I’ve only been to Arkansas one time and I was very little. I’ve been seeing commercials on TV about how natural it is and all and I needed a vacation. To tell you the truth, I needed a vacation probably more than I’ve ever needed one. You see, I’m in the process of getting a divorce from Mrs. Anglerwannabe. I won’t go into the details for everyone’s sake, but it aint fun. It would probably be easier if we hated each other or had one reason to pin it on, but we don’t. It’s amicable or as friendly as two people can be when they divide up their crap from the last 18 years. Fishing seems to be the only thing I can do that gets my mind off of all the changes coming up soon. I’ve never been to Arkansas so damn it, that’s where I went. I took off on Friday so I went straight from work on Thursday to the airport. I had a stop in Dallas but it was short and I was landing in Little Rock in just a couple of hours. The Little Rock airport is tiny, like much smaller than Austin. Baggage was easy, rental car was easy, and the drive to Heber Springs took about 1.5 hrs. I made it to the Anderson House Inn and checked in. The people there were really friendly and helpful. I felt at home immediately.
I got up the next morning and stopped in at the coffee shop down the street. I ran over to Ozark Anglers to get some tips, flies and just figure out what the hell to do while I’m here to fish the Little Red River.
I was told that the flows out of the damn were pretty much going to screw my day on the water. I could fish right at the damn but it would be too high to wade. As it turns out, the Little Red River was going to be too high to wade the entire weekend or at least that was the way it was looking.
I picked up a copy of Home Waters which is the most expensive local book I’ve ever purchased. I believe the damn thing was about $40. But, after looking through it, I was impressed. The most usable detailed info I’ve seen. Highly recommend it.
I then took a quick drive up to the Norfork area which is part of the White River system. I was told there would be a few good wadeable spots, of course, depending on the water release schedule. After about a 2 hour drive, I made it to the Norfork.
Norfork – Handicap accessible spot
I ended up catching about 7 or 8 trout here but decided I should actually try to fish the White River. I’ve heard about it my whole fly fishing life so wanted to see what all the praise was about. I went back to my car and drove over to Dallys Ozark Fly Fisher shop.
Dally’s was awesome. @diablops recommended that I stop there and I’m glad I did. Great people and all sorts of stuff. I was freezing in the Norfork so I picked up some gloves and a Simms jacket. I could have hung out in that shop for hours.
The only place I could really wade in the White River was about 5 minutes away and it was really to just say I did it. I had low expectations.
The Famed White River!
Expectations were met, not a nibble though I did see a few flashes of fish and one riser. Just no luck for me. As it got dark, I jumped in the rental and headed back. The night was very foggy and my gps decided that I wanted to take the scenic route which didn’t really matter cause I couldn’t see a damn thing. The trip back took 3.5 hours which put me in too late to eat at the Anderson House Inn that night. Tired, I looked over the Home Waters book and decided that I really needed a guide. I sent an email to Greg Seaton, a local guide, to see if he had any openings for tomorrow. I didn’t think he would but it was worth trying.
I woke up the next morning to a voicemail from Greg saying he could do a float trip. I made my obligatory stop at Jitterbug Coffeehouse and met Greg at the Exxon down the road. Greg is an older gentlemen, extremely friendly, knowledgeable and actually retired. He was guiding for the fun of it. He made a call to check the generation schedule and then we headed over to the put in.
I’m not going into all the details of where we fished etc, but the outcome was around 30-35 fish to the boat. The Little Red River is full of fish. I mean they are everywhere. We covered miles of water but I still caught fish at every run. I’ll blame a lot of that on the river but I’m sure my excellent guide had just as much to do with it or more. I had a great time even though I froze my butt off.
Fought hard but he was bird-injured
I can’t say enough good things about my guide for the day. Good conversation, great advice, and he put me on a ton of fish. Although I didn’t catch a world record Brown, I did catch many 12-16″ fish which is still a lot of fun. If you head up his way, give him a call. His price is very reasonable and he even sends you a DVD of your pictures and some of his incredible ones from the area. On a side night, we had really bad weather in Austin a few days later and he called me to check and make sure we were ok. You don’t run into good folks like that very often.
Here’s Greg’s site: http://www.littleredflyfishingtrips.com/
That evening, I was able to make it to dinner at Anderson House Inn. I enjoyed a really well made steak. It also happened to be one of 3 places that serve alcohol in the county. I ended up staying the entire night there getting to know some of the good people of Heber Springs.
A big part of my heart was lost in Austin but the little Ozark town of Heber Springs healed it enough to keep me going forward one day at a time. Thanks y’all!
Damn Dean, this sounds like a great trip! I too have been on the receiving end of a night that went horribly wrong… or was it right… or just much needed? I really don’t remember either.
Probably like many others, I never know what to say when I hear that someone is going through the D, so I always repeat this – “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” ~ John Wayne
Thanks very much for the quote Shawn. I like it.
And yes, the trip was awesome. Highly recommend it to all the Austin folks.
I don’t really understand the “Angler Wannabe” label. You are definitly an angler. Even high water and cold weather couldn’t keep you from catching fish. It was a pleasure spending the day on the river with you. A fisherman that enjoys the river , has an open mind about trying new techniques and is open to suggestions makes a guide’s day enjoyable. After our trip, I heard a song that I really like and I thought I would pass on some of the lyrics.
I wish you the peace of the river
On a sunny day
Like a leaf on the current
As it makes its way
May you go free and easy
Over rocks and shoals
I wish you the peace of the river
Wherever you go
“Peace of the River”
Time heals……believe it or not. Just give it the time. Thanks for the kind remarks about me in your blog. Hope to fish with you again soon!
Thanks again Greg. Very nice lyrics.
I’m very much looking forward to my trip back. I think you need to meet Parker. He is growing into a little anglerwannabe and could use some of your wisdom on the water.
Look for us in the next few months. Let me know when the next big hatch is coming off and we’ll try to make it up.
I think one of the best things about fishing is that it puts you so in the moment that all the voices in your head die down and you can take a break from the constant thought/analysis of the overwhelming world we live in.
It sounds like Arkansas is a good place for that.
Thanks for the story.
If you want to fish, let me know.
Completely agree. I’m very thankful that I found fly fishing years ago. It’s helped me get through many of life’s challenges. It’s the one thing I can do that I can just focus in on something and yet not really have to think about anything. I can just be in the here and now and enjoy the simple beautiful things around me.
I’ve always been a solitary angler, like you years back. I’ve followed your blog for a while now and have seen you evolve into a more social fisherman. I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of person that when the fishing urge hits, I start tweeting or txting for partners, but I think I could enjoy some company now and then.
So, yes, let’s hit one of the streams around here soon. I have a pretty regular M-F 9-6 schedule but should be able to leave work a little early sometime or take off a day. Let me know when you can and I’ll see if I can clear out some meetings for the day.