(Editor's Note: Matt's first column ran on June 1, 2001, and has been a welcome addition to our outdoor coverage the last eight years. Welcome back, Matt.)
"Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning."
What the heck is up with the cold streak last weekend? I mean, come on, this was the last weekend of Spring Break! Where was the sun, the sunblock, the heat? I thought we were supposed to be having a global warming pattern. I think I'm ready for that.
Last Saturday Chad Hipps and I were standing in a total all-out, sideways rain storm followed by sleet, snow, 40 mile an hour winds, cold, and oh yeah, lots more rain. Doing what you might ask? Well, fishing of course!
Chad had asked me a few weeks before to fish a trout tourney on the real White River in Cotter. This tourney is sponsored by a local boat manufacturer and is always well attended, with this year no exception.
More than 40 boats participated, with many being local guides hoping to cash in on the prize money and the drawing for a new boat.
As mentioned before, the weather was quite a problem. The tourney was delayed 30 minutes because of the rains being so heavy that no teams could put boats into the river.
Each boat had at least a foot of water standing in them. All we could do was pull the drain plug, but one can't put the boat in the water with the drain plug out. I think you see the problem.
We had been out only 40 minutes when Chad caught the fish of the day, and of the tourney. This nasty male brown trout measured almost 28 inches and weighed in at 7 pounds 3.5 ounces! I only mustered up two little rainbows, which tipped the scales at a whopping 1.4 lbs.
The tourney allowed for four fish per team, but the water was rising fast and getting muddy. Three fish was all we could bring in.
Chad's big brown was the best of the tourney and shot us up to second place. Many boats came back empty but we came home with cash. Chad has fished this tourney four years in a row, finishing second two different times.
This was my first trip to this Bull Shoals Lake tailwater, but it certainly won't be my last.