April 19, 2017
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 19, 2017. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email AGFCfishingreport@outlook.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news.
The AGFC is treating alligatorweed in Lake Conway using EPA-registered herbicides approved for use in aquatic systems. The AGFC strongly recommends that landowners adjacent to the lake water for irrigation of lawns or gardens during the period of May 1, 2017, to March 1, 2018. For more information please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877)-470-3309.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said bream are beginning to respond nicely to worms and crickets. The anglers aren’t fishing very deep for them, just a couple of inches behind the cork. Crappie continue to be good in the usual spots. Bass are active around the shoreline, with white spinnerbaits working well. Catfishing is good, and flatheads are on the bite now. River fishing is great around the banks and lily pads, they say, in about 8 inches of depth. The redear are really doing well.
Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said hearing the same reports as the previous weeks, that crappie were excellent around Pierce, Gold Creek and the Highway 89 bridge. Use pink minnows. Catfish reports were excellent also, with catfish hitting trotlines or limblines baited with shad and slicks.
Little Red River
James Dillard at Tailwater Fishing Co. said the fishing has been excellent. They have had lower water this week and the bite has been hot. James said they should start to see more consistent windows of low water over the next several weeks as long as heavy spring rains do not occur. Lots of caddis can be seen coming off lately and the fish have been very active. The hot flies have been San Juan worms, sowbugs and caddis emergers.
Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red has received at least one unit of generation, 24 hours a day, over the past week. This generation pattern has eliminated safe wade fishing conditions. If drift fishing, you will want to use long leaders and weighted San Juan worms, micro jigs or sowbugs. Pounding the banks with streamers is also an effective method during high water conditions. For Trout Magnet fishing use long leaders and heavy weight using cotton candy- and pink-colored bodies on silver and chartreuse jigheads. Concentrate on pools along the banks. Key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwest Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said Southwest Power has informed him that due to a problem with generation at Table Rock Dam, Greers Ferry will be used to regulate the grid starting Wednesday. This means that one unit or more of generation will be run 24/7. This will continue Wednesday and Thursday with generation going back to normal on Friday if the problem is repaired at Table Rock. Generation will be posted on Thursday afternoon for Friday. Greg will post an update on Thursday evening with the forecast for the weekend.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 459.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 461.44 msl).
Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry is at 459.85 feet and falling with generation, and looks like it will continue to fall with work on the dam project. The fishing and or catching is good overall and will get even better with the more stable weather around the corner. The crappie are in all three phases of spawn – some shallow, some deep and some even deeper. Try jigs and jigs tipped with minnows or a spring craw grub for your best results. The walleye bite in the lake is picking up with crawlers and crankbaits, and a drop shot or jighead being the norm for this time of year on chunk rock flats. The bass catching is good on all three species with a lot of 100 fish days on just about any bait you have in your tackle box at the right location for any given day or weather condition all over the lake. The bream are moving up strong and can be caught with crankbaits, crawlers and crickets. The hybrid and white bass are eating at various times all over the lake and rivers. Grubs, swimbaits, spoons, in-line spinners and live bait working as well.
Harris Brake Lake
Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said crappie fishing is not too bad right now. Spinnerbaits have been getting the best response. Bass fishing is good as well on spinnerbaits. No reports on bream or catfish.
The AGFC is treating alligatorweed in Lake Overcup using EPA-registered herbicides approved for use in aquatic systems. The AGFC strongly recommends that landowners adjacent to the lake water for irrigation of lawns or gardens during the period of May 1, 2017, to March 1, 2018. For more information please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877)-470-3309.
Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is up about 2 feet. Clarity is muddy in the shallow water and clearing toward the deeper water. Temperature is around 64 degrees. Bream are starting to pick up around the shore and in 3 feet of water on crickets and worms. Bass are doing well on plastic worms and crankbaits around brush and shallow water. Crappie are slow but anglers are still catching some good ones, just not as many as they have in the past. Catfish are good on yo-yo's with bass minnows and on poles with shrimp bait and chicken livers. Johnny says, “Come see us at Overcup Bait Shop off Highway 9.”
Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is clear and the surface temperature on Tuesday was ranging 61-62 degrees. The level after the rain is about 6 inches high or so, Larry said. Bream are beginning to pick up, he’s heard a few reports of some activity. Crappie are in about 4-5 feet of water. Bass reports are excellent with the bass in the shallow water up in the grass. Reports are you can catch a bass nearly every cast.
Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said water temperature is 65 to 69 degrees, hitting 68 on Monday, and the lake level is full. Black bass are excellent and biting on crankbaits, wacky rig worms and spinnerbaits. Blacks have moved into the shallow water. Black bass fishing is great right now. On Tuesday, Creighton Sawyer and Tohmath Forrest caught 10.74 pounds of bass to win ths week’s tournament on the lake. Brad Lequieu and Anthony Wright edged Tom Sowell and Mike Broom by .08 pounds for second place, both catching over 9 pounds. Gary Harris and Rudy Westbrook found the Big Bass, at 3.82 pounds. Kentucky bass are also excellent and being caught on jigs. They can be found mixed in with the black bass in the shallow water. White bass results are good. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep-diving Bandits and Bombers. They are toward the middle of the lake; watch the loons and the whites will be there in large quantity. Crappie reports have been good. They are being caught on crappie minnows and jigs (chartreuse and white with very light line). There are still crappie bedded up in 4-6 feet of water and about 8 feet off the weeds. Lots of 11- to 15-inch crappie are being caught. Bream are very good. Despite it being past full moon, the bream are still being caught on the beds. Lots of reports of big redear being caught. They are being caught on crickets and live worms. Catfishing is good and they’re being caught in 25 feet of water, but they appear to be moving into shallower water now. Use stink bait, small bream and chicken livers.
Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting well on chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Bream fishing has been fair with crickets and redworms. Crappie have been biting No. 6 and pink minnows early in the mornings. Bass fishing has been fair with minnows and small plastic worms and lizards.
Bishop Park Ponds
Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream have been biting fair on crickets and redworms. Catfish are biting chicken livers, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bass have been hitting minnows and red or purple plastic worms. Crappie fishing has been fair with No. 6 minnows.
Saline River Access in Benton
Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass fishing has been good with No. 12 and brooder minnows, small plastic lizards or worms and small crankbaits. Crappie have been biting fair on No. 6 minnows and blue and silver grubs or jigs. Catfish are biting chicken livers, minnows, nightcrawlers and black salties. Bream will almost always bite crickets or worms fished on small hooks and light line.
Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the bream are picking up the bite and some big ones are being caught on crickets and redworms. Crappie have been biting for some customers using No. minnows. Bass fishing has been fair with minnows, Texas rigged plastics and topwater baits early in the mornings. Catfish have been on and off with the weather. Minnows and goldfish are catching them when they're biting.
Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. No reports of limits, but some good size crappie are being caught. Bass have been hitting minnows and various artificial baits from plastic worms and lizards to topwater baits. Catfish have been biting well on nightcrawlers and chicken livers. Bream fishing has been good with crickets and redworms.
Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said bream bit is fair around the fountain and gazebo using redworms or crickets. Catfishing is excellent. Try chicken livers, chicken hearts or nightcrawlers.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the crazy weather patterns have made fishing inconsistent. Cloudy water has made bass fishing crazy. One day firetiger-colored lures are great; the next day worms with chartreuse twister tails are the thing. The backwater is a good place to start for bass. White bass were up in the creeks but rain has put some strong flows in the creeks. Fish pockets of calm water around the mouths of creeks where you have shad schools movinng up. Use chartreuse and firetiger-colored cranks. Catfish are mainly out in the jetties on downriver side and the same pockets where the whites are being caught. Nightcrawlers and whole shad are working best. No report on stipers. No reports on bream. No reports on crappie.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Professional angler Cody Kelley, owner of Best in Bass Guide Service (501-733-5282), reported that fishing is great on the river right now. Water temps and river flows should both continue to rise as spring progresses. For bass, many of the river fish have completed their annual spawning ritual. Although the post-spawn fish will be skinnier than a pre-spawn or spawning fish, they will usually be pretty willing participants and be feeding up to recover from the spawn. Look for the post-spawn fish more out toward the main river. You will begin to find these fish more around current breaks and wing dams. Good lures to try are squarebill crankbaits, spinnerbaits and, of course, Crock-O-Gator Head Knocker buzzbaits. If you are looking for spawning fish, you want to be in the protected backwaters. Try fishing BioSpawn ExoSticks and lizards around any type of shallow wood in the backwaters. There have been no reports on crappie (the bass fishing has been too good!). The catfish are terribly far from wanting to spawn right now. That means it is a great time to go chasing them. Still be checking those deep water holes at the end of wing dams. As the water warms, start checking the scour holes behind the blow holes that are halfway back into the pockets. Remember: Catfish are cavity spawners. So they will be heading to an area with lots of logs, stumps, undercut banks, etc. Find a spot where you can intercept them heading that direction.
Little Maumelle River
River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said crappie are in the shallows and are biting well on minnows and jigs. Bass are good, also up in the shallow water, and are responsive to spinnerbaits mostly. No reports on bream. No reports on catfish. It appears to be a perfect time to go out for crappie and bass, though, as lots of anglers are doing well.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that bream are picking up. You’ll find them in 4-5 feet of water and biting crickets best. Crappie are good in 6-8 or 8-10 feet of water. Use jigs; the crappie now are preferring black and chartreuse colored jigs. Bass reports have been fair. Again, jigs seem to work best, although reports are they’re having some response to a variety of baits thrown. No reports on catfish. Striper activity is picking up with chartreuse grubs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said bream are good on redworms. Crappie are good using chartreuse and pink jigs. You’ll have better success with bass using deeper crankbaits and black and blue jigs in the backwater mostly. Catfish are good below the dam using stink bait. Also, 5-ounce weights are needed to hold it down.
McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said bream have really turned on in the Clear Lake area and throughout the pool. Use redworms or crickets for the best response. Crappie seem to have slowed a lot, and the best guess is the spawn is ending and they are moving back out. No reports from here on bass. Catfish, though, are slowing picking up as the water warms some. No specific surface temperature was recorded this week.
Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said that in the Murray Lock and Dam area, bream are fair and biting on red and chartreuse or black and chartreuse jigs. Catfishing has been excellent by snagging. A 64-pounder was brought in last week.
Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that bream are picking up. You’ll find them in 4-5 feet of water and biting crickets best. Crappie are good in 6-8 or 8-10 feet of water. Use jigs; the crappie now are preferring black and chartreuse colored jigs. Bass reports have been fair. Again, jigs seem to work best, although reports are they’re having some response to a variety of baits thrown. No reports on catfish. Striper activity is picking up with chartreuse grubs.
Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said clarity and level is about normal for this time in April. Everything is biting, they say, and the fish are all still up close in the brush. You can throw about anything and get a response. Anglers report even catching crappie while trolling now.
Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they’ve had a LOT of wind in the past several days. River level has been low. The trout bite has ranged from fair to good. The reports on rainbows have been low. However, the browns seem numerous and are biting well.
Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the brown bite has slowed down some -- they're out there, just presented more of a challenge. Be patient, listen to advice from your guide or other experienced anglers, and stay with it. Old fishing adage: You can't catch one if your line isn't in the water. The rainbow count is climbing. Now is the time to experience with some different baits because you'll catch a bunch with shrimp and PowerBaits, though try something new. Look for the Bleeder Series of smaller Rapalas, red hooks, flashes of red on the body of your lure, and red/gold spoons. That old silver and black Rapala with a cut-throat slash is perfect right now. Fly-fishers are having success with the silver and red midge; try a slightly larger hook, size 14 or 12. Water-release pattern: late afternoon releases during the week, minimum flow all weekend (and now that we've published that, watch for a change).
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-435-2169) said during the past week, we have had no rain, warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 feet to rest at 3.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 39.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.4 feet to rest at 2.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.4 feet to rest at 3.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had wadable water with some generation. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonable power pool. On the White, the bite has been spotty. Some days have been excellent and some poor. The hot spot has been the Wildcat Shoals. We have had more wadable water. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (Nos. 8, 10), Y2Ks (Nos. 14, 12), prince nymphs (No. 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16 or 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite is a size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). Caddis season is upon us. This is our best hatch of the year and it is still here. I fished the caddis hatch on the Norfork with great success. With the lower lake levels we should have perfect flows to target this hatch. Before the hatch when the trout are feeding on the surface but you see no insects use a soft hackle like my green butt or a partridge and orange. When the trout begin to target insects, on the surface of the water, switch over to an elk hair caddis. Match your fly to the hatching insect based on size, shape and color.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 663.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
K Dock Marina reported reported the water has cleared up a lot in the past week. Lake level remains steady at about 3.5 feet below normal pool of 659.00 feet. Surface temperature has finally gone above the 60-degree mark, resulting in some great fishing. Temperature has ranged 62-65 degrees. Clarity is clear. Black bass are good on a variety of small to medium plastics in the backs of coves. Also good on Wiggle Warts and Rock Crawlers on points and into coves. Spinnerbaits are working well on breezy days. Crappie are good on live minnows in the coves around bush piles. Swimming minnows also working good. Chartreuse seems to be the color right now. Crappie should be right on the shoreline in a week or two. Walleye are fair on small to medium crankbaits. Should be in the 10-15 feet depths soon with the water temperature rising. Also fair on silver or white spoons. White bass are fair up the lake from K Dock around the Beaver Creek arm.
Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said water temps are about 60s depending on location. They've had some cool nights last week and a little bit of rain, though not quite enough to get us up to into the bushes like anglers wanted, but enough to give a little color to the backs of creeks. If it stays stable, anglers will start seeing some of the large females start moving up on the beds. They’ll be cycling through over the next couple of weeks. With the clear water, fishing is a little tougher but you can see a lot the beds and a lot of guys are catching fish off the beds. Lots of Kentucky bass, smallmouths and largemouths males are still up. Del says that what he likes to key into is some of the dirty water. If you go up the lake in the major creek arms, anywhere some of that muddy water is moving in, it seems to be a lot easier to sneak up on them. Over the next couple of weeks, you should be able to follow the spawn back into the lake. Anglers are not quite locked on, but there were some fish caught in the very backs of the dirtier creek arms. If you’re fishing the clear water, obviously it’s going to be a lot more challenging, it takes a little more finesse. What will work will is a Ned rig or shaky head, natural colors, green pumpkin, watermelon, watermelon red. Or use a jig, as the jig seems to be getting some of the bigger fish. They’re not necessarily all the way in the very backs. If you’re going into a spawning pocket, the last bit of deep water, a bluff, a point before they go up and spawn is where they're hanging. Del says he's not fishing real deep, just in 15-20 feet of water. Check the shore, hit the shore; the gravel pockets are where some fish are going to spawn. Look at all those areas on your maps. You’re going to catch a lot of fish there. Enjoy it while it last. They’re not going to stay shallow all year. This is a great time to get into the shallow bite. If you find dirty water, still use the Shaky Head, and under bluebird skies pick up the finesse stuff. Use a drop-shot in the beds. Carolina rigs will work. In the really dirty water, some anglers are still throwing swimbaits, and some guys are using a bigger swim bait targeting large females and catching them. A squarebill is working in the skinny water. A War Eagle spinnerbait in dirty skinner water. Try to match the conditions of the water. Also a Sexy Mouse in natural color with a little chartreuse to get their attention. It’s a fun time to be fishing. Early in the morning or late in the evening people are still catching some walleye with jerkbaits, swimbaits, lots of ways.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 556.80 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 552.00 msl, April-September – 554.00 msl).
Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says spring has sprung on Lake Norfork. The water temperature has reached the desired degree for the crappie to hit the banks and begin their spawn. Stripers, hybrids and bass are hitting on topwater baits all over the lake. Walleye are being caught at night on Rogues on sloping points. The threadfin shad have begun their spawn, which triggers the other fish to go on a feeding binge. The next couple of weeks should see lots of fish being caught. Tom says his son caught a 34-pound striper and another guide caught a 30-pound striper, so the big fish are also moving into the shallows to feed. Now is the time to get on the lake either with your boat or hire a guide to get on some of this great activity.
Tom adds, “I took Brian and Gerald out for their annual two-day striper trips. Gerald has been fishing Lake Norfork for over 30 years and loves catching stripers. Fishing was slow for me before they arrived, but with all the shad movement I knew it would be a great time. I went to one of my spring go-to places and sure enough the stripers were in their feeding mood. We hooked nine stripers but only boated four the first day. The boys were scheduled to trout fish the next day, so we planned on striper fishing the following day. They were on their game that day and we had our limit in one hour. We then went out on the main lake to try and catch a big fish. We had one taker but it released the bait before we could set the hook. Overall they had a great father and son fishing outing.”
Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake springtime fishing is at its best. Lou says this is one of his favorite times to fish the lake. All species of fish are in shallow water and they get a lot of good topwater action for striped, hybrid and white bass as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass. Artificial baits and live bait work equally well this time of year. Shad are spawning, as is typical for this time of year. The shad spawn really gets the fish excited. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing all were on fire the last week. Once the lake temperature reached the mid-60s the fish became active. Tuesday was a great example of spring topwater action. Several of Lou’s friends were out on the lake and they all were checking out different areas. One found the fish blowing up back in a cove at about 7 a.m. He gave Lou a call and they all had great fun for the next three hours. Lou said he was throwing a 5-inch pearl swimbait with a 3/8-ounce jighead, and a Zara Spook Jr. It is a blast to watch these fish blow up on topwater baits, Lou says. Best places to look for topwater action is partway back into the creeks and in the secondary coves in the creeks. Right now, Lou says, he has heard of topwater action in all parts of the lake so get out there and have some fun. The late afternoon bite has been great one day, then very hard to find the fish the next, but when you do find them they very well could be busting the surface.
Lou adds that largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing is also excellent at this time. Look in the same areas that the stripers are in, but mainly look at the shoreline. You will find the water boiling with shad right up on the rocks. The fish are pushing the shad in tight to the shore, then feeding at will. Tuesday they were in the same cove where they found stripers in, from 6 inches of water out to 6 feet. Both Lou’s Zara Spook and swimbait were picking up some very nice fish. The fish also wanted both of his baits worked very fast as they were in the chasing mood. As the day wears on, the largemouth will move out into a little deeper water so a jig-n- pig or some other plastic bait worked along the bottom will pick up some good-size bass. At sunset look at the very shallow water again as they will start to feed heavily on shad. The after-dark bite for large and smallmouth bass should be good. Lou says he personally hasn’t been out the, but typically they will be hanging around docks and shallow points. Dark-colored spinnerbaits and tube jigs are some of his favorites.
Lou adds, “Walleye, I bet you can guess, are in the same areas as the stripers and the largemouth. My swimbait is picking up some nice fish early in the morning and then again at sunset. The walleye are also starting to show up on the big shallow flats in 10-25 feet of water. Move slowly with your trolling motor with a bottom bouncer and crawler harness or a large shiner on a drop-shot rig.” He also says crappie are showing back up on brush in 20-30 feet of water. Most times you will find them suspended over the brush, so you need to keep testing different depths until you find the feeding fish. There will be a few nice fish still on the bank, so casting a small Road Runner will work and will also pick up other species. Hang on with your crappie rod because it is not uncommon the hook into a big striper while crappie fishing this time of year.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 67 degrees. The water level has been fairly stable with a slight rise and currently sits at 551.36. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are a little stained, but are clearing rapidly.
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Norfork Lake rose 1.9 feet to rest at 2.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 29.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had less generation with more wadable water. There has been more wadable water on the Norfork but it has fished a bit better particularly if you can catch the caddis hatch. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 16 elk hair caddis). The fishing is better in the morning. My favorite rig has been a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has been very crowded due to spring break. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Berry says, “This year we have had conditions that have been favorable to fish dry flies, particularly the spring caddis hatch, which is our best longest lasting hatch of the year. The trick, as always, is to be on stream when the insects are coming off. My favorite way to fly-fish for trout is to fish dry flies. Therefore, I went to the Norfork the other day in search of the caddis hatch.
My wife, Lori, accompanied me as did her sister, Terri, and her husband, Larry. Terri and Larry are avid fly fishers and frequent guests at our home, in Cotter. We began our Sunday fishing trip with a hearty breakfast at the White Sands Restaurant. As my late brother, Dan, used to say, “You need a couple of sausage gravy biscuits to keep your feet in the gravel”. Conditions were near perfect. It was sunny with a bit of wind and a high temperature in the low seventies. The water was at minimum flow and the prediction was for no generation for the entire day. To our surprise, the Ackerman Access was not very crowded. We had expected a much larger crowd on a day this near perfect. We waded up stream into the catch-and-release section. There were no caddis coming off. I was determined to fish dry flies. I had my favorite fly rod, a 30-year-old Sage light Line 9-foot, 4-weight that had originally belonged to Dan. I had rigged it with a 7½ leader and a 5-foot 5X tippet with a size 16 olive elk hair caddis with an application of fly floatant. Though there was no active hatch, I figured that the trout would be looking up. Therefore I began casting not at rising trout, but at spots where I expected them to be. After three casts, I was rewarded, with a nice fat 17-inch rainbow. A few more casts and I landed an even fatter 10-inch rainbow. I was on a roll. Lori noticed my success and joined in on fishing dries. She didn’t have the same fly as I was fishing, so I gave her one. She had quick success. About that time Terri and Larry arrived. They had been fishing downstream with limited success. I showed them, how I was fishing, and they quickly rigged their rods accordingly. I gave them my spot and I went looking for new water to fish. Larry was into a good trout as I walked out. I found a likely spot and began fishing in earnest. I hooked a nice 14-inch rainbow and as I was bringing it in a Great Blue Heron decided that it looked like lunch. I gave him a shout and he gave up the chase. I caught several more trout there. Meanwhile Lori was having success nearby. About this time, Larry hit a big fish. It was a huge rainbow that was fat and in excess of 24 inches long. The fight went on for quite a while. A drift boat that was floating through dropped anchor upstream so that it would not interfere with his fight. As luck would have it, the fish slipped the hook at Larry’s feet. He was stoked over the trout but disappointed for not landing it. I have been there before!
Success had eluded Terri. But her time had come. She rerigged to my Green Butt soft hackle and was immediately into trout. Lori and I had caught enough and we were ready to go home. Terri and Larry stayed on-stream for a while, so that Terri could catch up with our success. The trout cooperated.
You don’t always have to have an active hatch to fish dry flies. Sometimes the trout are looking up and will fall for a well presented fly.
Buffalo National River
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Buffalo is navigable. With the warmer weather the smallmouths should be more active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek is navigable. With the warmer weather the smallmouths should be more active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,110.51 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 1,121.00 msl).
Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the crappie are spawning and they’re hitting anything small and attractive, like anything by Bobby Garland. Minnows are also getting some crappie hits. Bass fishing has been good. Catfishing has also been good. White bass having not been as good as they usually are now, and they appear to be spawning further out. Striper action is very good right now. It’s fishing season in the Ozarks, Larry at Southtown says. Fishing along the shoreline, almost anything you throw will bring a response from something. This type of reaction from the fish will last at least the next two weeks, so don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of it.
Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said striper activity forecast for the week is good. Beaver Lake Striper are on the move back to the main lakes and are on the feed with most striper using 20-100-plus feet of water. Some stripers are using gravel bars, points, humps, treetops and cuts in the bank to corner bait. Fishing free lines and lightly weighted downlines will definitely catch fish. There has been some topwater activity from stripers and white bass. Striper fishing will be good fishing live shad free and downlines; also try trolling small umbrella rigs with white or chartreus grubs in stained water, or plugs like Rapala No. 14 husky jerks in black back or purple back colors as well as Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on plane boards with snap weights to get some depth and stagger your presentation. Jerkbaits like flukes, swimbaits and jigs will also produce. Topwaters like 7-inch Redfins, Spooks, Pencil Poppers need to be tied on and ready. Fish location is greatly influenced by lake level and current flow. Current in the lake from generation will generally position fish on upstream or downstream edges of structure. Check the daily lake level and flow data link on Bailey’s website. Water currently is in the mid- to high 60s at the surface. Check out these hot spots in the mid and lower sections: Indian Creek, Lost Bridge North, Big Clifty, points 5 and 6, Rambo Creek Arm, Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow, Highway 12 Bridge and Prairie Creek (20-50 feet of water). Surface water temps are in the low to mid-70s in the upper section, and Blackburn Creek remains a hot spot.
Bailey says walleye are making their way back to the main lake in numbers in late spring/summer migration mode and can be found scattered throughout the lake and are on the feed. Walleye can be found from 10-30 feet deep depending on areas you fish. Use three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Try Rapala Tail Dancers, Bagley Rumble B's, Flicker Shad and Bandit 300 Series in colors that include orange and chartreuse. Also try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse. Bink Pro Scale 1-ounce jigging spoons in white or white/chartreuse combination and a variety of jigs are also producing walleye.
Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing the past week has been great. White bass have been biting between Houseman Access and Beaver town. Trolling various hard baits in 5-10 feet of water should produce. Walleye have been caught in the tailwaters using jigs with live minnows and various hard baits. Crappie have been caught in low brush piles with white and chartreuse twist tail grubs. Trout are being caught with 1/4-ounce spoons and light terminal tackle with various PowerBaits.
Beaver Dam Store said the stocking trucks were dumping trout directly below Beaver Dam and at the Bertrand Boat Ramp late last week. Looks like the Norfork fish hatchery stocked some nice trout, as numerous fisherman, fly and bait alike, are reporting the quality of fish being caught are exceptional! Try fishing the Twin Rock area adjacent to Parker Bottoms Campground, Cain Break and The Turn-around as starters. Upstream from Parkers Bottoms in the Trophy Management Area, fly-fisherman are reporting catching quality fish. Reports are that walleye are being caught using jerkbaits, count-downs and 1/8-ounce jigheads tipped with gulp-scented baits. Beware of low water conditions as the bottom is constantly changing; new gravel bars are everywhere. Fish hare’s ears nymphs, sowbugs and midges in olive, blue dun, black and gold. Periods of generation have begun again after no running water since March 3. Fishing should be on fire after the flow slows. Always be aware of water conditions as water levels rise abruptly when generation starts. Good lures to use around this area are gold and silver Colorado Spoons, red and gold Bouyant Spoons, and Flicker Shad in Pro Series Nos. 4 and 5. Good PowerBait colors are white, red, orange, yellow, chartreuse and peach. Good flies are pheasant tails, midges in blue dun, black, olive, hare’s ear, tungsten copper Johns, WD40s, Trout Magnets and San Juan worms. Beaver Dam Store will return to regular hours (7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) starting April 27.
Lucky Key at Duck Camp Fishing Retreat (479-871-6305) said the fish biting activity out here hit an all-time high last Saturday. Lucky says he thinks you could have caught something on a bare hook. Lake Elmdale is about 3 feet above normal, the visibility is generally 4-5 feet, and the surface temperature doesn't matter because it's plenty warm for the spawning activities to start. Lucky says that anglers may think it’s crazy, but the bubble gum-colored truck worm and the 4-inch watermelon pepper lizard are topping the list on artificial lures for largemouth bass. Use wacky worms or trick worms, and throw the lizard in the beds. Likely spots are in the cove behind Goose Island and anywhere up in the creek area, as well as the end of Grassy Flats.
Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported the water is very cloudy from the recent rain. Bream fishing has been OK, with hair jigs and redworms working best. Crappie reports are good on minnows and jigs. Bass fishing is good, with plastic worms the way to go. Catfish are biting well on just about anything put on a hook.
Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported water is murky with a surface temperature of 70 degrees. Water appears up about 6 inches above normal. Crappie are extremely good these days on minnows and jigs. Bass are good and are going after everything anglers throw. Catfish are good on chicken liver or shad. Bluegill and redear are really starting to move up. There have been quite of few of each caught.
Seth Boone at Lake Poinsett State Park said Lake Poinsett is ripe for crappie and bass fishing. Bass have moved to the beds and there are some whoppers. Crappie are doing well on minnows and rosy red minnows. Catfish have really turned it on for rice slicks. Bream are still biting OK.
Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is dingy and is at a normal level and current. Bream are good on worms. Crappie reports are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good, with a lot of activity coming on floating worms. The bass are still in the beds. Catfish are good on nightcrawlers and livers.
Lake Frierson State Park said water levels are slightly below normal pool, but recent rains may bring it back up. Channel catfish are fair on nightcrawlers and dip baits fished under a float at varying depths. Blue catfish are slow with a few caught on cut bait. Bass are fair with good periods early and late as the fish are still chasing shad. Minnow-imitating lures fished around and on top of schooling shad are producing some fish. Bream are still being caught on crickets and small worms all around the shoreline. The bigger fish are still a little further out and deeper. No report on saugeye or crappie. Cooling temperatures should get fish feeding and stir up the saugeye. Crankbaits and other minnow imitators should be more and more effective for saugeye and bass as the weather cools.
Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 400 cfs and water clarity has been partly clear. The river has been up a little and pea soup green. Catching has been great with high numbers on olive Woollies and big nymphs. Hot pink Trout Magnets have been great on spinning tackle.
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season is over and there are fewer boats on the river. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) reported water is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. No reports on catfish. Bass are fair on crankbaits and plastic worms. There were no reports on bream. No reports on walleye.
Arkansas River at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Team said water temperatures are in the low to mid 70's, with visibility very low on the main channel with strong muddy current and elevation a little above normal. Visibility is better near the backs of backwater areas and within Lake Langhofer. Black bass are biting fairly well on black and blue jigs, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.
Cane Creek Lake
Jennifer Albertson, the park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, said the weather is beautiful here at Cane Creek Lake. It is a great time to be out on the water. Bream are fair, and biting on crickets and redworms. Crappie are good, and biting on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair, and biting on chicken livers.
Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said a few people have had luck with catfish, especially overnight anglers. For the most part, fishing has slowed way down at Lake Chicot. Lake Chicot State Park had its annual fishing derby last Saturday. Many of the youth who participated had good luck, but later in the week, most anglers have been striking out.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.42 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 259.20 msl).
Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level on Monday was about 15 inches above normal conservation pool and falling. There is current in Little River with the gates releasing around 10,300 CFS as of Monday. Tailwater level was 237.1 feet msl. Water temperatures rose over the past week, and on Monday the surface water temperature ranged 69 degrees early to 78. There continues to be good numbers of fishermen on the lake. Largemouth Bass are wrapping up annual spawning rituals in most locations. White Bass are scattered in large schools along Little River. Crappie are also finishing spawning on beds, and gar are extremely shallow in large groups, making great opportunities for bow fishermen. Be advised there are NEW no-wake river buoys at White Cliffs boat ramp and the no-wake zone extends from the north end of the park to the south end, and rules are being enforced by the AGFC in Little River. It’s kind of like a Lock and Dam now that you have to lock through. This no-wake zone is being strictly enforced and there is no tolerance for wake boaters or barges.
Siefert added that clarity and visibility was stained to muddy. Oxbows are in fair shape for visibility as of Tuesday. On the main lake structure away from current on Monday, clarity and visibility ranged 3-5 inches; msame for Little River's visibility. The oxbow's clarity is ranging 15-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain or thunderstorms.
As water temperatures are slowly rising, largemouth bass continue wrapping up annual spawn activity and are moving horizontally out to deeper water. Most bass have completed their spawning rituals. They continue to catching male and female largemouth bass from 2 to around 5 pounds each, running in and out of bedding areas. Baby bass fry have been noted over the last week already hatched. Big, 7-inch bulky lizards, Brush Hogs, 10-inch worms, Rat-L-Traps, slow moving squarebill crankbaits and chatterbaits (black/blue/purple) have been taking nice, 3-4 pound bass near ridges, ditches and flats adjacent to deeper creek channels. Also try using Bass Assassin Shads (Gold Pepper Shiner, Mississippi Hippie and Grey Ghost colors) in and around new growth of vegetation lines, new bloom stands of lilly pads and buckbrush. Bang Jingle Bugs are working in those same areas, and best colors have been Okeechobee Craw, Black/Red Glitter and Red Shad/Green Glitter. Also use magnum Lizards and spring bream with chartreuse in creeks. War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working on windy secondary points. Spot Remover, white/chartreuse and Aurora colors are taking nice keeper-size Largemouths in oxbows, upriver. Large flats near deeper creek channels with stumps and timber are still holding a few largemouths, and these bass continue hammering plastic lizards, chatterbaits, Bass Assassin Shads, and Brush Hogs in black/blue, black/purple, or plum. Dead sticking Senkos and Bass Assassin twitch worms are working very well for the post spawners.
White bass continue scattering in large schools all along Little River, but disappeared with all the recent muddy water between McGuire Lake and U.S. Highway 71 bridge over the past couple of weeks. Points all along the north end of Little River were holding large schools of white nass and hybrids before all the recent influx of muddy water in Little River, Cossatot and Rolling Fork inflow. Shad-colored Bomber and XCalibur crankbaits, chrome/blue or Smokey Joe Rat-L-Traps, Little Georges, Rocket Shads, Little Cleos, Spin Traps and Blakemore Road Runners were all catching these whites over the past week, but Little River up past McGuire Lake oxbow continues to be heavy stain to muddy over the past week with all the rain and fresh water coming into the lake. As crappie wrap up spawning activities, good locations are around cypress trees in 5-8 feet of depth with a white/chartreuse hair jig, and a flat-tail grub in smoke with chartreuse tip, and minnows, and over the past week they were seeing these fish on the move to deeper drops in creeks and ditches. Blues and channel cats continue biting well, with the current in Little River on trot lines, and in oxbows on yo-yo's. Cats continue biting on cut baits, chicken livers, hearts and gizzards.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.14 feet msl (Flood pool – 548.00 msl).
Gary Lammers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported surface temperature is in the mid- to upper 60s. With the recent rains the lake level has risen almost 2 feet. Water remains really clear from Point 10 south and muddy on the upper end of the lake. The best bite for crappie continues to be shallow, with a few beginning to show back up on fish shelters in 10-15 feet of water. Crappie bite is good on 2-inch grubs and tube jigs. Bass are really getting geared up for the spawn. Bass are hitting suspending jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, flukes, Senko-style baits, trick (floating) worms and Carolina rigged lizards and Brush Hogs. Whites are in the river near Star of the West Recreation Area. Catfish are good on noodles and trotlines.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 405.75 feet msl (flood pool – 408.00 msl).
Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 70s and the lake is clear throughout. Bass fishing is only fair with quite a few small fish reported, but the bigger ones seem to be absent. Look for fish on points in the major coves and up shallow along the shoreline cover. Best bet has been shallow-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless. Also try double-spinnerbaits in the same areas. Not much of a topwater bite, but that should start in a few weeks when the shad are spawning. Best areas have been Point 15 to Cox Creek and all the major creeks such as Brushy, Big Hill and Yancey. Crappie fishing is good with the fish now moving back to the deeper brush attractors in 15-20 feet of water. There is still a decent shoreline bite with the late spawners, but eventually just about all those fish will move to the attractors. Best pattern has been a 2-inch Kalin's grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead. Throw the lure across the attractor, count it down to about 10-12 feet and just retrieve slowly. Best color has been Tennessee Shad in the clear water. Look for attractors in the major coves between Point 15 and Point Cedar. The AGFC has lots of attractors on its interactive map, which also shows GPS numbers. Just google “AGFC interactive map.” Hybrid fishing is hit and miss with mostly miss. A few schooling fish spotted in the Shouse Ford area and Lenox Marcos. The schools are "breaking" next to shore where the shad are located. However, the fish aren't staying up very long, so you have to act fast to hook up. Try casting spoons and most any small topwater lure. Bream fishing is fair with most being caught by crappie fishermen in the brush attractors. Try redworms and crickets.
John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said turkey season is upon us and that reduces the number of fishermen. The lake is at levels at DeGray that are still high from normal, 407.90 on Tuesday. The water temperature ranges from 69 around Cox Creek to mid-70s mid-lake. The lake is still a little high to access a lot of the fishing area. Crappie are reported back on the brush piles in the Shouse Ford area. Some crappie are being picked up around the brush, but it’s spotty. Best bet is to fish over the top of brush piles around 12-15 feet depth. Bass bites are mixed. Topwaters like the Whopper Plopper in the Munky Butt color are producing mid-lake. A wacky worm with a Senko is also working well. White bass are being caught upriver on spoons fished right off the bottom.
Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass are biting well on spinnerbait and soft plastics. Crappie are slow. Bream starting to bite in the river lakes.
Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) said bass are biting on stick worms and flukes. No report on crappie or bream.
Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said water is clear and the surface temperature earlier this week was 62 degrees. Bream reports were fair. Crappie also were fair, with minnows and jigs both working some. Bass reports were good. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are the best baits. Catfish should bite well if you bait the hook with a redworm.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 58 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Rainbow trout are in the tailrace from the dam to the bridge with thousands of fish thriving in the nutrient rich water. Thousands more trout are scheduled to be stocked this month which will make fishing opportunities excellent for area anglers. Numerous cold fronts and open flood gates have slowed the bite considerably the last several days, but warmer weather and stable conditions will improve fishing. Fly-fishermen are handicapped somewhat with the lake at normal levels but still able to access areas that hold good numbers of trout and are recording limits by casting micro-jigs in black or white colors with a strike indicator. Current is key so targeting the head and rear sections of shoals has produced the best results. Olive-colored Woolly Buggers and black midges have also taken trout in the 15-inch class. Egg patterns in yellow or white will often draw strikes from finicky fish that refuse other offerings. Bank fisherman have done well on live bait presentations such as wax and meal worms, redworms, crickets and small live minnows. Whether fished just off the bottom or under a bobber, these baits are proven trout killers in slack or moving water situations. Spin fishermen have accounted for the largest trout caught in the last several weeks by using Super Dupers and Rooster Tails in white or silver colors. These lures imitate a dying shad and often attract larger rainbows that feed on the bait fish drawn through the turbines from Lake Hamilton. Trolling shallow running crankbaits against the current below the bridge is highly effective during periods of current flow. Shad killed from the freezing temperatures provide large amounts of food for all the tailrace gamefish and should be imitated by anglers serious about catching numbers of rainbow trout. No reports of striper or white bass caught near the dam. This can change overnight as more and more trout are stocked in the area. Shad are plentiful, which will attract numbers of bass in any weather or current flow. The walleye spawn is in full swing with both male and females present in the tailrace from the bridge to the shoal areas. The larger females have migrated into the area ready to spawn and protect the nests. These fish can be found by trolling shallow running crankbaits in the main channel during periods of generation. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers will also work well in current or slackwater. The majority of fish will be in the 3- to 5-pound range. Crappie are present and being caught in the tailrace from the bridge to the dam. Live minnows and small jigs are key when targeting these finicky eaters. Rock structure and sand bars are prime locations to fish as these fish tend to spook easily at any noise from motorboats. Current flow keeps crappie near the bank out of the main flow. Trolling motors are highly recommended when approaching areas that hold spawning fish.
Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 69.9 degrees. The water clarity is poor, but some creeks are starting to clear. The spawn is in full swing, with a great topwater bite for the bass. Jig and the Hoax Fish Bamboozie, Hoax Fish Scam Shad, crankbaits, spinnerbaits on the windy days, and about any plastic that you want to throw. For the topwater use buzzbaits, River2Sea Larry Dahlberg Whopper Poppers, Frogs and Storm Chug Bugs are all working great. Crappie have been excellent on minnows and jigs along the grass and cattails. White jigs, chartreuse jigs, black chartreuse, pink and red are all working great. White bass and stripers are in the creeks. Topwaters are working great, while hair jigs, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and swimbaits also are all working great. Bream have been excellent on worms and crickets around logjams and stumps in the creeks. Catfish has been excellent are worms, stink bait and cut bait off of main river points and flats.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 338.87 feet msl (flood pool – 342.00 msl).
Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reported that water clarity is clear and the surface temperature was 65 degrees. Level is normal. Crappie reports are slow, though they also said it shouldn’t be for this time of year. Catfish reports, though, have been very good with minnows working best. Redears are also beginning to bite very well. Now is a great time to come fishing at Lake Nimrod!
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 575.69 feet msl (flood pool – 578.00 msl).
Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said water temperature has ranged 64-68 degrees in the first part of the week. The water is stained. Black bass are still excellent and being caught with floating worms, Super Fluke Jr.’s and topwater baits. Main lake and secondary points have been the most productive. Walleye are good and being caught on small crankbaits and green soft plastics on main lake and secondary points. Stripers are excellent on Bama rigs and topwater C-10 Redfins. The west end of the lake is the best area for these fish. Bream are still fair in water 15-25 feet deep on crickets and worms. Crappie are excellent. Try using minnows or crappie jigs at depths around 8-12 feet deep fished near brush. Catfish are good on live bait and cut bait. Try depths of 15-20 feet. For more information, call one of the Mountain Harbor guides: Mike Wurm (501-622-7717), Chris Darby (870-867-7822) or Jerry Bean (501-282-6104).
Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 radio that he didn’t think Ouachita got a lot of runoff from the rain earlier I the week. He said he went over a lot of creeks late on his way home Monday and there wasn’t a lot of water flowing in these creeks around Brady and Mountain Harbor. He says the ground pretty much sucked up whatever fell from the sky, and the gauge reflected as much at Ouachita with just 0.2 inches rise after the rain. “I just don’t think we got near enough rain to make any significant influence on the lake. The good side is it’s not going down. I want it to creep up very slowly, or at least hold, but just not fall down. The reason is, these fish have beds in 3-4 feet of water. Very few beds on Ouachita are deeper than 5 feet deep, the majority are very shallow. If the water is falling, I’ve seen many times when the lake falling during a spawn, the beds literally are too shallow because water was falling out while they were trying to nest. We’re not having that issue this year. I pray the Corps of Engineers is doing this on purpose because they are doing a spectacular job in keeping water on these beds and keeping a little slow increase in the lake levels. The slow increase of the lake levels because this is really helping our spawn this year.”
Kastner heard a couple of good reports and says the topwater bite seems to be slowing coming along. “That is going to be the conversation around the water cooler for the next couple of days. When the post-spawn starts to happen, which we’re at the beginning of the post-spawn bite, that’s when topwater baits really start to kick off.” Kastner says any of the walking-type baits that Heddon makes are diamonds when it gets to be this time of year and the bass go into post-spawn. Another trick that continues to work as good as ever at this time of year is using a bream-colored bait. The big females are guarding nests and they hate bluegill or bream. Try a 1.5 crankbait, a squarebill or a spinnerbait, anything bream colored is going to be a good lure at this time of year. Also, a Carolina rig with a lizard is a staple, as well as a C-rig Brush Hog, anything that creeps along the bottom. Lizards are egg eaters and the bass don’t like those in their nests.
The Trader Bill’s Customer Appreciation Tournament is Saturday, April 22, starting out of the old ramp at Brady Mountain. All of the entry fee goes back to the anglers, and the tournament will feature lots of giveaways, including a Ranger boat. A BBQ dinner will be served on Friday, April 21, at Trader Bill’s. Visit the store to enter the tournament.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 387.22 feet msl (flood pool – 384.00 msl).
Bear Creek Lake
Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said high winds over the past few days have slowed fishing activity. If you can find a calm spot on the lake, crappie are pretty active. Bass are biting with jigs. Don’t forget, Mississippi River State Park Visitor Center carries all of your fishing supplies. Live bait including minnows, nightcrawlers and redworms, and crickets as well as an assortment of artificial bait.
Storm Creek Lake
Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040) said high winds over the past few days have slowed fishing activity. Bream are biting near the fishing pier, and crappie are becoming more active. New fish habitat has been established, so get out there and see what you can catch!
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