Catch and Release Works!

There is no question as to whether or not catch and release has made our fishery a better place. Our fish population, in particular, our brown trout, have flourished and average sizes have grown each year with our increase in regulations. Within a two week span, I witnessed the exact same fish caught on the same bank and fly, both times by a lady angler! How cool is that? Check out the pictures below!

First, he was landed by Elisa…

First, he was landed by Elisa…

Then caught by Carla!

Then caught by Carla!

Thanks Arkansas Game and Fish and everyone who practices catch and release. It’s always important to continue to grow the sustainability of our fishery for future generations!

Summer Fun and New Additions!

Yet again, I am months behind on writing a recent fishing report. It has been a very busy year, with some incredible fishing, great water flows, and most notably, two new members to the Dixon family. Eleanor Rose and Ford Elliot were born on June 19, healthy and happy. Amanda and I are having the time of our lives and embracing the new twin parenthood. We have watched them grow, changed a few diapers, and lost just a little sleep. With that being said, becoming a father has put a lot of things into perspective for me. I have the fortune to do what I love and spend my work days on what I consider the best rivers in the country. Without all of my awesome customers, this simply would not be a reality, so from my family to yours, thank you.

Ok, enough sappy stuff, lets get down to the nitty gritty. The fishing has been so much fun the past several months, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. After some substantial spring and summer rains, out lakes filled up and we have had some great flows for the brown trout hunting.

THE Buzzman with one of several stud browns during the annual Wildcat Club Hopper Tournament

THE Buzzman with one of several stud browns during the annual Wildcat Club Hopper Tournament


The hopper fishing has been solid, with many a brown trout falling to the foam bug. The lakes are not projected to be near pool until the end of October, assuming no major rains. This is setting up to be a great fall. Bull Shoals is currently at 673.71 feet above sea level, just 12 ish feet above normal seasonal pool.Norfork, which has been fishing fantastic on the high water flows, is at 562.71, about 7 feet above seasonal pool. The Corps of Engineers tries to lower these lakes at the same rate, although they are much different sizes. Think of it in percentages, if the drop Bull Shoals lake 10%, they will attempt to drop Norfork 10% at the same rate. Hopefully this answers a few questions about why they do what they do. and how some of the flows change.

Fall dates are still available, but don’t wait until the weather cools off to start thinking about booking! Also, winter streamer fishing and shad kill dates are going like hot cakes, so please reach out to get a spot for the trophy brown trout madness!

call or text (870) 421-8960

brock@northarkansastroutfitters.com


Zack with a bruiser surface eater!

Zack with a bruiser surface eater!

Bill hoists up a happy brown!

Bill hoists up a happy brown!

Schwartz with another stud

Schwartz with another stud

For more images and frequent updates, follow on instagram at @northarkansastroutitters and on Facebook!

Spring and the Caddis Hatch

Well, it’s here folks! The bugs have been coming off like crazy in the lower flows we have had this spring, and the browns have been more than plentiful. Most of the bigger fish are caught on nymphs fished deep under an indicator, but when the bugs pop off heavily, you can find browns up sipping on rhythm and pick them off with dries.

I’ll let a few pictures do the talking, but if you are wanting to get in on the action, a couple dates have opened up with some awesome guides. These dates are first come, first serve, so please don’t hesitate, they won’t last. Call (870) 421-8960!


John Sturgis with a 26” stud!

John Sturgis with a 26” stud!

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Rally for the Dallys

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. If you haven’t heard, my friend Rebecca Dally, the wife of a fellow fly fishing guide, Steve Dally, was in an ugly car accident just before Christmas. She has wrapped up her stint in ICU and the hospital, recovering at home. Unfortunately the headache and stress isn’t over for them as the medical bills are coming in strong.

It is time for us to come together and help their family out. I’ve attached a link below to their Gofundme page. Please take a moment from your day to help if you are able.

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Also, I challenge every other guide in our community to share this in order to get the word out and help one of our own.







Amazonas, Brazil 2018

EDIT: I started this report immediately after my trip to Brazil. In the middle of writing it, I saw a squirrel, got distracted, and am now finishing it nearly a month later. Enjoy!

The idea of hosting a group of close clients and friends to a far away place, with hopes of catching a bunch of fish and having a great time can be a stressful thought. After returning home from this incredible adventure, all I can say is that I cannot wait to take more people down there to experience such a beautiful, wild, and awe inspiring place. We fished with Ron Speed Jr’s Fishing Adventures, a legendary outfitter in both the Brazilian Amazon and a pioneer in the trophy Mexico bass fishing scene (think El Salto, Comodero, Picachos).

We arrived in Manaus, Brazil, after an easy 5 hour flight from Miami on Friday night. Gus, the operations host in Manaus, picked us up from the airport and shuttled us and all of our gear to the hotel where we would stay the night. The next morning, we woke up, ate a delicious breakfast, and were then picked up by Gus again, shuttled to the airport, and hopped on our chartered float plane flight into the jungle. About an hour later, we landed on the water near a village named San Sabastio, on the Uatuma River. Guide boats taxied us and our gear over to the mothership, the Otter. One concern for some folks is living on a houseboat in the jungle for a week with up to 15 other fisherman aboard. The Otter is claimed to be the largest mothership vessel of all the operations in the Amazon. 7,750 square feet, 4 stories, and can float in 2 feet of water, getting us into places where other boats would turn around. The guides and other staff members stayed on the Clipper, a smaller boat that followed us along the river loaded with all of the fuel and other necessities that didn’t necessarily need to be onboard the Otter. It NEVER felt crowded. Each room has individual twin beds (no bunk beds), and ice cold air conditioning (I had to turn it down at night), and a private bathroom. A hot meal was served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To say the food was fantastic would be an understatement. Rosa, our cook, prepared locally sourced, fresh food for every meal. We also had the opportunity to eat peacock bass, piranha, arapaima, and other fresh fish. All of which are some of the best fish I have ever had the chance to eat.

The fishing was silly. When we arrived, we noticed the water was a little high, but I was assured by one of the veteran anglers on the trip not to worry. I’ve heard stories in the past of high water trips to the Amazon, where nobody caught many fish, and it was basically a bust. Not here. Most of the guides we fished with were locals who grew up on these rivers, and knew every nook and cranny of each and every lagoon. Over half of the guides had over 25 years experience each guiding on these rivers. We had a total group of 15 anglers, 11 fly fishermen and 4 guys fishing conventional tackle such as woodchoppers, jerk baits, spooks, and jigs. The guides kept an exact count of every fish landed, and the number at the end of 6 days ended up at 988 peacocks, plus several different species such as Arawana, Jacunda, and Black Piranha to name a few. The largest fish of the trip came to my friend and client Bruce Hattig, at 18 pounds. Mike Dunnaway landed a 17 pounder, followed by a 16.5 pounder. A very good number of fish above 12 pounds on the boga were landed throughout the group. I personally broke off 4 different fish on 40 pound test fluorocarbon. The eats and initial bursts were unbelievable. On one hand, you have to stand on them pretty hard to keep them from running back into cover, but on the other, you can’t completely stop them without them breaking you off. I challenge anyone to go try to break 40 pound fluorocarbon by hand… I could ramble on and on about the fishing, but our guides had us on them all the time, and the Otter was moving nearly every day and evening to continuously put us in the best position on the rivers. Although the water was high, it was falling, so it was pulling fish out of the trees into fishable water every single day.

One of the most notable things we experienced was the lack of bugs, especially mosquitos. The rivers in the Amazon basin, especially the Rio Negro, have a very blackish hue to them, which has a higher acid content, making them impossible for mosquitos to breed. Several times throughout the week, we would be sitting outside on the deck enjoying drinks, and someone would say, “isn’t it nice there aren’t bugs flying around?!” On the other hand, we did she a lot of awesome wildlife. Flocks of Macaws could be seen in the mornings and evenings, parakeets fly around like sparrows, monkeys are always watching from the trees, as well as the roars of the howler monkeys deeper in the jungle. Lots of cayman, a couple cool boas, and one huge alligator my dad and I spotted with our guide (who was ironically named “Alligator”). We were able to get a pretty good look at it, and it appeared to be in the 12-14 foot range. It truly was sensory overload.

At night, we would sit on the open back deck and look up at the amazing amount of stars in the sky. When you are that far away from civilization, there is absolutely zero light pollution, and the Milky Way looked as if you could reach out and grab it. Absolutely astonishing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any pictures of it because we were usually on the move at night to a new section of river. Oh, did I mention we fished new water every day? There is an unexplainable amount of water down there. Seven of the tributaries of the the Amazon River are bigger than the Mississippi. Some of the little lagoons we fished were bigger than many famous bass reservoirs of the south. Wrap your head around that one.

At the end of the week, the float planes arrived to pick us up, after a couple hour tour through San Sabastio, where we were able to see just how these villages on the river operated. The people seemed to love having their pictures taken, and were always very happy and friendly. Multiple times throughout the trip, when I would ask, “How’s it going?”, I was always greeted with, “Always good, no bad days”. That’s truly how it felt. Every day was a new adventure, and they were always great days. When the float planes arrive, they are bringing in the group for the next week of fishing, while picking us up to go home. We were all a little star struck to see Jimmy Houston hopping on the boat for the next week of fishing!

I am already working on putting together a group of folks to go down next year, so if you have any interest, I am taking spots on a first come, first serve basis. Please call, text or email me with any questions you have about the trip. You will not be disappointed in taking the trip of a lifetime, to catch the strongest fighting freshwater fish you will ever meet.

(Click through each of the pictures below in the slideshows. The First slideshow is from the week of fishing, and the second is of the tour of San Sabastio, which was a really awesome experience.)

Louisiana 2017

Even though it has nearly been a month since we all returned home from the Louisiana marsh, I am still thinking about casting to those copper backed bull reds. The countdown to next years trip has already begun!

We averaged at least one fish over 20 pounds each day for the group, will a bunch of 10-18 pound fish boated as well. Not bad for a bunch of trout weenies from Arkansas equipped with jet powered river sleds and iPhones for navigation. 

I'll let the photos do the talking!

Papa Bill with a good one!

Papa Bill with a good one!

Ben, Bill and myself poling through an endless maze of marsh. 

Chad Johnson peeking through the fins of a dandy bull red.

Chad Johnson peeking through the fins of a dandy bull red.

Let those big ones go!

Let those big ones go!

A rare shot of me actually holding a fish that I CAUGHT!

A rare shot of me actually holding a fish that I CAUGHT!

Gotta show the ol' swamp donkey black drum some love too! Always willing to eat!

Gotta show the ol' swamp donkey black drum some love too! Always willing to eat!

Headed in after another amazing day in the marsh.

Headed in after another amazing day in the marsh.

No wake zones are a perfect place to exchange a couple lies and beers.

No wake zones are a perfect place to exchange a couple lies and beers.

Hope you enjoyed the montage of photos! I'll get back to the regularly schedule programming of trout and the ozarks very soon!

Black Friday Sale!

This Thanksgiving, we are so incredibly grateful for all of the customers who have fished with us in 2017, and as a token of appreciation, we will be having our first ever Black Friday Sale! 

For the next two days (Friday 11.24 - Saturday 11.25), any full day guide trip purchased will be $50 dollars off! This includes gift certificates! Get in on it now before it disappears!

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with friends and family, and ate entirely too much!

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2018 Fall Fishing Regulations Proposals Public Comment Survey

Taking surveys and giving input may not be the most fun thing to do, but we need everyone's support right now! The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has help several public meetings to discuss new management plan proposals, and this survey will also allow them to get input from a broader population. PLEASE take a few minutes to fill it out. Several of the big points are adding a slot limit to the rainbows in our rivers, and also extending the Rim Shoals Catch and Release area. Click the link below and do your part!

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read and fill it out!

A beautiful 21" Bonneville Cutthroat being released back to the Norfork River

A beautiful 21" Bonneville Cutthroat being released back to the Norfork River

Uark + Troutfitters

When I was in school at the University of Arkansas, my friends and I spent the majority of our weekends (and admittedly, week days) hopping around every body of water that we could find a swimming critter. After we all graduated, each of us went our different directions in life, some off to wear a suit and tie, while others traveled and guided all across the world. 

 

Brett with a hefty Bull Shoals Dam Rainbow

Brett with a hefty Bull Shoals Dam Rainbow

When I saw that some students from the U of A had started the UARK Fly Fishers, a club that gathers students with the common interest of fly fishing, I was stoked to see them grow their following. When Jackson reached out a while back about booking a trip during their fall break, I plugged them right into the calendar. Jackson and Brett had both fly fished regularly, while Payton was a little greener than the other fellas, but he didn't take long to start hooking and landing fish after fish on midges and other various bugs. We spent the morning banging out numbers, then decided to run up river in hopes of catching some more quality specimens. 

Jackson's first of several nice browns

Jackson's first of several nice browns

We tossed some hoppers around the banks and got some attention from several solid browns and bows alike.

This bulldog of a brown took us all for a little ride!

This bulldog of a brown took us all for a little ride!

Seeing these avid anglers fishing hard and working toward passing on their love of fly fishing to others during their time on campus is so great. Guys and girls, if you are a student and looking to get involved in fly fishing but aren't sure where to start, get with these guys. They've held some casting clinics and meetings so far, with some bigger events planned for the future of the club. As the name implies, they like to go fishing too.

Send 'em home!

Send 'em home!

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If you haven't yet, sign up for our E-mail list! We send out all the info you need for booking availability and most importantly, up-to-date fishing reports! Click on the link below to sign up!

 

Fishing Report Email List


            

Recent Happenings 9/28

 

After a summer of high flows, Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes have reached their respective power pools. Flows have decreased, today to an easy drifting 3,000 cfs. Fishing was excellent in the lower flows, with bows and browns feeding eagerly on drifted nymphs. The hopper bite will continue to be strong through the next month or so, with higher flows projected for middle of the day power demand. 

Mike Cope with a bruiser that slurped a hopper in less than two feet of water. 

Mike Cope with a bruiser that slurped a hopper in less than two feet of water. 

Bookings for the fall are at a premium, so if you are wanting to squeeze some time on the water in some of the nicest weather months of the year, get in touch! 

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it doesn't matter if you're an individual wanting to get out for a day, or a corporate group of 20 or more, we have you covered and can make it a great trip!  

 

 

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thanks for listening!  

Heavy Rains and Great Fishing

As I sit here typing, rivers and reservoirs in the ozark are cresting and receding after what some people are saying are historic floods for some parts of southern Missouri and North Central Arkansas. My phone has been buzzing like crazy the past few days with concerned clients, friends, and family members wondering if the fishery and the fishing is going to survive this crazy event. The answer: Yes. Everything isn't going to be just alright, it's going to be phenomenal! Every time we receive a flood event, people run around screaming like smashed cats about how we are all screwed, and this just simply isn't the case. This river is teeming with some of the best fly fishing guides in the country, and we are all well versed in the high water game. If there ever were a time to book a guide to learn something new, this is it.

Beaver, Table Rock, and Norfork Dams currently have their flood gates open, but each one of them is reducing their releases daily, as the incoming flows into each of these reservoirs is shrinking. Bull Shoals Dam is still running water under the same conditions they were before the floods, actually a little less in order to let the downstream flooding near Calico Rock and Newport recede. At this time, Bull Shoals has 15 feet left until it hits the top of the flood pool. The key  thing to remember, is that the top 15 feet of this flood pool is much larger in volume than the bottom 15 feet due to the shape of the lake, so it will take longer to fill up. Yes, we will see increased generation from Bull, and quite possibly some flood gate releases. These conditions are ideal for all kinds of crazy fishing phenomenons such as awesome shad kill fishing, outrageous hopper fishing, and streamers galore. There will be a style of fishing for every skill of angler, beginner to advanced. 

I went out yesterday evening with my buddy Jonathan to check out the river and fish a little bit. The wind was howling, but we still managed a handful of fish with a couple solid browns in the mix. 

Jonathan with a better one

Jonathan with a better one

a pudgy specimen

a pudgy specimen

Today, I had one of my regulars out, Whitley. The bite was solid all day, and he caught several nice browns, including his best one to date!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, as always! 

If you aren't on the books for this summer, I would highly recommend getting on them as soon as possible. The fishing is about to get very good, and you don't want to miss this fun and exciting way to fish the our rivers!

Early Spring

It's been a crazy and busy winter (if you dare call it that), with spring like weather practically everyday. It has been common for the last month to see day time high temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's, with one day this past week hitting 82! All this being said as I watch snow fall from the sky. I guess that's Ozark weather for ya. With a mostly low water winter, we have had to work a little harder to get the streamer eaters fired up, but have managed to land plenty of trophy trout despite the drought conditions. With the high demand of streamer fishing dates from the months of January through early March, if you are interested in learning the streamer tactics, or just want to try your hand at some of the best brown trout fishing in the world, please get with me soon. These dates are already booking for 2018, and I expect most of the prime dates for next year to already be booked at the end of this month. With that being said, here are a few photos that tell a little about this past winter.

 

Ryan Turner with a solid fish that crushed his fly after a perfect cast and retrieve. Love it when it happens the right way!

Ryan Turner with a solid fish that crushed his fly after a perfect cast and retrieve. Love it when it happens the right way!

Bill and a beautifully colored up bruiser!

Bill and a beautifully colored up bruiser!

the release.

the release.

Obviously, these are only a few photos from this past year. If you are on Facebook or Instagram, follow North Arkansas Troutfitters for up to date photos and reports for more!

 

As far as spring fishing goes, the caddis are already starting to work their way up the river in record time, with great numbers of fish, rainbows, browns, cutthroat, and brookies, all included. If you haven't had a chance to get on the calendar for this spring, give me a shout! Several of my fellow guides still have dates available that I would love to get you set up with. 

Here are a few more pics to get you thinking about fishing...

 

the Buzzman himself with a solid specimen (not the big one, though) haha...

the Buzzman himself with a solid specimen (not the big one, though) haha...

A Little Recap...

After returning from an incredible trip to the Louisiana marsh with some great buddies and fellow guides, I thought I would share a little bit about our trip, as well as some of my favorite pictures.

When we arrived for our week stay, several of the other guys had already been there the week before us. When I say they had "been there," I mean exactly that. Bad weather had them cooped up in the cabin, itching to get out and get at some reds. We were able to get out the first day with some sunlight and low(ish) winds. Everyone caught fish, and had a ton of fun. The next few days were spent with bad weather, so we did a little driving and scouting, and came up with a plan. Our last three days were blessed with low winds and no clouds, and we got on 'em. On the last day, we had one of the most incredible days of redfishing I have every experienced, and landed my personal best bull, 31 pounds on the boga! 

Huge thanks to my good buddy Chad Johnson for inviting me along. I can't wait for next year!

Check out the gallery below!

fishing report summer/fall

It's that time of year again folks. Cool, crisp mornings, leaves are starting to turn, and the browns are starting to think about doing their dance. Before I get into the fishing, I just want to remind everyone to be careful where they are wading and boating. "Redds," or spawning beds, are pretty obvious spots in the river. Light circular patches at the top of shoals indicate a redd, where browns go to spawn. Please don't walk through them, and don't be another mouth breather that stands there tirelessly trying to "catch" a trout off of them. Let em' do their thing, you know you don't like to be interrupted. 

Now, off to the fishing. The bite has been very good this summer through the fall. Funky water flows have put a bit of a damper in the hopper bite, but big browns were still being caught on foam dries if you knew where to put them. Streamer fishing in the high water has been successful with the right anglers who are willing to put in the time and work to reap the benefits. It's been a summer full of double nymph rigs, midges reigning supreme, as they should on a tailwater loaded with them. Check out some of the photos from recent trips, and give me a shout if you have any questions!

Jack with a bruiser brown on a streamer in high water flows

Jack with a trophy Norfork rainbow

Pat Chase with a bruiser brown from the Fork

With such a crazy, busy fall, my boat for October has filled up, but I can still outfit you with one of the incredible guides that I am fortunate to work with. Just give me a call and let me try to fit you in! November dates are nearly booked, so if you're thinking about fishing next month, get in soon. Prime dates are almost gone!

northarkansastroutfitters@yahoo.com

(870) 421-8960

Podcast with Itinerant Angler

I recently sat in on a podcast with Zach Matthews who runs the Itinerant Angler blog and podcast. We talked a lot about the big fish that were boated this past winter, and the future of our streamer fishing program and season. Hope you enjoy!

 

Click play below to listen to the podcast. It is about 26 minutes long, so kick back and enjoy!

Fishing Report 4/5/2016

Drew and Katie came over to fish for a day, along with their furry sidekick Murphy. They caught a ton of fish, with 6 Browns at or over 20"! Even sweeter, Katie finally broke her 20" mark, not just once but twice!  

Theyre still bouncing the water flows around, sometimes unexpectedly, so we fished everything from streamers, to shad patterns, to midges!  

 

 

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Lower Flows for Spring

  As I type this, Bull Shoals Lake is hovering just beneath the top of the power pool, allowing for an ease of generation for the time being. Flows in the 3,000-5,000 cfs range have been showing their face again. If we don't receive any torrential downpours in the near future, this will certainly become a normal occurrence.

   Adjusting to the constantly changing variables on our rivers is of utmost importance, and it was the key to finding the many Browns that Steve caught today!  

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Even a big bow! 

Even a big bow! 

Dates for April are slim pickins', with a couple single dates still available. May and June are filling up fast, so if you are thinking about it, call me ASAP!  

 

Also, summer hopper dates are filling daily, so get with me if you are interested in arguably the best foam bug fishin' in the country!  

 

870-421-8960

northarkansastroutfitters@yahoo.com

3/19-3/21 Report

Mark and Lucian have fished me several times in the past, and this year Lucian brought several of his college buddies up for spring break to experience the Ozarks first hand. The new guys picked it up quick, and were into some solid browns in no time. The fishing has been very good lately, with the bite seemingly getting better every day!

 

Guide Kristopher Bouldin didn't waste any time, putting Lucho and E.J. On their first Browns with an epic double!

Guide Kristopher Bouldin didn't waste any time, putting Lucho and E.J. On their first Browns with an epic double!

Mark with a gorgeous specimen of a brown! 

Mark with a gorgeous specimen of a brown! 

Lucho with another solid brown on a super windy day

Lucho with another solid brown on a super windy day

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A huge thanks to Kristopher Bouldin and Jason Loyd for taking this fun group trip to the next level!