Sorry to all our regular readers for the lapse in recent fishing reports. The past two weeks of hard rowing and searching for big fish have been mentally and physically draining, and I temporarily lost the motivation to share our fishy world with you all. You could say I lost my fish mojo. I know you’re probably not feeling sorry for me. You’re probably thinking, “this kid gets paid to fish, and he has the nerve to complain about the fishing.” But seriously y’all, trying to keep up with experienced trophy hunters like Chad Johnson, Alex Lafkas, and Steve Dally is not easy for a second year guide. The job description for February reads something like: Routinely catch big brown trout on a fly in 30,000cfs, but someone else has to make your presentations for you.
It sure as hell is a fun job though when you get stuck with sports like Tommy, Dave, Ed, and John from Connecticut. These salty east coast fish bums are used to punching 8 and 9wt rods through Nor’easter winds in choppy seas for stripers and albies, so they felt right at home in fast drifting Clackas with Steve and myself, throwing big flies into churning currents. The group fished two hard fought days for a few scattered browns of modest to moderate size, and a couple of late evening flurries of activity to keep things interesting. On the third and final day, the skies turned dark and cold, and the big fish came out to play. The boys brought their A game and put on a casting clinic, earning them several 20″ browns and five fish taping over twenty: 22″ 23″ 25″27″ and 27.5″, making this officially the best day of trout fishing I’ve ever seen. Every guide will have a handful of days not soon forgotten – this surely will be one of mine. Thank you Tommy, Dave, Ed, and John for the fine angling and camaraderie.
Flood gates are shut off, but the 7,000cfs that was coming over the top is now coming through the conduits at the base of the dam, so the total flow is still roughly 30,000cfs. Some shad have been seen floating downstream, making the dead drifted shad pattern a good technique in the upper portion of the tailwater. Try an Arkansas Beadhead 9-12ft under an indicator, with an egg pattern as a trailer if you like. Most fly anglers on the river right now are fishing strictly for larger browns by using fast sinking lines and 3-8inch flies. Weighted patterns like Sex Dungeons, Circus Peanuts, Viking Midges, and BFH Double Deceivers are popular and effective, but unweighted patterns like Drunken Disorderlies, Fatheads, and regular Double Deceivers have their place even in big flows for fishing shallower structure and for more effortless casting when trying to poke into those hard to reach pockets.
Flows continue at a full two units, and can be fished effectively just like the White. Deep drifted eggs, worms, and shad patterns are productive. Weighted streamers on fast sinking lines are good for getting down to deep holding fish, and unweighted streamers fished close to the bank can pull fish out of tight cover.