Little Red River (Heber Springs, Arkansas) — July 17, 2004

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 ( 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 ( and fish with them for a day on the river. We have to personally send a shout out to all those from and 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 ( 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 ( 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.

Little Red River (Heber Springs, Arkansas) — July 16, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 8

We are almost done with this trout odyssey, we have avoided any scenes from Deliverance. Today found ourselves rising out of our beds at 5:00am to head to the Little Red River near Heber Springs, Arkansas to fish with Orvis Endorsed Guide Jamie Rouse ( But before I get too far in to the awesome day of fishing we experienced at the Little Red, we have some more thank yous and “bums” to tell you about.

First, we would like to extend a very warm thank you to Steve and Julie at His Place Resort ( for allowing us to bum 4 nights of lodging off of them for ourselves and our newest fly fishing friend, John Wilson (Hey John, who was bumming who buddy?). His Place Resort rescued us from the heat by graciously accepting my plea for air conditioning late on Monday night. My only regret is that we got to hang out with Steve and Julie a little more than we did, but the routine for the week was eat / sleep / fish, and the fishing had been pretty darn good. Thanks again Steve and Julie for the great accommodations, and your support of Team OzarkChronicles.

As we were leaving for Heber Springs to meet up with Jamie Rouse, we decided to stop by the Ramada Inn in Mountain Home to use their wireless internet connection (we bummed them into letting us use their internet connection for free earlier in the week). Because we had noticed that our reports were all out of order, and that there still were no fishing pictures posted, we sent in .zip files for each day of our trout odyssey through 07-13-04 (these files included our trip reports and photos for each check-in, separated by days.). So we thought we would stop off and send in all of the files we had done so far through 07-13-04. While uploading these to FR&R, Brent decided to try and bum us breakfast from the Country Kettle Restaurant in Mountain Home, Arkansas (attached to the Ramada Inn). He came back in no time with a promised photo opportunity, and two big plates of food (biscuits & gravy, hash browns, sausage, bacon, eggs). Very cool, and a very good breakfast compliments of them.

Our bellies were full and we were finally on our way to meet up with Jamie Rouse and fish the Little Red River, home of the world record brown trout (weighed over 40lbs). We arrived at Jamie’s house around 9am, and after brief introductions to his very gracious wife the boat was loaded and we were on the way to the river. We were fishing more than 20 miles downstream this morning, and had a little drive a head of us. We finally got to the water rigged up our rods, and hit the water. First cast was made around 11:00am.

Jamie has been guiding the Arkansas trout waters for over 10 years now, and spends at least two months a year guiding in Alaska as well. He knows the Little Red River like the back of his hand, and likes to show clients why they need to return to the river. He guides approximately 200 days per year. Jamie is a very charismatic guide, and definitely serves up a lot of enthusiasm when on the water. If you ever get a chance to throw streamers with Jamie, take him up on the offer, it is a blast.

We were fishing around the boat dock for some time, due to a big thunderhead that was brewing above, and McClane was picking up fish left and right with an egg pattern affectionately named “Little Pinky.,” While I was chunking a San Juan worm pattern named “Red Diablo” and splitting time with that by throwing a 9’-0” 7wt sink tip with streamers. Fishing was slow for me as I was only picking up an occasional fish, but McClane was knocking them dead. Fishing continued to be slow until after lunch, when I committed to throwing my 9ft 7wt and a sink tip with a clouser minnow on the end.

I didn’t pick up the quantity that McClane had picked up today, but I definitely had the quality down pat. I was working the far bank, and WHAM! out of no where comes a nice wild 16” brown trout football (this fish was almost as round as he was long). It had absolutely beautiful colors and I got to see the take, which is why I love streamer fishing. That pumped both Jamie and I up, and we hit the banks even harder. WHAM! I hooked up with another football of a 17” brown trout. This was pretty cool, I was thinking to myself. Then we set-up for another drift, and then Jamie had a take by a HUGE fish, but the fish only swiped at the tail of the clouser. We drifted out and set back up on that drift, in hopes that the brown would take again. Well, he did. WHAM! This was a huge fish on, and my 7wt and 4x tippet did the trick, and I got him to the boat and Jamie netted him before he could put up much of a fight. In the net was a 23” brown trout, and man was it fat. After several photos, high fives, and reviving the fish, she was back in the water. Man what a beautiful fish, and my biggest wild brown trout to date (the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission does not stock brown trout in this river, unlike some of the other tailwaters). With that, we decided to call it a day. Jamie had a meeting he had to get to at a new home on the river that he is building for his clients to rent out, so we headed over there with him to check out the river while he was in his meeting (did I mention that his new 3 bedroom, 2 bath, rental unit is right on the river). McClane headed to the bridge, and quickly took over 5 rainbows on a tan scud in less than 20 minutes. After that, he decided to call it quits, and we headed over to Jamie Rouse’s house, where he had graciously agreed to host a couple of trout bums for the evening. Shoot, he even fed us lunch, and he and his family cooked us dinner as well (BBQ Burgers, grilled vegetables, and salad) while we each showered and shaved. It is amazing what a hot shower and shave will do for a trout bum. It was a sweet day. We ended with 33 fish in total, with a 16″, 17″, and 23″ brown trout.

It is now 9:22am, and I typing this report. McClane and I have just finished the strawberry shortcake (complete with whip crème and blueberries) that Jamie had brought in for us to snack on. McClane is diligently working away on the 07-14-04 and 07-15-04 reports. Fishing had been good, so the reports have been waiting to get done (but we did take some notes), until now. Tomorrow, we are going to fish the Little Red River near the base of the dam in hopes of catching another Arkansas Grand Slam (Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout all from the same river in the same day). We are going to be fishing with Matt Pederson ( and Rich Brown ( until about 1pm or so, and then we will be heading over to the Spring River and meeting up with Ron Caimi (www.troutcamprods) at Fred’s Fish House, where we hope to bum dinner for ourselves and perhaps our friends. This trip has almost come to a close, but there are a lot more fish to catch so please keep checking in.


Fish Hard,

Matt & Brent (written by Matt)