February 26, 2007

Buffalo National River, Arkansas

The Arkansas elk herd, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Elk Federation.

The Buffalo National River in the north Arkansas Ozarks is one of the rarest of gems in modern rivers - a free flowing system with no dams and few human impacts from its source to its mouth. While the river is home to only mediocre smallmouth bass fishing at best, it is a spectacular float through a region that exemplifies what good management can achieve. Start your tour on the westernmost edge, near the headwaters, and explore from the elk herd of Boxley Valley all the way to the famous White River.

Download KMZ File | (Right click, choose "Save Target As...")

February 23, 2007

Nance's Ferry, Holston River, Knoxville, Tennessee

Nance's Ferry on the Holston River in East Tennessee is an erstwhile trout fishery, but it truly excels in summertime, when the "poor man's bonefish" go nosing up the shoals in droves. Bring an eight weight rod and a handful of bonefish flies and expect to feel some pullin'! From the public access, begin your hike up the trail to your left, through the woods. It will soon reach the shoal.

Download KMZ File | (Right click, choose "Save Target As...")

February 22, 2007

Upper White River, Fayetteville, Arkansas

The Upper White River above Beaver Lake lacks the cold water necessary to support the White's famous trout, but it makes up for that dearth every spring, when the white bass, hybrids, and stripers make their spawning run. Conventional wisdom says to "go when the dogwoods bloom," but the run may begin slightly before or after the trees do their thing. Trout rods are okay for white bass, but late in the run, consider switching to heavier tackle: the stripers come last.

Download KMZ File | (Right click, choose "Save Target As...")

The Itinerant Angler Google Earth

Today I'm announcing a new feature here on the site: The Itinerant Angler Google Earth. As many of you know, Google Earth is a free online mapping program. First, I'll tell you how to get it, and then I'll tell you what I hope to accomplish.

To Download Google Earth, simply go to http://earth.google.com and follow the instructions. It's free, but it will help you greatly to have broadband internet access. Once you have Google Earth, all you need to do is download the "KMZ" file that I will link to in each post. KMZ stands for "Keyhole Markup Zipped;" the file is a kind of HTML file like you see around the internet, developed by the Keyhole company, who were bought out by Google Earth. KMZ files are easy to use: just download them and drag them into Google Earth, and presto, new locations.

Now, what do I hope to accomplish? Primarily, two goals: the promotion of secondary fisheries and a new feature-rich experience to accompany the Podcast. You're going to see two kinds of posts in here. The secondary fisheries posts are intended to promote fishing in areas that are not necessarily the prime streams in a given area, but are fishable with the fly and may offer a look at species you're not used to catching. There will be no secret fisheries posted here; I'm not out to hotspot anyone's honey hole, but only to highlight water that is fun to fish, can handle acceptable levels of fishing pressure, and isn't in any danger due to overcrowding. The second type of post will be the Podcast supplement. I think you'll see some exciting things here as you follow along with me on my Streamside Essays, learning detailed information about the rivers I fish and seeing where specific photos were taken. Again, sorry, no secrets.

Why am I doing this?

I believe that our fisheries are becoming overcrowded, particularly in the Southeast. The reasons for overcrowding aren't natural, however, but instead are a product of a crowd mentality. On any given Saturday morning on tailwaters throughout the eastern U.S., you may find yourself seeking solitude among a crowd of other anglers standing shoulder to shoulder. This is ironic, because perfectly good warmwater and lesser trout fishing opportunities abound in every state. Are "lesser" streams still fun to fish? Of course they are, particularly if the pressure is less and you have room to breathe. Further, many of these spots are close to towns and cities, providing harried workaday anglers the chance to get on the water when a full day trip isn't on the table.

There's one other big goal here, and I think it is important. Rivers need friends. While too many friends can crowd out and kill a river, having none at all is usually worse. If you visit a location you see here to find that it is littered or degraded, please consider organizing a clean up. Many "marginal" fisheries got that way through neglect, and with a little attention, could once again support excellent fishing.

Zach Matthews