White River

First time

Posted by John Berry on May 25th, 2013
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Last Saturday I had a guide trip with a couple of guys from Arkansas. Carter was an accomplished angler from North West Arkansas, who is a marketing executive that calls on Wal-Mart. He wanted to go fishing and introduce his lifelong friend, Josh, a teacher in Flippin, to fly fishing. Josh was a little bit out of his comfort zone. He was a spin fisherman, who had never tried fly fishing. He did not know what to expect but was willing to try. We met at McDonalds at 7:30 AM and we headed for Rim Shoals immediately. There was a heavy fog on the river, the sky was overcast and the temperature was in the mid sixties. The forecast called for partly cloudy skies, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The Corps of Engineers was running about 5,500 cubic feet per second (a little less than two full generators).

The first order of business was to give a quick casting class. I concentrated on Josh and worked with him until he could effectively cast twenty feet of line. This took a few minutes. This was not the depth of training that my wife, Lori, and I give when teaching our fly fishing classes at ASU. It was just enough instruction to get him going. The plan was to have him sit next to me in the boat, so that I could work with him throughout the day, as we fished. I had Carter cast and quickly realized that he was a competent caster and needed no instruction from me.

We walked back to my boat and I readied it to be launched. I then took a few minutes to rig Carter’s fly rod and I also rigged one of my loaner rods for Josh. I started with a seven and one half foot 4X leader and I tied an eighteen inch 5X tippet. To that I tied a hot fluorescent pink San Juan worm and attached an AAA split shot above the tippet knot. I added an eighteen inch 5X tippet to the bend of the hook on the worm and then tied on a size sixteen prince nymph. Finally, I slipped on a medium Thingamabobber and set the depth from the prince nymph to the strike indicator at six and one half feet. I then launched the boat.

We motored upstream to the top of the Catch and Release section and began our drift down. Carter hooked and landed a nice trout about half way down. Josh missed a couple of fish and I concentrated my efforts on improving his skills. I coached him on how to mend his line and achieve a perfect drag free drift. I also talked to him about when and how to set the hook. Near the end of the drift he hooked a nice rainbow. I carefully coached him on how to smoothly get the trout on the reel and how to get it to the net. He was excited and pleased when he landed his first trout on a fly rod. He had not expected to have such early success.

Throughout the day, I worked with Josh. Each time he hooked a fish, I gave him pointers on how to land it. If he lost one I explained what went wrong and how to correct it. He was a quick learner and didn’t repeat many mistakes. There were a few tangles but I was able to correct them soon enough. Carter did well without much intervention on my part, except for netting trout and selecting flies.

We finished the day with around thirty trout brought to the net. There were several nice ones including a stout nineteen incher. Josh accounted for eight of them. I would say that it had been a successful first day of fly fishing. Josh was hooked and ready to go out again.

John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over thirty years. John can be reached at (870) 435-2169 or http://www.berrybrothersguides.com.

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