White River (Mountain Home, AR) — October 22, 2005

I did a kamakazi trip to the Trout Capital of the World …… Cotter, Arkansas, to visit my friend and fly fishing guide Tom Rogers (TNT Fly Fishing Service). I left STL around 6:00pm and arrived at the Comfort Inn in Mountain Home, AR around 10:30pm (after checking vacancies at the newly built Holiday Inn Express to find that they had no vacancies). It was a nice room, and the price was right (plus it is one of the newest hotels in the city). I grabbed about 5 hours of sleep, before I met up with Tom Rogers, his friend Tommy, and fellow guide Jim Martin. Jim was taking out some of Tom’s clients, while Tom visited with me and we caught up since our last visit together in June. We had breakfast at The Brass Door Restaurant, which was pretty good — but not as good as the Norfork Cafe or the Country Kettle was.

This trip wasn’t about fishing at all, although I did throw a rod or two into the back of the Blazer for good weight distribution. I was going to see Tom before he heads out West for his trip to Montana, and he needed some computer help and what not. We got the “business” side of the work done about 1pm and then headed over to the Southern Rod Builders Guild gathering at Fulton’s Lodge, where I was introduced to a ton of great people and saw some freakin’ beautiful rods. They were all there to display and cast, but against my better judgement I tried to limit picking up a rod and casting it as I didn’t need another toy. About 3pm and a ton of handshakes, it was time to hit the water briefly. My goal was to be on the road back to STL by 6pm — but that didn’t happen.

They did not generate water on the White all day on Saturday, so we headed to the base of the dam to see what was up there (since they shut down the C&R area at the end of october and this would be my last chance to fish it until February). Fishing was slow for me, but there wasn’t another sole on the water nearest the dam. Just Tom and I, and it was great. Tom was tearing them up, while I was struggling to get a solid hookset. We were fishing with #18 scuds and sowbugs under the smallest white palsa indicator that I have ever seen (like 10 times smaller than a normal palsa) — you could barely see it on the water (which I believe was my problem, trying to follow it in the setting sun). It was a great time though, and we fished until about 6:30pm. Tom slayed them, and I didn’t officially bring a fish to hand. But it was still a good day, and I did get to wet a line.

After dinner at El Charro’s, a mexican staple in Mountain Home, and a trip to Walmart, it was time to say goodbyes and for me to get on the road back to STL around 10:00pm that night. Man what a drive in the rain, but I got back safe around 2:30am on Sunday morning.

White River (Mountain Home, AR) — June 26, 2005

Sunday morning I got up at 4am and was packed my bags and headed to the parking lot of the Ramada Inn in Mountain Home, Arkansas. It was the last day of a great trip, the only thing that I had to look forward to now was a few hours on the river before a long drive back to St. Louis. I met up with Kris Maurer in the parking lot, and we hit the McDonald’s drive through and drove to the White River below Bull Shoals Dam to meet Tom Rogers (TNT Fishing Service) at the parking lot at 5:30am. It was a quiet Sunday morning, and we were the first ones to arrive at the parking lot. We opted to wet wade and were in the process of rigging our rods when Tom pulled in (early as usual — or in fisherman’s terms, right on time). We were going to throw large dry flies to the cruising risers this morning in the fog. We headed out to the water and began systematically casting and wading our way into the river in a line. Within the first couple of casts, I had a strike but no hookup. As we stood in the water and fog, it was amazing to see and hear the number of fish rising. It was one of those unique moments where you know that there is no better place to be anywhere at that exact moment. As the sun began to cook some of the fog off of the water, I tied on a #8 stimulator and continued to work the water. I was rewarded with a 16″ – 17″ Cutthroat. I continued with this fly until the fog had completely burned off the water, picking up one more decent sized rainbow. I then switched to a #18 tan colored scud (one might call it Trout Crack) and fished it under about 2ft of indicator and was rewarded with two additional fish for a total of 4 fish in about 3.5 hours on the water. Because of the long drive back to St. Louis, I said my goodbye to Kris Maurer and Tom and I walked out to the ramp. After a quck yell to Matt Pedersen and Renee to say good bye, I was at my car and was putting up the fly rod and stowing away my gear when Jim Traylor came up and we chatted for a bit. As he headed back to his fishermen, I headed for the long drive back to St. Louis. Man do I hate I-44 construction, it took me almost 6hrs to make the trip back.

White River / Norfork River (Mountain Home, Arkansas) — July 15, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 7

Ouch!!!! I wake up to the pain of someone pulling on my toe!!!! Matt is trying his best to wake me and that is what seemed to work I guess. Glad it was just my toe!!! One thing I have to give Matt credit about here is that no matter how little sleep or what time so far, that boy has gotten up when the alarm has gone off. I have still never heard the damn thing!!!!

As I have tried to impress upon all of you previously, you MUST keep know the water here and the generation schedules and how long it takes for the water to rise or to fall at the location you want to fish!!! I think that kinda gets the point across…….. You just don’t call up a buddy and say, “Hey, let’s wade and fish XX access on X month and X day at 7:00!” You may only get to fish 20 yards of shoreline with that rigid of an itinerary. Some of these guides down here are thinking all the time to get you the best experience they possibly can and one of them is Tom Rogers. OK, so we’re supposed to meat Tom at 7:00. Not a problem. However, what I didn’t know until much later is that Tom had already tied a couple dozen flies and figured out the power generation for the day and gotten all of the gear packed before we had gotten there.

Once at TNT, Tom tells us how the White is going to be low for a little while and how it will begin to rise just about the time we want to go visit Wapsi, and that after that, that the water will be just right to fish the Norfork. Now, I’m not the dullest knife in the block, but that is a lot of head calculating and looking ahead in my book. And you know what……that is what ALL of the guides that we have gone out with on this trip have done. It’s just a different way of thinking to me and that is why I want to pass it along. Do NOT Attempt to fish this area without learning at least a little about how power generation affects the area you may choose to fish. I’m sure ANY of the fly shops will gladly help you out with all of this. OR….just hire a guide!!

OK, so this will seem like a much shorter report than yesterday, but that is only because we were trying to do too much (not the guides fault) and too many things as opposed to this day. So, after we meet Tom, we go to a local gas/deli shop for fuel, coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Tom wouldn’t let us pay a cent!!! After fueling the truck and us, we headed to Rim Shoal on the White River in the C&R area. Tom wouldn’t let you do a thing. If you needed a new fly, leader, tippet, split shot, indicator adjustment, monster tangle (so I’ve heard… ;)), ETC!!!!……Tom would do it for you. I felt guilty actually for as much as he was doing. For goodness sake…I think the guy could easily juggle cats!!! If he already doesn’t.

We caught 22 fish there before noon. However, we needed to leave by then to go visit Wapsi…..the fly tying material people. You all know them. Just look around your favorite shop. I have a feeling you will see the name………ALL Over!!! On our way to Wapsi, the Rogers’ offered to buy us lunch at subway. Man did that sound pretty good on such a hot day. We ate our sandwiches on the drive to Wapsi and I think I even looked at the back of my eyelids for a little while……glad Tom was driving!!! The next thing I know, were geting a private tour of the place and seeing not only what they “distribute” but also what they make themselves.

Our jaws were dropped most of the tour. I just wanted to ask if I could only have “one of everything”. Even at that rate, I probably would have had to rent a cargo trailer too take “one of each” home!!!!

After that incredible tour at Wapsi, we headed to Dry Run Creek and the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. We took, a few photos at this location and would like everyone to know how fun it is for the youth — PLEASE check regulations. Following the sight seeing, we chose to fish. Up until just before 8:00pm we fished and caught a total of 26 fish. Many were really nice.

We hurriedly got off the river and the boat on the trailer due to the impending rain and lightening storm. One of Becky Roger’s favorite places is El Charro in Mountain Home, Arkansas, so that is where I went. Allthough we did NOT try to bum dinner that night, the manager basically cut our bill in half. What a cool man.

By this time it is about 8:45 and we need to get the computer working. YES!!! Matt is good. He has it done and we are on our way home by 11:15. Once there, we packed all of our “stuff” and I washed a load of laundry in the kitchen sink and all smells much better this morning. Well, I catch myself just dropping off (into sleep) in the middle of the sentence. I think it’s time for bed. Take care All. I really need some sleep,


Tight Lines,

Brent & Matt (written by Brent)

Norfork River (Mountain Home, Arkansas) — July 14, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 6

Hey Everyone, here we are again. Not sure what the exact problem is in getting the updates to you. Seems FR&R didn’t get an email or two of ours, and we have been totally swamped since Wednesday. So here are a couple of reports FR&R hadn’t gotten and the rest also. The last days have been just a blur actually. As you will see we basically got only a couple hours sleep (literally) went fishing and ate on and off for a couple days. Please just look at the dates we type in as the order of events will follow these dates…….I have had to keep a notepad and pencil in my fishing shirt pocket constantly, and take notes of when we have done what just to keep track of all that we have done. What a wild ride we’ve been on!!!

Well, after fishing with John during the day…..Hey, he’s still with us!!! Guess who is bumming off the bums??? Like I’m complaining. NOT!! We’ve learned a lot. OK, back to where I was……we finish fishing and head into Mountain Home, AR for some eats. We stopped at a couple restaurants, but since it was late, most managers are off work and no one else can authorize freebies. Finally we made our way to El Charro Mexican restaurant (see pic) and asked if we could bum dinner. YEP!!! We even bummed dinner for John. What a hoot. Food was great; service was awesome and quick as can be. Thanks El Charro!!!

After eating, we decided we better go to Wal-Mart to try and transfer Matt’s pictures from his camera card…..remember?…..the one he dunked? OK, so we get at Wal-Mart a little after 9:00. Dhooooppp!!!! The camera center has JUST shut down. Matt’s rear was still puckered wondering whether or not his card was ruined, so we begged the nice woman running the center to PLEASE just let us see if the card had pictures on it, even if we couldn’t burn a CD at the time. She agreed. SHWEW!!! Card was fine and Matt’s pics were saved. Well, at least Matt felt better. We just decided to let his camera dry out a bit more before we would attempt to use it.

After Wal-Mart, we headed over to John’s place to pick up some glow-in-the-dark fly lines for all of us to use during night fishing. We grabbed that stuff and headed over to His Place Resort to respool reels with the new line sine we didn’t have spare spools with us. John taught us a few new knots while doing the respooling and we BS’ed a bit and finally got to bed about 11:00……well, they got to bed, I slept on the floor again!!! Actually, they offered to switch, but I said no, so I could whine to you all instead!!!

2:15am and the alarm goes off!! That was a nice nap. We all pop up and grab our clothes and gear and hit the road by 2:40. At 3:15 we are sitting at a private access (pays to know people that know people) and holding our new fly lines in the headlights of the dodge to charge them and we hit the trail. John told us to shut off our headlamps unless we wanted to shut all the fish down for a couple blocks as we walked. We kept close on John’s heels as we had seen a bunch of logs and large rocks earlier in the day. Way we figured it. If John dropped out of sight, we would stop or at least move to one side so it didn’t happen to us. We walked about a half mile upstream in the pitch dark about waist deep. It was a really cool experience. We would see through the fog enough above to see the stars and even satellites, but we could hardly see more than 30 feet in front of us. There was no moon yet tonight. That’s why John wanted to night fish. All around us as we waded, we could hear fish breaking the surface and feeding. Some of the splashes sounded like “toads”. That’s an Arkansas term for HUGE fish. Fish well over 10 lbs and 30 pounders had been caught where we were fishing.

The glowing spools of line looked like Homer Simpson had put plutonium in our reels and John told us to keep our reels on the bank side of us so the fish wouldn’t spook. By 3:45 am we were spaced out along the stream and could see the eerie glow of the gossamer like line unfurl in front of us as we cast in to the darkness. As we stripped in our big flies, every once in you would hear a “OH”, “CRAP!!” or other term from the darkness as one of us missed our first hits. In less than 20 minutes though, Matt and I had landed 5 fish. We were pumped.

Matt landed a nice rainbow and we decided to take a picture of it. We tried to take a few pics using our red lights on our headlamps, but they didn’t turn out well. We took a pic with the flash and started fishing again. That flash turned the fish off for 20 minutes. DANG!!! Finally we got into fish again and landed 17 fish with the average about 16”. Then Matt hooked up with a nice brown. Now this one was worth shutting the fish down for a little while. Although we didn’t have a tape measure, using the net as a scale to confirm later, it appeared to be a little over 20”. Nice fish Matt!!!! At 4:45 am the moon rose and our night fishing was done for the night. We walked back down to the access with a very satisfied look on our faces. Even driving out, was kinda cool. Not everyone gets to use a private access on property owned by a prominent member of the fly fishing community. Sorry….we were sworn not to tell who or where we were. Heck…..I doubt we could find it again anyway…

At 6:00am we ended up at Norfork Café to get breakfast. After talking with the cute waitress and telling her about our plight, she agreed to feed the bums and even the bums bum…..”GOG ESPN Guy”. That was one heck of a breakfast. If you are in the town of Norfork or around McClellans access you should really eat at this great place. At 8:00 am we were back at His Place Resort for a little shut eye. And I mean LITTLE!! We awoke at 10:00 to get a few things done. Matt, John & I headed down to the office of His Place Resort to thank Steve and Julie for all of their help and hospitality. Well…mostly……I had to bum batteries off of them for my camera so that we could take a few pics of them and their place to show all of you. J

John and I dropped Matt off at Tom & Becky Rogers’ of TNT Fly Fishing, Inc. so that he could work a little on their computer before we were to go out with Tom fishing later in the day. Mean while, John and I decided to try to get those pics off of Matt’s memory card again to send to you all. Well, after about a half hour at Wal-Mart and even getting the manager to agree to let us bum the cost of transferring them to disk…….their machine didn’t work. Seems it had never been set up for burning CDs yet. Just our luck. Next John and I headed to U-Haul to pick up a trailer to move some of his furniture into his new digs. He had mentioned moving the night before and I gladly offered to help. DANG!!! He actually took me up on it!!! Nothing like moving nice light furniture like a sleeper sofa, refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc in the middle of the day with a heat index of 110 degrees. It was at that time I wished I knew enough about computers to be sitting in air conditioning like Matt. 😉 Actually, I was happy to help out John. Only wish I could have done something in return for the rest of the wonderful guides we had thus far also. Thanks John for all your great guiding!!

We were finished moving, dropped off the U-Haul and I met Matt and the Rogers’ at their place about 2:30. By 3:00 we were off with Tom and Becky to the access at the confluence of the Norfork and White and had the boat in the water by 3:30. Up the Norfork we went to near the dam. This time we were in one of the classic jon boats used in the White River system for trout fishing. This was again a totally different kind of fishing than we had done thus far. The generators were going on the Norfork and we were fishing for large fish in high water. That has been one of the coolest things about this trip. It’s not that we have just been fishing riffles and runs on different rivers, which is what I generally do, but we had been fishing completely differently from guide to guide. What an education!!!

We fished with Tom until about 8:00 pm and caught 18 fish ranging from 14 to 18 inches. After driving back to TNT, we said goodnight and set a time for the morning and headed to a bar and grill in Mountain to meet John for a beer and a burger. I could hardly think. I was a little tired to say the least and I still hadn’t eaten since breakfast (….although Matt smiled as he told me that Becky made mean poppy seed chicken when he was working on their computer!!! BUM!!!!) John has an internet board that a lot of people communicate on and one of those guys was at the bar also. I still don’t think I ever caught his name. I had just gotten turned down at the bar & grill for bumming when this guys says he will buy Matt and I dinner and a couple beers (No I’m not making this up). I think I said thanks and ordered a beer from the waitress all in the same breath. Thanks Dude!!! Actually, he said their was no need to offer up his name and he refused a picture. Bummer!!! That was our first bar bum and I had been waiting for that one. Oh well!!!

After eating a burger and drinking a couple beers, Matt and I were off to the Ramada to use our wireless internet access to try to write a report and send it to all of you. Now looking back on our day, I can see why we were so tired, spinning our wheels and decided to try to get a couple more hours sleep instead of sending this in. Hope you all don’t mind too much, but I wonder what we would have written then would have made any sense anyway. We decided to call it a…….day? It was 11:30, we had had only about 3 or 4 hours sleep the night before……(at two different times) and we needed to be up at 6:00 am.

I am sure I have missed a few things and at this time feel that we need to really give all of our guides more credit than we have thus far. Heck with our daily update confusions, you all still haven’t read about our day on the Beaver River. I sure hope you all get to read that one soon. I’ll upload it again tonight. Hopefully all will work well this time. Matt and I will talk more about how our experiences were so different with each guide at the end and how wonderful all of them have been too. Personally, I think the guys we have had thus far have been absolutely awesome. I would recommend any of them to all of you. It just depends on what type of fishing turns your crank, because all of them have a little different way of doing things. Wading, drift boats, jon boats, nymphing, streamers, dries, midges, low water, high water, night, day, numbers of fish, large fish, etc., you name it……we have done it here so far.

Well, that is about it for now. Hope you all are doing well….I know we are.

Tight Lines,

Brent & Matt (written by Brent)

Norfork River (Salesville, AR) — October 25, 2003

I awoke a little earlier than expected on Saturday morning at 5am (having not gotten to bed until 11pm). I decided to suit up and go get an early spot at the mouth of Dry Run Creek. I suited up and then woke Dave up and he looked at me with those “what the hell, you are crazy man, the sun isn’t even up” looks and I told him and Craig that I was headed down to Dry Run to get a spot. I was sitting on a rock by 5:30am with a piece of gooey butter cake and a bottle of Gatorade taking in the sounds of the river and the darkness. The silence was broken by my radio and Dave saying that he was on his way down. By the time he arrived, the crowds had begun to form around the creek (this is one of the most popular places to fish due to the spawning run) but David and I had been awarded a spot. I made a feeble attempt at fishing a glow in the dark indicator rig with a scud, but had no luck. It was just getting light when I switched to a black mohair leech and was promptly awarded with a Brown a little over 20″ — what a beautiful trout. It was quite a battle in the early morning and was the first fish caught out of the creek that morning. David made three attempts to net the fish, and it was both funny and heart pounding to watch as with each attempt the fish would make a run. It was dark enough and in deep enough water that you couldn’t tell where the fish was exactly, but he was finally netted and several pictures were taken. It was my biggest Brown to date (a new personal best), but not the Brown I had been searching for — there were much bigger trout holding in this water. I threw the mohair leech for a little while longer, loosing several fish, and then decided to switch to a black scud / indicator set up and was rewarded with a nice 17″ Brown with beautiful colors. David took pictures (one picture even has me holding the fish and in the background there is a fish jumping) with his digital camera and the fish was quickly released. Dave was still fishless on this trip, but we was fishing better than other newbies I had seen in less than ideal conditions. David then proceeded to hook into one of the Browns that the Norfork is known for, but that is all he did — hook into it. It was a LARGE fish and the only thing I saw was the mouth and the tail as it came out of the water and made the run that snapped his line. David was so distraught by this that he actually quit fishing for about an hour and went back up to camp. That was my que to meet up with Craig in the pool below the Dam. The temperature really took a nose dive by about 9am and we fished this water until about 9:30am and then headed back to camp to grab food and hit the C&R area near the Handicap Platform. We got there about 10:30 and took the only available spot in the lot (there were fishermen everywhere in the stream — both upstream and downstream of the platform). We rigged up and started fishing our way upstream, eagerly awaiting others to finish the pools / holes they were fishing. As other anglers broke for lunch or for the rain (it had started raining) we were able to gain access to a pool that held allot of big fish. Craig and I threw everything we had at these fish (I even resorted to a leader/tippet of 11′ ending with 8x tippet and #28 midge patterns but could not get a strike. It appeared that these fish were feeding, but I will never know on what. Frustrated and wet, David and I decided to head back to the car for lunch and a break — Craig followed shortly. We fished the C&R area until about 3:30pm and then decided to head back to camp and try our luck nearer the Dam. The temperature took a nose dive and the wind started to kick up at the base of the Dam. Fishing was tough out there with no protection from the wind. I tied on an orange scud / indicator set up and was rewarded with my first Brook trout I have ever caught — although it was a little trout, not more than 11″, but it was my first. To my dismay, Craig didn’t have his camera with him (due to the impending threat of rain) and nor did I have mine (it was in my vest back in camp — I switched from vest to wading jacket due to the drastic change in weather and only took the essentials with me — scuds and midges). The wind and cold temps, combined with the start of water generation, put us back at camp for the remainder of the afternoon. Another change from last year was the addition of a new shower house at Quarry Park campground — there was nothing better than taking a hot shower in a private heated bathroom (complete with toilet / shower / mirror) after a hard day on the river being beat up by the elements. After we all cleaned up, we headed into town for dinner at El Charro’s in Mountain Home. It was as good of Mexican food as I have had in awhile (living in the midwest) and sure beat cold turkey sandwiches and soda. After dinner, we headed over to Tom Roger’s (TNT Fly Fishing) house to visit and Becky, his wife, had been having some computer problems they wanted me to look at. They are two of the nicest people you are ever going to meet in Arkansas and both of them have a wealth of knowledge and a willingness to share it. We left Tom’s about 9:30pm and were back in camp falling asleep to the rain by 10:30am.