My wife and I spent the week of Thanksgiving at Spider Creek Resort in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It's actually just outside Eureka Springs on the Beaver Dam tail-race of the White River. If I'm not mistaken this is the most up-stream tail-race of several on the White that hold trout and are stocked with trout. This is my report of the fishing and our experience there. I'm posting it on several fly-fishing forums I visit. I hope it's not too generic.
Spider Creek Resort is ideally located for a fly fisherman who intends to wade. (There's also guys floating it.) Its
frontage is mostly on a pool, but more-or-less also on a shoally riffley section divided by "The Island" that's several hundred yards, or so, long. The Island is very slightly downstream. Even the pool, though, one can wade at the low water we were having when they weren't generating. You could also pretty much wade upstream toward the dam as far as you cared to trudge, eventually coming to a more shoally area that, if I have it right, is at "Parker Bottoms" of the below-dam park. Anyhow, there was more than plenty of good trout fishing area.
I fished for about 5 days, I think, for about 3 hours at a time. I had great luck for the first two days, poor luck the second two, then a really good day again. The good fishing while I was there was right at Spider Creek. When I ventured upstream (that third day), I had little luck and struggled to catch one or two. This squared with the local reports which said that most of the fish were gathered around the resort, but I have a need to explore sometimes.
The first two days I caught a number of rainbows in the 10-12 inch range. In the pool in front of the resort you could catch these stocker-type rainbows at will, almost, on wooly buggers or midges under an indicator. Oddly, for me, they seemed to prefer kind of larger, size 16 - 18 midges. Down around the Island, though, they were hitting a size 18 brown midge larva and, especially, a funny little prince nymph take-off that the local guide, Jim, tipped me to. (Thanks, Jim!) Down there I caught a couple of fat browns about 14 inches. Then I hooked a rainbow that fought like the dickens! It was as tough a fighter as any trout I've had on. I could work it close to me, but as soon as it saw the net, off it went again. Fortunately, I kept my patience and finally landed it. Imagine my surprise. It was maybe 16 inches. But, oh, the colors on it. The gill plates were beet red. That trout had been in there awhile, I think.
The last day found me down around The Island again. I was just below a narrow pinch in the river that Jim had tipped me off to. I foolishly trudged right past the pinch having decided in my mind that the fish were laying up in the hole just below. Imagine my surprise when 4 or 5 giant shapes went shooting past me in the river. There's some big fish here!, but I had gone and spooked them by my lack of care. So, a little while later, I had found that there were stocker-types near the head of the pool amenable to an egg pattern with a red midge dropper. I was catching them one after another when, whoops! This one's taking off! I was on one of those big fish. This guy fought for quite a long while. Just like the one a couple of days before I could get it close, but find it not ready to give in and have to let it run again. I could see, though that this was a pretty large rainbow. It was really too big for the net. I finally ran it up the bank, flipped it over once, snapped a picture, flipped it back in the stream, walked it out into moving water and cradled it till it was ready to swim off. It was a beautiful fish but did NOT out-fight the 16 inch rainbow from a couple of days before.
Pound for pound I think the rainbows out-fought the browns a little bit. It was all wooly buggers, midge larvae, the weird prince-nymph type, and egg patterns. I had no luck with soft hackles, maybe one on a Griffith's gnat, no other dry. The water was quite clear. You needed a very small tippet, 6x or 7x. I felt a little bad catching the larger fish that I was wearing them out too much. Overall it was very nice fishing.
Spider Creek Resort's a really nice fishing resort. The grounds are spacious, the setting lovely, the cabins picturesque and very-well kept (my wife will let me know in know uncertain terms if anything is amiss, accommodation-wise!) There's a general store that's well-stocked with fly gear. They're very friendly in there. The local guide, Jim, was entirely helpful to and friendly with a fisherman who wasn't even using his services. I would definitely try him if I could ever afford a guide, but I never can seem to.
Another good feature is the proximity to Eureka Springs. It's about 12 minutes away. So the wives, guys, don't get bored and cranky. If you haven't been, it's a really nice, picturesque, walk around and shop town. The wimmen-folk type really seem to favor it. You might get dragged into town a few times though. I did, but that was alright. We had some really good gumbo at Grandma's on the main highway through town, some excellent taco's at Aquarius(?) on South Spring St. (I couldn't try the dadgum margies cause I was driving, but wifey assured me they were excellent.) That's it!