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
THERE has been goodly chunks of low water despite the heat, and the fishing has been very very good. The midge hatch at Bull Shoals, once the sun climbed over the hill, was spectacular indeed.
The big water has been coming of an afternoon, keeping the river cool and the fish happy. I played at Rim Monday afternoon with only 3 other fly fishers. Hare’s Ear Parachute Hoppers were gobbled with abandon.
Yesterday morning I joined Jeff Hearn at Bull Shoals for an epic morning. Midge’s (Ruby, Jujubee and Camel) were the ticket though my mate Mike McLellan’s Hunchback Scud did very well as well. The horn blew at midday, and we all chose other duties but it would have been an easy jump down river and the sort of fun I had monday.
Late summer and fall looks like being spectacular fishing, so jump fast if you want to come play.Weekends in September are going to be at a premium, I think I might have only the last two left vacant,
GROWING UP in Australia 5 minutes from a beach meant the summer relief from the heat was always about the water. In later years it became about lakes and rivers and mayflies, terrestrials and dry flies.
Last weekend I got a rare day off without commitments with my wife Bec, the youngest Lynsey and Madison, floating in the drifter from Wildcat to Cotter. Ive been doing quite a few guide days on this stretch and the lowish flows are very good.
Wet wading is pretty good unless you are on some fresh flow in the morning. Starting early and you might need some waders, its deliciously cool. The fly rigs are light and simple, often a dry fly is serving as the best indicator and there are some serious quality fish, though these are extremely challenging.
As far as fishing was concerned it was pretty good, but we weren’t going hard, swimming, photography, fish watching and just floating was pretty good. Madison got the bonus of chasing sticks in the river.
Bec lost a real trophy brown, after a great drift, but lost the handle on the line, and the slack was enough to enable an escape. Five minutes later I got sticked up when an extremely hot brown ripped me down the next shoal.
Everyone we have floated on this stretch has had a hoot _ and as a nice break in the afternoon we have been stopping off to see Jamie Crownover at Hurst Fishing Service, where you can grab and icecream or popsicle, and for many of the women fly fishers a proper restroom.
Join us for some fun
Just went through and updated the White River and Nofork generation patterns articles in light of some recent information and incidents on the river.
The White River and Norfork are great places to fish, its a pity that the safety and needs for information to stay safe isn’t better supported by the US Army Corp of Engineers and SWPA.
Our guide isn’t comprehensive and doesn’t cover all eventualities. But there is one rule of thumb err on the side of caution _ or book a guide.
Click here for
Understanding Generation The sites, and what they tell you
Putting it All Together: What the information means on the rivers
Just been through updating the photogalleries this morning with pics from this year. Hope y’all enjoy
ITS seriously nice to be back on the White River on low flows, and happily I’ve had a few days playing on the water with some good friends.
Bull Shoals Dam is back down below below flood stage for the first time in a few years and we are getting some lower overnight flows, and the odd night with no generation, the latter situation should become more common as August moves on. And the fishing has been pretty good, with some nice browns coming to hand.
Its also been very nice to be back in the driver’s seat of a drift boat for a few days running, with some of the old tricks coming back. We will definately be doing more trips out of the Clackacraft in the right conditions, everyone has enjoyed it immensely.
Drift boats are quiet (and to some proper fly fishing vessels) and definately nice to run on the low flows. The downside is you get one shot at the fish on your path downstream since they pretty much are a one way vessel. The Supreme River Boat is very efficient for honing into fishing, and allows you to cover way more river. They are both great tools for a specific job, being able to offer both types of craft means more ways to give y’all a great day on the river.
But back to the fishing. The fish number have been silly good on relatively simple low water rigs, just two flies, no split shot and smallish indicators or a big foam ant to suspend them. Its pretty easy to catch a bunch of fish, and we have managed some better fish, the number of double hookups has been crazy.
Its actually warm enough to wet wade, though the first 10 minutes, and any deep hole after that will have you huffing and puffing a bit, its actually nicer than stiffling in your waders.
It really is a great time to be here. Just bring plenty of sunscreen, a big broad brimmed hat and a sense of adventure. We have the boat stocked with plenty of cool water, staying hydrated is a serious issue _ and we also have a spot for an icecream or a cold candy bar on the way down stream.
SOMETIMES it pays to check your gear before you hit the water.
I was heading out for a drift boat float this week when I was selecting a rod for the day, just one I wanted a simple day. I hadn’t fished my Z-Axis 5wt for a couple of months, but it was only when I hit the water I realized why.
The Rio Gold flyline I was have on the Z was well past its use by date. Which was exactly the reason I hasn’t been fishing it _ Can you say DOH! I can honestly say now that a new flyline, rather than the one I was fishing (and later photographed above), is going to change the way you fish. The real message though is change them before they look like this
I had more snarls tangles and general aggravation than I’ve known for a looong time. So I figured y”all might like to see what an old flyline looks like. Click the pic can see them larger and check out all the dark lines running across the fly line.
First off let me say this flyline was a sample from the first year of the Rio Gold. Yeh I liked it so much on the Z it had become a permanent fixture. Its been fished by me, my wife and fishermen on guide trips since late 2007. Seriously its probably been out on 400+ days with less maintenance than my mates at Rio would recomend.
Its not like my other flylines don’t get maintained, and changed regularly, particularly my guide reels. This spool though had ended up being my own personal line over the past year of its life. I’d actually acquired a couple of Rio Gold WF5Fs in the interim. One went to a charity auction and the other ended up in shop inventory when we got low.
Now look at the pic below, which will give you a pretty good idea of what all those dark likes become _ cracks. Its a wonder this flyline was floating at all and probably a tribute to the Agent X technology that it would.
Not that it was going through the guides all that well either as you could imagine. The surface was pretty rough and ready but it was one section in particular that I’d find sticking. Heck I spent a while looking for a non-existant knot.
But that sticking section back in the head (just as I’d get a decent load on the rod, was proving a problem.
This pic shows the source. Yep I’d peeled off a chunk of the coating which was putting a hitch in the giddy-up as the line was coming in or out of the guides at speed. This was all to the hilarity of my fishing companions.
So here’s the lesson, check all your flylines regularly. If they look like this replace them.
Bad language carries a long way over water.
PS: A new Rio Gold is now installed.
FOUND this hopper on the Fly Shop Wall yesterday. Grabbed a handful of Rainy’s Grand Hoppers, and my Blackberry for a camera. Pretty surprised how well they turned out. Hopper time is some serious fun, and the fish are looking up.
A foam hopper or ant with a mayfly profile nymph, Copper John, Lightning Bug, or a Pheasant Tail, slung underneath is a damn fine way to spend a day, when we are on light or zero generation. Enjoy the pics (more…)
SOME days its just enough to share some water time with good friends, sunny skies and some hungry fish.
Yesterday I was even luckier though it didn’t start out that way.
I HOPE you all enjoy the new look for the Blog, we worked out last night. It really seems to make the photography pop, and allows much bigger images. All the better to show off your big photos Hortense.
But as always when you are dealing with large image files there are concerns over loading times. I’d appreciate a little feedback if anyone’s computer is staggering under the load, let me know if you are on dial up etc.
As mentioned last week we had some high entertainment with Jim and Brenda Dugan. During the fight of both of Brenda’s brown Jim recorded video which captured some of the high drama, laughter and some occassional dodgy language.
Jim asked me to put it together for their family, describing it as the “how not to net a big brown video” . I copped a fair bit for missing early shots on both fish, but can I use the excuse my net wasn’t extending; or how about I was dodging rocks, tree, docks and fish diving under the boat??
Actually the second fish, out of camera shot, went into the net u-turned and back out before I could lift: browns are always entertaining, and it doesn’t matter how you net them if they go back healthy.
It’s Wednesday, I’m back in the shop but I still can’t stop grinning over the fun of the last week. Four days on the water, all with good friends and some very nice browns among them.
The week started with my wife Bec finally landing her first White River brown trout, on a dry fly no less. Saturday I spent on the water with good mate Jeff Trigg and his son Tyler, floating in his Clackacraft skiff, fun day despite some tough conditions.
Monday morning it was streamer time with Rob Hime, who has probably landed more 20″ browns with me than anyone. Despite enduring some rough treatment from a big he was fighting off, Rob landed one good 20″ brown and had close encounters with several more.
Yesterday it was back out with Jim and Brenda Dugan who are some of the most fun people to guide, very experienced very good fly fishers, who understand fully it can’t be perfect all the time, and take as almost much fun for everyone else’s screwups as fish landed. But they have a roster of excellent guides they enjoy spending time with, and have caught a bunch of very good fish over the years, so from my end there is always personal pressure to produce the goods.
Yesterday was it with 4 browns over 17″ and probably another 10 smallers ones, and the usual assortment of rainbows and cutts. Brenda as usual landed the two biggest, and Jim probably get more excited by those than if he’s landed them himself.
Generally the brown trout count has been high percentage wise, they are eating mayfly patterns pretty readily and showing some interest in mid-size streamers as well. The Corp of Engineers have upped the generation, in the afternoons over the last week, in a final week rush to get the lakes back down to power pool level for July 4, and so they could resume charging for lake access. Looks like some wading will start becoming available next week.
The sulphur hatch seems to be waning this week, perhaps the high afternoon flows aren’t helping so I’m not going to write it off yet, if we get some decent low water patches next week it might kick again _ as the caddis did this year. Make sure you have packed some Comparaduns or Sparkle Duns, plus the Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails and Copper Johns on top of the usual White River selection.
Even if the Sulphurs leave us this year there is still some great dry fly fishing to come, already we have heard about some sporadic hopper action, as the field dry off more hopper should migrate to the green river banks and away we go. Ants too can be very productive on hot afternoons with a little wind. Here is too a great summer to come.
DUCKED out onto Crooked Creek this week for a promised TXL 1wt-panfish on water test for the Mountain River Journal. The dog stayed at the house so I could concentrate more on some pic taking this time. But you know what, the fishing actually sucked me in and despite catching 8-10 smallies on the little twig, got home to discover only 1 smallie pic. DOH!
But these longears made up for it, they simply have the coolest colors and some serious attitude. Look how far down this monster longear sucked that Boogle Bug. Enjoy the rest of the pics.
Monday morning I was set to hit the water early, but the Child Bride wasn’t rising for work at 6am so we breakfasted late. I was heading out the door when I had a phone call for a forgotten appointment with new sales rep Terry Beeson.
It was Terry’s first trip on the road for his new employers Hendrix Outdoors, so I couldn’t blow him off, besides he a mate and fun to be around. But I couldn’t even con him into some research on the river. So I was driving along Denton Ferry Road, and some freaky cloud formations started rolling in.
Its turns out not only were they new to me but to a lot of even weather experts.
The clouds are a new type of cloud being considered for inclusion to the International Cloud Atlas by the World Meteorological Organization. The cloud is called Undulatus Asperatus which means roughened or agitated waves. The cloud is under review at this point because scientists are trying to determine if a specific set of atmospheric conditions are required for this cloud to form. The cloud is considered rare, has most often been seen on the plains of the United States during the morning or midday hours following a thunderstorm _ from KY3.com
I wasn’t the only one wondering what sort of storm was going to hit. There was an exodus off the river at the Wildcat Ramp like you woulnd’t believe. I was watching the storms push in, split then weaken through Weather Underground’s local radar service which works really nicely on my new Blackberry 9700. Its got way better graphics than my old 8800 phone and I can zoom in much more precisely on the river to track storms. Its a really nice safety net in this part of the world.
Hence I was going fishing while others were heading home.
THERE is a whole bunch to be said for warm creeks, light fly rods, dogs and panfish. I could have loaded up the boat yesterday, packed in sulphurs and nymphs and some river rods but it all just seemed so serious.
Besides Madison the black lab terrorist had been missing out on water time in recent weeks. And she isn’t a huge fan of the cold waters flowing in the White. So we headed out to Crooked Creek with a boxful of poppers, a few crawdad patterns, some baitfish profiles and an icechest full of cold drinks. It was going to be warm.
This was supposed to be a laid back trip, grab a few panfish photos, fish a lightweight one weigth for kicks. Till I discovered I’d brought along an empty tube to the TXL, which meant I ended up fishing a 9′ 4wt Z-Axis.
I was pretty surprised we had it to ourselves even on a Wednesday, but alone we were. Ozark creeks are gorgeous, the Buffalo and Crooked Creek are well known in our area, but I’ve fished and floated the Kings and War Eagle to the West. The banks are green and lush at this time of year, the waters clear and cool, and just fine for floating, swimming or wet wading.
The only downside is with the late spring rains, you might be better off floating, otherwise its some serious bush bashing, and neither really appealed yesterday. So we took up the 300 yards of bank or so and played, first with the poppers, which produced a bunch of smaller panfish, and a few better sized ones which I comprehensively failed to hook. The better fish took these without the usual ravenous hunger, more like the delicate trout sip on a spinner.
A switch over to a white foam slider brought up the wake and flash of a nice sized smallie from a cluster of submerged boulders, I stopped the retrieve hoping to trigger a strike, but it had the opposite result and that fish wasn’t to be found again.
Actually while my target species was panfish there’s largemouth in here too, and I pulled a handful of small ones crashing baitfish along a bank. The Z was probably a better rod for tossing small Clousers, especially if I’d connected to the better fish which sucked in a crawdad pattern and to round out the day I picked up one small smallmouth as well. There would have been pics of these if I’d managed to handle fish, rod and dog a little better.
The dog discovered how much run swimming in warm water is, that Dad gets crabby when you try to eat the fish off the hook, and he’s not really impressed when you try to go hunting fish on the far bank. All in all a great day on the creek, and probably just what we both needed.