The cool waters of the North Fork of the White were like medicine. Somehere in the first hundred yards or so I felt that mental “aaaahhhh” as the kinks and coils of modern living washed free in this lovely Ozark stream. It was good to be finally fishing
Time to think laterally _ make it a birthday weekend away, a romantic cabin is open at River of Life Farm
(happily the put in for our float maximising sleep time) and all is good. Even better it would be air conditioned, gremlins having shut down our system at home. Well almost a quick stop off in the store turned into 3 hours, packing was a nightmare, with assorted items needing to be collected up and down the White River system, groceries, keys, phones, vino and food. Thankfully 6 weeks or so ago I’d snatched up a wicked birthday present for Bec, which was safely secure in my bag. Nice!
Its not far from Cotter to the North Fork. Take 5 North, or 201 north till you hit 160 turn right, go through Temcumseh till you hit Highway PP and turn left. From there it is well worth consulting this MAP, signposting not being a strongpoint.
ROLF sits quietly along the river, nestled between the forested hills and the river. Its pretty, secluded, and quiet, with no cell phone service, no internet and no tv. Getting suddenly isolated from the “information buzz” in our lives takes some getting used to, but you will miss the peace when you are gone. The cabins are glorious, the Cedar Chest we were in has a hot tub, huge deck with a view over the river, full cooking facilities. Perhaps the only finer cabins are the two right on the river frontage.
The early rise didn’t seem so bad after an early night and a sound sleep, but the coffee was welcome, as we threw our gear into the vehicle to meet Brian for the shuttle run. Black Sabbath, Cream, and Skynyrd on the XM radio helped get us in the mood.
The North Fork of the White is a wild rainbow river, with limited brown trout stocking. Spring rains had pounded the catchment like all of the White system, depositing silt on the banks, and changing the face of the river. But the fishing had been good until we got there. Summer fishing was now upon us, which means its at its best early and late with a lull in between. A hint of color in the water greeted us when we eased off shore in Brian’s Clacka. For all I love of my Supreme riverboat, driftboats, on the right water are a great way to fly fish and a lot of fun to be in.
The Fork has a huge food base stoneflies, mayflies, caddis, crawdads and much much more. Strangely its not a better dry fly water, perhaps because of the amount of food subsurface. I would manage some fish on a Stimulator the next morning but today we were banging a simple rubber legged stonefly of Brian’s devising trailing a San Juan.
Bec too was loving her new birthday present, one of the Ross Rhythym pink reels. I already had it purchased and hidden in my tying desk when she owned up she wanted one. At that point they were all gone so I went with the white lie. The look on her face made it worthwhile, and I hate to admit it but it looks pretty good on my Sage Z-Axis 9′ 5wt which is apparently her rod until I can get her her own 8’6″ Sage. The shorter length will really help her out.
The fishing was a little odd, standard for me when I’m travelling, with even Brian remarking that the trout had moved from their normal holding positions, perhaps due to the influx of silt. Still we did ok, the fish were beautifully marked, and we saw a couple of serious serious fish, which would be remarkable on the White.
Streamer fishing can be productive as well we tried but the best we managed was a follow from a smallmouth, which the river holds as well. And we could have fished harder. To be honest we were all probably just glad to be on the river with the pressure off.
Summer is fun, laid back, wet wading with entertainment from the canoe crowd, but the best times on the North Fork for serious fishing are Spring and Fall.