Norfork River (Mountain Home, Arkansas) — July 14, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 6

Hey Everyone, here we are again. Not sure what the exact problem is in getting the updates to you. Seems FR&R didn’t get an email or two of ours, and we have been totally swamped since Wednesday. So here are a couple of reports FR&R hadn’t gotten and the rest also. The last days have been just a blur actually. As you will see we basically got only a couple hours sleep (literally) went fishing and ate on and off for a couple days. Please just look at the dates we type in as the order of events will follow these dates…….I have had to keep a notepad and pencil in my fishing shirt pocket constantly, and take notes of when we have done what just to keep track of all that we have done. What a wild ride we’ve been on!!!

Well, after fishing with John during the day…..Hey, he’s still with us!!! Guess who is bumming off the bums??? Like I’m complaining. NOT!! We’ve learned a lot. OK, back to where I was……we finish fishing and head into Mountain Home, AR for some eats. We stopped at a couple restaurants, but since it was late, most managers are off work and no one else can authorize freebies. Finally we made our way to El Charro Mexican restaurant (see pic) and asked if we could bum dinner. YEP!!! We even bummed dinner for John. What a hoot. Food was great; service was awesome and quick as can be. Thanks El Charro!!!

After eating, we decided we better go to Wal-Mart to try and transfer Matt’s pictures from his camera card…..remember?…..the one he dunked? OK, so we get at Wal-Mart a little after 9:00. Dhooooppp!!!! The camera center has JUST shut down. Matt’s rear was still puckered wondering whether or not his card was ruined, so we begged the nice woman running the center to PLEASE just let us see if the card had pictures on it, even if we couldn’t burn a CD at the time. She agreed. SHWEW!!! Card was fine and Matt’s pics were saved. Well, at least Matt felt better. We just decided to let his camera dry out a bit more before we would attempt to use it.

After Wal-Mart, we headed over to John’s place to pick up some glow-in-the-dark fly lines for all of us to use during night fishing. We grabbed that stuff and headed over to His Place Resort to respool reels with the new line sine we didn’t have spare spools with us. John taught us a few new knots while doing the respooling and we BS’ed a bit and finally got to bed about 11:00……well, they got to bed, I slept on the floor again!!! Actually, they offered to switch, but I said no, so I could whine to you all instead!!!

2:15am and the alarm goes off!! That was a nice nap. We all pop up and grab our clothes and gear and hit the road by 2:40. At 3:15 we are sitting at a private access (pays to know people that know people) and holding our new fly lines in the headlights of the dodge to charge them and we hit the trail. John told us to shut off our headlamps unless we wanted to shut all the fish down for a couple blocks as we walked. We kept close on John’s heels as we had seen a bunch of logs and large rocks earlier in the day. Way we figured it. If John dropped out of sight, we would stop or at least move to one side so it didn’t happen to us. We walked about a half mile upstream in the pitch dark about waist deep. It was a really cool experience. We would see through the fog enough above to see the stars and even satellites, but we could hardly see more than 30 feet in front of us. There was no moon yet tonight. That’s why John wanted to night fish. All around us as we waded, we could hear fish breaking the surface and feeding. Some of the splashes sounded like “toads”. That’s an Arkansas term for HUGE fish. Fish well over 10 lbs and 30 pounders had been caught where we were fishing.

The glowing spools of line looked like Homer Simpson had put plutonium in our reels and John told us to keep our reels on the bank side of us so the fish wouldn’t spook. By 3:45 am we were spaced out along the stream and could see the eerie glow of the gossamer like line unfurl in front of us as we cast in to the darkness. As we stripped in our big flies, every once in you would hear a “OH”, “CRAP!!” or other term from the darkness as one of us missed our first hits. In less than 20 minutes though, Matt and I had landed 5 fish. We were pumped.

Matt landed a nice rainbow and we decided to take a picture of it. We tried to take a few pics using our red lights on our headlamps, but they didn’t turn out well. We took a pic with the flash and started fishing again. That flash turned the fish off for 20 minutes. DANG!!! Finally we got into fish again and landed 17 fish with the average about 16”. Then Matt hooked up with a nice brown. Now this one was worth shutting the fish down for a little while. Although we didn’t have a tape measure, using the net as a scale to confirm later, it appeared to be a little over 20”. Nice fish Matt!!!! At 4:45 am the moon rose and our night fishing was done for the night. We walked back down to the access with a very satisfied look on our faces. Even driving out, was kinda cool. Not everyone gets to use a private access on property owned by a prominent member of the fly fishing community. Sorry….we were sworn not to tell who or where we were. Heck…..I doubt we could find it again anyway…

At 6:00am we ended up at Norfork Café to get breakfast. After talking with the cute waitress and telling her about our plight, she agreed to feed the bums and even the bums bum…..”GOG ESPN Guy”. That was one heck of a breakfast. If you are in the town of Norfork or around McClellans access you should really eat at this great place. At 8:00 am we were back at His Place Resort for a little shut eye. And I mean LITTLE!! We awoke at 10:00 to get a few things done. Matt, John & I headed down to the office of His Place Resort to thank Steve and Julie for all of their help and hospitality. Well…mostly……I had to bum batteries off of them for my camera so that we could take a few pics of them and their place to show all of you. J

John and I dropped Matt off at Tom & Becky Rogers’ of TNT Fly Fishing, Inc. so that he could work a little on their computer before we were to go out with Tom fishing later in the day. Mean while, John and I decided to try to get those pics off of Matt’s memory card again to send to you all. Well, after about a half hour at Wal-Mart and even getting the manager to agree to let us bum the cost of transferring them to disk…….their machine didn’t work. Seems it had never been set up for burning CDs yet. Just our luck. Next John and I headed to U-Haul to pick up a trailer to move some of his furniture into his new digs. He had mentioned moving the night before and I gladly offered to help. DANG!!! He actually took me up on it!!! Nothing like moving nice light furniture like a sleeper sofa, refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc in the middle of the day with a heat index of 110 degrees. It was at that time I wished I knew enough about computers to be sitting in air conditioning like Matt. 😉 Actually, I was happy to help out John. Only wish I could have done something in return for the rest of the wonderful guides we had thus far also. Thanks John for all your great guiding!!

We were finished moving, dropped off the U-Haul and I met Matt and the Rogers’ at their place about 2:30. By 3:00 we were off with Tom and Becky to the access at the confluence of the Norfork and White and had the boat in the water by 3:30. Up the Norfork we went to near the dam. This time we were in one of the classic jon boats used in the White River system for trout fishing. This was again a totally different kind of fishing than we had done thus far. The generators were going on the Norfork and we were fishing for large fish in high water. That has been one of the coolest things about this trip. It’s not that we have just been fishing riffles and runs on different rivers, which is what I generally do, but we had been fishing completely differently from guide to guide. What an education!!!

We fished with Tom until about 8:00 pm and caught 18 fish ranging from 14 to 18 inches. After driving back to TNT, we said goodnight and set a time for the morning and headed to a bar and grill in Mountain to meet John for a beer and a burger. I could hardly think. I was a little tired to say the least and I still hadn’t eaten since breakfast (….although Matt smiled as he told me that Becky made mean poppy seed chicken when he was working on their computer!!! BUM!!!!) John has an internet board that a lot of people communicate on and one of those guys was at the bar also. I still don’t think I ever caught his name. I had just gotten turned down at the bar & grill for bumming when this guys says he will buy Matt and I dinner and a couple beers (No I’m not making this up). I think I said thanks and ordered a beer from the waitress all in the same breath. Thanks Dude!!! Actually, he said their was no need to offer up his name and he refused a picture. Bummer!!! That was our first bar bum and I had been waiting for that one. Oh well!!!

After eating a burger and drinking a couple beers, Matt and I were off to the Ramada to use our wireless internet access to try to write a report and send it to all of you. Now looking back on our day, I can see why we were so tired, spinning our wheels and decided to try to get a couple more hours sleep instead of sending this in. Hope you all don’t mind too much, but I wonder what we would have written then would have made any sense anyway. We decided to call it a…….day? It was 11:30, we had had only about 3 or 4 hours sleep the night before……(at two different times) and we needed to be up at 6:00 am.

I am sure I have missed a few things and at this time feel that we need to really give all of our guides more credit than we have thus far. Heck with our daily update confusions, you all still haven’t read about our day on the Beaver River. I sure hope you all get to read that one soon. I’ll upload it again tonight. Hopefully all will work well this time. Matt and I will talk more about how our experiences were so different with each guide at the end and how wonderful all of them have been too. Personally, I think the guys we have had thus far have been absolutely awesome. I would recommend any of them to all of you. It just depends on what type of fishing turns your crank, because all of them have a little different way of doing things. Wading, drift boats, jon boats, nymphing, streamers, dries, midges, low water, high water, night, day, numbers of fish, large fish, etc., you name it……we have done it here so far.

Well, that is about it for now. Hope you all are doing well….I know we are.

Tight Lines,

Brent & Matt (written by Brent)

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