Guided McKenzie Driftboat Fly-fishing
on Arkansas White River Tailwaters
Scott Branyan, Owner/Operator
To book a trip online, use the convenient Reservation Request
To book by phone, call (479) 621-0470 (local)
888-99-FLING (toll free in the US)
My name is Scott Branyan, and I invite you to come driftboat fly-fishing with me on Arkansas' White River trout fisheries. First introducing a square-end wooden McKenzie driftboat to the White River in 1996, I've been at ease with its unique design in these Ozark streams ever since. For versatility, I added a Clackacraft to my service in 2010 and use it much of the time now save wear and tear on my wood boat.
My professional guide service is the longest running driftboat fly-fishing service in northern Arkansas. I celebrate twenty years of guiding fly-fishers from driftboats in 2016 and would count it a privilege to assist you in fly-fishing the White. The river really does offer superb fishing opportunities.
Catch and release fly-fishing is all I do. Specific information is found below. Thanks for your interest. I look forward to hearing from you!
My late friend, Karl Orscheln, fishing from his wooden Mac during our last Wooden Driftboat Rendezvous. "Yet there remains the river, in a few spots hardly changed ... at early dawn, before the motor boats awaken, one can still hear it singing in the wilderness." — Aldo Leopold
I urge my clients to fish on weekdays. Weekends and holiday breaks are seeing significantly increased pressure, especially during the spring, summer and anytime there are extended periods of low water. My usual, preferred practice is, when possible, to guide on stretches of river which are less heavily fished and which provide you with a variety of fishing opportunities. It is not unusual to fish dries, nymphs, and streamers in the same day. Much of our fishing is recreational fishing, not necessarily trophy fishing. My guiding style is generally laid-back and instructive. My aim is to provide my clients with the best overall fly-fishing experience possible on any given day, whether they are beginners or experienced fly anglers.
Rates & Essentials
Trips are catch and release, fly-fishing only.
My trips are for one to two people. Rate is $425 per day.
A normal guide day is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We sometimes start earlier or later and adjust according to conditions or to customer preferences.
Rate does not include license and trout permit.
Bottled water, coldcut lunch and fruit snacks included. No alcohol.
Discover, Master Card, Visa, and American Express cards accepted.
Bring your normal fly tackle, hat, rain jacket, waders (chest waders are desirable—no metal cleats please), camera, sunglasses, sunscreen, and license(s) and trout permit(s). Loaner rods, reels and terminal tackle (flies) provided if needed for no charge.
Note: I use and recommend the use of rubber traction soles instead of felt on wading shoes to help reduce the chance of spreading invasive species between watersheds. In 2006, New Zealand biologists found it is almost impossible to rid Didymo algae cells from felt soles. Major wading shoe manufacturers have moved toward this technology and away from felt. Several states, including Missouri, have banned felt soles.
I provide Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for my clients. For persons 16 or over Mustang HIT inflatable are available. Inflatibles must be worn at all times while in the boat to be legal. Foam life jackets are available to use if you do not swim or prefer them. Children under 13 are required to have a foam PFD on and fastened at all times in the boat. If you have a favorite PFD that meets requirements I recommend you bring it.
Insurance requires my guests to sign waivers.
Not available for Sunday bookings.
For purchasing a license and trout permit on-line go to www.agfc.com, or call Game and Fish at 1-800-364-4263.
More about the Guide
Scott Branyan is owner and operator of Ozark Fly Flinger driftboat fly-fishing service. He is a native Arkansan. After receiving a graduate degree in theology (Th.M, 1984) from Dallas Theological Seminary, Scott and his wife Sharon returned to the Northwest Arkansas area they love. They have one son, Paul, who became an eagle scout in 2005. Scott has continued to minister as a Bible teacher to small groups, but makes his living guiding. He has also been a freelance outdoor writer/photographer.
While in college, Scott started fly-fishing about 1975 on Arkansas' upper Illinois River. He started trout fishing in 1985 on a trip to Colorado. Since then he has fished all of the Arkansas White River tailwaters, Spring River, many Arkansas and Missouri spring creeks, as well as trophy streams in Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska. Scott has guided clients of all skill levels. He was on-camera guide for the first TUTV White River episode in 1999. As of 2003, his clients have come from over 40 states and several international locations. Scott is a pioneer in using a driftboat on the White River and is the first to guide on the White River using a square-end McKenzie boat. Scott knows the river, is a patient instructor, and is focused on clients catching fish.
Conservation is important to Scott, and he conveys this to his customers. His trips are catch and release, and he works to teach principles that minimize impact to the fisheries. In 2005, he was presented the Coy C. Kaylor Conservation Award by the Arkansas Chapter of Trout Unlimited. He supports TU and several other conservation organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is your policy on weather cancellations?
For comfort, safety and logistics, all-day float trips are dependent on good weather. Generally, if there is a designated "enhanced" level of severe weather of any type by the National Weather Service in the forecast , or if the forecast calls for 70 percent chance or greater of heavy rain (more than a quarter of an inch forecast in a six hour period of time), we cancel, postpone or reschedule. That decision can usually be called the day before the float. I try to give my clients as much possible notice on weather forecasts which may keep us from floating.
It's best to plan winter season trips on relatively short notice. Weather forecasts usually begin to shape up about a week out. Ideal winter fly-fishing float conditions are highs forecast into the 40s with sunshine and light or calm winds. Wintry precipitation or prolonged subfreezing temperatures may keep us from floating. It's best to plan flexibility into any winter trip booked well in advance, so we can postpone or move a date up a day or two if required by the weather.
Can I wet wade?
Wet wading on the tailwaters is generally only feasible during our hottest weather in July or August. Upper tailwater stream temperatures rarely get above 65F during that time and often are at 48-55F even on the hottest days. Wet wading on natural smallmouth streams is possible and preferable in summer months. It is advisable to bring chest waders, but we often leave them off in the summer as most of our fishing is from the boat. The quick drying nylon tech fishing shirts and pants are a plus in the summer heat and sun, and wearing wading shoes or wet/dry sandals allows one to stand in the river to cool off occasionally on a hot day.
Where do you guide?
On the White River, I primarily guide on Beaver tailwater (near Eureka Springs, AR) and Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters (near Mountain Home, AR). Float or wade trips on other Ozark streams are possible subject to conditions. Contact me for the latest details.
When is the best time to come?
This is year round fishing. Read "The Best Time to Fish the White". A greater number of fish are stocked in spring and summer. Dry fly action is best in the spring, late summer and fall. Spring and fall are my busiest times. Winter fishing can be exceptional, and mild weather is often the rule. Consistently good, uncrowded days can be found during weekdays and are strongly recommended during the summer months.
What rod(s) do I bring?
A five or six-weight, nine foot rod will cover most situations. A three or four-weight rod is fun for Beaver tailwater at low water for dries and midge fishing. Bull Shoals tailwater is big and open in places and wind can be a factor. A moderately fast nine-foot, five-weight or slower six-weight is an all-round rod for Bull Shoals tailwater. I carry extra rods in my boat as spares or for customers to use if they want to try a different rod.
What kind of line?
Floating, weight forward or double taper. Several different sink tip lines are often necessary, and I have a variety of lines for my customers' use. Sometimes the right line makes all the difference in getting to the fish.
What kind of leaders?
Nine-foot 2x or 3x (for streamer fishing) and 5x (for nymphing and dry flies). You will probably want to have tippet spools sized in 4x-7x.
What flies do you recommend?
Check the river reports page, fly pattern pages and hatch chart for suggested seasonal patterns. Also, there are many suggestions in the fly pattern pages.
I'm just a beginner!
About seventy-five percent of my business consists of returning customers, but many of them started with me as beginners and quite a few had never fished or fly-fished before their first trip. Some of them have returned many times now, and I count it a great honor to have introduced them to the sport. I love to teach. Whether you are just after a relaxing day of recreational fishing, want to work on your skills while you fish, or seek a physically intense day of going after big fish with big flies, I will gladly work with you—just let me know what you would like to get out of the day. I have a lot of skill and knowledge which I am willing to share, but have a laid back style. I work hard, though, to put you on fish.
I've never fished from a boat before!
No worries. Fly fishing from a driftboat is easy, and it offers a unique experience for fly anglers. A good guide and oarsman keeps anglers in the best water for most of the float. Without the physical restrictions and safety concerns of wading, a day in a stable driftboat opens up so much more water to anglers and makes it more enjoyable to fish.
Drift boats are wide and stable. Fly-fishing from one is enjoyable and makes it easier to slip up on wary brown trout.
What can I learn on a trip?
Since I only fly-fish and have been active with the sport since my college days, feel free to draw on my experience in everything from tackle choices to fly selection; different techniques for different water conditions; fly casting; fishing knots; how to fish the basic styles of flies; onstream entomology, matching the hatch and fly tying; wade safety; and special techniques for gentle and artful catching, playing and releasing fish for low impact fishing. If you are considering buying or building a driftboat, I can also give you pointers on rowing and how to read currents. Let me know your interests, and I'll be happy to try to customize the day for you.
What will I catch?
These are put-and-take fisheries for rainbow trout with a brown trout trophy component. You will catch mostly stocked rainbows with an occasional brown, and possibly a cutthroat or brook trout depending on location. Typically, we cover eight miles of river in a day, so we "fish the water." But we sometimes "sight fish" to individual fish, which is always exciting.
Wade angling is possible at times, and we often take advantage of areas which are accessible only by boat.
I want to catch a big brown!
Driftboat fishing at high water is a great equalizer, and many of my customers (including some novices) have had the good fortune to catch and land bigger fish. Take a look at the photo galleries, and you see some of those images. If you want a good chance to catch a trophy brown, try to come fish during a prolonged high water event--usually in the late spring--and be prepared to hit the banks with large flies using heavier weight rods. In the spring, during heavy hatch events, is also a good time to find big fish on smaller flies. It's difficult but rewarding work to catch a trophy in a sporting manner. Hopper season the end of August and beginning of September is another big fish opportunity on dries. I'm not a fan of fishing the brown trout spawn in the late fall. My preference that time of year is to fish for rainbows in more isolated stretches of the river.
Enjoy the River at Its Natural Pace
River conditions can, may, and do vary drastically on a daily basis. The Mac gives you the versatility to make the best of the fluctuations of the White River tailwaters and to adapt your fly-fishing methods as the fish adapt to their changing surroundings. Since I am an independent guide, I can be flexible on start and stop times, and can tailor a trip to your needs.
In the heat of the summer, split days and early morning and late afternoon times are generally more productive. I offer these "dog day" trips from the Fourth of July until Labor Day weekend.
Stocked rainbows are always a part of the day, but you can't beat the action.
Come see first hand why the White River tailwaters are extraordinary trout fisheries, and join me in the satisfying experience of fly-fishing the White River from a McKenzie driftboat.