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Tail waters are a funny and finicky mistress. Many times in several states I have come to realize this cold hard truth. The rewards that are available on these little slices of moody heaven are often worth the aggravation and headache, but sometimes I feel as though I would rather cane pole fish in the back of a farm pond. Needless to say that the epitome of this tail water tango in my humble opinion is the White River system in N. Central Arkansas.
A group of good friends and I started going N. Arkansas to escape the insufferable pain caused by our trout-less, river-less surroundings in Alabama. I do love my state but the lack of suitable water and “trout bum” approved scenery is often too much to bear on a regular basis. After several years of ‘bama boy exploration, we finally got a routine in place and found some great people along the way to help guide us into the right spots. Despite our best efforts to continually screw everything up, we always manage to catch a few nice fish, and this fact in particular demonstrates the value in this watershed. Tons of big fish opportunities, tons of fishable water, and tons of great people.
On this particular adventure a guide and good friend of mine, Larry Babin (www.hogsonthefly.com), told us to come and toss some meaty streamers at some aggressive fish on the White. Willingly, we met up with Larry and began to chuck some big articulated stuff on high water.
There were many turns and follows before we really saw anything that would lead us to believe that streamers would be the ticket of the day. That was until the leviathan erupted from his sub-aqueous lair solely intent upon destruction of inferiorly sized specimens. All that to say, we missed a giant. Something in the 25+ inch range according to Larry. We pressed on with our heads hung a bit lower due to the close encounter with the beast, only to find an unannounced generation change that lead to an abrupt lack of interest in big streamers, as the big boys became more concerned with getting to their appropriate low water lie.
Having a guide with as much experience and knowledge as Larry for a friend is certainly a handy gadget to have lying around the boat. “Hoppers”. That was all he said. I was thinking that he was crazy yet as soon as I had my improved clinch secured to the eye, I was catching fish. Nice fish too! My partner and I began to enjoy that unmistakable, irreplaceable sensation that is top water fishing. Rainbows, Cutties, Browns and even a Brookie were taken on hoppers this trip. Fast paced fun and good conversation is hard to beat on a blue ribbon trout river. The White river system in N. Central Arkansas is a great place to be, even if you do have to dance the tailwater tango!