The weather forecast shows clear skies and highs in the mid-eighties for the weekend. You couldn’t ask for better conditions to celebrate Independence Day weekend, on public water in the United States of America. The variety of water-based recreational activities to enjoy in the area is impressive: fly fishing for trout, bass, or panfish, kayaking, swimming, water skiing, you name it. What a privilege to have deep water reservoirs, cold water trout tailwaters, and natural smallmouth streams all within easy striking distance of Cotter, AR.
Bull Shoals Dam is releasing a high and steady volume between 11,000-13,000cfs. With so little change in volume occurring, fish are getting comfortable and established in predictable places like back eddies, undercut banks, flooded grass beds, and slow deep edges where rest and shade and food are all in good supply. Terrestrial dry flies are starting to produce with some consistency now. Try #8 Fat Alberts, Western Ladies, and Chubby Chernobyls. If you like, add a dropper in the form of a Dark Back Emerger #16, Alt Rocker #16, or Juju Baetis #16. If fishing the upper water column isn’t working for you, try going deep and heavy with Girdle Bugs or Rubberleg Jigs, and if you like, add droppers like Super Sinker, Tailwater Jig, or Jiggy Nymph.
Sulfur mayflies are hatching strong mid afternoon most days, and fish will rise on the emergers and the cripples in slower edges and seams periodically throughout the day. The Sparkle Dun is good for imitating freshly emerged bugs floating on the surface. For wiser, pickier trout, throw Film Critics and Half n Half Sulfurs #16-18. Dress the head of these flies with a tiny dab of Dry Magic fly floatant to help your drift.
Crooked Creek and Buffalo River are pretty perfect right now for a canoe or kayak float, casting #8 Boogle Bugs and Double Barrel Poppers to shady corners, where wily smallmouth and eager panfish await the plop of your fly on the water.