Monday, June 22, 2015

AR tailwaters (part 4)

Finished up my overnighter in the Ozarks and had to make a decision.  TS Bill was moving through the area and dropping a lot of rain.  With 5-8"s of rain forecast in the area I decided to take a time out and watch the weather a little closer before I made a final decision on the next stop.

Got up bright and early Monday and headed to Lake Conway.  The catching wasn't red hot, but I managed a few and this bass made up for the slow action.

Monday evening, I got in touch with a buddy and we changed our plan.  Originally, we were going to gravel bar camp on a river in MO.  But the fear of drowning in a flash flood made us change locations.  We decided to bring a boat and fish the controlled flash flooding below the Norfork and Little Red River tailwaters.

It rained all night Tuesday, but it was bright and sunny on Wednesday.  We arrived at the Norfork and found only 1 unit running for minimum flow.  The fishing was great in the morning.  I'm not sure of the count but it wasn't slow.  Midges were on the menu and I had to replace a few after the thread got worn and unraveled.

We worked our way down 2-3 miles before the COE turned on the other unit and high water fishing started around 1 pm.  That isn't an option from a kayak so I was really excited to be throwing streamers from a boat.

My buddy worked the oars first and let me take the first run.  My first fish wasn't an eat, but a follow from a brown that looked to be as big as my leg.  It was huge.  It came up behind the articulated streamer and just watched for a second or 2.  I was watching for the white flash of an eat but instead he just ghosted out.

My heart was racing so fast, the only words I could get out were, "brown, big, follow me".  Most days, I don't need any help sounding like an idiot and big fish make it worse.

It wasn't much longer, and I had an eat from a 20+ brown.  Got a good look at it when it came to the surface, but as my buddy reached for the camera, the brown came unbuttoned.  That signaled my turn on the oars.

We motored back up to the dam and started over.  The first run wasn't successful...probably more my fault as I was getting use to working the oars.  The 2nd run resulted in much of the same except a few more follows.  So we switched out again.  Nothing was happening, and I was starting to wonder if we had pounded the area to much.

Made a cast below a tree that was hanging over the river, and something crushed the streamer.  It was mad and fighting hard.  Saw a silver flash, and knew it was a big bow.  It came to the surface and I figured it was going to do a self release.  But luckily it stayed on and ended up in the net after a few minutes.

After that, it got slow.  A few follows and few eats from small cutthroats (barely bigger than the streamer).  We decided to put the boat on the trailer and head to the LRR.

We only had a half day to fish on Thursday.  The COE was running water when we arrived so it was going to be more high water fishing.  It rained off and on all day and lots of was perfect conditions for throwing streamers and the fish were biting!  My buddy was catching but my day was frustrating at best.  In short....I hooked 5 browns (various sizes), got them all to the surface, and watched as they all self released!

BUT...I'm not complaining, getting eats, seeing fish, and watching my buddy catch made the day awesome.  Of course, I wanted to bang my head against the boat a few times.  Mostly, b/c I was taking up the majority of the fishing...we switched at catches (in the beginning)...and I wasn't holding up my part of the deal.  I hate being a slacker!

We called it quits around lunch time.  Despite the rain and lack of catching on my part, it was an awesome day (days).  A great ending to a great road trip.  Drove home unpacked and repacked for a weekend of fun with my family.

Where is everyone!?

Big "Thank You" to my wife and all our family for all they did for me and the girls.  They took care of everything during the 2 weeks of art camp.  Best fathers day gift ever!!

"Play and Display" Arkansas Arts Center

Is it too early to get commitments from everyone for next year?!  Just kidding...but seriously.

Road Trip 2015 - NEI Driftless
RT 2015 Part 1

RT 2015 - Truly Wild
RT 2015 Truly Wild (part 2)

RT 2015 - AR Ozarks SMB (part 3):
SMB float 


  1. Good fun that! Niuce bass. Having big browns like that follow is the stuff that makes fishing big streamers so fun.

    1. Haha, yes sir! After that follow I couldn't do anything else for 2 days. I'm sure deep water nymphing would have been more productive...but I would have thrown streamers till my hands bleed. Then, I would have learned how to cast with my other arm!

  2. Man there's some girth to those rainbows.
    Well done.

  3. Drew
    Frieze storms is nothing to fool around with, I notice a Boogle Bug I believe got that bass, extremely healthy looking trout; what did you take the big rainbow on at the top of this post? I've enjoyed following you on this adventure. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thx Bill, it was a great adventure. That bow ate an articulated streamer...the kind with DB eyes fished on 250g sink tip.

  4. It's nice to see the bass guys catching trout. Great post Drew. Maybe someday I can fish for some bass with you.

    1. Anytime your ready! But...these fish I've been catching aren't bass? Im so confused.

  5. Drew
    I forgot to mention that these trout you've caught make the rainbow I land on our tailrace look like babies. I guess that is why I never the fish the place with nothing more than a 3 wt. How far do you live from the White River? I have fished the White, but I can't think of the other river close by.

    1. The White is about 5 hrs from my house. You're probably thinking about the Norfork tailwater or maybe Beaver tw.

  6. Drew
    8 years ago was the trip we made to both the White and Norfork, hope to make it back someday.