Naturally, people dread the idea of a hot summer day in Arkansas. This is why you see less people on the river than spring or fall. But summer-time fishing can be a lot more tolerable than you might think. In fact, some of the locals, including myself, see our cold water rivers as a great way to beat the heat. Summer highs create a need for power generation. When the dams are running cold water, the air temperature can drop 5 to 15 degrees from the parking lot to the waters edge. The closer to the dams, the cooler the temperatures.
There are a couple of methods used to beat the summer-time heat. One is making shorter more frequent drifts from a boat. Doing this allows you to cool off while motoring up river to make another drift. Another method is wet wading. Wet wading is more tolerable farther down river, where the water temperatures have started to warm. Being able to boat fish and wade fish without waders is also very convenient.
There are countless number of ways to catch fish on these rivers in the summer. You can nymph fish, swing soft hackles, strip streamers, and dry fly fish. I enjoy all of these, but my favorite is probably fishing hoppers below Bull Shoals Dam.