White River

Arkansas Double

Posted by John Berry on October 11th, 2014
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Most of us know what a double is. That is when two anglers in a boat or wading for that matter both hook up fish at the same time. It is shared success and a cause for celebration. It usually results in high fives, fist bumps or a yahoo. Catching them two at a time is a great way to get the body count up. My personal record, as a guide, is eleven doubles in one day. That is twenty two fish! Once, when guiding three anglers, we had a triple. Doubles are the kind of problem that you don’t mind encountering. When your biggest challenge is figuring out which fish of the two is ready to come in first, you are having a good day!

While a double is definitely a good thing, its evil twin, the Arkansas double, is not. This is when both anglers are hooked up on the same fish. It generally happens when one angler connects with a fish and it swims into the other line. The angler with the fish on can usually steer the fish in and keep it out of the way of the other angler’s line but not always. Some trout are wild and unpredictable. The danger here is that, with two anglers connected to the trout, the fish will be lost. The other problem is that the two lines will be hopelessly tangled at the end of the struggle. Most experienced anglers will pull their line in, when there is a major struggle going on, to avoid trouble.

The other way that this can occur is when the angler with no fish carelessly casts into the other anglers line. This is a rookie mistake and should be avoided at all costs. Don’t cast into another line particularly when there is a fish struggling on it. It usually takes several minutes to untangle two fishing lines and that is time, when the anglers are not catching fish.

My wife, Lori, and I had a close encounter the other day. We were fishing together and during the drift I hung the bottom with my fly. As I announced this, I started up the motor on my White River Jon boat so that I could run up stream and back my fly out of the rock that had captured it. This is standard operating procedure in my boat and I can free the fly about ninety percent of the time. It is quicker to free a fly than replace a lost one.

About the time I started the motor, Lori hooked a good rainbow. I had my fly rod in my right hand and the tiller to my Mercury outboard motor in my left. I slowly moved upstream and tried to keep my line out of harm’s way as the boat slowly inched forward. Lori was pretty busy trying to control the big trout. He had a mind of its own and made several erratic runs toward my line. I was pretty much helpless until I managed to free my fly. I quickly pulled my line into the boat and hit the kill switch on my motor allowing us to drift downstream in a more natural manner. With my hands free, I was finally able to net her fish, a fine fat twenty one inch male rainbow. The whole struggle took a few minutes and we must have looked like a couple of monkeys trying to eat a coconut!

I was not so lucky this week when I was guiding two anglers from St Louis. We caught plenty of fish and even had several doubles. The problem is that we also had two Arkansas doubles. I blame them on the hot erratic fish that we encountered on stream. In each case, their lines were so irreparably tangled that it took me ten minutes each time, to completely rerig them. Luckily we did not lose any flies.

Doubles can be a good thing or a bad one. Take care to avoid an Arkansas double. The best thing to do is watch your line when your fishing partner is hooked up and it from harm’s way when necessary.

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