A Good Guide Is Worth His Weight in Gold…

First let me apologize for taking so long to get to finish up this post about my early February trip to the White River.  For some reason, I have been pretty swamped lately.  But I digress…..

After a day of floating and wading the White River, we were confronted with another morning of low water on the White River.  We pondered this conundrum over a killer breakfast, surely meant to cure our hangovers at Gaston’s White River Resort.  Because of the wind, we couldn’t decide whether to put the boat in and fish down river further, or fight the crowds and fish the dam.

We were seeking some of that special alone time that only the White River can give, so after discussing this with Jimmy “T” Traylor our guide for the day (www.FlyFishArkansas.com) he thought that perhaps escaping from the crowds would be our best bet.  Boy was he right.

I will save you from all the boring details, but fish were caught…..and lots of them.  We were fishing eggs, worms, trout crack, and midges under yarn and palsa indicators to fish all day long.  We would use the boat to motor to a spot and get out and wade fish for several hours, and hardly see a sole and definitely have the river to ourselves.  It definitely made for a great day out on the river.  Just because the White River is a tailwater doesn’t mean you can’t find solitude for the “quiet sport”, you just have to know where to look.  It wouldn’t have been possible though, without JimmyT’s unbelievable ability to navigate a white river jon boat (with outboard prop motor) through channels in rock ledges, riffles and runs, and around logs that I don’t know if I would have attempted in my drift boat.  The guy is simply a captain’s captain when it comes to piloting the river on low water.

We fished hard on Saturday and in the end, I couldn’t begin to tell you how many fish we caught.  We even were able to bump into pals Jim Laing and Jeff Trigg while on the river, which was good to catch up with them.  We pulled off the river around 5pm and headed back to our room ready ourselve’s for our annual dinner at 178 Club in Bull Shoals with Davy Wotton and crew.  As always it was a good time, but it is one of those things you just have to particpate in to believe as the stories are definitely told.  Needless to say it was a long night and I think my head hit the pillow dreaming of trout around midnight.

The White River; The Best of Both Worlds

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.

Getting There is Half The Fun….

If I said it 100 times, I have said it 10 times; there is simply no better place to be on a February weekend than on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam, near Lakeview, Arkansas.  A recent ice storm kept me from getting down there for the “opener” (that is two years in a row I haven’t made it down for opening day, that will have to be correct next year), but all was not lost as Brent Hinds and I left our offices at 12pm on Thursday to meet up and buy provisions (read…beer) and drive down.

At the urging of Jim Traylor, we opted to stay at Gaston’s White River Resort, thanks to a healthy 40% winter rate discount and the fact that our preferred fish shack (RiverCliff Cabin) was previously booked.  So at least we had reservations for the weekend.  Brent and I swung by a new liquor store near my house called Fryer Tuck’s.  This is a beer drinker’s nirvana.  They had an entire aisle and back wall devoted to those wonderful beverages.  They also had plenty different types of wine, if you are a panty waist.  We must have spent at least an hour there purusing the aisles looking for the perfect single malt scotches and beer to bring.  We ended up with $188 of Scapa (single malt), another brand of single malt that I can’t remember, and lots of beer from the old stand-by New Belgium Brewing Company and a couple of bottles from some new breweries.  All said and done, we were on the road to Gastons by 3pm on Thursday.

By 3:15pm, Brent had pulled out the vise and was tying up some beaded worms for highwater fishing and some tungsten mono-midges for fishing on low water.  The man can flat tie, which is why he does it commercially I guess.  I don’t have the patience.

Our apparent lolly-gagging seemed to have worked out perfect, as we were able to meet up with Brian Greer for dinner at one of the better Mexican restaurants in Rolla (it is behind the Moto-Mart, right off I-44…..but the name escapes me).  A quick meal, and we were soon on our way towards Lebannon……thanks to a miscommunication.  We exited I-44 at Newberg, and proceeded to take the backroads to Edgar Springs and Hwy. 63 before we were truly on our way.

All said and done, we rolled into Gastons around 8pm on Thursday night and were able to get checked in.  The damage the area suffered from the recent ice storm was very apparent, even in the darkness as we drove south on Hwy 5.  Gaston’s had power restored on Tuesday, and the grounds were still in the process of being cleaned up.  But it didn’t matter, we were fishing tomorrow.

We proceeded to get unpacked, and broke out the alcohol and vises and proceeded to tie until about midnight when we hit the sack for an early breakfast with Jim Traylor of FlyFishArkansas.com and a day of fishing the White River.

Snow, Little Piney, Super Bowl….Oh My!

It is hard to believe that it has been almost 2 months since I have set foot on a Missouri trout stream..  With the holidays and a work project that just won’t quit, it is no wonder as we are all slaves to something.  I was supposed to be on the White River in Arkansas this weekend, but an ice storm hit the area on Tuesday and the Mountain Home area was declared a Federal Disaster Area; so we opted to postpone our trip to the following weekend (we leave on Thursday with the Hyde in tow).  Down and out that I wasn’t in Arkansas, I called Craig Peterson and suggested a Super Bowl trip to the Little Piney.  That was all it took, and it was on.

We rolled out of the Denny’s parking lot at 5am and onto the icy forest service road near the Mill Dam Hollow access on the Little Piney.  As we expected, we were the only ones at the access, although others have fished the area since the snow storm earlier this week.  We quickly suited up and hit the river.  We headed downstream for aways, until we ran out of footprints in the snow and were fishing new water.  The fly of choice was Pyscho Prince Nymph under a yarn indicator (about 3ft deep), Craig picked up fish on a Beaded San Juan Worm under a yarn indicator about 4ft deep in the faster water.

We didn’t light the world on fire, but fish were caught.  I LDR’d a couple of fish, including a rainbow that was pushing close to 20″.  It was by far the biggest fish I have seen / felt on this river.  Craig had the fish of the day though, and he should have since he doesn’t get out as much as the rest of us.  We reeled up around 11am and headed back to St. Louis for Super Bowl festivities with our families.  All in all, not a bad day at all and the scenery with the snow couldn’t be beat.