Feb. 7, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Feb. 7,2018. 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.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
The AGFC is treating alligator weed in Lake Conway using EPA-registered herbicides approved for use in aquatic systems. The AGFC strongly recommends that adjacent landowners not use lake water for irrigation of lawns or gardens through March 1,2018. For more information please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877)-470-3309.
(updated 2-7-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported that the clarity is clear and the lake is at normal level. Crappie are fair on minnows or white jigs. Bream are fair and biting redworms. Bass are fair; use either white spinnerbaits or white crankbaits. Catfish reports were fair as well. Worms were the go-to bait.
(updated 2-7-2018) Gold Creek Landing (501-607-0590) reports crappie fishing is good on jigs or minnows. Crappie are in 2-6 feet depth. All other species slow.
(updated 2-7-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear with increased generation due to the cold weather. They have generated four hours each morning Monday and Tuesday and are scheduled for the same Wednesday. Warming temperatures after tomorrow will probably decrease the generation later in the week. This fresh water will probably help the bite. A little fresh water usually gets the fish more active after a long period of low water. Drift-fishing will be better with the increased level of water in the river. While this schedule continues, wade fishing will be restricted to early morning to mid-morning at Winkley Shoal and afternoon fishing at the dam after the generation has ceased.
NOTE: Greg will again be offering the free fly-fishing class at First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs beginning Thursday evening, Feb. 15. The class lasts for four weeks (each Thursday night from 7-9 p.m.). These dates are Feb. 15, Feb. 22, March 1 and March 8. It would be best to attend all classes, but if this not possible, come when you can. To register for this class, please contact Greg Seaton at 501-690-9166. If Greg doesn’t immediately answer, he will return voicemails or texts. Just one week before the class begins!
(updated 1-31-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service reported the Little Red continues to experience extremely low water conditions most days from lack of water release from the Greers Ferry Dam due to the low lake level. Power generation is occurring only during times of cold air temperatures, so expect extended days of very little water release during mild winter temperatures. Sowbugs, midges, soft hackles and Woolly Buggers are working well for fly anglers. Pink and white Trout Magnets are recommended for spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army 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 Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 455.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl Oct. 1-April 30; 463.04 feet msl May 1-June 1; 462.54 feet msl June 1-Sept. 30).
(updated 2-7-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake on Tuesday was at 455.36 feet, 6.68 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and on a slow rise until they have to generate some. The bass fishing is fair on spinnerbaits, traps and jigs up shallow. The deeper fish can be caught on C-rigs and football heads out to 45 feet of water around shad. The mid-depth jerkbait bite is improving every day and will continue to be good through late spring. The crappie fishing is good on sunny days and so-so on cloudy days. Try fishing 18-30 feet vertical or reeling a beetle spin at the same depths horizontal for the best bite with minnows or jigs vertical. No report on bream. The hybrid and white bass fishing is good all over the lake for the fish getting ready to travel up rivers. Stay around the shad in 20-45 feet of water and use spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and hair jigs. The moving baits work best when it is cloudy, with spoons on sunny days. No report on walleye or catfish.
(updated 2-7-2018) Cody S. Smith of FishGreersFerry.com (501-691-5701) said Greers Ferry is currently 6.5 feet below power pool and holding steady with limited generation and a bit of inflow from recent rain over the reservoir basin. Water temps are in the lower to mid-40s lakewide and water clarity is good for this time of year. Clear on the south end and slightly colored to the north. Crappie fishing is good and will continue to get even better as the month carries on. These fish are staging for their spring spawn and can be caught adjacent to spawning areas in primary and secondary creeks and rivers. The walleye bite is slow, to say the least. Look for that bite to turn on in a couple more weeks. Hybrids and white bass are on the move and staging as well. Feeding mainly in the early morning and once again late in the day. Look at depths of 18-35 feet at the mouths of our rivers and spawning bays. Spring dates are filling fast here, call email or text to book your next trip with Fish Greers Ferry Guide Service. Call or find them on the web @ fishgreersferry.com or on facebook @ Fish Greers Ferry Guide Service.
(updated 2-7-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) had no report.
The AGFC is treating alligator weed in Lake Overcup using EPA-registered herbicides approved for use in aquatic systems. The AGFC strongly recommends that adjacent landowners not use lake water for irrigation of lawns or gardens through March 1,2018. For more information please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877)-470-3309.
(updated 1-31-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is normal and clarity is good. Bass fishing has been picking up a little. Bream are slow but still catching some smaller ones on redworms around the docks and piers. Catfish are slow but still catching some good ones on trotlines and yo-yos. Crappie have slowed down some during the day but have been doing well early morning and after dark on yo-yos in 4-6 feet of water with minnows. Cold weather has slowed people from coming out, but the fishing continues.
(updated 2-7-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said
(updated 1-24-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said black bass are slow. Black bass are biting on shaky head jigs, warm-colored crankbaits, drops-shot and jerkbaits. Blacks are off steep rocky banks. They’re shallow during dusk and dawn. Drop 12-18 feet in deep water. Kentucky bass are slow. The spots are being caught on hair and finesse jigs. They can be found near the edge of the creek channel. White bass are slow. They are running in 20-25 feet of water in the channels. Reports are coming in of them being on the east end furthest north side of the lake. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep-diving Bandits and Bombers. They are mixed in with the crappie. The crappie also is slow. They are being caught on crappie minnows and soft plastic bodies with a weighted jighead. Try using chartreuse or lead. Also try Cotton Cordell bladed jigs. They’re being caught 28-34 feet deep. Fish in the channel or under water bridges. No reports have come in this past week on any bream or catfish.
(updated 2-7-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few people are still catching some crappie on pink and No. 6 crappie minnows around the dock. Some catfish have been caught on Wild Cat Blood and nightcrawlers, also off of size 12 bass minnows.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-7-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said there are still some reports of crappie being caught off size 6 crappie minnows close to the bank. No really big ones; about 1 pound or less. Those ponds feed off of Hurricane Creek, which comes from Hurricane Lake, so there has been some very nice fish come trapped in there after there is a big rain, which floods the creek into the ponds. Lots of people like going to those ponds because they can keep more fish (it's not an AFGF lake). And it's not in the regulation book so the regulations you go by are the state that are in the front of the fishing book: 10 bass, 10 catfish, 30 crappie, 50 bream.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-7-2018) Lisa at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said walleye are still being caught, some not in great numbers but in good-sized ones. Anglers are using brooder minnows especially at the spillway. Smallmouth and Kentucky bass are also doing well on the brooders, as well as a few nice crappie. Hard to believe the crappie being caught off brooders, but Lisa says she has done it before. Years ago she says, Lisa and her husband in the month of February caught two stringers full of big crappie off the Saline River.
(updated 2-7-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie doing fair on size 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's Tennessee Shad 2-inch grubs. Catfish are being caught off of size 12 bass minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass are being caught using size 12 bass minnows and brooders.
(updated 2-7-2018) Lisa at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie are being caught using size 12 bass minnows and Kalin's blue & silver 2-inch grubs. Catfish are being caught off of skipjack and bait shrimp. Bass are biting No. 6 crappie minnows.
(updated 2-7-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the recent weather has kept people off the river. He said catfish are in deep holes. Use shad with nightcrawlers. Bass are around jetties; use worms. Crappie are in the Petit Jean River. Float jigs in 8-14 feet of water. Sauger are biting below No. 9 on spook rigs.
(updated 2-7-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is stained and has a surface temperature in the 40s. Water level and current are normal. Crappie are fair. The fish are in 4-6 feet depth. Use minnows or black and green jigs. Bass are fair and are biting crankbaits and plastic worms.
(updated 1-31-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water clarity has a light stain. The level is 1-2 feet low. Bream are good and can be found in 8-10 feet of water. They are biting crickets. Crappie reports are good. The fish are in 8-12 feet depth. Anglers are catching them on tubes. Bass are good. Try using jerkbaits. You’ll find the bass arounds the main river jetties. No reports on catfish.
(updated 1-24-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is clear and the level and current are normal. Fair reports on crappie fishing. Crappie are about 6 feet deep and found around the rocky points. Use minnows. No other species were reported caught.
(updated 2-7-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie are fair on jigs. Catfish were fair with best reports coming from the backwaters. Use stink bait. No reports on bass. No reports on bream.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-7-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said clarity is fair and the level and current of the water is normal. Crappie are biting fair on black and green jigs. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Bream reports were poor, but there were nibbles on worms. No report on catfish.
(updated 2-7-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said a longtime customer and his son brought by some very nice crappie they had caught at Clear Lake. They were using No. 6 crappie minnows. They each left with their limit of big crappie last weekend.
(updated 2-7-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reopened on Monday, so Donna had no reports to give. The water is stained. Surface water temperature is in the 40s. The level is low.
(updated 2-7-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Baby, it's cold outside. But the temperature trend is moving upward over the next 10 days and the trout are biting.” Water levels are fluctuating greatly during this cold snap; with the lake level low – 6-7 feet below power pool – but energy demands high, Southwestern Power has been releasing large amounts of water for several hours early in the day, then returning to low flow for the rest of the day. Expect very low releases when the weather is mild. Tried and true baits will provide plenty of action: sick baits (4-8 feet or 6-10 feet sinking depths during morning releases), gold bellies, blue backs. Live worms, red wigglers are best, attract some trout especially during rising releases. Keep a few sculpins on hand and always some gold/red spoons as the water drops.
(updated 2-7-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level was normal. The trout bite is good. A lot of rainbows were caught on worms. Some browns were biting jigs.
(updated 2-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they have had two rain events combined for about an inch here in Cotter (not including Tuesday’s front that passed through, after John submitted his report), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 feet to rest at 6.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 feet to rest at 6.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 22.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 6.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had more wadable water with less generation. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of power pool. With the brutally cold weather we should expect more generation to provide for increased energy demand. On the White, the hot spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 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 10 Y2K with a size 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-31-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level last week was at 653 feet msl (about 6 feet below normal pool). The surface water temperature is 45-49 degrees depending on where you’re fishing. The fishing has been pretty good but it’s hit or miss depending on the day and weather. Depending on where you’re at on the lake there are a couple of different things going on and a lot of it has to do with the shad. When the temperature was real cold and then it got hot, Del says, he believes some of the shad are starting to die off. The big sea dragons that you’ll see throughout the lake on the creek arms, there’s some there and in the turns in the main channel swings, so you want to graph on them and see if there’s fish in them. For the deep bite the spoons are working. Use a half-ounce to a quarter-ounce spoon depending on how deep they are. Del is fishing it anywhere from 20 feet out to 35-45 feet. The drop-shot stop is still working and the drop-shot fish seem to be on the channel swing banks or the bluffs or the bluff ends. The jerkbait bite, if there’s some sun and a little bit of wind, the jerkbait will pull some fish off the docks and brush piles. Keep the boat in 30-35 feet of water. The deeper docks are holding some fish. He’s also catching a few fish on the Fish Spin. And if you have wind and clouds, you definitely want to throw either a Rock Crawler or a Wiggle Wart, using whatever color works for you. The water is gin-clear and there’s some moss. So it’s one of those things where you’re just going to have to fight it, Del says. It’s not real bad, he adds, but you know if you’re throwing a Rock Crawler or a Wiggle Wart you’re going to be peeling it off a little bit.
Del says another bite that’s working is a jig. There’s a deep jig bite and a dock bite for the jigs. The action seems to be around the deeper docks and the brush piles around the deeper docks.
“Speaking of brush piles, Game and Fish put out a ton of brush piles. If you get a chance you’re going to have to go out and mark them,” he says. “What an amazing job. I’m already catching fish off some of them. Jerkbait fish will be over some of them brush piles. Most of them seem to be in that 25-30 feet but as you’re out in the lake one thing you want to look for is the loons and the gulls. They’re out there eating the shad and as the water temperature comes up, some of these shad are dying off. When you see the seagulls, go check it out. Those big sea dragons that you’ll see on the graph, that’s where the fish are going to be around.”
K Dock Marina will reopen for the season in March.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 545.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-7-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said he missed the last week's fishing report due to our trip to the Chicago Sports Show. But he’s back this week and then we will go to the Jonesboro Sport Show Feb, 9. If you are around the Jonesboro area, stop by Tom’s booth and you can spend some talking fishing. Right now the Norfork Lake water temperature is in the low 40s and will stay that way for the next several weeks. Once they start getting some consistent south winds they should see a quick warmup. The lake is experiencing the normal winter shad kill. They are seeing thousands of small 1- inch threadfin shad dying along the shoreline. Small threadfin shad cannot tolerate water temperatures in the low 40s very long. The good news is the shad kill generates tremendous opportunity for catching trout on the White and Norfork rivers. Throw a small silver spoon and you will have lots of action. The stripers have gone into their February hiding routine; they seem to disappear every February, so if you want to catch one, try going up a creek with a good water flow. This time of year on the lakes and rivers in Tennessee they catch stripers in 30 feet of water or less. Here, Tom would look at Bennett's Bayou or up pass the state line. Historically the largest winter stripers are caught at the 160 bridge at night throwing bucktail jigs. Tom says he plans on spending his February chasing walleye and crappie. Right now they are catching both off brush piles using small jigs and spoons. Tom will be fishing up near Udall using live bait for walleye and long line trolling for crappie in the creeks off the main lake like Bennett's, Pigeon Creek and Big Creek. Lots of big crappie are caught trolling small jigs and minnows.
(updated 1-24-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said January has brought normal significant weather pattern changes. About 12 days ago they went from the 50s to single digits for about six days and even had several inches of snow. Over the last several days they were back in the mid-60s, but here it goes again with a slight cool down. All of these changes in the weather affect what the bait and fish do. On Jan. 10, large schools of fish were feeding in about 60 feet of water, but after the cold snap the hybrids and stripers disappeared, even though the bait was still hanging around. Normal wintertime striped bass fishing would have the fish out in the deep water channels feeding on suspended bait in 40-60 feet down. The bait is there, but only scattered fish are showing up. With the cold weather and snow, the water temperature dropped about 3-4 degrees, but over the last several days the surface water temperature has risen 2-3 degrees. “All of the changes confuse the fish as well as the fishermen, including me,” Lou said.
Lou said they had several fishermen staying with them over the weekend all fishing for stripers – a few were caught but it was tough going. The areas where Lou found fish were in the Henderson area close to the bluffs. Big balls of shad were being pushed into the bluffs by the west wind and there were a few stripers hanging around 30 feet down. Both spoons and live shiners caught fish. Monday, Lou said, he was out fishing from the U.S. Highway 62 bridge area all the way down to Fout Boat Dock and only marked a few lone fish. He said he did more looking than fishing. Lou heard from a friend that he found stripers in very shallow water a few days ago, so Lou’s guess is he’s going to need to think outside the box and look at areas that he would typically avoid this time of year. The last two days the wind was howling so he elected to stay at the resort Tuesday instead of fish, with plans to be back at it in the morning and start the hunt again.
Lou added, “I ended my fishing excursion yesterday by doing a little bass fishing. I headed into a cove that the wind was blowing very strongly into. I stopped on a secondary point and found large balls of shad next to the shore and a few shad floating on the surface. I tied on a Rogue (a shallow-running suspending jerkbait) and started casting to the shore. I gave the bait a couple of hard jerks to get it down, then let it rest for a few seconds, then start twitching the bait softly, then stopped. I did this back to the boat. On the second cast the bass started to get active and I landed three largemouth bass in a very short period of time. No monsters, but fun. The wind was blowing so hard that the waves were starting to splash over the boat, so I called it a day. The other location where my guests were finding bass was along deep bluff lines. The fish were about 30 feet deep. Live bait was catching these suspended largemouth and spotted bass.
“A few small shad are starting to die from the cold water, which is very normal for this time of year. If you can find a school of shad that are distressed, on the surface and close to the shoreline, there will more than likely be bass in the area feeding away. I started to see a little of this yesterday, but I really could not tell if the shad were distressed or just being blown into shore from the strong wind.”
Norfork Lake is currently stable and sits at 546.46 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Monday was around 45 degree (+/- one degree). The main lake is finally starting to show some sign of clearing, as well as the creeks and coves. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is to be around normal, 40s to 50s in the days and high 20s to low 30s at night.
(updated 2-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 7.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 33.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially but has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during last year’s flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. 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). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s favorite rig has been a Y2K with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has cleared some and still fishing well. The brown trout have moved in for the spawn. The hot flies have been No. 14 sowbugs, No. 12 Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). It is cold out there. Take frequent breaks, bring cocoa and dress your children warmly.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the cold weather the smallmouths are less 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 1,113.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 2-7-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is stained and the level is low. No surface temperature was recorded Wednesday morning in the frigid conditions. Crappie reports of late were fair, though. Anglers were working the shallow brush piles with minnows and jigs. Bass have been fair on jerkbaits. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 2-7-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says water surface temperatures are in the low to mid-40s. Striper are using the mouths of coves, creek arms and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. You should look for warmer water temperatures that are concentrating bait as only a degree or two can attract baitfish. Use these intersections of warm water/structure to your advantage as it will often concentrate schools of bait and Beaver Lake stripers. For you diehard live baiters, fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 40 feet deep should get you some stripers. For the artificial baits you can try trolling umbrella rigs with white or chartreuse jigs/grubs or plugs like Rapala No. 14 husky jerks in black back or purple back colors, or 5-6-inch Smithwick Rogues in similar colors on planer boards to stagger your presentation. You should also try deadsticking with 1- to 2-ounce jigheads and a fluke or soft jerk of your choice. Deadsticking is the act of presenting a soft plastic lure by a vertical drop and allowing the bait to remain motionless for an extended period time before retrieval. Make sure that when deadsticking you present the lure above or in the top of the schools of bait. Remember: Do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three striper or hybrid or combination, while walleye must be 18 inches long with a limit of four. 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 Mike Bailey’s website linked above. Live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. Mike says these areas are hot spots: Rambo Creek Arm (check the back near War Eagle Cavern), Rocky Branch (check the back of Larue near boat ramp), Ford and Cedar creeks (check backs of these and pay attention to where tree line intersects channel), Larue (note the main channel bends and cuts), Coppermine, Ventris and Shaddox Hollow. In the upper section of the lake, hot areas are: Highway 12 bridge (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects), Prairie Creek (check back of this and Avoca), Coose Hollow, Blackburn Creek, Beaver Shores, Escapalia Hollow/Falls Hollow, Horseshoe Bend, Mont Ne, Hickory Creek, War Eagle, War Eagle/White River junction.
Mike says walleye are in their winter mode and can be found from 20-30 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, Bandit 300 Series and Arkie 350s in colors that include orange and chartreuse. 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 combo, a variety of jigs and blade baits are producing walleye. Try snap jigging and jigging blade baits.
(updated 1-31-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been good this week. Most trout are being caught between Houseman Access and U.S. Highway 62 bridge. The river is quite low, but the deep holes are holding some very nice fish. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The water temperatures in the area mentioned above have ranged between 45-50 degrees. If fishing from the bank, try to locate the deeper areas and you should have your limit in no time. The weather has been cold this week and the much needed rain has seemed to perk the fish up a bit more. So get out there and catch some fish.
(updated 2-7-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the river remains low. Nightcrawlers are working well for catching trout. Fish the Bertrand and the launching ramp just below the dam using PowerBait. Also, try fishing the Parker Bottoms area. When water is flowing, throw quarter-ounce spoons. Flicker shad are also doing the job. Typical good lures here 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, WD 40s, Trout Magnets and San Juan worms. Winter store hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
(updated 1-31-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported the lake is clear with a surface water temperature of 43 degrees. The lake level is low. Bream are fair and are biting worms and crickets. Crappie are poor. Most being caught were small. Minnows or jigs will get some response. Bass are fair. Try using spinnerbaits or crankbaits. No reports on catfish.
(updated 1-31-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake clarity as clear with a surface water temperature of 40 degrees. Water level is normal. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair; use chicken livers. No reports on bass or bream.
(updated 2-7-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said there is no fishing as the water is too cold. Clarity is clear, but the water is in the 30s with ice. It’s also low about a foot.
(updated 2-7-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 230 cfs (350 is normal) and water clarity has been clear. The river is low and clear, making for easy wading. With low water conditions, it has made the fishing more difficult. On sunny days a Y2K with a dropper like a small nymph or midge can work great. Lately bigger fish have been hitting Woolly Buggers in olive, yellow and brown. The big white fly called White Lightning has been very good on bass, browns and rainbows. Hatches on bright days have been midges and caddis. Any of these imitations can work well during a hatch. Mark adds that he can never say enough about how well hot pink Trout Magnets work on the Spring River. Fish are always hooked in the top of the mouth and it is a great catch-and-release tool. Works great on a fly rod for trout and smallmouth. Just superglue some bodies on the hook the night before so the bodies don’t slide down on the hook. Works great below a float and on smaller creeks in the area it is Mark’s go-to on the fly rod for panfish and smallmouth. Wade down the middle of the creek and cast to the shore with short fast strips back. So much fun!
(updated 2-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is low and fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. There are few 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).
(updated 2-7-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report.
(updated 1-24-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said that with temperatures rising to more tolerable levels the fishing at Cane Creek has made a slight comeback. Crappie are still biting. Minnows are doing better than jigs. Bass fishing has also picked up considerably with the change in weather. The best baits to use are still clumsy squarebills in any kind of shad color, but a few reports of chartreuse-colored baits catching bass have also come in. If the weather stays stable, bream may even begin to bite again. If anyone catches anything on Cane Creek Lake, please email Interpreter Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org to help him form a more comprehensive fishing report for this slower time of year.
(updated 2-7-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had no report.
(updated 2-7-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello reports t hat the lake is being maintained at a lower level until the end of the summer for the replanting of vegetation. Current clarity is good and the surface water temperature is 40 degrees. Crappie are biting fair on jigs. Bass are fair where you find deeper water. No other reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 2-7-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level Tuesday was about 4 inches above normal conservation pool and slowly falling at 259.5 feet msl; and there is current of about 1,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday was about 226.9 feet msl. Water temps have improved over the past week, with surface temps Monday ranging near 40 feet early to the 45-degree range later under full sun, depending on location. Ice hasn’t been seen on the lake over the past few days. Check lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service website’s helpful links page, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Clarity and visibility are mostly stained heavy in places, especially muddy and rolling, upriver. The main lake and lower sections of Little River are not quite as stained or muddy as the northern sectors. As of Tuesday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was moderate stain, ranging 3-5 inches. Little River's visibility ranges 2-5 inches with heavy to moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow's clarity ranges 8-12 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.
Mike says largemouth bass activity levels remain subdued – mostly slow, normal winter patterns. Bass remain slow from 2-3 pounds each, up to 6 pounds, best during the heat of the day, using Carolina Rigs, slow-moving medium-diving crankbaits, or dead-sticking Senkos and Trick Worms on a light wire hook for suspended bass. Smithwick Rouges and other suspending hard jerkbaits and slow-rolling heavy spinnerbaits in and near creek channels, where any vegetation and lily pad stems remain, are taking a few stragglers. Heavy, large, ¾- or 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Bomber Fat Free Shads crankbaits or slow-rolling heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits deep in the creeks have picked up a random contender in the 4-6 pound class using any pumpkinseed, brown/orange craw or tan and red crawfish pattern for cranks, and Spot Remover or white/chartreuse for the spinnerbaits, in the creek channels or along points where feeder creeks dump in to the river. This had to be a really slow roll or stop-and-go type retrieve to entice a bit since the ice thawed out on Millwood. The areas further upriver and into the oxbows away from muddy Little River current seemed to hold a few reactive bass, and the clearer water near standing timber is several degrees cooler than the dirty/stained water sections closer to the river. The back of the oxbows definitely have the best water clarity, yet the most lethargic bass. The big and heavy ¾- or 1-ounce Knock-N Rat-L-Traps in Natural Craw, Creole Craw, Red Chrome or Rayburn Red Zombie colors, using a super slow retrieve, were working near standing timber on points in backs of the oxbows and deflecting off stumps and standing timber from 8-12 feet deep, and were taking a few 14-17-inch bass away from the River, where better water clarity was located without current. Also, heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits continue working cypress trees from 9-12 feet deep. Best colors for the past couple of weeks were Spot Remover, or white/chartreuse and FireTiger. Magnum fat tube jigs, like Gitzits with internal rattles, continue working most anywhere in clear or the heavy stain water areas where stumps, timber and any vegetation remains. Internal glass or brass, heavy knocking rattles are helping the bass locate the lure in the stained water clarity. Bluegill, purple smoke, black neon, or pumpkinseed/chartreuse were getting the best reactions over the past 3-4 weeks. The darker colors seem to draw better reactions in the more stained water areas. Real Deal Kustom Tackle jigs with a heavy craw worm trailer are picking up random, solitary bass on cypress trees and knees from 8-11 feet deep. Black/blue/purple, black/red or Texas Craw were the go-to colors, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer. Berkley 10-inch Power Worms in black, blue fleck and black grape are picking up random solitary bass in the 14-16-inch class. White bass and hybrids disappeared a few weeks ago, no report. Crappie still remain slow, almost completely shut off with the increase of muddy water and current upriver. No report on catfish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 539.62 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-7-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said lake level is still around 10 feet under normal pool. Water temperature is 44-49 degrees with some color throughout the lake. Although bass are biting fair to good using a variety of methods, quality bites are hard to come by. Booyah jigs in brown or green pumpkin colors are working well around brush and rocks from 10 feet to as deep as 30 feet. Bandit crankbaits in crawfish colors are catching several fish on rocky and windblown banks. Smithwick Rogue jerkbaits are also working well around windy main lake points. Crappie are fair to good around deeper brush using minnows or Kalin’s grubs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 399.99 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-7-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the mid-40s and the lake is clear up to Point 14 and with some color farther up. Overall fishing is fair and would be better if the water were warmer, say in the 50s. Bass fishing is pretty good considering the cold water. Look for fish between Edgewood and Point Cedar and on the main lake. Best bet has been throwing crankbaits across points next to deep water. Use medium running cranks in a natural shad pattern with some chartreuse or orange if the water is discolored. Also try Texas rigged worms or lizards in green pumpkin or red shad fished deeper on points and along bluff banks. Sunny days are best as is the north side because the water is warmer. Crappie are showing pretty well on deep brush at 20-25 feet. Look for the attractors on the main lake between Point 15 and Point Cedar. Vertically fish a 2-inch tube on a 1/16-ounce jighead over the thickest part of the brush. Best color for the tube is black/chartreuse. Move slowly around the cover and do not jig the lure, just hold it still. However raise the lure up slightly every few seconds and if weight is felt, it probably is a fish. These fish bite very softly, so pay close attention to your line. Don't forget to add the crappie nibble. Hybrids are starting to show in good numbers between Goat Island and Point Cedar. Best pattern has been trolling the small umbrella loaded with 4-inch curly tail grubs in white and pink/white. Also try deep-running crankbaits with some chartreuse. The active fish will be suspended at 12-15 feet down, so be sure to have your lure running just above the fish. Best time is late afternoon. Don't forget to look for those tags, could be $100 in your pocket.
(updated 2-7-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said trolling shad-colored crankbaits have produced the most white bass and hybrid striper. Most of the time they are in or near the channel but avoid the flats.
(updated 2-7-2018) Lane Dodd of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports said last week on US97, said that he’d had a few good reports from here. halfway back on the creeks Bomber Flat A crankbait, tearing them up in the 4-6 feet range of water.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.42 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.53 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 2-7-2018) Andy Yung, AGFC district supervisor, says that the crappie bite has been excellent since the start of the new year. Lower White Oak Lake was renovated in 2012-13, and catch-and-release rules were in effect for crappie until Jan. 1. Now, anglers are taking out limits (30) of crappie in good sizes, Yung said. Bass and redear are al+so biting well, he said.
NOTE: On Thursday, Feb. 22, AGFC biologists will hold a public input meeting regarding fisheries management on Upper White Oak Lake. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the AGFC Camden Regional Office, 500, Ben Lane in Camden. The AGFC is developing a Fishery Management Plan for Upper White Oak Lake and want to include ideas from local anglers in the process. The plan will deal with regulations, stocking, habitat and any other concerns directly related to fishing on Upper White Oak Lake. The event will cinclude a short presentation of the current status of the fishery followed by a structured public input concerning the fishery going forward. A follow-up meeting will be held at the same time and place on Thursday, March 1, to present the completed plan and solicit final public input. Call the regional office toll free at 1-877-836-4612 for more information.
(updated 1-24-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said fishing is still a little slow, not many reports coming in.
(updated 2-7-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) had no reports.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 2-7-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas bred-and-built all-weld Xpress fishing boats, reports lake temperatures are varying in temperatures from the mid-40s to the high 40s with water clarity up to 20 feet. Needless to say the bass fishing has been poor. Jerkbaits have lost their appeal except for up creek channels and ditches where some stained water can be found in the 10-15 foot range. The best bet at the moment is to A) fish very deep over suspended bait (which is difficult to find) or B) fishing secondary point of rock near creek channels and working a shaky head or football head in green pumpkin very slowly down. Downsize your lines and rely on the spinning setups. Crappie report is average. Most fish are close to cover in 20-40 feet of water. Minnows and ice cream-colored jigs on the vertical are the way to go. The fisherman have been hard at work sinking Christmas trees and, with the aid of side scan imaging, they can’t hide!
(updated 2-7-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 2-7-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Entergy is only releasing water for a few hours every few days to maintain lake levels. Lake Catherine is now at a 3-foot drawdown until March 1, when refilling of both lakes Hamilton and Catherine will begin. Each lake will be brought back to normal summertime levels by March 15. Currently, rainbow trout are the main attraction below Carpenter Dam. More fishing has taken place this past week with the frigid temperatures moving on, and anglers have caught quality limits of trout. From the dam to the bridge, rainbows are present and thriving with recent large stockings of trout in the tailrace, and February is the next big month for trout stocking with 12,000 fish scheduled to be released. Periods of no generation are best for bank fishermen as these anglers are recording limits of fish using corn or waxworms with a marshmallow floater. Redworms and nightcrawlers used in the same manner have also produced nice catches. PowerBaits presented just on the bottom or under a bobber are also working well from the bank or boat. Spin fishermen casting small jigs across the current around exposed rock structure have taken the largest trout recently. Jigs imitate the small threadfin shad that are drawn through the turbines during periods of generation. Opportunistic trout feed heavily on these injured baitfish and grow strong from this protein source. Rooster Tails in white or brown are also effective fished in the current or slack water. Super Dupers and Little Cleos are proven artificial lures and should never be forgotten when targeting trout chasing shad. Trolling the main channel with shallow-running crankbaits is effective and far easier this year with only a 3-foot instead of a 5-foot drawdown. Crawfish or minnow imitations that run 3-5 feet deep will draw consistent strikes from rainbows looking to feed on injured shad. Fly-fisherman are able to wade to areas that hold good numbers of fish and are having success casting egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. Egg imitators are highly effective as all rainbow trout are born egg eaters. This technique will often catch fish when no other pattern will produce. Micro-jigs in white or black have quickly taken numbers of trout in the 12- to 15-inch class. San Juan worms in red or hot pink give fishermen a nice change in approach. Trout Magnets fished 3-7 feet deep have really racked up fish numbers. It seems that all colors are working, with a slight edge in white being noticed. Overall, trout fishing is very good and will become even better into February. While white and hybrid bass have been caught the last several weeks, none have been seen feeding this week. Striper activity is very slow with no reports of fish feeding or being hooked recently. The walleye spawn has begun with fish located from the bridge to the dam. Small males from 1 to 2 pounds entered the tailrace early this year to prepare the beds for the larger females. These fish normal run from 3 to 5 pounds and will be present until late April. Trolling shallow running crankbaits that imitate small shad or crawfish have accounted for the most fish caught in the last week. The main channels hold the biggest numbers of walleye and trolling against the current is key as these fish are bedding close to the banks. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows are working well in periods of no generation.
Shane adds that crappie will begin migrating into the tailrace in mid-March to spawn and will remain until the first part of May. Rainbow trout are king below Carpenter Dam and anyone wanting to enjoy some very good fishing and better tablefare should try their luck in beautiful Lake Catherine. Anyone navigating the tailrace must always wear a lifejacket and be aware of the generation schedules. Observing all park and boating regulations can ensure a safe and memorable outing.
(updated 2-7-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 2-7-2018) Greeson Marine in Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas bred-and-built all-weld Xpress fishing boats, reported water temperatures in the mid- to high 40’ as you move up the lake. Water clarity is 1-4 feet depending which end of the lake you are on. Bass have been very slow. Many anglers have thrown everything from an Alabama rig to a crankbait at the fish for a full day without a single bite. We will be moving locations over the next week to inspect pre-spawn locations. Hopefully we can find them so we can report them! Good Luck and be careful out there. Wear your life jackets at all times.
(updated 2-7-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that cold weather crappie fishing is the deal right now. This is when all the old timers would all go out and fill their deep freezers full. That’s what’s going on, on Lake Hamilton on brush piles; 10-12 feet seems to be the number. That means you have to have 15-20 feet deep brush. That’s the trick, Phillip says he likes 18-20 feet of water with “a big, big tall pile of brush on it.” That way you’re fishing 10-12 feet around the edge of it where it comes up. Find a situation like that, that’s where you’re going to catch a bunch of good crappie right now. The water is very clear, so you’re not using as many bright colors as you are black, silver, white, gray – colors that mimic a shad this time of year.
(updated 1-31-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie and bream are scattered and light-biting. Darryl says he’s caught them as shallow as 8 feet and as deep as 45 feet.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.61 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-7-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the clarity id good with a water surface temperature of 43 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are fair on worms. Crappie are good and found at a depth of 4-6 feet. Use minnows or black and red jigs. Catfishing has been fair with live shad. They’re in 6-10 feet of water. No reports on bass.
(updated 2-7-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said there is no fishing on account of the weather. Surface water temperature was 43 degrees. Clarity of the lake is clear and it is at a normal level. Before the cold rolled in again, crappie reports had been poor.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 568.01 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-31-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are good. Jigs and Bama rigs are producing some quality fish. Traps are starting to pick up as well. No report on walleye. Stripers are good on Bama rigs. Major creek channels and the western part of the lake have been the best for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are fair and being caught on minnows in 20-30 feet of water near structure. No report on catfish. The surface water temperature is ranging 44-48 degrees. Water clarity is clear. The lake is more than 10 feet below full pool. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides – Mike Wurm (501-622-7717), Chris Darby (870-867-7822) or Jerry Bean (501-282-6104) for more information.
(updated 2-7-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that Trader Bill’s is sponsoring its first of three circuit tournaments, a team event, this Saturday on Lake Ouachita, with pre-fishing starting on Friday (the lake is off-limits until Friday). First prize is a guaranteed $10,000. Membership to the circuit and tournament entry fee is available at the store. Drawing for boat numbers is Friday night and weigh-in is typically at 3 p.m. Saturday at Brady Mountain. Last weekend, a 24.26-pound largemouth bass stringer won the first Arkansas Team Bass Trail tournament of the season on Ouachita. A 7-pound bass topped the biggest catch.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.38 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-24-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said the water level is being lowered Bear Creek Lake by about 4 feet so that some shoreline projects can be completed. However, she said, they’re hoping that it won’t impact the fishing forecast in too big of a way. Call the park anytime to check on water levels, boat launch accessibility, etc. Of late, the cold weather seems to have steered way the fishermen, but it’s warming this week.