An interesting and frigid week in Arkansas

I just returned from attempting to "slay" the record browns in the Little Red and White rivers of Arkansas. I knew it was going to be challenging due to the recent record rainfalls that raised water levels (+15') to disasterous levels. These rivers are controlled by a series of resevoirs and dams on each. Last years flows were around 400cfs and wading was the preferred method of approach. This year, however, flows were +20,000cfs! The Little Red (shown in the pic right outside our back door with the boat dock ready to relocate to the Gulf of Mexico any minute)was not only unfishable, it was un-navigable as well. A seventy five mile drive put us on questionable, but boatable water (Whte River). The method if fishing was designated by the conditions. I fished an ACR 10'8 5/6 switch (fantastic and highly recommend), Ross Canyon BG5 with a 300gr Scandi head. Here's the strange part (for mr), the set-up was a 5' poly xfast sinking polyleader, 3' of 8# leader and 2' of 6# tippet. At the leader/tippet connnection 2 lead weights were crimped above a two fly set-up. This was finished of with a 3" float at the line/ leader point. The object was to cast right up to the flooded brush edge (mostly now submerged islands) and keep your mend/float at the same 15mph current drift as the boat. Peachy! It made for some intersting rollcasts and more tie-ups that I prefer. Especially in 12-20 degree temps with a frozen thumb and forefinger. I don't care for gloves of any kind, but I wore 'em there!
We caught everything (but not numerous) from rainbows, browns, smallmouth bass, and, yes, even red lipped suckers! Fly of choice was a 3" San Juan worm 18" under an egg attractor pattern or like fly.
Regrettably, no fish that were pic worthy. I did have two hook ups (never seen) that took me to my backing, but some of that footage was spent the boat turned around in the current to pursue. Both were lost as a result of the tippet/leader broken by submerged brush, etc.bawling: Keep in mind the fish here can easily exceed 20#!!

My host in Ark is also a member of WWF and an outstanding fellow. I made his acquaintance when I acquired a beautiful Cunningham bamboo rod from him last year. Food and hospitality were memorable to say the least.
There is a pic of the "bar" in which you can see two mason jars of the infamous "shine". It is respectfully called "Monkeyhead" due to the cured peaches in it that remembled monkey heads. (see larger pic) The name also implied its effect.:clown:

Although I wish the big browns would have prevailed, I had an outstanding time and look forward to returning under more fishable conditions.


Love vintage graphite!
Great report Mark! It looks like you were fishing with your twin brother! It also looks mighty cold and miserable and I can't even imagine trying to cast the contraption you described but I'm glad you had a good time. Monkeys head, Makers Mark, Knob Creek? Do really even remember fishing at all???


Hello My name is Thad and Im addicted to flyfishin
That sounded fun!I don't care how bad the weather was.It looked like you guys made the best of it!And good to see a friendship was made off the site!
That's a great place when you hit it right. I spent a spring break in college there one year and basically just ran back and forth between the White and the Norfork whenever they started generating from the dams. It was cold as crap though and snowed on us a couple times. We were camping and weren't prepared so it was interesting. I hear right below the Norfork dam at night, you can toss huge mouse patterns and slay some big browns. Just what I hear though.
Thanks to everyone for their kind comments. I truly enjoyed myself in spite of the conditions and look forward to giving it another shot.
I do know the Norfork has dropped to between 6/7000 cfs this past week. I can only imagine what it looks like!
I, too, have heard tell about the mousy pattens.

Ed Call

Long Lost Member
Mark, I've been looking forward to your report. At last chat I knew the conditions you were to be up against would make the trip plan change day by day. Despite that you had a great time, hung out with another guy that looks like your brother (Norm Norlander photos from the expo last year) and some takes and break offs that will draw you back. Hopefully that will come again sometime soon with better weather. Hope your next big trip is as fun and even more fishy, but I'm pretty sure that photos of the two of us won't get comments about us looking like brothers. Merry Christmas!

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