Matt Meets Murfreesboro

by Matt Jennings

 Weekend before last the family and I met Mike Brown up at Murfreesboro Arkansas. We stayed at the Riverside Cabins, which were nice and clean and right on the river. Mike had been there a day already and was down teasing or being teased by trout when we arrived around three in the afternoon. The stream was lazy looking, and crystal clear with fish easily visible. Kids were wading in knee-deep water in the middle of the stream and chasing crayfish through the obsidian colored rocks behind our cabin. Mike said that he had done all right but shortly after he arrived on Friday afternoon they began releasing water from the dam and the river was a blustery torrent. He seemed mildly disappointed. We fished emergers that evening and maybe it was the road or heightened expect-ations, but the fish were rising all around, but I just couldn't make it happen. Short-strikes was the name of the game. There were smallmouths and largemouths of very respectable proportions gliding about obviously feeding, but I had driven for trout, and with risers all about me, they were going to be dry fly trout, or as close as I could get. Finally, a few of the multiples of types of mayflies that I had seen dangling in the spider webs along the stream began to hatch and float down the river about an hour before dark. I put on a big hair winged white dry, and missed multiple splashy takes, and caught two trout.

The next day brought a few local trout fishermen out and the fishery showed me what it's all about. In the winter rainbows are stocked into this little brook by the millions and people come and nutsack them a couple of limits by throwing out power bait or an emerger, any semi-large emerger, and twitching it back. All the fishermen I saw that day had the same move down pat and wondered loudly why it wasn't working now when it worked a couple of weeks ago. No one I saw changed flies or changed their technique all day. It apparently is just how it is done. I put on dry flies and proceeded to catch a few, but mostly I got short strikes and refuses. I was floating 6x on a ten foot leader and finally a local who had been marveling at my misses said that I had better fish 8x tippet or better and that he was fishing 9x, which I have never heard of. I went to 8x and it worked, I guess that when you put a couple million fish in and you have few dozen left those would be the line shy ones. I caught five or six fish over the next couple hours all on drys. I was doing fine and having fun but the wife and the baby were bored and so I figured to go to town and see the sights and come back for the evening hatch and catch them all, with my new found knowledge.

We went to The Crater of Diamonds State Park and it was really great, the Arkansas parks are so much nicer than anything we have in Texas. They are staffed, and interactive, and clean, and numerous. Really a whole different attitude than we take here. If you have kids take them and dig for gems and you will love it. We looked around, ran a few errands, and then I was back in the water as soon as humanly possible.

I made three casts and caught a nice rainbow thirty feet out the back of the cabin. I cast again and missed a fish, that was when I heard what sounded like a logging truck using its' air brakes all the way down the grade out front. I thought that shouldn't be the siren they don't release on weekends.

The water came up so fast that I literally high stepped back to the bank in order to not be washed away. I don't have a clue how people aren't killed regularly by this craziness. The water just kept coming up, and up, and up. It washed away any thoughts I had of fishing the rest of the day, it was the kind of water that should of brought out the white water kayakers in droves, with standing waves and swirling eddies. What a difference! Now I know why Mike had seemed a little disappointed after driving six hours.

I ended up going upstream throwing huge clousers, and caught two good bass just before dark in a back eddies by the playground in the park, both over a pound and lost a couple, one of which threw the fly on a jump, which is always cool. I think if I went up that way again I would have a backup smallmouth stream as the river bass fishing looked incredible with many public access points. This was really a beautiful area with pines and hardwood mixed forests and great things to do besides trout fishing. I have never seen so many birds and beautiful back roads. If you camp or have a camper the parks up there are great, usually you are in the forest or on the water, just like it should be. I definitely got the idea after talking to the locals that during the winter this is a bait fisherman's catch and kill wonderland and I heard enough jokes about taking a limit in the morning and evening to think it is common practice. During the summer it looks like nice little fishing around the dam releases, and it's catch and release. Next time, I take shovel and a screen and when the water comes up Clyde and I go find Mama that six carat flawless they had in the museum over at Crater of Diamonds.

Note: This feature originally appeared in our June 2001 newsletter.

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