BROKEN BOW, OKLAHOMA and the SPILLWAY CREEK………….. July 2-3, 2015
The following is a personal reflection on the condition of BEAVERS BEND STATE PARK, Broken Bow, Oklahoma………….
The SPILLWAY CREEK / COLD HOLE & EVENING HOLE!
On July 2, 2015 I traveled to the LOWER MOUNTAIN FORK RIVER area. We most commonly refer to this area as Broken Bow / Lower Mt. Fork.
After taking I-49 North to I-30 just west of Texarkana, Texas, we then traveled west to Texas Highway 82 to Texas Highway 259 North. After getting off in the road in DeKalb, Texas we were greeted with a new sign….OKLAHOMA / TEXAS RED RIVER BRIDGE CLOSED! Now this kinda’ caused us some concern.
Taking a moment to regroup, we viewed the road we just got off Hwy 82 and traveling west about another 27 miles we could then take Highway 37 North to Idabel, Oklahoma. This would get us back across the Red River. Going this way added another 30 miles on our travels and just over a half hour drive.
When crossing the Red River I took several photographs of the River and it has certainly changed the configuration of the river and where the sand banks were previously.
When we arrived at the Park, we entered the north entrance of Highway 259A and proceeded to the Spillway. The sight was amazing……. Looking at the video taken on June 14th by Mr. Mike Love was one thing, being there was another! It was so very surreal that it was like something out of a Science Fiction Movie! The “flagstone” formation which was some 5-8 feet below the previous structure is now showing!
As we started to fish the outcroppings of the rock formations, it then came to the reality of how dangerous the footing really was! I was wearing the KORKERS White Horse with Felt Bottoms, and it still caused some slipping!
After attempting to cast my TFO / BVK 3wt Fly Rod, I was getting caught up on the flat edges of the “flagstone” formations on the bottom.
My firm suggestion is to always use Strike Indicators and still watch out for the hooks catching on the rocks. Also, ALWAYS use a good walking staff! Not just one which you cut from a tree, but one with a good metal point tip! You WILL need it to keep your balance as well as check the depth of the area before you put your foot down.
Some of the sections between the ridgelines of rock is not very clear, but if you step in-between not knowing the depth, you may go down in some areas as deep as 8 feet! I fell in one of the areas and it was not good. Injured my left knee and that was with a walking staff!
I personally found the new “Spillway Creek” to be too dangerous for me to continue traveling down, and I drove back down to the end….or tried to. The road is CLOSED when you get to the Beaver Lodge Nature Trail.
Traveling back up to the main road and going to the Main Park Entrance, then to the Cold Hole from that direction is was not so bad getting there. Now when you are THERE it is a whole different thing!
The Cold Hole is now the Disaster Hole! The concrete bridge has been washed out and moved downstream 35 feet! With concrete weighing approximately 150 lbs. per one cubic foot, this appears to be approximately 20 tons (40,000 lbs.) of concrete which has been moved! I do not see Oklahoma paying for a crane to come in and move it or send jack hammers to break it up and take it out……but stranger things have happened!
Now the Evening Hole that is a different story! It is basically the only place to catch fish up there. It has changed considerably however, it is still fishable…. The configuration is somewhat different but the basic layout is the same….just kinda’ different….you will know what I mean when you get there!
This is the location of the former PARKING LOT which was below the Spillway!
All in all, it is the newest River in the State of Oklahoma but still one of the closest places to go after Rainbow and Brown Trout in our area!
Please be safe, and pay attention to the rock…..it is different and some-what dangerous~
Happy Fishing and keep the reports coming in to the Fly Shop………………..
On a lighter note……..our friends at Beavers Bend Fly Shop are back up and running! The water rose over 4 ½ feet in the fly shop, but they have rebuilt the inside and it looks even better now than before! I wish our friends Eddie and Roberta Brister only the best in the recovery and continuing prosperity! They are GOOD PEOPLE and I pray for their well-being!
Accuracy is one of the keys to effective fly presentation, but remember that there
is more to perfect presentation than just casting in a straight line.
Photo courtesy of Tyler Junior College of Fly Fishing and TheFullCreel.com
IN DIFFICULT FISHING SITUATIONS on spring creeks and tailwaters, anglers often pin their hopes for success on a fly box full of imitative patterns and advanced presentation skills like stack mending and curve casting. This makes sense, since the ability to match the hatch and present the fly with minimal drag are often what separates this “technical” fishing from other stream fishing for trout. Unfortunately, many anglers forget that these advanced techniques should be an overlay on more fundamental skills, and not a replacement for them.
A friend, Chad McCormick, once related an anecdote to me that serves as a perfect illustration of this attitude. Chad was fishing the lower Bighorn with fly shop owner George Anderson a few seasons back, and it was Bighorn fishing at its best: little yellow stoneflies were skittering all over the surface, and the fish were keyed into both hatching insects and returning egg layers. With lots of bugs and lots of rising fish, if the angler put the fly on target, the result was a hookup with another 15 to 20 inch fish.
At least that’s how it worked for George and Chad. They noticed another angler fishing the riffle just upstream, making cast after cast, changing flies frequently, conspicuous because he wasn’t catching a thing. All the while, he was forced to watch the anglers below him hook and land and release a considerable pile of fish.
Finally, after several more fly changes, this fisherman couldn’t stand it any more. “What are you guys catchin’ ‘em on?”, he yelled.
Rather than work on perfecting our own abilities, we tend to look for a magic fly pattern (or invisible tippet material, perfect fly rod design, etc.) to catch fish for us.
Amusing because it contains an insight into a typical human foible when it comes to fishing skills (and a lot of other things, for that matter). Rather than work on perfecting our own abilities, we tend to look for a magic fly pattern (or invisible tippet material, perfect fly rod design, etc.) to catch fish for us. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work. The best fly pattern in the world won’t catch fish if the fish doesn’t see it. Casting accuracy is a basic component of all presentations, but in tailwater and spring creek situations, it is often critical. With lots of naturals on the water, the fish will not move far for a meal, and inaccurate casts won’t even garner a feeding fish’s attention. On the other hand, even a badly tied or oversized fly will catch some fish if it is presented precisely in the fish’s feeding lane.
So what is involved in making an accurate cast? Gary Borger provides a useful delineation of the components of accuracy in his book Presentation (Streamworks, 1995, 319 pages): there is distance accuracy, which involves casting the correct amount of line (i. e., not casting beyond or short of the target), left and right accuracy, and pinpoint accuracy, which is a combination of the two. Separating distance from alignment is a valuable insight, because these different types of accuracy are often required in different fishing situations, and they are achieved by different parts of the casting stroke. In this column, I will discuss some of the fishing concepts involved in accuracy; in the next issue, I will take up the the techniques and casting mechanics of accuracy.
Casting itself is only part of the key to accurate presentations. A precursor to accuracy is the angler’s ability to recognize the target, which in turn requires the ability to read water and the ability to see well. In situations where a fish is not visible, it is sometimes useful to cover all of the water methodically, but in most cases, the range of targets is narrowed down by reading water. These scenarios usually involve distance accuracy—the angler identifies a current line that determines a fish’s lie, and a cast is made to reach that target distance. (Other situations that involve mostly distance accuracy include casting to bank lies from a drift boat or casting to the edge of a weed line in bass fishing or stillwater trout fishing.)
Once the fish or its lie can be determined precisely, alignment accuracy must be added to the equation. This “left or right” accuracy is what allows the angler to place the fly in a position where it will drift naturally into the fish’s range of vision.
In other cases, the angler will rely directly on vision to determine the casting target. In spring creeks and tailwaters, this can be as straightforward as stalking and casting to a visible fish. Careful observation will also allow the angler to identify casting targets in other ways: spotting the shadow of a fish, noticing the subtle riseform of a bulging fish or the flash of a nymphing fish as it turns under the surface of the water. Once the fish or its lie can be determined precisely, alignment accuracy must be added to the equation. This “left or right” accuracy is what allows the angler to place the fly in a position where it will drift naturally into the fish’s range of vision. If the cast is made too far to the downstream side, the fish won’t see the fly (or won’t have time to take the fly in its normal feeding rhythm). More often, I see anglers make the opposite mistake—they lead the fish way too far to the upstream side, and by the time the fly gets to the fish, it has drifted laterally out of the fish’s feeding lane. In heavy hatch situations, it is easy to get excited by the sight of a pod of big fish feeding in a small area, but accuracy requires that the angler pick an individual target. Flock shooting is as ineffective for the flyfisher as it is for the wingshooter.
Accuracy is also dependent on the angler’s ability to see the fly as well as the target, as the angler needs to see whether the fly is landing in the correct position. One of the keys to spotting the fly (and distance accuracy in general) is to know the length of the leader, so the angler’s eye can move to the approximate landing zone of the fly. In flat light, it can be difficult to see a small spring creek pattern, and in windy conditions, the tippet and fly may be blown well away from the intended target. If the angler can’t spot the fly at all, there is no way to correct errors in fly placement and there is little chance for success. There is nothing more frustrating than straining to see the fly and then realizing—always a second too late—that the last rise was to your fly, which was several feet away from where you thought it was. In these situations, I recommend changing to a more visible fly (like a parachute style or a “hi-vis” pattern), even if it is less imitative.
If the angler is presenting the fly with a reach cast, another effective ploy in bad light or windy conditions is to hold the reach upstream until the fly begins to skate. The waking fly is easy to see, and the fly can be steered into the right line of current, at which point the rod tip can be dropped to allow the fly to drift naturally to the fish. This intentional drag requires a fly that doesn’t drown easily—a Sparkle Dun or parachute style emerger is my personal choice for this technique.
Accuracy is one of the keys to effective fly presentation, but remember that there is more to accuracy than just casting. Identifying the target and seeing the fly are crucial elements, but planning one’s approach is important as well. If the angler knows a long (and accurate) cast is beyond his abilities, it may be possible to wade closer. If the angles of wind and current make a particular cast difficult, reconsider the situation and try a different casting angle. Most importantly, careful observation of the situation should allow the angler to make an accurate presentation on the very first cast, which is the one most likely to take a fish.
[Editor's Note: During this first full week of 2014, we’re counting down the Top 10 Posts of 2013. (Although, since the Friday Fly-Fishing Film Festival is almost always the most-read post of each week, we'll disqualify the F5 from this contest.) We’ll repost two of the Top 10 per day, leading up to our announcement of the most-read post, on Friday afternoon. So stay tuned all week to see what resonated most with Orvis Fly Fishing readers last year. Here's #4, which offers a simple, effective fly-to-tippet knot that many anglers find useful.]
My friend Zach Matthews, who runs the Itinerant Angler website, made this video about one of his favorite tippet-to-fly knots. I’ll admit that I am an improved-clinch kind of guy, but Zach swears by the Davy, especially for small flies and light tippets. Here’s his description:
The Davy Knot, invented by Davy Wotton, is a type of figure 8 knot that is perfect for extremely small flies. The tiny size of this knot makes it perfect on bright days, in still water, or whenever trout are being extremely selective. Because the Davy Knot is so fast to tie, it is extremely popular with tournament anglers fishing under a time limit.
For more information on Davy himself, who is a Welshman relocated to Flippin, Arkansas, check out his elaborate website.