A Short Drift Down the White River

About 3 weeks ago, I had gotten an email from a good friend, and guide, down on the White River (Jimmy “T” Traylor) about how the fishing was starting to pick up and if there was a time to think about heading south, now is the time.

It seemed that while most of my fishing friends were heading up north to chase Steelhead with Indigo Guide Service, a trip which when I hear the stories of 10lb steelies I am sure I will regret missing out on, I was destined to head south with my good friend Craig Peterson the same weekend (4/18).

It had been since November that Craig and I fished together, and we were both looking forward to this trip; even though the National Weather Service was calling for 2″ of rain for the area over the weekend.  The fish were already wet, and we had rain gear and a boat scoop, so we didn’t seem to mind either.  We headed out of St. Louis around 6pm with the coordinates for RiverCliff Cabin on the banks of the White River set in the GPS.  We rolled in around 10pm and had the boat / gear all stowed away and hit the sack about midnight.

We originally were going to fish with Jim Traylor of FlyFishArkansas.com on Saturday, but he had booked a guide trip with some folks from the Heartland Fly Fishers, out of KC, that were down for the weekend; so with Jimmy’s help we were able to get a shuttle (big thanks to Tim “Hot Dawg” Curtis of Hot Dawg Guide Service for running the shuttle fo us) and had planned to float from RiverCliff’s private boat ramp to the Wild Cat Shoals public boat ramp — a float of about 12 river miles.  The shuttle was set so that I was to drop the boat in at RiverCliff and then meet the shuttle at WildCat at 7am for a ride back to RiverCliff.  So it was an earlier than expected morning, considering we were floating.

We launched the boat on 2 units of water, but by the time I had gotten back from the shuttle there was about 5 units running.  It was at that point that I knew we should have floated a longer float, but it was too late.  Que Sera, Sera.  We spent the entire float throwing an 8wt with a 250gr sink tip and various Kelly Galloup flies (including the Butt Monkey, Sex Dungeon, Bottom’s Up, and Zoo Cougar) along with various colors of Super Buggers.

The morning started off promising with Craig getting a follow from a HUGE fish until it saw the boat and us, the fish was very broad, and like that it was gone.  Craig fished hard the rest of the 12 mile float for 3 fish, which is often the case when throwing streamers hard.  He boated an 18″ rainbow trout, 20″ brown trout, and 1 dink rainbow in about 6 hours.  It was a long day, especially when you are on the oars and the guy in the front of the boat is working hard but not catching a dam thing.  I guess we could have thrown indicator rigs on the high water, but the hopes of pig fish got the best of us.  All in all, it was still a good day on the water and we both really needed it.

We drifted in to the Wild Cat boat ramp around 1:30pm, without ever seeing a drop of the 2″ of rain that was originally forecasted.  We loaded the boat back on the trailer and headed back to RiverCliff for a relaxing afternoon filled with watching videos and fishing around RiverCliff.  I need to get set-up with a way to run multiple drifts should this type of trip happen again.  But all was not lost.  We did head over to Gassville to the local mexican restaurant for dinner that evening and spent about an hour hanging out with JimmyT before we all retired for the evening.

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