White River AR

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by rbaileydav, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. rbaileydav

    rbaileydav Active Member

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    Recently I had a business trip that required a meeting in Fayetteville AR and then a meeting a couple days later in Memphis……… so naturally I smiled and told everyone it would work perfectly and managed to get lost along the drive between the two for a day and a half of fishing on the White River in north central Arkansas.

    I graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville AR in 1984, but you can hardly recognize the town now. I was on the hook to take my business associate somewhere good for dinner since I was a former local and was worried that the place I wanted to take him to Herman’s, which was an old razorback tradition when I was there 25 years ago, wouldn’t still be in operation or that they would have torn the old dilapidated building down. But sure enough it was right where it had always been and in the same old small converted house it had been in for the last 50 years. When I stepped inside the old place hadn’t changed a bit which is a great feeling to all of us old guys that love our memories of great meals in places with character. The steaks were as good as I remembered and the personality of the place hadn’t faded at all. Don’t you love it when the good things refuse to modernize and change, they stay as unique and fun as you remember, and that is a rarity in today’s world. But as good as the meal was I was ready to head out of town the next morning and hit the fishing trail. I had fished in college a lot more than I should have so the road out of town toward the better fishing areas held a lot of great memories and I found myself lost in the nostalgia of looking for old landmarks and trying to identify the changes… so the trip passed quickly and I soon found myself pulling into the Rim Shoals Trout Dock. I forget what it is like to be back in the woods of Arkansas … that is until you meet someone who shows that true Arkansas southern heritage … it is impossible to be a stranger at Rim Shoals as they instantly pointed me in the right direction and even told me where to fish the catch and release waters and what to expect with the waters that were supposed to be rising within the early evening hours. She even gave me a phone number to call in case I got stranded on the river and couldn’t get back so they could come and get me. You got to love Arkansas people.

    Having not fished the White in 25 years I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find fish or to catch them if I found em but I rigged my Jennings 5 wt and tied on an old stand by, a pink san juan and hit the river. There was a group of four or five fisherman on the near bank fishing the obvious large hole of water, so I decided to wade across and fish the braided channel on the other side. I cast along almost as an after thought as I picked my way across the current so was amazed when I started catching fish almost immediately. Nice pretty little river rainbows.

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    I thought life couldn’t get any better until I got to the other side and saw how fishy the braids looked and the water below the island looked even more productive. This could be a really good evening.

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    I switched over to a green flashback scud and caught fish consistently the rest of the evening. I was becoming pretty convinced that I was quite the fisherman until I saw this guy in action, who proved to me how much of an amateur I really was.

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    I stopped to take another picture of another fish, and realized how much the water was coming up, so I picked my way back across the river as fast and as safely as I could and called it a night.

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    I headed up the road a couple miles and found a fantastic barbeque joint… but with a name like Bubba’s Barbeque you know it has to be good. I then found a liquor store that had the Shinerbock Commemorative beer. Headed back to the cabin and had a cigar and a cold beer while dreaming of the next days fishing. Unfortunately the vagaries of tailwater fishing jumped up and bit me in the you know what the next day. They started generating heavy and early, so by the time I got to the river it looked like a clear version of the mighty Mississippi. This is the shoal I had crossed the river at yesterday.

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    But when you have a day to fish and you are a fisherman……. A fishing you will go regardless of the water. I had the place to myself as everyone else was too sane to try and fish water at this level. But I thought I knew where the fish had been yesterday so I figured they would be in the same general area just moved to the banks. I couldn’t wade very well due to the strength of the current so I really pushed the Gary Lacey hollow built 5 wt that I was using this morning and it responded by dropping my heavily weighted rig right on target. Surprisingly enough I did start catching some respectable fish. I was pretty much just enjoying the day catching some fish and letting my worries drift away with the afternoon sun. The only exception to my good mood was that the heavy weight rig I was using spent a lot of time hung on rocks and drifting moss so I wasn’t that surprised when on one drift just stopped cold, I lifted my rod and felt that hard unyielding weight that indicates a rock. I muttered a curse and flung a flip set trying to shake the fly loose off the rock….. and am I glad that the fly didn’t shake loose as the line started screaming off the reel and I realized I was fast to really nice fish. This was one of the longest fights I can remember due to the heavy flow of water and the stubborn fight of the fish….. what seemed like 10 minutes later I still hadn’t even glimpsed the fish so I was pretty sure it had to be a nice brown bulldogging on the bottom. Finally I was able to steer him out of the heavy current and saw a really pretty golden bellied brown slip up onto the beach.

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    Well after getting myself all put back together again I cast back into the exact same drift again…… and what to my wondering eye should appear but this beautiful rainbow.

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    Well as you can imagine I was pretty happy and pretty cocky to be honest. This is I am sure, why my luck so swiftly swung the other way … … and that rainbow was the last fish I caught for the day, but what a trip anyway. Great people, a great river, a great location, great barbeque and most importantly great fish, my home state once again proved to be the “natural state” and a true “land of opportunity”.

    DD
    Rbaileydav
     
  2. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

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    Great report, nice fish, good pics.
     
  3. rockymountain_brown

    rockymountain_brown Senore Member

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    Nice pics Rbaileydav, I haven't been on the bamboo forum in about a year now...too busy with work I guess.
     
  4. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Active Member

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    Thanks for the incite and pics of your trip. Looks fantastic. I'll, hopefully, be headed that way the end of Nov. early Dec. to enjoy the hospitality of a friend in Little Rock. We will be flailing the White and Little Red. I'll have to inquire about Bubbas.
    Since you did so well with your Lacey, I may take an LCParks and/or a Cunningham. What were you lined with?
     
  5. doublespey

    doublespey Steelhead-a-holic

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    Nice report RBD. Rim Shoals is a great place. Is Gary Flippin still running the joint?

    I've spent a few very enjoyable days on that river over the years while visiting my dad in Mountain Home. One day was especially fun hitting the mid-river flats from a jon boat with a Chili Pepper (white sparkle wolley bugger). You could see the 'bows coming from 5' away in bright sun to chase it down.

    Cheers,

    Brian
     
  6. rbaileydav

    rbaileydav Active Member

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    I am comfortable on that water with 5 weights which both the rods i fish regularly on the White are.........

    And yeah Gary still has Rim shoals.

    Ya'll take care

    DD
     

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