White River — 01/05/07 – 01/07/07
This weekend was a trip to Arkansas that was really supposed to be a trip to the North Fork of the White River on an unofficial Southwestern Illinois College Fly Fishing Class reunion of sorts. Tim Biesendorfer, Brian Wise, and myself had agreed to help Jim Laing and Brad Eirling with the weekend in getting these guys pointed in the correct direction. But the rain god was not cooperating and due to flows of more than 1100cfs on the North Fork of the White combined with the fact that several of the people traveling to the river are relatively new to the sport and to wading in general the get together was postponed.
Tim and I had arranged to head down on thursday night prior to the trip being cancelled which meant I was looking at a 3 day weekend with a hall pass. I made some phone calls and within a day, Tim Biesendorfer, Brent McClane, Brian Greer and Dr. Joel Postema were all-in. I made arrangements to camp at Bull Shoals State Park, and everything was in motion. Somewhere in the blur of packing for this trip, I got a call from Tim saying he couldn’t make it….but the trip must go on.
What you have to understand is that this was the first overnight fishing trip that McClane and I have joined forces on since TroutBum and in good fashion consistent with past performance McClane was late (but to be honest, so was I). We picked up Dr. Joel in St. Clair and were speeding in the Durango with the $400 pop-up in tow. We arrived at the campground around 10pm on Thursday night and met up with Ken Richards www.JustFishinGuides.com) whom was going to share a camp with us prior to his guide trip on Saturday. Ken is recovering from cancer and is finally back behind the oars of his driftboat after a long battle.
We rose early on friday to the voice on the telephone telling us that 3 units were online on the White River and 2 units were running on the Norfork. Please remember this, as this was a consistent pattern for the weekend. Ken offered to take Joel and I out in his drift boat if he got to fish too (which meant I got to row his drift boat). We put in at the ramp near the dam and floated down to White Hole Access. The fishing was fair as we were catching fish and missing alot of fish throwing streamers on sink tips. The fly of choice was a #10 BH Olive Krystal Wooly Bugger as I seemed to recieve the most interest in this fly with a ton of follows and missed strikes. No big fish to report for the day or high numbers, but an enjoyable day on the river. I did learn a ton on this day, such as the importance of back-rowing a drift boat. I also learned that a drift boat doesn’t move as easily as a pontoon boat but there was also alot more weight in the drift boat than on a pontoon, so I guess it was relative. Lastly, after floating and rowing in a drift boat on 4 units and actually seeing the water that we floated I vow never to go to Arkansas and leave my pontoon boat at home as it would be perfectly fine on this water.
Friday night was filled with an appearance by none other than JimmyT and the sacrificing of about 100 marinated shrimp on the BBQ along side of some bratwurst. Plenty of beer was drank between the 6 of us as we shared stories around the campfire.
Saturday morning was a blur as JimmyT had offered to take two of us out on the River. Since Joel was an out-of-towner and Brent hadn’t fished with a local on Friday they got the call and Joel and Brent out on the river as Brian Greer and I had decided to check out some other river accesses and try and catch some low water. We were successful in hitting some other accesses and marking thier GPS coordinates but we were also able to teach a few fish a lesson in the process (albeit they were extremely small fish). We found some fish near the Cotter Access that were very willing to eat whatever was thrown at them and we felt kind of guilty as onlookers would watch us land 6″ fish after 6″ fish. We had a laugh about it and decided to check out Mountain View Fly Shop and then head back to camp. Joel and Brent also did well in the boat, and apparently each had missed thier chance with better than average fish.
Saturday night was filled with much of the same in terms of the consumption of beer, sharing of laughs, and the burning of wood…..and water generation.
Sunday morning we rose to more water generation and decided to throw in the towel and pack-up camp and head for home. We had a quick pit-stop in Gainesville, MO to have what could be quite possibly the world’s worst Philly Sandwich and what is definitely the world’s worst potato skins (they were steak fries covered in cheesewiz with Bac0 sprinkles). After dropping everyone off, I rolled into my driveway around 4pm on Sunday evening one tired puppy.
One final thought. I know that the Bull Shoals and Norfork dams are peaking facilities but why not try and give the fisherman a chance to see low water during a weekend. I believe that the Norfork has been running two units since before Jesus was born (I believe that is the proper phrase). And the guy that thinks it is funny to run 3 to 4 units during the day, then drop it to 1 unit at night, and back up to 3 to 4 units so there is not much of a chance to catch low water needs to be lashed with 12wt fly rods.