Saturday, August 27, 2016



Well, my last outing on the river, I managed to lose my old Browning 373 Folding Pocket Knife.  If anyone finds it and determines they don’t want to keep the old ragged thing, feel free to e-mail me…I’ll drive to get it.  I have had this knife since I was probably 20 years old, and it’s been in my waders for at least 10 years.  Anyway, gone!



I decided to start looking for a fixed blade knife. I have looked at the Bokers, Brownings, and a few custom knife makers (translation: $$$). I was about to pop on a Boker when I went to the Conway Gun Show.  There were two “local” guys selling knives:  One from Missouri my kid has bought a knife, and another one I couldn’t tell where they were from. Anyway, both guys had knives in the $60-100 range which is where I would anticipate a descent fixed blade knife. I decided in the end to wait since a buddy of mine Jeremy at Urban Timbers was sponsoring an Oak and Iron Crafter Market. I have never attended one of these, but one of the knife makers said they would be demonstrating iron working which one of my kids loves! They did in the morning, but by the time I got there at noon…It was almost 100 degrees. You couldn’t pay me to fire up a pit this summer!


Anyway, there were several vendors selling custom made knives. The first tent had so many people around it I decided to go to the second. There was a knife there I fell in love with. It was the perfect length, fit my hand perfectly, and I liked the design of the blade which included features and testing methods which would identify the guy – I won’t do this. He’s making some nice looking stuff, and his craft will get better with time. The knife I was looking at had fairly uneven grinds all over including the spine. I’m not a knife snob, but after watching Forged in Fire, I’ve learned a lot more. Also, the show Iron & Fire doesn’t hurt either since this a fantastic Arkansas guy.  I figured a good $70-80 knife. A young man selling them told me it was $150.  I was not stunned and considered it. Then, another man who I assume is the maker came up and said, “I’ll make you a deal!”  I said sure.  He said, “$150!” I said this young man just offered it to me for the same price, thanks, put the knife down, and walked away.  If he said $130 or $140 I probably would have bought it. Ahhh, live and learn as salesmen.

So, I went to the second tent. The man running the tent had left to run an errand, but his son, who I would say is about 14 years old, was manning the tent. The young kid stood up from his seat, put out his hand and introduced himself – I was rather pleased and surprised. Then, he asked me what I was looking for, and he promptly started pointing out knives which were really a good fit.  I was entertained, so I let him go further.  He watched my facial expressions at just looking them or picking them up with my bear claws. He would quickly move on just on this alone. Then he presented the Holy Grail. I was looking at a knife which was almost identical to the one at the other tent. He explained the blade was from an old saw mill blade which is very good steel. The blade was acid washed for the look that he thought was pretty cool – I agreed! He told me about the G10 Camo handle and to feel between the handle, blade and handle – There was NO distinguishing edges where one ended and the other began. The knife also had a full tang – I love this for strength. The grind from one side to the other, the blade stop, and the spine grind was dang near CNC perfect - Huge compliment! The sheath was really nice and fit the knife perfectly.  But, the biggest feature was the thumb rise grooves on top of the spine! I was SOLD!  Now, the pricing – I turned the tag and saw I think $80. I was very pleased with the price, but you have to remember this is from a saw blade and not forged.  However, it was acid washed, perfect blade design, and the glorious thumb rise grooves.  I didn’t hesitate and I plunked down the asking price – No need to haggle on something I think is a good price for what was presented. It wasn’t until my wife was examining the knife in the car, and she was playing with the sheath. My wife is a huge CRAFT person, and she thought the leatherwork and the rivets were incredible. 


The more I played with it at home and put it on my belt.  The sheath is really incredible! 


I did get a professional business card, and the info is below:


Robert Rawls

Caney Creek Knifeworks

(501) 269-3452


Or visit his Facebook page @


Finally, I have had further discussion with Robert Rawls. He is a bonafide second generation knife maker.  His father who taught him how to make the knives and the sheaths has been doing this for 30 years. It’s awesome to see someone carrying on a skill like this.  Well, Robert has three (3) knives I will be buying one-by-one in the future. He tried to do a super bundle deal, but this was not low-covert enough for me and keeping it off the wife’s Radar (if you get my drift)!  I don’t mind paying for quality items. 


I love his logo!  A solid design concept as the Arkansas Woodworking logo I made.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Generation Schedule? We don't need no stinking schedule!

Hello all:

When I say it’s been a while, it’s been a long while for fly fishing.  I bet it’s been 3-4 months.  I have started a new career, and I’ve been busy.  It also seems that the generation schedule hasn’t been the most productive for wading until about a week ago I noticed they shifted a little to the afternoon.  I HATE this issue.  It runs off the tourism in a state that NEEDS it.  SWPA must go to a MIN FLOW, and change schedules to facilitate more tourism to this great state - I’m rather disappointed.

There is more to this story.  I had the opportunity to take last Friday off, so I decided to get reacquainted with the ole fly rod.  I did a little research, and the flow wasn’t supposed to start until 10:00am (FIGURE 1).  SUPER!  I can fish Cow Shoals 1-1.5 hours downstream and extend it to 11:00-11:30am.  It should give me a good 4-5 hours of fishing.  PERFECT.  I set the alarm clock and decided to press. 

I woke at 5:45am and loaded the truck.  I actually remembered all of the items…Rod, guide pack/net, waders, and wading shoes.  Superb…It’s slightly overcast and cool.  I figure a little fog, wind will eventually blow it off, and some darker flies.  Backing out the drive…Forgot my favorite hat…My ACU pattern Arkansas Razorback hat. Yet to be skunked with that hat on, haven’t washed it since I bought it, and it smells….RIPE!  Anyway, I couldn’t stand to wear it for my hour long drive.  It sat in the back floorboard – Hehehehe!

I got slightly past Guy, and the bottom falls out.  I failed to check the weather.  It’s been sunny and no rain for almost 3 weeks.  At Quitman, a lightning storm is flaming off, and I see flashes as far as I can see.  I am now debating going back to work!  As I get to Heber Springs, it’s lightening up, and I see the edge of the storm that should be overhead in less than an hour.  As I pull up to Cow Shoals, I see three other vehicles – PERFECT.  All of the participants are hanging out awaiting the storm to pass.  As I get out, two guys are finishing rigging their rods with their VW Tiguan.  I see four rods - Interesting. I chat a bit with them as I am rigging and dressing out.  Then two cute girls hop out of the back seat of the VW.  It’s awesome for these guys to have girls like this – Fly Fisherwomen! 

Anyway, I’m on the river by 7:00am, it’s foggy, and cools.  It’s OK, because my Maui Jims are cutting through a lot of the fog.  I notice the two couples have camped out about mid-stream at the bottom of the stairs - Typical for first timers and great spot during the spawn.  I fish these areas sometimes, but they aren’t super lucrative this time of year.  I head to my…uh…fishing area, and no one is there.  I do notice that the water is still about a foot high, so I can’t fish with my wading pants…First failure!  It’s still waist deep there, and I don’t like getting water down my pants.  So, I’m not in my normal spot.

After an hour of fishing the fog starts lifting, and I have had only 15 or so light bites with a couple of fish in.  I changed flies to my normal configuration of Copper John and dropper of a San Juan worm (non-squirmy) and start catching fish.  It’s good, but man, they are laying on some light bites.  I’m 2.5 hours into fishing, and I hear what sounds like the riffles picking up speed.  What?  It’s only 9:30am. 
This means they would have had to turn on the damn at about 8:00am - Can’t be.  I forgot my water height marker (plastic bottom I put ¼ full of water), so I pick out two rocks just upstream.  I catch another fish, and I notice that the water is moving much faster than it used to.  I figure I ate some bad mushrooms last night.  The generation schedule is for 10:00am.  A couple more casts, and the river is distinctly moving faster in areas that were not having current.  I look upstream, and the rocks are GONE!  Uh oh!  I debate to hop out at some docks right where I am.  I will have to go above waste since there are a couple of holes that are that deep to get to them.  I decided to chance going up stream to the walk out.  BAD MOVE!  I am RUNNING on the rocks that remain.  I crossed just South of the shoals, and the second crossing is getting some serious CFM.  I get half way across, and the current sweeps my feet out from underneath me.  I get to swim a few seconds…Now, hopping out at the docks looks like a great idea.  I regain my composure and footing, and I finally get across by taking steps down stream to make it across.  This is DANGEROUS.  I finally get to where there is a rock bank, and it’s just fast moving shin height.  I press to the bank and there is a small trail made by people caught like I was.  I make it to an area where I have to jump into waste deep stagnant water that leads to the let out or get to the fast moving water.  I choose the stagnant, and I slowly wade to the get out point.  A couple of other fishermen are coming out with me.  We all check our clocks on our phones.  Yep, they screwed the pooch and started generating early.

Luckily, it was only one generator, and I could have pressed up stream with a little aid of the bank.  Even luckier was my 11 year old decided to pass on fishing this day.  This would have taken him down stream and been a HUGE issue.  Since I get cell phone coverage at the landing, I’ll start calling the number and getting an update.  I unfortunately don’t get cell reception on the river where I fish.  So, this doesn’t help me.  My biggest concern is this – Why are they changing the schedule for generation that comes out around 3:00pm the day prior?  Did something change over the past 14-16 hours that made them change it.  Could they not have foreseen this on Thursday pm and actually posted this with the schedule?  How about update the schedule that I checked before I went on the river to make sure.  It’s a multi-media world…Let’s treat it like it. 

I’ve been on the river many times when SWPA busts their schedule, and the people I met earlier come off the river white faced and scared.  Luckily, I’ve never been caught but once, and I got off quickly.  Many go to the island about 1.5 miles upstream, and I met a guy that actually had to float and swim back down with water filled waders.  This is dangerous, and I think I’m going to take this up with SWPA first, The Corps of Engineers second, and Senator Tommy Cotton if I don’t like their responses to my questions.  I just don’t like the fact SWPA creates a schedule and don’t live by it!  Someone is going to get killed, and I think this is hugely irresponsible for a major corporation.  We also lost fans in the means of two couples from Tennessee.  They said they would never go to Cow Shoals, again.  This is a HUGE issue, Arkansas.  Oh, be careful out there fly fishermen, and don't believe anything posted by SWPA!
Arkansas Fly Fishing

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Father and Son Time!

Hello All!

It’s been a while.  I’ve had to transition from the USAF to the civilian sector, landed a job, and I’m not sure I’m done job hunting just yet.  Seems working over 50 hours a week is more than just the military.  Working for a defense contractor is like working for the military.  Hope things will level out soon.  Anyway, the rain has come, and come, and COME this year.  They have run, and run, and RUN the generators every day for almost three months.  I’m bored and heading for the long drive up to the Norfolk River soon to get reacquainted with my rod.  Man, it’s been too long. 

However, I happen to have a magic moment with a very influential person in my life back before the rain.  That person was my Dad.  He has NEVER fly fished before, and he was definitely a…uh…fish out of water.  However, he got to it.  The first night he was here, I sat him down and got him to make some simple flies – San Juan Worm and Red Zebra Midges.  He flat had a ball tying those things, and he said that he understood why I did it - Therapeutic.  He actually stayed up after I went to bed and made about 10-15 more.  AWESOME stuff folks.  The next day, I took him into the front yard to do the casting drills I learned with, my kids learned with, and now my Dad learned with.  Within about an hour, he could cast 35-40’ with little to no effort.  Then, I started grabbing the yarn at the end of the cast and demoing how to set the hook.  After about another 30 minutes, he had that down.  We were set to fish on the morning of day 3.

The morning started just like any other day with me going fishing or hunting with Dad…Dad is SLOW.  Had to prod the old man about every 5 minutes to get going.  We can’t start fishing LATE.  Anyway, we were on the water about 0700 hours (7 AM for normal folks).  We hit the Little Red River at Cow Shoals, Arkansas.  One of my favorite places to fish.  I picked the super shallow riffles at the entrance from the stairs to get him concentrating on the cast.  Yep, it was so exciting for him that he was chucking the thing like we NEVER practiced the day prior.  Anyway, I finally got him to settle down and he started casting about 10-15’ without issue.  I told him to keep on working that distance for now.  He had about 9-10 takes, but was SLOW in setting the hook and when he did, he set it like he was trying to set a 32” Cobia in Pensacola with me deep sea fishing – Yep miss that too.  After the 4th time, I had to seriously council him on the fact he was probably tearing the jaws off the poor fish. 

I finally started fishing and caught 8-10 fish.  My Dad continued to struggle with setting the hook.  I decided to take him to the HOLE where there are more fish and generally they STRIKE to get fist shot at the food.  It took about 10-15 minutes for my Dad to settle in, and the fish to start striking.  The first two or three took him by surprise that he was clumsy and lost them.  The third…Well here it is!  This was my Dad’s first Rainbow trout on the fly, and he was whooping so much….I think everyone on the river knew he caught one.  He caught a couple more, and he is now SOLD on fly fishing.  All he talked about on the way home was the PEACE, the calm, and the absolute weirdness of the rod twitching so much and the pull of such a small fish like a trout. 

It was a beautiful day with a beautiful person.  It is days like these that I hope to remember the rest of our lives.  Awesome father and son time.  We are now planning to meet in Gatlinburg, TN and hitting some rivers from there to Chattanooga.  Should be a heck of a time and fun meeting new fly shop owners and people in the river.  There is nothing quite as fun as fly fishing.

Tight lines!


Arkansas Fly Fishing