John Boatwright and Kevin Vincent’s annual sojourn north to fish the White with me is a classic. Most of their fishing time is spent on the Gulf Coast chasing hardpulling saltwater species.
But the whole White River streamer bug has bit them hard. Last year in some big water they moved some seriously big browns but the deal couldn’t be closed. This year the fever was on them. The guys fish hard, wind doesn’t phase them, and they deserved a big fish. And it took some doing with water levels yo-yoing, some crazy wind, threatening storms but their general silliness is a godsend during the flat periods. Its really hard to row straight when you are crying tears of laughter.
The guys get it. Yeh we are all big kids playing with expensive toys and very determined to find a trophy brown, but its really all about the fun, comradeship and some laughs.
Friday was all about numbers, try 20 browns to 19.5″ but none bigger; Sunday we nymphed up a goodly amount but low water and a bunch of wind made the streamer fishing a chore. Saturday we did 2 floats after a slow morning we bounced downstream for the toad and some others.
For the record Kevin’s fish went 25 1/2″, ate a prototype white streamer of mine about 8″ long on an 8wt, 15 lb test and a type 6 Rio Outbound line. John had a fish of similar class all over one of my Super Bunnies but it somehow missed both hooks.
Looking forward to seeing you guys back.
FEBRUARY, it seems like its lasted for ever, but its been a lot of fun.
We have had high water for streamers and low water for wading, deep snow and bitter cold followed by 70 degree blue sky days. A lot of hours on the oars and some on the throttle and even a few with a rod in hand. We had a bunch of friends around, which is always good and one heck of a nice brown to finish off the month.
Its feeling a lot like spring, with some wind, warm and and caddis can’t be far away. This year’s hatch could be epic, and last year was crazy good. Everyone talks about the Mother’s Day Caddis on the Arkansas, our hatch lasted for 3 months last year. Right now every stone you turn seems to be covered with cases.
With the amount of low water we have been having the dry fly fishing should be crazy good. Stay tuned.
IT’S winter a time for a fly fishing blogger’s post count to climb, but its been way too hectic for that. January kicks off serious streamer fishing time, and oh its been good. Really good, there are so many 20″ to 23″ brown trout in the river right now its crazy, it seems silly but you are wading through those to find the real fish.
And then there was Gabe Levin’s fish, pictured above, a hell of a fish caught and release on not great conditions. Gabe is the younger brother of good mate Ben Levin, who is on our guide team. Gabe, a college senior, doesn’t get to fish that often, so was red hot to fish, Ben and I had practically given up the day given the 35mph wind gusts we’d been fighting on our shifts on the oars. Within half a mile of our lunch spot Gabe stuck this monster male, the biggest any of our network has landed on a streamer.
The browns are pretty much off the spawn and actively hunting food now, looking to get back to condition, which is why we have been pinging some skinny fish. If we can get a decent shad kill next month, and some good water flows it will really help put some condition on these browns.
If you can get a chance to get on the water at this time, just rug up and its worth it. But there is a bit of a learning curve to go through, casting a sinking line, line control, stripping speeds and then th size of the flies themselves. Bill Oliver landed in my lap last week, raw as a gourd on streamers, but eager to learn. But the time we had got through Wildcat Shoal he was hitting some dang nice casts, and was rewarded by two 20″ fish and two way better lost, plus some overly ambitious rainbows and cutts. Other trips have been rewarding, good friends and good fishing, enjoy the pics, most from my new Canon EOS T2i.
THE day after Christmas I had a buddy in town, Nate Horn from Mississipi, but was rostered in the fly shop. Nate had heard the tales of Dry Run Creek, and negotiated with our youngest Lynsey to be his entre into this fantastic under-16 fishery.
Nate’s something of a favorite of the girls, which is how he was able to get Lynsey into those way too big waders. It was pretty chilly which is why everyone looks like the little brother in “A Christmas Story”. But here’s a pictorial of Nate and my wife Bec’s photos so you can share in the fun. I wish I’d been able to be there.
Yep its cold in the mornings, the sun is bright, the water levels fluctuating. But c’mon do you want to spend another day on the couch?
Some times you just need to say to hell with it and go fishing.
ITS been fun getting back out the big stick, big flies and on some bigger water the past week for some streamer fishing, some of the best fun you can have with your waders on.
We really have had some productive trips throughout winter hucking the big stuff, and last weekend I had the first decent shot on some better water with regulars Robert Hime and his son Mason. Robert’s become a streamer addict, invariably his first question is will we be streamer fishing? He’s landed several with me in the 20″ to 22″ range but the truly big one has eluded the net. Mason though he has a fine cast hadn’t really got into the streamer bit
That might all change after our session last Saturday morning when he landed 2 nice browns including one pushing 20″. Robert landed a couple in thelower teens and stuck one of my baby brown flies into a really good fish, but the hook popped out on some violent headshakes. It was a good sign for things to come.
Wednesday Ben Levin and I snuck out for the first time in ages. Ben is solid people, a very good addition to our guide team at the shop, lots of fun to be around and a damn good fly fisher.
We’d been stuck in the shop longer than planned working through the Simms; Rainys and SA offerings for 2011 with rep and mate Eric Kraimer. The plan was to kidnap Eric for a few hours of water time, poor bugger lives in Texas so doesn’t get much trout time and he’d been working way too hard. Plus some sleazebag stole his entire collection of Rainy’s fly samples out of his truck earlier this year. So he deserved the break, but unfortunately his travel schedule was just too tight.
So I got to fish in Eric’s place instead of just running the boat. KIndly I sent the above pic to Eric who was driving to Little Rock _ his answer was unprintable here.
The streamer fishing should get even better as more fish get through their spawning ritual and starting looking to regain lost condition. Cold weather will lead to higher flows, and more opportunities to target the better fish.
Definately give me a call if you want to experience this side of the White River, and Norfork Tailwater.
THE Summer crowds of fly fishers have returned to their cities, their regular jobs, and the river is left to a motley crew of seriously addicted. The leaves have turned, and in many cases have fallen, the mornings are cool, and while the days are unseasonally warm, the fair weather fishers have largely fled. You have to want it a little more to keep fishing November through February.
My buddy Jeff needed the outing, his wife Cindy is back in for more treatment for a long brave battle with cancer and his thoughts and days are consumed. He found one day free and we took the Clacka from State Park to White Hole, a nice float without too bad a shuttle. Jeff usually demands the oars to let me fish more than my share, today it was his turn. And the fish did their part, 20 odd browns to about 19″ and a mess of rainbows.
I still caught plenty, and lost a really nice brown to a hook opening up, a rarity, but it wasn’t my tie _ I try and stick with TMCs for a good reason. But it really didn’t matter it was more fun seeing Jeff’s grin when we pulled up on a little run on a feeling I had, he took 3 steps from the boat as I scooted away and proceeded to whallop 5 really good browns on about he same number of casts. Its good out here now, and if you can get away midweek all the better.
IT’S said that even a diet of champagne and caviar would pall quickly if there weren’t any other options _ its good to do something different for a while. A couple of my good friends across the border had lured me into their own personal muskie quests, the fish of 10,000 casts.
They had been getting good results lots of follows, (you know these are tough fish when afficianado’s count follows) and several fish from 40″ to 47″, plus one which bit through 60lb flourocarbon. So I packed up and drove through darkness to a rendezvous up north, 10wt in the truck.
Well as of now I only have a 9000 to go, and I’m yet to get my first follow, but dang it was fun. I spent the next few days tying monster Hang Times flies for the next outing.
Bruce sounded a little taken aback when I asked if he would like to try some dry fly fishing on the White this week.
“Everything I’ve ever read about the White and Norfork said nothing about dry fly fishing…..” Then he told me he was a nympher, largely due to his job. He works second shift so sneaks in early mornings to his some rivers in PA. He’s heading home by the time hatches really start. “But its nice to get away from tossing lead.”
So dry fly it was with first Bec’s Hopper and then a succession of Chernobyls pulling up fish on the light, under a unit, flows we enjoyed through lunch. A 16 Ruby Midge underneath did some damage as well.
We had a hard rise after lunch which threw the fish off for a bit, but by changing nymphing leaders and rigs we stayed with it, and the fish kept coming, a mix of nice rainbows in the mid to upper teens, a couple of nice cutts and one nice brown which rolled off the hook.
Bruce’seyes almost bugged out of his skull when one big big rainbow rose up out of a logjam to eyeball the Chernobyl.
Enjoy the rest of the pics, and join us for some fun. October is looking really good.
THE FISHING has to be hot when even a heat index of around 110 doesn’t raise question in the boat about heading in for the day. The last 3 days on the water have produced some phenomenal fishing, and some gorgeous fish and lots of fish.
Joel Fulmer, from Memphis, produced the fish of the weekend with big head coming fully out of the water, to engulf a Rainy’s Deer Hair Hopper. He and good friend Chris Heppel, who has appeared in these pages a few times, scored a bunch of fish on Copper Johns Friday, and a few stripping buggers and of course some on top. This was a big dark lanky maleeven better the previous cast he scored a 19″ brown on a Copper John.
For all my artsy fartsy photography and wanting to get it back in the water fast Chris’ lower res camera phone pic gives the best impression of size of this fish. Click to view
Saturday and Sunday I had Hardy Winburn V and Hardy Winburn VI, who had been sent in my direction a very good mutual friend. Number 5 and Number 6 have fished a lot together over the years, Canada, the Bahamas and the Little Red. But they don’t get to spend much time together these with the younger Hardy having attended college in Boston, and is now NYC based chasing an acting career. The kid has a good head on his shoulders, 3 movies under his belt and plenty of passion, I wish him well on that tough road.
We had scored a good number of 12-16″ fish early, then things slowed up for us until we broke for lunch, rehydrated and re-energized. Back on he water things lit up. I recall Hardy V saying at one point “I’ve had 12 straight drifts and landed a fish over 16”. They were all slabs, with one super thick 18″ fish and one nice 19″ fish. Day two we went downstream brown hunting, looking for a fish like Joel’s, and we hooked plenty of small ones, until Hardy VI nailed a nice 17″ brown.
Enjoy the pix