A Windy Tailwater Day

One Friday in mid-November my young friend Will and I decided to try to squeeze in a few hours of tailwater fishing the next day below Beaver Dam near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  Will is a new member of the fly fishing cult and he is also a newlywed. He works in the marketing world but with his wife in Europe on a business trip he wanted to make a few casts.  I had company from out of town staying with me but they were going to the football game and my wife had other plans so I picked Will up about 9a.m. on Saturday morning and in spite of a cold front coming in with rain and wind of 30mph we launched our boat at the ramp around 10:30a.m.   Because of the nasty weather there was no one else fishing.  We had the river, the scenery, the fish and one nearly tame bald eagle all to ourselves.

We started out with strike indicators and tiny 1/125 oz. brown and olive marabou jigs, dead drifting them with the wind and current.  The weather had triggered a strong bite and the action was fast and furious. 

For the record, I rarely fool with the traditional leader and tippet combination when fishing a jig or nymph.  Why complicate things? I defy tradition and simply tie 7-8 foot of 4 pound fluorocarbon line (cheaper to buy a large spool of it) directly to my fly line and use the smallest strike indicator I have that will still float my jig. My casts may not “lay out” as pretty as they would with a leader but it is cheaper and less knot tying is involved. At 65, even with reading glasses, knots take longer to tie than they used to when I was younger.

About 1/2 of a mile downstream we got to the “barbless hooks only” fishing area and we got rid of the strike indicators and switched to 1/50oz. sculpin olive/peach marabou jigs (with barbs pinched down) and starting stripping fast, pausing often to let our jigs sink down in the deeper holes.

After 3 hours of fighting the wind, the rain and thank God, lots of Rainbow Trout, I cleaned our 10 fish limit of 11-12 inch fish and we pulled out the boat and headed for home.  We hooked close to 100 fish and landed around 60.  The largest was a 16 inch Rainbow.  By the way, I release all large fish but I routinely clean and eat lots of small rainbow trout from heavily stocked Arkansas waters.  Why should I buy fish to eat from meat markets and grocery stores when I can catch and clean my own fish provided by God and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission?  I never keep wild trout from streams that are not stocked for obvious reasons.  I practice catch and release when it makes sense, not when it doesn’t.

Saturday November 18, 2017 was just another gift from God, one of hundreds of wonderful days that I have spent enjoying His wonderful creation with friends and family.   To put it less philosophically, I love to fish and so does Will and on November 18, 2017 life was good.

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