White River (10/25/09)

We had reached the final day of our 4 day trip to the White River, and on most last days we generally fish around wherever we are staying until about 9am or so and get on the road; but we opted to float from the Dam to Gaston’s boat ramp again this morning.

We rose early and filled our bellies with the last of Gaston’s Biscuits & Gravy that we will have this trip and headed off to the boat ramp, we were fishing by 6:40am (little did we know that David forgot the keys to our shuttle vehicle inside of the rig at the ramp) and had a fish on the very first cast / drift.

The fishing was very similar to what we had seen the previous days.  Enough “dink” rainbows to get bored with it on Tungsten B.H. San Juan Worm and Glo Ball Egg under a Thingamabobber indicator.  Craig did throw a B.H. Wolly Bugger into the mix later on the drift and picked up an aerobatic rainbow or two.  The wind picked up as we reached the bottom of Cane Island, and that was enough for us to essentially reel end and row out to the ramp (when we discovered we didn’t have keys for the shuttle vehicle).  Big props to Jim @ Gaston’s who works in the maintenance department as he gave us a ride up to get our rig as Craig stayed with the boat.  I know Gaston’s sometimes gets a bad wrap on the White River, and their drink prices and non-breakfast food is expensive as all hell but thier customer service is spot on and i was really impressed with the response I got when I asked a cleaning crew staff member what the chances were of hitching a rid up to the Dam.  Kudos to them for sure.

All in all it was a great 4 days on the White River, as Craig and I headed for St. Louis around 11:15am or so and hit rain by the time we got on Hwy 63 and drove in it most of the way.  I can’t wait to do this trip again.

White River (10/24/09)

After way too much to drink the night before (I decided to take a ride on the Mothership Wit compliments of New Belgium Brewing Co. the night before), we woke up with a serious alcohol to biscuits and gravy imbalance in our bodies, and couldn’t find our way to Gaston’s for breakfast soon enough.  I had ignored my phone for long enough, and looked down to notice that I had missed 5 calls from Jim Traylor about fishing with him this morning.  Ooops, but the hangover need a cure.

After apologizing to JimmyT about our drunken ways, we decided to just meet him up at the Dam to launch his boat and have some fun for at least half a day (he had booked a trip for Sunday and needed to get his lunches and boat ready prior to the trip).  The fishing was as steady as it had been the previous two days as we made the drifts from the Dam down through Gaston’s hole.  San Juan Worms and Glo Ball Eggs were the standard fair under a thingamabobber indicator about 12ft or so.  Enough fish to keep us interested, but again nothing of any real size (just nice Arkansas White River Rainbow Trout).  We finished up the float around 1:00pm and headed back to the cabin where my hungover body was craving a nap (I am not old, just out of practice).  Craig and David proceeded to enjoy of few more beverages and grab a nap as well and by some act of god I woke up at 4pm as a ball of fire and was ready to put the drift boat in and do another float.

After dropping off a vehicle at Gaston’s boat ramp, we dropped the drift boat in at the dam ramp on the Bull Shoals State Park side and began our drift around 4:45pm or so.  It was nice being out on the river this evening, as the wind had died down and there were virtually no other boats on the river.  Again the fishing was spectacular with enough “dink” rainbows to become easily bored with it on the standard fair of a Tungsten B.H. San Juan Worm or an orange Glo Ball Egg under a Thingamabobber indicator.  We picked up the majority of our fish from the ramp down through Bull Shoals State Park with the bite slowing a bit once we got down to RiverCliff Cabin’s dock.

The flow was such that it allowed me to get out on the river and play with my camera bit, which was cool as David and Craig fished.  I have a lot to learn with regards to the Nikon D200, but it is a really big change from shooting my Nikon D70.

I will say that the coolest thing about the float on Saturday afternoon, was being out on the river and floating at night.  The “magic hour” had huge fish rising everywhere and there is just something about being out there in the boat with no motor running and fish everywhere.  It was cool to say the least.  We caught fish, but no pigs.  It is kind of sad, when you get tired of catching “dink” after “dink”, only because you know the potential of the river you are fishing.  We fished by Gaston’s restaurant about 7pm and it was dark enough that we missed the boat ramp by about 20 yards but it was an easy upstream row.

I had opted to leave my phone back at RiverCliff while on the river, as we were supposed to meet Brian Wise and Jenny Wise for dinner tonight, but hadn’t heard from him all day So I figured we were off.  Imagine my shock when we get back to RiverCliff and have missed calls and voice mails from Brian and Jenny saying that they were at Chili’s in Mountain Home and they have a table for 5.  It was close to 8pm by the time we met up with them and had a nice chain restaurant dinner (I am totally not a fan of eating at a chain restaurant….as David said as we were driving there….”Chili’s has mastered the art of mediocrity.”) but it was hot and we needed food.  The dinner conversation is always great after a day of fishing with friends, and we avoided getting any stink eye looks from those around us, so yet again we proved we can be socially acceptable when we want to.

We ended up back at RiverCliff sitting around a campfire and catching up.  Brian and I talked about the upcoming “Trip” that we will take over Thanksgiving, but in truth you really can’t plan this shit.  We are thinking of a repeat, although it may morph into something a little bigger….but again who knows.  He had to guide on Sunday, so he and Jenny left around 11:30pm (they had to drive back to Gainesville, MO about 30 miles away) and we were left with the task of cleaning up the cabin and packing up for our Sunday departure.  All in all it was a great day.

White River (10/23/09)

The second day of this White River trip, we were supposed to head north and fish the North Fork of the White River but because of the rain on Thursday, the river had blown out and was unfishable so after the bite we had on the White yesterday we opted to float it again in the wind.  It was blowing hard by the time we crossed the dam, as the flag on top of the dam was blowing upstream and being held steady….I was in for a day of exercise behind the oars.

We put the drift boat in at the golf course boat ramp near the Dam and floated to White Hole.  We got a later start then normal, opting to sleep in and enjoy breakfast, so after self-shuttling we didn’t get on the river until about 10am.  The fishing was as good today as it was on Thursday with the majority of fish picked up in the catch & release section and through the section that flows through Bull Shoals State Park.  We picked up most fish along the bank on a Glo Bugg Egg or a Tungsten B.H. San Juan Worm under a Thimgamabobber indicator (I am a HUGE fan of the Thingamabobber as an indicator when conditions will allow it, as it can detect the subtlest of strikes and is very easy to adjust).

We broke for lunch at the bottom of Cane Island and I rowed us upstream to an island that provides decent fishing on high generation (although since my last trip to the back of the island, the water had definitely changed).  It is a great place for lunch, as it got us out of the wind and we enjoyed the lunch of champions — oberlie summer sausage, monteray jack cheese, and wheat thins, chased with some New Belgium Brewing Co. brews.  We just finished up lunch with the rain started up again.

With the “dink” bite being consistent, Craig opted to throw my rod rigged with a sink-tip and threw an assortment of Sex Dungeons and was rewarded with a HUGE follow and strike on a white Sex Dungeon by the biggest rainbow I have seen on the White River (the fish was FAT) but he raised the rod tip instead of strip setting and the fish was gone.  Oh well, it was pretty cool to see a fish that large take a run at your fly.

As we were floating and banging the bank with streamers, fishing river left just up from White Hole Resort, I had the boat positioned about 40ft off of the bank as we floated downstream.  Out of nowhere, we were cutoff from the bank by a guy in a private white river jon boat.  The guy had the whole river, yet chose to cut us off from the bank and throw a huge wake in the process.  I was shocked, but had enough sense to show him his IQ and call him a “Tool” which made me feel better, but all I got was a huge “stink eye” from this guy.  As someone that runs a boat on the river, you always need to be aware of boat ettique on any water system.  This guy had the entire river to use, yet he chose the 40ft we were fishing.  Bad form, plain and simple.  What also was amusing was that he followed me to the boat ramp, but when he saw the three of us actually stand up in the boat and get out to secure everything he jetted.  I row a drift boat, and when I come up on boats anchored  I will use my fingers to point and ask which side the guide / fisherman wants me to float by on and will row accordingly, a little courtesy goes along way on the river and this guy showed absolutely none.

We finished up the float and ended back at the Wishes & Fishes fly shop in Bull Shoals, where owner / guide Jim Traylor was shedding his waders from his guide trip today with another gentleman from St. Louis.  His client had a helluva day and picked up a very nice cutthroat of about 4lbs or so as well as a couple of other nice fish.  We were just stopping by to say hello, but ended up catching up with fly-fishing guide Ron Yarborough as well as Mark Lavelle.  Ron Yarborough is just a genuinely helluva nice guy and a character to say the least, definitely a good guy to have on the river.  Mark Lavelle, is another fine fisherman that spends more time down there than most I know, judging by the photos he uploads to his Facebook account.  Needless to say several beers were drank, and by the time I crawled into bed around 12:30am I knew I was in for one helluva hangover.  On a brighter note, the D200 and the new lens rocks.

More to follow from Day 3 of our trip, once I get time to run through the photos.

White River (10/22/09)

Every year I make a fall trip to the White River with my two friends Craig Peterson and David Stinnett.  Craig and I get to fish together fairly frequently, but this is only an annual trip for David as he has to travel north from Dallas to fish the White River.  We have been fortunate enough to book RiverCliff Cabin in advance for this trip; as it is the nearest private cabin for rent that is closest to Bull Shoals State Park and offers a great base for drift boat shuttles and other activities near the river.

We rose early to head over to Gaston’s for breakfast (they offer a great buffet that is quick and reasonable…and they open at 6am)and caught up with David (as he didn’t roll in until about 1am) as we soaked up enough biscuits and gravy to feed an army.  We hurried up and headed over to the Dam access to meet up with fly fishing guide Jimmy “T” Traylor, who had offered to take us out on the water for a bit.  We hoped in Jim’s boat and we were off.

The fishing was pretty darn good.  We caught plenty of fish, all but one were rainbows; with the odd man out being a small brown trout of about 16″.  The water levels were fluctuating all morning, as they would increase and then decrease the generation causing the CFS to fluctuate.  We were on a very consistent bite when the water was falling, throwing a red Tungsten B.H. San Juan Worm under a Thingamabobber indicator on 4x fluorocarbon tippet.  The bite was very subtle, but definitely there and the four of us had a fun time on the river.

Prior to the trip, I had purchased a used Nikon D200 digital slr and a Tokina 11-16mm lens to use on this trip; but the weather was just too ominous to really use on this first day on the water.  We did get a few photos though.  The skies were really darkening up and it was time for lunch so we hit the boat ramp and put the boat on the trailer and headed over to Wishes & Fishes Fly Shop to drop off Jim’s truck and head over to RiverCliff.

I have been helping JimmyT with his web site for a few years now, and just moved him to more of a blog format, but we still had some work to do on his site; so he and I used this excuse to head over to the Bull Shoals State Park Campground and use the free wifi to get online and make some changes to his site.  I have to say, if I had to choose a place to hang out and work on a fly-fishing website it would have to be on a deck overlooking the White River.

Meanwhile, in the pouring rain, Craig and David took the RiverCliff boat out and crossed the river to a little shoals where they were picking up lots of dinks on various nymphs and stripping a Super Bugger.  They headed back to the cabin around 5:30 to find me sitting on the deck reading a guide book on my new D200 camera, a few beers were drank and we rehashed the day before we decided it was time to eat.

We finished up the night with dinner at Gold Pan Restaurant, which was as good as their breakfast (which is say alot) as the Ham Steak Dinner that I had was killer.  All in all it was a great way to spend in Arkansas and a great way to start our trip.

More to follow on the next three days as soon as I get a chance to go through the photos and write the reports.

Getting Back to the Basics on the Spring River

Having just spent a day floating the White River, I think both Brent Hinds and I were relieved when we had made the decision on the trip down to fish the Spring River on the way back.  I used to fish the Spring River quite a bit several years ago, but had for some reason or the other, not made frequent trips there in several years.  I don’t know why.

The river is an absolute gem.  We rolled in to the Lassiter Access about 8am and were the only ones there.  After quickly wadering up, we hit the water.  I headed to a faster riffle section above the access and after making a handful of fly and indicator changes, I seemed to have hit the mark with a #16 trout crack under a yarn indicator about 3ft.  The presentation was straight upstream and fishing the seams back down to me.  I picked up 4 quick fish in about 10 casts out of the same run and decided that I needed to do a little less fishing and some more exploring to realize what I was missing on this river.

Brent Hinds was fishing the far bank and it seemed that every time I looked down river at him, he was hooked up with a fish.  He was fishing a fox squirrel nymph under an indicator and doing well.  This was his first trip to the Spring River and I think he was very pleasantly surprised.

After about an hour of fishing at the Lassetter Access, we headed up to the tourist center and did some exploring in the faster water at the base of the dam.  I didn’t get any hookups in this water, but there were some bait fisherman that were fishing the choice areas and I didn’t want to be that guy that disturbed their fishing, so we left soon after checking out a few areas.

The Spring River is about 3.5hrs from St. Louis and is worth the trip, if you are looking for a river where the trout are plentiful (you can even catch a cutthroat there as the AGFC stocks them annually) and the scenery is a big freestone stream with no generation worries.  I know I will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later.