Ozark Originals



Barry Turner and Gabe Levin enjoying some creek time _Gabe Levin image

The Ozarks have more to offer than just trout. Brothers and regular shop customers Barry and Emil Turner asked me to show them something different during their two days of guided fishing this week, so we sampled our best local warmwater streams, Crooked Creek and Buffalo River. Slowly carving their way through thick forest, boulders, and limestone bluffs, these streams offer a variety of scrappy bass and panfish, unique river scenery, and often a good deal of solitude. Conditions are highly variable and the fish are wild, native, and moody, so it’s best to approach these streams with wonder and humility.



Emil Turner fishing under Ozark limestone bluffs. Gabe Levin image

Crooked Creek fished beautifully, giving up 6 species and a lot of laughs. We had to walk the drift boat through several tight turns and drops, but that’s just the kind of place that keeps the crowds away. Usually the path to wild fish is stacked with obstacles. Buffalo River flows were high and dingy, making the fishing challenging, but an easy row through a spectacular limestone canyon cannot possibly go wrong. The boys had never seen the Buffalo before, so the scenery alone made the day. If you’re wanting to experience an Ozark warmwater adventure yourself, our team has the knowledge and the desire to take you there: Gabe Levin

Emil adding a largemouth to the trip species list


Getting away from the tailwater accesses opens up a different world: Gabe Levin image





Ozark beauty











Dally’s Fly Fishing Report: 4-19-16



Scott Kennedy’s funky jawed male caught while wading the White Monday _Scott Kennedy image

It’s said that fortune follows the brave, but when it comes to our Ozark tailwaters fortune goes to the patient and the persistent. Right now its payoff time for the persistant and patient among the waders.

On the White at least there’s been plenty of wading available and plenty of smiling faces around among the wade only afficianados: payoff for a pretty hard run for the last 12 months. (If you recall the summer deluge, started in May, just when the water was ripe for minimum flow).

It really is time to jump on the offerings while it lasts: I daresay generation will increase if the temperature push into the 90s.

We all love to wade, there is an essential freedom and connectedness in being in a river. Watercraft, for me at least, were freedom to go where I couldn’t walk, to reach the fish that others can’t.

There is plenty of that water on the White and Norfork when she is wadeable, not necessarily devoid of people, but way less than you will find at the accesses, which are mostly 6 miles apart.

I was talking to one veteran customer today, a wade fisher, who has never fished beautiful stretches like Shoestring Shoal, or Redbud, or the Rough Hole fishy water less traveled. Islands like Cane Island, the Narrows, Roundhouse and others can be fished safely and easily on all sorts of water flows, from minimum on up with something as simple as a kayak.

Not to mention access to the Buffalo, Crooked Creek and other streams which are really firing right now.

John Niall with a great creek smallmouth on a trip with guide Ben Levin _ Johns Niall image

Click onwards for the rest of this week’s fly fishing report

Continue reading “Dally’s Fly Fishing Report: 4-19-16”

‘Glowing’ Crappie Could Help Stocking Research


Check out this program by the AGFC to aid crappie research

Have you heard about the new “glow in the dark” crappie that have been stocked by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in eight Arkansas lakes? To see the actual glow, you’d need special glasses and look at the fish under blacklight. But it’s all part of a program trying calcein, a phosphorescent dye, to help a University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff researcher and the AGFC track crappie stockings over the next year.

Read More on the AGFC’s “Arkansas Outdoors Newsletter For This Week”

Mississippi Boys & Brown Trout

Scott Kennedy’s latest White River film is another highly entertaining effort, not withstanding the fact I take up way too much screen time.

But its also a reminder, to me at least, how lucky I am to get to do this stuff, and to enjoy every day. I’ve written here before about how special it is to be able to part of memories being created between fathers & sons, or daughters, grandparents, siblings getting to spend rare and in some cases perhaps the last time they might spend together.

Sunday I got to spend the day with two great friends, Scott and Gus both graduating next week, heading out to college in different states & different lives. We had a good time, actually it was a total hoot, as you can judge from aspects of the video.

The idea was to put Gus, on his first real fly fishing outing, onto some fish and teach him some nymphing. We caught some browns but it wasn’t until late Monday Scotto got the fish he had been looking for, an awesome hook jaw male.

After such a long day fishing with you Gus and I accidentally slept in until 10 on Monday and by the time we got to fishing it had started to rain. We first fished rim shoals where I caught this sucker! Then after lunch Gus said lets go back to rim shoals. I misheard him and accidentally drove us to round house. turned out to be a lucky mistake! I was nymphing, I set the hook and I thought I was hung (rookie mistake). I jerked my rod a couple of times and then the fish started moving slowly. He then threw some massive head shakes and I called to Gus, “dude I think this is a big fish!” After falling in the water, he came over and netted the fish for me. The fight took about five minutes or so. Judging from my net I would recon he was around 23-24.

Scott Kennedy



Till next time guys.


Dally’s Fishing Report 4-14-16

Don with a White River brown on a guide trip with Chad Johnson

It’s amazing to see the variety of behavior exhibited by White River brown trout, in different flows and at different times of year. The same fish that will rocket off a turbulent high water bank in March to annihilate an 8” streamer will gently mouth a #18 midge in a flat shallow pool in May, or more likely spook before your fly ever drifts near him.

Slow, clear water and sunshine is a good combination to SEE  a lot of monster browns, but not necessarily to catch them. Taking a boat ride on the White right now can seem like looking into a crystalline aquarium stocked with giant trout that you aren’t allowed to fish for. When you point out to your fishing customers 5-10lb fish that you’re not even going to stop and try for, well, at some point you just have to stop pointing and move along. You can try of course, but most efforts will be met with the sight of a brown trout arse sprinting away.

The standard behavior of the fish 22” and larger is usually to flee, but there are so many up and comers, the 17” to 21” trout, that can be taken in these conditions with a long, careful, accurate drift……and then some pretty good fish handling skills. So, enjoy the eye candy out there, but don’t let it bug you when the really big ones consistently spook. Focus on the catchable fish and know that eventually all of them will have to eat.

Captain Ray Henley on Crooked Creek with guide Ben Levin

-Gabe Levin

Read On for the rest of the fishing report

Continue reading “Dally’s Fishing Report 4-14-16”

Crooked Creek Clean-Up & Crawdad Boil June 5

June 05, 2016




FRIENDS of the North Fork and White Rivers organisation will host its annual Crooked Creek CleanUp and Crawdad Boil on June 5 at the Fred Berry Pavilion in Yellville.

Ben Levin will give an overview of Crooked Creek before we launch and we will stop along the way to talk about riparian zone management, land use, healthy river bank vs. damaged, stream ecology, as well as pick up trash. Floaters provide their own flotation device and beverages for the trip. We will have volunteers to assist with shuttles. 

The Crawfish Boil is a fund-raising event for Friends of the North Fork and White River. Funds are used for programs, education and organizational outreach 

Friends will gather at the Fred Berry Pavilion in Yellville for an authentic crawfish boil produced by David Lemoine. Be sure to make time to indulge in the spicy crustacean, sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob.
For those who wish to avoid a spicy meat, we will be preparing hand-formed, wood-smoked hamburgers with grilled asparagus and trimmings. 

Duane Hada will once again produce a Plein Air watercolor of Crooked Creek sometime during the day. We will raffle up to 100 chances to win the painting. Winner need not be present, so this is the perfect way to support the Friends of the Rivers if you cannot attend! 

Musical Entertainment is also on the schedule. 

Dinner Tickets are $30 per person ($100 family rate-two adults/two children 15 & under)

A gourmet burger and grilled asparagus is the alternative if you don’t care for spicy crawfish.

Skip the meal! Enjoy the music, beverages and fellowship for just $10

Purchase a chance online to win a Plein Air painting by Duane Hada $20

– See more at: http://friendsoftherivers.org/events/view/60/crooked-creek-cleanup-and-crawfish-boil#sthash.w3kx3aDd.dpuf