Wednesday, October 8, 2014

IFFF Southern Fall Fishing Fair and a Little Stream Time

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This past weekend I headed down to Arkansas for what used to be called the Fall Conclave , now the Fall Fishing Fair , put on by the IFFF. I had several buddies that were going to be down for the event so I figured that it'd be a good opportunity to hang out with some friends and sneak a little fishing in as well.
I arrived at Dally's Fly shop in Cotter just before lunch on Friday and met up with Kevin and Jeff. Kevin and I planned to spend the weekend camping on the river while Jeff was just finishing up a couple guide days on the White and was headed back North that evening for a trip on a different piece of water. Kevin had a few interviews with local guides lined up for that afternoon but Jeff and I had an open schedule and decided to float Wildcat to Cotter and throw some hoppers and maybe a streamer or two for some browns. We got on the water at Wildcat and the first thing I noticed was the numbers of people around the access , I was sure glad to be floating away from that cluster of humanity! Things thinned out a little after we got downstream a little ways and we got busy with the fishing.The conditions weren't perfect for what we wanted to do but neither of us had any desire to put on an indicator rig and nymph up rainbows. Jeff chose to throw a hopper pattern mostly and picked up several average bows during his time in the knee braces. I stuck with a medium sized streamer and didn't fare quite as well , picking up a couple small rainbows and getting the middle finger by two browns who took a look but just wouldn't commit. The fishing may have been anything but stellar but who can complain when you get to spend an afternoon in the front of a driftboat doing what you love.
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After getting the boat loaded up we headed back to the flyshop and my truck. I still had to get a quick camp set up and Jeff was headed back North for the weekend.
That evening was the first event of the Fall Fishing Fair , a free dinner of brats and burgers along with a bottomless cup of keg beer for a measly $5. I may not be big on social events but a $5 endless mug of beer is enough to get even my attention. It was a great evening of meeting some old friends and being introduced to a few new people in the industry as well. Kudos to the folks who put this together as it was a great start to a busy weekend of fly fishing related events. By the time Kevin and I made our way back to camp it was getting late and neither of us felt like screwing with a fire so it was an early night for us. Tomorrow I had plans to go chase a few fish around...
Saturday we woke up to what felt like a perfect October day , the air just had that crisp feel to it that screams "Fall is Here"!
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After dragging ourselves out of our sleeping bags we decided to head over to White Sands for an artery clogging breakfast before attempting anything else. If you're ever in the general vicinity fishing , this place has the best breakfasts to be had in the area. After putting away enough calories to keep the average person going for an entire weekend we made our way back to camp. Kevin had a full day of meet and greets planned at the Fishing Fair in Mountain Home so he began preparing some things for his outing while I started getting my fishing gear ready for a day on the water. I knew what the crowds would be like on the two tailwaters surrounding the event, as I had been witness to some of it the previous afternoon. While I had brought along my one-man pontoon to float and get away from some of the crowds I decided this morning that I'd be better off to get in the truck and drive a little bit , trying my luck at a different venue than what most of the fairs attendees had in mind.
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I pulled into the parking area next to the creek and found one other vehicle , one more than I had hoped for but still a good deal better than what would have met me on the White or Norfork. With the air still having that slight chill to it , I donned a pair of waist high waders and grabbed a rod and a couple of flyboxes and headed off downstream.
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This was my first time on this creek so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect , besides the fact that there were said to be a few smallmouth swimming around in it's waters I was pretty much clueless. The day started off a little slow , I picked up several dinks as I worked my way from pool to pool but if there were any decent fish around they weren't interested in what I was offering.
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I continued to hike and fish my way downstream throughout the morning and early afternoon with the fishing improving as the sun warmed the waters during the day.
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This stream runs through some beautiful country and I enjoyed the scenery and abundant wildlife I encountered almost as much as the fishing itself.
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Other than the deer , turkey and osprey sightings (oh yeah , let's not forget the water moccasin that I barely missed stepping on!) throughout the day I never saw another person on the water...that in itself made the day a success in my book.
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I arrived back in camp just as the sun was setting over the surrounding hills. A little tired , a lot hungry and pretty much satisfied with my decision on where to fish for the day. Kevin was already kicked back around a campfire enjoying a cold beverage when I showed up so we discussed our days events over a cold one and started making plans for the next morning. Except for a quick run into town so that I could grab a bite to eat (hadn't eaten since breakfast so I was withering away) the rest of the night was spent under the stars around the fire.
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Sunday we woke up and took down our tents and packed away all of our gear before heading out for the day. Kevin had taken care of all his business at the Fishing Fair the previous day so we were headed back to my little creek of the day before to try our luck for a few hours before we both had to hit the road for home. We chose a different access than the one I used on Saturday just to get a look at some more new water , this time we were the only ones in the parking lot.
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As was the case the day before , the fishing started off a little slow and improved as the sun climbed higher in the sky. We both caught decent numbers of smaller fish and a couple of chunky scrappers as well , unfortunately we had to call it a day just about the time it was starting to get really good.
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All in all it was a great weekend of fishing and comraderie , while I didn't spend as much time checking out the Fishing Fair event as I had hoped , I did get to spend a couple of days exploring some new to me smallmouth bass water and introducing myself to a few of the locals...oh the sacrifices we make!
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  1. looks like some pretty good-sized fish! and peace and quiet is always good. i almost stepped on a moccasin in my field after a rain this week, too. eek!

    1. I'm not a snake hater but it would have been really bad if I'd stepped on that particular snake. It was definitely a moccasin and I was more than a mile from my truck and any kind of help...I'm just thankful I saw him in time and we both went about our own business.

  2. Your stream time was very productive.
    Man I hate snakes.

    1. Thanks Alan...I don't hate snakes but I do try to give them their space , especially when they're as big around as a pop can and poisonous. Now spiders...that's another story!

  3. You can go a year without mentioning the S word. I hate em. Pretty good trip Jeff.

    1. Thanks Howard...seems to be the concensus so far , everyone hates snakes. I don't imagine you have many problems with snakes in Colorado , too much cold weather I'm guessing.

    2. In the part where I live, which is about 20 miles north of Denver, between Boulder and Denver, it's not unusual to find rattlesnakes along with the usual garder and bull snakes.

  4. Great post. Unlike your usual photos, the pic of the snake seems a little distant...not sure you were close enough. Not trying to be a critic! I love that SM of my favorites (if it's the one it looks like, lol).

    1. Yeah , that fuzzy snake picture was taken on full zoom from a safe distance! He was a little pissed after I almost stepped on him. Probably the same creek , my first time on it and I'll definitely be back.

    2. I hear ya...I ran across one last week around the ramp I was using...I took his picture from the safety of my truck. Those guys are all business.

  5. glad to see you're still getting some stream time in. some nice smallies indeed. weekend camp trip and fishing is hard to beat.
    starting to get cold up this way and the steelhead run is starting.
    Take care!

    1. Thank you's definitely starting to feel like Fall around here as well , I have to say it's my favorite time of year to be out.
      Good luck with those steelhead , another fish that's on my bucket list someday!