Tuesday, January 14, 2014

1/10 - 1/12 First Trip of 2014...Paying Those Streamer Fishing Dues

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It's that time of year again...when 8 weights , big articulated streamers and butter colored browns fill my thoughts every evening when I sit down to the tying desk. I enjoy any kind of fly fishing but this time of year really gets my blood pumping , gotta love chucking big streamers! Considering the above statement , when a buddy asked if I'd be available to head down to the White River and spend a couple days flinging big flies, the answer came pretty easily.
I left town Friday morning in a cold, foggy rain that followed me all the way to Arkansas.
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The adverse weather always makes some folks drive like pimple faced teenagers that just got their learners permit and as usual I got stuck behind several of them on the long drive South. With the weather delays it was a little before 2:00 when I pulled into our place of residence for the weekend.
As anyone who has ever fished our local tailwaters knows all too well , the best laid plans aren't worth a hoot if the SWPA doesn't cooperate with the proper water flows. Such was our luck on this day , after a week or more of perfect streamer water the impending weekend warm-up had the water shut down to minimum flow. What can you do???
We made the best of it and decided on a short float in the rain on low flows , not perfect streamer water by any means but I'm a firm believer in dancing with the girl that brung you so we stuck to our guns.
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We moved a couple of fish but couldn't entice an eat unfortunately. Day 1 ended with the first skunk of the year , not how we wanted to start off the trip, but if nothing else it just gave us a better reason to drink that evening.
Saturday morning we woke to clearing skies and warmer weather...and the same minimun flow we ended the float with the previous evening. We'd been keeping our eye on the river gauge for the NFOW and had been watching it steadily climb for the last 12 hours. After making a few phone calls and discussing our options we decided our best shot at a good streamer bite would be on rising water , which meant we were making the drive over to the NFOW.
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We arrived mid-morning to a river that had us excited to get started , the water was running around 1100 CFS with a little color and a small amount of trash. You can't ask for much more when streamer fishing , we had near-perfect conditions , or so we thought.
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Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the fish that the conditions were great and therefore they shoud be feeding with reckless abandon. We got a couple of small browns and one bow in the boat but the fishing definitely wasn't what we were expecting considering the conditions. If it had just been me on the water I would have chalked up the lack of catching to my well below average fishing abilities , but seeing as I had someone along that actually knows what he's doing I'm gonna have to blame the fish. It was still a great day to be on the water for sure. Hell , come to think of it any day is a good day to be on the water!! We talked with a few guys from the St.Louis area and their group of boats hadn't fared any better than we did ,so at least we were in good company.
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That night we kicked back with a good dinner and a few beers and watched the Patriots beat up on the Colts. Regardless of the lack of fish caught it's pretty hard to complain after a day filled with fishing , football and beer.
Sunday morning the SWPA gave us another kick in the ass , minimum flow all day. Couple that with bright ,sunny skies and a 20-30 mph South wind and the decision was made to forego putting the boat on the water.
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The streamer bite just wasn't in the cards for us on this trip. With time left to kill I decided to spend a couple of hours below the dam doing a little nymph fishing before hitting the road for the journey home. It was a beautiful day for January and I enjoyed just being on the water for a bit.
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I probably landed 12-15 stocker rainbows in the short time I fished ,unfortunately none of them were big enough to put any undue stress on the 6x tippet I was using.
The streamer game can be a fickle one for sure , it's not a numbers game and you just have to hope for the right conditions to present themselves at the right time. This weekend wasn't that time for us...but we paid those dues in hopes that the next trip will end up with a different result.


  1. Nice. As usual, you made the best of it. Good to see you getting your season kicked off.

    1. Thanks Jim...I would have liked the years first outing to be a little more successful , but a guy just can't complain anytime he gets the chance to be on the water.

  2. Been there! Great to get a nice day in January, perfect flow, excited, ....... no fish. If you don't have a good attitude, it can drive you nuts. Lynn

    1. I hear ya Lynn. Those "zero or hero" days kind of go along with the territory when you choose to throw big streamers. My attitude is just that I'm happy to be there and not at work , that's good enough for me!

  3. At least you made the best of it. I wish I had some open water and warmer temps here in Chicagoland. I'll just keep working at the vise. :)

    1. Thanks Justin...I don't envy the thought of no liquid water to be had , I've got to drive almost 4 hours to get to moving open water but it's worth every minute of the trip!!

  4. I know you know the drill. Still good to be out even if the catching sucks.

    1. Amen!! Catching is nice every once in awhile though.

  5. that water...those reflections...ahhh... (and i don't even fish!) :)

  6. There's just something peaceful and relaxing about a body of water , and especially a moving river. I could sit on the bank listening to the sounds of the water and watching nature without ever picking up a rod and still have a wonderful time.