White River

Good Day FIshing in the Rain

Posted by John Berry on September 3rd, 2011
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John Berry

Don gave me a call to see if I could guide him and his buddy, Allen, during Sowbug. I told him that I was committed to tying flies and giving seminars for the three full days but that I could guide him on the Sunday after Sowbug. We agreed and booked the trip. The weather and fishing during the Roundup were spectacular. Every day I sat in the main tying room cranking out flies and talking to attendees. Over and over I heard just how perfect the weather was and how the fishing was even better.

I heard tales of incredible caddis fly hatches and fifty fish days on dry flies. The Corps of Engineers was cooperating and providing a never ending supply of low wadable water. I had heard of the perfect storm but never the perfect fishing conditions. All the time, I was stuck with the other fly tyers and North Arkansas Fly Fishers volunteers wishing that we could wet a line.

On Sunday, the weather turned bad and a storm front moved in. When I picked the guys up it was raining. It wasn’t the hard sideways rain, like we got in Viet Nam. It was a gentler, slow soaking rain that was none the less relentless. It was also about twenty degrees colder than the previous few days. Gone was the sunshine that all of us had taken for granted. We realized that it was going to be a wet cold day. The guys were positive and were committed to having a good time. I was glad to be outside and, since I had good rain gear and heavy fleece, the weather didn’t bother me.

We decided to fish Rim Shoals, as it had been fishing well lately. There was no generation on the White River and it was very low. In fact, it was as low as I have seen it for a long time. Donald had undergone a knee replacement recently and was having a bit of a problem with the other knee as well. I therefore launched my river boat, so that we could motor over to the island and avoid a sporty wade. I thought this would be significantly easier on Donald’s knee.

We walked down the island to one of my favorite spots. This is the place where I fish, if I can wade, on my day off. I rigged him up with a caddis pupa because we had been getting a solid caddis hatch every afternoon around two in the afternoon. Don was into a good fish almost immediately. I netted it for him and then took Allen down stream to another spot nearby. He hooked a good fish right off. I always breathe a sigh of relief when all of my clients have landed a fish. The morning went well. Donald landed a solid twenty inch rainbow and Allen held his own with several nice trout. About noon, we decided to break for lunch. Donald was having a bit of difficulty with his knee and I knew we would have to change things up in the afternoon.

We walked back up to the boat and ferried over to the ramp. I directed the guys to take shelter at the Rim Shoals Trout Dock pavilion. I went over to my ancient Volvo and grabbed my cooler and my guide box that contained the bread, chips and cookies. We sat at a picnic table and ate our lunch. It was nice to be out of the unrelenting rain, even if it was only for a few minutes. I took off my gloves and wrung them out. We relaxed for a few minutes. It was time to get back in the action. Despite the rain we had landed around twenty good fish. The guys were upbeat but Donald was not prepared for any further wading.

We decided to finish the day fishing from the boat. The river was lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut and there were not many spots where we could run the boat. I headed up to Red Bud Shoals. I knew that it would be loaded with fish. I got in the main channel and began my drift. Donald hit a good trout immediately. Allen was right behind him with a good fish. We kept drifting the same water and picked up one or more fish on each drift. There were several doubles and the action was constant all afternoon. The trout were a bit smaller than in the morning. They made up for their size with their enthusiasm and tough fighting abilities.

The rain was having its effect on the river. I noticed that there was some run off coming in at several spots which were starting to muddy the river. We carefully avoided those areas and stayed in clear water. It paid off. About five PM the guys were ready to pull the plug. Thy said that neither of them had ever had that good of a day. We boated well over fifty fish.

Based on the weather, I had not expected much of a day of fishing when I picked up the guys that morning. I was proven wrong. A positive attitude and good rain gear made lemonade out of lemons. Don’t let a little rain interfere with your fishing. Remember the fish are already wet.

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