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Home / Fishing / Articles



Guided Trip With The Kids

By Rob Piorkowski

This past summer, we went down to the Ozarks for a family trip. I planned to do a lot of fishing with the kids and my brother-in-law. It was their first trip to the Ozarks, and I wanted it to be special. Before the trip, we talked with the kids about fishing, and that not all trips are successful. They knew ahead of time
that we would either be skunked or catch a bunch of trout. With that, the kids had plans to say "Fish-On" many times during the trip.

Months before our arrival, I scheduled a guide trip on the White River with Cane Island Fly Shop. Because of daily changing river conditions, and my limited vacation time, I planned to hire a guide for day of fishing. I've fished the river before, and have some preferred wading spots for trout, but wading in the cold water wasn't an option for my two nephews. Because of high water and minimal time available, I decided it was best to call a local fly shop and set up a trip.

The plan was to hit the river early, so we could bask in the glory of catching tons of trout. I decided an early guide trip was a better idea, instead of waiting until the end of our vacation when we could be skunked on the lake. At first, I didn't know what to expect with 2 kids and 3 adult's flyfishing in 1 boat. Since I sat in front, I had the easiest opportunities for casting. I would wait for the other guys to cast out, and then I had the rest of the river. Despite 5 lines being thrown out, we still caught trout.

Because of high water in the northern section of the White River, we put in at Cotter, and drove upriver about a mile. The light fog on the water made the boat ride feel like we were flying. As we drove, the fog parted slightly then closed up as we passed. At times, you could hear the trout rising by the sound of a simple swirl with bubbles. When we started fishing, the fog was lifting off, and you could see we had the river to ourselves. First we got the boys rigged up and fishing. Then our guide handed us flyrods that were prepped and ready to cast. Within minutes, all of us were fishing for rainbow trout. Five minutes into fishing, Billy Rogers hooked the first rainbow trout. We pulled the fish aboard, and paused to remark on the rainbow colors that give the trout its name. I helped Billy release the fish, from then on we knew it would be a great day. 

Soon after, Ben Burke followed with his own prize rainbow. Our guide was great with the kids, he pointed out spots to cast, rigged up rods, baited hooks, changed flies, and even identified wildlife on shore. The kids started off using night crawlers under a float. Later on we removed the bait hooks and tied on a sow bug. Tom and I fly-fished using San Juan worms and sow bugs, and switched flies as the action slowed. Most of the fishing was done within 30 feet of the boat, while drifting down river. An angled cast with an upstream mend was all that was needed. With the fast current, we used bigger floats set at 6 feet deep. We would cast out, mend the drift then sit and wait. Most of the time we waited seconds before the float went under. Sometimes it only dipped under then returned to the surface. That displayed where I had just lost a fish. Timing was essential, a good hook set was needed to catch the light biters. At the slightest dip, you had to set the hook for any chance of catching fish. The trout were very fast at tasting the fly, then releasing their fake dinner. By lunchtime, Tom and I each boated about 6 trout, lost several ones while fighting, and missed many more hookups. On this day, size wasn't the key to the trip. The key was having fun with lots of fish.

I would say that a half-day trip was appropriate for kids. I could've stayed much longer, but it's important to keep the interest level high for the

kids. (To my wife's dismay, I could probably spend several days on the boat itself.) Fishing is a fun activity, and for me an 8-hour trip would be great. When starting out with kids, its best to limit the time, to reduce frustration so the enjoyment is high. If we had fished longer and had slow periods, this might have hampered our efforts to teach them fishing. But overall, we had a great day fishing on the White River. We had a lot of fun, saw some beautiful scenery and wildlife, and even caught some trout. During the whole morning we only saw 2 other boats, it seemed we had the river to ourselves. I'm already planning my next trip to the Ozarks. When the big browns are spawning, we'll be there fishing.

By utilizing a local guide, we were able to limit our fish searching time, and maximize our catching time. Also, by only scheduling a day trip, we limited our down time, ensured a better catch, and it provided us an opportunity to also enjoy the day fishing. From past trips to the area, I have always received great information from Cane Island Fly Shop in Lakeview, Arkansas. The shop provides timely river information, and excellent guide services.

Contact Rebecca at Cane Island Fly Shop at (870) 431-4555, or stop in and see her at 1435 River Road, Lakeview Arkansas, 72666. Cane Island also has riverside lodging available on the White and North Fork Rivers. Check out their website at ( for fishing updates, tackle guide services, and information about lodging.


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