Steady clouds and rain over the past week have given us some of the coolest August temperatures in decades. Plenty of anglers have been taking advantage of the break in the heat wave and enjoying great fishing. Looking ahead to the weekend and beyond, the forecast is showing more scattered clouds, showers, and highs in the eighties – I can hardly believe this string of luck!
There is some concern about the fate of our hopper season with all of this moisture around. Since hoppers get their water from the juicy greenery that they consume, a drier August might bring more hoppers closer to the river – where the choicest grasses would be in dry conditions – and thus closer to the fish. However, our hopper season has always been more of a general terrestrial event than specific, and there are enough beetles and cicadas in the trees and shrubs around the water to encourage the fish to look up.
An Arkansan should never complain about summer rain. Whatever may or may not be diminished in terms of a hopper summer is more than returned in the ample supply of cool flows keeping the fish comfortable all summer long. The warmwater creeks in particular will benefit from the extra water; smallmouth addicts would be wise to take advantage of late summer floatable water – a rare gift.
Minimum flow can still be expected until noon for the time being, which of course provides perfect wading conditions that can last all day if you stay downriver ahead of the afternoon releases. Ruby, Root Beer, Whitetail, and Zebra midges are all strong, as are Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, and Micro Mayfly nymphs. Small terrestrial patterns #8-12 are also taking their share of fish in low water, and make an excellent indicator for hopper-dropper rigs. Once the water gets big in the afternoon, hop in your boat and tie on a larger #6 terrestrial pattern, or grab your sinking line and 6-8” streamers in hopes of hooking the big one.
Minimum flow for half the day allows wade fishermen a solid morning of wading, and the fish are happy to take midges, scuds, and soft hackles. On a recent trip to the ‘fork, I spotted a large number of sizable cutthroats in the upper river, many in shallow enough water to allow for sight fishing. Flows of one unit in the afternoons provide good water for “dirty nymphing” with San Juan worms and egg patterns, and also streamer fishing with sinking lines.