Memorial Day Baptism – White River Style

Windy Ride…  The wind always seems to blow in the Ozarks and rarely down the runway, but we decided to wait until late in the afternoon to fly up, thinking if we get there about dark the winds will have died down a bit.  This time our thinking was right, the afternoon winds had been gusting to over 25 knots and mostly a crosswind at KFLP, but had now calmed down to 8 to 14 or so.  The ride to Flippin was uneventful and when we got there, the car cranked and we were on our way to the camper, waders & fly rods in hand!

Low Water!…  After years of high water and flooding conditions on the White River, things appear to have returned to normal.  Several weeks of low or no power generation has made the river safely wadable again and now we have nice new breathable waders (see old wader post!) and are ready to put them to the test.  I had called our fly fishing instructor, Ron McQuay before we left, to check his schedule for the weekend and was able to arrange an outing with him on Saturday morning, but tomorrow was Friday and we were going fishing!  We started at a familiar location just up from the camper, Wildcat Shoals.  Wow, we have never seen it this way, we waded completely to the other side of the river and never got in over 2 feet of water.  After fly fishing for hours without any bites, we had our usual picnic lunch next to the river.  We decided to pull out out spin fishing equipment when we returned to the water and still had no luck.  We could see dozens of fish just under the surface, but could not get them to bite.  I even saw a very large brown trout and was able to get so close to him that I took a picture of him with my waterproof camera.  We fished for a couple of more hours and gave into the hope of catching fish with Ron in the morning.

Beth’s Second Baptism…  We met Ron for breakfast and discussed the water conditions and decided to start our fishing for the day down at Rim Shoals.  The outfitter down there offers a water taxi service so we went up the river to where a creek enters the river.  As we prepared to enter the water, Ron pulls out this jointed “stick-like” device and starts putting it together.  “Hmmm, what is that?” I said,  Ron’s reply was “a wading staff, they are nice to have…”.  I’m thinking yea, well we waded all around yesterday without incident, so that should not be a problem.

We moved into the water, fly rods in hand and just as we got above knee deep, I hear Kuplush… I turned around to see Beth, my lovely bride of 30+ years, with her fly rod held high in her right hand and her whole left arm, up to her neck in the frigid water.  I’m thinking, good girl, don’t drop that new L.L. Bean rod & reel into the water… only GOD knows what she was thinking.  The good news is that the new, properly fitted, waders didn’t let a drop of water in and that fancy new fishing shirt she had on would dry out in a flash and we now have matching wading staffs on order…

First Trout…  I had caught my first trout on a fly the last time we were on the White River with Ron (story here).  Ron did not totally like the look of the water where we were, but we started casting, stripping & mending (cool fly fishing words, huh – only one of those words had anything to do with fishing before we met Ron).  Soon, the fight was on… Beth had her first trout on a fly and it was a good one!  After a few minutes of wearing him down, Ron netted the rainbow, pictures were taken & the fish was released.  Just as I had been hooked by this sport a few weeks ago, Beth too, was being taken in by trout fever.  We continued to fish Rim Shoals and Beth & I both caught another fish, but we left the island with Beth up two fish to my one.

Let’s Go, The Water is Coming!…  Since the water at Rim Shoals was not exactly like Ron wanted, we decided to drive down to the Norfork River below the dam.  The generators were shut down and the only water flowing was from dam and generator leakage.  Wading in this area was simple, but Ron warned us of the very little notice we would get if/when they turned on the generators.  So we waded upstream several hundred yards in mostly ankle deep water to find some nice looking pools that had fish that we could see.  Ok… there she goes again, catching fish.  Beth quickly caught a couple of rainbows in the pool of slow moving water while I was just casting away.  We had been fishing for an hour & a half or so when something changed.  I noticed the slightest change in the sound of the rapids just above us, so I picked out a rock to watch just to see if the water was coming up, then I heard Ron yell, “It’s a BROWN!”  Beth had her first brown trout ever and it was on a fly rod!  So, I moved down to where they were to take some pictures.  About the time I got to them, one of the fellows fishing down stream from us yelled, “Let’s go, the water is rising”.  As Beth and Ron took care of releasing the brown trout, I started the trek back to the access point.  I was amazed at how fast the water rises when they turn on the generators.  What had been a gravel bar when we walked upstream was now under a foot of water in just a few minutes, a great lesson to learn for future outings to the Norfork… at the first sign of changing water – get moving!  When we got ready to leave the parking area, Ron invited us to a pot luck fish fry up at Copper Johns Lodge on Sunday night.  That sounded like a good idea, especially since all of the fish Beth had caught had been in the catch & release areas and we had no fish to eat.  So, we took the beautiful drive back to Cotter with more great memories in our rearview mirror and another day of fishing ahead.

Watch Video Below…

Beth’s turn to talk…  Part 2 will come in the next few days and will be written by Beth about our fist successful day, fly fishing by ourselves…

You can subscribe to our blog by entering your  e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica.  Once again, I would like to thank Ron McQuay for taking an interest in us.  Ron is a very patient teacher and is very knowledgable of the White River fishery.  Ron’s website is ronsflyfishingforbeginners.com.

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Posted on June 3, 2012, in Airports Visited, Arkansas, Arkansas, Aviation, Fly Fishing, Marion County Regional (KFLP), Photography, States, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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