Summer ’17 To Date Report: Kevin Brandtonies

John David Hendrick with a White River beast: Kevin Brandtonies image

Season guide Kevin Brandtonies gives a report offering some insight into what its like on the oars in a hot summer hopper bite.


I had the pleasure of taking out a father and son team on Friday July 22nd. David Hendrick and his 14 year old son John David.

I have fished with David before, but his son was a 1st timer on my boat. John David took to nymhing under an indicator, like a duck takes to water. He listened to instruction, and was a gentleman, always saying “Yes sir” whenever the opportunity presented itself. David and his son caught many fish that day, but the best one was the last bite.

We had fished the Rim Shoals area extensively all afternoon, with plenty of action. John David was just finishing a mend in his line when the indicator slipped under the ripples of higher generation levels (5 units pumping hard)coming from Bull Shoals Dam. I didn’t have to call out the bite. JD set that hook with speed and the reflexes of a cat. It came out of the water in dramatic fashion, and all David, his father, and I could do was watch JD….take command!!!

He fought that fish like a seasoned veteran as I added a coach’s nervousness to the situation. It made 4 runs, went under the boat at least 9 times and JD wrestled the beast into submission. Wearing it down by pulling in the opposite way every time the fish turned. Iwas coaching pretty hard now….the whole time JD was saying “Yes sir.” His dad David taking video of the battle like a combat correspondent! When the beast finally submitted, JD brought him to the surface, and I did my job in one stab. FISH NETTED!!

The tiny size 18 midge popped out as soon as the fish landed in the net. Pictures…..gentle release….then, jubilation! His dad was not the only proud adult on the boat because…..I know I would have probably lost that fish when I was his age, but JD is “beyond his years” and is already a fine fisherman. The fight lasted 10 minutes according to David….I thought it felt like an hour! I am proud to have David and JD on the boat anytime.

The next day was the beginning of a true adventure that would last 6 days. I was fishing with a group of guys that I have known for a decade or more. The guys I fished with those 6 days are all from a small town in the Midwest. Terre Haute, Indiana to be more precise. I consider them all very close friends of mine, and to tell the truth it doesn’t feel like I am for hire when I fish with them. (even though I am).

One of 15 for  Martin Gore in 5 days with Kevin

Martin Gore, who fished all six days with me, had a truly remarkable week. He caught 15 browns in 5 days, skunking on browns only on the first day. I will tell you about one battle in particular that is indelibly etched in my mind…..for life.

Anthony Roberts was with us. He is a guy that Martin and I love on the boat. He is always ready for fun, and has us laughing throughout the day. He is also an excellent fisherman, and boated countless fish over the decade I’ve known him. He would be our witness to Martin’s angling skills on this day….just as he has many other times.

I set up a drift just above the 62 bridge. Martin had just set his iPod to some classic rock, Led Zepplin’s “Kashmir.” I gently rowed as Martin and Anthony worked the bank line in hopes that a brown was lurking below. Anthony threw a terrestrial dry, while Martin “short leashed” a rubber legged bug under a stealthy indicator. “Oh let the sun beat down upon my face….” blared from the speaker, as I sang along keeping the boat steady and smooth. Martin set the hook with authority which stopped my singing immediately.

Out from the depths of a fast moving bank line a brown of significant length broke from the water like it was being chased by a Sasquatch himself!!! “Whoa!!!” is all Anthony and I could muster from our lips as we saw the fish splash down displacing a lot of water…I’m pretty certain Martin’s heart skipped a beat, I know mine did. Martin gave the fish some line, but not much. He wrestled the fish into open water as I cocked the boat in the opposite position giving us all a clear view. Robert Plant sang on as the minutes went by, and other boats in the area stopping to watch a “White River Adventure” unfolding, would not be disappointed.

The classic rock really sounded good as Martin dragged the fish out from around the motor twice! I did all I could to predict the fishes direction, but it often fooled me, and Martin made up for it with excellent angling….and what he calls, “A pure heart.” He finally got it near the surface and I netted it without incident. The fish was well hooked, a male brown….all 22 inches of him. There was with a sigh of relief as we released him….and all was right with the world.

High fives….handshakes….Anthony making us laugh yet again as we congratulated one another. It was a battle for the memory books, and I was very glad to be a part of it. Martin, is an exceptional fisherman, and I ought to know, I helped train him. I do love my job, and battles like that, with close friends in the boat, is truly priceless. There were other battles in those 6 days, but that one stuck out the most. Anthony caught a very nice brown on the “hopper” as well that morning, it was over 20 inches. I look forward every year to this fishing trip, and my Hoosier brothers know it!

Anthony with a hopper fish

Thanks for doing business with Dally’s and using me!!