Norfork River (Mountain Home, Arkansas) — July 13, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 5

Hey ya’ll!!! We’re still kicking……well some of us. Matt is snoring in a bed just across the room. Guess the young punk can’t hang with the “Old Guy”. John is sleeping too. Actually, I can hardly keep my eyes open myself, but I wanted to say hello to all of you before we go out on the river again in a few hours. YES!!! I said again. John Wilson offered to take us out again this evening and if the fish are biting, we’ll fish well into the night….or morning as it may be.

Where do I start? OH, how about where we left off last time. We left you last at the Fulton’s lodge. After we hit the send button and waited for the report and pictures to upload, John gave us some casting lessons. I don’t know about all of you, but I sure haven’t seen all that many people cast a complete line down to the backing with only a couple of false casts. John makes it look easy. If only it was. I got a number of pointers and even a mechanics and physics lesson on rod movement and how the line follows. Things that I have read about for years and were still confused on, all became clear last night. John not only can cast well (that’s why he broke records on accuracy at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games), but he can also convey it to others like me. WICKED COOL!!! (As John would say!!)

After the files finally uploaded…..OH, that reminds me, we called the great people at Fly Rod & Reel magazine today and we think we have things worked out regarding our photos. Please keep looking, you should have a bunch to look at very soon. After the files finished we followed John over to his cabin to stay with him for the night. WELL!!!! Just before John left for the Great Outdoor Games, his AC quit in his cabin. He told his landlord about it and seemed to think it would be fixed when he got back. NOT!!! I’ll kind of leave that there, but I think John had a few words with his landlord….at least that’s what it kind of sounded like about a block away. You fill in the blanks.

Well, Matt hopped on the phone and called His Place Resort, that had already offered to allow us to stay in one of their cabins the next 3 nights and asked if we could come early. They said “Come on down!!”. Shwew!!! It was still in the 80’s and the humidity must have been about the same. We were dripping just from our casting lessons and really needed to cool down. The AC experience was certainly better here!

We’ll we got our main gear out and quickly got showers and started tying flies. John was showing us how to tie his “now not so secret” fly – Trout Crack. This is perhaps one of the simplest flies to tie, but the results are absolutely incredible. I’ve heard a rumor that Umpqua is looking into carrying John’s fly, but it just hasn’t happened yet. ;>) I would highly recommend each and everyone of you contact Umpqua about this fly, cause you sure the heck will want some. I caught about 25 fish in just a few hours, with Matt catching almost as many, with this thing and that is a tiny part of this fly’s track record. I’ll tell you this about it so you have a little idea…’s a bit like a scud and fished dead drift like most nymphs….size 12 to 18 generally.

OK, so we tied about a dozen each and headed to bed. That was about 11:30 and the alarm was set for 3:30. We are in a bit different accommodations, which feels a bit more like Trout Bum habitat. We basically have a 1 room efficiency cabin. Two beds….ya, I know…….there are three of us right?!! No, I didn’t share with Matt last night. Luckily I brought along my sleeping pad and sleeping bag just incase, and slept on the floor. I have no complaints. I think I could have slept standing up last night.

So, I wake to Matt shaking me at 3:30. John wanted us to get to the river at first light for some nymphing and midging to HUGH fish. I mean fish in the 10 – 20 lb range were fairly common in the water we were going to fish with #18s and 6x tippet. Following quick showers, we slipped into our waders at the cabin and drove to the access. Sorry, can’t tell you where it is. Can you blame John for not wanting us to tell the location? He’ll be glad to take you though if you have him guide you. Sounds like a fair trade to me. You can get a heck of a lot of information though and contact John via his web site at Anyway, we ate granola bars on the way and drank sport drinks to try to get some more fluid in us.

OH, guess I should mention the water generation at this time. This was the first time I had experienced tailwater fishing and it was pretty wild to see all of the guides and Matt constantly on the phone calling the dam generation phone number. The dam telephone recording doesn’t tell you “when” the water will be “turned on” for generation, but it tells you when it “was” turned on and how many generator units were put on line. If you know your stuff (which all of our guides have) you can determine how long it will take for the water to get down to your location and plan your egress from the river appropriately. Additionally, you have to constantly monitor the generating schedules to determine what kind of fishing you may be able to do the next day. The water generation determines when you will fish, how you will fish, where you will fish and if you will be wading or fishing from a boat. There’s quite a bit to think about and plan for, and that’s what we’ve been doing the whole trip. Well, I say we…..Matt and the guides have been.

OK, so we buzz down a bunch of back roads and come to a farm field that seems pretty well worn from a few lucky vehicles. Quickly we jump out of the truck, gather our gear and get another lesson from John as to how he rigs his nymph and midge rigs. I gotta start taking notes when I’m around this guy!! After John gets us set, he heads for the river, while we try to keep up. Headlamps on, we slide through a path that looked like a tunnel through the trees and shrub to the river. In we go and wade up river trying not to trip over submerged logs, stumps and boulders. Hey, one word of advice for all of you……CLEATS!!! Wish I had some. I will the next time. Them rocks is slick….so we all stayed dry….at least walking in!!!

Well, John’s timing was perfect. We made it to a…..well, I had no idea what it was. Did I mention the fog? We could barely see 20 feet in front of us up until now, but the sun was starting to peak over the ridge and the fog was just starting to burn off. We could hear very large fish breaking the water in the fog. It was pretty cool. John hands me his rod with a streamer and tells me where to cast. While messing with something on my William Joseph chest pack, a fish took the streamer that I had dangling in the water just 6 feet in front of me. Didn’t get that one hooked, but that was just the start of our day. I had no idea at that point what I was casting to or how far to cast, so John told me the length I needed by seeing my back cast and I was fishing. He told me I was floating my fly over a number of 20+ lb fish….it was just up to the fish whether or not they wanted to eat. I had a number of takes that seemed really big. You all know the feeling….., but I only got in a few small ones. Just 12 to 16 inchers…I was still happy. Especially since I caught both rainbows and a cutthroat. OH, I need to mention that you can catch a “Grand Slam” in this water…..a rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brookie all in the same day on the same water. I was starting to wonder if I might have a chance.

While I was swinging my streamer, Matt was getting lessons in nymphing with Trout Crack. Matt is a streamer fisherman and not greatly experienced at nymphing, but after today, he decided he loves nymphing in the right conditions like I decided I love streamers in the right conditions yesterday. I couldn’t see them well through the fog, but I heard a lot of “OH MAN!!”s as Matt missed a few. He did hook up with a number of fish though and got better and better using the new technique as the morning wore on.

Well, my streamer takes petered out and John told me to start nymphing up near Matt. YES!!!!! I was in total heaven. This is the kind of fishing I love. Fast riffle dropping into a 2 to 3 foot run with a couple of side channels coming in too. Seams everywhere!!! I had a blast!!! We have been really lax at taking pictures with us holding fish up till now, so we decided to take a number of pics today, so that you all believe that we actually have caught some fish. Each fish we would hook up, John would ask if it was a nice fish, what kind and if we wanted pictures of it. Matt and I had him walking back and forth taking pictures of us pretty frequently for a while. On one of my hookups, he asked me what it was. I said I wasn’t sure, it kinda looked like a rainbow…. “NO, maybe a “cut””…no…. “IT’S A BROOKIE!!!” John nearly ran over to me to make sure we got a picture of this beautiful little gem. I have always had a special place in my heart for this beautiful fish, so I was beaming. Then John says… “Game On!!”. I looked a little puzzled and Matt says that I have to get the Grand Slam. Holy Smokes!!! I wasn’t even thinking about that at the time. John tells me to keep doing what I’m doing because there are a bunch of large fish where I am, but he would go off in search of browns. Matt and I both bring in a number of rainbows and cuts when John hooks up with our first brown of the day. He calls me a hundred yards or so downstream (where I was fishing streamers earlier) and shows me the brown hangout. After getting yet another lesson of how to swing the rod in a circle over my head while casting to get the best drift, John lets me loose with a size 20 beadhead zebra midge. After missing, yet again, a couple of nice takes, I finally see my indicator just pause and set the hook. We weren’t sure what it was yet, but it did stay down and we were hoping it was a brown. I took forever getting this bugger close enough to see, cause I sure the heck didn’t want to mess up. Finally after a few minutes (seemed like hours though) we get our first glimpse…….A BROWN!!! Man was I pumped!!! After another couple hours…I mean minutes…..John finally netted the little (14 inches) beauty for me and there where “Hi-Fives” all around. The Grand Slam!!! Wicked Cool!!!

I finally settled down and decided to fish from across the riffle we were fishing to get a better drift because I could see some really nice fish in the run just below the riffle. Sure enough. I got on a decent rainbow and Matt asks me if I want him to take a picture. I hesitated, cause it was only 17 or 18 inches I thought, but we did need some more fish pics. Matt graciously waded across, but it was still going to be a little while before it was ready to net, so Matt started to fish. Quickly he had a nice fish on himself. Now John was wading over to try to get a picture of the two of us with nice fish together. Wicked Cool!!! We got the pics, let our little buddies go and while we were watching Matt’s fish swim off…..well, I’m not sure what the heck happened. All I know is that Matt leaned back a little bit and you should have seen the look on his face just before it went under water. Before his ears hit the water, John was turning to grab him, but Matt still got a full Norfork baptism. John pulled him up instantly and after we figured out all was fine, we all laughed our butts off. Only casualty may be Matt’s camera. Not sure yet. We’ll know in a few minutes when we try to upload his great pictures. Keep your fingers crossed!!!! No pictures at this time. The Fuji FinePix S5000, didn’t like the cold water and we can’t get the card to be recognized in the card reader yet. Rest assured, we will keep trying.

Well, that was just about the time we were going to head back anyway, because John suspected the water was going to be “turned on” any minute anyway, which would give us just enough time to get back. On the way back we spotted a number of large fish. One rainbow probably over 10 lbs, numerous larger browns and one brown that John estimated to be in the 30 lb range. Wicked Cool!! Up and out of the river, we found out that the heat was still with us. YUCK!!!! Just another reason to go fishing on a hot day. We were all hungry and tired and headed for lunch. John pulled in to Sutton’s Restaurant in Mountain Home on Hwy 5. He said that it was all great and that they made their own potato chips that we just HAD to get. We ordered, started drinking our tea and talking about our day when I got a twinkle in my eye. Matt looked at me and said, “You’re gonna try to bum lunch aren’t you?” I just smiled. I headed for the kitchen to find the owner – John Sutton. After telling the waitress that I wanted to talk to him she sent me to the back of the kitchen where John was flying around like a wild man making food for all of us. He listened to what I had to stay and instantly said he’s be happy feed us for free. What a guy!!! Then we got the food. Holy Smokes!!! I got a blackened burger with blue cheese and all the fixings. That may have been the best burger I have ever eaten and that’s NOT just because I was hungry….I honestly mean that!!! Mr. Sutton even took a couple of minutes to take a picture with “The Bums”.

After that we picked up a TON of sport drinks and ice. So far, I think we have spent more money on drinks than anything else. We have too though in this heat. We have no choice. Well, the “two” other bums just woke up from their beauty sleep (didn’t help by the way) so I guess I better go. It’s 6:30 pm and we are getting ready to head out for an evening fish, get some food (let’s hope my bumming luck holds), get a couple hours of sleep (I think I better this time) and head back out about 2:00 am in search of big browns. I apologize for not filling in the blanks for yesterday yet (it was a full and fun day that we still need to elaborate on) but there area only so many hours in this day…… and I don’t want to miss a minute of it!!!

Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Brent)

White River (Mountain Home, Arkansas) — July 12, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 4

What a day!! But I’ll start here at the end of this day first. About two hours ago we finished fishing streamers for big fish on the White River. Once we had cell phone coverage, Matt checked his messages and he had a message from John Wilson and he said he would like to guide us tonight and tomorrow, but only had this one day to do it if we could make it. Do any of you know who John Wilson is???!!! Well, let’s put it this way, John just drove back from the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, where he placed fourth (that’s a controversy we may tell a little about later on….). This man is one of the best fly fishers in the country. What do you think our answer was!!! Duhhhh!!! He offered for us to stay at his cabin in the area with him for a couple hours of rest before we head out for night fishing and then fishing into the early afternoon tomorrow. Done DEAL!!!

Well, we told him that we needed to get our report to you all first tonight, so he had an idea for us and said to follow him. We buzzed around a number of back roads and stopped at a farm where a man and woman were putting the last shoe on one of their horses. I looked over at their truck and on it was “Blue Ribbon Flies”. Yes indeed, we stopped at Mr. & Mrs. Dale Fulton’s farm to get the keys to Dale Fulton’s Lodge so that we could write this report to you all and send it in using their internet access. And yes, I mean the same Fulton’s were partners of the shop by the same name in West Yellowstone. I don’t know what you all think, but I thought this was pretty cool. SO, since we are trying to hurriedly get a little rest to nymph for HUGE fish in a few hours, I will just give you the highlights of today for now and fill in the details later. I thought we just had to tell you all about this though for now.

We were up at 5:00 and heading to Rim Shoals access of the White River near Mountain Home, AR. We needed fuel and stopped at a few places to try to bum fuel and finally came across the owner of a few Exxon stations down here that not only gave us the fuel we needed for the truck, but also sent us down the road to his next station to get whatever we wanted for breakfast. Next we met our guide Scott Branyon as Rim Shoals access and had a heck of a morning fishing streamers on the White River while they were running 4 generators. WHAT A BLAST. I basically don’t (didn’t) like streamer fishing before, but I think I was converted today. I also think I was converted today from a fast action rod to a slow action rod. Anyone have a 7 wt Thomas & Thomas rod they aren’t using anymore?? Nudge nudge wink wink!!!

After fishing the morning, we had to be at Rim Shoals Fly Shop & Dock to take a call for us to help host Outdoors With Tommy Garner, an Ozark radio show, that Matt had setup last week. I was exhausted from my first day ever stripping large streamers and picking up a sinking tip line. I fell asleep in the boat on our trip back up river. The dog in one of the pictures is “Dock” and he lives at the shop. After a quick rest from the interview, we headed back to the water for some fishing for BIG fish. They had now turned on all 8 generators and the water was moving!! That coupled with our lack of sleep and the near 100 degree heat all day basically kicked our butts!!!! It was a GREAT day though.

So basically that was our day. How was all of yours???!!! I better go for now. It’s 8:15 pm. We have fish to chase again in a few hours after we get a much needed shower, tie up some secret flies that John said we will need for tomorrow and try to get a couple hours of rest. OH, only 14 fish today maybe, but we were on a quest for BIG fish and we still had a GREAT day. Man did I learn a lot from Scott. We’ll catch up with you all a bit later.

P. S. We’ve only spent $97 of our original $500 thus far and I think we’re taking the duct tape back.


Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Brent)


Here is the update (written by Matt)


McClane promised to fill you in on the drift boat trip we had with Scott Branyan ( on Monday, July 12. Well, it is 10:42pm on 07-14-04 and we are just now getting back to updating the report. A lot has happened since this trip, but we will fill you in on this in later trips. What can we say about fishing with Scott Branyan on a bummed guided fly fishing trip on the White River. It was a hard day of fishing, with great results. We met Scott at Rim Shoals public access at about 9:00am, after running an hour or so late. We spent that hour bumming gas, and getting a late start in Branson – but we called Scott and told him and everything was on the up and up.

When we arrived, the Bull Shoals dam was releasing 8 generators worth of water, and that water rise was soon to hit the area of the White River that we were fishing. Unfortunately, when you are fishing a tailwater you must keep track of when the water will be rising and falling. Especially if you ware wade fishing. Scott informed us that we would be fishing streamers and sink-tip fly lines all day due to the water generation.

I was fishing with my new Temple Fork TiCR 9’-0” 7wt, and Brent was fishing with one of Scott’s Thomas & Thomas 9’-0” 7wts. As McClane has said, he fell in love with the slower action of the T&T rod, and in fishing streamers all day. It was a hard morning of fishing, with a few fish caught (mainly by McClane).

We were back at Rim Shoals Fly Shop at 12:30, as McClane and I were to be on a Southern Missouri / Arkansas radio show at 1:00pm. What I thought would be a simple 10 minute radio interview, ended up being a one hour spot on the radio with McClane and I taking turns on the phone. We plugged several people that were helping us out along the way, and those that are going to be helping us out further along down the road and told the listeners to meet us on the Spring River to help wrap up our trout odyssey on 07-18-04.

After we finished the interview and sucked up a ton of air conditioning (the temperatures reached a blistering 97 degrees with heat indexes well into the 100’s), we headed back out on the river for more streamer fishing out of Scott’s hand built wooden drift boat. The boat is as stable of a fishing platform as there is, and Scott handles it with ease. It was a pleasure to fish from. We finished up the day at Rim Shoals Public Access around 5:00pm, took some photos and said some goodbyes and we were on our way, or so we thought. You can read the July 13, 2004 to hear about our other adventures.

Beaver Tailwater (Eureka Springs, Arkansas) — July 11, 2004

Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 3

Here I sit at the keyboard in our plush condo, living the life some trout bums dream of. The washing machine is washing our fish clothes from 3 days of fishing, the beer is on ice, and Brent is out trying to put our trout chariot back together. As I sit here, I can’t help but laugh about today’s events. In every good trip, there must be a story. Well, it seems that our Trout Bum odyssey is only getting better as we move on.

The alarms went off at 4:45am this morning, then it was time to hit the shower and we were off. A quick stop off at McDonald’s for a bacon egg & cheese value meal to share between the two of us and we were off, total cost of breakfast was less than $4.00. We have been consciously trying to save as much of the $500 by walking the fine line between starvation and just “being hungry.” Pop-Tarts and Crackers have been our savior thus far. Well, that and David Bewley’s cooking, and the fine lunches our guides have provided on this trip to date. It is all in the name of charity, and if eating $4.00 breakfasts are what it takes to win then we will do it (although I am secretly craving a breakfast of biscuits & gravy or at least for Hardee’s to run a 2 for $2 breakfast sandwich special so I wouldn’t have to share a biscuit with McClane).

Today we were to fish the White River below the Beaver Lake Dam, with Ken Richards of Just Fishin’ Guides ( We had a one and a half hour drive ahead of us (southwest of Branson, Missouri), just west of the town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The scenery that we were passing was amazing, I don’t know of a more scenic place than the Ozarks – especially with this quality of trout fishing right out your back door. We met Ken and his Hyde drift boat at the turnoff for the dam access, and did our quick introductions. I had only met Ken once before, during the Hooked On A Cure event, and prior to that he had agreed to take McClane and I out to his home water.

Before we could fish, however, we had some charity business to take care of. We have accepted pledges for every fly shop that we visit, and Ken said we must stop in at the Dam Store (that really is the name of the fly shop / gas station at the base of Beaver Dam). We went in and met Charlotte, “Tasmanian” Steve, and their dog Gill. The store is a great little store with every last minute thing a fly fisherman could forget on this trip, and then some. After some brief conversation, a couple of pats on Gill’s back, and a bummed a favorite local fly pattern called the Redneck Fly we were off. Or at least we thought we were.

It seems that in the haste for leaving for the river, McClane’s driver side truck door was introduced to the gunwale a drift boat. Even though the noise was loud from inside the cab of McClane’s truck, we didn’t think there could be that much damage. Well, we were right. There wasn’t much damage…………to the drift boat…….but it buckled the driver’s side door of our trout chariot. We were all amazed at how the door on the truck had bent in almost 4 inches, but the drift boat barely had a crack on it. After the initial shock was over (in like 5 minutes), we all laughed about it……several times. And spent the next hour trying to get the door to stay shut and latched. After breaking out the tools that any good trout bum should carry, like a crow bar and allen set, we pried the door into a somewhat latched position and the used a ton of duct tape to seal the door. Duct tape is great stuff, and we thought it was up to the job, so we decided to go fishing (after making sure that all the doors were closed and the boat had enough clearance. Accidents happen on trips, and this is just one of those things we can already sit back and laugh about it.

There was no water running on the Beaver, so we decided to fish the catch and release area of the river. We finally got on the water by 10:30am and Ken put us on fish immediately with a bead head thread/midge pattern (a size # 18) under a yarn indicator. We hooked up with 20+ fish in two hours between the two of us. Although, I will concede that McClane out-fished me again today. There is something to this indicator fishing (I used to razz him pretty hard about fishing under a “bobber,” but it isn’t as easy as it looks) and I still need to get the hang of it – but the fish came a little easier today and I landed about 10. We hiked downstream to take a look at the rest of the waters, and the scenery was breathtaking. There was only one house on the whole river, no trout docks, and very little noise of motorized boats. It was wonderful, and a great change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Lake Taneycomo. I just couldn’t believe how nice this river was, and how there was mainly fly fishermen on the river, with the occasional spin fisherman from a canoe. On the walk downstream we met several friendly fly fishermen, including Scott Sanders of Discover the Art of Fly Fishing. He is a local Beaver guide, and seemed to be having a good day. We wished each other luck and were on our way back upstream. Ken left us to fish out a hole, while he went up and prepared our shore lunch.

As we were fishing, and McClane was landing another rainbow trout, I thought I smelled the distinct smell of a barbequed hamburger (I am the husky one remember, and no that smell anywhere. I even made a joke that the “Beaver sure smelled good, like BBQ’d hamburgers.” After which, McClane nearly fell in the water from laughing so hard. Several more jokes about the Beaver were made during the day. Just about the time we were going to head upstream a little bit, the horn blew at the dam, which signified rising water. Ken must have known something was up, as he had lunch prepared just as the water rose. We hiked up the access trail to a little picnic table in the shade, where Ken had prepared us perfect shore lunch of bbq’d hamburgers, hot dogs (with lettuce, onions, pickles, and condiments) and pasta salad (with a little cayenne pepper). Man it was a feast fit for kings. During lunch, I amazed them with my phobia of bugs that buzz. Yes, a big guy like me “freaks out” when something buzzes by my ears or face to the point that I will swat at anything the buzzes near me. I don’t have a use for insects like that – other than to make other people laugh at me (come on guys, you all know someone like me). But what the hell, it was a good time and they had a good laugh. Ken had promised us a true “normal” guided trip, and he didn’t let us down. It was perfect, as a trout bum needs to keep his nourishment during fishing and bumming activities. After we cleaned up our trash from lunch and packed everything up, we headed for the trucks and the boat to do some high water fishing.

Back at the truck, I discovered the right leg of my waders have a hole in them. I can’t decide if ordering them now would take away from the $500 cash or if the powers that be will allow me to buy a new set of waders. Perhaps I could bum a new pair (anyone out there reading this, and want to outfit a trout bum in some waders – all it takes is to send me an email ( (Oh and they must be in size HUSKY….hehehehe…(from Brent)). I thought there was a little extra sting in my leg. Ken had said that the Beaver always runs cold, and boy was he right McClane used his William Joseph thermometer and got a reading of 48 degrees.

We put the Hyde drift boat in at the dam access, and floated about four miles down stream tossing streamers and nymphs. Fishing was tough with McClane the only one picking up fish. But hell, I didn’t care. The scenery from the bow of the drift boat was worth the price of admission (which was one helluva sunburn). On the drift down, we met up with Scott Branyan ( Scott is going to be taking us out on the White River tomorrow in his custom build wooden drift boat (that he built). After some quick hellos, and some making of what time to meet and where we were each on our way. We floated to the access and called it a day. What a day on the river. A total of 33 fish brought to hand with at least 20 more hookups / turned fish.

After cleaning out the boat and stowing our gear in McClane’s truck, Ken offered to buy a couple of trout bums dinner at one of the many great restaurants that Eureka Springs, Arkansas has to offer (if you have never visited the town of Eureka Springs, I recommend that you do as it is full of neat little bed & breakfasts and close to some fantastic fishing). He had already prepared us a great shore lunch, made a donation to Hooked On A Cure, and allowed us to bum a guided fishing trip down the Beaver. We told him that we had some cheese / crackers / sausage in the cooler or the leftover BBQ from David Bewley, but he insisted. We settled on McDonalds and ate there. Thanks Ken for everything. You were a very gracious guide and person. We had a ton of fun on the river, and caught some beautiful fish in the process.

We started the trek back to Branson at about 7:30pm and realized that the duct tape / latch job that we had performed on the trout chariot was failing. We had a decision to make, try and fix it or make the 11-hour round trip drive back to St. Louis to swap vehicles and be on the White River by 8:00am the next morning. It just so happens that our fly fishing mentor, Mike Swederska of St. Louis, owns Shur-Way Auto Body Shop. Mike was also the one that donated some official Team Ozark Chronicles clothing that you will see McClane and I sporting during the trip. He also donated the embroidery on some of our shirts donated from Feather-Craft Fly Fishing as well…OH!! And we can’t forget Vicky!! Mike’s wife. She is the one that owns the embroidery shop and did all of the embroidery. Man are our shirts cool!!! After a brief telephone conversation in the parking lot of a gas station in West Branson, we thought we had received a fix on the door from Mike and were on our way to Wal-Mart to pick up Ice, more Duct Tape, and some Tums (the spicy “southern” food has given us both heartburn). Total Wal-Mart trip cost was $17.06. It was now 10:00pm and we needed to get back to the Condo to pack our gear, clean the condo, load the truck, FIX the truck door as by now the only thing holding the door seemed to be the duct tape, write our report, and get some sleep (although McClane’s motto has been that we can sleep when we are dead).

Speaking of McClane, it is now 11:00pm and he is out working on getting the door of the truck to close / lock thanks to Swederska’s Auto Body Telephone Lesson #101. He took a couple of beers and his fishing headlamp so he may be out there awhile. I need to finish up some stuff and it is now 12:45 pm and we are meeting Scott at Rim Shoals Fly Shop at 8:30am, which is 2 hours away– where does the time go.


Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Matt)


Hey, this is Brent now. I just read all that Matt wrote while I was working on Old Blue and it looks like he has pretty much hit all that we had talked about on our drive home tonight. That reminds me. I have a feeling we will be adding little tidbits about past days that we have forgotten to add in these past reports. We haven’t gotten much sleep and our reports all seem to be written pretty darn late….some beer may have been involved too. ANYWAY…..SUCCESS!!!! I just got in and I’m pretty darn happy. The door seems to be operating. How darn fortunate are we that one of our favorite fishing buddies just happens to own a body shop? I described to Mike on the phone what had happened and he told me how to spring the hinges back out to get the door back on place. Thanks Mike!!! I also need to really thank my dad too at this point because he has always told me to be prepared and take a good toolbox along where ever I go. Can you believe I had a piece of bar stock aluminum in the bottom of my toolbox that happened to be the perfect size to wedge in the door hinges? Hahhahah!!! What a hoot!!!

Well, the door thing was a bummer this morning, but the major reason for that was because we had to mess with it and it kept us from fishing. I guess fly-fishing has taught me that the material things in life just aren’t all the important. Consequently……we had a GREAT day!!! Maybe we didn’t have a bunch of giant fish in front of us all day, but personally, the quiet of the stream FAR outweighed that. The birds were singing, the fog on the water was surreal, the overlooking bluffs were beautiful and there were three great guys fishing and just enjoying the day. It doesn’t get any better than that. What a beautiful Ozark stream.

This has been a real team effort this trip and tonight in particular. While I was working on the truck door, Matt was typing most of this to all of you. After I finished the door, I did some laundry cleaned this place up and got my gear ready. Now Matt is getting his gear in order and taking laundry out of the dryer while I say “Hello”. He’s a pretty good Bum to hang with.

Well, I think I’ll say “Good Night” for now. I still need to write photo descriptions, plug in our route in the GPS for driving tomorrow and get a shower and it’s now 1:34 am….it’s going to be at least 2:00 before we get to bed and the alarm is set for 5:00…..AAAAGGGG!!!!! (Read with a Charlie Brown voice). Take care…..we’ll catch up with all of you tomorrow.

Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Brent)

Lake Taneycomo (Branson, Missouri) — July 10, 2004

Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 2

Summer is in full effect in Branson, Missouri – completed with sun, humidity, and 90+ degree temperatures. Nothing better to sweat out hangovers than waders, sun, and hot temperatures. The alarm went off at 4:50am and it was time to get up and get ready for another day on the water. Matt went to bed about 11:30, but Brent the glutton for punishment didn’t go to bed till at least 2:30. A quick call to the water generation hotline, confirmed that there was no water generating through the dam, unlike yesterday when they were running all 4 generators and the water was really moving. Welcome to tailwater fishing. One minute it can be calm and in a few minutes it can be a roaring torrent. How did one local put it???….. “Boys. When you hear the horn blow. That means the generators are starting up and if you don’t get out of the water pretty quickly, you’ll be bobin’ like a turd in a churn!”

We stopped off at a local Branson gas station, and successfully bummed two bags of ice (to keep the beer and Gatorade cool) and some cups of coffee. The only thing that the attendant that the station asked in return was for us to sign a copy of FR&R for a coworker. Obviously, we obliged them and then thanked them and were off to meet our guide for the day, Jeremiah Wade of CastAway Guide Service.

We met up with Jeremiah and his friend Ryan at the boat ramp access near the dam on Lake Taneycomo at 6:00am. After brief introductions and loading up on bottled water, we were on our way down to the fog covered stream. We started out fishing some slower water with a midge pattern called “Dave’s Emerger,” and Brent was quickly in to 5 rainbows in less than 30 minutes. I was struggling however. I desperately wanted to break the skunk out of my new Temple Fork Fly Rod (9’-0” 4wt), but I obviously had some bad karma and couldn’t make it happen this morning. Fishing slowed once the fog burned off, and then the heat came, and it made a warm day on the water even hotter. Everyone on the river was struggling with fish, but there were fish everywhere. At one time, I had at least 50 fish holding within 10ft behind me and under my feet. You honestly accidentally kick them while walking as they snatch the dislodged insects kicked up by wading. It was a very humbling experience. Fishing was slow for the rest of the day, but Jeremiah worked hard to try and put us on fish. About 5:00pm, we decided to seek the shelter of some shade and hydrate ourselves. But the shade won out, and we decided to retire to the air-conditioned confines of our “bummed” TreeHouse Condo ( on the Indian Point of Table Rock Lake. In the end, we brought to hand a total of 15 for the day and worked hard for those fish.

Here I sit, typing this report and smelling the sweet smells of boneless chicken stuffed with crawfish meat, Bewley’s Baked Beans, pasta salad, and peanut butter pie to finish it off. We cannot thank David Bewley enough for all he has done for a couple of trout bums. The food has been 5-Star caliber (we would like to thank Mrs. Bewley as well, as we still aren’t sure who made the peanut butter pie) for a guy that neither of us had met prior to trout bum; David has gone above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined. He even has offered to let us stay at the plush confines of the condo for an additional night. It seems that the water we are to fish on Sunday is no more than an hour drive from Branson. So we have a decision to make, nice air conditioned condo or sleeping in the back of the truck in 80 degree temps………….

Decision made, “Thanks David”, we will take you up on this issue (just means we will need to bum some more gas). Sunday, July 11, will find us on the Beaver Tailwater of the White River fly fishing with guide Ken Richards of Just Fishin’ Guides ( The Beaver Tailwater is the dirty stepchild of the Arkansas tailwaters, but it can fish well at times.

Our trip to Lake Taneycomo has concluded. Although we didn’t catch any monster fish, we did have some great times on the water with some great fly fishermen. We will definitely be back to Lake Taneycomo this fall to try and hook in to some monsters during the fall runs. We want to thank all those that we met and helped us in Branson. Dinner is done, and the beer is cold. Time to retire to an evening of cleaning fly boxes, tying flies, and getting some sleep for the rest of the trout bum experience. A rested trout bum is a happy trout bum.

Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Matt)

Lake Taneycomo (Branson, Missouri) — July 9, 2004

Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 1

What a wild and crazy trip it has been. I am two weekends back from meeting some true fly fishing icons and having the fly fishing weekend of my life thus far (before Trout Bum of course) and McClane just got into town this week after 10 days canoeing the Boundary Waters. Leading the life of Trout Bums is tough, but someone has to do it.

After throwing all our gear into McClane’s Dodge Ram Pickup (I swear we brought enough stuff to guide a boy scout group on all the tail waters of the Ozarks) we headed out of St. Louis about 9:00pm and headed for Branson, Missouri and the fabled waters of Lake Taneycomo and its monster Rainbow Trout. We arrived at the Table Rock Lake Dam at about 2:45am and they were not generating any water, so we checked out the access and decided to crack open a couple of cans of Budweiser that were one of 8 cases of beer donated to us by the fine folks at St. Louis’ own Anheuser-Busch at the access point (Trout Bums should never buy their own beer, it goes against the grain of a true Trout Bum). We opted to finish our brews and check in to the condo we have successfully bummed for our stay in Branson.

Another 45 minutes later, we found our way to Treehouse Condos on Table Rock Lake. We successfully “bummed” 3 nights stay in David Bewley’s 3 bedroom / 3 bath condo; true southern hospitality at its finest. David has even offered to cook dinner for us on Friday evening after we get off the water. We took to the power of the internet for all of the “bums” that we have accomplished on this trip. We have never met David before, but his generosity is very appreciated, as this crib is nicer than these Trout Bums’ home.

Saturday (actually in 4 hours) we have a big day ahead of us. We are meeting with Stan Parker of RiverRun Outfitters ( and will be fishing Lake Taneycomo from Stan’s drift boat. So this won’t be a long report, more of a check-in to let our loved ones know that we made it ok (being a Trout Bum is a dangerous proposition at times) and that we have big plans ahead of us.

Time for another beer and to sort the gear, then off to bed for an hour or so……


Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Matt)



Hey everyone, this is Brent. Matt typed the above while I reviewed and assisted, but this is just from me. I’m not sure if you all know this, but what all that we are about to do on this trip has basically been solely bummed by Matt. I just wanted to give him credit where it is due. He has sent out hundreds of emails over the past couple months asking everyone and anyone he could think of to make this possible. As he said I just came back from an incredible trip to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota, so my attention has been focused on that the last couple of months. So this is kinda a thanks from me to Matt and also a note just to let you all know the true “Bum” he has been. This is going to be an awesome trip from what it looks. Stay tuned. We’ll do our best to write as often as we can. Ciao, Brent




On the first day of the Trout Bum tournament, we feel that we may have set the bar for our trip. After about an hour of sleep, we got up and headed to Branson to meet with Stan and Carolyn Parker of River Run Outfitters ( On our way there, I hadn’t had coffee yet and saw a Starbuck’s on the strip on the way and suggested we try to bum some coffee. We walked inside talked to Dave the manager about our quest and he instantly handed us two Grande sized coffees.

We got to Stan and Carolyn’s shop about 8am, and met with everyone in the shop. Talk about a bunch of fun genuine people. We felt like part of the family instantly. After a few handshakes and some trout talk, we headed over to Jimmy Jet’s Grill across the street for the world’s best blueberry pancakes, and some great conversation with Mac & Betty McCammon that graciously picked up the tab for everyone at our table since we’re bums. Thanks guys. Honestly, that was one of the funnest breakfasts we have ever had. When do you get to eat breakfast at an old time diner with palm trees inside (see our pic). We met the political cartoonist for the local paper and talked about the cook’s recent run-in with a bottle of bleach. I thought her hair looked great!!!!

After breakfast, we headed out to the access after loading all of our gear in to Stan’s Clackacraft. I’m sorry to say (this is Brent) but this was my first experience in a drift boat. WOW!!! That was a blast!! I can’t believe how little water those boats can float in and how stable they are. Stan put us in some awesome locations and knew exactly where they would be holding for the number of generators that were running. Stan kept telling us that we hadn’t hit the area in the best water conditions, but we sure had NO complaints. Everyone that came by had little success apparently. Well, it may not have been the 100 fish days that we’ve heard about, but 29 fish was pretty darn good for us. OH, should I tell numbers. Well let’s see MATT. Um, Stan fished for a few minutes and caught 3 fish, and Matt caught 7 fish. I’m not very good at math, so you all can calculate the rest……my number of fish. HOWEVER, I will admit that I had on at least 20 other fish for quite a while and lost all of them. This is not a shot at Rio, but this was the first time I used the Flouroflex-plus, but I have never in my life lost so many fish. If any of you can tell me why I lost so many fish today, please feel free to email us and tell me what I was doing wrong. All I can think of is that I wasn’t used to the stretch. I sure the heck had more hookups, but I got the tar razzed out of me for loosing so many fish. After I lost one of my flies, Stan offered his rod so that I could get a line in the water quickly. I used Stan’s Orvis T3 rod with Wonderline and fell in love. I couldn’t believe how easily I could mend the line. I told Stan that I was buying new line from his shop when we got back.

WELL, once we got back to Stan’s shop, he informed us to pick out any weight Wonderline we wanted. WHAT!!! He wouldn’t let us pay for the lines. Holy SMOKES!!! I can’t wait to throw my new line tomorrow!!! My old line was over 2 years old and sinking almost as fast as my split shot. What A GUY!!!

Hey, I’m not done yet. OK, we had a great day on the water then we head back to this awesome condo that Dave Bewley has so graciously allowed us to stay in. GET THIS!!! He is waiting at the condo with DINNER for us!!!! Just before dinner, I decided to tie up a few flies that the fish loved today on Dave’s balcony (see photo). I definitely need some of those for tomorrow.

OK, for dinner……Dave’s wife, Leigh Ann, made us spinach dip (which is the best I have ever had), corn dip, cole slaw, baked beans and (OMG!!!) ribs to die for and then!!!!!……Peanut Butter pie that melted in our mouths!!! Talk about southern hospitality!!! We have fallen into the middle of it. HEY!!! Do I have to come home from this??!!! SOOOOOOoooo!! Here we all sit drinking a few typing to all of you to tell you about our incredible day and reminiscing about the day. The only thing missing is our loved ones. We definitely have to bring Jen (my girlfriend) and Karen (Matt’s wife) down here soon to have as much fun as we’ve had today. This place is a blast.!!!

Well, Trout Bum Watchers. I better sign off for now. I had about 30 minutes sleep last night and Matt had about the same. We need to meet our next guide at 6:00 in the morning and it’s 11:00 now. Good Night all. And “Thank You” to everyone that made this a great day!!! I hope you all have half as much to read tomorrow, as you had to read today. What a day!!

Tight Lines,

Matt & Brent (written by Brent)