

After spending a wet fly fly fishing school in Connecticut at the Housatonic Outfitters Fly Shop, both Brian and Bob traveled from NY to spend two days fishing with the wet fly master.


Brian Walencik with his first 20 incher at Bull Shoals Dam, guided by Davy Wotton

High water generations are generally not conducive to ideal conditions for wet fly fishing, high water speeds do tend to force the fish either tight to the river bed or very close to the shorelines.
Either way experience prevails at the end of the day.

Fishing combinations of dry or intermediate lines with various combinations of flies resulted in many fine fish to the net, including these three 20 inch fine fat Bows at Bull Shoals Dam, all took a fly named the Dunkeld, it being a very old fly pattern of Scottish origin.


The Dunkeld proves itself on high water at Bull Shoals Dam and in high water flows.

(Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle May 9th, 2015)

The AGFC has raised Non-Resident license fees which are now in effect.. The Non-Resident Annual Fishing License will be $50, up from $40. The Non-Resident 3-Day Trip Fishing License will increase from $11 to $16 and the Non-Resident 7-Day Trip Fishing License will increase from $17 to $25. The Non-Resident Trout Stamp remains at $12. […]

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ozarkflyfisherjournal | March 4, 2015 at 10:24 am | Categories: journal | URL:

2014 Winter fishing report.

This past fall period we experienced some awesome days out there on the river in between the days when we were subjected to wicked North winds and very low temperatures. As we now move into the mid winter period providing climatic conditions and generations are good fishing should be good.

Generally this year we have seen lower generations with some short periods of high water which has been good both for the fish and available food base. At this time the lakes are still turning over and that in turn means warmer water being released from the dam until such a time as the body of water has cooled to the lower depths same as surface temperature, which we normally see in the New Year.

My own experience this past year after some 200 guide days on the water is fish are generally well spread out through the rivers, with at times a few exceptions in the upper reaches from Cotter to the park after high fishing pressure, related to harvest and mortality, which is not the case at this time. Often as not the winter period can produce some of the best fishing due to lower levels of angler activity with possibly the exception of the catch and release zone on the Norfork.


For the most part l have always supported the min flow issue and still do for many reasons, that said there are a couple of downsides. First being that it has allowed for way more boat traffic out there on the White river which in previous years of zero generation we did not see.

Secondly in the case of the White river what was at one time easy access for wade fisherman is not the case, that in turn has increased more pressure to the Norfork River. l would only add that in my opinion there is far more and better wade water than before min flow, that said in many cases you will need a means to float to access those zones.


The brown trout spawn activity seems to have been good, interesting is l have see good numbers of fish on redds where as in previous years before min flow l did not, either way they are in zones that they are left in peace which is a good thing.



Hatches during the winter are mainly confined to midge (chironomids) and BWO. That said fish will respond to most other methods used be it dry, nymph, soft hackle, spiders and smaller streamer patterns.

Some of my favorite rigs will include for boat drift fishing or wade  a two fly rig comprising of a white tail midge on the dropper with 18 ins below a soft hackle such as a black and silver spider or a hare ear. Same will also work for general wade fishing.

Likewise same for a 2 fly rig of 2 white tails, often a size 14 and 16 are good, patterns of choice will include, black, black and silver, red,  black red head, white tail midges.

Both sowbugs and scuds also a good bet for the slower water zones in gray, gray/olive and tan.


Other choices may include egg dropper rigs, in the case of deeper faster water zones red or pink San Juan worms again in combination of eggs or white tail midge.


Now here is the deal if you see fish rising to BWO or midge.. You will not go far wrong fishing micro small soft hackles/spider dead drift, by that l mean sizes 18/20 to 5 or 6x tippet. In order to present the flies correctly you must fish a long leader system at least 12ft or more at times, with at least 4ft of the tippet termination in 5 or 6x FC which is what l would prefer. The presentation should be upstream and across to the known position of the fish, you must allow the flies to dead drift as you would for a dry fly and watch very closely where you should know the flies are. Any indication of fish movement such as a swirl, flash or movement of the line should be answered with a quick but gentle lift of the line to hook the fish. It takes practice but well worth the results.

In the case of dry fly rigs, l prefer size 18/20s Klinkhammer style patterns, they float high and can easily be seen at range.


In the case of streamer fishing unless you are fishing high water flows fish smaller fly patterns, size 10/8 long shank hooks will work way better than larger patterns. Woolly bugger with gold or silver bodies are a good bet for sure, in fact l also fish these tied on regular size 10 hooks with and without added bead heads.


So far as any shad kill, l doubt we will see any of that till well into the New Year.


For now.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and many tight lines for the New Year.



(Posted by Teresa “TBird”  Van Winkle)