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.

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