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Ham

After work quickie 7/12/16

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I worked until 16:30. I sprinted home and checked on the puppies and got stuff ready as fast as I could. I had a couple little things to take care of, but finally got on the water and fishing around 18:00. I knew that I was up against it because heavy fog develops over the river in the evening when it is hot and humid. I have seen this happen as early as 17:00 so the clock was ticking. I was hoping to get to fish until 19:30.

I launched at Quarry Park. Started in the first pool below the launch. It took a few casts, but soon I was into a chunky rainbow. I am surprised at the quality of the fish you can still catch in there despite the best efforts of the bait brigade. That area gets a TON of Power Bait and earthworm pressure. Not a shocker to anyone. I was fishing Zig Jigs on Nanofil. I am throwing the 1/16 oz in a little bigger water than I used to. Richard Cross has beat me down multiple times when I stuck to 1/8 oz. Once I switched to 1/16 oz I started catching them also soooo I learned a lesson.

I worked my way down the row of trout docks picking up a fish here and there several of which were really nice fish. Dropped down into Long Hole. I caught a couple more SLOB rainbows. Then I screwed up. I caught my first Brook Trout of the year. I immediately started fishing for The Slam. I've never caught all four species in one day. For all intents and purposes, a Slam is only going to happen on Norfork. Norfork seems to hold more Cutts and Brookies than the White or maybe their relatively low numbers get diluted by the over size of the trout water in the White, but regardless I catch more Cutts and Brookies in the Norfork than I do in the White, but it is not a large number in either river.

I don't fish the Norfork a lot. The water level just doesn't cooperate very often. Its often too low and I don't have enough float buddies or its too much flow for me to fish and run the boat safely. 1 unit is manageable, but you better pay attention and your motor better start first pull or just leave it running. Two full units on the Norfork and I can guide a buddy and let him fish, but I cant fish with him. its just too dangerous in my opinion. So my chances at a Slam are limited.

So here I am. I got the hardest part of the slam out of the way, but I'm halfway thru my fishing trip that IF I'm lucky was going to last 90 minutes. I start pounding the bank throwing my little Zig Jig in harms way around all the wood and slack water tight to the bank I can find. I'm picking up big fat Rainbows and cussing them for not being a Brown or a Cutt. Then a real nice fish glides out from behind some wood and slurps the jig. I set up on him and its a big ole Cutt. 18 inch range. I get 3 of 4 big head shakes out of him and then the hook slips out. Multiple F bombs later I'm still heartbroken. I know my chance at a Slam is toast. 

I kept at it, but I knew it wasn't going to happen. Never raised a Brown. I did catch a tiny little Cutt right at the end of the trip that wiggled like an earthworm with a bionic robin reflex. Cute, but tiny. I finished with 17 fish caught. I had hoped to get another drift down by the trout docks but fog was really settling in and that is pretty creepy to run thru. There were a couple of other boats still fishing that I had to avoid on my way back to the ramp. No fish is worth dying for and it was time to call it.

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Close but no Cigar. I came within 2 inches of catching The Slam with a fly rod years ago. I had a really nice Brookie on and he came off a couple inches away from my finger tips. I got a really good look at him though for whatever that's worth.

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I had the same type of experience with suwannee river bass in Florida many years ago. I was fishing Wakulla river south of Tallahassee. Super clear spring fed water. I was trying to catch all of the black bass species and still needed the Suwannee river and Guadalupe bass. I had several fish follow my baits. The most action came on a baby bass fluke. I had two separate suwannee grab the bait and just as I got them within hand reach they both just let go of the bait. They were never hooked and just had the baits held in their mouth. Any time I went to a smaller bait to get a better hook set, I only got follows and no strikes. So still no suwannee bass. I haven't gone for guadelupe. Still two species short.

Now you have me intrigued to try for a trout slam in Arkansas.

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I have been lucky enough to get the slam there only once.  Caught my brookies below the walk over bridge.  Caught the brown and rainbow all along the water and the cutt came out below the Ace in the Hole.  There my brother and I slammed the cutts for like two hours.  Our next trip out we barely caught anything!  Sounds like you had a good trip none the less!

 

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The walk over bridge is gone. One of the many high water events changed that area and it does not fish as well any more. Granted, its usually wall to wall with lawn chairs and Power Bait jars. 

I had a good time. I always seem to learn a little bit. I'm slowly adding to my knowledge base.

 

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Huh, didn't know the bridge was gone.  Tells you how long ago I have been there!  lol  I'll have to make a point to get down there again sometime soon.  Shoot, last time I was there you could still park and walk into the C&R zone.  I hear that has all changed as well now.  I know it has produce some mighty fine fish though.  My brother and I used to go down there every year at the end of October hoping to hook into a big old brown.  Very first time I was down there I witnessed a guy fighting a huge brown on his fly rod.  At first I thought he was hung up in the rocks until he asked me to walk out in the water and "move" the fish.  Thought he was high or something until I saw his line move and the fish.  It was his personal best at 29".  I ended up netting it for him and taking the pics.  Ever since then I have always thought it was a great fishery.

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Some years ago (2000?) I fished the water below Norfolk with a guide named Cliff Chism. (I just Googled his name and his Facebook account's most recent entry was 2011, and he looked really grey. Not a good sign. darn, some things about getting old suck.)

He had me fishing roe on circle hooks - not fancy tied sacks, but sections cut from huge sacks he bought over the internet from Oregon.

I slammed that day, as did my fishing buddy Larry Yadon. Larry's cut throat pushed 5 pounds. My Brown was nearly as large. Neither Brook was much over 12 inches, although on a different trip I did catch one nearly 15 inches.

It was not until years later that I realized how unusual those trips were.

BTW, all fish were released unharmed.

 

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