Fishing in the Ozarks — AS 2012

posted in: Fishing in the Ozarks | 0
Harley White of Mountain Home fishes a hopper on the White River in Cotter
Harley White of Mountain Home fishes a hopper on the White River in Cotter

Story and photographs by Matt Peters.

When the thermometer tells you it’s hot, don’t stay indoors, head for the cold water and natural air conditioning of the White River. You’ll stay cool and enjoy some of the finest fly fishing to be had all year. Late summer is an excellent time of year to catch fish on the White River. It’s hopper time!

Hopper fly
Hopper fly

Grasshoppers are in full swing in late summer, and fish know these large insects are an easy meal. The “hopper bite,” as it’s known, can be one of the best times of the year for new or beginning anglers to go out and catch fish. Hoppers are much bigger and bulkier than traditional flies, making them easier to see as they drift downriver.

This is also the time of year when big brown trout are aggressive about top water takes, slurps, and boils—shop talk that means big fish are eating big bugs floating down the river. Perfect for beginners.

Larger flies like hoppers are easier to cast, easier to see, easier to drift down the river, and they attract quality bites—which altogether make late summer a great time of year to get out fishing on the White River.

Jump Right In

2012 has been a low water year so far, which is good for wading and walk-in fishing. Wade fishing is great because it doesn’t require huge investments in time or equipment. You don’t necessarily need waders, just walk right out in your shorts and wading boots and get to fishing. If you get cold, take a break, but with the low water, you aren’t fishing deeper than thigh-deep most of the time, and you’ll find the cool water a wonderful natural contrast to the summer heat.

Hopper fly
Hopper fly

The Hopper Dropper

Another reason late summer is a great time to fish is because hoppers are good strike indicators. More experienced anglers will connect a second fly to the hopper hook via a short piece of tippet material and fish two flies at once. This allows you to probe the river for big brown trout that are feeding on grasshoppers, and at the same time put yourself in position to catch rainbow trout feeding subsurface on smaller nymphs. You double your odds of catching a fish.

Getting Started

If you’re new to fly fishing, visit a local fly shop to get outfitted with basic fly fishing tackle and wading boots. Most shops have guides available to take you and a friend out for a day of fishing. They’ll show you the basics, make sure you catch fish, and make the right adjustments given whatever conditions you face. Please practice catch and release, and bring your digital cameras.

We want to see your fish and hear your marvelous fish stories! Post them at

M! August/September 2012


Leave a Reply