Monday, February 28, 2011
So DonnyB and I left at 5:00am with Rogers, Arkansas as our destination where we would meet up with Joey at his house. After arriving at Joey's, we grabbed our gear, threw it in the "Sub", and headed for for the river. We made our way down to the HWY 62 bridge, paid the $3.00 parking fee, and pulled into an empty parking lot. Brilliant! We geared up and started making our way downstream to an area that Joey had fished with his dad a few weeks prior and said it had fished awesome since both the tailwater and Table Rock Lake were very low. It had created a nice channel below a shoal with some big boulders along the way. Well, to our disappointment, the prior rain earlier in the week had brought the lake up and the area was completely full of water, no river channel. We chucked some streamers against the bank and along the boulders with only a couple of fish coming to the net. We packed up and headed back up river to fish closer to the bridge below another shoal.
We fished our way back up to the 1st shoal below the bride. We picked up several fish along the way, all of them super healthy, had all their fins, and very pretty. Must be all holdover fish from previous years stockings that have got in touch with their wild side. About this time, we ran into our good buddy, Corey Dodson, who had decided to meet us on the water. We continued our way to the top of the shoal and then made our way to the parking lot for some coffee and what was left of the chocolate muffins from breakfast.
After a quick fill up, we decided to hike upstream to explore the river as Joey didn't go upstream on his previous outing. We made our way to the old railroad bridge and tried our luck in the deep run above and below the bridge pillar. We managed a couple of hook ups but overall the fishing was pretty slow. Frustration was beginning to set in with everyone when DonnyB, Joey, and I hiked on upstream to where the river channel narrowed up and we actually stumbled upon a pretty sweet looking run. It was deep, slow movin at the bottom and then turned into a fairly swift run coming off a gravel bar at the top. I hiked up to the top of the run and crouched down on the gravel bar just above where the water dropped off into the main run. I began high stickin' the top of that run througly, picking up a handful of fish as the other guys worked their way up to meet me, picking up a few fish along the way as well. The day had made an upswing for us and spirits were back up on the river.
Joey and I hiked upstream to check out the water above the island but found nothing worth fishing so we headed back downstream to the bottom end of the shoal to start fishing our way back to the truck. We met back up with DonnyB and Corey where we spent some time fishing and taking some photographs of the river.
We began the hike back downstream towards the truck, leap-frogging from spot to spot, covering the better looking water as we went. We each picked up a few fish along the way but still, no big fish had came to the net. We were almost to the bottom of the narrow channel when Corey hooked up with what we thought was a "better fish". The better fish turned out to be a toad of a brown trout. Even crazier, the fish took a #20 zebra midge somehow. The fish fought kinda lazily, no big runs or anything...just kinda swam around, which we thought was odd. Corey finally got the fish turned and was able to pull it close enough to allow Joey to net it. It was an awesome fish, at first we thought its jaw was all tore up till we got the fish turned around to find a 6" sculpin hanging out of its mouth, half digested! No wonder it wasn't fighting very hard. The brown was easily 20-22" and FAT! Beautiful fish...
We decided to call it quits shortly after releasing that fish and head back to the car. There was some weather moving in and we wanted to get on the road before the weather got too bad.
The lower part of Beaver was a nice change of pace for a day-trip, plus its always a treat to fish new water. So far, 2011 has been a great year for fishing. Plans are being worked out as we speak for this weekends fishing adventure, where that will be is unknown. I think that might be half the fun...
Until next time, keep chasing the dream...
Thursday, February 24, 2011
So this year, we decided to go for broke by going to fish probably the best trout water in the Ozarks and one of the best tailwaters in the nation...the White River below Bull Shoals. This fabled tailwater is nothing short of amazing. It contains all 4 major species of trout, all of which grow to large size and, in the case of its brown trout, world record size.
The crew and I packed our gear into the truck last friday afternoon, then set a course for Mountain Home, Arkansas where we would make base camp at the River Rock Inn. We made the usual rounds in town to get our licenses, some food/drinks, and any other last minute items before settling in at the motel for the night to sort and prep our gear for the next days quest. On a side note, with this crew, there is never a dull moment when we arent on the water as that evening was filled with some adult beverages that came from a mini-keg, night-time casting with new rods, and dialing in Cole's mohawk.
Between 5 guys, we had 16 fly rods in the truck
Our provisions for the weekend...
Friday night festivities!
After a sleepless night for most of us, we got up, grabbed our gear, and some breakfast...then heading for Bull Shoals Dam to start the day at the Catch and Release area. This area had been closed for the brown trout spawn for the past few months so we thought this would be the best place to get the skunk off. We pulled into the parking lot to find only a handful of vehicles already there so things were looking up. We all anxiously geared up and did the normal process of elimination on which fly to start the day off. We made our decisions and then hit the river.
We spent the first part of the morning working the area below the dam extensively but fishing was a little slow for us. Some of us got the skunk off right off the bat and was able to bring some fish to the net. Mostly just small stocker rainbows but it was good to hook up with some fish. We caught just a handful of fish overall after working our way down through the Catch and Release area. Not sure what the deal was. Weather? Fly Choice? We suck? Whatever it was, the area started to fill up with anglers so we decided to load up and head down stream to Wildcat Shoals in hopes of finding better, less crowded water. After a few wrong turns thanks to Joey, we arrived at the parking lot and made the hike downstream to Wildcat Shoals. This is a sweet area on the White. Lots of pocket water with little chutes and runs all over the shoals, along with fish EVERYWHERE. We all picked a line and started fishing our way down the shoals. We picked up just a handful of fish once again, just stocker rainbows on various different flies. We worked our way down the shoal to where the river creates a couple of larger runs that dumps into the main river channel. This is where we had our first "incident" of the trip. DonnyB had a small tangle on the end of his Albright 5wt so he held the rod about halfway and reached for the tip where the fly line was tangled. As he grabbed the fly line and was about to start unwrapping...SNAP! The rod broke right above the next to last guide, clean break. Mr. Bradford wasnt too happy with the ol' Albright and after a little persuasion from Crik and myself, he decided we would make a pitstop at the fly shop and look at rods. Shortly after that, we decided to make the hike back down to the truck, eat some lunch, go make a stop at the fly shop, and then head to Rim Shoals.
After lunch and a pitstop at the fly shop, we pointed the truck toward Rim Shoals to finish the day off. Rim Shoals is a very popular area on the White River...and for good reason, it has some amazing water. The shoal itself is massive with tons of pocket water, runs, riffles, and lil' chutes...packed full of trout! It is some truly awesome water. Its my favorite place on the White River by far, just from what little I have got to fish it. We all picked our spots and started working our way down the river, fishing all the prime spots. We were hoping for some bugs to come off in the afternoon, like what we had been hearing, but with the weather...nothing was coming off. So we stuck to nymph patterns and swinging buggers to bring some trout to the net. Again, nothing large...more cookie cutter stockers but they were full of fight and really pretty fish for some hatchery freaks. As darkness was approaching, we decided to pack it in and go get some dinner so we could refuel before heading back to the dam to do some night fishing for some big browns.
After some grub, adult beverages, and some ridiculous banter with the waitresses from the local Chilis, we grabbed our big sticks and big flies and headed back to the dam. Joey, Corey, and myself were the only ones with any night fishing experience so the other guys were a little anxious to see what all the hype was about. Night fishing on the White River means that at any point, that thump you feel, could be a fish of a lifetime. Browns over 30" are not uncommon on this river, especially at night where you can throw big nasty streamers. We all spent the night in complete darkness, doing the normal routine of chucking and ducking some big nasties. We caught several small stocker rainbows along with 2 browns coming to hand, an 18" football for DonnyB and a 16" chunk for myself. We packed up at 11 pm and headed back to the motel to get some much needed sleep.
The next morning we packed up all our gear, checked outta the motel, and grabbed some coffee from the local choke and puke before making our way back down to Rim Shoals for the final day of fishing. We arrived at the parking lot to only 1 other vehicle so we geared up quickly and hit the water. Most of the crew started at the top of the shoal while DonnyB, Joey, and myself took the big walk downstream to the end of the island at the bottom of the shoal. We fished out a deep run picking up some fish here and there but nothing very consistent. I worked my way up to the next run above us and started high-sticking the water when I looked downstream to see Joey making another big walk downstream. I didnt think much of it because all I could see was a big, wide, slow flat...more suited for a drift boat and streamers than our conventional trout gear. I continued to fish out the hole when I noticed DonnyB beginning to make the big walk as well. I looked upstream and took a guess why they were heading downstream as Rim Shoals was starting to get a little crowded. I followed in suit and headed downstream to see what Joey had discovered.
As I kept walking downstream, the river started to make a slow bend, I started hearing running water, and could see that the river split around an island which created another shoal. There was some seriously sweet water down there, it was well worth the walk too. We had the whole section to ourselves with just a few guys a few hundred yards downstream of us. We worked that area over really well, picking up a bunch of rainbows on zebra midges, scuds, and egg patterns. Nothing big, a couple of 14" or 15" fish here and there but it was a good time. The weather had finally cleared up as well, the wind had died down some, and the sun was out...the fish were really on the eat. Joey, DonnyB, and I finished up the day up on that awesome piece of water. Around noon we decided to pack it in and head for the truck.
All in all, it was a great trip. No big browns were caught but there is always next time. The white is an awesome place, I cant wait to get back and give it another shot. I think the crew and I kicked the year off right and there is nothing but more great fishing stories to come. I cant wait for a Current River trip in just under 2 months. Thoughts of massive caddis hatches, rising trout, and great camp food are already filling my head...man, I cant wait!
Until then, chase the dream...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
With the new year comes new beginnings for my favorite addiction. Hunting gear is stored away and the fishing gear is pulled outta the closet. I spent most of a Saturday sorting out gear, throwing away old tippet, cleaning fly lines, and tying flies to fill the voids in my fly boxes. It was good to get everything in order and ready for the first outing of the year.
Sadly, it took several weeks before I could get out on the water due to various reasons. Finally, on a Sunday afternoon last weekend, I escaped to the Lower Illinois with Crik and DonnyB to chase some trout. Anxious couldn't even begin to describe how I was feelin as we walked down to the river from the parking lot. I literally wanted to sprint to the water, I couldn't stand it. We walked downstream till we got to one of our favorite stretches of water and went to work. It took a little bit to knock the cobwebs off on my end, but it wasn't long before I had a bent rod and big smile on my face. The first trout of 2011 slid into the net and you woulda thought it was my 1st fish ever. Life had came full circle and I was back to doing what I loved.
With the new year also comes plans for upcoming trips. As I'm writing this, the crew and I just returned from the White River in Arkansas. There will be a more in-depth write-up on this trip very soon. Talks of other trips to come have already come about as a trip to the Lower Mountain Fork is planned, the annual April trip to the Current is not far away, the pursuit of Oklahoma chrome is just around the corner and I have a father/son trip planned to chase redfish in the Louisana Delta.
This is going to be a good year for fishing I hope. I can't wait to get going and get on the water. I'm excited to say the least. It's time to feed the addiction and chase the dream...
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We had some decent weather, not that anyone really noticed…
…and even caught a few fish.
...and has kept us locked up inside for the last too weeks.