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White River, Arkansas

So here in Arkansas it's a bit fucked to tell you the truth. The Government stock 800,000 trout annually. What could be perhaps the world's premiere fishery is on one hand still pretty bloody good - a glimmer of what it could be - and on the other a very large stock pond so that your uninformed masses can bait fish, catch something and pretend they're living off the land or whatever - but without respecting it. Even when they catch an undersized fish this amazing creature, more often than, not goes back dead - as witnessed by yours truly tonight… walked up the bank, dropped, measured, returned dead. Nice one.

The world record brown - 40lbs - comes from here and although admittedly it no doubt got so big by eating stockies, even without this mass introduction you'd have amazing fish and awesome fishing. It's a year round growing season and I wish I'd been here many years ago before they turned this place into a slut.

I'm sorry to say that there are a lot of very dumb people here.

Anyway, there is still some very good fishing despite this. And it is interesting. Amongst the mass of stocked rainbows there's some awe inspiring fish. If this place was stock free, catch and release only, with no bait fishing, I shudder to think how good it would be here. But it's not and at times it's like fishing a rearing cage. You can catch 60 fish in a day, none with full tails, and what is the point? Who is kidding who? Who wants to fish in a cage? I don't care that these guys bring money into the community - it's not life as we know it and it's an environmental fishing catastrophe, and besides they could learn to flyfish - or spin - like they do in New Zealand and the rest of the educated world.

The guys responsible for this have no responsibility and that's what happens when you have mediocre elected representatives running the show. It's non-reality fishing, and I'm not talking saltfly.

Am I making friends here?

It gets worse. Many of the monster fish that you see caught are not caught by fair means but caught over spawning beds. This is unacceptable to almost everyone who flyfishes this planet, myself included. I mean come on, what is going on here? Yes it's legal (apparently) and no it shouldn't be. You want dumbed down laws for the unintelligent backward masses then this would be a good one to introduce. Leave spawning fish alone - we don't touch spawning fish in the UK, never have, and it's about the one thing we do right.

Good Vortex this one, isn't it?

However, despite all of this, I'll be back. You know the problem with night fishing in general is knowing - or as in my case, not knowing - the river. On a river like this - or indeed any river - you really have to know it, and I don't. Of course the getting to know it is the fun part, it's like getting to know a woman. Sure it's great to jump into bed when you first meet, erm, all my girlfriends have pretty much all been like that (chemical or even spiritual attraction, I call it, especially when drunk) but it can be good sometimes, not with a woman of course, to take your time, get to know the ins and outs over a number of weeks. I don't have that sort of time here in Arkansas, not because I can't make the time but because I really want to get up to Montana, hang out, light fires, camp without feeling I'm hiding and fish in a more real environment. And I suspect that's going to take another week or two, what with fishing Big Muddy and hooking up with Doubledoc.

I'd better talk about last weekend, because apart from the prospect of catching a 30lb trout, that's why I'm here. There were four of us, myself, Chuck Easterling, Al Kyte and Bruce - and twenty, well 19 actually, certified instructors and a couple of FFF observers. It was good - not quite continuing education along the FFF lines (because they haven't invented it yet), but certainly further education. I made some friends who will no doubt become great friends - many of whom are Board members of course - as well as renewing old friendships. Which in many ways is what America and my involvement with the FFF is all about for me.

I'd like to have been part of all the courses and would love to have seen what Al and Chuck were doing. No need to see Bruce's of course; I've spent time with Bruce and there's not much worth knowing.

Talking of which I did single handed Spey instruction and touched on distance. The reason I did two courses in one was because Al was giving a distance class and not because, as Bruce put it, “that I didn't know much about either”. He is such a cad.

Anyway, Arkansas is a wonderful place. Here in the sticks people are exceptionally friendly, if not very intelligent - hey this middle America we're talking about - and they're not very good looking, not here in the middle of nowhere. But you know, being nice is the bit that matters anyway. And besides about half of them are armed and carry pocket pistols - according to one tackle dealer - so it's best not to piss them off too much.

You know, I tend to forget that a lot of people 'round here are carrying guns. But that's America for you. You never know when someone may try to mug or assassinate you. I'm not armed and so far I'm still alive. Just plain lucky I guess. America is a dog eat dog country.

With so many armed and unintelligent people running around it's no surprise of course. Luckily they have the “right to bear arms” otherwise it would be a really fucked up place. You know, like more than at the moment.

I'm thinking of getting a gun. And it will be a big one. I'll carry it down my underpants.

Erm, and on the other hand I'm quite sure my accent works here, so I'm being careful not to use it.

Have a great week!

Related links: Vortex archives.

Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting The Light of Apgai on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills: the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite daring
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
A sexy catch...

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