The last few weeks, it has been great to see another side of the Arkansas River’s character to the fore – that of a raging, snow melt fed cataract. Certainly in my days as a white water guide, this was the time of the year I, and most guides, lived for. High water, heart-in-the-mouth thrills, nervous energy and tension at the beginning of the day, boat house bravado at the end.
For the fisherman, this is the time of the year to leave the river well alone, and head to the hills in search of a lake just iced off, or some beaver ponds up high where the beaver’s industry and ingenuity have combined to create a haven of slow water amongst the fast moving, swollen streams. Right now in the river, the fish are for the most part hunkered down, riding out the storm, and like most fishermen, waiting for the river to drop and clear.
By the end of the month, we should be back into some great dry fly action, but for a poor sap like me who has been too busy to take a trip up into the mountains, a look back at a great day of spring fishing will have to suffice. Certainly, it is hard to imagine we are looking at the same river, but I guess a ten fold increase in volume will change the complexion of most rivers.
On this particular day, I had the pleasure of floating the river with a couple of gents from back east. While this is normally my cue to hide my wallet and car keys, and lock away the silverware, on this occasion I knew I would be in good, civilized company. One of the great things about guiding, in fact probably the only thing that keeps you going, is the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Having fished with Cliff before, I had a feeling whoever he brought along with him was going to be fun, and so it proved to be. Hopefully, this ill be the first of many trips out this way for Joe also. Any man who ties on his own flies, and brings cold Modelo, is welcome on my boat anytime.
We had a great day on the river, not the heavy dry fly action we had been hoping for, but a terrific day with the fish hitting bead heads throughout. Once the river clears up, hopefully right after FIBark, we should start to see some great stone fly action. Already I have noticed both golden and yellow sallie adults around on the bushes near the river, and with the pmd’s getting ready to hatch also, we are on the cusp of what for me is the best time of the year to be a fisherman living in the Arkansas Valley.