Fly Fishing Adventures

Sub Zero Fly Fishing on The White River in Arkansas with Gaston’s

Sub Zero Fly Fishing on The White River in Arkansas with Gaston’s


Your birthday only comes one time a year, and regardless of the weather, some of us want to spend the day on the water.  I had a solid window of time in mid February, and wanted to target big brown trout.  It‘s hard to pick a better place than The White River, in Arkansas.  It’s also hard to pick a better lodge or guide service than Gaston’s Resort.  Many of you may know, that Gaston’s is a pretty special place for me.  My dad used to take me here as a kid.  He used to own his own plane, and would land us on Gaston's landing strip right next to the lodge.  You all might find it interesting, but a guy landed a plane on Tuesday in 10 inches of snow, had lunch, and then left.  



When the weather gets interesting, it pays to roll with the punches.  I monitor the weather constantly prior to a fishing trip.  “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation“. You can quote me on that.  When 10-12 inches of snow and sub zero temperatures are forecasted for Northern Arkansas, you need to pay attention.  These people are not used to this kind of weather.  The lodge called me to ask if I wanted to cancel, and I said, if your guides will fish, I will fish.  I was potentially anticipating an interesting situation due to the super cold water that the locals call a “Shad Kill.”  This happens when it’s super cold, and a bunch of shad freeze and are churned through the turbines of the dam.  This can result in a feeding frenzy below.  I also anticipated that most people down here will not fish and will leave the entire river to me.  Little did I know that EVERY angler would cancel and leave the ENTIRE White River all to me.



The shad kill didn’t happen on my first day, but we still managed to catch some great fish.  This was my first time ever being the only angler on The White River.  Clearly no one else chose to brave the elements, and it paid off for us.  The water was super high, and that can present interesting fishing conditions.  When you fish below an indicator, you need a super long leader and very heavy flies.



One thing I’ve come to realize while fly fishing, is that the reward for catching fish on flies you tie yourself is incredible. I tied up a bunch of white jig flies and streamers in anticipation of a shad kill.  These flies generally do well on the White River, so I chose to fish them anyway.  Browns here are meat eaters, and generally average from 18-22 inches in length.  When you hook into a brown, generally you hook into something fun that will test your skills.



We got our first hook up around 10 am with a healthy rainbow.  This one nailed the white jig tied I tied up.  It was crazy that every time I brought the fly out of the water to adjust or remove moss, the feathers and hair froze almost instantly.  It was still about zero out, which was just silly cold.


The White River Rainbow Trout

The White River Rainbow Trout


The next run we had was next to an amazing looking bank, about 2000 yards downs from the dam, and my indicator  turned about .5 inches, I lifted up quickly, and was hooked up. You all know when you are fishing a nymph rig, and you see the most subtle nudge of your indicator.  When it’s cold, you need to be on the lookout for the most gentle bits, or you may not have any.  This fish ran right at the boat and tried to mess me up in the motor.  This was a smart fish, and I respected her immediately.  Fortunately, I’ve met cats like her before and was able to out flank her with my El Jefe 6 Weight.  



Steve netted this amazing brown trout and we got several killer photos.  We measured this stellar brown out at 22 inches, which is by far my largest fish of the far!  

Thanks again for Gaston’s Resort and my guide Steve Lopez for braving the elements today.  If anyone wants to have an opportunity to catch a fish of a lifetime, check out Gaston’s Resort and ask for Steve, he knows this river!  

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