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The Little Rock District COE Facebook Page has announced that one lane of Hwy. 177 across Norfork Dam will be closed at 7am on Sept 8th (today) and remain closed through the end of the year to conduct maintenance on the dam’s 12 gates. 

They ask that if you are traveling in the area to expect delays and please drive cautiously.

(Posted by TBird, Received from C. Graham, AG&F Trout Biologist)


For all the info click the link below:

IFFFOS.Org Fly Fishing Fair in Mountain Home, Arkansas



With great saddness that we want to pass along this information to all of you. We are sure that some of you would not other wise have heard about the passing of this wonderful man who worked diligently along with his spirited wife, Pat Smith.

Chet with all his tenacity and passion for fly fishing and tying as well as concerns for our fisheries system and healthy fish habitat lead by his example that we all must do our part for as long as we possibly can, just as he did.

Chet had a warm smile and a distinctive voice that I loved to hear.
Chet was tall in stature and even larger in his knowledge, opinions and terrific sense of humor and quick wit.

You will be greatly missed my friend.

For obituary and more service information and special request; please read below.

Davy Wotton and Teresa TBird VanWinkle


Chester L. Smith
February 17, 1942 – August 30, 2015


Chester L. Smith, Jr. was born February 17, 1942 in Searcy, AR to Chester L. Smith, Sr. and Ruby B. (Miller) Smith. He left this world to join them on August 30, 2015. In his last seven weeks, he suffered a compression fracture to his spine, a major stroke, a heart attack, a blood clot that necessitated the amputation of his lower left leg, and lung cancer.

Chester was a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a Jurist Doctorate degree. Upon passing the Arkansas Bar, he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was a special agent from 1966 to 1994 when he retired. During his time with the Bureau he served in Omaha, NE; Davenport, IA; Toledo, OH and St. Louis, MO. Upon retired he and his wife moved to Mountain Home, AR. He taught for several years at Arkansas State University-MH.

He was an avid fly fisherman and fly tyer. He was a life member of the International Federation of Fly Fishers and was awarded several awards from that organization. He was also a member of and past president of North Arkansas Fly Fishers. He was also an active member of Trout Unlimited, the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, the Twin Lakes Retired Policemen’s Scholarship Association and the Society of Former Special Agents of the F.B.I.

In 1966, he married Patricia A. Pearle in Washington, D.C. He is survived by his wife of the home; daughters Shannon Smith of Nampa ID and Samantha (Jim) Farthing of Jefferson City MO; three grandchildren, Connor, Chester and Elizabeth; five cousins, Nancy Moore of Rogers AR, Harold Miller of Napa CA, Peggy Adams of Terra Haute IN, Steve Miller of Nashville TN and Barbara Gardiner of Fort Lauderdale FL; as well as a host of many friends and other relatives.

A memorial gathering will be held Thursday, September 3, 2015 at Conner-Hankins Funeral Home & Cremation Center Chapel from 2 – 4 p.m. to celebrate his life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in his name be made to the North Arkansas Fly Fishers Scholarship Fund, PO Box 1213, Mountain Home, AR 72654. Following the service, an “old-fashioned Irish wake” will be held at the family home for family and friends.

An online guestbook and obituary are available at

Memorial Gathering
Thursday, September 3, 2015
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Conner-Hankins Funeral Home and Cremation Center
2833 Highway 62 West
Mountain Home, AR 72653

Monday was to be a guide fishing day with our friend Jeff Hearn, recently back in the States for a short holiday vacation from his now employment in China teaching English.

For some reason we were also blessed with a period of minimum flow after some weeks of continual high water flows. That gave me the perfect break in lower water levels to fish the Rim Shoals to Buffalo Shoals section of the river, to which l new we would find good fishing after weeks of high water;  flows which to some extent do allow more fish to survive.

More to the point, l wanted to introduce Jeff to the Welsh way of fishing which more or less means fishing teams of traditional wet fly patterns, all be it some of the flies l now use are those of my own innovation.


Lines of choice would either be a dry line or a intermediate, flies included for the 3 fly rigs included muddler daddys, dunkeld, olive dabbler, and red arse caddis, all of which nailed fish, top fly being the muddler daddy. Long 14 foot leaders of 5x.


We motored upstream to Rim Shoals, pulled to shore while l built the rigs.
Started Jeff with the intermediate line while l fished the dry line, as by use of this line l would know how the fish would react to flies fished closer to the surface which is always a issue when we have blue skies and very bright light.
That said, l also chose to fish sections of water that l know the incidence of penetrated light is not so much a issue for the fish to see the flies above them.

From the get go we were into fish at an alarming rate, in no time l had boated 25, most by working my dropper flies in and off the surface.
Enough for me at that time so handed my rod to TBird who had never fished a 3 fly rig before.
Meanwhile Jeff was hooking and loosing more fish than he got to hand, which required me to instruct Jeff that all one needs to do is to watch for the take and not wait till you feel it and then react with a fast hook set, it takes practice to do this, as takes at times are very subtle, very unlike stripping a streamer, that’s not to say all fish that take will do so softly, in some cases particularly for Browns they will hammer you, as Jeff found out when he hooked and landed a fine 18 incher.


Effort and attention to instructions always pay off when learning a new style of fly fishing. Friend, Jeff Hearn with his flawless Brown and Davy. TBird photo.

Meanwhile TBird was starting to get the hang of it, hooking, loosing and landing fish.

First and foremost you must be able to make a direct straight line cast with the 14 foot leader and flies landing in a straight line, second you must have instant direct control of your fly line and connection to the flies, if not you will rarely be able to detect the takes which can come at any time during the recovery of the flies to the point when you work the dropper to and through the surface film, it requires a constant focus, no doubt about that.

We decided around mid day to pull in for a lunch break, while doing so we noticed the water rising, given the time schedule from the dam l knew that once again the generation forecast was wrong, we should not have seen rising water at 12:pm.
Okay lets get going- as l knew new water would kill us with crap.  We shot off downstream a few miles at least to give us a hour or so break with good water.

Decided to hook a few more myself and was satisfied with another 20 fish, before handing my rod back to TBird.


While fishing and demonstrating proper techniques of wet fly fishing to Jeff, Davy is rewarded with one of the biggest Cutthroat that we had seen in a long time. TBird photo

I would say for the next hour or so catching was fast and furious before the trash more or less put the fish down, that worked out okay as it was 3:pm and getting hot, we had more than our fair share of fish for the day.

I know for a fact that between the three of us well over 100 fish were caught.
Fish of the day for me was a fine 16 inche Cutt, hard to find those guys on the White River now days.

All in all for a five hour fishing trip it was as good as you could get, one of which will leave some memories for Jeff fishing the Welsh way !!!


(Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle August 20, 2015)


(From the desk of Christy Graham)

Hello All,


I know some of you are curious about what is going on at Norfork so  I obtained some more detailed information from the Corps of Engineers. 


Many of you have seen that the water is running around the sides of the gate.
(See photo)


The gate was blocked by the bulkhead to allow painting of the gate and rehab on the side and bottom seals.  When the water came up in Lake Norfork, the work by the contractors was halted- this was outlined in their contract with the COE due to concerns for safety when the water got to a certain elevation.  The side and bottom seals are off and could not be replaced in time to prevent leakage.


We (AGFC) went out and measure temperatures today (July 28).  Temperatures throughout the river ranged from 60.2 F to 67.1 F (we took temperatures between the Dam and just upstream from the confluence). There were no signs of dead trout, but several anglers reported today that captured fish were stressed upon release.  That is not unheard of when temperatures increase in the tailwaters.  I urge you all to be aware of fish handling right now and try to reduce stress during capture as much as possible, especially if you plan to release the fish. The good news is that during generation, temperatures drop back down to the high 40s, providing adequate relief. If water gets any warmer, I will consider implementing a stocking restriction on Norfork until this situation has been resolved.  I will let you know if we get  to that point.


Because of the lake elevation in Bull Shoals right now, the COE is unable to give any channel capacity to Norfork above the daily minimum (firm power) [i.e., they cannot generate more than they are at this time].  Inflow into Norfork is close to outflow levels with the weekly rains they have had in southern Missouri.  Therefore Norfork has continued to rise.  However, it is 64% full, compared to 90% at Bull Shoals and 80% for the 3 lakes on the mainstem White River.


Reservoir control in Little Rock will send a note to the Operator at Norfork and ask that they give special attention to Norfork conditions (i.e., asking that they closely watch and make sure that minimum flow continues to operate at all times during non-generation, whether that be from the siphon or speed-no-load).  I assure you all that both the COE and ourselves are monitoring this situation closely.


Hope this clears up some of the speculation about what is going on.  Let me know if you have any questions.


Thanks, Christy


Christy Graham

Trout Biologist Supervisor

E-mail: | P: (870) 424-5924 | M: (870) 404-0477


Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

201 East 5th St. | Mountain Home, AR | 72653

O: (877) 425-7577 | F: (870) 425-6596

Posted by Teresa TBird VanWinkle July 28th, 2015

Davy and I are on our way to Louisiana.
We are happy to be returning to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers Club.

For more information on this club or tomorrows event click on the link below:

Keep a hook in the vise,

Public Announcement:

Hello Everyone,


The AGFC Trout Management Program will be hosting a general public meeting on Thursday August 13th, 2015  to discuss the current status of the Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters.  The meeting will be from 6:00-8:00 PM in the McMullin Lecture Room, Dryer Hall, on the Arkansas State University campus in Mountain Home.  I  will be giving a presentation about data collected during recent years and discuss upcoming projects planned for the rivers. We’ll also discuss recently completed projects.  There will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the meeting. Multiple representatives from AGFC will be in attendance, including our new Chief of Fisheries, Chris Racey.


We look forward to providing you all with this information and hope you will be able to attend. Feel free to send to other interested parties.





Christy Graham

Trout Biologist Supervisor

E-mail: | P: (870) 424-5924 | M: (870) 404-0477


Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

201 East 5th St. | Mountain Home, AR | 72653

O: (877) 425-7577 | F: (870) 425-6596

Posted July 15, 2015


Jim Gaston, a man who was ready with a smile every time you saw him. I will miss Jim driving by the farm an honking, arm waving as he passed by. TBird

I first met Jim Gaston through working with the U. S. Fisheries Division and the development of the Friends of the Norfork Fish Hatchery.

His compassion and lifelong advocacy for the White River and is conservation was contagious.

We became friends through our mutual interest of the rivers and fisheries. I treasure the memories and accomplishments that we were able to share.

Jim leaves a tremendous trail of testament to his never-ending push for public knowledge of river conservation.

Rest in peace, my friend.
Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle

(For more on Jim Gaston and his accomplishments click on the link below)–champion-of-tourism–outdoors-legend-d/21741047

Posted July 13th, 2015

(Posted on June 26th, 2015- 7:30AM)

Hello All,

I’m sure a lot of you are aware of the situation at Beaver Tailwater.  The COE has had a mechanical failure of both turbines at the Dam and has started releasing water from only the spillway gate.  The major concern of course, has been high water temperatures in the tailwater.  Trust me, I am as concerned as anyone about the implications this has for the trout fishery.  I assure you, AGFC has been aware of this since nearly minute one and have been closely monitoring the situation.  With the lake at the top of the flood pool, and water still coming in to the lake, the COE has no choice at this time but to release water from the flood gates.  However, I would like to point out that they have considered every alternative we have offered in an attempt to alleviate the situation; unfortunately at this time they are still trying to come up with an alternative that will not be unsafe to overall Dam operations. 

Personnel from our Program  have been on the tailwater the past two days checking temperatures.  Yesterday, temperatures from the Dam downstream to Bertrand Access ranged from 75.6 F at the dam to 78.3 F at Bertrand.  All temperature readings we took, regardless of whether they were taken right bank, left bank, surface, or bottom, were within that range.  Today, we floated that same stretch and temperatures were slightly cooler (73.6 F) due to overnight temperatures being lower.  We also floated the stretch from Bertrand downstream to Houseman today.  A bit of good news is that we found a lot of areas between the Hwy. 62 Bridge and Houseman Access where the temperatures approximately 12 ft. below the surface were in the 50-60 F range.  That is great and I hope that means the lack of trout we saw over the last two days (dead or alive) is because they have sought refuge in the deeper, more cool water.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We have only seen about 8 dead trout over the last two days (all catchable size (10”-11”) rainbow trout, some freshly dead some older).  There is no way to attribute those few deaths to the high temperatures.  Also, it’s not unusual to see a few dead fish anytime you float a river.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will check temperatures and for stressed fish regularly until the situation with the turbines has been resolved.

I will send out a more detailed map of our temperature readings for anyone who is interested.  I am still putting together all of the information.  I appreciate the calls and concerns that have been expressed by everyone and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.  I will get back to you with any answers ASAP.


Christy Graham
Trout Biologist Supervisor
E-mail: | P: (870) 424-5924 | M: (870) 404-0477

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
201 East 5th St. | Mountain Home, AR | 72653
O: (877) 425-7577 | F: (870) 425-6596


John displays his rainbow from the Bull Shoals Dam Trophy Zone from Monday. Davy Wotton Photo.

Who says Mondays are a bad way to begin the week…a few casts later and John pulled in this beautiful trophy brown also Guided by Davy Wotton.


Photo courtesy of Davy Wotton

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