Our good friend Bill Dobson has fished and guided clients on our local Arkansas River since the ’90′s and continues to study the behavior of bugs, trout, and fishermen. Some of you will also recall that Bill played an important role getting South Main started. Bill shares his wisdom about current conditions in this first installment on our blog of “BD’s Bugz”
The fish really wintered well, with Browns and Rainbows looking fat and happy. Early season floats and wades have been outstanding. The insect life has really changed the dynamics of fishing the Arkansas. In years past, the fish came out of the colder months pretty skinny, and were willing to eat anything. That is what made the “Mother’s Day” Caddis hatch so amazing. For the past couple of years, the trout have eaten well all winter and, no longer rely solely on caddis. Blue Wing Olive (BWO) mayflies, Yellow Stonefly nymphs, and prolific midge hatches offer many choices that the fisherman needs to keep in mind. My trips during the height of the Caddis hatch were more successful using BWO’s than caddis imitations, and many of the Caddis focused fishermen I spoke to ended up quite frustrated.
For the rest of March and April, we will be seeing midges and Yellow or Golden stones on the drift, with some BWO activity in the afternoon, especially on cloudier days. I recommend fishing a double nymph rig with a heavier stone, trailing a black, brown or grey midge in the morning, and changing to a beaded Pheasant Tail trailing a smaller unweighted midge or BWO nymph. Keep an eye out for surface feeders and be ready to switch to your favorite BWO dryfly when the adults start popping. Some of the best dry fly fishing of the season happens between now and May, and it’s a great time to take a float trip. The water is low and clear, the river uncrowded, and the trout’s size and strength will surprise you.
I am still not set up to tie, but will be happy to help you select and order flies for the season through my friends at Discountflies.com. They have great prices, a terrific selection, and very good quality flies tied by the same folks that Umpqua uses.
I look forward to seeing you on the river this season.
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