White and Norfork Rivers
My cousin Tom and I headed to Arkansas this past weekend to join the Free State Fly Fishing Club for their annual fall Conclave trip. We fished Saturday, Sunday, and a portion of Monday on both the White and Norfork Rivers. I had never fished the Norfork but I know both Tom and I came away very impressed and probably prefer it to the White River. Fishing on the White was somewhat slow and we never got the low water we were hoping for, with the dam oscillating between 1-2 units throughout the entire weekend. However, not to be discouraged, I brought my kayak, was able to bypass inconsistencies in water levels, and covered a lot of water on the White while floating the entire Norfork.
Saturday was slow and wet. It rained off and on all day, water was uncooperative, and it was cold. Normally under balmy conditions you hope the fishing will at least make up for it, however this was not the case and fish were hard to come by for most everyone in the club. Tom and I waded for most of the morning and floated from the Dam to Gaston's in the afternoon. I caught one on a pink San Juan and another 3 on Hare's Ears.
Tom received an early morning casting lesson from Ron prior to hitting the White.
Geared up and ready to go.
View of the White River from our Cabin.
They didn't start off too big the first day.
But they got bigger... 18 inch Rainbow on Hare's Ear.
Day two Tom and I floated the Norfork from the dam to its confluence with the White River. I was very impressed. With only two access points over 4 miles, it was much less crowded and intimate feeling then the White and often Tom and I were the only two on the river for long stretches at a time. It also helped that I caught my first Cutthroat of my life on a dry, and we took for Browns--always a moral booster. The only thing we miscalculated was the time it would take to float the entire river before nightfall. There were far too many enticing riffles and otherwise great fishable waters to simply hurry our trip, needless to say we didn't get off the water until long after dark.
Tom started the day off well with a solid brown, Zebra Midge.
Following Tom's lead I found this Brown just below his. Hare's Ear.
Tom picked up another beautiful Brown.
Several portions of the Norfork required a portage.
Taken in just a few inches of water, from the riffles. Crystal Zebra Midge.
This fish was exactly where he was supposed to be. Just above the confluence of two current lines. You have to love when fish cooperate.
Beautiful Rainbow. Again in some riffles. From personal observation I have found flashier midge and nymph patterns to be highly effective when fishing turbulent water.
Unexpected catch and a new species for the life list. Northern Hogsucker.
This was supposed to be a picture of my first Cutthroat, however just as we were to take the picture he slipped out of my hands... I am still kicking myself. Caught on a BWO. 14"
My second Brown of the trip.
Tom casting to an uncooperative big 'bow. Though he picked up several mid-size Rainbows in the area.
Chunky Rainbow. Zebra Midge.
As night fell, we found it difficult to leave this spot. Happened upon a hatch and the Rainbow's were eager to cooperate. I picked up several on a Yellow Stimulator.
The final day we didn't fish too long as we needed to head back to Kansas, but borrowed the boat from Copper John's resort and spent some time at the trophy area below Bull Shoals Dam. That is until the water stopped cooperating...
Fall is just starting to show up on the White.
Tom's last fish of the trip, and his biggest Rainbow. For someone who hasn't fly fished much, he did really well and greatly improved his skill over the course of three days.
My last fish of the trip, I was hoping for something a tad bigger but can't complain much considering what a beautiful day it was.
As I mentioned they unexpectedly dropped the water on us, allowing me to play Theodore Tugboat back to the boat ramp.