The thick morning fog stuck into the valley covering every crevice. The river steamed as the sunlight penetrated through the fog. The boat engines hummed to the rhythm of the river current. It was just another morning at the White River Trout Club in Flippin, Arkansas on the famous White River.
The john boat accelerated through the boulder maze working upstream, hugging the high bank side of the river. The river was crystal clear, you could see 20-30 feet to the bottom in the slower sections. The boat came to a stop, the guide pointed to the shallow current on the far side of the river. A trout’s nose was methodically poking through the top of the water as it sipped bugs off the surface.
The anticipation and nervousness could be felt throughout the boat. A rod was taken out and the line stripped out in preparation for making the 40-foot cast to the rising trout. The boat was positioned as the guide rowed backward to slow it down. The fish was now within 80 feet of the boat. “Begin casting,” the guide said softly as the angler began a double haul with the 6-weight rod, weight forward line, and large black hopper fly pattern.
The cast landed with a plop, sending circles of ripples around the fly as it settled. The noise of the fly landing made the fish spook, but it circled back to its holding position right in line where the fly would be coming into sight. In slow motion, the fish moved towards the fly and slurped it down. Holding back all instincts, the angler waited patiently to set the hook until the trout’s head was back underwater. As the hook was set, the fish thrashed back and forth with a few powerful shakes of its head.
The reel zipped as the fish made a strong run out of the shallow current into the deep pool in front of the boat, making it easy for the angler to angle the rod, moving the fish back and forth, tiring it out before the guide was able to net the brown. The trout glistened and the dark gold and black colors shone in the sunlight. “Just your average 20-inch White River Brown Trout!” the guide spoke with excitement. It was just another morning fishing out of the White River Trout Club.
The White River Trout Club
Known for its trophy Brown Trout, the White River lies in Northern Arkansas, just south of the Ozarks. The year-round fishery is controlled by the Bull Shoals Dam, a massive hydropower dam, making it a perfect tailwater for trout anglers alike. It’s no secret: There are many different fishing lodges and guides operating on the White River, many of which are more focused on gear fishing. However, what sets the White River Trout Club apart from the rest of them is that they’re the renowned fly fishing specialists in these parts.
The two lead guides and co-owners of the White River Trout Club, Stephen Balogh and David Burgher, are native Texans who have spent most of their adulthood guiding clients onto fish all over the world. It wasn’t until recently that they decided to call the White River home. Why they settled here was pretty much a no-brainer: They can guide 365 days a year, sleep in their own beds at night, and guide their guests into trophy trout on a daily basis.
The White River Trout Club is an expansive property with a variety of different lodging from cabins to mult-iroom rentals. The club also has a pool for non-anglers, onsite dining, a fully loaded fly shop, and a 2500 square-foot pavilion with a dining area and bar. Let’s just say it makes a perfect place to spend a couple of days enjoying the fishery and the scenery of what the Ozarks offer.
A Sea Run Cases Adventure
On this trip, Flylords was joined by Sea Run Cases CEO and founder Stephen Lamboy, a company that is also based in Arkansas and not too far from the White River. Sea Run Cases specializes in making the toughest and lightest fly rod travel cases on the market.
For Steve, building cases is what he knows best, and fishing is his passion. Sea Run Cases was built behind Steve’s first endeavor, Negrini Cases. Negrini is the only ultra-light, ultra-strong, compact, and TSA-compliant firearms case for travel. It only made sense for Negrini to branch into the fly fishing space. “Basically I saw a need and it was mine,” Steve tells us. “One day when my family was on a fly fishing adventure, one of my sons left his Orvis 5 wt rod at the stream. By the time we realized it and returned to the stream, to get it, it was gone. As we were partnered with Negrini Cases of Italy, I had them reconfigure a two-gun air travel case to hold 5 rods, reels, and all of our gear. Later that summer, we flew to Montana on another fly fishing trip and I showed the prototype case to a few dealers. They got excited and the rest is history.”
The team at Flylords has been using their cases for a few years now, and we’ve found that they’re the perfect companion for air travel fishing trips, as well as weekend trips on the road. The cases are a great way to keep your rods stored safely and your gear organized.
Recently, Sea Run Cases has released a new artist series case with fishing artist Andrea Larko. Steve mentioned that the new series came from “seeing the strong demand for her (Andrea’s) art in the fly fishing trade, we gave her a call and sent a few cases to her to evaluate as a canvas for her art. She loved the idea and created a special piece that fits perfectly with the shape of the cases. So far the response to this limited series is very positive. The heat set vinyl that is used is made by 3M and it has a minimum of a 10-year guarantee. It binds with the surface of the case with heat and it is almost like a weld. The material is also UV-treated to be color-fast.” The new Andrea Larko Series cases offer anglers a way to travel in style. You can check those out here:
As for other new products on the Sea Run Cases side, Steve stated “We are adding colors to the line such as the new cobalt blue, and our next intro later this spring will be the new Spey Case. I believe this new case will be the best possible travel case for serious steelhead and salmon anglers. We’re putting a lot of energy into this design.” A two-handed rod case will be the ultimate fly rod case for traveling anglers. For more information on Sea Run Cases and to purchase a case head to the link HERE.
The White River is not only a bucket list fishery, it’s also a place where you have the chance of catching the biggest brown trout – and if you want the right guides to help you get on that fish, the White River Trout Club are the people to have leading the charge. We would recommend booking multiple days to make the dream come true. For more info on the White River Trout Club, click the link HERE.
Photos by Sam Wells, check out more of Sam’s work on Instagram at @sam.wells_
Article by Patrick Perry @patperry.