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8/28-8/29 Report


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My second trip to the NFoW to fish, began much like the first, which is to say, unproductive and frustrating. Fished for about 4 hours on Sunday just off of Sunburst - nothing. But I almost died! Ok, that's hyperbole, but I did lose control and had water coming up over my waders for a few minutes ;). Fished Monday morning from 6-9 - nothing. I lost plenty of bugs though and had an exceptionally frustrating time trying to tie things for whatever reason. Well I suppose I did catch two monster shad in this time. My friend managed to catch a monster shad of his own, two carp, and a decent largemouth. We headed out on the canoes Monday about 11, stopping randomly at islands and riffles as the ladies had patience for it. Finally, finally got what I came for. First was a small 10 inch or so brown that I got to hand but lost immediately, so no pics of that. Second was the rainbow below, I didn't measure it against my pole but I think it was around 16 inches, if not a bit more. Got a unnoteworthy smallie at that same spot after that. About an hour later got another rainbow just over 14 inches in another riffle (actually measured that one).

Never had any luck with nymphs or the pats. I caught all my fish Monday on a black bugger with .3g split shot about 6 inches up from the bug. Mostly just dead drifting, since this type of fishing is really beyond my skill range right now that is about all I can do efficiently. I have my hands full just mending my line and preventing my slack from ending up 20 yards down stream. A couple of the fish struck when all of us say they shouldn't have: when retrieving the bug up stream, against the current, preparing to cast again. I've now caught 3/4 of my trout like this on the NFoW.

Want to thank the folks at Sunburst for a great time, very accommodating and helpful. Planning to make a trip out there for fall break, sans our significant others this time to do some more rigorous and focused fishing. Not sure I ever spoke to you Justin, if you're reading this, I'm the one in black in the pics below.

And in case you are wondering about the durability of TFO rods. I have a new stress test record of sorts. Stupidly, very stupidly left my rod on the top of my friend's car while he as packing his stuff and left it there. It flew off the top right at the Hwy H exit from Sunburst, in its rod sock. Somehow, someway managed to fortuitously land parallel with the center line in the middle of the westbound lane so that it never got ran over. It has a scuff on the reel lock but other than that it is fine.

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That was me you talked to just as you were heading down to take off, sorry I should have introduced myself. Glad you caught a few fish, that float has been fishing a little tough all summer, I got skunked on it a few weeks ago (although I did lose one, and had my son with me) must have excuses! This fall we'll get you up to Kelly and you should have a little better luck. Keep practicing your mending because most fish on this river are caught on good drifts more than good flies. Good looking fish by the way!

"The problem with a politician’s quote on Facebook is you don’t know whether or not they really said it." –Abraham Lincoln

Tales of an Ozark Campground Proprietor

Dead Drift Fly Shop

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Ahh, I wondered if that was you in the golf cart. My friend and I had run into a number of employees who weren't you that I just didn't think to ask or introduce myself.

I'm not surprised when I don't have success. Like I said, it was my second time and the conditions, especially the speed of the current, are so different on the North Fork that I spend almost as much time just getting my hook in the water (untangling knots, messing with tippet, which I don't normally use, etc...). I get experience casting and stripping when fishing for bass, but something like nymphing I've only learned to do by watching Youtube videos.

Is there a way to mend that doesn't move your fly? I've found that at certain spots in the drift, or maybe its just that I have more slack on those casts, I can mend without moving the bug. Is that important? (I would think it is). Does anyone know of a way to do this more consistently?

Also, do people strip buggers much on the river or just dead drift?

Finally, I rarely hear anyone talking about dry flies. Are they productive only at certain parts of the year? I tried a caddis for a bit Monday morning without luck.

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A,

Thanks for the report and pics glad you caught some fish. Your second trip to the NFOW was more productive than mine I promise you. FWIW there are plenty of fish caught stripping Buggers there. Keep at it it that river will make you a better fisherman. Not sure if your fall break is the same as us Okies but we will be there then maybe we can hook up and do some fishing.

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When you dead drift a bugger or big stone, prince, etc. down a fast run just do your best when you mend to move the indicator as little as possible. My initial mend I usually flip the line up hard usually lifting the indicator out of the water slightly. Then subsequent mends are less drastic but moving the indicator a little won't hurt much as long as it is not bringing the fly up above the fish. At the end of the drift just let it swing, at which time it becomes streamer fishing to an extent. No need to strip, you will often get strikes as it rises, and then let the current load the rod for you with the fly directly downstream of you (fish often will grab it just dangling in the current). With the rod now loaded flip your fly back upstream with one quick throw and you are drifting again. By slightly changing the angle of your throw you can cover both sides the channel as well as the middle. Each cast hits a little different spot so be sure to cover the best looking seams before moving on. Dry flies are more miss than hit on this river, hoppers catch fish this time of year, but unless you see fish rising to a hatch it is usually not worth your time. An exception can be in the slower water if you spot a fish some guys are good enough to lay a dry in front of them and get a hit (can't say I've ever succeeded at this).

The key is patience, even the pros (like Wise) have been known to get tangled up or bury a hook in their back :ouch...it-hurts:

"The problem with a politician’s quote on Facebook is you don’t know whether or not they really said it." –Abraham Lincoln

Tales of an Ozark Campground Proprietor

Dead Drift Fly Shop

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The key is patience, even the pros (like Wise) have been known to get tangled up or bury a hook in their back :ouch...it-hurts:

It's true.....

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Don't get frustrated man, this sport isn't the easiest to learn when you are on your own. I would suggest finding a local fly fishing club or an acquaintance that can help you get your feet wet. Also, good guides are an amazing source for helping the learning curve....you could probably learn as much in a day with a good guide as you would in a year+ on your own. (I SWEAR this isn't a plug, and I am totally waiting to catch crap about that ;) )

sean c is also totally right about the North Fork of the White making you a better fisherman. You 'could' learn to fly fish in a trout park or tailwater where the fish are puppies that come to a whistle (seriously, you can pet them) but then when you 'do' fish a real trout stream it is crazy tough....I have seen it a TON!! Keep coming to Sunburst and your fishing will get better and better.

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When you dead drift a bugger or big stone, prince, etc. down a fast run just do your best when you mend to move the indicator as little as possible. My initial mend I usually flip the line up hard usually lifting the indicator out of the water slightly. Then subsequent mends are less drastic but moving the indicator a little won't hurt much as long as it is not bringing the fly up above the fish. At the end of the drift just let it swing, at which time it becomes streamer fishing to an extent. No need to strip, you will often get strikes as it rises, and then let the current load the rod for you with the fly directly downstream of you (fish often will grab it just dangling in the current). With the rod now loaded flip your fly back upstream with one quick throw and you are drifting again. By slightly changing the angle of your throw you can cover both sides the channel as well as the middle. Each cast hits a little different spot so be sure to cover the best looking seams before moving on. Dry flies are more miss than hit on this river, hoppers catch fish this time of year, but unless you see fish rising to a hatch it is usually not worth your time. An exception can be in the slower water if you spot a fish some guys are good enough to lay a dry in front of them and get a hit (can't say I've ever succeeded at this).

The key is patience, even the pros (like Wise) have been known to get tangled up or bury a hook in their back :ouch...it-hurts:

I've noticed that the first mend, if I make it quickly after my cast, seems to work the best and move the indicator the least. So I was already, as you're describing, placing a lot of emphasis on that initial mend and making smaller mends throughout the rest of drift (the reason being I couldn't make substantial mends after that). It helps to know that the important thing is not to bring "the fly up above the fish." A lot of times we're told to do something and not the reason why, up till now I just figured I didn't want to make it move erratically so the fish would miss a strike, lol!

When you say "let it swing" I'm assuming you mean just stop mending, let the bug drift past your body, and as the slack tightens, the bug will rise (indeed, this is when I've gotten most my strikes). Often I have to strip some line in because I've casted far enough out that I can't just flip my line back up stream. I've seen videos, including ones on this forum on the NFoW where you guys are just casting, drifting, picking up the line again with the rod, and throwing it right back out there - not really using your control hand at all. I also saw a couple of seasoned guys fishing like this on my first trip to the NFoW. I think that's what you're describing. I don't know if it's skill thing, or I'm not as close to the riffle I'm trying to fish, but at this stage, unless I'm quite close to where the fish are, I have to retrieve some of my line to load it lest I get insufferable knots or hook myself ala Mr. Wise ;). It doesn't seem like fishing like this would have much of an effect on presentation, so long as I "let it swing" the whole way through. It likely means I just don't get my bug back in the water quite as fast, and now that I know I want it near the bottom more than anything, I also know that it is rising and staying towards the top when I'm retrieving it=not likely to get a strike. In any case, I'll work on throwing without actually false casting.

Thanks for the info on dries. I think all fly fishermen want to use them more than anything, but I'd much rather catch some trout ;). Wish I would have tried my hopper patter now, though. It was the only thing that worked for me at Roaring River last month.

Don't get frustrated man, this sport isn't the easiest to learn when you are on your own. I would suggest finding a local fly fishing club or an acquaintance that can help you get your feet wet. Also, good guides are an amazing source for helping the learning curve....you could probably learn as much in a day with a good guide as you would in a year+ on your own. (I SWEAR this isn't a plug, and I am totally waiting to catch crap about that ;) )

sean c is also totally right about the North Fork of the White making you a better fisherman. You 'could' learn to fly fish in a trout park or tailwater where the fish are puppies that come to a whistle (seriously, you can pet them) but then when you 'do' fish a real trout stream it is crazy tough....I have seen it a TON!! Keep coming to Sunburst and your fishing will get better and better.

I will definitely get a guide one of these days. Right now I'm waiting to get more confident with my casting and tying. I'd hate to get out there and spend as much of my time as I do now just screwing up things unrelated to my hook being in the water.

The frustration is fleeting, and the fact that it's tough is exactly why it's so intriguing, that coupled with the fact that the trout are beautiful and carry a certain mystique about them. I have no worries about being discouraged from fishing for trout, just being in the ice cold water and trying not to fall down a riffle makes it more exciting than fishing from a boat, not to mention the scenery ;). It's actually the stuff that goes wrong coupled with not catching fish that gets frustrating (losing bugs on bad knots, getting tangles in tippet etc...).

I was very pleased and excited to catch the three trout that I did, felt terrible for my friend who didn't catch one (lost one in the air though). I was beginning to feel somewhat confident about my prospects towards the last mile of the float, unfortunately we ran out of riffles. So my main goal is to get him a trout next trip. Hopefully, as in my case, the second trip will be more fruitful than the first.

Unrelated but funny story, the only time I've gotten a hook stuck in me was also on the NFoW. My first trip my wife had my open reel, got it caught in a tree. I yanked it down and got one hook of a treble hook spinner stuck in my arm past the barb. That was quite an experience, about a half mile from RoL, nearly passing out from this hook in my arm, she had to hold me up. It took about 10 minutes to get it out with pliers. What finally worked was my wife pressing my skin down and me pulling the hook with the pliers as hard as I could. Human skin is tough!

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When you say "let it swing" I'm assuming you mean just stop mending, let the bug drift past your body, and as the slack tightens, the bug will rise (indeed, this is when I've gotten most my strikes).

That is exactly what Justin is talking about.

Often I have to strip some line in because I've casted far enough out that I can't just flip my line back up stream. I've seen videos, including ones on this forum on the NFoW where you guys are just casting, drifting, picking up the line again with the rod, and throwing it right back out there - not really using your control hand at all. I also saw a couple of seasoned guys fishing like this on my first trip to the NFoW.

You are probably fishing more line than you can control if you need to strip line in to make another cast. Shorten it up and add some weight if thats what it takes to get to the bottom. Also the less line you have out the easier it is to control the line and get the proper drift.

I will definitely get a guide one of these days. Right now I'm waiting to get more confident with my casting and tying. I'd hate to get out there and spend as much of my time as I do now just screwing up things unrelated to my hook being in the water.

You are thinking about this backwards this is exactly why you would want to hire a guide. Brian isn't an oustanding guide because he knows how to catch alot of fish on the NFOW plenty of guys can do that he is an outstatnding guide because he knows how to teach other people how to do it. There is no substitute for good casting and fishing lessons and the sooner you take them the the shorter the learning curve to get where you wnat to be. If you can swing it you should book Brian for a day when you are up in October in my opinion one of the coolest things you can do in the Ozarks is spend a day in a drifboat on the NFOW in the fall when the colors are popping.

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That is exactly what Justin is talking about.

You are probably fishing more line than you can control if you need to strip line in to make another cast. Shorten it up and add some weight if thats what it takes to get to the bottom. Also the less line you have out the easier it is to control the line and get the proper drift.

You are thinking about this backwards this is exactly why you would want to hire a guide. Brian isn't an oustanding guide because he knows how to catch alot of fish on the NFOW plenty of guys can do that he is an outstatnding guide because he knows how to teach other people how to do it. There is no substitute for good casting and fishing lessons and the sooner you take them the the shorter the learning curve to get where you wnat to be. If you can swing it you should book Brian for a day when you are up in October in my opinion one of the coolest things you can do in the Ozarks is spend a day in a drifboat on the NFOW in the fall when the colors are popping.

j

Thanks for the clarification on "letting it swing."

I don't always have so much line out that I need to retrieve it before casting, but its often the case that a spot looks productive that I can't get to just swinging the pole without false casting. I think that is where having more experience and being a better caster comes in handy, as I assume you, Brian, etc... can reach those spots. In any case, I'll practice in my backyard. I can't really simulate on the rivers/streams I normally fish as there aren't many riffles where the water gets that fast.

I was looking at hiring a guide more from a fishing strategy point of view, not from a teaching fundamentals one. No doubt I would benefit from advice and teaching in that area, and I realize a guide can help with that. It's also nice to learn that Brian in particular is good at imparting that sort of training because plenty of guides aren't. But I was thinking I wouldn't want to spend much of my guide time learning fundamentals because, as helpful as that would be, I think it would be more conducive to do that sort of thing in a controlled environment in the form of a casting class etc... At the same time and to your point, taking a class in a controlled environment will not simulate the real world conditions of the river, i.e. with the fast water taking your control line down stream, or learning how to fish a nymph, so there would definitely be value to learning on the water right now.

I'll give it some more thought, thanks. It would have to wait till next year in any case since I've just purchased everything I need from the ground up this summer. There is no way I can justify a guide to myself or my wife at this point ;). There's always birthdays though.

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Whatever you do don't pay for a "Fly Fishing School" or a "Fly Fishing Class"....if you ask 100 guides what they think when someone says "I went to the Orvis school of fly fishing" 90 of them will think to themself "Ok, I will be teaching all day" and the other 10% are Orvis Endorsed guides. :)

I came from the school of hard knocks. I had no one in my family that fly fished...no friends that fly fished...nothing. But I am guessing that I had something that is CRAZY valuable to a new fly fisherman that you may not, a trout stream 15 minutes from me. Quite literally if someone doesn't help you the only other way to learn this is time on the water, and a TON of it. Anyone can learn to cast and tie knots, half of casting is style anyway and you can't 'teach' style that is something that the caster has to find on his or her own. What a seasoned angler (notice I'm not only saying guides here) 'can' teach is how to make that cast easier, with less effort, and then THE most important part....what to do with the fly is in the water, or better yet in a fish face and you have no idea. :)

Seriously, find someone that has fly fished for a while and go fishing with them...it will save you a TON of frustration and time. (*hint* these people are super easy to find at local fly fishing clubs)

The cool part is, we can tell you have that fire to learn this sport....congrats.

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