After 10am, it kind of feels like being in a sauna on the river right now, but it’s totally worth it when big browns are biting. Lots of browns over 20″ were taken over the last week, and lots of sweat equity was put in for those fish. A few tips for staying happy and healthy in the Arkansas heat and humidity: 1) Stay covered. Long sleeves and pants made from lightweight UPF material are better than any sunscreen. Wide brimmed hats are helpful, and a Buff or rag soaked in cold river water feels good around the neck. 2) Half day morning trips are a smart way to enjoy the best part of the fishing and skip the worst part of the heat. Half day trips were practically invented for summertime. 3) Hydrate early, often, and after. Drink as much water as you can the day before you fish, the day of, and the day after. When you think you’ve had enough water, have some more.
Flows from Bull Shoals Dam are around 12,000cfs in the morning hours and up to 15,000-17,000cfs in the afternoon. The most consistent brown trout catcher has been big stonefly nymphs like Rubberleg Jig and Girdle Bug. Terrestrial dry flies like Wiley’s Ant, Western Ladies, and Fat Alberts have been getting some action early and late in the day. Mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails, Super Sinkers, Micro Mayflies, Devil Jigs) and midges (DW Super or Whitetail midge) are great all around producers, catching both numbers and the occasional big fish. When all else fails, go deep with San Juan worms.
Norfork is flowing two units around the clock and fishing is very streaky – good for short periods and tough for longer periods. San Juan worms and Girdle Bugs have been taking some quality fish on Norfork, and so have DW Whitetail midges and Hunchback Scuds. When things get tough, the Fulling Mill Blob fly can save the day imitating a cluster of Daphnia crustaceans. The water is thick with Daphnia which keeps the trout very well fed.
Crooked Creek is flowing low and clear, perfect for wet wading. It really is difficult to overestimate how much summertime fun can be had wet wading and staying cool in this little river. A person could literally cast the same #8 Boogle Bug all day and stay busy unhooking scrappy little sunfish and bass. Sexi Stone is a great choice for pickier bass and carp, and bead chain style carp flies are effective on bass and carp.