Thank goodness for Sunday; it sure provides a respite from an otherwise busy week. After church, Sunday school, and an early lunch, we returned home to spend a quiet afternoon, reading the paper, and continuing packing for our winter in Texas. Cold weather is fast approaching! We had a great telephone conversation with Chuck and Sue Mercer, friends from Canada; Chuck is my bicycling partner. They have had a busy summer as well, traveling extensively and buying a place near Edmonton, three fourths of the way across the continent from their current place of residence. And, Chuck has battled a sinus infection for much of the summer. Sunday evening, our good friend Ed arrived for a few days of fishing. We are truly blessed to have such good friends.
After the recent channelization of parts of the Norfork River and scouring the bottom to bedrock, I vowed to fish the White River more via boat; fortunately, I have great friends eager to accommodate. Ed and I launched at Sneed’s Creek Access, and motored upstream to the first building on the right (left descending bank), and began a drift downstream in near perfect water conditions in a reach I had never fished before. Mistakenly, I had grabbed the wrong reel, but without a backup, fished with a 4-weight line on the 6-weight rod. I tied on John’s Superfly and a Cerise San Juan Worm, and caught some fish on the Superfly. I dropped a #20 Red/Silver Zebra Midge below the Superfly and caught fish on one, and then the other. Ed switched to a #20 Red/Silver Zebra Midge dropped below a #14 Davy’s Fly, and caught fish on both, with a predominance of fish caught on Davy’s Fly. This section of water has a clean bottom, with several slight riffles interspersed throughout the long drift. It was easy, and fun, to drift fish this section of the river, and is particularly conducive to low water fishing. Ed and I ended up with about 2 dozen fish each, including 5 doubles on a great morning outing, and I took a small Brook trout, my first on the White River. After returning from a great morning on the White River, and Ed’s Turkey Chili for lunch, we accessed the Norfork River at Mill Dam Eddy; it was packed with people, as we counted over a dozen just from our private walk-in access. During lunch, a light rain began and remained all afternoon, becoming heavy at times. Nevertheless, with rain jackets made for wading, and an optimistic outlook, we tied on dry flies and began casting, but the fish were reluctant to take what we were offering. Despite the rain, Craneflies would emerge to the surface, though we did not see any fish key on the aquatic insect. After experimenting with several patterns, the #16 Olive Cockleburr seemed to produce the best results, followed by a #14 Pink Cockleburr. Though it wasn’t a fish on every cast, we both caught enough fish to make it interesting and worth our while, particularly on dry flies exclusively, and despite the rain. A few small cutthroats and a brown completed my first grand slam in over a year. All the other fishers left about 3:00 PM, and several egressed through the construction cut in the river bank and via private property which is posted; wonder if Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff gave them permission? Though generation was not forecast to be started until 5:00 PM, we noticed a rise in water levels at about 4:15 PM, and barely made it across the right descending channel. Neither of us had any big fish, but we had lots of fish, ending a great day.
After our success yesterday morning, we returned to Sneed’s Creek on Tuesday morning to find similar, near-perfect water conditions. The river was enshrouded in fog, as temperatures overed in the high 40s. Our first drift resulted in several fish brought to hand, mostly on the Red/Silver Zebra Midge. On the second drift, the fog lifted as the sun burned through, but catching slowed compared to the first drift. We also noticed a rise in water levels. This drift seemed to favor Davy’s Fly. AS the wind picked up and the river continued to rise, flushing slowed considerably, and the loose “junk” in the river, i.e. moss, began to catch on the flies. Ed added weight and caught more fish; I followed with similar results, but it was nothing like yesterday. We each ended the day with almost two dozen fish. We had five doubles, and I had a rare brookie. Perhaps a brown this afternoon will yield another grandslam. Not getting enough dry fly action yesterday afternoon in the rain, we returned to the Mill Dam Eddy area in the afternoon. Generation has been ceasing about 8:00 AM, resulting in a delay of sufficiently low wadable levels until about 10:30 AM, thus aiding our decision to boat fish in the mornings. The Norfork River was less crowded than yesterday. Ed returned to the section of left descending side of the island near the island, and I fished Mill Dam Eddy. Wind was gusting to about 35 miles per hour. I struggled to catch fish, with bunches of refusals and near hook-ups. And as the wind settled, 3 drift boats with guides and clients, and 3 kayaks came right through my drift. I ended the afternoon with 8 or so fish, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Ed, on the other hand, was having a great day, finding a small deep trench loaded with large trout. He took about a dozen fish in close waters, all on dry flies, including a couple of 16-inchers and a nice 17-inch fish . Once again, and its among many, we had a great day fishing, though he wore me out, both figuratively and literally.
Perhaps a mistake, but we decided to fish somewhere new Wednesday morning, and fished the Rim Shoals area of the White River. Our first drift was from Jenkins Creek downstream, and was a bust. We continued downstream and drifted through Rim Shoals, with several fish caught. Our next drift through Rim Shoals was less productive, and fishing slowed on each successive drift. Our time on the water quickly passed, and we called in a day about 12:00 noon, having caught over a dozen fish each—not our best morning, but good nevertheless.
Thursday was a “visitation” day, and began by taking the river boat in for a new cover. We had over scheduled for the day, and had to cancel an appointment in the afternoon in order to visit some new friends who were in Mountain View for an RV rally. We met them near the County Courthouse Square and listened to a music jam session for a couple of hours. After departing there, we stopped by another RV park to visit cousin Lin and husband Tom, and friends Karen and Warren. We arrived home tired from all the local travel, but assembled a new bicycle rack for the car, taking advantage of the shop in the basement.
Up early Friday morning, I drove into town to pick up the boat, and returned home to do a few chores, and Kay and I drove back into town for lunch and a visit with our financial advisor. It proved to be fortuitous for us as we changed our checking account to one in which we had much more flexibility, and remained a “no cost” alternative. It pays to review one’s credit cards, telephone service, satellite or cable service, insurances, and the like every year or so as the services and prices therefore constantly change.
Saturday provided time to store hoses and take care of outside stuff before first frost. In the evening we hosted a chili supper with friends Patty, Whit, Whitten, Charlotte, Sandy, and John present. It was a great visit, and we enjoyed hearing about Patty and Whit’s encounter with a polar bear a couple of months ago in northern Ontario. It must have been one of the most frightening things in their lives to have a polar bear bump them in their tent on a cold, rainy night in the wilderness, and then shred the tent while they watched from only a few feet away. Fortunately, the bear left after the guide fired warning shots.