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          We always have a great time fly fishing with Forrest Smith.  This trip was no exception!  Read the details below about the Spring fly fishing we enjoyed in Arkansas.  

Monday, 23 May:  Forrest arrived at our hotel at 7:30AM (actually a little earlier).   As always, it was great to see him and we shared hugs and quick updates on our activities since we last saw one another in October of last year.   

Then, we were off to fish the White River.  We arrived at the river and put in for a 9 mile float.  It was a dark and cloudy day so our goal was to catch brown trout using streamer flies.  And, we succeeded! 

Ed began the day with a very nice trout – a 17 inch brownie  Then, he next had a beautiful cutthroat.  What a way to begin our first day of fishing on this trip with Forrest!  As the morning progressed, the clouds continued to grow.  We continued to fish but close to the noon hour, a huge storm began to blow in.  So, Forrest began looking for a sheltered spot for lunch and we came upon the Blue Heron Campground.  The owners, Marilyn and Terry, let us enjoy our picnic lunch under their covered porch while the rain poured down and the tornado sirens from the nearby town of Cotter screamed.  By the way, Marilyn and Terry have a great operation and location on the White River so if you’re looking for a place to camp, consider the Blue Heron Campground near Cotter, Arkansas.   

Thankfully, the rain slowed down sometime after 1:00PM and we were once again on the water.  Now, Lindy got into the action by catching a beautiful 23 inch brown trout.  Nice!  The fishing was very steady in the afternoon with us both catching numerous browns and Lindy also caught a rainbow.   The rain stayed with us the balance of the day and about 4:00PM another big storm began to build.  At about 4:30PM, Ed said it was time to call it a day so we could get off the river before the next deluge.  Besides, we had already enjoyed a full day of fishing.  As it turned out, we did make it to our take-out just before the heavy rain began once again..

What a great way to begin this fishing adventure with Forrest!  We had lots of action and a couple of real beauties to brag about.

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Ed's 17 inch brown; what a way
to start this trip!
Forrest is holding a beautiful
cutthroat ("cuttie") caught by Ed
The day begins to darken rather than lighten and
the cold air meeting the warmer humid air
puts a fog on the water
Lindy's 23 inch brown trout; WOW!
(Notice the rain gear)
Another beautiful brown
Ed finishes the day with a 19" brown!

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Tuesday, 24 May:   Once again Forrest picked us up at a little before 7:30AM.  We headed to the White River but today Forrest decided to put us in directly below the dam.  Once there, we had a great surprise…. the dam had been opened to allow water to flow from the top.  This was because there was too much water in Bull Shoals Lake from the torrential rains in Missouri.  Wow, talk about a lot of water coming out of the dam!   

We put in and began working the shoreline with streamer flies.  Almost immediately, Lindy had a really big brown follow her fly but no hook-up.  So, as we continued working along the shoreline, another boat pulled up along side (one with a motor so they could stay with us) to advise that at 12:00 noon the dam was going to be opened to let even more water flow to relieve excess water build-up on the lake.  Further, everyone was being advised to get off the river due to the increase in flow as well as likely debris which would be moved by the flow.   

We began working down river must faster after we received this news.  As Forrest said, safety was beginning to be a real priority.  Shortly, his driver (the individual who moves his truck and boat trailer to the take-out spot) called and confirmed that water was indeed being released in greater quantities both at 12:00 noon and again at 2:00PM.  Not good news for anglers.  Forrest changed to a closer take-out spot so we could be off the river when the water flow increased.  As it was, the water was traveling at great speed and Forrest had to keep rowing to slow us down rather than push us along. 

We continued fishing but didn’t have much success other than raising the occasional fish.  The water was too high (and rising) and the fish were just put down.  As we reached our take-out spot, the flow really increased and we were all happy to be on firm ground.  We weren’t alone; about six other motor boats pulled up and took out as well.  Even having a motor wasn’t enough to battle the water flow on the White River. 

After getting the boat out of the water, Forrest set up a barbeque grill and table & chairs.  While he made a delicious lunch of grilled chicken breast accompanied by a salad, we watched the river rise and rise.  We also watched an incredible number of logs and debris float down too (the scary stuff that could wreck or damage your boat and/or even turn it over).  After relaxing for over an hour and savoring our delicious shore lunch, it was time to call it a day.  We did take time to take a photograph of us with the mighty White River behind (as well as a road and a boat ramp with its warning sign almost under water).

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Water pouring over the White River dam
The flooded White River with water
continuing to rise.  The tan strip just the other
side of the pine tree is a road and a road sign
is visible in the left of the picture.
Chef Forrest prepares lunch
Us in front of the White River with the flooded
road and boat ramp in the background

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 Wednesday, 25 May:   Forrest picked us up at 8:00AM (after calling us at 6:30AM to give us the plan for the day).  The Norfork River was today’s destination since it wasn’t as affected by high water despite water being released from its dam.  It turned out to be a terrific day of fishing best described by the phrase, “Numbers, numbers!” 

We were on the water by 9:00AM and the action started quickly.  We began the day fishing nymphs and Ed landed a rainbow and a brown before we were 100 yards downstream.  It took Lindy a bit longer to get into a fishing rhythm but she too was ultimately into the fish.  As we progressed downstream, the noise from the cicadas really got loud.  So, Forrest suggested we switch to dry flies; specifically, cicada patterns.  Wow, it was amazing.  The trout (rainbow, browns and cutthroats) just hammered the flies.   

This was Forrest’s first day of cicada fishing for the season.  While Arkansas has cicadas that emerge annually, there also is a brood that emerges every 13 years and in great numbers.  Luckily, we were there for it!  We were also well prepared with flies since both Ed and Forrest had tied for the occasion. 

Ultimately, we reached the lower part of the Norfork where water from the White River was pushing up the water level and making it basically unfishable.  So, we went to our take-out spot and had a quick sandwich lunch (yummy deli sandwiches) and then did another lap on the Norfork.  Forrest once again took the boat to our original put-in spot and we started all over again. 

The second round on the Norfork we used only the cicada dry flies.  Again, it was amazing!  The action was non-stop and had an incredible number of fish (and, yes, we’ll admit we had some strikes where we missed the trout).  We also had a number of small brim hit the fly and Ed also caught a gizzard shad (Forrest said it was a first to see one of those caught on a fly in the Norfork). 

It was a great day of fishing and we had a wonderful time.  We didn’t finish fishing until 6:45PM so it was a very full day.  And, yes, we were all ready to try it again tomorrow at 7:30AM!

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Lindy standing at the back of Forrest's boat
at our launch spot of the Norfork
Water was also being released
from the Norfork Dam too
The boys with a beautiful cuttie
and it's a sunny day!
Next Ed lands a gorgeous rainbow
Lindy too gets a nice rainbow
As we begin our second run down the Norfork,
Ed lands this rainbow; one of the cicada flies
he tied is hanging out of its mouth
Lindy with a brown late in the day
Forrest holding an "Alien" beer (one of
a six-pack of beer we brought to
Forrest.  It comes from Roswell, NM
(supposed home to many flying saucers)

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Thursday, 26 May:  What do you do after an amazing day like yesterday?  You do it again but hammer those trout even more! 

Today we skipped fishing with nymphs and went right to the dry fly cicada patterns.  It was simply amazing!!  The fishing was unbelievable in terms of both numbers of trout caught and released and the size of the trout.  We didn’t land or hook anything less than 16” in length except for one small guy at the end of the day.  Ed had the “hot rod,” especially on our first lap of the morning.  Almost every other cast he had a fish hooked! 

We again did two laps on the river.  Interestingly, this was the first day we didn’t have any rain.  However, the Norfork was still quite high and water continued to flow from the dam.  When we finished our first amazing lap, Forrest rowed us to our take-out spot.  Then, after getting the boat onto the trailer, he pulled out the barbeque and grilled some dorado.  We enjoyed this with a wonderful salad sitting on a bluff above the river.  Great food and great views. 

Then, we returned to our put-in spot below the dam and continued the fishing frenzy.  Again, it was non-stop action.  We enjoyed a couple of doubles (each hooking and landing a fish at the same time).   Ed actually caught a different 17” rainbow on two successive casts.  Wow!  Another highlight was his 19” cutthroat trout.  Lindy’s catch of the day was a 19” brown.   

Didn’t we say the day was amazing in both size and numbers!!

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Ed lands this beautiful brown trout
to begin our day
Wow, a 19" cutthroat!  This is a HUGE cuttie!
Lindy gets a brownie too
Ed lands this large brown trout
that is also very colorful
It's a "brown trout kinda day" as
Lindy catches this one as we begin
our second lap on the Norfork River
And, yes, another beautiful brown trout
Forrest showing off our double  (two
fish landed at the same time) -
Lindy's brown and Ed's rainbow
Lindy's brown (part of the double)
turned out to be 19 inches; a nice one!
Ed lands this beautiful 17 inch rainbow
Here's the 17 inch rainbow Ed
caught on his next cast.  Exciting!
The Winner!
(For smallest trout of the day!)

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Friday, 27 May:  Due to the high water situation in the area, the Norfork River was again the spot for the day.  Forrest checked other river flows and there was too much water to try and find trout in alternate waters.  So, we headed back to one of our favorite rivers. 

How did it go?  Well, we didn’t have the absolute non-stop action of the day before but we again had tremendous fishing.  On our first lap, we both hooked and landed some very nice trout.  Again, nothing under 16” in length. 

After enjoying a great picnic lunch, we relocated the boat and began our second float of the river.  This time, the fish really turned on again.  How about Ed catching a beautiful 21 inch brown trout!  Then, we had a double with Ed having a 16 inch plus brown trout while Lindy had a 20” cuttie (cutthroat).  Ed just finished saying that it was probably the biggest cutthroat that either of us would ever catch and release when Lindy hooked into a 21” cutthroat that she was able to land.  Wow!  What a wonderful final day of fishing (this year) with Forrest!! 

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Lindy begins the day with
a healthy brown trout
Here's another one of these Norfork beauties
Forrest holding Lindy's 19 inch cutthroat!
Who could believe we would each get
one of these HUGE cutties?!
The boys with another beautiful brown trout
Forrest holding another double -
Lindy's cutthroat and Ed's brown trout
How about this gorgeous 21 inch brown trout!
Both Ed and Forrest are beaming!
Icing on the cake after a great week
of fishing - Lindy & Forrest with
her 20 inch cutthroat!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 In summary, “Fantastic Fishing with Forrest!”  We had a wonderful time, we caught some amazing fish and we both continue to learn improved and better techniques from Forrest, our “Master Guia!”  Forrest is an amazing guide and knows his Arkansas Waters so well.  Except for the one day when we got completely blown off the White River, he always had a place for us to fish with incredible success regardless of conditions. We look forward to doing it again next year!

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If you're interested in exploring our other adventures with Forrest, just click on a link below to go to that year's trip

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