and just cause more people should be listening to real shit, here’s some RA
every line on this track is truth.
Last year when Abel and I started this little Monday night shindig there were no grand schemes of world domination. Hell we weren’t even sure people would show up to tie flies with us. Some nights it’s been just the two of us and some nights it’s been a crowd of like minded folks filling the back room. The first night we did this was February 10th, 2014 and I really have to thank People’s Brewing Company for letting us have this awesome opportunity to spend our Monday nights at their place tying up a few bugs. Seriously, thank you.
One of the coolest things to come out of the tying nights have been getting to meet new people who share your interests. In the end, that’s what it’s about, right? Finding out there’s way more fly fishermen and women in your area than you previously thought is pretty damned awesome. I hope it’s just as awesome for them as it is for me. People get new opportunities to fish with new people and more chances to get on the water. Slowly a community gets built up. To me, that’s winning the lottery in terms of fun.
And listen to Chuck Ragan
Saturday February 21st at Queen City Brewery
12:01 am. You should be sleeping. Smart people are sleeping. I never said I’m smart. Personally, I love night fishing. I’ve always been a big fan of that known unknown. What was familiar and safe in the light becomes alien in the dark. The landscape itself seems to change and I’m fairly certain that’s what keeps most folks off the water at night. Would I float an unfamiliar river at night? Hell no. Not without a boat partner who knows that stretch intimately and even then you have to be careful. When you get cocky towards moving water it will teach you respect whether you want to learn or not.
If you can get over that and get on the water you’ll be treated to one of the most fun ways to fish. Feeling. This goes the same for topwater on summer nights but in our case we were fishing 250 grain sink lines with streamers tied on. Depending on the moon and depending on clouds you sometimes can’t see a foot past your nose. Fishing with sinking line in the dark can be frustrating if you’re new to it. You can’t see where you’re casting though you can guess if you know the water well enough. Was that log twenty feet upstream or down? That rock, the big one that always holds fish but will tear your fly off just as quick, where was that? So you cast and you guess and you hope. When you do feel something it’s electric and you set the hook. Nine times out of ten it’s a snag and you’re popping off a fly but that one time it’s a fish, man is it worth it.
We got off the water at about 4am. Scott was sleeping back at the cabin and had a laugh at the bedraggled posse coming through the door. We were cold, I was soaked to the bone, and we all wanted sleep.
A few hours of shuteye and we shot out the door to another stretch of water. The day started out really nice. There was a slight chill but the sun made it feel much warmer than it was. We got on the water and the temp started dropping. Slowly at first. The clouds got darker and the wind decided to really crank. It was changing directions with every gust.
We gave it all we had with streamers. Halfway through the float Jeff pulled out a nymph rig and we started catching fish. It worked and it was fun catching some wild rainbows that were full of piss and vinegar. Our collective goal to catch a big brown didn’t come to fruition but we caught fish and laughed through chattering teeth while doing so. We got off the river at dark. The temp had probably dropped about 35 degrees. When I took my wading boots off, they were solid from the ice. I haven’t been that cold in a while. We all were doing the holy shit it’s freezing dance trying to warm up. It wasn’t working.
We got back to the cabin and hung out for the night. The Superbowl was on but I still have no idea who was playing or who won.
The next morning Robert headed back to Minnesota and Scott and I headed back to Indiana. Our little adventure had come to an end as quickly as it began. The miles were eaten up by truck tires and not even the freaks at Boomtown could slow us down. Scott did have to act out some McDonald’s commercial but he got some free food out of the deal. Can’t beat free fake hamburger. After about 11 hours on the road I rolled in to my driveway. In my head I was already planning for 2016 and a huge brown. Just one. Maybe two.
5:45am a boat roared up to pick up clients from the cabin below ours. That earned an eff you. As you’re reading that, draw out the yooooooouuu for a bit and add the foreign bed groans. The bird tweeting outside the window near my pillow also got called a few choice words. We slept in a bit, or at least tried. Breakfast and some putzing around camp were the order of the early morning. The boats were up and down the river near the cabin. I forgot it was the weekend and the boats on the water multiply like wet gremlins. When you realize you’re part of that last sentence a light bulb pops.
We tossed on the waders and loaded the boats. Another day of minimum flows so we weren’t exactly eager but there was hope and hope is what keeps us all moving forward to the next fish. Not long after launching Robert stuck a trucker on a streamer. Wooooohooooo a real live fish! I got on the bow and skunked out. We switched out every so often, though thinking back I feel like I fished more than him and feel kind of bad about that. The boat traffic was insane for an Indiana boy like me. I could tell it was grating on me every time a motor was started downstream for the guides and clients to run back up to float back down. Those constant jets up and down. Man that makes you twitchy. Makes me wonder how the fish felt. I’m not hating on them in the least but dammit that looks like the most incredibly boring way you can possibly fish. Half the cats looked bored watching bobbers or whatever kind of worm drowning was going on. Give me a big streamer, sink line, and let my people go. I broke my favorite rod at some point in the day. That rod, a 9’6″ Ross Essence had been through the ringer with me. It should have been broken many times over but it kept on trucking along, trip after trip.
This trip did it in with a broken tip section. I was snagged on the bottom when it happened. It was probably my fault that it happened, both bottom snag and rod break. I rolled up my sleeves, reached down into the cold ass water, and grabbed the tip section and popped the tippet. I brought the section up and stared at it dumbly. Broken. Shit. So what does an idiot like me do? He numbly drops it completely forgetting that he’d popped the fly off and there was nothing stopping what was left of the tip section from disappearing into the White River like a moron’s sacrifice. The search is now on for a new 7 weight rod. 9’6″ or 10′. Ten would be preferred.
We stopped for lunch and watched the guides with clients doing their thing for a bit. It’s an efficient operation they have going on down there but on that day we didn’t see much of an action from their camps. The rest of the float was pretty uneventful. We took out, cleaned up a bit, and headed over to Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher for the 2015 Streamer Lovefest.
Let me preface the rest of this by saying this. Have you ever walked into a fly shop and just gone, “Wow! These dudes are doing it right.” When I first walked into Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher in Cotter, Arkansas those were the first words out of my mouth. It’s a huge fly shop. HUGE. The most impressive part was that it didn’t feel crowded and it didn’t feel like they were trying to fill empty space. It’s a big shop but it felt good. Well lit, clean, and organized.
The tying started and the folks lined up to get some pig, coleslaw, and baked beans. The food was incredible. Matt Tucker and his crew can cook a mean pig. The sides can make or break it and in this case it was one where you wanted thirds and fourth helpings.
There was a raffle and a few lucky winners took home some nice swag. The amount of people who showed up to this was way more than I expected. I didn’t know what I should expect but it was awesome to be blown away by the attendance. The crew at Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher have it going on and run that event like a well oiled machine.
As folks made their way home or to wherever they’d sleep that night, the crew I was with was planning something that could either be awesome or terrible. Part 3 will finish this trip up on Friday morning.
If you tie flies of the streamer kind most likely you know about this little shindig that happens once a year down in the Ozarks called the Streamer Lovefest. It’s become a small festival filled with characters from all walks of life and from what I can tell, gets bigger every year. I’ve wanted to get down there the past few happenings and it just never came together for me. Last summer I received a message from Jeff Trigg with an invitation to come down and fish with him. Jeff owns Ozark Sweetwater Fly Fishing and guides on a lot of the water in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. We worked some logistics out and a plan of sorts started forming. During this time I mentioned heading to the White to fish with Jeff to my friend Robert Hawkins. Robert is the proprietor of Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop and a former movie star. He’s an interesting dude who’s done quite a bit of cool things in his life so I was happy as hell when he said he got everything sorted and was able to make the trip. My buddy Scott Gobel, a local Indiana guide, mentioned wanting to check out Streamer Lovefest so we planned it out and headed south to Arkansas on the 29th.
Everyone rolled in at night and after a Wallyworld run for food and beer, we crashed hard. The next morning we hit a breakfast joint where we were treated to the ramblings of a crazy man who lives in a van by the river. It was awesome in a seek help kind of way. Curmudgeons make the world go round.
After stuffing ourselves, the 28 1/2 is the bomb if ever you find yourself there, we wadered up and hit the White. When folks talk about the massive browns in the White river they also talk about big water and the flows. It’d been warm before we got there and they weren’t generating so we were stuck fishing minimum flows where the fish spread out and you’re almost blind casting hoping to find that one fish that’s dumb enough to eat.
We fished damned hard but it just wasn’t in the cards to find a buttery brown donkeytron trout. We saw some. Holy shit did we see some monster fish. They also saw us so we saw them moving away as quickly as you move away from the guy licking pennies in the back booth at Ihop around 2am on a Tuesday morning. There are huge fish in that river and in minimum flows they sit in some odd areas. I’m sure it makes sense to them but we couldn’t figure it out.
We gave it what we had and called it a day around dusk. The prospect of beer soaked brats on a grill was sounding better and better. Maybe they’d be generating the next day, at least that was the hope. That’s the thing about hope, it floats. Reality is down below.
Check back on Thursday morning for part two and pictures from Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher’s Streamer Lovefest 2015
Saturday. You’re sitting at home watching crap tv. Don’t do that. Get up and drive to Arkansas for the 2015 Streamer Lovefest at Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher. Seriously. If you toss meaty flies to fish, you need to be there to watch some of the masters of big flies do their thing. There will also be pig. Lots of pig.