Late Fall on the Little Red

Dana Walker Brown_1

Dana Walker shows off a chunky brown from the Little Red River in Arkansas.

photo by Toby Swank

I just wrapped up a whirlwind tour of the Little Red River in northern Arkansas. November and December is typically the time of year when the brown trout move into the shallow shoals to spawn. We planned this trip so that we could both sight fish and streamer fish to some trophy-class fish. Well, as with just about every fishing trip, Mother Nature and the Army Corps of Engineers had other ideas.

The river is at historic low flows, with no hydro-generation to speak of for a while now. This, coupled with three days of unsettled weather (conditions varied between 70 and sunny to low 30s with heavy rain), made for some unusual conditions.  So we made the best of the conditions and covered a lot of water looking for a big fish in some skinny water.

The browns are typically well into the spawn by now, but they are just getting started this year. So, the coming weeks leading into Christmas should provide some fantastic fishing conditions. Swinging big streamers at the heads of the pools just downstream from any shoal will find some fish, especially in the early morning hours. Once the sun gets up, start looking for fish moving around above and below the redds. 

Mossy Shoal Sunrise

Early morning is the best time for swinging big streamers.

photo by Toby Swank

Sight fishing with sowbug, midge, and egg patterns will turn some of these fish, but nothing works better than persistence when hunting a trophy-class trout. In the three days we fished, we saw one fish that was over 10 pounds and a good 1/2 dozen in the 5-8 pound range.  Although we didn’t get any of these larger fish, there were plenty of fish in the 18-22 inch range that made for some great fishing overall.

If great BBQ and wild brown trout sound good, then I would really recommend making a break for Little Rock, AR.  Then make the short 1-1/2 hour drive north to up around Heber Springs and get lined up with the folks at Ozark Angler for help regarding the how, what, and where to make the trip more successful. 

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