For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ozark fishing dialect, a “brownie” in Northwestern Arkansas refers to one of the local native smallmouth bass species, rather than the brown trout that may go by the same nickname in other parts of the US. I visited Arkansas a few weeks ago for a family road trip, and I was blown away by the Ozark mountain scenery. I couldn’t help sneaking away for a day to float one of NW Arkansas royal brownie rivers.
The Epic 686 was a perfect floating line rod for poppers and smaller streamers, but the Steffen 7/8 caught the majority of the bigger fish as my sink tip streamer rod. The fly of the day was a double deceiver in olive/yellow, which I have now adapted the color scheme in my ties for local river bass in Georgia - see below.
The day started off with an early scenic drive through NW Arkansas and southern Missouri. At the end of my journey, I expected a paved parking lot and boat ramp, but instead, I parked on the undeveloped rocky bank of the river to meet the guide. Less than 5 minutes after I stepped out of the car, a bald eagle soared upstream as an omen for the day ahead.
The guide’s wife was kind enough to shuttle us to the launch, and we jumped in his skiff style drift boat about 6 miles upstream from the spot where we met. The guide consistently put me on fish all day and worked his ass off dragging the boat through shallow water - send me a PM or email, and I’ll be happy to share the guide’s contact info.
I couldn’t believe the diversity and sheer number of fish species in the river. Every time I looked down from the boat, we were passing a school of redhorse suckers, carp, shad, minnows, etc. It was great to see such a high level of biodiversity. We ended up netting about 30 fish, with 4-5 over 16”. Can’t wait to get back to the Ozarks for more brownie fishing. Here are a few pictures from the day: