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The state legislature gave my little town, Cotter, Ark., the moniker "Trout Capital USA" sometime after 1952, when Bull Shoals Dam was completed on the White River that flows around Cotter on three sides. The river lost its warm-water fish when cold water from deep under the lake poured through the dam. Old timers told me with great delight that the time just after the dams started was the best fishing ever. The warm-water fish were practically jumping into their boats!

The Corps opened a trout hatchery at the dam downstream in return. The trout we're known for are rainbows and browns, beautiful creatures, even though some call them "cookie-cutter trout" because they come from a hatchery. I've seen the rainbows spawn at what old-timers called "the spring branch," for the aptly named Big Spring that flows into the river. The rainbows swim up the spring branch from the river and spawn in the pool the spring makes. Other trout guard the pool by "treading water" in the spring branch. A bit later, the fingerlings shine like silver in the evening when they jump up from the water. It's a treat to see.

Wish I had pictures of the trout, but other critters do use the cold, cold water of Big Spring, though a pole has replaced the old tree that used to be there. They're rather a treat, too ;)

Big Spring jumper

When the movie A River Runs Through It came out, it seemed to inspire a new generation of flyfishers. It wasn't long before they found Cotter, and all the old houses were fixed up. Tourist businesses opened for a while, including antique shops, a couple of small art galleries, and my little bookstore. It was a fine time. Then came the recession, the housing bubble, and the aging of the enthusiasts, so it's quiet again.

The best part of it is, the flyfishers have a thorough understanding of the river's ecology and are active in improving it. Many of them are semi-retired professionals who have educated themselves on this particular environment and are most dedicated to it. They helped pass some legislation that added oxygen to the water below the dams. I don't understand trout biology, but I'm confident they do ;) Several areas, including some of the river here, are designated catch-and-release.

Personally, I gave up fishing when I was eight. I felt a nibble, jerked the hook up, and stabbed a lovely little fish right through the middle. It was heart-breaking. Yet others live here full-time and continue to fish:

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With the frigid water from the dam, we get all kinds of mists. I'm sure they nurture all the different plants and bugs that live along the river. This one, lifting in the morning, still obscures some distant hills:

Photobucket

Another evening a thick white mist filled the whole valley at sunset, leaving only a white line below the bottom branches of a tree. When the mist rose with the sun the next morning, there were "lights in the trees" where the sun shone on drops of water on the leaves.

Sunset valley full o mist

That's a big slice of a little piece of the White River Valley of the Ozarks. It's 101 today, and I haven't been out to see any of it in person ;)

What's going on where you are? Seen any critters? How's the weather treating them and you?

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