The weather may not be able to make up its mind right now, but the water is reasonably stable and predictable. It’s quite common after heavy periods of rainfall for Bull Shoals Dam to hold back the flood waters and release a nice steady 2-4,000cfs like we’ve been seeing. These are perfect levels for super productive nymphing/midging. It’s enough water to make river navigation easy and the fish less spooky, but not so much that you need giant indicators or big chunks of lead to get down. The fishing is simple and it’s a pleasant enough time to be on the water – sunshine, light breeze, tons of wildlife, and willing fish.
Penny Pabst with a sweet Crooked Creek smallmouth from our 2012 Class
GET set to fly fish the Ozarks in the Natural State and for our native fish, with our Smallmouth Weekend May 30 & 31.
Learn to tie the most effective smallmouth patterns out there from the Ozark Smallmouth Guru himself Duane Hada on Saturday. Sunday back up with our ever popular Smallmouth Class: with a morning classroom session with Duane and Ben Levin. Then head out onto the water to put the theory into practice under the tutelage of our smallmouth guides Duane, Ben Chad Johnson and Gabe Levin.
It promises to be a killer weekend and a great way to prepare for our new Buffalo River drift Boat floats _ either the day trips or the awesome multi-day Lower River wilderness float.
MAY 31 _ DUANE HADA TYING CLASS:
Duane Hada will be tying the “Hada Creek Crawler”, and other effective smallmouth patterns. A demonstration and step by step tying process for making this highly realistic and most effective crawfish pattern. Both a teacher, and an Umpqua fly designer, you will enjoy Duane’s easy going instruction.
Duane is a person whose artistic skills and creative innovation combined with his lifelong fishing knowledge will help you create better looking, fish catching patterns. Bring your own vise, light and tools, Duane will provide the materials. Cost $75. 8am to 4pm
MAY 31 _ DALLY’S SMALLMOUTH CLASS:
The morning class session will be indoors at Dally’s Ozark Flyfisher and will go into smallmouth habitat, techniques, and foods in the Ozarks. Participants will learn about gear, rigging, reading water, and seasons from Duane and Ben, longtime smallmouth experts. Duane and Ben will also demonstrate tying several of their best patterns.
The afternoon will be spent learning correct presentations and fishing techniques while fishing Crooked Creek with Duane, Ben, Chad, and Gabe.
Participants will receive one on one instruction on smallmouth tactics while wade fishing one of Arkansas’ premier bass streams. Pupils should come prepared to wade fish the afternoon (wading boots, warm water clothing). Bring a five or six weight rod if possible, otherwise guides will provide rods if necessary.
Cost $225 per person. 8am to 4pm. Bring your own lunch.
Duane Hada’s Gyotakyu print of a 25” White River brown on one of our new shirts
Just in time for summer our newwest logo gear and some special projects we have been working on for a good while.
The shirt above is always going to be a special one for the Levin brothers and myself, after the 25” brown trout dies in our hands as we tried to revive it. It’s the only fly caught brown I’ve seen this happen too in 8 years on this river, and to have it happen to such a spectacular trophy moved us all.
So to honor that fish, and the other browns who form such a big part of our lives and livelihoods we sent it to our friend, colleague and artist Duane Hada for a Gyotaku print, the traditional Japanese method of fish printing. Since we practice catch & release avidly its not often a brown trout can be found for a Gyotaku.
We enlisted the Cotton Company in Mountain Home to find us a quality shirt for this signed print and you are going to love this soft feel 100% cotton shirt. Dusky Khaki $32
The shirt was so nice we also grabbed the Green Tea women’s version for our new Dogwood Logo, modelled at left by Crystal and Becca.
Cap sleeves and a vee neck are modern and feminine. You will want to wear this one all summer long.
Finally we have a test run of a traditional style Orvis Open Air Caster ladies shirt in small with the Dogwood logo on the cape. This is a really stylish shirt, and we are thinking about doing other sizes.
THE BUFFALO RIVER is running high, hard and wild right now as is its nature. But for 10 of us two weeks ago we had a taste of how magnificent this natural, and most beautiful of Ozark rivers can be.
We had put together a group of friends for the first trip: regulars and very good fly fishers Junior and KV from Houston, photographer and publisher Tosh Brown from Austin and MSU English instructor, Bozeman guide and Gray Sporting Journal angling columnist Miles Nolte. My thanks to them all for coming along.
The Levin Brothers, Ben and Gabe, and Mississippi Johnson were the guides: Gabe had done a great job in shepherding the whole project through from planning to the put-in. We had Abrian Blumthal, from Rim Shoals Resort, and his buddy Buck running the commissary service, setting up camp, cooking food and getting everything shipshape while we were on the water.
We learnt plenty from the first trip, and the second was a learning experience as well: the high flows of the Buffalo washing the trip out. It is the price of floating wild rivers.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the Buffalo: I have a more serious endeavor planned for the remainder of the footage.
And if you want to know how you can book a day trip for the 2015 season or join the 2016 camping trips click here
Taking advantage of some Norfork low water to get into some caddis action
Rain, rain all around, but surprisingly the lakes are in pretty decent shape, the White has been rocking and there’s been a little dry fly low water action on the Norfork when the sun pops out.
Marc Poulos and I took a crew of four Georgia fly fishers to the Fork yesterday for some low water entertainment, figuring we would get in ahead of the higher flows. And while the midge fishing was very good, the burst of dry fly activity after lunch was particularly fun. Zach, above scored his best ever fish, the 18” rainbow above on a tailwater soft hackle hanging underneath an EC caddis. The better fish ate the dropper but just as we were getting some better eats on the dry we lost the sun and the hatch, such is life.
The White has been rocking as well, with the Levin brothers reporting they have been banging fish from Rim Shoals to Gastons.
Now with all the rain we had last weekend, stifled the highest flows this week, with the Buffalo, Crooked Creek and more tributaries downstream running high and hard, and dirty. If you plan on floating Norfork, there Confluence takeout is a lot closer to the road than normal.
But I jumped on the Lakes Forecast to look at the Whole system to check on the state of the flood waters being held back. Beaver will be at 40% of its (small) flood pool Sunday, Table Rock is running spillgates to supplement releases after two generators failed but had 97% of flood pool open.
Bull Shoals is 6’ into flood pool or at 14%, so in reality, without another deluge coming we are at pretty normal spring position. And now onto the rest of this week’s fly fishing report:
Wilderness Smallmouth Bass, what its all about.
OUR first Buffalo Wilderness Camping Float is done, run and couldn’t have gone any better.
The flows were great, the fish played their role, the food was awesome and the storms held off until this morning. And if you want to join the next trip we have 2 seats open starting April 18 through 21. For more details click here.
We had put together a group of friends for the first trip: regulars and very good fly fishers Junior and KV from Houston, photographer and publisher Tosh Brown from Austin and MSU English instructor, Bozeman guide and Gray Sporting Journal angling columnist Miles Nolte.
The Levin Brothers, Ben and Gabe, and Mississippi Johnson were the guides: Gabe had done a great job in shepherding the whole project through from planning to the put-in. We had Abrian Blumthal, from Rim Shoals Resort, and his buddy Buck running the commissary service, setting up camp, cooking food and getting everything shipshape while we were on the water. I was along to record the whole show for a couple of videos we are planning.
The hardest concept to wraps your head around is what we came to describe as unplugging from civilisation. There’s not too many classic fly fishing rivers in the US you can fish anymore without, seeing other fly fishers, either floating or wading. The Lower Buffalo Wilderness is truly wild: no roads, no phone service, no texts, no Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, look the wrong way in one spot and you might see one cell phone tower. We saw 2 kayaks for the entire 3 day float. Miles and Tosh get to see a lot of water across the world and were amazed that you could still find places like this in the Lower 48.
Miles gets a gar
If you were a newcomer to the river system, like myself and our four fishers, you probably would have described the fishing as spectacular. But when the put it to the 3 guides: all of them said it was pretty much average. So how good can it get on a great day?
As it was we caught a bunch of smallmouth, plus Ozark Bass, a bunch of panfish species and a gar
The food was killer, Abe and Buck really went above and beyond the call of duty, the scenery amazing, just soaring bluffs and hills clad in a myriad of verdant green. The camps were well laid out and the campfire conversation could reduce you to tears of laughter.
And you know what after 3 days on the river, working hard and with the prospect of hours upon hours of video to review and edit, I’m still remarably laid back and relaxed. The effect of these trips is tremendously revitalising.
Great read from our mate Clay Henry of a great highwater rainbow.
Brookie (facing the camera) with his big fish
Great report from our mate Dave Cornue on his recent tarpon trip: Spectacular photo and spectacular fish mate.
I thought you guys would enjoy seeing this big girl. She(?) was the largest fish in a small daisy chain so we are guessing it is a she rather than a he. Our guide estimated her at about 100 pounds (he compared her to himself, almost as long and she was bigger around than he is; he weighs 130 pounds).
It took 1 hour and 20 mins to land on a 10wt. She only jumped once so she kept her stamina up for a long, long time. The last 5 or 6 minutes I honestly thought I was going to be the one to give up first! My arms were really burning! The tarpon were in only about 18 inches of water, which may also be why she didn’t jump much. That is also why my guide handed me his 10wt; less disturbance on the water when the line lands. The drag was cranked way, way down but she could still take line whenever she wanted to. I’ve never experienced such a thing! That business about a tarpon getting more energy every time they roll and gulp air…..its true man, its true. Every time she got a gulp of air she would take out line.
We really only had two days of tarpon fishing due to weather. We fished Monday and Tuesday; completely lost Wednesday to several inches of rain and heavy winds. Fished again on Thursday but the wind and clouds made seeing fish almost impossible, by the time we saw them they had seen us. By Friday the water temp had dropped 15 degrees so the tarpon weren’t even on the flats anymore. But we had a great day of fishing for redfish on Friday.
At times we were fishing to schools of 100 to 300 reds. Lots of fun, but tarpon are it man………. I’m afraid this may have been a life changing experience – I’ve got to fish for tarpon again, SOOOON!!!!!!!!!! It is possible to have fish withdrawal? Excuse me, I’ve got to go check my bank account………………….. I don’t really need to stay employed, do I??????????
White River: Water releases were allowing for at least a half day’s fishing on relatively low flows anywhere from 2-4,000cfs, but it looks like the pattern is switching to more of a steady thumping 9-10,000cfs. That means bring your boat if you got one. Drifting is good with long leaders, heavy flies or split shot. Tungsten beaded nymphs are a wise choice for maximum sink rate. Princes, Copper Johns, Flashbacks, and Sunday Specials are all good. Try trailing your nymph behind a pink or red San Juan worm, or an egg pattern to help the fish find your flies. For those streamer die-hards out there, this is great water for chunking something meaty, and the browns haven’t seen very many big flies since February. Norfork River: Water releases have been pretty steady at 3,000cfs, and stability is key for the fish to get into a comfortable feeding rhythm. A size 14 Whitetail midge behind an egg or a worm is a solid choice, just make sure your total length and weight is great enough to touch the bottom now and then. Sunday Specials, Ruby midges, and Root Beer midges are great droppers too. Crooked Creek: The creek is in fine shape for a canoe/kayak or wade fishing. Flows are sufficient to navigate most shoals, and the water is clear and warming by the day. Smallmouth are taking Clouser minnows presented deep on the swing or the twitch. Panfish are willing players on light rods with small poppers or stimulaters.
Fly fishing on the White River has been all high water nymphing for the most part over the past week, and well worth the extra motor fuel and oar strokes. Dally’s guides have been putting up big numbers and catching some fine browns as well in the size department. This report in from Gabe Levin:
Gotta give a big thanks to the one and only Kevin Brandtonies for sharing business and inviting me to guide some of his best return customers. This particular group was a lot of fun to guide – excited, coachable, and highly competitive with one another! Normally I don’t count fish, but I gotta admit it was pretty fun to try and beat all the other boats in the group. Especially fun were the father and son duo, Casey and Gavin. Casey had never caught a brown before, and we got three in two days 17-20inches! Gavin, at 13 years old, at least two decades younger than everyone else in the group, smoked the competition with the most total fish caught over the course of the trip, catching 40 by himself on day 2. I wish all days could be that good. Hope to work with this group again Kevin!
MOUNTAIN HOME – The first annual Kayak Attack on Hunger fishing tournament will be held May 9 at the Cranfield Recreation Area and campground on Lake Norfork near Mountain Home. All of the proceeds from the non-motorized, catch-photo-release tournament will go to the Mountain Home Mercy Mall, a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing, and personal care items to families in need at no cost.
Prizes will be given for first, second, and third place. Early entry fee is $35 per angler, $45 the day of the tournament. The optional Big Bass pot is $5 per angler—angler with the largest bass takes all. There will be gift bags for all anglers registering before May 1. In addition to the fishing tournament there will be kayak demos, door prizes, seminars, and other family activities.
Tournament sponsors include Jewel Baits, Wapsi Fly, Inc., Town & Country Grocery, Harps Foods, Ozark Mountain Trading Company, The Outdoorzman, and Underbite Custom Tackle. Online entry is available at www.eventbrite.com
To say the least what with unsettled weather and erratic generation schedules catch rates have been up and down in recent weeks. At least for a few days we have seen some caddis activity which has promoted some interest from the trout.
This past weekend two of my regulars were able to fish with the Wet Fly, master some wet fly tactics, with good results, at least for Bill Ebert who was able to nail a couple of very nice Browns, and between Dave and Bill a good number of Bows..