Dry Run Creek is a phenomenal place. Not much to say about this trip, other than the kids ruled the weekend. Awesome time. These are photos from Day 2. (2013-11-10)
After getting our fill of dink rainbows on the White River the past three days trying to float dead low water on the tailwaters, we were in search of some “strange.” Enter the Spring River. It had been since March, since I had been on the Spring River. But after the trip that Will King and I took with Mark Crawford, I was looking for any chance to get back to the Spring River. A few nights before, we were trading stories about our favorite rivers and the Spring River came up. It is more of a catch and keep river, and currently is managed as such, but it would offer the best opportunity to get out of the tailwater grind and chase some of the big rainbows that congregate on the river in the fall.
The river didn’t disappoint. We each caught a handful of fish in our limited time fishing the standard egg fair, and even picked up a fish or two on a small streamer. The highlight of this stop was watching Craig hook up with a pig of a rainbow. When we first spotted the fish flashing on the bottom, I thought it was a carp. I was not convinced it was a trout, until Craig was hooked up with it. It was over in 5 seconds, but he tangled with his first double digit rainbow on the Spring River. It was the biggest rainbow I had seen on the river to date, and stoked the fire for each of us to get back. We rolled off the river after about 3 hours and headed back to St. Louis after 4 days on the trout waters of Arkansas. Lots of fun and lots more to come.
The predicted generation for Friday (10/26/2012) wasn’t looking good at all, as the White River had ceased generation on Wednesday and now we were looking at dead low water. No one was in a hurry in the morning, given the low flows, high skies, and high winds, so I decided to get up a bit early and fix everyone breakfast. Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, Scrambled Eggs, Hash Browns O’Brien, and some homemade coffee cake that Jim Held brought was the order of the morning. Breakfast was good and we took our time milling around the house trying to figure out what the hell each of us were going to do.
Craig, Dan, and I decided to take our chances on the White River and float from Gaston’s to Wildcat Shoals, which Paul, Dan, and Jim decided to put the kicker motor on their boat and work the pools and shoals near the access at Wildcat Shoals. If you ahve ever had one of those days where you should have stayed back at the cabin and drank, this was one of those days. The day started with me trying to catch my boat to slow it down as it slid down the trailer and into the water (non-existent low water ramps suck) only to be drug 5ft into the water (luckily I was able to catch myself and keep the top of my waders above water and from filling up…..but my shins and knees are still bruised up a week later). The day only got worse from there, from a boating standpoint.
Navigating the White River on dead low water is best left to kayaks and pontoons. The majority of the section was fine, but I had never seen the White River as low as it was and it was a great education……and workout. Between catching countless dink rainbows, we were in and out of the boat as we pushed and pulled it through skinny water and when it was floating us 3 big guys, we were abusing the hell out of the G4 bottom (that stuff is the real deal…..as we would have left a gel coat trail all the way down the river, this float without it). From a fish count standpoint, we caught a ton of fish on a variety of flies (eggs, worms, midges, little streamers), but there were none of the bigger fish that we had become accustomed to on our trips to the White River.
We did get a beer break when we bumped into Jeff House (High Plains Fly Fisher Blog) and Ray Reidy (Trout Journeys.com) as they came down for the shindig and were floating from Dam to Wildcat in Ray’s Clacka skiff. After catching up with them just above White Hole and comparing notes, we were both on our way. The fishing pretty much remained consistent the rest of the float, but near the end of the float we had to push through alot of water to get back to the house for a little shindig we were throwing for the locals that night.
Prior to the trip, Paul Chausse and I had cooked up a plan to throw a little BBQ shindig at the house we were staying at. We always like to eat well on trips, but what started as just a good steak dinner for the 6 of us morphed into a good old fashioned fish camp party, complete with pimped out drift boat, lots of beer, fire, and good food. We had sent out alot of invites to various friends that live down there, and those that could make it included Steve Stinnett (Seasons on the White Outfitters), Larry Babin (Hogs On The Fly), Dominic Zametto (Two Rivers Fly Shop), Bill Thorne (Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher), Paul Port (AGFC), Corey Dodson (Chasing The Dream Blog), Ray Reidy (Trout Journeys Blog), Jeff House (High Plains Fly Fisher Blog). Combine those above, plus the six of us staying in the house, and that was the makings for a great evening around the fire.
Dinner included some jalapeno poppers stuffed with 4 different kinds of cheddar cheese and bacon, bacon wrapped asparagus bacon wrapped 6oz steaks, roasted potatoes, marinated Italian salad, and biscuits. It was damn good…..I mean ridiculous The whole house was silent as everyone was eating (the food was just that good).
After dinner, we hung out at the house for awhile and then headed out to check out Paul Chausse and Dan Held’s pimped out Hyde drift boat. They have rigged their boats with various LED lights and control panels, and pimped out wheels. It is something to see. So we headed down to the river to get some photos of it on the water, at night. Once we were down at the ramp, no one grabbed a pair of waders, so it was interesting watching the boat get loaded and unloaded into the low water without waders on a cold, windy night.
The night was filled with plenty of laughs and stories and was a hella good time, and the reason we look forward to this first fall trip every year. The night wore on, and people came and went at will. I think we finally shut the lights out around 1am or so, dead tired from a long……good day.
Every October, about as frequently as the Cardinals make the playoffs, a group of friends and I head for the tailwaters in Arkansas to chase trout in what marks the beginning of fall, and our fishing season. It is one of the few trips that even gets planned out, and this year was no different. Well, it was a little different. It seems that the lonely Texan in the group would not be able to make the trip north due to “the man” and after hemming and hawing over could he go, could he not go, and useless percentages of his ability to go…….it was go time….and he did not (but was subsequently missed, never the less). I sensed that he was a bit overtaken by how easily he was replaced……that is the one thing about owning a drift boat, there is never any shortage of people to fish with. But I digress.
I reached out an old high school friend that had gotten back in to fly fishing over the years and within an afternoon, the boat was full and the wheels were set in motion. Craig Peterson, Dan Ritter, and I rolled out of St. Louis around 4:30pm or so and headed south, boat in tow and loaded down with all the essentials (mainly alot of beer). We were meeting up with two streamer addicts from Illinois (Paul Chausse and Dan Held) at a house that they had found online for rent near the Wildcat Shoals Boat Ramp on the White River. They got an earlier start on the day than we had planned, so we ended up meeting them at the house when we rolled in around 11pm on Wednesday night. After some catching up /rod rigging and a beer or two, it was lights out.
The alarm went off Thursday morning and we were packed up into the rigs and headed for the White Sands Restaurant in downtown Cotter. The White Sands Restaurant is sort of an institution for the traveling fly fisherman. If you haven’t eaten breakfast there……well, you should. The six of us (Craig Peterson, Dan Ritter, Paul Chausse, Dan Held, Jim Held, and myself) had a breakfast bill of no more than $40.00 and we ate like kings (which is a recurring theme for this trip). Next stop was the Norfork River after a quick pitstop to say hello to Steve Dally over at Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher fly shop. My license was set to expire on Friday, so i needed to renew, and the boys picked up a few odds and ends.
We rolled down to Quarry Park Campground and Access around 9am and dropped the boats in (even dropped mine in without the plugs in it for good measure……) and ran down to Two Rivers Fly Shop in Norfork near the confluence of the White River and Norfork River to inquire about a shuttle back to the ramp and for a few bucks we were on our way back to the put-in. The Norfork was pushing about 1500 CFS as we started our float, and the heat built up. The weather, not the fishing, was the story of the day. Craig and I chose to fish in shorts, sandals, and t-shirts, while Dan offered to wader up just in case someone needed to get out and push (he did once). The temp soared to the mid 80’s for the high, but around 2pm or so a massive front moved in (we were fighting an upstream wind all day long) and the temp dropped by 30 degrees by the time we made it back to Mountain Home.
While we didn’t set the world on fire fishing, the boys stuck to their guns and threw streamers most of the day and were rewarded with a handful of small rainbows (although a few did fall victim to a bobber rig). A yellow sex dungeon seemed to be the streamer of choice in my boat, with considerably more follows than takes. But so it goes. Dan Held did get an eat from a “toad” of a fish just below dock hole, but it was over in seconds and we could hear some choice words and rod waiving all the way upstream. We rolled off the water around 4:30pm and headed back to the house in the pouring rain to change and drop the boats off and then dinner.
The Arena Sports Bar in Mountain Home seems to have become my choice for dinner (at least it was the last two trips south). The food is always good, and there are plenty of TV’s to catch up on anything sports related. We hung out there for a few hours enjoying dinner and conversation and were joined by Dominic Zametto (owner of Two Rivers Fly Shop in Norfork) and a couple of his buddies / clients for the day. Good food, good drinks, good conversation, but we were wiped tired from the long night and day and hit it early on Thursday.
More to follow.