Recently, I was reading Great Rivers Great Hatches. The description of some of the hatches were unbelievable. Hatches of Hexagenia limbata so thick that the road department would sweep the roads to prevent wrecks from cars sliding off the road.
I have seen two hatches in Arkansas that have been memorable. The first occurred on the White River. We were staying at Newland’s Lodge. While eating breakfast, which was served in tents along side the river, a large hatch started. The trout began rising and soon the entire river was covered with rising trout. This lasted for a considerable period of time. I was never able to discover what the trout were taking.
On another occasion, we were fishing the Little Red River. At first, I noticed a few trout rising in the same spot. Then the whole river was covered with rising trout. We quickly got into the river and found hundreds of thousands of Blue Wing Olives all floating down the river.
I have fly fished the Spring River in Mammoth Springs for years. On occasion, you might see rising trout but nothing like the hatches described as above. It seems that the trout don’t feed on the surface very often. Hatches of both mayflies and caddis do occur. Recently, I was fishing on the Spring River when a Trico hatch started. The air was filled with Trico’s, but the only fish feeding on the surface were minnows. There were so many feeding that the water looked like it was vibrating.
This past weekend our Club had a fishing trip to the Spring River. Again, no fish were rising. At sundown a hatch of Paraleptophlebia mollis occurred. There were flies everywhere. I was able to catch a few to bring home to identify. These flies are about 6-9 mm long. Still no rising fish. While were were eating dinner, we had a Coleman lantern lit. Several different caddis flies were flying around the light and the next morning the lantern was covered with midges. Still no rising trout.
I have caught trout on dry flies. On one occasion, I caught three trout on three successive cast with an Elk Hair Caddis. On another trip, I was able to catch trout on a size 20 Griffith Gnat. However, most of the time I resort to soft hackles and streamers usually with good results.
I know that trout feed subsurface most of the time; maybe there is so much food on the bottom that they don’t need to take rising insects. Still, it would be nice to have some consistent dry fly action. >>ML