The “SHAD” Bite on the White!!

I’d like to share the story of my newest client, Ron, who walked into my fly shop this summer and immediately struck a chord with me. Ron, an old tarpon guide from Florida, reminded me of my late father, who I lost to lung cancer recently. Despite Ron’s own health challenges, he’s waiting for a lung transplant, he sold his boat, similar to what my father had to do. This connection, coupled with his resemblance to my dad, motivated me to offer Ron the opportunity to go fishing together as buddies. I promised him that I would take him out as much as I could, until fate intervened.

Our fishing adventures are like a journey back in time, reminiscent of the days I spent with my father. It’s my way of giving back, and truthfully, I enjoy our time on the water immensely. We share stories of tarpon and trout, bridging the gap between his experience as a seasoned saltwater angler and the world of freshwater fly fishing. Ron had never tried freshwater fly fishing for trout before, but he’s taken to it surprisingly well. In fact, he told me today that I’m turning him into a freshwater angler, and I’m more than happy to make that happen.

ron's bull shoals rainbow shad kill wiggle minnows
ron bull shoals 20 rainbow trout shad kill

Ron’s connection to Arkansas stems from his childhood visits to his grandfather’s place in the state. Last September, Hurricane Ian displaced him, prompting his move towards Arkansas. Our first trip together was on the Norfork River during low water, where Ron managed to catch a beautiful little brown trout. Due to my busy schedule, he had to wait for his second trip. Finally, due to a change in plans and favorable weather, we decided to go out this morning, starting at 8am.

Every time we head to the Bull Shoals Dam, our goal is to start with a white pattern. Although we’ve been focusing on shad patterns throughout September, our strategy remained successful. We hooked several big rainbows, though the elusive browns remained elusive. Initially, there were two other boats with us, but the traffic increased around 10am, causing the fish to retreat. Despite our limited success today, the shallow water and the presence of too many boats disrupted the fishing. I made the decision to call it a day when the fish began to evade us due to the increased boat activity. The water depth around the dam was only about five feet, decreasing to three feet a hundred yards downstream. The noise from motors can disturb the fish, making them move around and affecting their feeding habits.

Luckily, Ron and I both live here, so we can always plan another fishing expedition in the future. Despite the challenges we faced today, our shared passion for fishing and the bond between us makes every trip worthwhile.


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