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Old 06-17-2009, 08:39 AM
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Default Re: Another White River question: Boats

well, let me give you a bit more detail...

first, it is still wadable when they are running just a little bit of water below the dam. but you must realize this is a dangerous proposition for the inexperienced. good judgment based on experience is the key to avoiding potentially life-threatening problems.

second, the boats are called "river jons" or more specifically "white river jons." the best known makers today are supreme and superior. some are turned out by a few other custom shops in the area. they are very narrow, low-sided, long, fiberglass jonboats equipped with light outboards (usually less than 15hp and often under 10hp) and several pedestal seats down the centerline. it is a tool based on tradition, nothing else. once upon a the days of wooden jonboats and long multi-day float fishing excursions down the white river before all the dams broker her up and killed the world's finest smallmouth bass river, it was the best design. today, the fiberglass adaptation is efficient and suitable. but it hardly the "only way to go" on the white from the contemporary selection of technologies. what one needs is: very shallow draft, stability, ability to make upstream transits against swift current of a big river (low drag + enough thrust is best due to weight of motors negatively impacting draft...this is where narrow boats excel), light enough to drag across a gravel shoal now and then when necessary, ability to register in home state.

third, this is the key for land-locked anglers who want to wade fish the area. what most visiting anglers don't realize is that the white below bull shoals dam isn't the only game in town in fact, it isn't such by a LONG shot! the real attraction of the mountain home/cotter area for anglers is that it consists of 2 world-class tailwater fisheries, 1 on either end of town, and something like 35 miles of wadable world-class trout water accessible by car if you just have a good map, and a little help from the right source of info. when the whistle blows to signal the beginning of generation at bull shoals dam, even if they really open her up it will take several hours for the increased flow to get downstream to places like wildcat shoals, cotter, and rim shoals...for example. so what most "locals" do is simply pack it in at the dam and drive downstream to fish for several more hours. frankly, some of the downstream locations are actually better fishing than the dam park is anyway! then there is the norfork tailwater. just because they generate power at bull shoals, doesn't mean they will at norfork...which is on the other end of town. the norfork tailwater has about 9 miles (i think) of additional world-record-producing brown trout water, all of which is wadable. so many anglers simply head over there instead. quite often, by the time "the rise" (as it is called locally) gets down to rim shoals (just downstream of cotter), generation at either norfork or bull shoals has stopped again. so anglers can even drive back upstream if they choose to and fish the low water conditions again.

i've said it here before and i'll say it again: check with mountain river fly shop (gassville, ar), rim shoals resort/fly shop (cotter, ar), and blue ribbon fly shop (mountain home, ar) to get the 411. they'll sell you the right map dirt cheap and explain the whole process to you in full detail for free.

and due to the fact that i am coming out of retirement and returning to the ranks of professional outdoor journalists and adventure guides, i won't be posting this sort of info on other folks' websites for free much anymore. so you'll have to visit my sites if you want my unbiased opinions and unrestricted info on great fishing destinations and affordable gear.
ken morrow, affi
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Adaptive Fly Fishing Institute
UPSTREAM, publisher
Fly Fishing News, columnist
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