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White River, Arkansas


Arkansas’s White River holds rainbow, cut-throat and brook trout, but it is the big brown trout that draw fly anglers from around the world. Damon Bungard is brand manager at Jackson Kayak (www. jacksonkayak.com), but he slips away to chase tro- phy browns in the tailwaters of the White River be- low Bull Shoals Dam. Bungard says the fish bite year round, but low water is best to sight cast to big, brown shadows hiding in the grass. When the


water is high, Bungard drifts nymphs with a 5wt fly rod. An angler can drift up to 18 miles, or paddle upstream to the dam and work his way back to camp. “Don’t overlook side channels,” Bungard stresses, “the fish like to hide from the current.” A Power-Pole Micro mounted on the back of Bungard’s Kilroy sit-inside kayak allows him to throw on the brakes when he spots a honey hole or sees a hovering fish. Bull Shoals State Park offers tent sites and cabins, they even rent kayaks and offer a shuttle service for long drifts down the river.


Helfin, Alabama


According to local bass pro Tim Perkins, Heflin, Alabama, is the heart of the Heart of Dixie. The small seat of Cleburne County offers a central base for fishing world famous lakes and rivers of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The bass rich Big Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa rivers carry trophy largemouth, red eye and Alabama spotted bass past the town. The two systems offer anglers the option of fishing slow-moving low- land water or faster mountain flows. According to the U.S. Department of Interior, the Tallapoosa systems have the cleanest water on the East Coast. To spark a bite from explosive river bass, Perkins throws a 3/8-ounce spinner bait in white and chartreuse. “I cast upstream and rip the spinner blade back,” Perkins says, “the fish are so aggres- sive, this is the best way to target a trophy.” In between bass bites, anglers will take in history that has been abandoned on the side of the river. From single-lane iron bridges to Native American fishtraps, a paddle down the river is a trip through time. Today, the Tallapoosas are mostly populated by bass anglers looking for trophies off the beaten path. Perkins recommends launching anywhere along the 40-mile-long Lloyd Owens Canoe Trail. A few miles from Heflin, Lake Wedowee produces more top-50 bass than the famous Lake Gunterville in the center of the state. For information on accommoda- tions and attractions, visit www.cleburnecountychamber.com.


Tongue River Reservoir, Montana


Say Montana, and people think mountains. It’s easy to forget the state has miles of open prairie. The 12-mile-long Tongue River Reservoir is a wet slash in the Big Sky state. New York transplant Lisa Densmore Ballard is an award-winning outdoor writer who fishes the reservoir for bass, crappie, walleye and pike. In fact, the lake has produced State Record pike, black crappie, rock bass and northern bullhead. Densmore Ballard focuses on fly fishing with a 5wt or 6wt rod and black wooly bug- ger flies around submerged wood. “The water is murky so dark-colored lures get the most attention,” she explains. Densmore Ballard has made many family memories camping at Tongue River State Park. “Be sure to get a site with its own kayak launch,” she recommends. Densmore Ballard also recommends bringing all food (except a few fish meals) since the isolated campground is nowhere near the trappings of civilization.


www.rapidmedia.com 51


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PHOTO: TIM PERKINS


PHOTO: DAMON BUNGARD


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