You could say I was stoked. Look how black that fish is. Really dark brown trout, up around the bend, Cotter, Arkansas White River.

Just wanted to share some more pics of the ‘big catch’.  I’m still undecided how big the fish is.  Bummed I was an idiot and didn’t measure the thing officially.   I don’t typically measure or weigh fish unless they are giant, which is weird I suppose, but you sorta just go cool, I got a good one, and enjoy it for a while and keep planning more trips and well timed assaults.


The White River in Arkansas is a trophy brown trout fishery. Quite possibly the best brown trout fishery in the United States.  Anytime you have a legit shot at a >24″ brown trout, you are trophy hunting, and in the White River, you have a legit shot at >30″ brown trout.   The above fish is approx. 27″ long, but doesn’t weigh that much.  Long and thin, but don’t get me wrong, one of the finest catches I’ve made in a while.  8″ Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout swimbait with the Southern Trout Eaters trap rig setup with gills added.  The brown trout fishery that exists here is a wonderful story, and includes the names of people like Dave Whitlock and Forrest Wood as well as bunch of agencies, volunteers, State and Federal fisheries, and the Corp of Engineers…all working together and compromising.  The White River has many secrets, many bends, many shoals, many miles and many fish.  You need at least 2 probably 3 different boats to fish it properly, not including wade fishing.    Brown trout are just an amazingly fun fish to hunt and catch.  They are very gamey and eat moving baits, and definitely eat bigbaits.  They are known to attack rats and birds and other terrestrials as well as other trout.   Hmmm, that breaks my heart to hear!

Leviathan. The mouth of a brown trout from this angle can look like some crazy eel or serpent mouth. Very different mouth, tongue, teeth and bite than a largemouth, but still trout eatin’ lips!


We first broke the ice on the swimbait bite on the White River in what was documented in our film Southern Trout Eaters.  Now, two summers later, we are living on the White and spending a whole lot more time and energy to really dial in the fish.  We have a long way to go.  Fishing in current is a new challenge in itself.   The above is a short clip of an approx. 26-27″ trophy brown trout caught near Cotter, Arkansas,  on the 8″ Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout swimbait, using our Southern Trout Eaters Huddleston Rig, with the added gill modification, ROF 12.   We got some nice footage of the release and just wanted to share our ‘personal best’ with you.  It isn’t often you wake up at 5am with swimbait fishing on your mind when the calendar tells you it’s July and the forecast is well into the 100+ degree mark.   But that is what happens when you understand some of the nuances of Southern swimbait fishing.   Trout Eaters are where you find them.

The Southern Trout Eaters rig works well with brown trout I’m finding. Like bass, big brown trout don’t always inhale the bait or eat it head first. Lots of swipes, kisses and short bites by those super smart brownies. ST-66 treble hooks are perfect for the rock hard bone razor teeth laden mouths of trophy brown trout.


Trophy Trout are not easy to catch or hold onto for a picture. Notice the size of the head and jaws vs. the rest of the body. A cool 104 degree July afternoon in Arkansas, contrasted by 58 degree water temps in the mighty White River.
My buddy, Chad Johnson, sight fishing carp on a fly rod. Notice the egg pattern looks a whole lot like a piece of corn. Arkansas is an excellent place to fish, year round.


Fly fisherman make it a point to educate themselves on how to tie bugs and streamers that ‘match the hatch’ but as the younger crew of fly fisherman come of age, they are showing it’s not all about barbless size 20 single hooks. Big fish eat big baits and you better be prepared if you want to land them. Streamer fishing, White River, Arkansas


Chad Johnson, brown trout, ‘hopper dropper’. Come get you some.


Dinosaurs are fun to catch, especially with fly rods, you don’t even need hooks.


I’m fishing for a 30+ pound brown trout that eats stocked rainbow trout. Keep it Soft Stupid (KISS)


Kids Fishing Derby, big fish winner. Kid was stoked, and Dad was too. The “Friends of the Hatchery”, Corp of Engineers, and a host of other puts on a kids fishing derby every year at the Norfork River/Dry Run Creek confluence adjacent to the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. Free event for the kids and just fun to help out and volunteer.


“Light Trout” is so 2005. Get with it, Pink Bass is the shizzle.


Canoes, wet wading, and swimbait fishing. Me gusta.






The Grass Minnow has proven itself to me in the grass.  Shallow grass lakes of the South East.  As I spend more time in the Arkansas Ozarks, I am broadening my application of the Grass Minnow.   The warm and cold water creeks and rivers that feed the Ozarks are full of smallmouth and largemouth, and trout.   So, it’s not the heavy grass fishing, but it is more a finesse approach, but still a real swimbait approach.  I’m fishing the Grass Minnow much like I currently fish the 3″ Big Hammer.  Yes, a spinning rod.   Wet wading, aloha colored swimming trunks, oversized sunglasses, big hat and Buff covering my face, walking or floating a few miles of river here and there.   Getting some exercise and just trying to do it all. The Shimano Cumara 7’2″ Rod + 15 pound Power Pro Braid + 3 feet of Yamamoto Sugoi 10# floro are working really well for me which is crazy to have a bait that fishes well on 50 # braid and GLoomis 964 BBR (Okeechobee style) and now I’m fishing it on a spinning rod.  The Huddleston Vortex continues!    The Grass Minnow is just an extremely real looking and swimming bait, and I’m realizing cannot be pigeon holed into being just a grass bait by any stretch.

How many zillions of minnows are there in our lakes and rivers?  Little narrow looking fishes with forked tails. Fish tend to bite the Grass Minnow. With the right equipment and hookset, you’ll land your bites.

The Grass Minnow is a pretty sophisticated little candy morsel of a swimbait.  The bait is flat sided, has a unique swallow tailed vortex tail, yet the belly and shoulders are full and bulbous, so the bait has the classic Huddleston water displacement and push that we’ve gotten hooked on with his 8″ Trout.   Sometimes people discuss what is the definition of a swimbait, and where you draw lines, etc.  Sophistication trumps size in this case.  The Huddleston Deluxe Grass Minnow is a swimbait you need to learn.  I now have a heavy grass assault (ie, Okeechobee), sparse grass assault (ie, Champlain) and river fish (Ozark) application for this bait.   You have to be good to really understand, fully leverage, and fish this bait properly.  It’s fairly easy to swim, yet if you want to slow down, pause, dead stick and finesse fish with it, it does that too very well.  In shallow rivers, I’m finding it an alternative to the little tube where you can sorta hop/drag/swim it, and skip it under trees and into shade pockets which tends to be where fishes live in shallow low water Arkansas.

The Grass Minnow fishes well on the drop and can be dragged/hopped, like the 3″ Big Hammer, except its  ROF 5 vs ROF 30 respectively (approx). The Grass Minnow is very neutral buoyant and falls nice and slow and graceful. It has a hollow midsection, used as part of the weedless design, that also gives the bait an internal bladder. The bait falls and orients nose down and just drags nicely over hard bottom. It’s not just an excellent grass bait.

So, here’s the hookset with a spinning rod:   Tighten up your drag, so line doesn’t come off when you set the hook.  Point your rod tip at the fish when you get a bite and reel down until you feel tension of the fish at the reel and once you make really good contact with the reel>line>fish, put the rod into the mix and lift up hard with the rod and drive the hook home and maintain a good strong constant pressure as you move the fish and rod a few feet to really pin the fish.  Reel hard and heavy get maximum pressure as you swing the rod to set.   I could probably get away with a slightly heavier spinning rod than I’m using, perhaps the MH vs. the M model.  I am surprised how well it is fishing for me and hooking fish.  I am pretty converting a bunch of my stuff over to braid + leader setups, it just works great for me and my style of fishing.    This is another instance where braid provides something that couldn’t be done with mono or floro (fish a weedless Huddleston bait on a spinning rod, and still be able to hook fish).

Grass is where you find it. Weedless baits sometimes fish really well without weeds. Just like some non-weedless baits fish really well in weeds. A softbait without a top hook sticking out, treble hook hanging or sticking out,  or trap rig of any kind.  Just a clean real bait, sans hook.  It looks really good in the water and fishes super clean.
Yes, that is a spinning rod. The Grass Minnow fishes amazingly well with the spinning rod. Braided line gives me the hookset I need, and the floro leader helps me get bit in uber clear skinny water. But boy, they eat it. Weedless swimbaits fish really nicely in all waters, but around current, where your bait can tumble/ deadstick and hop and stroll, that’s where not having a hook or any exposed hardware really pays off and gives ’em a different look, keeps your bait free from muck, and is a much more refined approach, especially in clean water.  Stay tuned, this whole spinning rod swimbait thing is still being tested, but appears to be excellent.


“First Light”

Bobby Vega & Chris Rossbach

Usage Courtesy:  Body Deep Music


I’m not a great trout fisherman, and I haven’t spent as much time with the Huddle-Bug as I’d like to speak with any super authority on the bait, but let me tell you, I’m learning in hurry.  Brown trout are notoriously tough fish to catch.   They are very smart and very spooky and very well in tuned with their natural environment.  They are easily spooked and require an excellent presentation to catch.   It’s been said, catching a 10 pound brown trout is much more difficult than catching a 10 pound bass.  All I know is, I really like crossing over, cross over fishing intrigues me.  Taking swimbait and freshwater applications and applying them to other species and salty waters.

The Huddle Bug by Ken Huddleston
You know what they say: "Huddle-Bugs of a feather..." Ken Huddleston's Huddle-Bug, realism in the crustacean kind

So, here is the Huddle-Bug in a nut-shell.  Very very real.  Very real movement and look in the water.   The Huddle Bug Jig Head fits the bait perfectly and is a combo ‘pea’ and skakey head with a screw lock to make sure your bait rigs and fishes true.  If a man knew where a bunch of big smallmouth and spotted bass lived (not to excluded largemouth at all!) I think he could get well in a hurry with these baits.  Deep fish that eat small jigs, or shallow water, river fish that you have to use finesse jigs and craw presentations.   Not the ‘stroking a jig’ style of fish, but the slowly creep, and pop/hop  style of fish.  The fish that are eating by sight, by realism and by instinct.

White River Ozarks Brown Trout on the Huddle-bug
Brown Trout are a litmus test of sorts, because browns are often said to be one of the most difficult fish to fool. Just ask a fly fisherman. Catching a brown and the other looks I had in 2 separate "stalking sessions" is all I needed to see to say, "yep, this bait is legit".

This brown trout is NOT a bedding brown or a ‘red’ as they call them.    This is a pre-spawn brown trout, and if you really want to try some really cool fishing, you walk softly along the banks of the White River near Cotter, Arkansas and you look for browns hunkered down, just sitting and occassionally feeding, but sitting really calmly, hardly moving or giving themselves away. If you can spot them, and you make a good presentation, you can catch these fish.  The Huddle-Bug catches them.  The browns showed immediate interest and well, this is just the beginning of this game too.   You’ll notice in the above photo montage/animation the “stalk up on them” cast, throw upstream, and drift of the bait into the fish’s feeding lane and getting the fish to eat with a natural presentation/hop/slide.

My setup:

Bait:  The Huddle Bug  (match whatever color of crawfish you believe the fish are eating, where ever you happen to be fishing)

Jig Head:  The Huddleston Jig Head

Rod:  Shimano Cumara 7’2″ M Action Spinning Rod  (CUS72M)

Reel:   Shimano Stradic C14 Spinning Reel (STC142500F)

Main Line:   Power Pro, 15#

Leader:   Yamamoto Sugoi Florocarbon 10#  (double uni knot to Main Line/braid)

The rigged Huddle-bug
The rigged Huddle-Bug on the Huddle-bug Jig Head, built to fit perfectly and compliment the bait. Screw lock holds the bait secure and make sure your bait fishes and trackes true. I like to 'texpose' and come out like the picture above, then tuck the hook point back under a little skin and cover it, but make it really easy to expose. In some cases, just leave it exposed even.
White River Brown Trout Sight Fishing with a Huddle-Bug
18 inches of Joy. The White River, near Cotter, Arkansas, the "new" new proving grounds. Truth in fishing. Cross over fishing proves truths that transcend species and fresh and salt boundaries.
Undeside of the Huddle-bug
Underside Huddle-Bug Etouffee