Saturday, July 24, 2010

In Search of the Slam - Day Two

We rose the next morning, once again, at 5 a.m. with our fingers crossed for low water on the White. I jumped on the laptop and checked the generation page while Joey called the dam hotline. The hotline and the website hadn't been updated in a couple of hours but the graph showed the water to be falling so we took a chance, jumped in the Subaru, and headed for Bull Shoals State Park. We arrived to see high, fast flowing water which dashed our hopes of fishing the White. Joey called the hotline again and they updated it, stating the dam was running 2 units. Damn the luck...

We decided to head back to the Norfork and fish the C&R section again. We arrived at the parking lot to find it only about half-full which was a great sight to see. We geared up and decided to hike farther upstream this morning to fish some of the other shoals. We hiked up past the sections we fished the day before, which were covered with anglers this morning. We kept hiking till we thought we'd gotten away from the people....and we kept going. It was a good decision as we came up on an awesome looking plunge pool with a shoal below it that had a nice run that created a sweet tailout pool. Excellent water....





Joey began working the head of the run while I re-rigged and on the first drift, fish on! If that was any kind of a sign as to things to come, we were in for special treat. I quickly re-rigged, waded in half-way down the run, and on my 3rd drift set the hook on a nice rainbow. It was going to be a good morning! We worked our way down the run, fishing it from each side...pulling trout out left and right. I was fishing a tandem nymph rig once again with a brown san juan worm while swapping out different colors of scuds and midges for my dropper. Joey just stuck with the brown san juan worm. The fish were really loving the san juan today...





At this point in the trip, I was just a cutthroat away from having my Grand Slam and Joey needed a brookie so hopes were high for a double slam! Hopes were high we'd both get it. We fished out the lower run all the way down to the tailout, picking up fish the whole way but I couldn't get a cuttie nor could Joey get a brookie. After that we walked around to fish the plunge pool area of the shoal. This area was pretty sweet, each little waterfall creating a small run/riffle that was LOADED with fish! There were a few fish rising so Joey switched to dries and was able to get into a few fish while I was high-sticking the pocket water.

I walked over to a spot on the "ledge" of the plunge pool where several small waterfalls converged together to make a nice run with a deep hole below it. Before casting, I took a look into the hole as several fish were moving in and out. Luckily, I could identify a few cutthroat in the hole by spotting their orange fins...this was my chance at the Slam! I re-tied my flies back on so I'd have fresh knots and began high-sticking the hole. I caught a couple of good rainbows quickly on the midge dropper that put up a great fight and showed some acrobatics. My next drift I dropped my rig over on the far side of the run and watched the indicator dance its way through the run. Just before picking up to re-cast, my indicator twitched ever so slightly and I set the hook! I peered into the water to see flashes of orange...yes, it was a cutthroat!! Finally! It wasn't a very big cuttie but it completely my 2nd grand slam...I was pretty stoked!




Shortly after that, we began making our back downstream towards the parking lot. We found some fish rising along the way and made some half-hearted presentations to them but they were sipping midges in the film so we decided to move on. We fish the bottom of one of the runs we fished the day before and caught a few more fish before calling it quits. We were hot, tired, and hungry plus they were scheduled to start generating in an hour so we headed for the parking lot and packed up our gear.

It was a great weekend trip even though we didn't get to fish the White and Joey missed his Grand Slam by 1 fish. The Norfork is an awesome tailwater to say the least. Plans are being made to return to Arkansas again in August in hopes of fishing the White during hopper season, so we'll cross our fingers once again.

In the meantime, I'm thinking a smallmouth wade trip is in order for tomorrow...

Keep chasing the dream...

In Search of the Slam - Day One

First off, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts lately to the blog. With summer being here, work has been crazy and my pregnant wife needs my help more and more with day-to-day chores so time has been limited. Don't know what my other "elite fish bum" friends have been doing and why they haven't been posting as I know they've all been fishing. Oh well...it really doesnt matter. Its just a blog...

Anyways, a couple weeks back, Joey and I were lucky enough to take a full weekend trip to Arkansas in hopes of fishing the legendary waters of the White and Norfork Rivers. Generation schedules showed that the water would be off till 3:00 p.m. both days on the Norfork and then only a half generator for the White on sunday which would offer PRIMO wading conditions. I packed my gear up after work, set a course for Rogers to meet Joey at his house where we'd throw our stuff in the Subaru, and make the final trek to Mountain Home.

The next morning we rose from our beds at 5:00 a.m. at the River Rock Inn (cheap motel but super comfy beds) and checked the generation on both rivers. The White was generating as was scheduled but the Norfork had been off since midnight so we headed for Quarry Park below Norfork Dam. We arrived to find that we were the 1st ones to the parking lot and only 1 other person on the water so we geared up quickly. The area below the dam has a couple of sweet sections of water followed by a long stretch of "dead" water. We started at the 1st shoal directly in front of the parking lot and begain working the seams with tandem nymph rigs. It didn't take long before Joey was hooked up with a solid brown at the head of the run. I quickly reeled in and grabbed Joeys long handled Broden net to assist him in landing the fish. After some solid runs and a few quick moves to avoid the net, I finally landed the fish and it was a solid Norfork brown. Joey got his 1st of the 4 species that make up the Arkansas Grand Slam (Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and Cutthroat).




I got my 1st fish shortly after with a stocker rainbow that I plucked from a deep hole on a brown san juan worm. Got the 1st of the 4 for the Slam, only 3 to go! I followed that fish up with another stocker sized brown that sipped the scud that I was fishing as a dropper. Joey continued to pluck fish after fish out of the riffle upstream of me, with all those fish being stocker rainbows and browns minus a decent cutthroat that he caught before moving on.



We worked our way through that shoal till we go to the tailout where it widened out and go DEEP. We saw some NICE fish hanging out right at the drop-off where the shallow riffle opened up to the bigger water. We put several drifts by them but they had no interest in what we offered them, but man they were nice fish. They'd just move in and out of that little pocket...they were all in the 3-5lb range I'd guess. Solid fish...

We moved downstream and worked a couple of side channels where we plucked a few fish here and there but no consistant action really. The highlight of that section was my last fish that I caught before we left. I was high-sticking a small riffle when my indicator dove so I set to find that it was a pretty small fish. Upon first glance, I thought it was a rainbow but after landing it we realized it was a brook trout! I love these fish, I think they are the freaking sweetest looking trout on the planet. Obviously these hatchery fish don't have all the vibrant colors of a wild fish but they're still pretty. This species is the hardest to come by on the White or the Norfork as they seem to congregate close to the dams and there just isn't near as many as the other species. I've heard rumors of HUGE brookies that hang out close to Norfork dam, past the cable where you can't fish...man, what I would give to hook one of them! Anyways...this was species #3 on the list, all I needed was a cutthroat which as the weekend went out, turned into quite a challenge to complete.



We packed up shortly after this to go grab some food and make a pitstop at the Blue Ribbon Fly Shop as we needed a few odds and ends plus I just like going to fly shops as each one has its own "flavor".



After picking up some tippet, split shot, and a few indicators...we drove down to the C&R section on Norfork, just upstream of its confluence with the White. This section has plenty of awesome water to offer but its heavily fished as well by fly fisherman. Luckily, after a short hike upstream, we had 2 of the better runs to ourselves and were greeted with rising trout. We knew that Sulphers had been coming off on the White and Norfork for the past few weeks but we were told that the hatch was starting to taper off. What we found was a sporiadic hatch as the fish were rising randomly all across both runs. Neither one of us had any Sulphers (idiots) so Joey tied on a creme Elk Hair Caddis and I went with a Light Cahill. The fun was on after that! We caught lots of fish by targeting specifically rising trout as we worked our way through this section. Browns, rainbows, and cutties steadily came to the net, although I still hadn't even HOOKED a cutthroat. The fishing was awesome to say the least for the remaining hours we fished till the generation started. There's nothing more fun than doing some "head hunting" for rising trout on dries.

video








We packed up and headed for Gassville to find a hotel closer to the White so we could get on the water early. We chose the Brass Door Motel to take a load off, get a hot shower, and then left to go get some grub. If you're looking for a nice place to eat in the area, check out the Americana Grill in Flippin. Great service, price, and food. We spent the rest of the evening at the hotel sorting gear, tying flies, and developing a plan of attack for the White as we crossed our fingers that the generation schedule would be true...

A few last minute flies...