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Mountain Home Multispecies and Micros

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Last week I got to break away from work and head down to Mountain Home Arkansas to fish with Ham and my daughter. You would think that heading down that way we were sure to be fishing for big trout on either the Norfork or White Rivers or stripers in Lake Norfork. Nope! We were going to go for multispecies and to get some new micros on the list. If we are to hook into a big trout that's just gravy:)!

Livie and I got down and met with Ham and got all of our gear transferred to his truck and down to the White. We were going to fish sloughs or tributaries and used the White as our access to those waters. We started fishing one slough right away. Ham was fishing his Zig jigs and Olivia had on a trout magnet microjig. Ham had the first bite, a rainbow that did not get landed. Then both he and Livie hooked up on small largemouth bass a little further up the slough. It was at that point that the trash talking began! With most of it directed at me since I hadn't even finished rigging my rod. It continued when I decided to just go with a 1/64 oz jig with a piece of worm to just catch a few bluegill while they were both at three species a piece, largemouth, longear sunfish, and bluegill. Due to shallow water and no new species being caught Ham moved us back towards the mouth of the slough. I finally caught a small Largemouth on a green/black trout magnet jig. Livie switched to a 1/16 oz olive/black marabou jig and was having trouble feeling the bait. She did get a trout to bite, but it came unbuttoned soon after the strike. Just caught a glimpse of it. Could have been either a brown or a vividly colored rainbow. So I am still behind on the species total with just two. I couldn't even get a longear to sniff my baits :(. I had just switched to a 1.8 oz tri-olive zig jig, when Ham mentioned that he had a hit right at the lower edge of the confluence. I cast into that seam just below the point and got bit soon after I started my cadence. I knew from the fight that it was likely a trout and couldn't tell if the pull was from the size of the fish or the current. Once we got a good look at the fish it was pretty obvious that the pull was more due to the size of the fish. My third species was this 19" brown trout :)!


I would love to say that I caught more trout, but this would be the only one that I would catch on the whole trip. If you are going to only catch one, it was a pretty nice "one" to catch!

We left that spot and ended going upstream in another tributary. We went from a cold water to a warm water fishery real quick. We were seeing some carp cruising. Ham sight casted and caught the first carp using an unweighted circle hook with a worm.

Ham (1) - common carp - 17Aug17.jpg

He also caught several smallmouth bass with that same set-up. The surprise came after we were just discussing whether you could and how unlikely it would be to catch a catfish in this stream, which was almost immediately followed by Ham catching a channel catfish. We fished a couple more spots without catching any more carp. One spot we had seen a larger carp and another smaller one. I was able to sight cast to the smaller carp with the circle hook/worm combo. As I set the hook, Livie got bit by the bigger carp. We had a double. Here is my carp and you can see that Livie was still fighting hers behind me. Unfortunately, that fish had one last surge and popped the line at the hook just as I was moving the line to get the fish netted. Since I had “leader” I was considering that fish (ca. 24” and 5 lbs) to be a caught fish and it went onto to Livie’s species total as her first carp.

Common Carp - 17Aug17.jpg

After that double we moved up into cleaner and shallower water to wade fish for micros. As soon as I looked over the side of the boat, I immediately recognized whitetail shiners swimming around us. I mentioned these shiners to Ham. OK maybe I might have squealed like a teenage girl a little bit. When I fished with Ham last summer I was looking for this species and we never found any. Livie got out of the boat and was the first to land a whitetail shiner!

Livie - whitetail shiner (2) - 17Aug17.jpg

Then I caught a larger male shiner, my first for this species!

Whitetail shiner (1)  - 17Aug17.jpg

Ham wanted to catch one too but ended up with this small smallmouth bass! He did catch a whitetail shiner soon after landing this bass.

Ham - smallmouth - 17Aug17.jpgHam - whitetail shiner - 17Aug17.jpg

When we were all wading there was lot of “have you got the bag” or “what is this one” or “look at these guys” as we were fishing different parts of the creek. Lots of whitetail shiners, duskystripe shiners, carmine shiners, and a few darters (with at least one or two greenside darters) were seen and many were caught before we had to head out. There were many cries of dismay as one of us landed yet another longear sunfish while trying for a different fish (this would be a recurring situation). On the way back downstream we spotted a couple more cruising carp, no takes but stopped next to a fallen treetop that was swarming with fry. Ham saw a few larger fish in the branches and he tried for those while Livie and I looked for more carp (still trying to get her a photo of a landed carp). We never got onto any more carp, but Ham did land a couple of redear sunfish. Ham ended up with ten different species and I believe three new life list species, whitetail shiner, duskystripe shiner, and carmine shiner. Livie ended up with six different species and three new lifers, common carp, whitetail shiner, and duskystripe shiner. I ended up with seven species, including the whitetail shiner which was my new life list fish on this trip. Had a great time and was already looking forward to the next day.

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I blame myself for her carp getting away. I broke my medium sized net and failed to put the big net in the boat. We were using my regular trout net and the circle hook that caught John's carp lodged in it. 

Livie had her carp on for a long time and it could have been landed with the bigger net pretty easily. Sometimes the fish win. I was really fired up by a double on carp though.

stayed tuned sports fans. John has told y'all about the DRC part of the day, but there is a micro fishing afternoon on Crooked Creek yet to come in this Marty like epic. 


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As Ham mentioned after we finished up with Olivia's Dry Creek Run trout fishing we had lunch by the creek and watched a woman and her little Chihuahua pull away on her motorcycle. Both the rider and the dog had matching flame motif outfits including black helmets with fake yarn ponytails. They made an interesting pair. We left the hatchery and headed to a creek access to finally get to an area for Ham and I fish as well. The access is located near the confluence of two creeks. The one creek was where Ham has caught carp previously. A quick check by the boat ramp confirmed that there were plenty of fish options, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, longear sunfish, whitetail shiners (seem to be everywhere in Mountain Home creeks), carmine shiners, northern hogsuckers, etc. So we got our gear together and headed down to fish. Since many of the possible fish species in this creek have been caught by us previously I didn't take a lot of photos. In fact Livie's carmine shiner was the only one that made it past the editing.

Livie - Carmine Shiner - 18Aug17.jpg

Sorry about the lack of pictures.

Anyway, we all ended up catching the regular cast of characters. Lots of Whitetail shiners were caught. In the shallows we caught Northern studfish and blackspotted topminnows. Though each of us caught several species, there just was a level of frustration building. I know personally I was sitting one fish shy of a milestone number of different species for the year. Because of that I really was more focused on trying to catch one of the four or five species swimming in these two creeks that I have not caught yet this year. Ham was fishing in the midst of a couple of schools of duskystripe shiners and stonerollers that would not bite. Olivia was somewhat done fishing after her trout trip in the morning and she had more fun donning her dive mask and swimming in the creek. At one point to beat the heat, all of us we in the water.

A prevailing cry of disgust was frequently heard for the rest of the day..”Caught another longear sunfish!!!” With micros a lot of the fishing is getting a tiny hook and bait into the strike zone of the target fish. So you are intent on getting that just right, then trying to get the fish interested to bite and then out of nowhere ..POW! you caught yet another longear sunfish!  Often depending upon its size that sunfish may have just swallowed your tiny hook. Then it’s pass the hemostat forceps to get the hook out.

At the confluence of the two creeks was a deeper hole that had several redhorse suckers, striped shiners, and at least two carp.  At this point I was determined to try for a northern hogsucker or one of those redhorse suckers. I pitched my bait into that hole repeatedly. All I caught was a smallmouth bass and a couple of larger longear sunfish. We headed upstream. I kept on the bigger bait looking for a new species. Ham and Livie were catching more whitetails, longears, topminnows and studfish. Ham fished a small school of mosquitofish with one large female. The smaller fish would hold onto the bait but not get hooked with the #20 hook Ham was using. They would drop off once they were lifted out of the water. The larger female would be able to hooked, but she kept moving into spots that Ham could not get the bait to her. I caught one or two more longears and only saw one more redhorse sucker that spooked once I cast near it. Live caught more longears, a bluegill and a couple of green sunfish in the last upstream pool that we all fished.

Finally, we headed back downstream. Ham fished the confluence pool and caught at least one striped shiner. My fishing was still futile. I even had cast my worm to within 2-3 inches of a feeding hogsucker, the bait got swarmed by whitetail shiners and they spooked the sucker! At the end of the day Livie had her mask back on, Ham was up at his truck, and I was crossing back across the creek when I came upon a couple of greenside darters that were in a position that I could get a bait to them. I called for Olivia to bring me a #20 hook, but I ended up putting on my #26 hooks and a bit of worm. It took several minutes to get the bait near these fish. One of them would spook every time my sinkers would get within a foot of this fish. The other was catchable, but would not stay in one place very long. When I am fishing darters in water deeper than 10 inches and with a good flow, I will put a couple of split shot along the line. The split shot pieces provide a good anchor as well as give me a point of reference if I lose sight of the tiny bait. I had several attempts at getting the bait in front of the second fish. Finally, I got the bait to sit on top of the rock that the fish was resting on. It moved slightly and I knew that it was responding to the bait. Then it took the bait, I lifted and it dropped off back into the water. Game over. I never really got a second chance on that fish. My milestone fish is still swimming around somewhere. it may be caught some evening in the very near future :).

Ham ended the day catching northern studfish, blackspotted topminnows, whitetail shiners, a striped shiner, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, longear sunfish, and possibly a duskystripe shiner. Livie caught the carmine shiner, whitetail shiners, longear sunfish, green sunfish, and bluegill. She had at least 10 longears and she swam most of the afternoon. I caught only 8 longears as well as studfish, whitetail shiners, and a couple of smallmouth bass.

I want to thank Ham again for taking the two of us out to these creeks. We enjoyed our time in Arkansas. I know that he has got the micro bug since he has already sent me pictures of a bigeye shiner and a rainbow darter he caught with his son yesterday.

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