Last year I headed down to the Conclave that the Southern Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers hosts in Mountain Home, Arkansas. I had never been to a “Conclave” before and it was a good time and got to see alot of great fly tyers and play with some gear and what not…..but Arkansas is there for fishing not for chatting. So Ted Calcaterra, Evan Muskopf and I spent quite a bit of time chuckin’ streamers on the water and helped out with the Youth Conclave that they host at the same time, and even found time to hit the conclave.
This year would be different though, as I didn’t want to cheapen what I shared with Conclave last year, I decided that my time might be better spent on the water (rowing a high side drift boat in 20mph headwinds…but more on that later) this year and that perhaps I need to do the every other year thing when it comes to going to Conclave. I am not knocking it, just really needed to fish this weekend instead.
So Brent Hinds and I headed out around 3pm on Friday only to sit in a 45 minute traffic jam on a little “short-cut” I know….the weekend is already starting out the way that I had envisioned. After a so-so mexican meal served at La Posada in Rolla, MO (I would avoid eating here, unless you like your mexican served by amish looking white girls) and a few other stops, we rolled into Lakeview, Arkansas around 9pm and grabbed our room at Twin Lakes Inn ($49/night for 3 beds). The rooms at Twin Lakes Inn were ok. I would put them on par with The White Sands but better than the Riverview Motel overlooking the Spring River. But at either rate, I digress. It was warm, had a bed, and even a fridge to keep our beer cold.
The morning came early as we needed to drop the drift boat into the water near Bull Shoals State Park by 6am so I could meet my shuttle at 7am at Wildcat Shoals Boat Ramp. After the shuttle, we were on the water by 7:30pm and began the rowing of the gauntlet (avoiding the mass of wad anglers that were near the dam / state park area) on low water. I spent all day rowing, but the morning was rough as generation ended and there were people and boats EVERYWHERE. The river was ass crowded, but we would not be deterred.
Brent Hinds started picking up fish on micro eggs and fox squirrel nymphs with ease and finished the afternoon with about 30 fish brought to hand. I was on the oars most of the day, but did manage to bring several to hand. It seemed that when the sun was out, the fish were taking flies and when the sun ducked behind the clouds the bite would turn off for a bit. It was a tad unusual, but fun nevertheless. The wind was an absolute bear on Saturday, so we really had to play into it, which made rowing tough, and consequently the day longer.
Generation did begin around 11:30am and the water came up very fast and dirty, it didn’t seem to hurt the fishing but it definitely came up fast. When I called the number, the message said that they had turned on 6 units of water. This provided just enough flow to help combat the 20mph winds. We rowed into Wildcat Boat Ramp about 4:30pm. All in all, not a bad day of fishing.
We were going to finish up the evening by heading over to the Freestate Fly Fishers BBQ at Copper Johns Resort, but a calzone, garlic wings, and a comfortable bed won out as I was dog tired and asleep by 7:30pm.