By Trent Fleming
Editor’s note: We’re sharing the Sowbug report sent here from STOE Field Editor, Trent Fleming.
Today was the second day of the 2017 SowBug Roundup here in Mountain Home, Arkansas. www.sowbugroundup.org. I arrived about 1 pm, with my cousin and novice fly fisherman Jim Fleming in tow. The event, set up in a large building on the Baxter County fairgrounds, held true to its roots by featuring literally dozens of outstanding fly tyers showing their skills. A highlight for me was Mark Crawford’s presentation on fishing the Spring River. A local boy and self-described hillbilly, Mark is a 14 year veteran of fly fishing the Spring. He offered great insights into the types of fish in the river, flies, and techniques for catching them, and discussed the potential for active management to transform the Spring into a world-class trout fishery. springriverfliesandguides.com
I was also privileged to visit with a White River legend, John Berry, of Berry Brother’s Guide Service. www.berrybrothersguides.com John also manages Dale Fulton’s Blue Ribbon Fly Shop. Mr. Crause, also with Berry Brothers, tied me a gorgeous sow bug, and Minnesotan (how did he even find Mountain Home?) Scott Nordby flychucker.blogspot.com tied an intriguing red “Sunny Chumb” for me. I visited with Tom Hoskins ofHoskinsNets.com who offers beautiful handmade nets in a variety of woods, shapes, and sizes.
I awoke on Saturday looking forward to a return trip to the Sowbug Roundup. Yesterday’s activities had but whetted my appetite. I wanted to meet Dave Whitlock, and also to see as many fly tiers as I could.
Privileged to Meet Dave Whitlock!
Mr. Whitlock was great. He signed a book for me "Trout and Their Food" and spent several minutes talking about common interests, ranging from the natural fellowship of fly fishers to warm water fishing to our shared love for writing. What a gentleman, and such a legend in our sport!
My first fly tier of the day was Jamie Franklin, from North Louisiana Flyfishers. firstname.lastname@example.org We discussed his home state and the waters that his group has to travel to in order to fish, including one of my favorites, the Little Missouri. Keeping with the Louisiana flavor, I then talked to Harry at the Boyd Rod Company, just some awesome bamboo rods made in Louisiana . . . I had to know the angle there. Turns out, Harry was introduced to fly fishing at Roaring River State Park in Missouri as a 10-year-old. Like many of us, it turned out his addiction was serious and would only worsen with time, to the point that he now has devoted his career to rod building (with a little fishing thrown in). Should you want a gorgeous, handcrafted bamboo rod, check out www.canerods.com You will feel like Isaak Walton!
Grant Adkins from Wichita Falls, Texas had great stories of a long career in fishing and tying, as well as his career with RCA that took him around the country, including a stint in my home area of Memphis, Tennessee. Grant tied a pink attractor pattern for me, and I’m eager to see how it performs on the water. He reports that he’s now retired - but operates a cattle ranch which “keeps him busy.” I bet! He travels to Southeastern Oklahoma to fish as that’s the closest cold water fishery for him.
Allan Fish from Indiana tied an Elk Hair pattern for me, while we discussed some of our favorite waters and techniques. He travels to SowBug regularly to keep up with old friends and make new ones - a testament to the camaraderie we enjoy in our sport. Reach Allan at email@example.com to learn about his fly tying, rod making, and rod repair services.
Yes, I bought a few things. Product reviews coming soon! I also contributed to the event via the purchase of raffle tickets, but I was not burdened with any prizes to carry home. Sowbug is a great time. One of my favorite things is the “free” table - where North Arkansas FlyFishers members bring items they no longer need - to give away! I was able to pick up a pair of waders that will fit my 11-year-old, and saw others making similar finds. Start your planning today to make the 21st annual Sowbug Roundup in 2018. www.SowbugRoundup.org
The event is so well organized, there are drawings and silent auctions, seminars, and of course, continual fly tying demonstrations. Sowbug Roundup runs one more day, from 9-5, and tomorrow I’m looking forward to meeting Dave Whitlock, seeing more flies tied, and attending at least a couple of seminars.