Norfork Tailwater – This river as changed in a big way, and I think for the better, “as far as structure goes”.

•December 1, 2011 • 3 Comments

I’ve been over to Norfolk a few times since AGFC has made changes to the river. If you read my latest fishing report I touched a little on the upper part having some changes, but there are also some changes down at Cook’s hole, the last island in the trophy area, as well.  Because of the heavy winds the last few times I’ve been over there, we only waded and used the boat for a shuttle. During this last go around it worked well even though we had heavy winds blowing upstream.  However, I do like wind because of the chop.  I always use this to my advantage and it usually produces good results.  We didn’t put in until 11 or so because I wanted the water to drop out from the water they ran until 10am. I like it to be good and ready so the fish have adjusted to the falling water. Normally if you are fishing in these types of conditions the bite can be slow so I just wait it out.  It’s the patient thing this sport is teaching me the longer I’m learning it.

Cloud cover was the norm for the day and I guess I like that for streamer fishing, but we didn’t have the right conditions for that.  I always like sight casting when fishing an indicator rig in the sun. Dries were out because it was too windy, so we fished hard on the bottom and covered every inch of the half mile we decided to fish.  We had roughly five hours and it went by fast. We still could’ve fished spots longer. The good thing we had on our side was the weather.  It kept everyone off the river but us and two other people.  We almost had the entire river to ourselves and that is always a positive sign for what is to come.  As soon as we put in I actually rowed up to the first shoal.  This current is some of the best for this whole upper part and it gets pressured like crazy.  Using the boat to stay on the drift helps for staying on longer drifts, which is crucial when searching out bigger fish.  Nobody really fishes the far side and that is where I like to fish the slack water where I think the potential fish is holding in the particular pool. We weren’t surprised pulling out two fish on the first drift. We continued down the river fishing the far bank from the boat ramp. Our third fish was a solid brown that Will from this date as a fly fisherman as never caught.  So this day was a good day for him.  His first brown being quality is something you will always cherish.

As we continued through the day, we floated downstream and fished as we made our way down to the tailout before entering the next group of shoals. This new stretch has become deeper with a lot more deeper pools for big fish to stack up in; and because it’s on a hillside top it makes for shady cover for half the day… all positive signs in my book.  So I guess you could say we spent the majority of the day fishing this new spot that looked intriguing. Brad was able to hook a brown too, but Will got him today.  All in all they both had a good day spending time as friends over the Thanksgiving holidays. So check this spot out next time you plan on fishing Norfork tailwater, but always be safe and plan an escape route if they decide to generate water.

Cook’s Island

Some people I’ve heard like the new structure, but others don’t.  It’s always a catch “22” when rivers change.  I always think for the better in the long run and I would believe this to be the case for all rivers. We’ve had a lot of flooding over the last four years and each time they open the flood gates we can expect change. We guides have to learn new holes (which are the best part) and learn how to navigate the whole river all over again. One thing I have notice on Taneycomo is that there are more areas to fish downstream than ever before. It’s still hard to access and can be done from a boat, but this new stretch in low water can find yourself lost like you do fishing the shoals at Wildcat on the White.  Same with Norfork.  Lot’s more to do as if we didn’t have a lot of shoals already. To me, this is hands down the best fly water that actually makes you feel like only fly fisherman belong on this body of water.  NFOW would be second on my list.

The main thing I see as far as what AGFC has to do is keep these banks from eroding during the higher water floods.  Around the island are tons of boulders that change the way trout hold. There are a few other spots around that created sick holding lies. You have to float to see what I’m talking about.  I think the main thing that has to happen to all rivers that made the most significant changes will be pebble rock piling up and changing the shape of the rivers.  Along with fill in, this has made navigation a challenge big time, but not that bad for drift boats, hehe.

End Results

No cutthroat or brookies to the net on this day, but plenty of rainbows are still choked in this river.  I really wish in my own little world this would be an all catch-n-release river before the good Lord takes me.  I know wishful thinking, but I can. Thanks to Brad and Will, I had a great time and what a way to spend it on a river I always like to go back to.


Snap Shots of My Thoughts

•November 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment
If rivers could talk…….

2011 Lake Taneycomo fall colors. The entrance to the old KOA hole, which is now called Trophy Run.

The bluff located right below Point Royale. The start of Lookout Hole.

The bluff right across Bull Shoals State Park looking downstream. Around the bend is the start of Cane Island and just below that is Gaston's.

2011 fall colors on the Niangua River.

The rules and regulations at Lake Taneycomo. Please pay attention to the signs before you go fish any body of water.

Did you know that?

Why is there trout stamps?

Jet Ski's...What? I think you got the wrong lake.

This is a typical "brown" run now days on Lake Taneycomo. This is chute two and this is where the majority of the big browns are caught at. It's really a shame that these outlets exist.

Getting ready to stock more fish. This is the new Hatchery where they store mostly all the browns.

Get you a drink of water little birdy!

Marcus is serious about getting his flies back.

The new Didymo cleaning station at Taneycomo. Way to go Missouri!!

2011 September Trip to the Little Red River

•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Along with fishing the the White River on the way back home……








I must say it wasn’t the same trip as I had the previous year. Everything was right for hitting the “good” water, or so I thought it was. We spent the weekend at Lobo Landing, which if you haven’t stayed here I would highly recommend it. It’s centrally located for great put and take out points if you have a drift boat.

The plan was to fish streamers in the falling water in the morning that they ran during the night. It was great water for streamers and from what I remember, this river is chocked full of brown trout. It was a good combination for what we wanted to do. We put in at Dripping and floated to Ramsey. It was probably a four hour float with no rowing time, but we made it to Ramsey in two hours because we burned through the frog water and only fished the faster shoal water with good oxygen. Reason being is we tried for the first mile to fish all the water and with little success, so we made the decision to hurry up and get this float done so we could put back in at Swinging Bridge and float to Lobo Landing.

We only managed to turn a few browns and to me that was odd. In all my streamer fishing on the White we always turn browns with little time to wait one out. My thoughts on the Little Red is they lost a lot of their brown trout population during the flood last year. Also, I have never done that well in falling water anywhere I go, so that could have also been some of the reason why we didn’t catch more fish. Either way I think this river is in bad shape and might take some time to bounce back.

The second float we did we got to fish low water. I was glad because it would really give us a chance to see what was left as far as big fish in this river. I did see a few big browns, but not the numbers. If you want cookie cutter rainbow those are everywhere, but I can fish those in my home water and they are actually way bigger for average size at Taneycomo. With saying that, it still was a awesome trip and I got to spend it with some great friends.

White River and Norfork

On the way down to the Little Red we made a float down the Norfork, and on the way back we fished the White. This whole trip was going to be a streamer trip with no indicators and that was the plan. The Norfork was fishing well, but everything we turned missed the fly all together. Some of the areas where these browns were holding on this particular river was in fast seams and that didn’t make for real good hook ups. They were running one unit, so the fly was in the strike zone for the majority of the time, so what happen….I don’t know. We should’ve had a few more hits, but it was getting dark so who knows what the problem was. I guess it’s just fishing.

Sunday we decided to skip fishing the Little Red and head over to the White to make up for some of this uneventful journey for big fish. We drifted from Wildcat to Cotter in seven units. We managed to hook a lot of browns, but nothing really big. But this made the trip complete and we all felt better about the week. To me if you are looking for brown trout then go the White, if you are after big rainbows go to Taney. I think out of all the tailwaters we have in the Ozark’s these two are fishing the best and are in the best shape right now!

Michigan Trip

•June 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment












































































































































photos courtesy by Dustin Brewer

Michigan Photography- Pere Marquette – Baldwin MI

•June 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment







A gorgeous brown released from the Pierre Marquette River, located on the northwest side of the state’s lower peninsula.








Rigging our Ross Reels up for a day on this unique and truly special river.










It is doubtful that this is the first, hot spring these oars have seen on the Pierre Marquette.





















The Lower Peninsula Michigan trout fisheries are all about floating amongst the birches and enjoying the beauty of the area just that has remained virtually unchanged for eternity.







A Simm’s wading boot that could likely tell some amazing stories of season’s past on the Pierre Marquette.




















If you don’t rig up properly on the PM, it’s going to be a long day because of the nature of this river with all the rocks and overhangs.











The Pierre Marquette is truly a mystical river that is most-enjoyed by those who are smitten with classic trout streams more than with fisheries where raking in numbers of fish is the primary objective.
















photos courtesy by Dustin Brewer

Lake Taneycomo 2011 Flood

•May 22, 2011 • 1 Comment

Check out these pictures that we took while boating out on Lake Taneycomo when all five floodgates were opened up at Table Rock Dam. The sheer power of Mother Nature is impressive, but keep in mind that it is very uncommon for the water to get this high. On this day when we were out there, the water was roughly 12-14 feet higher than it would be when the gates are closed and zero generators are operating.

Norfork Grand Slam in 2011

•April 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Norfork Update 4/22/11

This Arkansas Tailwater is the place to be for variety and big fish

I just wanted to post a brief rundown of two trips I did on the Norork over the last week. For those of you unfamiliar with this fishery, the ‘Fork is a short tailwater (4.8 miles) located below Norfork Dam, 25 road miles from Bull Shoals Dam. It was considered the White River’s “little brother” until the late 1990’s when it started to get attention, primarily as a big fish river that is perfect for fly fishing. In 2008, the entire area was subjected to two 100-year floods in a matter of two months, and the flood gates had to be opened wide at Norfork Dam – the emergency release crested at 80,000 cubic feet per second. This massive influx of water changed the Norfork significantly, and if you haven’t fished there in a few years, you will notice that it is a completely different place. After the floods, the fishing on the ‘Fork was quite inconsistent, but in 2011, the river appears to be back in a big way with respect to the number of fish and the size of the fish.

The trip I did over on the Norfork four days ago was remarkable. My client had fly fished before, but he was still in the learning process. We floated the river in low water (either fishing from the boat in deep areas or wading some of the better shoals) and he caught three big browns – they were all over 18 inches. He’ll be spoiled for life, but it just goes to show that anything is possible on the White River Basin tailwaters.

Then three days ago, I was part of a four man group trip with Tom Rogers taking two guys and I had two guys. The pressure was on me, as I had the two younger members of the party in my boat, and the father and grandpa really wanted them to catch some big fish. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “how many times can this river produce trophy fish, especially for those new to the sport?” Still, I was up for the challenge. Well, one of the young men caught a grand slam, which means he landed four species of trout in one day; the Norfork brook trout numbers are increasing, but the fish are still pretty small. Still, the best cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout he caught were all nice fish for that river. As we approached the lower third of the river, we still hadn’t hooked into anything really big, and I was starting to wonder if it was in the cards for us. As we approached a very shallow gravel area near the bank, I was asked if it was worth casting over there by the guy who didn’t catch the grand slam.

When fishing from the boat on a small river like the Norfork during low water, I stress to my clients that it pays to cast downstream at least forty feet so that spooky fish in that area will see the fly before they see the shadow of the boat. Since he was all ready to cast, I told him to give it a try; I wasn’t expecting much, but you never know. All of a sudden, there’s an explosion on the surface and he’s hooked into a 20-inch brown. We both jumped out of the boat – my client had to chase the brown down because it made a long first run. After a pretty lengthy battle, this beauty was brought to hand, and the day was officially a great success. The fathers were happy, my clients were happy and I was amazed at how productive the Norfork has become once again.

The biggest downside to fishing the Norfork is that there are only two good accesses: one is at the dam and one is near the bottom of the river where the catch and release area ends. This means that the majority of water on this amazing fishery cannot be accessed on foot, even if the water is low. Because a boat is needed to get into the best areas, most of the guides don’t mess with the Norfork and its logistical challenges, but a little bit of work can pay off in a big way. If you do walk in, be sure not to stray too far from your access because it’s easy to get stuck on the wrong side of the river if the water comes up. Because Norfork Lake is steadily rising and is currently a foot over power pool, flow conditions will be inconsistent, but there will still be some low water opportunities. Once the reservoir gets three to five feet above power pool, heavy releases will likely occur until the lake drops back to normal levels – the Corp can drop the lake a foot every 24 hours, so high-water periods can be relatively brief. If you get the chance, the next few weeks should be amazing, as long as we don’t get any really heavy rains, and the Norfork tends to fish well through the summer and into early October. Give me a call if you want to discuss this amazing fishery any further, and I would be happy to point you in the right direction.