Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 9
McClane was up until 1:00am working on reports for FR&R, while I was in the room across the hall dreaming of more monster brown trout in my sleep. We got up today around 6:00am, to meet up with Team Chronic Smack, the unofficial fan club of Team Ozark Chronicles, at the public access at the base of Greer’s Ferry Lake Dam and the start of the Little Red River. After we said goodbye and thank you to our gracious hosts (www.jamierouse.net) we headed for the river. We got to the access around 7:30am, and quickly suited up and prepared to meet up with Rich Brown (www.fishinfatman) and Matt Pedersen (www.ramblingreports.com) and fish with them for a day on the river. We have to personally send a shout out to all those from www.fishinfatman.com and www.ramblingreports.com for all the support for Team Ozark Chronicles as it was pretty overwhelming. After the official presentation of the Team Chronic Smack check to Team Ozark Chronicles and the showing off of some really sweet raffle prizes that the posse from the north brought it was time to hit the river.
Rich and I headed towards the dam in search of the elusive Ozark grand slam, and had some insider information that this was the place. We had a blast catching brookies and rainbows all morning long, while McClane and Pedersen were downstream trying their luck. We didn’t catch any monsters, but had a blast in the process of the hunt. I almost received my first baptism in the Little Red River, but managed to catch myself before I hit the drink. But good news, my Fuji FinePix S5000 camera is functioning properly after my Norfork baptism earlier this week. But I doubt it would have survived two dunks in one week. Those little brook trout were a blast to catch on the tan & ginger mohair leech I was sight fishing to them.
Then it happened. Like any other good tailwater experience, this one came to an end with the defining sound of the horn from the dam. It signified that they were starting generation and to seek higher ground. So Rich and I reeled up and headed towards the parking lot, where we sat in the shade of a friendly camper’s awning and awaited the return of McClane and Pedersen and tails of monster trout. Upon their return, we heard stories of lots of trout, and McClane’s kindness in teaching a couple of kids to fly fish and the fact that the kid caught a very nice trout for his first fly rod trout was what made McClane’s day. In total, we caught 30 fish between Brent and I and the other guys caught a nice mess also, but we won’t include them with our totals. After shedding our gear we decided to not run down river in search of lower water, but opted to seek out a place to bum some lunch.
[From Brent] Our fish numbers would most definitely have been higher for the day if I had actually fished the whole time I was there, but while catching a number of fish in only a few minutes, some very well mannered young gentlemen came over to me and asked what I was catching them on. I love teaching kids to fish, so the next thing I know we were talking about leaders and knots and drifting and all kinds of things. I told them that the drift was the most important thing and the flies were secondary, but that sowbugs were probably the most common fly to use there. In just a little while the boys (Zack Birge and Brett Daniels) were all smiles as they brought in fish after fish. They obviously are very smart guys as I only had to show them once what to do. Good thing they let most of their catches go, cause these guys are going to be incredible fly fishers very soon. The highlight was when both boys had been fishing for a nice ‘bow’ for a few minutes and all of a sudden I hear “He caught it!!!” I looked up and saw Brett fighting a really nice fish and Zack helping his pal out with netting it. The look on their faces was better than catching fish myself. I may have found my calling…. On our way to meet Tucker and Rich, Matt and I stopped by the campsite of the boys and their moms and talked with them for a while. It was kinda cool that the flies they caught their fish on were tied a few nights before by “ESPN Dude” (John Wilson). I told them to watch the games on TV and that they would be able to see the guy that tied their flies. You gotta admit….at that age, I would have thought that was pretty cool.
[From Matt again] After we all finished up at the tailwater, we headed to McPearson’s Restaurant on Hwy. 25B in Heber Springs, Arkansas. McClane successfully bummed lunch for all four of us (a total bum of more than $50 in dining experience) and we enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch in true trout bum style. After posing with Jackie McPherson, the owner of the restaurant, and him offering to buy us breakfast tomorrow morning (does that constitute as another bum?), we were off to the Ozark Angler Fly Shop (www.ozarkangler.com) to say hello and see if we can bum a few things (more specifically some tying materials for Trout Crack). After going in and introducing ourselves, and several photos, we walked out with the needed tying materials, a set of croakies for McClane’s sunglasses, and an official OzarkAngler Hat Trick t-shirt for me – all of it bummed. McClane is really starting to find a niche with the bumming in person.
After we left the fly shop, we headed north towards Mammoth Spring, Arkansas and the Spring River. On the way, we drove through Cave City, Arkansas, home of the world’s sweetest watermelons. What is a trout bum to do, other than bum one of the world’s sweetest watermelons. Smooth talking McClane bummed us a yellow watermelon, and then it was picture time and time for the road. What a way to break up the 2 ½ hour drive (in total we have already driven over 900 miles thus far). Also while driving, Matt and rich both had their tying vices attached to their sun visors in their trout truck and were tying flies all the way. What a hoot. You all HAVE to see the photos of this spectacle. Talk about ingenious!!!
We arrived in Mammoth Spring around 6:00pm, and checked in to the RiverView Motel off of Hwy. 63 and overlooking the Lassetter Access on the Spring River. All we had to do was mention St. Jude to the owners, Bill & Bonnie Gildersleeve, and a free room was a done deal. They were more than willing to help out, as they have in years past for families traveling to St. Jude. What a nice place to stay when fishing the river, as it has a great view, clean rooms, and a great location. After check-in, we found Ron Caimi. Ron is a bamboo rod maker from Waterloo, Illinois (www.troutcamprods.com) and was kind enough to donate the grand prize for the Team Ozark Chronicles raffle to benefit Hooked On A Cure, a really sweet bamboo fly rod. After hitting the showers and getting cleaned up, it was time to check out the rod that Ron built. Man what a super sweet rod, I only hope that the person that wins it in the raffle appreciates it for the fine piece of work that it is and fishes with this rod (Ron truly believes his rods aren’t made to be set in the corner and admired, but they are to be fished). Once we were all done admiring the ‘boo’, it was time to head to Fred’s Fish House in Mammoth Spring for dinner.
McClane worked his magic again, I don’t know if it was his smooth talking or if it was the fact that he carried in one of the world’s sweetest watermelons to slice up for the employees and patrons of the restaurant, but not only was he able to bum dinner for himself and I, but he also bummed dinner for our posse of 3 (Rich, Matt, and Ron) as well. ([from Brent] You all should have seen the look on everyone’s faces when I walked in with that thing!! It was pretty hilarious!!) We all sat in the big round table in the front of the restaurant, reliving the trout bum experience, when we were told by our waitress, Samantha, that today was her 19th birthday. Well, what are trout bums to do, other than sing Happy Birthday to her and serve her a slice of watermelon with some candles in it. We ate heartedly at Fred’s Fish House and had a ton of fun in the process. But like all good things, the fun at Fred’s had to come to an end, and we were on our way back to the RiverView Motel.
Back at the hotel, several beers were drank (thanks to the 8 cases of beer bummed from the fine folks at Anheuser-Busch and Feather-Craft Fly Fishing), and we downloaded the photos from today on the water. It was 11:30pm before we all hit the sack to get well rested for a day on the Spring River. Matt and Rich crashed with us in our room too. They brought cots along and we all snoozed the night away with the thoughts of leaping trout dancing in our heads.