The goal was to relax, not catch a bunch of fish. That's been my mission as vacation time began Sunday morning. Don't be in a hurry. If the catching is good, great. If not, no worries.
The river was not low enough to wade at my favorite spots. The one I call Brown Town on the upper White was too fast with two generators running. I can't tell you the exact location since I have asked two others to keep the secret. Putting it in print is a sure way to lose a fishing buddy.
I don't even put the pictures on Facebook, as one did. Looking closely at the background might give it away.
Another friend is on our bad list. After we caught four browns over 21 inches on one side of Brown Town, he caught one on the far side. With the big brown launching himself into the air about five times, he thought it best to follow him out of the hole to our side and down the river before finally landing him 100 yards away.
It didn't look like it was THAT big of a challenge. I accused him of killing the hole and there was not another brown caught there the rest of the day even after resting it twice. I hollered at him when he started through the hole, “No! You are going to shut down Brown Town.”
And, he did, then later said, “Sorry, but I wanted that fish after seeing you guys pose with your big browns.”
That was two weeks ago, but the wading was restricted to the Norfork this weekend. I fished the lower end on Saturday, with not a lot of luck. There might have been 15 fish in three hours. It was better at the top end of the river on Sunday, after wading in at Quarry Park near the dam.
My ruby midges produced plenty of fish. I lost count after 20 on a wade down the river some 250 yards. I came back to the truck for a lunch break of peanut butter and jelly, Little Debbies and two bottles of water. Then, I decided to see what was going on just above the parking lot.
I had dined on my truck tailgate next to a huge SUV with Louisiana plates (and LSU bumper stickers). The matching fly fishers with bright ugly yellow LSU caps stood only a few yards away at the edge of the river, waving their rods with no luck.
I stood on the bank and watched. They had no strikes. I hate to say it, but I enjoyed that. As they trudged out of the water with their heads down, I asked if they were done with the little riffle where Dry Run Creek emptied into Norfork.
“Yeah, no fish there, you can have it,” one LSU guy said. “We tried it for three hours. Barren. Nothing. That water is too skinny to hold fish. We'd been told it could be good but we think someone gave us bad info.”
As they plopped down on a couple of big rocks nearby to eat their lunch, I waded to their barren spot. Only, it wasn't barren. High sticking with my ruby midge, I had a fish on almost every drift. I don't know if it was all the splashing from the rainbows and cutthroats, or my laughing, but the second LSU guy said, “OK, that's enough.”
When the fishing is that hot, I lose count quickly. But the two LSU guys were counting. After what I thought was an hour, I walked back to the truck past them. They followed.
“Brother, that was 34 fish in 34 minutes,” one said. “We've never seen anything like it. Brother, please tell us your fly!”
I thought, you aren't my brother, you are from LSU. But they were nice and I changed my mood.
OK, what to do with two “nice” LSU fans? I enjoyed proving them wrong, mostly because they were wearing all of that LSU crap in my “home” river. But they were begging.
My first thought was to steer them wrong. But that urge passed and I held up my rod to show off my rig. I had a small white foam stick-on strike indicator 18 inches above the fly, a size 18 ruby midge on 6x tippet.
“We don't have anything that small,” the guy said. “We'll buy them from you.”
I opened my box to show them row after row of ruby midges. I had three dozen lined up perfectly, all tied exactly the same. I plucked four of them and put them in two open palms. They wanted to hug me, but I stopped them short. Hand shakes were enough.
By the time I got my gear stowed and wheeled through the parking lot, I could see them in the skinny water with two bent rods. They saluted as I rolled away. I guess a salute from an LSU fan is a good way to start vacation. They aren't all bad after all.
I rolled back to Cotter with the thought that it was alright that they had discovered a good spot on the Norfork and had the right fly. It was even better that they didn't know the location of Brown Town.
No telling on Brown Town
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