The holy grail of fly fishing on any water is being able to stalk, hunt, hook and land a big fish. It’s the dream of many a fisher and guides alike. On the White River fishing for big brown trout is not an easy task and for most is just the pure luck of being in the right place at the right time. As a guide and a thinking fisherman I don’t like those odds at all. It’s not a productive way to do my job of putting some one in the position of hooking and landing a big fish. Nope! I like to know they are there or see them. It’s this information or knowledge that increases the odds of hooking and landing one of these big boys.
There is no big secret to the success of catching these fish other than knowing the river extremely well and where the fish hang out. Simply put you have to know the river, it’s bottom, the currents, the nooks, the crannies and the channels. You have to know where the other boats are going to go and set your self up accordingly. It also helps to know the guides on the river as well and be familiar with their style of fishing be it a bait or fly fishing guide. Stalking the big fish on the White in no generation water is a lot like playing chess in that the river is navigable and boats move up and down the river and knowing where the boats are going to go and where the fish will move when the boat goes by is pure gold.
In faster water I like to fish for big fish in an area where the fish have no where to go such as a ledge rock area like wildcat shoals, buffalo shoals or in a place like the narrows. What I mean by ledge rock is drops or shelfs that will hold fish in a spot where they can’t move. My very best spot is a hole with a ledge that holds the fish both upstream and downstream with no where to go on the left and a boat channel on the right. In fact I love it when a boat goes by as it will often cause a fish to hit the fly. There are not a ton of spots like this but they do exist. Most fisherman pass them up as they don’t look like they will hold big fish. I like to fish these spots either upstream or at a right angle to the fish. In this situation it is not necessary that the fisherman see the fish if I can see them and guide his/her cast to the fish. I rig up with a long leader up to 20 feet and 5X or 6X tippet with a number 6 shot 12 to 18 inches above the fly and a whole palsa or dry fly as an indicator another 10 to 12 feet above the shot so as not to spook the fish with the fly line. The flies I use are Leonards kangaroo scud, trout crack, san juan worm brown, loop wing emerger, planarium and a stimulator in orange if using a dry as an indicator.
In slow water or the pools I generally fish from the boat so we can have some height to see the fish. I work slow water pools by hitting the pods (schools) of fish until they spook or we catch one. Then I move to the next pod and do the same. I approach a pod and make sure I and my fisherman can see the fish. Then either by fishing upstream or fishing to them at a right angle I let a fisherman drift a fly to the edge of the school and with each successive cast, drift the fly in closer. We will either hook one or spook them and then move to the next pod and repeat. In gastons hole for instance there are about 5 pods of fish to hit. Same in bruce creek hole. It’s an odds game in that if I hit enough pods there is sure to be at least one fish that will take a fly. The fly I generally use is a red midge with a black nickel tungsten bead. My leader and tippet is also long and may reach 20 feet with a very small white palsa usually cut in half so as not to spook the fish with the fly line or an indicator. © 2010