If you’re a fly fisherman (or woman), you’ve probably seen an image of a leviathan brown trout floating around the interwebs the past couple of weeks. Yes, that brown trout was caught in my boat, hooked on a streamer. The measurements were 36.5” length by 24” girth. According to several different fish weight formulas, that puts this brown at nearly 28 pounds. This fish changes everything. For years, the fly fishing guides on this river assumed that the mega brown trout that inhabit these rivers simply don’t leave their lazy lies under docks, where they feed on leftover fish carcasses that are cleaned at various resorts and cabins. Furthermore, these monsters definitely wouldn’t chase a big streamer because they prefer the easy meal instead. Not so much.
Rewind a couple of seasons. I receive a phone call from my good buddy Chad Johnson. Chad and Alex Lafkas, a hotshot guide from Michigan have been experimenting with post spawn brown trout and putting in the major legwork of figuring out a rough time frame of when these big browns go on a huge post spawn feeding pattern. They have worked super hard to create a massive following in the past several years, and as their winter streamer fishing business grew, so did their need for an additional guide. I’m extremely fortunate that Chad thought of me as the guy for the job. Just being on the water the past couple of years with all of the streamer junkies that travel to Arkansas in search of their fish of a lifetime has educated me tremendously. I get to see first hand, day in and day out, how these fish react to all different conditions and presentations. Without Chad and Alex putting their trust in me to add value to their streamer fishing program, I would probably never be writing a post about this amazing fish and an incredible past few weeks.
Enter Tommy Lynch. This guy is a nut. He is a self-proclaimed trout weenie, with quite possibly the biggest passion for brown trout on streamers. You have heard of him from his famous Drunk and Disorderly fly pattern, which is one of the most original fly patterns to date, with so much intentional design built into the fly it is disgusting. Tommy brings the A team of streamer fishermen with him for several weeks of cast your arm off, big meat huckin’ fun. These guys get it. They know they have the chance of getting skunked any given day. Yeah, you may get 20 browns to chase, but having a tough hook up rate can get in anybody’s head. Tommy has trained these guys for the grind, and they come in with great attitudes and the skills to get the job done. Last year, during the same week in February, Tom McGraw was in my boat on the Norfork. We boated several fish, and had a monster brown eat his fly. The fight was ephemeral, with the fish shaking the hook in a few seconds. That fish would be engrained in Tom’s mind for an entire year. Fast forward to last Tuesday, the 16th. It’s the last day of a four day trip for the group that Tom was a part of. Somehow, he found his way into my boat for the second day in a row and we were both thinking of the same thing. That fish from a year ago. It was windy and partly cloudy, not exactly primo conditions for a day of casting 8” flies. The next hour will always be a reminder in my mind that an average day on the water can turn epic in just a few seconds. The first bite of the day comes, and Tom sets and yells “fish! A big one.” Then he follows it with, nevermind, its probably 20”. As there is nothing wrong with a 20” brown, we had caught numerous fish in that range the past several days, so it wasn’t as surprising as it normally would be. Suddenly, we both witness something I will never forget. A boil in the water that looked like Moby Dick itself had just sounded. I spring up from the rowers seat, grab my net, and extend the handle. In a matter of seconds, the biggest brown trout I have ever seen is hovering next to the boat looking us in the eyes. Before I can think of what to do I am scooping the fish and all hell breaks loose. In all seriousness, I think to myself, “this fish is going to break my net.” In probably 15 seconds, we had hooked and landed a three-foot plus trout on a fly rod. Good clean livin’, I tell ya.
With so many brown trout over 24” for the groups in the past several weeks, it’s hard to think its just random coincidence. If you’re not a believer by now, then there’s no saving you. Winter streamer fishing in Arkansas is a real thing, and it produces real results. Guides that know the river and are on the water day in and day out know where these big fish live. There is a group of guides that pride themselves in hard work, passion, and the knowledge to teach and motivate anglers to catch their fish of a lifetime. I’m lucky to be included in this group, and hope to add value and help it’s presence grow in the years to come. If you would like to get in on the action, contact any of us. We work together as a team. I didn’t start this program, and wish to give full credit where credit is due.
Call, text, or e-mail:
Brock Dixon (870) 421-8960 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad Johnson (601) 668-5545 email@example.com
Alex Lafkas (989) 390-4023 firstname.lastname@example.org