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
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
Water Color: Blue in the deep spots....visibility a good 3-4 feet
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Cutthroat
Pattern Fished: Threw the box again but the Tucker got ALL the fish
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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,
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
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
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...
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
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!
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.
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!
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
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).
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!
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!
Tomorrow...drift boat on the Spring River!