Monday, July 23, 2012

7/18 - 7/21...."SummerTime Hoppers on the White"


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I've been needing to get away something terrible these last few weeks but it just seemed like something was always coming up....work , home projects , etc...etc. You get the picture , we all have those times when work and life in general keeps us off the water for longer stretches than we'd like. It's not like I havn't touched a flyrod , I've taken an hour here or there to hit the local pond or chase a few carp around the flats, but no real fishing trips. This last week a buddy and I made plans to change all that.
With the outrageous temperatures and drought conditions we've been seeing in this part of the country here lately the options for fishing have been dwindling away. Most of the rivers I normally fish are at all time summer lows and the smaller Blue Ribbon streams are running but a trickle. The only consistent water flow around these parts is what's being released below the hydroelectric dams in the White River system , and if the lake levels keep dropping even that might come to an end.
Word on the street was that the hopper bite on the White River was getting into full swing so Kevin and I decided to plan a mid-week trip and head South to see if the rumours were true.
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We met up at Dally's Ozark FlyFisher in Cotter Ar. on Wednesday morning to get the party started. After picking up a few necessities and getting the lowdown on the fishing we made our way over to the Blue Heron campground to get our "home away from home" set up for a few days. With the temperature pushing 100 degrees before noon we didn't waste much time in getting the boats rigged and ready to get out on the water , if your feet weren't dangling in the cool waters it got pretty unbearable in short order.
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Once the gear and boats were loaded and the shuttle vehicle dropped off we were on the water for a nice little float between Wildcat Shoals and Cotter. With thoughts of browns slurping hoppers off the surface we both tied on hopper patterns and got down to business. It didn't take long to be rewarded as Kevin stuck the first fish not fifteen minutes into the float , a nice little White River brown.
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 That first afternoon was even better than either of us expected , we had good water and the river pretty much to ourselves and even better... the fish were cooperating nicely.
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Neither of us bothered to change flies except to replace an eaten up hopper pattern every once in awhile , while we might have caught more fish by changing methods who can pass up fish laying the smackdown on hoppers?? That night we got back to camp just before dark and settled in for an evening of good food and a few refreshments to end the first day. Damn life is good!!

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Day two we awoke with the same plan , float a different section of water and throw hoppers.
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With the predicted temps pushing 105 we opted for a morning float and then a late afternoon float , figuring we'd spend a couple of hours in the air conditioned flyshop during the hottest part of the afternoon.
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We had another stellar day of hopper fishing , catching numerous small rainbows and a good number of healthy browns as well.
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 The only glitch for the day was me leaving the shuttle vehicle keys in the seat of the truck at the put-in....what a dumb-ass!! Luckily a nice gentleman getting off the water at the same time we were gave us a ride to retrieve the keys , it all worked out but I know I'll hear about that one for awhile!!
For dinner that night we threw together some camp succotash and washed it down with a couple (ok...more than a couple) cold beers to finish off the day.
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Day three dawned with a new plan of action , we decided to head over to the Norfork and float the short four mile tailwater on low water.
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Neither of us had floated the entire stretch before so the thought of virgin waters was enough to make us forget about those hopper eating browns on the White for at least one morning. After dropping a truck at Ackerman we headed up to Quarry Park and got on the water.
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 We started off throwing hoppers here as well but the bite just wasn't happening for us so we switched up to nymph rigs and began sticking good numbers of small bows. The Norfork is some beautiful water for sure and the numbers of small rainbows falling to our nymphs was enough to keep even the most jaded fisherman satisfied.
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 In the back of my mind though I just kept picturing those browns slurping hoppers over on the White , while the Fork is known for it's big browns as well we just couldn't find any willing to play. By the time we got off the water just after lunch we'd both landed more fish than the previous two days combined....and yet we couldn't hardly wait to get off that river and back over to the White for the afternoon hopper bite. A quick bite and slam a couple of cold ones at camp and then we were back on the water to finish off the day.
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 The generation was down from the previous two days and unfortunately it affected the fishing in a negative way. Less flow means fewer fish on the shore , which in turn means a slower hopper bite. We still stuck to our guns and fished em anyway , both landing some small bows and several browns even on the diminished bite.
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 I'll still take one 18 inch brown on a hopper over twenty stocker bows on nymphs if I have a choice.
That night we got back to camp late , hot...tired...sunburned and happy as hell. We'd had three good days of fishing on a couple of the best tailwaters in the country and still had one more day to go!! Feeling lazy we did what any respectable trout bum would do for dinner , pick up a fresh case at the liqour store and have a pizza delivered to camp. Does it get any better than that??
Saturday we met up with a fellow Drakian at the flyshop with plans to get out on the water in his driftboat and stick a few more fish. Of course when you want some water generation what do they do...shut it down! We sat around the shop until 10:00 , tying some flies...shooting the bull with the guys and spending more money on shit that I have to hide from the wife when I get home. Finally , just after 10:00 they decided to run a half unit for us , not much but still better than the dead low water. While we were all bummed about the flows and what we knew it would do to the hopper bite you just can't complain too much about spending a day in a driftboat with a couple of buddies on one of the best tailwaters in the country.
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 We made the most of it and dropped a midge off the hoppers , still hoping for the best , but at least giving ourselves a shot at some bites if the hoppers weren't happening. While it wasn't what we were looking for we all managed to catch enough bows on the midges to keep things interesting , and like I said , who can complain?
We got off the water around 3:00 , loaded up the boat and headed our seperate ways. I was headed back to KC , Kevin was headed for Jeff City and Jeff was headed back to the flyshop to pick up his ride for an evening float....lucky SOB!
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36 comments:

  1. Nice trip report. One 18" stream bed Brown is easily equal to 20 stocker Bows.
    That dude makes some darn good pizzas and calzones up there... if I'm thinking of the same place where you ordered your pizza.

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    1. Thanks Jay...Nemo's I think was the joints name?? Excellent pizza and you can't beat having it delivered to your campsite after a long day on the water.

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    2. Nemo's! That's it for sure.

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  2. Sounds like a great trip! Dangling feet in cool water chasing surface feeding trout sounds pretty good right about now. But then again, when doesn't it?

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    1. Amen brother!! No place I'd rather be for sure...If it wasn't for that four letter word "work" I'd still be there!!

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  3. Awsome job dude, wait till you hear about my week on the Current, word of advise, GO!

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    1. Thanks man...I'll be looking for that report.

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  4. Nice write up...enjoyed....now I wanna get down there!

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    1. Appreciate it...If you can swing it I'd definitely put it on my to-do list sometime soon , you won't regret it.

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  5. Happiness is a box full of foam flies

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    1. Yessir , I totally agree. I don't get to do that kind of trout fishing very often around here but man it's sure fun.

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    1. Thanks , I really appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed stopping by....

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  7. Who's Clacka Headhunter Skiff is that? That's the 3rd one I know of along with mine and my buddy Sean from OKC has one as well. We were there the previous 2 weekends with the drift boats. Caught some great fish on hoppers and streamers plus the bobber grind caught some rainbows too!

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    1. The boat is Jeff Trigg's a buddy from Colombia, Mo.
      Good times out there right now , when we had water the fishing was hot for sure.
      When I was down on the White for the opener with Matt Tuckers group you guys must have been the group from Oklahoma we talked to??

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  8. Happened upon the Blog, Good Read! Glad you guys enjoyed the trip, great photos, and really nice Fish! Guess thats a first time to be called a "Nice Gentleman" and publicly too! See you on the river!

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    1. Thanks Bruce. You saved our butts that day and we sure appreciated it. I'm pretty sure kevin was gonna make me swim across the river and walk back to the truck if you hadn't been there!!

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  9. Besides the fact that you guys crushed it on some hoppers...I think I'd be happy just staying in camp and keeping an on the Makers and all of the other necessities that are worth protecting.

    well done as always.

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  10. You ever make it over this way and you've got the job , we might even let you catch a few fish. Someones gotta make sure the beer stays cold!!

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  11. My gears dried out and the camp box is pack back up. Every morning I fight the truck to not turn south. I guess I'm say'in I'm ready to go again!

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  12. Yes sir that was us! Totally dig ur blog. Check out ours over at okietroutbum.blogspot.com, I think u will enjoy it : )

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    1. Appreciate it man , I'll definitely check out your blog.

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  13. What a fantastic trip!!! Loved the report!

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    1. Thanks EMB.....It was definitely one of those trips that you hate to see end!!

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  14. Awesome pics and write-up as usual. Cool that you got a brookie. Forgetting the truck keys brings some funny stories to mind from personal experience.

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    1. Appreciate it man...First brookie I've ever caught on the White actually. Yeah , I'll hear about that one for awhile. I'm sure my buddy won't let me live it down!!

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  15. Great also to see your site again! Nice trout that I've read about for many years. Those browns, wild, holdover, both? Love hopper fishing but haven't got a carp to take one, yet.

    Gregg

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  16. Thanks Gregg...The browns are either holdovers or wild spawned fish , they do still stock a few but they are all fingerlings. That makes two of us on the carp taking a hopper thing!!

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  17. Looks like a great trip. Nice photos. I live in Bentonville and have been below that dam a few times. We did best fishing with spinning rods from a boat as they generated near the dam. Some of the best fishing I ever had. I fish for smallies on the Illinois and Elk River. Never did very well on the Kings. It's good to see folks fishing on the White. I used to live on Goshen and fished the warm water portions of the White frequently.

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  18. Thanks man...I sure wish I lived a lot closer to the White , it's an incredible fishery for sure. Nothing I like better than chunking streamers and it's one of the best places to do it. I keep telling myself I'm gonna take advantage of the smallie fishing available in the Ozarks but just havn't had the opportunity yet...one of these days.

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  19. After watching your posts I can say that you are very genius because it is not a easy task and everybody can not do that because it requires some skills and interest. If u are interested in carp fishing then u can do that if you are not interested then you can not do these kind of posting. And carpbuddy.com is a site that provides lots of carp fishing news, carp fishing articles, carp fishing tackle reviews.

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    1. Appreciate you stopping by and browsing through the blog. I do love to stalk the carp on the flats of my home lake , one of the more challenging and fun fishing styles that I've currently tried. Heat and drought have kept me from doing as much as I normally would but I look forward to the next outing.
      I checked out carpbuddy , WOW , you guys catch some serious pigs! I can only imagine hooking up with one of those beats on the flyrod!!
      Thanks again for the compliments....

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  20. Looks like an awesome trip. Did you get everything sorted out with your blog or will it be moving?

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    1. Yeah ,it was one of the better ones I've had in awhile for sure.
      I did finally talk to the right person and get my issues fixed on Blogger. That being said I still bought my domain name and plan to try something new eventually , I just don't have to rush into it now.

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