Fly Fishing Crooked Creek in North Central Arkansas


As they say…sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you! Such was the case over my most recent spring break to Arkansas; the bear in this case was the weather. As we pulled into the dam-quarry campground in Salesville, Arkansas and eased to a stop, I could hear the roar of the dam behind us. Not only were they generating at 100%, they were also releasing water over all 8 spillways (which was equivalent to a third generator). At this particular flow, about 5500 cfs, there wouldn’t be any trout fishing, of any kind.

So it goes…time to cry to go to plan B…and plan B in this case was to drive about 45 minutes west and fish portions of Crooked Creek. I had been on Crooked Creek twice before, both times in the summer…and both times had very good fishing. Frankly I wasn’t sure if the water there would be any better, but was very relieved when my wife, Vickie, and I pulled in and could see the greenish glow of a beautiful stream.

Our first day I decided to do a shorter portion, Kelley’s Slab, which was only 3.5 river miles in length and would lead me directly back down river to Yellville. I knew the water was still quite cold and I also know, through many years of experience, that smallies don’t exactly love cold water…but off into the wild blue yonder I went.
Map of Crooked Creek in ArkansasI started with a smaller baitfish pattern that has worked, or usually works. About 30 minutes in and no takes…I started to wonder. Seems like doubt is the key to getting fish to bite as at that moment the first fish of the trip smacked my fly and my week was officially off to a great start.

Crooked Creek is one of those unsung gems…one that doesn’t get as much attention as its big brother to the south, The Buffalo River. I have to say that it has quickly become one of my most favorite mid to small streams to fish for smallmouth. I won’t say that I killed it…but I did fish on CC for a good part of four days and learned several new sections that I will return to in warmer weather…but second place in this case was all I had.

If you get out to this part of north-central Arkansas and have some time on your hands…please don’t overlook Crooked Creek, it won’t disappoint. If you need some help or advice you can stop in at Dally’s in Cotter. Dally’s is a true working fly shop and these guys know Crooked Creek, The Buffalo and the many miles of The White River very well…and frankly, they have always been quick to hop up (usually from tying) and ask how they can help you!

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