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7-17-04 - Fly Rod & Reel's 2004 Trout Bum Team Ozark Chronicles meets the boys from up north...Team Chronic Smack!

Waters Fished: Little Red River (aka. Greers Ferry Tailwater)
Fish Caught: A SOLID dozen!
Outing Date: 7-17-04
Weather: SUNNY & HOT
Air Temp: around 90F
Water Temp: didn't take them
Water Level: started at LOW stage, bumped up to high EARLY in the day!
Water Color: Blue in the deep spots....visibility a good 3-4 feet easily
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout?
Pattern Fished: Threw the box again but the Tucker got ALL the fish AGAIN!
Pattern Color: It's a Tucker Nymph...if you don't know by now go hit the fly patterns page!
Fishing Quality: consistently FUN (till the water kicked up!)

Just a bit of background for the reader who's checkin' this out a year later and has NO CLUE what's going on. Matt Tucker and I have been trying to fish since last year but the shedules never worked out! Finally, one day back in late May, he asks if I'd like to come fish the Spring River on July 18th. Well hey, my calendar is wide open then...yes I would. I tell him I have to bring Rich (Fat) because Rich has been talking about hitting the Ozark Tailwaters since like February. Then Matt tells me that he and Brent McClane have been selected as one of the teams for the 2004 Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament and that we'll be fishing with them during their 10 day run...I cheerfully suggest that they should bum a WI drift boat (FAT's), we all start doing some fundraising and well, we're finally hours away from our first face-to-face meeting!

Ah yes....another night and FAT and I are again DRIVING! We knew this one was going to be a total BIACH....those windy Arkansas highways...sure the speed limit is 55 in many spots but that would be SUICIDE in the Bronco. Top it off with the fact that we're going DEEPER into the south.

Part of our prior night's Walmart stop included posterboards...we knew we were going to use something and give Team Ozark Chronicles a rude awakening upon our arrival; they're not fishin with 2 random anglers, instead their fishin' with Team....Team...????

Well who exactly are we? Afterall, as you all know from the Pet Fly Smackdown, I captain The Smokin' Tahoe, while Rich is ringleader of the Fat Tribe. The first obvious choice...we'd be Team Smokin' FAT. Naw...FAT Smokin'? We spent MOST if not all of the 2 hour + drive trying to come up with the team name. Team Carpetbaggers got floated, and was definitely a good one with the North vs. South Raffle Challenge going. Only problem...I must admit not even I knew what a Carpetbagger was. FAT filled me in...excellent but I kinda thought it might go over most folks' heads. We called Wenk at like 3:30 AM his time 'cause he has a BA in History and despite that BA the best synonym he could come up with for Carpetbagger was Yank. Team Yank or Yankee? NO WAY.

Team Leech got floated for a while...kinda good...figured we were leechin' off the Real Trout Bums. But in the end, Team CHRONIC SMACK - Unofficial 2004 Trout Bums - this would be our team name! For those who just don't get it, here are all the ways it works. First, there's the obvious...we're comin' to put the hurt AKA SMACKdown on Team Ozark CHRONICles. Then there's the fact that well, we're CHRONIC SMACK talkers. Top that off with the fact that I like to call Matt's Ozark Chronicles Readers a bunch of Ozark Chronic Junkies :) Oh and last but arguably the best...what fly had Matt and Brent been having so much success with on prior days? A little pattern called "Trout Crack".

So we arrived at JFK Park on the Little Red River probably 2:30, maybe 3:00, I don't remember. Someone was actually awake at the gate...Rich talked to her for a bit and then we motored into the park. Found the boat launch...wow that's a steep hill. The fog was DENSE!

Sitting there was the other evening Park Attendant...and to be honest I don't have his name! He suggested that if we were going to fish right now we should go up to the waterfall..they'd been having good luck there. FAT and I got out on a platform that hung mysteriously in the mist...broke out the spotlight and only then could we see the water...like 30 feet below us?!

Well we weren't going to fish right then...so time to crash in the Bronco. I was a bit worried that since we were sleeping in the car, they might want to collect a camping fee from us...when the camp attendant came through later that evening/morning I was up walking around, having a smoke, looked like I was awake ;)

Don't know how we got up that morning, but we did and it was still early. The plan was to meet Team OC at the Dam around 7:30 AM. Only problem I had was that the road to the dam was closed...I tried calling several times that night but didn't reach the boys...cell reception was nonexistent. So I hoped they'd find us.

We motored back towards the gate and found a nice spot to park the Bronco and get ready while waiting for the boys. As we pulled up...Rich goes "what are those, Crows? No wait...those are ravens."

I interjected with, "NO, those are VULTURES!" Man they were EVERYWHERE. Didn't seem to mind me snappin' pictures while Rich prepared our Team Chronic Smack ceremonial check & Bronco signage. Heck I even got a few bills paid.

7-16-04 - Look at the HUGE crows.....

Ravens?

Naw....VULTURES!

It was about that time that I noticed some guys getting out of a truck that had some white writing on the windows....seeing the words "Brent" on the driver's side cab was all it took for me to know we had just found Team OC.

So what else can I say about meeting Team OC? Nothin' except right from the start these guys were awesome. We did a bit of ceremonial photography, the guys got to check out the Rambling Reports Conglomerate Rod Combo and well what next to do but HIT THE RIVER!

It took a lot of brains to come up with our "2004 Unofficial Trout Bum" name - Team "Chronic Smack". At the time FAT and I had directly raised $625 in raffle sales to help out Team Ozark Chronicles.

Fatman does his Vanna White impression...

Official Presentation of Raffle Prizes brought down by Team Chronic Smack.

Official Presentation of the Team Chronic Smack Check for Hooked on a Cure!

McClane puts the "Friends of the Rambling Reports" rod together.

Brent is taken aback by the combo...man it looks incredible in person..he thought he'd never fish a flashy rod like that. I think we just made a convert outta him!

Tucker takes a gander at the rod (thanks yet again to all who helped me put this together for Team OC, Hooked on a Cure & St. Jude's)

Brent showing off more bummed gear, a William Joseph Coastal Pack (I gotta say, I want one!)

Wait, I could've sworn we weren't on the Root River?!

Matt T and Rich opted to go for the Dam. Meanwhile, I was having a raging case of the Bamboo Palace...had to find an outhouse or SOMETHING!

A marvel of modern engineering.

After that, I made my way down to the water. I was pretty sure that, if I red the regs right, this should be C&R Single Fly Barbless fishin' only, but I happened to be rigged with a dropper. Just as I'm cuttin' it off (while walking upstream) a friendly AR Game Warden stopped me for my license. Man I'm glad I had it with me....sounds like some other folks didn't have theirs!

I finally found Brent upstream. He had staked out some prime water...the 3rd downstream outflow of the fish hatchery. Immediately up until this point folks were baitfishing and harvesting. There was clear signage denoting the area UPSTREAM of that outflow to be C&R Only. Maybe there's 4 outflows and this was the 4th? Well, it seems that the signage and enforcement coincide...so maybe I need learn the river some more.

Brent was dead drifting the "Trout Crack" in the outflow under a small yarn indicator...I quickly followed suit and in no time I too was on fish. Honestly it reminded me of the outflows at Bennett Spring in Zone 2...STACKED with small fish. As it happens, there were also some real NICE fish cruising the area.

So I couldn't give you a play-by-play if I tried...we hooked a LOT of fish. Two young men walked up to Brent and asked him what he was doing (they had already seen HOW he was doing). Man Brent spent like the next hour teaching them how he was rigging, casting, and WHY he was doing it the way he was. Once they got set up, these two became trout catchin' machines!

McClane is whackin' rainbows in no time!

Brent McClane has possibly found his calling...

McClane gives Zack Birge and Brett Daniels some crack...TROUT CRACK!

Basically I fished the Tucker Nymph the entire time. No way I even bothered with pictures of ALL the fish, but nice Ozark Stocker Bows seemed to be the most prevalent variety in the outflows.

OOOOOODLES of rainbows.

Any one of these would be a fantastic catch most places.

Again, I can't help but admire the fact that Stocker Bows in the Ozarks have tons of color compared to IA.

As I mentioned earlier, mixed in with these average keeper trout were NICE fish...I saw several big bows and a large brown cruising around. Brent and I were slowly trying different pockets, eddies and seams...as I moved farther from shore I started sighting the unmistakable brookies...the white edges totally give them away. Brent also told me what a Cutthroat would look like underwater...more golden. I also figured they'd have orange ventrals and such. Sure enough, I saw a few fish I can safely say were cutthroat. As I'm watching all this go on, I noticed a large rainbow move in and take up a feeding position underneath on of the small riffles from the outflow. I repositioned and with some effort found the right drift....I even got to see the take as the mouth opened, white appeared and Tucker Nymph slid right in. I knew I had this fish.

Man was the fight on....this was a BIG rainbow. It went airborn twice, twirling like a ballarina. This fish even took a fair amount of line...man that BBS IV drag sounds NICE! Brent is watching and asks, "Do you have a net?" At least that's what I thought he said.

I replied "Naw" and Brent just kept on fishing.....um....I looked over at him and said something to the effect of "A little help here?". Turns out didn't ask me if I had a net, he asked me if I NEEDED A NET! OH YEAH, on this one I sure did! We didn't measure it, just took few quick photos as this was without a doubt a new personal best for an Inland Rainbow Trout. STUNNING Fish. Release to swim again, and Brent and I are back to chasing the Arkansas Grand Slam (Rainbow, Brown, Brookie, Cut).

Now THIS is what the Ozarks are all about. BIG fish!

That's a new personal best for Inland Rainbow Trout.
(Copyright 2004 Brent McClane)

Back to whackin' stockers.

Brent and I were both on the hunt for the slam, we both had the rainbow thing down...the brookies were holding farther out. McClane went out far while I started working the edges of the gravel delta that is the outflow. In no time Brent came back to shore with his brookie and I documented it in the run for the grand slam (it's good to have proof!). Right after that, he picked up a couple TINY rainbows...I'm not sure if they're successfully reproducing or just stocking them small, but Team OC had pledges for each fish under 8".

McClane's quest for the Ozark Grand Slam had to be documented...

McClane's first brookie for the morning!

Team OC had pledges for every fish UNDER 8".

Not to be outdone by the home team, I took had to get in on the action if I was going to get the grand slam. The further out I went the more brookies I could see...man the river is LOADED with them up here...and some are considerable in size! While McClane was now out in Midstream I was still working the closer fish...he hooks up and I hook up...more brookies! After that we started looking for Cutthroat and browns. I could see what I though was a Cut or two hanging out...but every time I went for it I got another RAINBOW instead!

My brookie...all I need now is a brown and a cutthroat. I saw both cruising around.

McClane finally moves to get to bigger & better fish.

Still more stockers for MP.

Brent continued to pound water midstream and hooked up with fish after fish..he wanted a bigger brookie than his first and he thought he'd get it...now that he "had the drift down". Well, he did indeed get some nice brookies...I'm still chasing the cutthroat and still coming up with only rainbows.

That's a nice brookie (and honestly, this one's tiny compared to some McClane landed).

I won't get tired of Ozark Rainbows anytime soon. Fantastic variety of coloration.

More Stocker Rainbows....

I kinda wondered what was going on upstream...I turned to look behind me and there is NO ONE fishing the special regs water between here and the bend in the river. Meanwhile McClane is intent to catch every fish in the deep pocket midstream!

Brent had the water all to himself...

Nice Cast!

I smell more brookies for McClane.

I gave him a shout and let him know I was going upstream. As I walked up the fish populations were much thinner and the structure of the river changed...out in the center it all looked deep and blue. At first I didn't notice anything special about the fish up here, but as I got closer and closer to the next outflow the fish just got bigger and brighter! I took some pics, caught another one, and then went down to get McClane.

So this is probably the first time I'll use McClane's new full name - Ringer McClane. He stepped in at the outflow and the sirens went off....high water coming. We quickly surveyed the landscape and found a path that lead up and out right there, so we were OK to fish right up until the water rose. Ringer set up and in 4 casts hooked 4 nice fish. UNREAL! As the water slowly started to come up, we kept backing up towards the hill (and the path)...while I'm flogging water and not getting squat Ringer is STILL hooking up. I had to pretty much insist that he back up and cross the confluence as the water had gone from being at his feet to his waist in about 2 minutes....thankfully the current here was still slow...the roaring torrent of river was out in the middle. A couple nice shots by the outflow (that looks more like a waterfall) and our morning on the Little Red was officially done!

I did manage yet another rainbow.

I kid you not, McClane stepped in just before the water rose and tagged EVERY FISH in this picture. Trout Crack is Trout Crack.

What you can't tell here is that Brent is getting soaked by the middle hatchery outflow.

We made it out and started to head back to the park entrance where we were parked figuring that we'd find FAT and Tucker there. Along the way we ran into those two nice young men from earlier and shot a picture of their trophy...yeah they had been working a nice rainbow and got it on the trout crack! After that, we found our buddies camped out with the really friendly park attendant we met overnight. We recuperated in the shade, I got my mail sent, and then we decided that lunch was more important than running downriver to fish for another hour or two before the water came up. So we packed it up, headed into town and found McPherson's restaurant....McClane was successful in bumming lunch at the buffet for all FOUR of us and let me tell you now..it was GOOD eats too! My personal favorites - the Taco Salad, the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, and the Chicken Fingers which were out of this world....and no this isn't just a hungry fisherman talking...the food was really that good.

Brett Daniels and a monster rainbow hooked on Trout Crack.

Hey Brent, how big was that brookie???

Man if McPherson's wasn't the BEST buffet I've ever had! Owner Jackie McPherson covered us all...and suggested we come back to hit the Walleye (and breakfast!)!

So the decision was then made...it's time to make the drive to Mammoth Spring and the Spring River. We had people to meet, and rather than go absolutely nuts in the morning Team OC figured this was best...a nice leisurely drive over...with LOTS of bumming. I got set up to start Tying while driving, but those winding Arkansas roads...

Team OC at The Ozark Angler!

First stop was right down the street. Among all the other pledges, Team Ozark Chronicles was getting donations for each fly shop they hit along the way. Brent and Tucker were officially OUT of Trout Crack and they didnt' have what they needed to tie it.

The nice guy at The Ozark Angler was all to happy to help out the Trout Bums. They got everything they needed PLUS some cool stuff they just wanted...ALL BUMMED! I volunteered to manufacture Trout Crack while driving...easier said than done. We got back on those twisting Arkansas roads...I got through three of the flies before having to take a break!

The fine folks at Carter's Cave City Watermelons donated one of the World's Sweetest Watermelons to our posse!

You saw it here first....McClane and his new child.

Later on in the drive, with about 2 more trout cracks coming off the vice, McClane pulled a pit stop. We were in Cave City, "Home of the World's Sweetest Watermelons". Mr. Bum decided he just HAD to bum one of the world's sweetest watermelons. After explaining the Trout Bum tourney, the nice folks at Carter's Cave City Watermelons contributed a huge yellow watermelon to the posse. More photo-ops, and then BACK to the sign when we entered town for even MORE photos! Gotta love it!

And we're BACK ON THE ROAD! Yup, it's a nice long drive almost all the way back to Missouri! About an hour or more later we FINALLY arrived at our destination...the entire time I've been tying Trout Crack. Brent and Matt saw what I was up to through the trip and decided they simply must take some photos.

On the road with Team OC....

Half-baked Trout Crack on the vice!

We have to show off the Visor Vice again....

While McClane and Tucker checked into the Riverview Motel, I continued to work on the Trout Crack. My goal, a solid dozen for our trip tomorrow on the Spring River. We found Ron Caimi of Trout Camp Rods - he was to meet up with us and fish tomorrow too!

2 hours worth of Trout Crack.

Bill & Bonnie Gildersleeve with Team OC - talk about a sweet place to stay when fishin' the Spring River.

After finishing the Trout Crack, Rich and I both bummed showers from Caimi! While FAT was cleaning up, I got a first look at the stunning Trout Camp Bamboo Fly Rod that Ron was donating as the Grand Prize for the Team Ozark Chronicles Raffle

I think we all agreed, this rod was SWEET. Everyone took a great notice of the sweet split-tone reel seat that Ron had turned. This was probably my first time holding a bamboo rod in 16 years...I forgot how they feel. In one word, SUBSTANTIAL.

I first noticed that this rod is much heavier than a graphite rod. No flex in the butt section when it's unassembled...it's SOLID. I put on the midsection and still the rod is solid...no flex! All of a sudden when I attached the tip section the rod took on an entirely different feel..."whippy" does not describe it. "Delicate" does. The tip made the entire rod one HUGE shock absorber, flexing all the way down to the handle. I could tell that no fish was going to break off on 2lb. tippet with this..the rod would soak up all that energy long before the tippet got stressed enough to snap. Wow, and then Team OC arrived at Ron's room and we went through the whole process again (and this time I shot pics).

Break out Caimi's Bamboo ROD. Sorry Tucker, after the laugh we ALL had over this pic I simply MUST include it here (I think every man in the room was cryin'!)

Caimi's SAWEEET Reel Seat!

Trout Camp full wells grip!

Ron claims his handwriting sucks (don't see how it can be worse than mine) so the one nontraditional touch on this rod...a label ;)

Silk Wraps, handrubbed and varnished finish, traditional hardware, simply a stunner!

Ron Caimi and Tucker discuss this modern-made old-time rod....I never knew flaming the culm made the rod stiffer!

Once again, you can tell Tucker is a gear geek!

McClane gives this rod more than his seal of approval.

RAMBLING REPORTS recommended and endorsed....TROUT CAMP RODS!

After drooling over this $825 fly rod, we all decided we were hungry. Matt was convinced that we all needed to get some of the best catfish and hushpuppies in Arkansas at Fred's Fish House just up the road. I can't bore you with the details of dinner except for the following...Brent has decided that his new baby, AKA Watermelon, should be brought to dinner and fed to anyone and everyone in the restaurant. I think it caught EVERYONE in the place by surprise when Brent walked in carrying the beast.

Iced Tea all around followed by "Fiddlers" (small whole fried catfish) for most of us, although Tucker opted to go for the all-you-can-eat fried catfish (I think even better than a Fiddler). Samantha, our waitress, was truly in fine form...she put up with 5 bums who were eatin' for free....did I mention it was her 19th Birthday? Of course McClane and Brent insisted that she join us for some birthdaywatermelon!

McClane is takin' his baby to dinner...it's a shame we'll be eatin' it!

Once again Team OC successfully bums dinner for the entire posse (now FIVE folks) at Fred's Fish House in Mammoth Spring.

Dessert time...Ron and Matt P. dig into McClane's baby...the World's Sweetest YELLOW watermelon (tastes like cantaloup).
(Copyright 2004 Brent McClane)

Matt P and Matt T look at FAT's plate...
(Copyright 2004 Brent McClane)

Looks like this fruit gets the FATMAN stamp of approval!
(Copyright 2004 Brent McClane)

Samantha, our waitress, turns 19.

Figuring we had probably stayed our welcome and then some, the bums did something truly un-bumlike...a nice (and I mean NICE) tip was left for Samantha. By this time it was dark, we were all FAT and happy...time to head back to the Riverview and stick a fork in this day...it's done!

Break out the Budwieser! Tucker gave us all a slideshow of their prior days on the water (including all the pics from today) AND showed us each and every daily check in, just in case we had any doubt that they had been keeping up. FAT brought in a hex he had found outside...talk about one heavily-photographed mayfly!

But I think the real topper for the evening was when we all got ready for bed and for once, relaxed long enough to become sucked into a TV...of course what did we find to watch? HOT LINES on Spike TV. Um there was free diving followed by racing followed by a YELLOWFIN TUNA CHARTER! I don't know if it was the program or 9 days of fishin (I think it was the 9 days) but Team OC was totally in a daze!

Matt Tucker is going' doing the Trout Bum Check In thing....

FAT found the Hex!

The posse unwinds with what I deem to be my new favorite fishing show....Hot Lines on Spike TV. I admit it, I'm a guy (I know, the hair may be leading some of you to think otherwise...)

Tomorrow...drift boat on the Spring River!

  MP 

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