White River

Two guide trips in one day

Posted by Phil Lilley on February 2nd, 2013
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The other day I found myself in a unique situation. I was required to take two separate fishing trips in one day. Both fishing situations were very different. The weather forecast was for cold temperatures in the morning and a balmy afternoon.

I began the day with a half day guide trip with Roger, an anesthesiologist from Kansas. He is basically self taught and wanted the trip to be an educational one, in order to round out his fly fishing skills. I think of myself as a teaching guide so this was right down my alley. The idea was to hone his skills in the morning and he would apply them on his own in the afternoon.

I picked him up at his lodge at a bit before 7:30 AM. The thermometer in my Suburban read twenty two degrees. I was dressed in three layers of polypropylene and fleece that was topped with a down jacket. My Elmer Phud hat, heavy wool socks and wool fingerless gloves completed my ensemble. Roger was similarly dressed but already had his waders on.

We arrived at a popular spot on the White and quickly noted that we had the river to ourselves. The sun was up and shining brightly and the water was absolutely on the bottom. We walked downstream to one of my favorite sections to fish. We started off fishing a double fly nymph rig under a strike indicator. We were into trout immediately. I pumped the stomach of the first one and noted that it had a sowbug in it. We switched out the lower fly on the double fly rig to a sowbug and we quickly picked up another trout. Then we caught one on the top fly, a cerise San Juan worm. As we fished, I coached him on his technique. I concentrated on getting him to achieve a perfect drag free drift. It was so cold that the guides on his rod would get clogged with ice from time to time. He dipped his rod in the water (at fifty seven degrees it was much warmer than the air) and shook off the excess, to clear the guides.

Once he was comfortable with this technique, we switched to fishing with a woolly bugger. While we were making this conversion, I had noted that he was left handed and I had loaned him a fly rod that was set up for fishing right handed. I went back to my car and got a left handed rod for him. I quickly rigged it for fishing a woolly bugger and gave him a quick demonstration of the proper technique. He mastered this technique quickly and soon landed a few nice trout.

I looked around and noticed some rising trout. I didn’t notice any insects, so I concluded that the trout were keying in on emerging insects. The best way to target emergers is to fish soft hackles or emergers (both are fished the same way). I rerigged his rod for soft hackles (I started with a green butt) and demonstrated the technique for him. He was into a trout immediately and quickly realized that this was his new favorite way to fish. We caught several and though I tried to get him to try a different technique, he stuck with this one. We tried several different flies and did the best with Dan’s turkey tail emerger.

A little after noon, it was time to quit. I drove Roger back to his lodge. It had been a great morning. He had learned a lot and I had truly enjoyed fishing with him. We had a lot in common with our past military service. He had been a flight surgeon in the Air Force and I had been a engineer in the Army. As I drove home, I noticed that the temperature has risen to fifty five degrees.

When I arrived home, I quickly learned that my wife, Lori, wanted to go fishing. I quickly ate a pastrami on rye for lunch and traded my down coat for a lighter jacket while she got her gear together and loaded it into my car. We drove over to Round House Shoals. This is only a few blocks from our house in Cotter and is the first place that Lori and I fished together. We carried our walkie-talkies so that we could fish far from each other and still stay in contact.

As we walked in we realized the Lori’s favorite spot was occupied. The warm sunny afternoon had drawn several anglers to the water. My spot was vacant and I waded over to it. Lori decided to fish another spot a half mile downstream. The fishing was very slow but I managed to land a couple of trout. I decided to fish down to where Lori was fishing. I picked up another rainbow in the process. When I neared her location, she got on her walkie-talkie and asked how I had done. I told her and she said that she had not landed a single fish. This is unusual for Lori. I fished another section with no success.

I walked over to her location and sat on the bank to watch her fish. She fished hard but had no luck. We decided to walk back to her favorite spot. We passed our lawyer and fellow fly fisher, Drew Pierce who was sitting on the bank waiting for something to happen. We chatted for a while and then moved on. When we got to the riffle, she was disappointed to see someone nymphing it. She decided to fish just downstream. As luck would have it, the other angler moved out and Lori waded into her favorite spot. She took a minute to rig a Dan’s turkey tail emerger on her Winston rod. She was immediately on fish and over the next thirty minutes she landed four rainbows. She had redeemed herself and I had enjoyed watching her fish from my comfortable seat on the bank. The sun was starting to set, as we walked out hand in hand.

It had been a busy day on the river but I had enjoyed every minute of it. I am ready to do it all again.

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