“You might be coming to my house and getting my boat. My babysitter is sick…”
I’d been up since 2 am, had just gotten home from work and was in the middle of a mad dash of last minute packing and gear checking. This was not the text I wanted to get from the Cajun, or as you know him, the guy that likes to call him self “The Bum”(face it man, The Dude didn’t pick his name, so neither can you. You’re out of your element)
- Cajun gets to go, but may have to come back early. Pick up The Don, begin convoy to Springdale. Pick up Jimmy, final stretch to Mountain Home.
- Halfway there, get a call that the hotel has changed policy, lobby won't be open. Beg fishing buddy to go pick up our keys and leave em in his boat. Cuss the dumbass new hotel management. Make note to find new favorite hotel.
- Late night venture to Wally World, observe meth heads, buy beer and bran bricks, test out cold weather capabilities of Wally World rascals. Epic fail. Spend 40 mins trying to renew fishing licenses, flee with our lives but not our sanity.
-Wake up and cool down. The room heater seemed to think that 68 meant 108. Solution= Step outside to a balmy 12 degrees. A few clouds in the sky. Ready to rock.
- Drive up to Bull Shoals Dam, meet The Professor on the state park side. Gear up, launch boats. Toss a few casts on the way to breakfast, 100 yds down and across. Line freezes in the guides 6 casts in, spot fire on bank near breakfast. Time for breakfast.
- Bloody Mary's, biscuits n gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, and little pieces of heaven called blueberry pancakes. Meet all of the faces we've been stalkin on the facepage for years, meet a few new faces to stalk. Oh yes, fire. Seagulls shitting and dive bombing biscuits. Perfect. Belly's are full, vodka has hit bingo, sun is topping the ridge. Boats start launching.
- Jimmy and Cajun set off, The Don jumps in with The Professor. I'm beginning to think I've been shanghi'd with Tucker and crew, then a Speedy Gonzales Hyundi comes liding to a stop, something to the tune of Bonz n Thugs or Taylor Swift blaring out the windows. Keep your shirt on ladies, Brian Wise has arrived.
- In short time the boat is in the water. A bottle of Capn Morgan chugs some coke and becomes affixed to the rowers
- Much time is spent oogling at new fly patterns dancing in the water. I remember how to row after 6 months of abstinece. We spend 20 minutes anchored in the middle of the river like stoned teenagers, enamored by the frozen mist coming off of the line on a strip and trying to film it. Somebody breaks the seal and we have to stop every 10 minutes thereafter. Homemade spicy trail mix is ravaged. Everyone
- Not sure what happened in the other boats, but we at least have some pics to show they were actually fishing.
- The clouds had burned off early, fish weren't looking up, and nobody wanted to drag a bobber. The original plan was to make the float to Wildcat, stumble out of the boat and start cooking. Booze ran out before White Hole, so an audible was called and a shuttle arrived at White Hole full of Jimmy T and his enhanced iced tea. Word comes down that the inevitable has happened and the Cajun has to rush home.
- Grills roll out, food is prepped, people arrive by land and by sea. 10 states are repped, accents are thick and in the air. Before long a fire is lit, we're lit, and laughter is abound. Bullshit, tall tales, boasting and booze, nobody wants to call it a night. Our crew does a bit earlier than most, hoping that our room keys at the shoddy hotel might still work. Coco, Squatch, and Brad Paisley roll in from Tulsa, and Billiam appears in a cloud of dust from the north.
- Up with the sun and to White Sands for
- Wildcat to Cotter is chosen, boats are launched, and we caught a few fish not far down the shoal. The sun was covered up momentarily as the generation reached us, hearts started beating faster and a few fish started chasing. Few good eats, no hard takes. Stupid trout. A glorious treasure trove of chocolate chip muffins are found in the Yeti. Water passes, clouds hang around a bit, no big fish.
- Cotter is reached with plenty of light. Jimmy, The Professor, and Billiam head to the Norfork for some wade fishing, the rest of us head to the bar. Some caught fish, some devoured nachos and beer, all ended up at the bar. An almond eyed redheaded vixen devoured Squatch with her eyes. Mullets were observed and judged. Tab out.
- A quick stop for beer ended with liquor sampling and a bottle of apple pie drunkennnness. Party (used lightly) raged on (again, lightly) at the hotel-motel-shithole inn. Some dickhead left the door open and cranked the heater, forgetting to mention said cranking of heater.
- Wake in sauna. Heater set at 86. Thanks. Dick.
- With no water generation and little desire to float slack, wading at Norfork was chosen. 5 wts were strung up and 8's left in the chariots, the bountiful bobber beatdown had begun. Some waded up, some down, some fished the access. Didn't matter, fish were caught. Big fish were sought, but 10-16" fish were present and coveted(My precioussssssss...). An equal opportunity moment for all fish to take notice of all flies. Eggs, dirt snakes, nymphos, stupid small midgets, and the occassional short stripper were presented on a silver platter and were eaten at random.
- Blood lust filled, we rigged down and headed back to Okieland. The Professor and Billiam stayed a while longer and nursed the river like a crack head nurses the pipe, before they too headed back to Carthage. A quick stop to see Dom at Two Rivers Fly Shop proved that great things are happening there. He's turned that shop around with some serious hard work, and he's got a pretty kick ass dog too.
Oh yeah, my waders blew out early Sunday morning. Subsequent testing shows no durability. This pair is less than 2 years old.