July 18, 2007 Edition

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Meridith and Aaron Helms cool off in the North Fork River while fishing for trout.

Enjoying the Natural State


Meridith Helms and her father, Roger, show off the brown trout that she caught on a recent family fishing trip.
Marla Helms
Guest Writer

If you are looking for a fun family activity for a day or more and you don't want to spend a lot of time on the road to get there, try trout fishing on the North Fork and White rivers in Norfork.

Our family of four made a lot of great memories there recently catching mostly brown trout on the North Fork River. The weather was great, a little hot, but with a nice cool breeze coming off the river.

We headed for the Norfork River Resort following our son's baseball game on a Thursday afternoon. After a quick stop in Ash Flat for food and other supplies, we arrived late in the evening at the resort's new lodge. Our room was very nice, with three queen-sized beds, a full-size refrigerator and microwave. The resort also has two, three and four-bedroom cabins with full-size kitchens if you have a big group.

First thing Friday morning we headed down to the resort's boat dock where we had rented a boat for the day. If you are new to trout fishing or unfamiliar with handling a boat, they also have guides available to go out with you for the day.

The weather was cool and a fog hung low over the river. Aaron and Meridith, ages 10 and seven, were eager to start the day. My husband, Roger, backed our rented boat out of the slip, and we were off. We saw several cranes and other birds as we started up the North Fork River. The water is so clear you can see the bottom and immediately we began spotting different types of trout and sucker fish.

We found a likely spot to try and dropped our anchor. Everyone's pole was baited with an artificial bait and what the trout really loved ~ whole kernel corn. It took the kids and me a little bit to get accustomed to getting the trout on our hooks at the first feel of a nibble, but soon we were pulling them into the boat. We released everything we caught that day, but saw several people at the end of the day with stringers of nice-sized trout to show for their hours on the river.

When we moved to the White River our fishing luck dried up, and we spent more time getting our hooks dislodged from the rocks along the bottom. We did spot several really large trout there.

We saw a few people fly fishing during the day. Although we didn't see any of them bringing anything in, I especially enjoyed watching them work their lines. They made it look easy, but I'm afraid I would be all tangled up in the line pretty quickly.

On the North Fork River, when the Lake Norfork Dam and Powerhouse wasn't running at full power, the water was low enough to get out and wade when we wanted to cool off and stretch our legs. The water is extremely cold, almost taking your breath away when your feet first hit it. Later, when the dam and powerhouse were at full power, the water level rose considerably and the current was swift, making it impossible to get out and stand. When that happened, we took a boat ride up to the dam and enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery and many gorgeous homes along the way.

This was our first time fishing with the kids in the boat, and we didn't know how long they would last. Our boat didn't have to be turned in until 7 p.m., but we were sure we would be back on land way before that time arrived. The kids loved it though, and we stayed on the water most of the day.

Although we didn't keep any of our fish, we left with lots of memories and several pictures. Thanks to several applications of sunscreen during the day, no one had a nasty sunburn. We were tired but refreshed from our day outside enjoying The Natural State.

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