Norfork with Johnny and Jim

The Toad Fly Shop 501-499-6914

I had planned to take a day and float the Norfork after the Conway Fly Fishing Film Festival.  A float down the river always seems to get my head back in order and yesterday was no different.

We arrived at the river just in time to catch Matt Millner of Jamie Rouse Fly Fishing Adventures heading out on the maiden voyage of Supreme Boats new “Predator” drift boat.  I have been talking to Rob (the owner of Supreme) about the new boat and was very excited to actually see one.  I like the looks of it.  Matt said last night on Facebook that he was very pleased with it on high and low water.  I am supposed to have one here at the shop around the end of the month and will be selling them shortly after. I will be writing a blog post with more info on the boat as soon as I get it on the water.

The water was up so we dropped the boat in the water. While Jim and Johnny were gearing up the rods, I took the Truck and trailer down stream and caught a shuttle back to the boat from Dominic from Two Rivers.  The thing I always loved about Two Rivers was Jim (the old owner) and his big, bushy, white, trout wizard beard.  He always had a few tips for how the river was fishing that he would lay upon you as he drove you back up river.  I have to admit I have a little touch of beard envy.  I will blame  it on the fact that my wife doesnt like it when I try to let it grow out.  The fact is I dont believe I have the genetics to grow a good one. Anyways, it is somewhat appropriate that the new owner, Dominic would seem to be a younger version of Jim with a big, bushy, brown, trout apprentice beard and a slightly thicker southern accent.

I arrived back to the boat, jumped in and gave a guy some tips on where to fish since the river was up, and pushed off.  The fishing was a little tough at first.  We hung around the upper part of the river a little too long but got some good time in on learning exactly what to be looking for with a sight indicator.  That little bit of extra time would both payoff and hurt us a little later on. Johnny hung a few fish and landed a couple of them.  The miracle fly seemed to be the ticket at the head of the river as it was over run with powerbait fishers and the miracle fly seems to mimic the power bait.  On down the river we went.

The water started falling as soon as we started downriver.  Falling water for me has always been somewhat of a bad time to fish.  The next hour was no different. We pulled over just above McClellans and had some summer sausage, beverages and some laughs. Johnny is full of good fishing stories.

We pulled over at the first shoal and swapped out flies till we found the magic mixture of feathers and fur.  Jim and I went at th shoal first as Johnny was hesitant to put on the his waders.  Johnny was content to watch us pulling in 12 to 15″ rainbows and take in the scenery of the colors of fall on a deceptively warm fall day.  The next few events would inspire him to suit up.  First, Jim, while learning to adjust from setting the hook on bass, broke his fly, tippet and thingambobber off on a fish.  The fish disappeared into the pool and was gone.  Then after rigging back up, Jim and I both doubled up on 15″ rainbows.  After landing them and releasing them back into the water, Johnny said “did y’all lose a thingamabobber?” He pointed out about 15 feet out in front of me a white thingamabobber still tethered to a fish.  I tried to walk towards it but it swam upstream about 10 feet.  I was fishing a weighted “Extra Crispy” so I hollered back to Johnny for a witness and said, “Watch this.”  Now most of the time you here someone from the South yells, “Watch this!”,  a camcorder is usually handy as an event  is fixing to transpire that could earn you some money on Americas Funniest Videos.  However, no alcohol was involved so the events were pretty tame but still entertaining none the less.  I cast up-stream just above the Sight indicator and let the line drift back over the tether and jerked to snag the indicator.  It took two casts but I snagged the line and indicator and released the fish free and clear.  I had no more released that fish and Jim hung another.  He fought the rainbow for a few minutes then landed and released it.  He cast back up and the Thingamabobber stopped and the hook was set.

“Is it a Fish?”

“I don’t Know”

The indicator  moved forward a foot and the rod bent over with the pressure.

“yep, it’s a fish!”

“Do you need the net”

“I don’t….” the water boiled ahead of the indicator and started to take out line off the reel, “Oh yeah, I need the net!”

After a few minutes the fish was laying in the bottom of the net.  “13 at the head and 5 at the tail, that’s an 18″ Brownie!”

Johnny started slipping on his waders.

I pulled the boat down river to get ready to float the next stretch of the river.  Jim and Johnny continued to fish above the pool.  We jumped back into the boat and set off.  A few 100 yards down stream Johnny enticed a very nice rainbow into taking his fly.  A nice hookset and the fish went airborne.  I would say that the fish realistically went over 20 inches.  I would also say that the rule that a fish tends to grow in size the farther one gets from the river makes me think the fish  was closer to 24 to 26 inches.  Either way it was a nice fish that through the hook before we could land it.  We caught a few more before Johnny landed a fish “with a nice set of shoulders”.  A 17″ beautifully marked Rainbow.

“just take the Picture”

  We fished some more but the time we spent at the head of the river had caught up with us.  The light was fading and with no flow on the river it was going to take a lot of rowing and dragging to get to the dock.  As we rounded a corner we got to watch a decent buck fording the river.  As he reached the island he stopped and turn to watch us.  The deer and I sat there for a moment and studied each other with calming sounds of the rushing water coming over the shoal behind us in the background.  The picture was somewhat similar of a painting that you would see in an Outdoor Life magazine.  It would have to  be a painting because moments like that are seldom captured on camera as the participants are usually wise enough to take the time to just enjoy the image unfold before them.  The true beauty of nature is seldom captured on film anyway.  Man has yet to be able to capture the full range of colors, sounds, smells and feel of nature that combine to make the time spent in there seem more like an investment in ones own soul.  As some turkeys took roost in the trees behind us we pushed on forward.  While pushing on down through Ackerman access, the boat got to moving a little faster than I wanted and clipped my legs and into the drink I went.  The same thing that waders keep dry, stay wet with waders on.  I was thankful that we were close to the confluence and a the pullout point.

After a good meal at the Wing Shack in Mt View, the drive home and a hot shower I hit the sack.  Tired eyes and arms hit the pillow at what seemed to be the  same time the alarm went off.  Rise and shine.

Stop by the shop and we will try to help you get a rod bent.  New Stuff will be coming in from Montana Fly Company next week.  Come by and make your wish list so whoever is shopping for you gets the things that you want put under the tree. $10 Toad fly Tees Sunday afternoon.  Come check out the Conway Downtown area Sunday after Church.  Enjoy some good food and shopping as The Downtown area gets ready for the Christmas season.  1-5 Sunday afternoon.

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