While we have four distinct weather seasons in the Ozarks, they do not transition smoothly one into the next. Rather, near the end of each season, the next coming season makes a few brief appearances or interruptions you could say, making itself known before it is yet time for the next season to begin. The temperature may hit 70 degrees for a day or two at the end of February, though the first green leaves of spring do not appear until late March. It could be a bun broiling 97 degrees for a few days in May, though the dog days of summer are 8 weeks post. We are now in late August with a solid 6 weeks of summer-like conditions ahead, but the past couple days have been like a small taste of autumn.
When I awoke this morning at 6am the outside temperature was 56 degrees – freaking cold for August! I halfway considered digging a jacket or hoody out of storage. A steady north breeze the past couple days has kept the afternoon high under 90 degrees – again, really impressive comfort for Arkansas summer. The air even felt a little drier today, and the large quantity of dead dry leaves blowing around in the breeze today reminded me of October. This is just a tease however – a small glimpse of autumn ahead of schedule. The temperature will start climbing again tomorrow and will be back in the mid nineties by the weekend, baking all you hopper junkies into submission.
Flow from Bull Shoals Dam starts off most mornings around 10,000cfs, though tomorrow’s projection shows slightly more volume to start the day, maybe 12,000cfs. The flow starts increasing around 11am, up to 13,000 or 14,000cfs, increasing again around 1pm up to 17,000 or 18,000cfs. The stair-stepping effect (gradual increases in flow over a few hours rather than all at once) is nice because it doesn’t stir up too much silt and debris, although the rising water does carry a lot of dead leaves on the surface. Still, the river is pretty fishable just about everywhere throughout the day.
Terrestrial dry flies are the most fun undoubtedly. Catching a nice brown on the surface is highly memorable. Black Fat Alberts #10, Psycho Ants #8, Evans’ Baby Foam, and tan Western Ladies #10 are all good choices (you might notice the downsizing trend here – fish have seen many dries recently and they’re not getting dumber). That being said, if you’re fishing 18,000cfs late in the day, that’s big water – you might want a #6 bug in that flow just to get noticed. Nymphing is undeniably the most productive thing going. Girdle Bugs and other such rubber leg style bugs are killers, for both quantity and quality of trout. A big rubberleg nymph combined with a #14-16 Tailwater Jig, Devil Jig, or DW Super Midge is a deadly combination. Rainbow Warriors and Copper Johns are also strong. San Juan worms dredged deep are a fail safe. In the streamer department, Rubberleg Wooly Buggers and Mini Dungeons are great summer choices. Large profile flies like Modern Deceivers, Big Johnsons, and Twerking Minnows are always worth a swim on big water for a big bite.
If you haven’t been wet wading yet this summer in Crooked Creek with your favorite 3 or 4 weight rod and some #8 Boogle Bugs, you are missing out on easy, laid-back, low-pressure, any day, any time, good ole fashioned whippy stick fun.