A Couple of Proud Fathers and the Future of Fly Fishing

Dry Run Creek in Arkansas is simply an amazing fishery.  It is about a 1/4 mile long stream that is fed by the Norfork Federal Fish Hatchery outflows and it flows into the Norfork River near Mountain Home, Arkansas.  It is a stream that has several restrictions in place, including that the fishermen must be under the age of 16 or physically disabled in order to catch and release single hook barbless flies in the river.  It is without a doubt one of the hidden treasures in the Ozarks.

This trip was in the works for several weeks, when my 6 year old daughter interupted me tying a few flies to ask when I would take her on one of my overnight fishing trips.  She actually wanted to go that minute, but the weather wasn’t right and I didn’t want it to rain the entire trip if she went.  So a deal was struck that we would head out the weekend of September 20 if the weather was right.

The week leading up to the trip, we worked on casting in the front yard.  We tried casting with a 9ft fly rod, but it was too heavy and long for her to comfortably cast.  We moved to a very slow 7ft 3wt rod, but I thougt the rod wouldn’t provide enough backbone for someone new to fighting fish and for some of the bigger fish that Dry Run Creek holds.  So, I did what any father with a kid that wants to go fly fishing would do…..I bought her, her first fly rod (a Cabela’s Traditonal II 7ft 6″ 4wt w/ reel, line, backing, case for $80).  It was the first time I have gotten to buy either of my kids a fly rod, and I was extremely happy.  With her new rod, she worked on casting in the front yard throughout the week, trying to hit little pieces of glo-bug yarn that i threw in the grass.  She was on a mission, and by the end of the week she was doing pretty good if I do say so myself.

Friday rolled around and we were loaded in the car with our Kung Fu Panda Cheezits and ready to go.  We rolled into the Quarry Park campground at about 11pm, to find one empty campsite with a trailer that had several halogen lights burning bright outside and right into our Durango.  The light combined with the humidity and lack of airflow (even with all the doors / windows open on the Durango) resulted in a very restless sleep for the both of us.  So at 1am, after Hannah making a comment that she can’t sleep, I made the executive decision and we ran into Mountain Home to grab a hotel room and hopefully 5hrs of sleep before we were to tackle Dry Run Creek.  It was definitely a smart move, as we were both well rested and headed towards Dry Run Creek.

On the drive down, I called Brian Wise for some directions (the GPS had me taking a new route) and told him we were fishing Dry Run Creek in the morning and invited him down.  I got a text later that night saying he would meet us there around 7am.

The resulting photos are some of the photos from the trip.  There were several firsts on this trip, including my first fishing trip with one of my daughters, her first fish caught by herself, and the first time I have been asked by one of my kids when I will take them to Arkansas again.  It was very cool to say the least.
After we were done fishing (we only fished for about 3hrs) we headed over to the Norfork Federal Fish Hatchery to let the kids see the various stages of trout (they actualy had fry there that were still feeding off of the egg sack) including some HUGE trout as well.  The Friends of the Norfork Fish Hatchery had a visitors day at the hatchery that day and Mr. Davy Wotton and friends were on site to promote the hatchery and help generate positive funds for the facility.  They had various fly rods to cast, a fish tank for kids to fish in, a very well thought out visitors center with a short film, and local businesses with tents showing off their wares.  A little environmental / ecological education to end the time on the water.  The kids were amazed at how small the trout start out and what they grow in to.

We followed Brian and Parker back to Gainesville, MO to have lunch at the annual Hootin’ & Hollerin’ Festival where we dined on 2ft long Corn Dogs and Ribbon Fries and listened to some gospel music for a bit before taking the 4hr drive back to St. Louis.  I can’t think of a better weekend.

–Matt Tucker

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