I love it when I’m working the fly shop and a good buddy calls me from the river to tell be that browns are chasing streamers. It fills me with enthusiasm for the rest of my day’s work – thanks Steve, old buddy old pal. All sarcasm aside, its nice to know that streamer fishing is already a viable option for targeting some browns on the White. No doubt many trophies are still very much on the spawn and will be for some time, but remember seeing lots of browns on redds back in early October? Some of those fish are already post spawn and hunting big meals. Steve and our mate Brian Wise from MO went out yesterday to test some new streamer patterns and were pleasantly surprised with hungry browns. We’re still a month or two away from prime time, but it’s not too early to get some practice in and start honing your flies and techniques. Stock up on buck tail, deer body hair, schlappen, flash, hooks, Clear Cure Goo products, and whatever else you need to get started cranking out your favorite streamers in preparation for the post spawn!
Author Archives: ozarkflyfisherjournal
IT WAS like sliding into sliding into a favored sweater for the first really cold day in fall.
Back into chill winds down the back of the collar and shoving the drift boat towards the bank, finger cuts from locking down a 50lb butt section and a 15lb tippet, big rods, big water, warm boots and cold coffee and a good buddy on the sticks. Settling into the mental focus you need on the rod, eyes on the fly, seeing come alive under the control of your stripping hand, “swim baby swim” alive but unwell, through as many ambush zones as you can find, waiting for the shadow following, the buttery flash of a drive by or the brick wall stop of an eat.
There was something comfortable coming back into cold weather streamer fishing and the prospects of connecting up to some White River predators. We have a lot of bookings through February but still some really good open dates, don’t let things slip by, or you might miss out. January can be a great month and so too early March and these are much more open.
With most of our crew down on the salty stuff in Louisiana, and sending back way too many cool pictures, I hollered at our mate, resident film auteur and streamer junkie Brian Wise for a little product testing/goofing off with a streamer rod. I really didn’t have much in the way of expectations of fish, despite some nice flows.
First order of business was to check out the new Sage SALT 9’ 8wt as a streamer rod, loaded up with the nice new RIO Outbound Short type 6 _ which basically means the fast sinking front will drop at 6”-7” a second. The two go together like strawberries and cream, just effortless, even with an 8” articulated streamer out there in the breeze. Grass casting the SALT doesn’t give the real story, actually putting it to use reveals how good this rod is, a leap ahead of its predecessor the Xi3, which I chose as my personal streamer stick for a couple of years.
Wise’s summary was “Backbone with feel” and “super light in the hand”. That lightness suckered me into attempting a few things you shouldn’t do with a 330gr shooting head and a big fly in wind: wristy little change of directions on the backhand as though this was a 5wt and a dry fly, and that it actually worked was ridiculous. The downside to all this is now I’m in a quandary over picking up a SALT or a METHOD for the streamer work ahead. (Incidentally the new Sage ACCEL 9’ 8wt is pretty damn fine as well at $600.)
As well as finally getting to spend a day on the water with Mr Wise for entertainment, I also wanted his input on some flies I’ve been playing with. Brian is a damn fine tier as anyone who had watched his videos can attest. He is exceptionally good on streamer technique, having broken down and recreated a phenomenal list of streamer patterns for his video series.
I’ve got a fly which swims damn well, and yesterday at least got eaten by a bunch of fish, but one day doesn’t make a winter. I made the mistake of mentioning the fly on Facebook and got a bunch of recipe/photo requests. Perhaps I’m a little weird but on streamer flies at least I work on the action first, then make it look presentable. It starts with the chassis, hook selection, articulation and weight, then materials and tying technique.
Since this deceiver style fly is using new materials & attachment method, to me at least, these flies are a rough as hessian underpants. Brian’s input was good, and having him exclaiming and giggling over the action was a confidence booster, its nerve-racking letting your new baby out for the first time. And having him hook and loose his biggest fish of the year was awesome and awful at the same time, a very thick Two Foot Plus fish.
Now come the fun, the concept is sound, now lets turn them into real flies, with a flurry of fur, feather and flash and some different color combinations.I get like this in November, Chad will be doing the same, Gabe is tweaking up the streamer he caught some good-uns on in summer, and dreaming of snowy days, big white mouths and yellow sides.
Now there is two months to get it worked out before I’m stacking the boat with the like of Kelly Galloup, Mike Schmidt and co for our Streamer Lovefest on January 31. We shall see
Some killer drone video here of our own Chad Johnson and good mate Abe Flippin on the oars from Rim Shoals Resort (www.rimshoals.com) fly fishing Rim Shoals on the White River, but David Dressler.
Save this one and any time you need to destress and get a little White River magic, stick the earphones on and mellow out.
If it wasn’t for the fishing, you would be inside at dawn
HAVING an addiction to trout and an aversion to cold weather is cross to bear. If I was smarter, I’d found a place without a winter.
Make no bones about it I’m the biggest wuss in our crew when it come to winter conditions _ in Australia outlawed the sort of temperature we had this morning years ago. Now we do have snow in trout country Tasmania, but the Ozark winters (mild compared to our friends up north), are something else to your average Aussie.
Winter fishing here is awesome, and not just because we love streamer fishing, but there is something about fishing with snow on the banks and no one else in sight. If you are prepared, and have the right gear, it can be a lot of fun. And with mine, and Mississippi Johnson’s dislike of the cold we are very serious about our cold weather gear.
Just remember that the cold can take you down fast if it all goes wrong.
I’ve seen two cases of hypothermia in my time guiding: the first was a fly fisher who didn’t tell me his waders were actually a flow-thru model in 45 degree water and on a 80 degree day on Beaver Tailwater. The air temperature made the job of getting his body temperature back up much easier, once we got him dry and dressed. So lesson one: don’t wear leaky waders in the cold.
The second case was actually myself, on a 30 degree day on Norfork, with you guessed it leaky waders. I was using Simms awesome wader repair program to refurbish my first choice waders and when the trip came up I was caught short. My feet were cold when I finished the day on Norfork, but on the drive home I cranked the heater to the max through the floor vents. Bad idea, by the time I got to Mountain Home I was slurring and shaking hard, it took a while in a hot bath to get me back to normal. I really think that the fast evaporation from my waders via the heater was the trigger, so if you can get dry before driving home.
Chad Johnson & Alex Lafkas at work
IT’S ON Again _ our best-selling, most popular, ridiculously fun streamer class. The is one of the best deals on the river.
This class is about matching our very experienced trophy hunting streamer team with eager newcomers wanting a taste of big flies and big rods _ White River style. There are lots of places to go streamer fishing _ but few places are as extreme as the White River in terms of big flies and the size of brown trout which will eat them
What you get for your $225 is a detail in-store morning class running through the theory of predator trout behaviour and feeding patterns, the gear you need, fly design and finally presentation techniques, led by streamer guides Alex Lafkas & Chad Johnson.
For the afternoon you will spend 4 hours in a drift boat with one of our streamer guides, paired up with another classmate, to put the theory into practice. We stress first off the classes aren’t about the catching.
Its all about passing on the fundamentals so everyone is set to go hunting a trophy White River brown, on their own or on a guide trip with one of our team. The guys will work on the skills you need to take this on yourselves: it might be casting, presentation or hook sets.
These classes have traditionally been over subscribed so we require full payment up front. In the event of an emergency, we will endeavor to sell your spot to another class member. In the event we resell your spot, you will get a full refund.
Call the shop to book. 870 435 6166
Class Name: Streamer Fishing on the White River
Class Date & Time: January 24 – 8 a.m-4p.m. Lunch: 11-12
Class Fee: $225
Class Description: Class 8-11, lunch 11-12, & Water Time 12-4.
3 hrs in the class room with Alex Lafkas & Chad Johnson learning tactics and techniques for finding and catching large brown trout on streamers. Followed by 4 hrs of streamer fishing with Alex and the guides from Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher.
Some amazing tropical action for a cold Arkansas weekend. I’d posted up a small tease on the Hervey Bay black marlin on the flats fly fishery which is getting a little attention courtesy of the “Black Torpedoes” film from StripStrike Productions.
But Muz Wilson showed me the latest teaser, posted earlier this week, of what can happen every few years when the juvenile black marlin ride the Pacific currents down from the Great Barrier Reef down onto the sand flats inside Fraser Island.
A better bugger _ Muz Wilson’s Fuzzle Bugger
For the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of Australian fly tying legend Murray Wilson around the joint.
And Muzza will be demonstrating his innovative and fishy patterns in the shop tomorrow and Saturday afternoon: dry flies, buggers and the best shad imitation we have ever seen the “Dehydrated Minnow”.
Muz’s timing was impeccable co-inciding with our first cold blast of the year, thank goodness he’d been fishing in Montana first, to temper the change from the early Aussie Summer.
“One day I’m going to it right and fish somewhere last week”
But we did plenty of damage on Muz’s best known fly patterns the Fuzzle Bugger, and Messy Parachute both on the Norfork and White. The Fuzzle Bugger is simply a better and faster bugger tie, you can drill up weighted or unweighted.
The Messy Parachute was devoured on a late in the day cranefly hatch on Norfork, despite being totally the wrong color and probably a size to big for the “match the hatch” obsessives, but they were getting eaten.
Similarly the fly worked well on the fish eating midges and a few caddis in Armstrong Hole yesterday
Rock on in and check our some of these very cool and fast ties.
The first time I jumped in a drift boat with two Australians, it was so much fun, I didn’t hesitate to accept a second invitation, this time from Steve and his mate, Murray Wilson. Murray made the long voyage to the White River system as somewhat of a bucket list destination fulfillment, so Steve and I felt obliged to show him some of what our rivers have to offer.
Tuesday presented a cold, stiff North wind, which made the narrower, more sheltered Norfork corridor seem the best option. Fishing started a little slow, but we were determined to have fun, so no matter. Wind knots and a slow bite make for lots of interesting experiments with different flies and rigs. It’s always interesting peeking in the fly box of a down under troutsman too. Scuds hooked us up on some impressive rainbows, but it was Murray’s “messy parachute” that stole the show once the sun popped out and kicked off a decent hatch of crane flies. I was thoroughly amused watching Steve turn his boat inside out looking for the right dry fly amidst the chaos of fishing gear, camera equipment, and food stuff while Murray quietly and contentedly picked off all the risers. We caught fish on dries until the fading light forced us off the water – not a bad day.
The water comes up, the water goes down, the winds go swirling round and round. Life is change on the river right now, making it a bit difficult to plan your day, but the solution as always in a tailwater fishery is to be flexible. Increased power demand during cold mornings and evenings are reflected in the generation pattern – expect two waves of high flows, one in the morning and one in the evening. You can still find wading water in between releases, but you’ve got to be aware of your surroundings – lot of people getting stranded/needing rescue these days. Egg patterns, pheasant tails, Wotton midges, Root Beer and Ruby midges are all solid, and in the lower river there’s some fall caddis coming off, which facilitates a good bite on Sunday Specials and various tan colored soft hackles. Cone headed wooly buggers in olive or black have been killer as well, or thread headed woolies on a short sink tip.
Flows are up and down like the White, but there has been a fairly predictable pattern established of a half unit in the morning and falling water all day. Scuds and brown bodied midges are consistent producers fished alone or under an egg pattern. On sunny afternoons you might get a crane fly hatch, which can be fished with generic pheasant tails, orange to tan or brown bodied soft hackles, and orange or brown bodied parachute dries.
You know you’re in the right profession as a fly-fishing guide when you relish the idea of fishing in the rain. On Tuesday morning, as I sat on the couch in the common room of a local resort, drinking coffee with guests and watching the ominous radar on the television, the general consensus in the room was that no one wanted to go fishing. The guides still get paid on a rainout of course, so after coffee and pleasantries, the guides collect their checks and head contentedly back to their own couches, televisions, wives, and dogs. My house, sadly, has none of these comforts, so the thought of going home to a cold empty cabin at nine in the morning was a little depressing. What’s a young man got to do on such a day other than go fishing, rain be damned. I knew I had made the right decision when I got to the parking lot, which was empty, and saw that I had a prime section of wadable water all to myself. I love getting paid to go fishing.
Duane and the results from last January’s Trout painting class
HERE’s an awesome way to spend a cold January Saturday and finish up with a masterpiece to last a lifetime.
Our friend, guide and master artist Duane Hada is hold his popular Watercolor Class in the fly shop on January 17. Bring along your favorite trout or river scene and Duane will lead you through the process to create a painting worthy of hanging on your office, cabin or lounge.
Duane’s classes have been enormously popular and we have watched a bunch of smiling pupils wandering out the door with trout and river scenes over the years after discovering their hidden artistic talents. Quite honestly all of these would look at home on our walls. It is remarkable how Duane can tap into these talents.
The Class will run from 9am to 4pm with a limit of 8 spots. The fee is $125 for the class, payable in advance. Bring your own painting materials (see the materials list by clicking through) or for $17 extra Duane will furnish all the materials you need
Call the shop on 870 435 6166 to secure your spot. Since places are limited this is a no refund class, but we will hold a waiting list in case there are any late vacancies.
Click through for more details