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“Ozark Edition” CLOSE LOOK: White River
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Every season in the Ozarks has its own special beauty and charm. In winter leafless trees allow an expanded view into woodland landscapes and occasional snowfalls paint unique black and white vistas. It’s also a season that offers increased opportunities for solitude and encounters with monster trout. The Ozark’s great diversity of fishable water from large tailwaters to diminutive spring creeks and Missouri’s trout parks “catch and release” season, winter provides many great escapes from cabin fever. Be sure to take advantage of them. The highlight of winter is Christmas, and as you make out your gift list and select presents for other anglers, we hope you’ll be mindful of the great products offered by our sponsors and those items we’ve highlighted in our product reviews. We’ll see you on an Ozark waterway, but until then we wish you many beautiful vibrations,
ne of the many programs of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, based in Heyward, Wisconsin, is to recognize individuals, organizations, and institutions that have made lasting contributions to the heritage and sport of freshwater fishing. It is with great pride that we announce that one Terry & Roxanne Wilson, Co-Editors of own, Bill Cooper, (read his ‘Close Look’ destination piece on the White River in this issue) will be inducted into that prestigious Hall of Fame in 2018. It’s a richly deserved honor for his decades of service as an outdoor writer (over 3,000 articles), TV host, radio host, and teacher of outdoor skills. He was honored in 2016 on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives for his long career of promoting outdoor recreation. Congratulations, Bill.
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Publisher Don Kirk Editors Terry and Roxanne Wilson Managing Editor Leah Kirk Designer Loryn Lathem Assoc. Editor Adam Patterson Editorial Consultant Olive K. Nynne
For Advertising Rates and general information please call 205-735-9500. Contributors
John Berry Dave Wotton Boot Pierce Keith Gann Mark VanPatten Laura Jane Stallo
THIS ISSUE From the Editors
Westover Farms 8 MOs Premier Fly Fishing and Shooting Destination Fly Fishing Collaborative 16 Saddleback Leather Ozark Winter Caddis
Product Review 32 A. L. Swanson Landing Nets The Hare Rules
Featured Rod Builder Tony Spezio: An Ozark Treasure
Southern Trout Ozark Edition is a ON THE COVER publication of Southern Unlimited, LLC. Rick Kelley Copyright 2017 Southern Unlimited LLC. www.kelleyfineart.com. All rights reserved.
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CLOSE LOOK White River 57
Winter Trophies on the Fabulous White
Featured Fly Shop Natural State Fly Shop
Featured Lodging White River Trout Lodge
Featured Fly Tyer Ron McQuay
Featured Guide 84 Matt Millner Rising River Guides A Cure for the Summer Heat Blues
Think Outside the Boat
Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling
Tyger Forge Buckles
Center Axis Rod and Reel 118
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SweetWater Brewing Company • Georgia • SweetWaterBrew.com
Missouriâ€™s Premier Fly Fishing
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g and Shooting Destination
estover Farms, Missouri’s premier fly fishing and shooting destination, has had a long history in the northern Ozarks. The original community of Westover sprang up in the 1850’s along Dry Creek when James Westover built a gristmill just below what was later to become Westover Spring. The community eventually died out, but the area continued to thrive for many years as a trout hatchery known as Fishermen’s Dude Ranch. In 2011, the Glarner family purchased the property and came in with a vision for making the new Westover Farms a destination resort that not only appealed to trout fishermen but their entire families as well.
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With over a half-mile of spring branch and an additional mile of Dry Creek available for fishing, Westover Farms has everything to offer trout fishermen. The waters are periodically stocked with some of the 100,000 rainbow trout that are raised onsite. Each section of stream at Westover Farms offers something different, and there is a section for every type of trout fisherman. The upper spring branch is big, deep and slow with sand boils of clear spring water popping up everywhere. The fish tend to cruise this area feeding on scuds or other small midges. The beautiful Garden Stream section was designed to mimic the graceful meandering streams of a traditional English Chalk Garden. There are several grass-lined riffles and deep pocket water to hold lots of fish. When the fish are rising a #16 Elk Hair Caddis seems to work wonderfully, and in the fall big hoppers are the go-to fly. Bouncing a Blonde Leech or Zebra Midge along the bottom also seems to work no matter when you fish them. The Falls section is full of big rocks with rolling water and deep plunge pools. The fish love this high-oxygen environment. The biggest trick to fishing the Falls is making sure you have enough weight on those leeches to get them deep. The Forest Stream is small stream fishing at its finest. It is narrow, the fish are easily spooked and your stealthiness will be tested. The reward of fishing this section is landing a fish that you know you have just outsmarted. The mile of Dry Creek that is available for fishing has everything a northern Ozark trout stream can offer. Deep pools and rock ledges seem to hold several fish and can be great nymph fishing. Mayflies and caddis do hatch periodically, but like most of the Ozarks, the hatches are sporadic and unpredictable. Never underestimate the power of a leech when fishing Dry Creek. 10 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
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For the non-fishermen, there are swimming, hiking and biking trails, and even a small cave to explore. The large stone fireplace at the fly shop is always burning and offers a relaxing place to read a book or enjoy a glass of wine from one of the local vineyards. Personally, I recommend a dry Chambourcin from EDG-CLIF Winery or the Norton from Red Moose Vineyards. Both wineries are located nearby and are beautiful places to visit. If shooting is more your style, there is a 5-stand clay shooting range on site that caters to both beginners to experts alike. If you would like to learn how to fly fish or tie your own flies to fish with, both one-on-one and group instruction are available year round. To get to Westover Farms from either St. Louis (90 miles) or Springfield (146 miles) Missouri take I-44 to the Cuba/Steelville exit (Exit 208). Turn South on Highway 19 and continue to Steelville (9 miles). At the three-way stop sign in Steeleville head East on Highway 8 for about 5 miles until you come to the small village known as Elayer. In Elayer turn right onto Highway BB for about 4 miles until you see the grand Westover Farms entrance gate on the right. Donâ€™t trust your GPS because they tend to place you about a mile short on Highway BB. Keep going; you canâ€™t miss the Westover Farms gate. If you reach the low water bridge and the road turns to gravel, you have just passed the gate and gone about 100 yards too far. The office and fly shop are located at the back of the property. Just follow the signs. If you are coming from the East from Nashville (397 miles) or Louisville (366 miles), it is much quicker to take Highway 8 out of Desloge, Missouri. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 13
If you are looking for lodging, there is not a more beautiful place to stay than Westover Farms. The luxury log homes are exquisitely decorated and have the natural feel of a big western fishing lodge. Each house is unique with a beautiful patio overlook, and all have the amenities of home, including custom kitchens, satellite television, and Wi-Fi. The Fishermen’s Inn offers luxury hotel-style sleeping rooms with a common kitchen and barbeque grills for meal preparation. There are two rustically decorated conference centers on site that hold up to 100 people and come complete with multi-media displays as great teambuilding environments. There is no restaurant at Westover Farms. However, each house has custom designed kitchens and outdoor grills available if you prefer to cook. If cooking is not your style, on-site catering is available, or the town of Steeleville is only a few minutes away. Steeleville touts itself as the float capitol of Missouri, and with both the Meramec and Huzzah rivers nearby you will understand why. Several canoe liveries are located close by, and many will even pick you up and drop you off at the front door of Westover Farms. If you want to just hang out or take a break from fly fishing, there are several antique shops and art galleries in Steeleville or such as Zeke’s or Art and Joe. If you are hungry, don’t hesitate to stop by Rich’s Famous Burger’s for the best fresh made burger you ever had or the Soda Fountain for a scoop of Ruby’s old fashion ice cream. If barbeque is more your style Missouri Hick’s South has a good stuffed baked potato called the “Ory” and great outside dining. 14 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
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Whether it is a one-day trout fishing excursion or a weeklong stay, Westover Farms is a great place to relax and enjoy the northern Ozarks. It may very well be Missouriâ€™s premier fly fishing and shooting destination, but with almost 600 acres to explore and 1.5 miles of stream to fish, Westover Farms offers much more and definitely has something to offer everyone in the entire family.
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To achieve their goal they have partnered with Saddleback Leather Company, maker of heirloom quality leather products, to create a remarkable line of fly fishing accessory items. Every dollar of FFC sales goes to the building of aquaponics farms globally and justice initiatives locally. Through aquaponics, they provide sustainable livelihoods to create resources to rescue and prevent more women and children from being sold and trafficked in the world’s third largest industry. It’s hard to imagine a more noble pursuit. All of the Fly Fishing Collaborative products are designed and tested by fly fishers, for fly fishers and strike the perfect balance between beauty, quality construction, and functionality. Their product line includes reel cases, fly dryers and leader straighteners, rod tube skins, reel bags, single and double rod tubes, as well as several fly wallets. As you would expect, only the finest quality materials are used in their construction. Two of their fly wallets provide a case in point. The Large Fly Case has a full grain leather outer, and a soft sheepskin inner, antiqued brass hardware, and marine-grade UV resistant polyester thread stitching (the kind usually used for ship sails). Its designed to float and has an integrated eyelet to allow it to be clipped to your vest, belt or lanyard. The Streamer Fly Wallet is constructed of the same materials. The only difference is that it has ten individual slots on the interior to securely hold and protect larger streamers. Both measure 5” Hx5¼”Wx1¼” D on the exterior and open to 13¾”. All of these quality fly fishing products are built to last. They should be about broken in when your grandkids get them. As the Saddleback Leather Company reminds us, “they’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”
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to www.saddlebackleather.com/ e or call them at (210) 858-5210. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 23
Ozark Winter C
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Caddis (Sedges) A
s I’ve become older, I admit that I’ve gotten lazy and indifferent toward new things. Fishing the spring creeks in the Ozarks has become such a routine event, that I’ve tried to justify not tying any new flies for the experience. Instead, I’ve pushed to convince myself and anyone else, that you only need one fly on those waters, year-round……a size fourteen tan or brown elk hair caddis.
I think that I’ve caught enough fish to justify my stance, but I can’t prove it. And looking back at the last several winters, I’m pretty sure that the trips have been more just long wading hikes than fish catchers.
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The duke and duchess of Missouri spring waters were Chuck Tryon and his wife, Sharon. They both felt that the Elk Hair Caddis in sizes fourteen to sixteen was the best all-round Ozark stream fly. Both a guide friend and my fishing partner, Bob Sadrakula, agree with the Tryons, and I’ve rested on their advice, but deep down, I know that the fish numbers have been receding.
Winter, I define as starting at mid-November and continuing through the end of March. This pretty much covers the weeks when the leaves have fallen, the trees are bare, the grass and weeds have browned, and the leaf fall has been pushed downstream to where ever it’s taken by the fast-moving water. If you’ve fished any streams during the winter, you know that the paths are easier to find, the snakes have pretty much disappeared, the water’s lower, and the fish have moved into the deeper holes. 28 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
Chuck and Sharon don’t list very many flies for winter in their “bible,” “Fly Fishing for Trout in Missouri.” Here’s what they offer in the way of caddis (sedges). Of course, they list fourteen different mayflies along with two different stoneflies, and also midges, but that’s another three subjects.
1. Little Sister Sedge, #14-16, November, December, and March. 2. Little Black Sedge, #16-18, January, February, March, November, December. 3. Speckled Peter, #16-20, November. 4. White Miller, #12-14, November. 5. Dinky Purple Breasted Sedge, #18-20, March and November. 6. Spotted Sedge, #12-14, November. 7. Little Shorthorn Sedge, #12-16, November. 8. Brown Checkered Summer Sedge, #16, November. 9. Dinky Brown Short-horn Sedge, #24, November. 10. Micrasema Ozarkana, #18-20, November and December (I had to throw this one in because of the name “Ozarkana”). www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 29
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I’ve seen tiny mayflies and clouds of midges storm off of the water in December through March. I can’t, however, attest to catching any fish during these hatches since my offering was still a #14 Tan Elk Hair Caddis.
So, I’m limited to what I can tie, (and tie on), and that stops at #18’s.
As you can see, winter flies on the spring creeks in Missouri are pretty much limited to small flies, even though spring creeks tend to maintain their water temperatures, both higher and across a narrower band, than do freestone streams. Based upon the Tryon’s book, only midges and the Little Black Sedge dare to show themselves in January.
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Of course, just when you think you know it all, there are exceptions.... Bob and I were on the Current River one early winter day, and we met a young college student coming downstream carrying a thick fiberglass rod, maybe a seven or eight-weight, and the guy volunteered stories of catching monster browns that day on a size-eight Chernobyl Foam Hopper. He seemed sincere, or maybe we just desperately wanted to believe him!
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So, I’m tying both #16’s and #18’s and am back to using dubbed bodies. I’m dropping bodies made of 2x Uni-Yarn and also peacock herl. Since I’m moving back to #16 and #18’s for this winter session, I figured that I might as well change almost everything. Internet searches revealed a YouTube video by Dave McPhail. Entitled “Tying a Basic Sedge/Caddis Fly,” he not only uses dubbing on his caddis flies but Cul-de-Canard hackle for the wings. I like his design, so I’m following it for this winter’s caddis design…..of course with a few exceptions.
McPhail’s caddis is very basic. He makes his own dubbing, but I prefer Wapsi’s “Life Cycle” caddis dubbing box with twelve different colors. It’s wooly enough so that strands can simulate legs along with the front hackle. I’m hedging my bets by tying several colors: pale green, bright green, and regular olive. For the brown, ginger and brown. (Author’s Note: The Wapsi Company is located in Mountain Home, Arkansas in the heart of the Ozarks. If nothing else, I’m loyal!)
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McPhail uses two tips of cul-de-canard on each side of the dubbing to more accurately portray caddis wings. On the #16 and #18’s, it’s difficult to do, so Elk Hair-style will have to suffice, two or three CDC fibers, well glued. I also follow his suggestion of using hackle smaller than the hook size. However, McPhail uses cree hackle. Most shops don’t carry it. If I can ever locate a source with reasonable prices, I’ll invest in some. Recipe: Ozark Modified McPhail’s Basic Caddis Hook – standard dry fly, 16-18, Mustad 94840 or R50, or equivalent. Thread – UTC 70 or equivalent – dark brown. Body – Wapsi dubbing, various greens and browns Wings – Dun cul-de-canard, probably 3 pieces’ minimum on a 16 or 18 Hackle- Brown, 1 to2 sizes smaller than hook size.
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These are pretty simple flies to tie, seem to float well, and are as visible on the water as an Elk Hair using the same colors. So, that’s it….the caddis (sedge) you need to attack the Ozark’s spring-fed streams during the winter. Oh Yeah, throw a couple of #8 Chernobyl Foam Hoppers in your fly box too. Why take a chance? 36 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
References: Tying a Basic Sedge/Caddis Fly, Dave McPhail, YouTube video, 2016 Fly Fishing For Trout in Missouri Chuck and Sharon Tryon, Ozark Mountain Fly Fishers, Rolla, Mo, 1985, also second revised edition, 1992 www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 37
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Landing Nets T
he A.L. Swanson Company of Helena, Montana, are master craftsmen devoted to creating heirloom quality wood products. As avid fly fishers, they also make beautiful items for fly fishers as well. Their amazing wooden fly boxes were featured in the last issue of the Ozark Edition. The angler can land fish using any landing net or none at all but, why should they? Each piece of specialized equipment should be a stylish expression of their love of the fly fishing experience. That should be a combination of functionality and beauty that translates into pride of ownership. Al Swansonâ€™s landing nets accomplish those criteria with a touch of class.
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While there are many styles, woods, inlays, and sizes from which to choose the Blackfoot Landing Nets are a good place to begin the selection process. As with all of Swansonâ€™s fly fishing items they are built for rigorous use crafted from walnut, cherry, sycamore, abalone shells and brass. Rubber baskets measuring 12-inches wide and 25Â˝-inches long can handle Ozark-sized trout in style. The handles are 9-inches in length, and they are contoured to facilitate a firm grip even in wet, slippery
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conditions. The net is finished with varnish and requires minimal care. If the basket netting begins to wear from excessive use, simply return it and the company will replace it at no cost. If thereâ€™s a particular wood youâ€™d like to have your net made from or some special requirement you want incorporated be sure to let them know. They would love to accommodate you. For more information go to www.alswanson.com, email them at al@alswanson. com, or call (406) 443-3342.
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If you have a choice for only one
ow before you name your fly, consider that you want a fly that will allow you to cover most needs. Think of different presentations and patterns that can in many ways represent many species, not to mention the fact that the fly will enable you to catch species other than trout. The exception is that you could have this fly in its many guises, but maintain the general principle of that pattern.
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e fly, what would you choose?
So I asked the question to many fly fishers who mainly fish for trout and the majority answered that they would choose a wooly bugger, Adams dry or pheasant tail. Interesting, but as for me, that would not be my choice. It would be without a doubt a fly tied with hareâ€™s ear; albeit thatâ€™s not strictly true, as l will explain later. What we are talking about here is the European Hare Lepus europaeus, a species fairly common across European countries. After being introduced, it is found in very large numbers in South America.
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The hare is a large rabbit-like animal, very unlike the North American Jack Rabbit, that can achieve weights in excess of 10 pounds. In the UK it is considered a game species. I personally pursued them with dog and gun many times. At one time it was also an animal that was legally hunted and pursued with dogs. Hare coursing, as it was known, was a popular event where dogs such as Greyhounds were used to course the hare within a selected zone, with points awarded for how the dogs performed. One lesson l learned early on in my life occurred on a day of rough shooting. Rough shooting is walking fields and woodlands searching for all manner of game which may include pheasant, woodcock, partridge, rabbits and so on, You never shot a hare early on in the day because you would have to carry a very heavy load in your game bag. That said, l had done it many times, field dressed the hare, hung it high in a tree or over a barbed wire fence, and picked it up on the way back to the truck.
Most fly tyers are familiar with the hare’s mask, the majority of which are obtained from South American sources. The mask is a fly tying material with a great intrinsic value, and if you know how to source the different structures of fur obtained from the mask a great many different patterns may be tied. That is not to say the body fur is of no use, for it is. Often as not, this body fur is used for blending different types of dubbing materials, which may be all natural fur and combinations of synthetics dyed to different shades. It was one of the natural materials l used most when l owned the SLF Dubbing Company mainly because its characteristics differed from the softer rabbit fur. Hare fur guard hair is far more spiky in its effect and blends very well. So let’s now consider further. If we use different hooks, have hares’ masks dyed to different shades, use beads, different colored tying thread, and various options for ribbing, and say a limit of two types of hackle the permutations are endless. So why was the term hare’s ear coined? The hare’s ear nymph is a very
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old English fly pattern, and typically the instructions to tie the fly instructed that you took the fur from the ear of the hare’s mask. It does differ from the tip to the root, both in the structure of the hair and the change in color tones. That being so, you would be able to tie say a hare’s ear nymph with different shades to represent the abdomen and the thoracic region which is very typical of mayfly nymphs, particularly those of the March Brown. So consider now what you can produce flies just from the mask with the options of materials listed above. In my case, the two hackles l would not be without are the English Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) also known here as the Hungarian and a ginger hen neck. Therefore your permutations using the mask in different shades and or dyed colors are endless; l would put shades of olive and yellow as my two main choices. From these combinations of materials, I listed you can produce numerous nymphs patterns from micro small to very large with or without bead heads which would also include scuds and sowbugs.
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Dry flies: A hare’s ear dry fly is one of my favorite general-purpose patterns to use. Tail whisks are taken from the longer guard hair found on the mask cheeks, body fur is taken from the lower area of the ears, and the hackle is formed from the cheek guard hair. I accomplish that with split thread as that reduces bulk during the wind. You may choose to use a double twist of thread with a dubbing whirl, or you may choose to use a partridge or ginger hackle. Soft hackles and spiders: Again the classic partridge and hare’s ear are hard to beat because it is probably one of if not the best all-round spider or soft hackle fly patterns. By using different dyed shades of the hare’s mask, different sizes of hooks, ribbing colors, and hackle shades numerous variations of patterns can be produced. Streamers: Here again, the mask will provide the body material for a hare’s ear version. Ginger hackle fiber is used for the tail, palmered hackle, a wound hackle, and an optional bead are used for the head. A jig version of the streamer is a great smallmouth bass fly pattern. In conclusion, if you are so minded you can greatly reduce the number of fly patterns in your fly box and the amount of material on your tying bench, but l guess we all know that’s not going to happen, right? www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 47
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ong ago heavy-weight boxing champion Sonny Liston was asked if his most devastating punch was his left hook or his right cross. He answered,”Boffufum.” Understanding Tony Spezio’s many contributions to fly fishing is much more complex. A consummate gentleman, Tony is modest, kind, and remarkably talented. New Jersey born and raised, Tony bought his first bamboo fly rod in bad condition in 1944 for 25 cents and taught himself to re-wrap the rod. A neighbor had him wrap a couple of his rods and gave Tony a copy of iconic Michigan rod-builder and fly tier Paul Young’s book on fly tying. He still has both the book and that original rod. Soon he was the envy of his schoolmates as he was charging $5 a rod to rewind and refinish them. Despite being “hooked real bad” on all things flyfishing, his love for airplanes took over his life. After a stint in the Air Force, marriage, kids, and a move to Oklahoma to pilot planes and build a folding wing airplane, he realized that he had little time left for fly fishing. Eventually returning to New Jersey, he saw an advertisement in an outdoor magazine about learning to make bamboo fly rods and attended a gathering in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1990. Tony had long been fascinated with how 6-strips of bamboo could fit together so perfectly and result in such a beautiful rod that cast so smoothly.
Featured Rod Builder
An Ozark Treasure www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 51
The Spezios moved to the banks of Arkansas’ fabled White River in 1994 with bamboo culms purchased from a Vermont shop that had bought all of legendary rod builder Jim Payne’s equipment and materials. Buoyed by the reminder that he had already built an airplane, one afternoon Tony began to build his first cane rod. Six days later he was casting it. Since that day in 1999, he has caught over 3,000 fish with that rod. Tony remembers,” I was so intimidated that I didn’t start for a long time, but that ended after that first rod.” Accompanying photos reveal the result of Tony Spezio’s rod building skills. His rods are truly works of art prized for their delicate action while maintaining casting power. His favorite rods to build are 7-foot 4wts. and 7½-foot 5 wts. because he likes “the feel of casting and being able to feel what the fish are doing at the end of the line with bamboo.”
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Since the days of being intimidated to begin building bamboo rods, Spezio now finds encouraging others to become rod builders as most satisfying. “That is what I have been trying to do,” he says, “so that other potential makers will not be afraid to try making a bamboo rod.” Tony has given many presentations at Bamboo Rod Gatherings and was instrumental in the formation of the Southern Rod Builders Guild. Tony Spezio’s rod building achievements
alone would be enough to qualify him as a major contributor in flyfishing, but it’s only the beginning. He is equally well respected for his skills at the fly tying vice, as evidenced by his being honored as Fly Fishing International’s Southern Council as “Fly Tier of the Year” in 2007. He is further lauded as one of the world’s greatest tiers when he was presented FFI’s Buz Buszek Award in 2011. One of his original flies, the “Chili Pepper” has been the subject of many magazine
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articles and is regarded by many fly fishers as a “go to” fly. A long-standing member of the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, a club based in Mountain Home, Arkansas, Tony is also the founder of the “Sowbug Roundup” which has become one of the largest and most successful fly tying shows in the Midwest. It is held annually in early spring (late March, early April) in Mountain Home. As you would suspect Tony Spezio is as
accomplished with a fly rod in his hand as he is in the aforementioned aspects of the sport. The authors have watched him fight, land, and release a large rainbow trout (easily 17-18 inches) on a tiny 1-weight rod he had built. Many regard Tonyâ€™s bamboo rods as treasures, as indeed they most certainly are, but the real Ozark treasure in this story is the man himself: Tony Spezio.
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Natural State Fly Shop is located within walking distance of the fabled White River, just up the road from the Cotter boat launch and public access. A full-service retailer and outfitter, Natural State Fly Shop offer flies, tackle, rental driftboats, shuttles, guided float trips on the White and Norfork Rivers, and guided wade trips on Dry Run Creek. Featuring products by Winston, Ross, Galvan, TroutHunter, Catch Fly Fishing, and many more; Natural State Fly Shop offers everything that the visiting fly fisherman needs. Natural State Fly Shop Shop: 870-471-9111
102 Blvd. Cotter, AR 72626Arkansas 3392Harding Cotter Road Cotter, Mobile: 870-706-0820
Southern Trout Ozark Edition
CLOSE LOOK White River
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Winter Trophys on the Bill Cooper
Winter time fly fishermen on the White River need to be prepared with cold weather clothing and 8-weight fly rods. photo courtesy of Matt Milner
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WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
e Fabulous White River T
he world-renowned trout fishery of the fabled White River in Arkansas needs little introduction to died-in-the-wool trout anglers. Most have either fished the spectacular river or have it on their bucket list. Almost 1.5 million trout, most of which are rainbows, are stocked in the White each year and fishermen flock to the bounty, especially in the summertime. However, for those interested in catching a true monster brown trout, that once-in-a-lifetime bruiser, the cold weather months of winter is the time to go.
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Brown trout approaching 40 pounds have been caught from the food rich environment of the world class fishery of the White River. photo courtesy of Matt Millner
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WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
Ron McQuay, a fly tier at the Natural State Fly Shop, in downtown Cotter, Arkansas states emphatically that winter time is the best time to fish the White River system. “Winter fishing on the White is special,” he said. “It’s the time of year when you need to fish the big articulated streamers in the 5-to-8-inch range. You will need a minimum of an 8-weight fly rod rigged with a heavy sinking line.” Coupled with the rigors of using a big rod and casting big flies is the winter weather. “It can be brutal at times, with ice and snow,” McQuay said. “And this type of fly fishing is work. You have to pound the banks and strip really hard. If you turn a fish, you have to strip even harder, or the fish will simply ignore the fly and turn away.” Regardless of the weather and the physical rigors of fishing the White, the possible rewards far outweigh the difficulties, says McQuay. “Catching a 24-inch brown trout, or better, is not at all uncommon. If you want a career fish, winter is the most opportune time to get it.” McQuay summed up his recipe for catching a career fish. “Pack your 8-weight and warm clothing,” he said. “Make arrangements for accommodations and a guide well ahead of time. And be prepared to work your tail off.” It takes serious resolve to fish for the monster browns of the White River, but extra effort has paid off for numerous anglers over the years. In 1972 Gordon Lackey landed a monster brown weighing 31-pound 8-ounces. It stood as the North American brown trout record until fellow guide Leon Waggoner landed a 33-pound 8-ounce giant in 1977, just ounces under the then world record. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 61
In March of 2015, Calvin Johnston braved the snow and 17-degree temperatures to catch a 38-pound 7-ounce brown from the White. Remarkably it is only the third largest brown caught in Arkansas, the largest being a 40.4-pounder caught by Rip Collins in 1992 in the nearby Little Red River. Serious trophy brown trout hunters need to concentrate their efforts on the pre-spawn when many big fish are looking to gain weight in anticipation of the exhausting ritual, according to Hogs on the Fly guide service owner Larry Babin of Cotter. “Some browns spawn below the dam, while many others spawn further down river where the water has warmed slightly from the Bull Shoals Dam area.” The lower end of Wildcat Shoals, the area around the Rainbow Hole and Hurst Hole are good places to check for big browns. Wildcat Shoals boat ramp is a good launching point to float and fish down to Cotter or Rim Shoals. Babin guides experienced fly fishermen to beginners. “My goal is to get people into the sport of fly fishing. I strive to show them a good time and educate them about fly fishing and the fishery.” Babin readily points out that fly fishing during the winter for big browns is hard core fishing, but very rewarding for those who persist. “The tail-waters below Bull Shoals Dam create a phenomenal ecosystem,” he said. “A year-round food supply is consistent and fish grow quickly. Scuds, sowbugs, and midges are a constant source of food for trout. And high water periods flush even more food sources downstream, creating a flurry of feeding activity.” 62 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
The best window of opportunity to catch a brown trout of a lifetime on the Whiter River is during the winter months. photo courtesy of Matt Millner
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High water flows see big browns moving towards the banks to seek areas of less resistance. “An entire culture developed around the fishing of huge streamers for big browns during these high water episodes about a decade ago,” Babin said. “Five-toseven-inch articulated streamers became the ticket for catching these monster fish.” The winter season often brings high waters to White River, but it is not the only time anglers can expect to target big browns. You can’t mark the calendar and say this is the time to come to the White to fish for big browns,” he stated. “However, high water is the time to fish streamers; low water is the time to fish nymphs. It’s always best to call me at the shop before making a trip to check water conditions and how to approach the fish. High water, overcast skies and good visibility create the magic formula for catching bruiser browns on big streamers.” “The White River is the perfect stream to produce big fish,” said Rising River Guides spokesman Matt Millner. “Trout here enjoy a year-round prolific feeding buffet. There is a phenomenal diversity of foods available to trout in the White. Aquatic insects, crayfish, sculpins and rainbow trout are abundant.” Once the browns reach 18-inches their diet changes dramatically. They seek out larger protein sources. The abundant 9-to-12-inch rainbows the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocks in the river each season fills the bill. 64 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
Large rainbow trout can also be caught on White River using large articulated streamers. photo courtesy of Larry Babin
WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
White River Fly Fishing Guides -Hogs on the Fly, Larry Babin, WWW.HOGSONTHEFLY.COM, 870-321-2792 -Rising River Guides, Matt Millner, WWW.RISINGRIVERGUIDES.COM, 501-691-9285 -Flippin Fly Guides, Wooten Brothers, WWW.FLIPPINFLYGUIDES.COM, 406-641-0118 -Natural State Fly Shop, Larry Babin, WWW.NATURALSTATEFLYSHOP.COM, 870-471-9111
White River Trout Lodge, Bill, JoAnna and Brent Smith, WWW.WHITERIVERLODGE.COM, 870-430-5229 The trophy area below the dam is closed to fishing November through January to allow the browns to spawn. “Beginning the first of February a magical transformation takes place,” said Millner. “Massive generations normally take place. Tons of shad are chopped up as they pass through the turbines and float downstream. A feeding spree like no other time of year takes place. That’s a great time to come to Cotter, the ‘Trout Capital of the World,’ to catch that brown of a lifetime.” www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 65
WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Shop
he Ozarks is a special destination for fly fishermen for a number of reasons. The fisheries are open year round and with four identifiable seasons, there is something for every fly angler to look forward to. Itâ€™s also home to a number of trophy brown trout records and a diversity of species including bows, browns, brookies, and two strains of cutthroat. The White River tailwater below Bull Shoals Dam and the Norfork tailwater provide over 60 miles of trout habitat and two incredible smallmouth fisheries nearby in the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek.
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Featured Fly Shop - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
Most avid fly fishers realize what a special place the White River is as it relates to trophy browns. As a FF guide here for the past decade, I've seen my repeat client base grow from other major markets outside of a longer driving distance. Although many clients and visitors are from the Mid South, more and more FF anglers are lured to the Ozarks for its beauty, trout, and lodging. As a package, it's quite economical to plan a trip to the Ozarks. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 67
WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Shop
With more notoriety given to the fly fishing possibilities of the Ozarks, including publications such as the 25 Best Towns Fly Fishing for Trout, the fly fishing community is aware and interest in the area is growing. The most important part of being a full service fly shop is locally tied patterns. Not only do we stock a majority of locally tied bugs, we offer the information required to be successful with time spent on the river. After traveling the country visiting many fly shops, it becomes apparent which ones want to help and are inviting, not intimidating. That's what we strive for.
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Featured Fly Shop - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK accessories are added the customer is river ready and didn't break the bank during the process. Inevitably they return at the end of the day with excitement, enthusiasm, and a few more questions of course. We take the guide business very seriously. One must be licensed, insured, professional, and passionate. We work with a number of these guides that fit the profile for clients ranging from beginner to experienced, solo or corporate group trips. A big part of the guide requirements that is sometime overlooked in this business is to determine the expectations of the client beforehand so that on the river day everyone is on the same page.
Depending on the season, many novice fly fishermen frequent the shop to inquire about fly fishing during their visit. Providing fly rod kits ready to fish and at an affordable price makes it easy to get started. Having a tier, guide, and teacher on site certainly helps. Would be fly fishermen are welcome. We carry multiple fly rod combos in different price ranges. Once some of the required
Ron McQuay is our local fly tier who is one of many that keeps the bins full of local patterns. As every trout fishery has its nuances, so does our tailwaters. Therefore, itâ€™s crucial to stock what works here, not catalog flies to sell the fishermen.
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WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Shop
As a tourist destination many of our clients do not bring vices to tie while here. However, it is not uncommon for clients to inquire beforehand about what he/she could potentially tie in anticipation of the visit. We're more than happy to provide patterns and instruction in advance. Although we carry many fine vendors such as Orvis, Redington, Diamondback, Ross, Galvan, and more, the uniqueness of NSFS is the combination of locally tied flies in the bins ranging from soft hackles to streamers. Our mission is communication with the client about what to expect, how to approach, and generally advice while fishing these tailwaters. Many customers return to offer thanks at the end of a successful day. That's the goal.
The fly fishing "trends" usually revolve around the flows. Being a year round fishery offers many dynamics to the styles and opportunities at hand. Because the flows do fluctuate annually based upon precipitation and other factors, there is something for everyone. This sometimes requires constant updates and river conditions and may include short notice opportunities for the diehard angler.
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Featured Fly Shop - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
As a fly fishing guide for 10 years in the Ozarks and a traveling fly fisherman for many years beyond, I always remember the destination fly shops that went out of their way to assist me in my time spent on their home waters. NSFS strives to be that destination fly shop, local bugs and superb customer service. 102 Harding Blvd. Cotter, AR 72626 870.471.9111 naturalstateflyshop.com https://www.facebook.com/Natural-State-Fly-Shop www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 71
Davy Wot World Class
tton Fly Fishing American International Schools of Fly Fishing Outfitter and Guide Services for the White River region Custom Flies and Fly Fishing DVDs
Office: 870-453-2195 Cell: 870-404-5223
WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Tier
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Featured Fly Tier - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
on McQuay is not your typical Ozarker. McQuay grew up in California’s central valley near Modesto. He did some trout fishing in the Sierra Mountains, but most of his fishing was in the San Joaquin valley lakes and rivers. Today though McQuay lives and breathes the Ozarks from his home in Cotter, Arkansas. “I started out rather humbly with a cane pole and can of red worms,” says McQuay. “Later, I graduated to a spinning outfit. Then, after being enticed by magazine articles in Field and Stream, Sports Afield, etc., I received my first fly rod in 1965. It was an 8 weight, 9’ fiberglass Fenwick rod and Shakespeare Purist reel that still have. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 75
WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Shop
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“The clerk that sold it to me knew that I didn’t know Featured Fly Shop - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK backing from BS and saw an opportunity to unload that weight,” says McQuay. “The problem was that there wasn't any water within a few hundred miles that required that much rod where I fished the small streams of the Sierra foothills. I didn't know that an 8 Wt. was massive overkill for those small streams. All I knew was that I was a serious fly fisher and I had a brand new fly rod.”
“I still don’t know why that rod didn't end up in a rummage sale, except that I had such a passion for fly fishing. Eventually, I figured out how to throw enough line to catch a fish. It was frustrating and took a long time but boy was it worth the effort. At that time, there were no fly fishing schools or You-Tube videos available. So, I was self-taught. It was terrible and frustrating. I gave up several times, but always went back and tried again. Eventually, I learned enough to get 30 or 40 feet of line out and catch a few fish. The only reason I didn’t quit was that I was so passionate about this sport! I just couldn’t give it up. I am telling you this to let you know that I have made all the mistakes and felt all the frustrations of fly casting.” www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 77
WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Shop
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Featured Fly Shop - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK It took relocating later in Cotter that McQuay first developed an interest in tying flies, back in the early 90’s. At the time he developed his interest in tying trout flies. He was and is largely self taught. He sensed that fly tying a not magic, or something that requires going back to school for. He simply set about the task of creating a great looking, trout catching fly patterns. At the time McQuay was already a trout fishing guide on the White River. His frequent trips to the White River gave him intimate knowledge of the feeding patterns of its trout population. He converted his knowledge of the rivers and its insects to create patterns that accurately imitated the flies found there. “When I first began tying trout flies, some of the patterns you tied most often were Wooly Buggers, Scuds and Sow Bugs,” says McQuay “This was partly because these particular patterns were pretty easy to tie. The other reason was just as logical. The simplistic patterns are the patterns we have; the ones that I used to catch fish.” Today, McQuay is one of the most successful and best-known tiers in the region. He ties commercially, and he also frequently teaches others how to tie flies. A traditionalist at the vise, when sharing his knowledge of patterns, McQuay still instructs other in the ways of the some of the older, traditional patterns such as Wooly Buggers, Scuds, Sow Bugs and Kracklebacks. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 79
WHITE RIVER - Featured Fly Shop
“When fishing the Ozarks and/or Taneycomo specifically, I have flies that I consider essential to carry,” says McQuay. “These are smallish streamers, Scuds, Sow Bugs, and the Anna K. These are my version of soft hackles and midges. However, in recent years, I have really begun to lean toward many of the newer patterns. Some examples of newer patterns that I have come to rely on a lot in recent years include the Kreinik Soft Hackle, Ruby and Rootbeer midges, and 56ers. These are really hot and I cannot say enough about them.” When it comes to tying materials, we asked McQuay if he regarded himself as a self-sufficient tier, that is one who gathers many of the materials used in tying efforts. He said that he relies mostly on commercially available materials. Some of the new materials that he really likes are Flashy Synthetics and some of the newer dubbings like SLF and Prism, and Kreinik. 80 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
Featured Fly Shop - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
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506 W. Main St., Pickens, SC 864-507-2195
Full & half day guided fly-fishing trips
Carrying Redington, Umpqua, Simms, RIO, Rep Your Water and more!
Come fish the Blue Wall with us!
magine, a consistent water temperature year round, a diverse and flourishing ecosystem, fishing for 365 days, and a river system that offers up excellent fishing for beginner and expert anglers. Imagining, in the case of the tailwaters of Arkansas, does make it real. The White River system is full of fun, small, aggressive bows and trophy fish. The White and Norfork rivers bring to reality any dream of a fly fisherman eager to catch just one fish or to catch the grand slam (a brooke, brown, cuttie and bow) all in one day. Next, imagine a way to tap into that wealth of fishing. Enter Rising River Guides in Cotter, Arkansas.
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Matt Millner of Rising River Guides gives people an educational, fun day on the water, no matter what skills the angler has or doesnâ€™t have. Each day they guide, their goal is, simply, to give you what you want. That want can include a day away from the office, a skill you want to learn, a personal best
you want to achieve, or simply learning how to cast. According to Matt Millner, owner of Rising River Guides, â€œThe tailwaters of Arkansas are so special for a number of reasons. Arkansas has some amazing fishing. We have big year round floatable tailwaters as well as spring fed creeks and
WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
rivers perfect for drift boats and walk wade. Whether you are after a small mouth, a trophy trout and your first feisty rainbow we have it all. Rising River Guides would love to show you everything that the natural state has to offer.â€? Barriers are only objects to overcome. Beginner or not beginner clients are welcome at Rising River Guides. Instruction is given to all at all levels of fishing. Equipment or no equipment is not a barrier either. Clients can show up with nothing other than a fishing license. Rising River Guides fishes and offers for use, top-of-the-line equipment from Sage, Winston, Scott, Orvis, etc.
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WHITE RIVER - Featured Guide
Guiding began for Matt Milner almost by accident. “I sort of fell into guiding. I was spending lots of time on the Little Red River in Heber Springs fishing every day and a local outfitter approached me about working for him and about going to Alaska to work, I jumped on it and have been guiding full time ever since. That was in January of 2006,” Milner said. When Rising River Guides goes on a trip lunch is provided. “Our lunch program consists of homemade deli sandwiches with all the fixings, chips, cookies and a cold drink. Specialty lunches are available on request from Kosher foods, to riverbank burgers, BBQ, etc.” Preferring to guide from a boat, Milner has several options available. First, a 2017 supreme 1648 with 30/40 Yamaha jet motor and oars is available for use. Also, clients can use a 1996 Hyde low profile drift boat. “A new Clacka craft head hunter skiff is on the way and should be finished in early November, Milner said.
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Featured Guide - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK “The cool thing about tailwater fishing is no two days are alike,” said Milner. “I have been very blessed with most of my business being repeat customers or direct referral. The river changes every day, multiple times a day sometimes so it offers the ability to work on different techniques and tactics and keep things fresh and fun. You could literally fish the white river fifty times and get a different experience every time if you wanted to.” Because of their experience, Rising River Guides wants potential customers to not be afraid to tell them exactly what to get out of the day. According to Milner, “This is your trip and I want to meet your expectations. Every angler is different and likes different styles of fishing. As a guide, it's easy to fall into a pattern so be sure to talk about what kind of fisherman you are and your fishing goals. One of my favorite expressions is ‘guide not God.’ I’ll give you my best every day, I'll row hard, stay out late, start early, and keep trying to think outside the box. Some days it pays off, and other days, the river leaves you humbled, but one thing stays the same. If you're fishing with Rising River Guides, you’re going to eat well, be treated with respect, learn something and have fun on your fly fishing trip.” If you are interested, please check them out and follow them on Instagram at instagram@risingriverguides. Go there to check out what we are currently getting into! www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 87
Donâ€™t go home empty handed! www.sunbursttrout.com
Sunburst Trout Farms Is located below the Shining Rock National Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest. Since 1948 they have been growing rainbow trout, and the farm is now run by third generation brothers Wes and Ben Eason.
Sunburst has a long standing commitment to quality. Their fish are hormone and antibiotic free, and the feed is made especially for them containing no mammalian by-products. All trout are cut to order in small bathces, mostly by hand, thus ensuring all products are of the highest standard. In addition to Sunburst’s flagship fillets you can also find their award winning caviar, as well as trout jerky, hickory smoked trout, cold smoked trout, smoked trout dip, trout sausage, and even some non trout products, pimento goat cheese and smoked tomato jam. Be sure to stock up on their Original Jennings Jerky! It’s shelf stable and perfect for those long days fly fishing. To order go online to www.sunbursttrout.com
314 Industrial Park Drive Waynesville, NC 28786 828-648-3010 • 800-673-3051
WHITE RIVER - Featured Lodge
n the world of real estate, there are only three things about which you have to know: location, location, and location. When it comes to fishing in Cotter, Arkansas, there are only three things you with which you need to concern yourself: location, location, and location. This could not be truer than when evaluating the famous White River Trout Lodge. Consider this interesting fact: from the front door of the lodge, the Buffalo River is 35 miles; Lake Norfork is 25 miles; Bull Shoals Lake is 25 miles; Crooked Creek is 25 miles, and the Norfork River is 25 miles. Big Springs Park in Cotter with an old-timey swimming hole for young people is but 9 miles away. The Fish Hatchery and Dry Run Creek for handicapped people and children 16 or younger that offers pristine, one of a kind fishing experience is 25 miles away. Dry Run Creek offers a pristine, one of a kind fishing experience and is set aside to be used by handicapped people and children 16 years old or younger. Gaston’s Visitor’s Center at Bull Shoals Dam is 25 miles away. Buffalo River National Park is 35 miles away. Mountain View Folk Center and Blanchard Springs Caverns are 60 miles away. And…the country music capital of the world, Branson is 90 miles away.
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Featured Lodge - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
TROUT LODGE That works out to almost a couple of weeks’ worth of fun. “We have an excellent and unique location,” says JoAnna Smith, the coowner of the White River Trout Lodge. “We are located half-way between Bull Shoals Dam and Cotter, Arkansas. There is nothing across from us but bluffs. Water is accessible and it does not matter how many generators are on. Even with 8 generators running, because we have a peninsula on the upstream side of our property, bank or wade fishing can be done easily. Because we are not as heavily populated as many resort areas, our waters have less traffic. We are in an excellent location for the big brown trout if that is what you want to catch.”
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WHITE RIVER - Featured Lodge
` The White River Trout Lodge is a magnificent three-story modified A-frame structure with an additional cabin on its 475 feet of river frontage. The Lodge has three separate levels, each self-contained with bedroom/bedrooms, kitchen, full bath, living room, and deck. It also has a large community deck. Each deck has a charcoal grill and outdoor seating. The Lodge can be rented at a discount or separately for two or three levels. If all of the levels are rented, they can open up the spiral staircase which runs through the middle of the lodge. The entire Lodge rents for $435 a night for up to twelve people in separate beds, but with futons and fold out sofas; sixteen can easily be accommodated without doubling up. There are four queen sized beds and two double sized beds, so if you are coming as a family and want to double up, you can. The Cabin is a one bedroom unit with kitchen; full bath; living room and two decks which provide seating and a charcoal grill. Two of our units in the lodge have massive native stone fireplaces and the cabin also has a fireplace. “We provide the kitchen supplies you would expect to find in your own home and charcoal and lighter for the grills,” says Smith. We provide firewood for the fireplaces and also for our outdoor fire pits. Of course, linens, towels, shampoo are also provided. We have a private boat ramp which is accessible only to our customers or their guides. We also have three boats which can be rented. We strive to make people as comfortable as possible.” 92 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
Featured Lodge - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
“My husband, son and I originally needed to supplement my health insurance when we purchased the property in 2001,” explains Smith. “But, as it turned out, we enjoy doing it, so it now supplements our retirement.” “The lodge was originally a single-family home,” says Smith. “When we bought it over fifteen years ago, my husband and son completely remodeled it into three separate levels with 3,000 square feet of deck. It took them four years to complete. The timbers in the lodge are massive and the insulation between the floors is sixteen inches.” Smith says that their motto or tagline is “Relax with nature – by the riverside.” The decks offer private viewings of the trout in the waters which can come right up to the Community deck. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 93
WHITE RIVER - Featured Lodge
“Bird watching is always interesting and lately we have had one or two eagles hanging out on the bluff across from the lodge,” says Smith. “We also have many, many other species of birds. There is a good walking road on out the Denton Ferry road which follows the river and has great wildflowers and beautiful trees. We often have a beautiful fall. We are open year round because the fishing is excellent year round. The browns spawn in what some people consider off-season fishing.” While the Smiths do not offer tradition dinning, if you don't want to do your own cooking, there are several restaurants not far away. In Cotter, there are the White Sands and Warrior Station, and K.T.'s BBQ in Gassville is always good. White River Trout Lodge is located on a quiet country road off of the Denton Ferry Road. If you are on the main highway 62/412 which crosses over the White River near Cotter, you turn onto Denton Ferry or Baxter County 1, go 7.3 miles to the second entrance to 703 and take a left. Next, go 3/10 of a mile to get to White River Trout Lodge. “I really like to see that our customers enjoy their stay and I am very open to phone calls with any questions you have,” says Smith. “I am very open to phone calls with questions they may have. If you take any of the side trips to the surrounding area lakes or attractions, I can recommend places to eat farther out than the ones I have suggested above." www.WhiteRiverLodge.com info@WhiteRiverLodge.com 870-430-5229 or 1-877-848-7688 94 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
Featured Lodge - WHITE RIVER CLOSE LOOK
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A Soothing Chill Mark Van Patten
Montaukâ€™s Winte 96 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
weat pooled in the corners of my eyes. I pulled a bandana from a pocket on my fly fishing vest and feebly attempted to staunch the flow. At 90 degrees with a humidity equally as high, I decided that I was ready for much cooler weather to share my knowledge as a fly angling instructor. The water of the Current River does little to cool my head while standing knee deep in its cold embrace. Waders, vest, and hat are all part of the uniform of a well-dressed fly angler, however, they contribute to the discomfort of a hot August morning.
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My students are losing the heat battle as well. Maybe it is time to consider a new plan, like holding classes during the winter catch and release season at Montauk State Park. Nestled deep in an Ozark valley, Montaukâ€™s numerous springs provide 50 million gallons of 58-degree water daily, forming the headwaters of the 184-mile-long Current River. Stately oak and hickory forests spotted with 98 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
eastern red cedars and native short leaf pines stand atop breath-taking dolomite bluffs, creating a backdrop for a perfect trout fishing adventure. In the depth of winter, the dark green of the cedars mixed with the bright green of the pines fill your view above. Mosscovered rocks and bright green watercress, in and along the stream combine to reflect the promise of spring. With winter days averaging 40 degrees in Missouri just
about anytime is perfect for casting a well-placed fly just upstream from a feeding rainbow. Winter catch and release season at Montauk State Park runs from the second Friday in November to the second Monday in February. Fishing is allowed four days a week on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Fishing is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A daily tag is not required, but a fishing license is.
Fishing is only permitted upstream from the old lower water bridge just below the handicap fishing pier in the campground. Only flies may be used during the catch and release season. The definition of a fly is provided later in the article. The lodge, motel, campground and a few cabins are open year-round. To make reservations, contact the lodge at 573-548-2201 or go to www.mostateparks.com/ park/Montauk-state-park
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The store and restaurant are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the winter season. One of the many benefits of fishing the catch and release season is how few anglers there are to compete for your favorite spot. I can recall days fishing where I could glance both up and down the stream and not see another person. The Missouri Department of Conservation fish hatchery stocks daily through the summer season. They make one last large stocking just before the end of the season. This ensures great fishing for the Winter program.
Like all the trout parks in Missouri, anglers have named the more promising spots to fish. Some to look for are the White Oak Hole, the Social Hole, the Blue Hole, Hudson Corner, the Gabions, and the Mill Dam, just to name a few. To find these â€œsecretâ€? spots you might have to wander up to the lodge store and ask some of the old-timers or check with Greg and John at the counter. Be sure to stay in the catch and release area when fishing, as some of these treasured locations are not in the catch and release designated area. While youâ€™re at the park store, take a gander at the fly selection and ask what they are biting on.
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We all know why they call it fishing instead of catching. Just like the regular season, the fish are not always cooperative. But, fish are fish and they have to eat sometime. You may need to change flies a few times to find the right one. However, the best tactic for fly fishing anytime is to stand and observe. Winter hatches at Montauk tend to be small flies like Tricos and small, Blue Winged Olives. Caddis are prolific throughout the winter. A size 18 tan Elk Hair Caddis is always a good producer if they are hitting on the surface. If no flying insect activity is happening then think about going down with a size 16 pheasant tail nymph or Gold Ribbed Hares Ear. A size 16 royal blue Crackleback and a Pheasant Tail Nymph dropper make a very effective combination above the Mill Dam in the slightly faster water. Another good pattern for the winter is a midge pattern. Griffiths Gnats are good for the surface activity and Zebra Midges for below the surface. You can bet there are other patterns that are effective, just ask around. Check up at the store. Remember to always look in the bins that are nearly empty. These are the flies everyone is buying. During the winter season, anglers are more relaxed and generally more inclined to share their knowledge of which patterns are working and which are not. Donâ€™t be afraid to ask that angler downstream what he or she is catching them on. 102 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
Definition of a Fly Fly—An artificial lure constructed on a single-point hook, using any material except soft plastic bait and natural and scented bait as defined below that is tied, glued, or otherwise permanently attached. Natural and scented baits—A natural fish food such as bait fish, crayfish, frogs permitted as bait, grubs, insects, larvae, worms, salmon eggs, cheese, corn and other food substances not containing any ingredient to stupefy, injure or kill fish. Does not include flies or artificial lures. Includes dough bait, putty or paste-type bait, any substance designed to attract fish by taste or smell and any fly, lure or bait containing or used with such substances. Soft plastic bait (unscented)—Synthetic eggs, synthetic worms, synthetic grubs and soft plastic lures. Artificial Lure—A lure constructed of any material excluding soft plastic bait and natural and scented bait defined above. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 103
Missouri winters vary with the daily forecast. You might encounter a sunny 50-degree day in January or a chilly 27-degree day with 6 inches of snow on the ground. When scheduling a trip to Montauk for the winter catch and release season, plan for any kind of weather. If you are fortunate and find a nice blanket of snow on the ground, you can experience something that few can in todayâ€™s fastpaced society. A stillness, an almost sound-deadening
wall settles around you. There is the soft rush of the water, the silent flight of a soaring eagle overhead, the quietude is only broken by the splashing of a feisty rainbow on the end of your line. It is a magical occurrence and one I hope you can experience. This time on the water is a comfort to your inner peace and helps keep your skills tuned to maintain your status as a master angler for the March 1st opener.
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very great fly fishing guide has a mission. Jenny MayrellWoodruff, it is to introduce new people to fly fishing, improve the skills of more experienced anglers and work hard to insure that the Lower Mountain Fork River continues to improve as a trout fishery. “The Lower Mountain Fork River has a healthy population of wild trout and also gets supplemental trout stockings every 2 weeks year-round,” says Jenny. “This tailwater River has a variety of water types from fast and rocky to smooth and tranquil. Unlike other Southern tailwaters, there is quality water that is not affected by power generation releases.” Located in extreme Southeastern Oklahoma, the Lower Mountain Fork River below the Reregulation dam is a popular recreation
spot. At medium flows, this is an excellent river for whitewater kayaking. Water quality in this clear, rocky stream is very good, with water temps kept at or below 70 degrees to support a healthy trout population. “I started out guiding for a local fly shop in 2010,” says Jenny. “At the time I had no intention of becoming a full time guide, much less making a career
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utside the Boat
ne of the things that I hear every day is, “Where can I fish on this high water?” The best advice that I can give is to fish from a boat. Boats are safer, more comfortable, and more effective fishing platforms than wading. However, many anglers do not have access to a boat, or they just don’t like fishing from one. Some fly fishers just prefer wade-fishing, and I am one of them. When I wade, I feel that I am one with the river. I am one of a few local guides that will book wading trips. Sometimes I feel like I am the only fly fishing guide in Baxter County who owns a pair of waders. What do you do when they are running a lot of water and you don’t own a boat? I say think outside the boat. We are lucky here Northwest Arkansas in that we have a lot of alternatives for wade-fishing when they are running big water here in the “Twin Lakes” area.
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The first stream that I think of is the Norfork Tailwater, the stream below Norfork Dam. Unlike Bull Shoals Dam there is no series of dams above it, and as a result, the Norfork draws down more quickly and is wadable more often and more consistently than the White. The trick here is that you need to carefully monitor the SWPA (Southwestern Power Administration) website to see when the prediction indicates a period of wadable water. I do this every day. I caught a nice opportunity yesterday, for example. The Norfork generators were scheduled to be off until 10:00 AM. I got there at 6:00 AM and got in four hours of fishing before the water came up. Another option for wade-fishing is the North Fork of the White. This is the same stream as the Norfork, but it is the river above Norfork Dam. Itâ€™s a great trout stream with some really nice wild rainbows. With no dam on this section, it is a free-flowing stream until it gets to Norfork Dam. My wife Lori and I fish it from time to time and always enjoy it. My favorite fly for the North Fork is a big stonefly nymph. The Spring River, near Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, is another excellent ooption. This is a very special stream to me. It is a spring-fed river stocked with trout where I learned to fly fish and where I met Lori. The only problem with this river is that it is very popular with canoeists and kayakers. During warm weather, it can get quite crowded with boaters who have little concern about disturbing your fishing. I generally reserve the Spring River for colder weather when there are fewer boats. My favorite fly here is an olive woolly bugger. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 109
bamboo If you for want you something a bit different, try Crooked Creek. It is a free-flowing
smallmouth bass stream and Loriâ€™s favorite. The most convenient place for me to fish Crooked Creek is at the Fred Berry Conservation Center, where there is a Catch and Release Section that fishes well. Make sure that your vehicle is outside the Fred Berry Conservation fence before 4:30 PM when they lock the gate. My favorite fly for this section is the Clouser Minnow. Finally, another spot that probably has some of the most spectacular scenery around is the Buffalo River. This is a National Scenic Riverway and is basically a National Park surrounding the Buffalo River. There are loads of accesses and 135 miles of river to take in. I prefer fishing the lower forty miles or so. In warm weather, there can be canoes and kayaks on the water but not as many as the Spring River. Thereâ€™s even a herd of elk. My favorite fly here is the Clouser Minnow. As you can see, there are plenty of alternative destinations to wade when the SWPA is running water. I fish all, of them from time to time when I want some wadable water. Get out there and give them a try. John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over thirty five years. John can be reached at (870) 435-2169 or http://www. berrybrothersguides.com.
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ad submersible sling I
n a lifetime of wade-fishing, it’s impossible to calculate the losses incurred from constantly submerging the pockets of innumerable fishing vests. The loss of countless flies from rusted hooks, discoloration, and matted feathers heads the lengthy list, but the ruin of several sheep’s wool-lined streamer wallets, leather leader cases, a bunch of tools, and soggy lunches aren’t far behind. Finally, that problem is in the rearview mirror. Fishpond has created a comfortable sling pack that is not just “waterproof” but totally submersible. The Thunderhead Submersible Sling is made from Fishpond’s Cyclepond recycled material, heavy duty welded fabric, and zippers that are TIZIP submersible. The main compartment has a large opening that leads to a roomy storage area and interior zippered accessory pockets. The sling and back panels are wide for comfort and utilize mesh construction for increased ventilation. The exterior has an integrated net slot, Hypalon tabs, and reinforced cord loops for tool and accessory attachments as well as an easy access exterior zippered pocket. Dimensions of the pack are 16”x9”x6½” which enables it to hold three times more than most conventional vests, so contents are easier to locate, use, and return to storage places. The Thunderhead Submersible Sling rides comfortably to the side opposite your casting arm or on your back, so it never interferes with casting or other maneuvers. When you wade into casting position, and the pack is dragged through the water, as invariably it will be, none of its valuable contents are exposed. The contents remain bone dry. Even traditionalists recognize the vast improvements, from the ease of simply slinging the pack over a shoulder before heading into the water to arriving at your destination to find all of the pack’s contents dry and secure. For those who fish from a pram, canoe or kayak the Thunderhead Submersible Sling also serves as the perfect boat bag. For all wade-fishers with a tendency to wade into the deepest possible casting positions to reach the best fish lies, it’s simply indispensable. For more information go to www.fishpondflyfishing.com. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 113
TYGER FORGE M
ark Goodwin may not be a household name to some, but in the flashy world of buckles and belts, he’s a master at what he does. His credentials and accolades are a testament to his skill. Some of his buckles are sold through the Scottish Tartans Museum, and he was a finalist at the World Champion Belt Buckle Competition. His buckles can sell for upwards of sixty dollars, their price well worth the cost according to one avid customer, “[I] can’t quite express my gratitude for your making these belts.” Not only are Goodwin’s belts sturdy and attractive, but they’re environmentally economic. Many of the buckles are made of recycled metal, repurposed and rehomed. No matter if worn for fashion or practicality, these belts are treasures that will stand the test of time.
Laura Jane Stallo
Goodwin began his working career as a veterinarian with degrees in pathology and population medicine, specializing in microscopic diagnostic pathology and applied research. Yet, a few years ago, despite his very successful career, he took up the hammer and nail for reasons that were admirable and logical, Goodwin needed an authentic belt to complete his “Highland”
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attire. However, all of the belts sold in the U.S. were cheaply made and lacked quality, characteristics of anything mass produced. Not willing to settle for anything but the best, Goodwin delved into the complex world of icecold metal and glistening gemstones. So when it came to fabricating designs, he merely shifted his creativity from mammals to metals.
As with any new venture or vocation, patience and a sense of purpose were key to Goodwinâ€™s apparent success. Forging steel and making something beautiful out of something that was once cold, blank, and impassive can only be described as an art and a skill. Each belt may follow the same basic process, hammer here, solder there, but they are all unique and specially made, no two exactly alike. www.Southerntrout.com l Ozark Edition l November 2017 l 115
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The majority of the materials used in each buckle are found in the United States, ranging from recycled metals to the Oregon Sunstone. One of his most notable and popular buckles, The Sundance Kid, gleams with the glow of a yellow jade sun. The actual process for making The Sundance Kid is extensive and detailed. Any project must first become an idea, a loose sketch that is to be expounded upon and developed as the concept becomes more tangible. Once Goodwin has an idea, he selects what metals and gemstones are needed. Sheet metal components are then cut out and refined to a smooth edge. in the case of the Sundance Kid, a cartridge brass circle is used. Like many sculptors, Goodwin uses the wax method, a process which requires a soft silicone mold to be made, a resin replica, a hard silicone mold, wax replica, an investment mold and finally a bronze replica. Despite the wax models and the investment mold being destroyed in the process, Goodwin always remakes them. To him, the buckle now is merely a blank canvas, waiting to be brought to life. Goodwin signs the brass circle and attaches the nickel components using an acetylene torch, before flooding the brass circle with molten pewter, sculpting the pewter, soldering the bronze tarpon and the copper bezel. The gem is then handset into the copper bezel cup after sanding and cleaning. To complete the buckle, and give it a worn, vintage look, Goodwin applies a beeswax and turpentine finish, this particular coating doesn’t crack or discolor like many of the more commonly used finishes. Finding another lack of quality goods in the belt-buckle industry, Goodwin patented his GatorGrip belt. Perfect for the practical purposes of those in the sports industry because of its no-slip solid brass buckle teeth. Handsome, comfortable, strong, and rustproof, this is a belt that will weather any storm. All of Goodwin’s belts and buckles have character. They are unique to the specifications of the buyer and one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re an avid rodeo rider or a fashion connoisseur, you can surely find a place for these handcrafted works of art.
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R AXIS ROD & REEL
e are creatures of habit. When a fly rod and reel come out that simply turn your world upside down, you have to step back and scratch your head and wonder. This is where we found ourselves at the ICAST Show earlier last summer. Our entire entourage huddled around where were in the booth, while Waterworks Lamson, reel designer Tim Volk, held school to our closed mouth wonderment.
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“At Waterworks-Lamson our goal has been to make gear so technically fluid you can almost forget it's there,” said Volk. “How? By eliminating complexity, reducing weight, streamlining design, and using advanced materials and cutting-edge processes.” In a nutshell, Waterworks-Lamson’s quest was to remove the reel seat so as to move the reel up toward the center axis of the rod. What that does is keep the weight of the reel in line with the rod, so when you are casting, you do not feel the kick or the turn of the reel. This allows you to soften your grip and thus feel the load of the rod. The system couples together with an O-ring lock system that is waterproof just like is on their line of fly reels. The Center Axis reel is a Litespeed based version with a large arbor. The Center Axis concept is not new. Sage tried it a few years back, but the introduction proved to be less than anticipated. Unbeknownst to them, though, the concept was developed by the Waterworks-Lamison team who licensed it to Sage. This latest Center Axis fly rod is the design team’s latest efforts to strip gear down to the core dynamics until what remains is only the essential. The Center Axis may be the most meaningful advancement in fly rod performance since graphite replaced fiberglass. By closely aligning the center mass of their Litespeed reel with the center axis of their medium-fast action rod, the result is that they’ve de-levered the mass of the heavier object. You can feel it when you cast the Center Axis. Immediately, there is a sense of the difference in it and anything else you may have cast in the past. Frankly though, describing it is bit like telling someone you have smoke in a jar. The first thing you notice is your ability to really be in tune with the rod. You almost forget the reel’s presence and, therefore, focus more on that you are doing. The whole experience of the Center Axis is one of forgetting the weight of the reel, i.e. the rods become an extension of your arm. The rod feels lighter and more comfortable. You don’t have to lean into the cast. It is all…so…natural. 120 l November 2017 l STOE l www.SouthernTrout.com
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We discovered that the Center Axis was perhaps the best roll casting rod we had ever cast. We spent three days casting the rod on North Carolina’s famous Tuck River as well as on Deep Creek and the Oconulaftee River in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. An hour into the exercise, a strange thing happened. Forgotten was the fact of the reel designed. We were deep enmeshed into pure casting, virtually forgetting the fact the unique reel/rod combo. That was a pretty sporty sensation to say the very least. Changes in any fly fishing product are seen incrementally, but not so with the giant steps taken by Waterworks-Lamson with the introduction of their unique Center Axis design. The mass of the reel affects the balance of the rod and the resulting smoothness of the cast. Designers considered this. The Waterworks-Lamson rod blank is one of the most fluid for casting, and it delivers smoothly and powerfully. We rate it as one of the best offers to anglers in a long time. The blanks are perfectly matched with the reel. As a stand-alone component, this blank holds its own quite well with other top-shelf blanks on the market today. It may be an exaggeration to say that it when casting, it is as though there no reel attached to the blank. The sensation is so subtle that the reel weight appears to be more or less camouflaged. The rod and reel mass become one and are right there in your hand. It’s almost like a hybridTenkara---but now you have a reel to hold your line with hardly any notice of weight of the reel. Why not, the entire Waterworks-Lamson Center Axis weighs less that is lighter than a standard rod and reel set-up (note that the 5-weight system is impressively light to begin with, weighing in at a lean 2.4oz). The reel itself is yet another excellently designed and crafted item at Waterworks.Lamson design team. The main thing is that this rod and reel system isn’t different just to be different: it serves a function. Available in 4-5-6 and 8-wt systems. The result amazed us. You feel the pulse of your cast like never before. Don’t take our word for it. Put the Center Axis in your hand. Casting is believing.
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Boot Pierce is a geologist by trade and has been a fisherman all of his life. In the early 1990’s he ditched his spinning rod and began fly fishing all the crystal clear trout streams that the Ozarks had to offer. He now travels the Midwest demonstrating fly tying and speaking about fly fishing techniques and destinations. Boot is the owner of Rainwater Fly Fishing, which features fly fishing and fly tying classes, guiding, and public presentations on the sport. He calls the Blue Ribbon trout streams of Missouri home.
John Berry is a fly fishing guide on Arkansas’ White, Norfork, Spring, and Little Red Rivers for trout and Crooked Creek for Smallmouth Bass. He teaches fly fishing and fly casting for Arkansas State University and has been a seminar presenter and fly tier at the Federation of Fly Fishers’ National Conclave and many other venues, and served as a guide for Hooked on a Cure. John is a fly fishing columnist for the Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Arkansas and wrote three chapters of the highly successful fishing guide, Home Waters. John was recently awarded the Charles E. Brooks Memorial Lifetime Award by the Federation of Fly Fishers.
Davy’s professional career began in the 1960’s as a professional fly tyer from his home in Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom. From that he progressed into the mail-order business and in the 1970’s began to both develop and manufacture fly tying and fly fishing products and further the knowledge of fly fishing through written articles for publication. Home now to Davy finds him near the pristine waters of the White River System which was first introduced to him by his longtime friend, Dave Whitlock. Davy engaged now more than ever in the world of fly fishing as the Managing Director of the America.
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MARK VAN PATTEN
Keith Gann is a retired manufacturing executive who lives with his wife Martha in the Kansas City area. When not fly-fishing or quail hunting or shooting on the local range, he is building and restoring bamboo flyrods, or making hand-crafted hunting knives. He has been a freelance writer for fifteen years. He and his wife have three adult children and six very active grandchildren.
Mark Van Patten is a retired fisheries biologist, freelance author, and public speaker who makes his home in an Ozark hollow along the Current River in Shannon County, Missouri. His wife Regina, three dogs, one cat, and 45 chickens fill his days when he isnâ€™t teaching fly fishing and fly tying at Montauk State Park. Mark is a life member of the Federation of Fly Fishers International and the recipient of numerous awards for his conservation efforts with Missouriâ€™s rivers and streams. .
Bill Cooper knew from tenyears-old what he wanted to do in life. Born and railed near the Black Bayou, he grew up catching carp, gar, catfish, bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass. Inspired by writers such as Teddy Roosevelt, Earnest Hemingway, Curt Gowdy, Ted Williams and others, he completed a Master of Science degree in outdoor education which enabled him to work as a park naturalist, superintendent and director of interpretive services. He also began a long and awarded career as an outdoor communicator in magazines, radio and TV. Over the decades he has penned over 3,000 articles about hunting, fishing and tourism.
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A Museum for the Southern Fly Fisherman
The Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians — originally
located in Cherokee, NC — has a new home in neighboring Bryson City where it shares a building with the Bryson City / Swain County Chamber of Commerce. It’s centrally located on the town square across the street from the visitor center. The Museum is open Monday thru Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and admission is free.
The scope of the museum covers an
area with more than 14,700 miles of accessible trout streams — the nine Southern Appalachian States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama; the Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Bryson City, NC
PHOTO BY JIM HEAFNER
Through exhibits and videos you’ll
learn about legendary “Stream Blazers,” the evolution of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, types of gear, types of gamefish, regional fishing waters, and the history of fly fishing in the Southeast. Whether you are a long-time fly fisherman, or have only attempted or never tried fly fishing, you will find something to enjoy and to learn from in the museum.
FLY FISHING MUSEUM
OF THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS
Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians 210 Main Street Bryson City, NC 28713 800-867-9241
Moose Creek Rods and Knives *Classic Bamboo Fly Rods *Custom Sheaths *Bamboo Display Rods and Reels *Handcrafted Knives *Custom Fly Tying Tools *Bamboo Rods *Restored and Repaired kmgann@sw bell.net 913-299-960 w w w.moosecreekrodsandknives.com
Southern Trout Ozark Edition with a close look at the White River.