We had a great stay in Cotter Arkansas this March. We were satisfied that all of our clients caught some amazing fish and had at least one if not two epic days on either the White or Norfork rivers. I arrived in Cotter on March 1st with my good friend Brian Boyle. We met up with my good friend Greg Inglis, (formerly of Lopstick Lodge) and began scouting the waters of the northern Ozarks. Last year, I got Brian hooked on chasing big browns with streamers on the Saco river. Brian had heard about the White River and asked if he could come along this season to help row the boat during our scouting session.
Brian is the kind of guy you want on a scouting mission. Not afraid to get skunked or lose a big fish. He is willing to go through the arduous process of dialing in the fishing. Greg had never met Brian before, but I was confident that the two would hit it off well. It didn't take long especially after Brian showed Greg the cases of Micro brew we had picked up to fuel us through our quest for brown trout.
As is often the case the fishing was slow for us over the first few days. We were dead set on finding big fish on streamers, but the streamer bite was a bit lackluster. We were able to muster a couple fish from 18-20" an most days but we were not seeing much for numbers. Brian was fine with the challenge and seemed more concerned about Greg and I trying to guide in these tough conditions. "It will all fall into place." I explained with confidence. I had been trough this routine before. It was only a matter of time before the conditions improved and we dialed in on the right techniques.
So after a few days of arduous streamer fishing we moved to the Northfork of the White river and Norfork river where we had much more success with numbers of fish, in the 16-18 inch class. Even though we were catching fish I could tell that Brian's focus was still on the white River, throwing streamers to brown trout. So we returned to the white and Brian did manage a good fish of 20". Still, we knew that the river had more to offer. Brian was confident. "I know I am going to have my best day on the last day here."
Well Brian was right. if we hadn't had to get him to his plane he probably would have caught more, but in four hours he landed six fish over sixteen inches including his biggest fish of the trip, a 22" male.
As is often the case, (and I'd have it no other way) Greg and I put our clients on far more big trout than we caught on our own. We had dialed in on when where and why, realizing that nymphing shad patterns, while not as glamorous as throwing streamers, was much more productive. As a high abundance of shad in the river had fish in a lazy snacking mood on most days.
In the ten days that I fished with Greg and Brian we landed five fish over 20". Conversely in the sixteen days that I guided my clients landed sixteen fish over 20". It would take me all day to post the pictures here but you can find them on our instagram feed @natefish83.
This is the job of a fishing guide. To go through the frustrations of figuring out the fishing before the clients arrive, and to have that part out of the way for the paying customer. It doesn't always work out perfectly, but, when we put in the time, it pays off.
As for the future I am not sure I will be able to head back to Arkansas next year, as Alicia and I will be having our first child in May. For those interested in hunting southern brown trout I do have plenty of guide connections in the Ozarks. I'll keep you all posted, I do plan to get back there someday!