We were up at 4:45am to shower and gear up before meeting Jim Traylor of FlyFishArkansas.com for breakfast at the Gold Pan Cafe in Lakeview, Arkansas. We have fished with Jimmy in the past and that fact that they were running water had our spirits up, particularly because we spotted Gulls taking something from the water near Gastons….could we have hit the impossible…..the White River Shad Kill. A drastic temerature change was going to occur today with the temps ranging more than 30 degrees. Our hopes were up.
We caught up over breakfast, as it has been since October since we have seen each other The group breakfast has become sort of the tradition on our trips to the White River. It is cheap, eats pretty good, and keeps you from needing a lunch when out on the river, besides nothing nurses a hangover like a good shit after a greasy breakfast. After the chit-chat, we piled into JimmyT’s Yukon and headed over to the boat ramp to launch.
The water was running about 6 units, the telephone message said 7 units, but it looked more like 6 units of water and made no difference to any of us we were just happy to be fishing together…….all 4 of us in one boat, and 3 of us throwing fly rods. Did I mention, it is easily doable in one of the big fiberglass white river skiffs that the guides use down there. The very first drift, Brian Greer ties into, and lands a 22″ brown trout. You know the day is doomed when it starts like this. We were all pumped and actually caught some of it on video, so we continued to cast knowing each cast could produce a bigger fish. We picked up fish, here and there, but didn’t catch another brown trout all morning. The fishing was pretty slow, for White River standards, but we were catching fish against the adverse conditions. The wind had started blowing and was putting white cap waves blowing upstream on the river, so it made every run upstream a very wet one. But all was not lost, the sun was out, fish were being caught, and we were among friends.
We were drifting below the State Park when we noticed that the water had started to fall out, and promptly reeled in and headed back towards the dam and our boat trailer. There was a mass exodous of guide boats at the boat ramp when we got there, and everybody was reporting about the same results — fish were caught, but the 22″ brown was the biggest that we had heard. We discussed hanging around and waiting for the water to drop and wade fishing the dam, but the hangovers won over and we were off to Cosmo’s Burgers and back to Gaston’s while we waited for it to fall out to enjoy a barley beverage or two.
About 2pm we headed out again, this time we headed to a private walk-in access that JimmyT has and were promptly greeted with fish. Wade fishing the White River on low water can seem like a daunting task, because the river is so damn wide in places, but today it didn’t seem to matter. We finished out the day drifting eggs and midges under small indicators (i was using yarn) to fish. Brian Greer was in rare form and picked up a 19″ brown from accross the river while Brent Hinds and I were catching rainbow and rainbow. Not a bad day on the river by any means.
The part of fly fishing that I think I like most of all is the fraternity of fly fisherman. We ran into Mick Spaulding and Rob Finley when on stream. It had been several years since I had last had a beer with Mick at the Back Forty in Mountain Home, but we didn’t really miss a beat in catching up and what not. It is always good to see old friends on the river. We also had the pleasure of meeting Ron Yarborough of Ron Yarborough’s White River Fly Guide LLC. Ron is no newcomer to the White River, having guided out of Dale Fulton’s flyshop in Mountain Home for several years before Dale sold it. We met up with him as we were walking out from the river and ended up enjoying several brews at our room in Gastons before the evening wore out.
It was a long day, with alot of fishing, and we were tired puppies by the time 10pm got there, after watching Beer Fest it was lights out for the day.