October weather in Arkansas has a bit of a personality disorder. Last week morning temps were in the 50s and everybody was breaking out their Simms Fall Run jackets for the morning boat ride. The fog wouldn’t even lift until 10am. This week has everyone digging through pockets for that last tube of sunscreen and sweating it right off the face by noon. Expect the back and forth battle between summer and fall to rage on through October. Hopefully we’ll get some rain out of the ordeal.
The dry warm air has the terrestrial bugs crawling, jumping, flying, and singing happily along the river banks and in the overhanging trees. Some of these unsuspecting bugs end up in the water where hungry trout wait, especially so when power demand on hot afternoons triggers high water release and the river rises higher up the banks and under the overhanging trees. There have been some killer dry fly evenings as of late, so don’t pack away your hopper boxes just yet.
The weekend forecast is setting up really pretty, with blue skies Thursday-Saturday and some clouds and potential for scattered thundershowers on Sunday. Usually the brown trout bite gets good just before precipitation moves in, and the cloud cover should help regardless. Look for fishing to get better and better each day through Sunday.
Read on for specifics on flows and flies.
One unit prevails until noon; then the rising water starts, going as high as 14,000cfs for several hours. The increase in volume and length of time of high water release into the evenings means there will be more “tailout” in the lower river in the mornings than we’ve been seeing the past couple weeks. For example, when you walk in or launch your boat at Rim Shoals in the mornings, the water will still be falling from the previous afternoon’s high flows. However it will be clear and the fish plenty willing to take the usual nymphs (Pheasant Tails, Devil Jigs, Sunday Specials) and midges (Ruby, Redneck, Wotton Super and Whitetail). Small streamers like Sparkle Minnows and Cone Headed Buggers and also deadly stripped through the riffles and seams. When the water rises in the afternoon, try terrestrials (Chubby Chernobyl, Western Lady, Fat Albert) against the banks for a hungry brown or cutthroat.
Get your wading in early on minimum flow until noon, fishing the usual egg patterns, Root Beer midges, Hunchback Scuds, and Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle. The water comes up by 1 or 2pm so watch out or get in a boat and start nymphing deep and heavy with eggs, San Juan worms, and #14 Super Midges. Split shot size BB or AAA usually does the trick.