White River Endings

| May 17, 2011

Just in case you have been reading along, I left the White River, Arkansas, with a day to go before we packed and headed back for Texas.

The final day, with two days of the dam shut, brought the river down to a flow more like drainage than river flow. Rather than go up river, I decided to go down toward the airport and see what was downriver. Gravel bars and piles of gravel lined the west side of the twisting river. THe east side had homes, and the deep run that would be the original river bed.

The first part of the day, I decided to cross over to the far side, walk and wade along the gravel that made for good consistent bottom traction. Early became midday before I was ready, and although the rainbow trout were easily fooled again by my trusty black woolly bugger. I was still searching for the legendary brown trout though, and after my success earlier in the week, I had expectations.

While it was easy to walk the gravel, and cast toward the channel, I could see definite rock slabs on the far side (were the houses were), and knew I would have a better shot at hitting the deeper run by hopping along the populated side and going off the edge of the run by standing on the slabs of rocks and rock piles.

The clouds were moving in as I made my way back to the cabin, and we all know change in weather can be good, or it can be bad. Taking away the bluebird day, and going to overcast could be just the trigger.

Switching over to my kayak would let me hop from shelf to shelf, and have a chance at the deep green water in the channel. I was paddling the Native Ultimate 12 which was the perfect kayak for the White River water at that level. I made the switch, and as the sun again departed, I began an easy paddle to the first shelf with a sheer edge.

I hate to keep you in suspense, so rather than extend the agony, I can summarize that the famous White River brown trout were not going to cooperate. Maybe they had a barometric headache, or maybe they were elsewhere. I still think that if you fish the White River, and don’t see fly fishers, then perhaps you are in the wrong place. There are just too many fly fishers looking to score the famous browns to think they won’t be where the fish are, with guides or without.

If you want to read back on the entire experience, here are the other posts on the White River in Arkansas:

White River Part 1

White River Resumes

The White River Sidetracking

Sometimes fly fishing ends with a whimper rather than a bang, and this was one of those times. The simplest advice is always, “get a guide,” but really that is overly simplistic. The White River is a sophisticated river that is as much in the control of humans, and their demand for electricity, as it is in control of the natural world. Your best times to fish there will be when electricity demands are less, or are more predictable. The window narrows. A mild February, an average March or April, or a good October or November could be your ticket to eliminating one of the variables that is most vexing. I have heard a lot about the Little Red, and in order to recommend one over the other, of course I have to hit it first. For beauty and beautiful fish near the White, the Norfork is a river that will satisfy a lot of fly fisher’s itch.

Don’t miss a stop in Mountain Home, and the Blue Ribbon Fly Shop either. It’s a fine example of a a fly tiers mecca. And, don’t forget to sit on that Stickley rocker either!

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Category: Arkansas Report, Fishing Reports, Life Observed

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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