A River Monster

Every summer for the last few years my family has taken a short 3 day vacation trip to a trout stream in Northern Arkansas.  We rent or borrow a cabin and invite all the kids and grandkids. 

In July of 2019 our friend Elaine loaned us her river house on the Norfork River just below Norfork Dam.  Elaine, Pam and I fly-fished a couple of days on the White River before the family arrived. We caught and released nearly 100 Rainbows up to 18 inches keeping a few smaller ones to eat.

Then the kids and grandkids started pouring in and Elaine headed back home to Fayetteville.  The family concentrated our fishing efforts on the Norfork and some of the grandkids got their first experience with Dry Run Creek, which is a tiny world class catch and release stream that runs out of the Norfork hatchery for approximately a half a mile into the Norfork River.   It is full of really big fish and can only be fished by children under 16 years of age and adults with significant disabilities.  One of the grandkids managed to catch and release a 22 inch Cutthroat in just a few hours of fishing.

The bite on the Norfork River was really strong all three days.  Everyone that fished caught and released plenty of trout.  My daughter Jordan, caught the largest Rainbow, a fat 20 incher, on spinning tackle using a black 1/16 oz. marabou jig fishing in the mouth of a slough 2 miles downstream from the dam with both generators on and heavy water flow. 

On the second afternoon my son-in-law Nick, my daughter Jordan and I were fishing from my flat bottom boat in front of Elaine’s cabin when the Corps of Engineers started generating which triggered a strong bite.  Suddenly all three of us had good fish on.  Jordan kept saying that she had a really big fish on but Nick and I were too focused on landing our own fish to take her seriously. 

Finally Nick and I landed and released our two Rainbows in the 15-16 inch class and we realized that Jordan couldn’t even get her fish near enough to the boat to see.  After a few minutes I spotted the fish.  It was a big Brown.  After about 10 minutes we netted a 6-7 pound Brown that had fallen for her 1/16 oz. sculpin olive/peach jig.  Several guide boats were in the area and one guide brought his clients over to see the fish.

As he approached our boat with his party and saw the fish, the guide exuberantly exclaimed “Folks that girl caught a river monster”.  Anyone that knows the Norfork River knows that there are a lot bigger fish swimming in some of those holes but on July 1, 2019 I will wager that there was not a bigger smile anywhere on that famous 5.8 mile trout stream than was on my daughter’s face.  Thank you Lord.

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