Little Red River

Veteran's Day on the Little Red River

I recently had one of the most memorable experiences in my 20+ year fishing career and I thought today would be an appropriate time to share the story. As many of you may know, I'm an armed forces veteran and so is my right hand man, David Hudson. We are passionate about giving back to our brothers and sisters who protect this country. It's something we're very passionate about, which is why we jumped at the chance to host a Project Healing Waters fishing tournament here on the Little Red River last week.

For those who don't know about Project Healing Waters, it's a program dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. We invited the River City group to join us at here at Lobo Landing Resort for a few days to fish and relax. On this trip, we had combat wounded vets from the Army, Navy and Marines.

On my first day with the crew, I had the pleasure of hosting John and Vincent. We made fast friends and wasted no time before heading out to try and land the big one. We started fishing - with only fly rods, no spin fishing - and we fished all day long to only catch a few. The water was low, we couldn't hit some of my favorite spots and that means very stressful day for a guide. And in this situation, the stress was even higher. I really wanted these guys to catch a ton of fish. The fish counter didn't matter to my group, we got to know each other and exchange some old military stories. I shared a few stories of my own, but my stories didn't compare. These boys were all combat wounded vets and I'm blessed to have never been sent into combat.

The following day was the fishing tournament and the rules were simple:

  1. You only count  the five largest fish
  2. Brown Trout counted as double size

I wanted to take my guys after the Browns. Thankfully we had some water generation the night before and we could hit a couple of my favorite spots. We started a little slow that morning but the nets started warming up pretty quickly. Vincent stuck with me on day two and he started reeling them in. We parked the boat and spent most of our time wading in the river. At one point he said Beau, I like this wade fishing

Vincent showing off one of his trophy Rainbow Trout

Vincent showing off one of his trophy Rainbow Trout

Vincent was the hero that day, in more ways than one. My buddy netted three Browns and two Rainbows, giving him a total of 106 inches of fish!  When we were done fishing, we headed back to Lobo Landing for the awards ceremony and photos. I kept telling Vincent that he had a very good chance of winning this tournament, and when they got to first place, they called out his name! I gave him a huge hug afterwards and congratulated him. The expression on his face was priceless and I will never forget it. 

Vincent's celebration after hearing his name called for first place

Vincent's celebration after hearing his name called for first place

In some ways, I struggle with calling myself a veteran because I never served time in combat. My time in the Army is one of the best memories in my life and I met some great men and women. I know in my heart that my experience in the Army made me the man I am today. It taught me courage, honor and integrity. It's there that I learned to push myself to reach my goals in life. I'm grateful for the time I spent with these gentlemen. They brought back a lot of memories for me and helped remind me why it's so important to give back to our veterans.

Vincent, William, Tim, John, JT; I'm already looking forward to next year!

Special thanks to the other two guides. David Hudson, Beau's Guide Service and Phil Landry, Arkansas Trout Fishing Guide.


Bleu and Jessica's Trip

Bleu and Jessica traveled from Michigan to trout fish with us last week. Trout fishing on the Little Red was something they had never experienced, but the two had family here and knew about the world class fishing. We hit the water early to jump ahead of the tail waters. Of course we track generation and many other factors to give our customers the best experience possible. Bleu and Jessica took tons of photos and soaked up the scenery on the boat ride up river. It truly is a beautiful place to be when the sun comes up and the fog is rolling down the river.

Foggy river

I knew a little about Bleu's fishing experience from talking to him when he booked the trip. What I didn't know is that Jessica had never held a rod and reel. That's right, she had never fished, never even held a fish. Guiding someone who had never cast a rod and reel was a first for me. I took the challenge head on and I think she did quite well for herself. I cast the line out a few times to show her how the reel worked and the movement needed for the lure. Bleu wasted no time and was already casting away. They quickly landed a few nice rainbows and even pulled a few Doubles! That's what we call it when both clients have a fish on at the same time.

Jessica and Bleu with a couple of Rainbow Trout

After an action packed morning, we snagged a shady spot on the water, had lunch and recapped the morning's catches. Bleu was most excited about that Brown he caught. Ok, so he probably won't make the cover of Field & Stream, but I don't think he minded the size. He was just pumped to have reeled in a Brown he wanted so badly

Bleu's tiny Brown Trout

We finished up lunch and got back to the grind. Jessica was determined to catch a Brown and refused to stop fishing, even when Bleu took a break to rest his casting arm and take in more scenery. It didn't take long for the water to rise on us so we headed down river. I had a couple of honey holes that would hopefully produce a big Brown before we made it to the dock. 

As soon as the lure hit the water, she looked at me and said Beau I'm hung up on something. I gave it a little pop and I knew she had a nice fish on. I handed the pole to her and talked her through reel. When it rolled, we knew what was on the end of that line. I netted it and started handing out the high fives. Jessica had her Brown. 

Jessica and I posed with her prize Brown Trout

Jessica and I posed with her prize Brown Trout

We posed them up for a few photos and she said let’s set it free so someone else can catch it. They sat down the rods and we headed back to the dock. I could see it on their faces, they had a blast. That's the look I want to see every time I take a client on a trip. We had a great time with you guys, come back and fish with us soon!

Arkansas Trout: A Fish of a Different Color

Folks who spend lots of time on the rivers of our natural state know that trout aren't indigenous to Arkansas, but not all Arkansans are in the know. That's right, trout are only native to rivers and lakes west of the Rocky Mountains. The optimal water temperature for trout is about 54 degrees, which makes rivers like the Little Red ideal for trout stocking. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission annually stocks trout in many bodies of water.

The AGFC's 2015 stock plan calls for more than 2.5 million trout to be stocked in Arkansas waterways. Over a quarter million of those fish will be stocked in the Little Red River, which means we've got some fishing to do. The AGFC plans to stock Rainbow and Brook trout in our river, but there are actually four species here in the state.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Trout Species Guide

Brown trout, or Brownies as they're sometimes called, posses a superpower that uniquely theirs. Brownies actually reproduce in the Little Red and the White rivers. In fact the former world record brown trout was reeled in on the Little Red and weighed in at over 40 pounds. In fact, Rip Collins' fish still holds the state record.

Now that you've graduated from Arkansas Trout University, you're ready to hit the water like a real pro. Next time you stop by the fish hatchery or spot a game warden out in the wild, tell them thanks for keeping our rivers stocked with the best trout in the country. It's another reason we love the natural state.

 

Catch and Release: It's All About Conservation

We were recently on a guide trip when a client asked if he could keep the fish he caught on the trip. A big day of fishing stirs up quite a hunger and the ham and cheese sandwiches we ate on the river weren't nearly as delicious as the rainbows would be for dinner. Of course I told him he could keep his limit of fish and even offered to clean them. After all, he's the customer and we all know the old saying. 

However, our preference for every fishing trip is catch and release, even when it's just the family and me out on the water. We practice catch and release to preserve the fishing environment in Arkansas. Personally, I'm always thinking of my young son and other children in our family. I hope to pass down my passion for fishing to them and it's incredible to think that someday they could hook the same fish that I caught, but for them, that fish would be much bigger. I think of that photo hanging on their wall one day and it makes me proud of the fishing heritage wecould share.

In addition to preserving that experience for generations in my family, we're preserving that experience for generations of anglers. I always say, the trophies we pull out of the river didn't earn their status by dodging hooks all these years. Our fellow anglers and the ones before usprovided that opportunity to us by practicing catch and release.

Our friends over at Recycled Fish have a few more thoughts on the catch and release practice. You might find a few pointers from them to make sure you're using safe fishing practices. I know we've picked up several tips from their site.

That being said, we are happy to send you home with river-fresh trout to feed your crew. Just do us a favor, consider a catch and release trip to preserve our river's most precious asset. It might be just as fun as keeping them.