Norfork Tailwater Fly Fishing Story

Reports From The Field - Flys

May 5, 2014

 

Norfork Tailwater Fly Fishing Story
May 5, 2014

David and Sam
Norfork – Saturday April 12th

David has been going fishing with me for five years. He and his friend Todd are the two who usually fish with me, but sometimes they will host trips for their clients. Sam, one of David’s newest clients came on this trip.  Todd and his gang came earlier in the week and David and Sam on Saturday. We all know that weekends are tougher for fishing conditions because more people are on the water. During the week the White River was running a lot of water and the conditions were too tough, so every guide was fishing the Norfork. I thought Saturday wouldn’t be any different.

Through the week they were generating one unit and fishing was ok, but Saturday they scheduled it to be off.  We took the gamble with Saturday and I wanted to make sure we got up extra early and hit the river before everyone else. To my surprise when we pulled up there was only a few cars in the parking lot. I started thinking that everyone had gone back over to the White because they had turned off the generators. Once we put the boat in and started floating the river, I could tell it was crowded with boat rentals from Charlie’s and Gene’s resorts. We decided to row out of there and get into the long hole.

Zimmerman Norfork Brown

Before I continue, I also want to talk a little bit about the weather. This particular day, we had cloud cover due to a storm that was moving in and the wind was blowing  20-30 mph. It was tough rowing but I know these conditions are great for fishing. When I was fishing Norfork in the winter months in cloud cover it seemed like the fishing was better than when the sun was out  and  the water was off.

Zimmerman's Norfork Brown Trout

When we entered into the long hole, we started catching fish, but nothing exciting as of now. When I got out of long hole I could see one drift boat in the distance.  It was at the start of McClellan’s and when I entered into McClellan’s I could see one more.

I rowed by them so I wasn’t crowding them out with their clients. This is where it all changed for us. Once we got by them we started fishing the middle of the river going into the plunge pool. David hooks into a decent brown that jumped out of the water several times. We landed that fish and then immediately Sam hooks into one that was 17 inches.

Now you have to remember, this is Sam’s first time fishing with a fly rod. We put Sam in the front of the drift boat because he was the guest.  David wanted to let him be the first fly going down the river. That is usually who gets the better fishing throughout the day.

Now the next thirty minutes is something you won’t believe.  It did happen and I’m sure these moments are priceless to anyone who fishes whether you are a guide or not. On Sam’s next cast after releasing that fish, he hooks into something big. We all know when we have something big. I could tell Sam’s rod was bent different than on the rest of the trout he had been catching.

The fish wasn’t coming up. Since this was Sam’s first time fly fishing, he really didn’t understand how to play a fish with a fly rod.  I was attempting to coach him on how to apply just the right pressure.  We played this fish for 10 minutes and got to see it one time. This brown was probably a 10 pound fish from what I could tell. Sam was doing everything right and then it happened, the hook slipped and the fish got the best of us.

We were all looking at each other in disappointment, trying to figure out what happened.  We all know you have to lose a few big ones before you catch a big one. We all have that story of that one trout that got away. After we got our bearing’s back, I told Sam to throw back in there and BAM, he hooks into another one. Now this doesn’t usually happen. Another big one on.   Two back to back tanks came from the same spot. I asked Sam if he thought it was big. He told me he thought so, but I thought he was babying the trout because of what just happened and now he is trying to learn the give and take program.

We were all looking at each other in disappointment, trying to figure out what happened.  We all know you have to lose a few big ones before you catch a big one. We all have that story of that one trout that got away. After we got our bearing’s back, I told Sam to throw back in there and BAM, he hooks into another one. Now this doesn’t usually happen. Another big one on.   Two back to back tanks came from the same spot. I asked Sam if he thought it was big. He told me he thought so, but I thought he was babying the trout because of what just happened and now he is trying to learn the give and take program.

I asked Sam if I could grab the rod to see if it had weight to the rod. Sure enough it did and Sam told me to play it and bring it in because he wanted this one. This time we played it even longer and I was explaining to Sam the whole time on how to play these bigger fish. I finally got it in closer to where we could see this fish.

This one was a little smaller, but I would guess this one was pushing eight pounds. You won’t believe what happened next, same thing, hook pops out and we are in disbelief. We just lost two quality trout that where back to back. This doesn’t happen all the time. I felt bad and so did everyone else. We just sat there shaking our heads. I finally look at the hook because  the only thing I can think of happened.  The hook was bent out enough from the first one that made it give on the second one.

I guess you could say, blame it on the guide, but who thinks of that when fishing. I’ve been in this same scenario a million times. I guess you could say another lesson learned and it just goes to show you that it usually is the little stuff that   gets you. Make sure your knots are correct, ferrules are tight etc. You never know when that big one is going to bite, so make sure you always stay focused. In other words, don’t blink.

sam's Norfork Brown Trout
Sam's Trophy Norfork Brown Trout

I asked Sam if I could grab the rod to see if it had weight to the rod. Sure enough it did and Sam told me to play it and bring it in because he wanted this one. This time we played it even longer and I was explaining to Sam the whole time on how to play these bigger fish. I finally got it in closer to where we could see this fish. This one was a little smaller, but I would guess this one was pushing eight pounds.

You won’t believe what happened next, same thing, hook pops out and we are in disbelief. We just lost two quality trout that where back to back. This doesn’t happen all the time. I felt bad and so did everyone else. We just sat there shaking our heads. I finally look at the hook because  the only thing I can think of happened.  The hook was bent out enough from the first one that made it give on the second one. I guess you could say, blame it on the guide, but who thinks of that when fishing. I’ve been in this same scenario a million times. I guess you could say another lesson learned and it just goes to show you that it usually is the little stuff that   gets you. Make sure your knots are correct, ferrules are tight etc. You never know when that big one is going to bite, so make sure you always stay focused.

In other words, don’t blink. After we lost those fish, we tied another fly on and I told Sam we have one more opportunity in this one particular spot where I caught a big one before. As we were entering into the hole I told Sam to make a long cast and get it downstream from the boat and sure enough game on. We had another one on and these all happened within thirty minutes. You talk about some action and an exciting day but it gets better.

Now we had a new fly and a brand new knot that would hold. I figure we would get this one into the net. As a rookie, Sam had a bunch of line down at his feet so when the trout took off upstream the fly line made a knot and we had a loop hanging that was about nine inches long. I thought we are going to lose this fish, but sure enough I grabbed Sam’s rod and jumped out of the boat and told David to put the anchor down and get the net. He jumped out. Neither of us was wearing waders and we were chest deep trying to chase this fish down.  The fish was gaining on us. The knot made it through all the guides. Once we settled down from the initial run, I told David that he was going to have to undo this knot while I baby this fish. I stripped the line in slow to get the knot through the guides and it worked out. David was undoing the knot while I kept enough tension on the line to keep the fish tight.

If he made a fast run, we would’ve been screwed for sure. David got the knot out and I knew this was our redemption from losing the last two browns. I wanted this for Sam so David and I did everything in our power to bring this one into the net. After playing for another five minutes we managed to get it to the net.

The battle was won by all and this was truly one of those moments shared by all. This fish wasn’t as big as the others, but it was still a trophy fish for a guy that has never fly fished before. I’m sure this brown was pushing 23 inches and it couldn’t have happen to a better guy. He had all the trout God’s on his side that day. I guess there is a thing called luck.

After we released this fish, the surge hit and we pushed our way out. We went back up to the dam and had lunch. This gave us some more time to let the water clear up before we fished the high water with streamers. We managed to hook two more browns in the twenty inch range.

The day was a big success and David even let me wet a line and I caught one too. All in all, what a great day with some sick action. I guess the next time you plan a trip to the fork, hope for cloud cover and a bunch of wind. The browns seem to love those conditions.

jeremy's Norfork Brown Trout Streamer Fishing

Here’s what David & Sam had to say…..

A few weeks back my boss took me on my first fly fishing trip on the Norfork River in Arkansas. Little did I know I was gonna have an amazing 3 days of fishing. We met up with Jeremy Hunt when we arrived. I knew from the get go that he was gonna make the fishing experience that much better. We were catching trout left and right and half of them were big browns. I was able to get my first brown into the boat on our last day there. Jeremy not only knows how to catch trout like no ones business but he also is a great entertainer and makes the float down the river very enjoyable. All in all it was a great trout fishing experience and I would recommend fishing with Jeremy to anyone.

Sam Modde

Just wanted to thank you for the recent trip on the Fork.

What a memorable first fly fishing trip for Sam! He has definitely got the fever after that epic Saturday we had a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately the bar for his expectations has been set extremely high (blown up!) after hooking up with 3 back to back browns over 20 inches in under 30 minutes.

After years of being out with you on the water, this was one of the best days ever! Your ability to instruct a guy that has never held a fly rod and put him on some phenomenal fish is awesome! Even better was your understanding of the river system and the ability to “call the shot” and to get Sam positioned for a successful presentation and “bam” game on with the brown trout!

I have fished with many other guides out West and the North East over the last 15 years and you definitely have that unique passion and excitement that I have seen only in a few other guides across the country. This is so important to educate and engage your clients! Sorry about breaking the tip off your streamer rod but, you got me so “fired up” to grab the net, to help Sam out on his next big brown, there was no holding back! Already looking forward to our next time out on the water.

Sincerely,

David Zimmerman, PE

Norfork tailwater has been on fire ever since the siphon was implemented to create better oxygen quality. You can send me a email directly to flytiehunt@hotmail.com if you are interested in booking a guide trip. Feel free to visit us on Facebook, If you really liked this article, +1 above – check us out at +flysandguides (Google+) or send us a tweet with a question or just to say hi. Check out the Fly of the Month!

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