Tuesday, October 30, 2012
This last week I was fortunate enough to get an invite down to the White River to do a little fishing and hang out with a great group of guys. I knew some of these fish bums from a trip down on the White last year but I also got to meet up with several new folks that I hadn't had the pleasure of hanging with. With two drift boats already at full capacity I made a call to my buddy Ray and convinced him that we needed to drag his skiff South for the weekend and see if we couldn't stick a few fish and drink a few beers. I'm pretty sure those are a couple of his favorite pasttimes and I didn't have to twist his arm for too long before he gave in to the idea. He showed up out front of the house after work on Thursday and we loaded up my shit and hit the road for Cotter and the Blue Heron campground where we'd be staying for the next three nights. We got in late and set up camp in the dark with a light rain falling. After a couple of beers to take the edge off the drive down we called it a night , ready to hit the water the next morning. The next morning we got up , made some coffee , and then called the rest of the group who had come down on Wednesday night and already had a day of fishing (and drinking) under their belt. The word was that they had a tough day floating the Fork on Thursday and were planning to hit the White today , but were moving a little slow this morning. Without an alcohol induced stupor to deal with (yet), Ray and I told them our plan was to float from the dam to Wildcat and that we'd see em out on the water. I'm not sure if it's karma or just dumb luck , but for years I've been fishing the Arkansas tailwaters and hoping for low wadeable water which I seldom got. Now that I've got a few buddies with driftboats that are willing to put up with my ass and let me tag along I find myself wishing for just the opposite , good floating and streamer chunking water , which it seems I seldom get either. Par for the course we got to the ramp on Friday morning to find dead low water and an SWPA prediction for more of the same all weekend. Needless to say we weren't gonna get that streamer water we'd hoped for , but you take it as it comes and make the most of it. Word was that the bobber bite had been pretty good recently so we set up a couple of rods with an indicator and nymph rig and proceeded to educate countless numbers of stocker bows. If numbers are your thing then I'd have to say the fishing was just plain sick , every time we dropped the anchor to fish a spot we were almost immediately doubled up on fish. At times we tired of the constant bite and gave in to the urge to chuck streamers, but that shit just wasn't happening on the water we were dealt so eventually we'd go back to the nymph rig and the non-stop action that ensued. We caught up with some of the guys at White Hole and stopped for a beer break on the gravel bar out front. It seemed as though our luck was going around after talking to the others , lots of small bows but they weren't moving any fish with streamers either. We finished up the float with a good buzz and a few more badges of honor on the bottom of the boat , let's just say the White on low water will leave a mark! After getting the boat and our gear ready for the next day we shoved a thirty pack in the Yeti and headed back to Wildcat where the guys had rented a house for the weekends festivities. By the time we got back the party had already started in earnest , the grill was going...Tucker was whipping up some mad cuisine in the kitchen...and a small group of guys was huddled around the firepit in the backyard. It was a hell of a fun evening to say the least , the adult beverages flowed all night , the food was ridiculous (in a good way!) and the bullshit that tends to flow out of a group of fishermens mouths after a few drinks is more entertaining than you can imagine. I left the party with a few new one liners that I can't wait to use but in the interest of keeping this a somewhat family friendly blog I'll refrain from posting them!! At one point during the night it was decided that we just had to see the new light setup on Paul and Dan's Hyde so we all trekked down to the ramp at Wildcat and watched the light show. My pics don't do it justice , you had to be there to fully appreciate it , these guys get my vote for most pimped driftboat. As the morning drew closer folks started staggering off to wherever it was they were spending what was left of the night and Ray and I headed back to camp and a couple of cold-ass tents. The next morning we discussed the days plans and it was evident that everbody had different ideas on where to fish so we split up and covered all of the bases. Paul and Dan took their boat and headed to Taneycomo for the day , Matt and his guys were floating from Cotter to Rim Shoals and Ray and I decided to take our chances with the predicted generation on the Norfork tailwater. After setting up a shuttle with Two Rivers Flyshop we launched the boat at Quarry Park on low water even though they were supposed to be running one unit. We picked up several fish between the ramp and the dock hole and then we got lucky. They blew the horn at the dam not once but twice signaling the start of generation that we had been hoping for. We nymphed around a little more until the flows started really picking up and then switched over to our streamer rods for the remainder of the float. The water was perfect and we enjoyed the scenery and the fact that we were fishing the way we wanted to , chunking streamers in a good flow. I wish I could tell you that we hammered them , but unfortunately we didn't. We both landed a small brown and I went through a stretch where I turned a half dozen fish and even got a couple of eats but I just couldn't seal the deal. The best fish of the day , probably an 18" brown , came unbuttoned about 10 feet out from the boat to my dismay. I have days like that when streamer fishing , sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't. It was still a great day and we'll definitely be back to harass some of those browns on the Fork before the years out. With good water flow and such a short float we were loaded up and headed back to the White by 4:00. When we arrived at camp the river was still dead low and there were plenty of wade fishing opportunities right around camp so we decided to spend the last few hours of daylight seeing what kind of damage we could do. The story was the same as the day before , you couldn't keep the stocker bows off your fly long enough to have a chance at anything bigger. I stripped a size 6 olive bugger the entire evening and at one point had nine casts in a row with a fish landed. Ray stuck with an indicator setup and had pretty much the same results. Even with the numbers of fish we caught there just wasn't much size to any of them. I know it sounds like I'm complaining , but really I'm not (too much anyway) , it was a beautiful evening and I was standing in a great river and catching fish on almost every cast. That evening we headed back over to the house at Wildcat and spent the evening hanging out. Things were a little more low key tonight but the beer was still cold and the food still rocked. We sat around and watched the World Series game after dinner and talked fishing until it was time to head out. Good-byes were said as the rest of the group was headed over to the Spring River in the morning on their way back to St. Louis while Ray and I were going to finish up our day wading the White up by the dam. Sunday turned out to be a weird water day on the White , when we got up to the dam they were running one unit and then they shut it down shortly after we started fishing. We needed to be on the road by noon so the morning was short but we managed a few hours of fishing. Falling water is never a recipe for good fishing in my book but we got lucky and Ray was able to land the biggest fish of the trip , a fat brown around 20 inches , just before we were about to call it a day. High fives all around and we felt at least somewhat satisfied after not getting any fish of that caliber to the boat all weekend. Just goes to show that if you stick with it eventually something good will happen , even with a couple of dirilects like us! Honestly the entire weekend was hard to beat. I met up with some old friends , made some new ones , and got to float and fish a couple of the finest tailwaters in the country. Here's to the next bash, boys!!
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
36 hours...that's all the allotted time I had to play with. Five days in Tennessee for training upcoming , work to finish up around the house before that and the wife had plans for me that would take up at least part of my time before leaving. Joe and I hadn't been out much lately so I decided to pack up some gear and head South regardless of the limited time. I debated on staying close to home but I was really itching to hit something that would require a bit more of a road trip , 10 hours of driving...five or six hours of sleep...half my time was already gone before I got started , but even a few hours on the water does wonders for the soul. We pulled into the campground around 10:00 , set up camp and ate a quick lunch before hitting the water. We only spent about half a day fishing our intended destination and after finding the water still unseasonably low we ventured off to another section of stream where we explored some new areas in search of the smallmouth that I knew to inhabit this water. We found some beautiful water and enjoyed discovering a few new spots to try on another outing , but the fish just didn't cooperate and we couldn't hook up with any smallies. As it turned out the fall weather was awesome , other fishermen were non-existent, a few small wild rainbows were caught and the company was the best a man can ask for. Here's a few pictures to show the rest of the short story.....