March 14, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 14, 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
(updated 3-14-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the clarity is stained and the surface temperature on Tuesday was 54 degrees. Water level is normal. Crappie are good around the Highway 89 bridge and in Gold Creek. Use minnows or jigs. Bream are fair around brush piles in 4 feet of water. Use worms or crickets. Bass are excellent. You’ll find best reactions near the shoreline. Use a white spinnerbait or plastic lizards. Catfishing reports are excellent on yo-yos using goldfish.
Gold Creek Landing (501-607-0590) reports
(updated 2-28-2018) Gold Creek Landing (501-607-0590) reports that fishing is good on jigs or minnows. Crappie are at 2-6 feet depth. All other species are slow.
(updated 3-14-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said that due to Greers Ferry Lake being 8 feet above the normal pool, the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water through the floodgates in addition to the normal two units of generation. This means the flow on the river will be 8,500 to 10,000 cfs. This is about 2,500 to 3,000 cfs above the high-water flow of two units. Please be advised that this is hazardous flow for boating the river, especially in small craft such as canoes, kayaks or small fishing boats. This flow will continue around the clock until such time as the Corps feels that the two-unit generation will take care of the excess. At that time this generation will continue around the clock until the lake gets within a foot of the normal pool. This is not showing on the USACE Little Rock app as of Wednesday. They are just showing the two-generation flow. You can call the power house at 501-362-5150, extension 3, to get the current flow. Normal two-unit flow will be about 6,100 so listen for the current flow at the end of the message.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service reported currently the Little Red River is receiving two units of generation plus release from the spillway gates. This release pattern, or a combination of generators and spillway gates, is expected to continue until the lake level gets down close to seasonal pool. If you choose to fish these conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. 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. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high-water conditions. 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 468.67 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 3-7-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 470.11 feet msl as of Tuesday at 8:26 p.m. That is 8.07 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and is dropping with some generation, and when the generation tops it is going back up 6 more inches or so. With the expected rain coming it should get to 471 feet msl, I presume, so it should hang around 9 feet high for a while. Every day the crappie are on the move to more shallow water. Find the warmest water for the best action associated with the bushes, and dip minnows and jigs around until you run across a fish or so, then really soak your bait in the area for best results. Or you can fan-cast a small grub or crappie sin around the outside edges of the old brush line. The bream are starting to move shallower as well and can be caught in the old brush line tight-lining crickets and crawlers. The bite is slow. The black bass are eating all over the lake in their pre-spawn phase, up real shallow eating jigs and spinnerbaits. In the guts of pockets, slow-roll a spinnerbait. Out in the deeper pockets jerk a jerkbait around in open water over 40-60 feet for suspended fish. A Right Bite tube will work fished vertical in the old brush line, and the deeper fish on the bottom can still be caught on football heads and C-rigs. No report on catfish. The walleye bite is starting to turn good all over with a lot of males eating up the rivers and females eating at night. Since the water has gotten more stable, some fish still headed upriver and the lake fish are moving shallower by the day. Use crankbaits, grubs and minnows on drop-shot rigs for the river fish as well as minnows on jigheads; the lake fish will eat the same baits. The hybrid and white bass are eating well and moving some on various days in the mouths of rivers, upriver and major creeks. Look for them schooled up. They will eat spoons, inline spinners and grubs. The lake fish will eat the same. In most cases, fish vertical. Some shallow fish are showing up to eat horizontal cast baits, so stay around the shad.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton reports crappie continue doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows.
(updated 3-7-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is high by about 3 feet. Clarity is muddy but improving. Bass are doing well around brushtops and structure. Use topwater baits and plastic worms. Bream are slow but should start picking up. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and shad. Crappie are doing good on yo-yos at night with No. 4 and No. 6 minnows in 4-6 feet of water. Still a little early on the spawn, water temperatures are 53 to 55 degrees.
(updated 2-28-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the clarity is stained and the water level is high. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are biting fair on chartreuse jigs. No reports on bass, catfish or any other species.
(updated 3-14-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said the lake is still dropping this week and water temperature from the marina is 53 degrees and about 55 degrees at west end. Black bass fishing is slow. With water temps in the mid-50s and on the rise, some of the black bass are moving out of the pre-spawn areas. Try using crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs in 6-10 feet of water. A few can also be caught in shallow water on spinnerbaits or chatterbaits. This week, the blacks were biting more during dusk. Saturday’s Fourche Valley Bass Club results saw 15.22 pounds (5 bass) win, with 13-plus pounds getting second. Also the same day, the ABA North Arkansas Division 50 Tournament fished Maumelle, with Paul Browning catching 9.9 pounds to win. Kentucky bass are slow. For the most part, the spots are still a little deeper than the largemouths. Try the main lake, rocky shoreline or points with a crankbait or jig for best results. White bass are slow. Less reports coming in on the whites the past two weeks. Use Rooster Trails, CC Spoons, deep-diving Bandits, and Bombers for whites. Crappie are slow. With the water level falling this past week it is making it a tough crappie bite. More reports coming in of them being found scattered in different depths anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. No reports coming in on bream or catfish still.
(updated 3-14-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said crappie are fair in 12-14 feet of water. Use pink and chartreuse jigs or minnows. No other reports.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that with spring break coming up, more than likely it will be stocked with catfish. It hasn't been stocked since last September. But she has had reports of a few people catching catfish using nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Crappie are being caught on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. So far, small ones being reported.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-14-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she hears that this past weekend it was packed. A lot of people knew about the front one that they call Lake Norma, but didn't know if you go on through Bishop Park to the back you will find Lake Charles. This one has been doing well on crappie using No. 6 crappie minnows. People are telling me of catching some fair-size crappie, and some said they have caught a lot of little ones. Some small to fair-size catfish have been caught as well, also on No. 6 crappie minnows as well as nightcrawlers and chicken livers. Bass have been good on No. 12 bass minnows and spinnerbaits.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-14-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few walleye have been reported caught off of brooder minnows, along with Kentucky bass and smallmouth. Some catfish have been caught off of brooder minnows and chicken livers.
In areas near her, Lisa has heard from customers about hot fishing at Harris Brake, Lake Hamilton and Peckerwood Lake. Lots of her No. 6 crappie minnows have been doing great on the crappie in these lakes, she said.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said very nice crappie were being caught on No. 6 crappie minnows . Kalin's 2-inch Triple Threat Grubs in the Tennessee Shad and Bleeding Tennessee Shad colors have also done well on the crappie. Bass are good on No. 12 bass minnows and brooders. Catfish are doing fair on chicken livers and nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. A few big bream have been caught off of crickets.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass have been plentiful using No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish are doing well on bait shrimp and nightcrawlers. No report of crappie; should be doing good pretty soon, though. She hasn’t heard on the walleye, but they are in there.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 3-14-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
(updated 3-14-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the clarity is stained and the surface temperature was in the mid-50s. Water level was low. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. No other reports.
(updated 3-14-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are fair around jetty points. Use white and chartreuse jigs. Bass are fair on chartreuse and black crankbaits and black buzz baits. No other reports.
(updated 3-14-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water level and current have returned to normal. The water is muddy. Surface water temperature is low 50s. Bream reports were good on worms. Crappie are good on red and chartreuse jigs. Bass are good. Anglers were using black and blue Sweet Beaver. Catfishing is good on stink bait.
(updated 3-14-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie are excellent. Red chartreuse jigs or minnows are working great. Fish around the bank. Surface water temperature was 50 degrees. Bass are also excellent around the banks. Jigs were working best. No other reports.
(updated 3-14-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said it had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-14-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water remains stained and the level and current are high. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows or black and green jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms. No reports on catfish.
(updated 3-14-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the water is stained and the surface water temperature is in the 50s. The level is normal. Crappie reports are good. Anglers were using both minnows and jigs. Bass are good on crankbaits. Catfishing is good on yo-yos, cut bait and goldfish.
(updated 3-14-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “What a great week to be on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks! Water levels have fluctuated greatly and frequently since the week of rain three weeks ago challenging our fishing know-how and our patience. We've also witnessed one of the best shad runs through Bull Shoals Dam in years.” Initially, the lure for the browns was undeniable, but they were soon glutted and it became difficult to find any bait to interest them. Some shad made it all the way down to Cotter and a little beyond, making shad imitators and white and/or silver spoons and spinners popular for the duration of the run. It wouldn't hurt to keep those colors out for the next week or two. The shad count has begun to decrease some and they're seeing an improved bite with more traditional baits. Lots of fighting browns have been hooked and pictured, and rainbows measured and released or retained. Our anglers have had more success with native river minnows than earlier this month; those and sculpins have been the primary reason the brown catch has been so good. White jigs bounced as close to the bottom as possible have also produced some very nice catches. Cast silver or silver-and-blue-colored stick baits and spoons under overcast skies, keeping them mid-depth or lower. See you soon!
(updated 3-14-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is murky and the rivedr level is high. Eight generators are running round-the-clock. Trout fishing was poor the past week. There was a very large shad kill near the dam, which is turn makes for no fishing, they said.
(updated 3-14-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week, they had just a trace of rain in Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2 feet to rest 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl This is 34.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.8 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.5 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 7.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw heavy generation and no wadable water. 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 above or near the top of power pool. With the higher lake levels we can expect more generation particularly on the White. On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. There have been shad coming through the dam. 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.
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.
John also says, “On my first trip fly fishing to Montana in 1989, I found myself in Dan Bailey’s fly shop in Livingston. It is a classic Western fly shop loaded with gear, angling memories and, most important, flies. The shop was basically divided into two large rooms. One held retail space for rods, reels, waders and all manner of fly-fishing gear. The other room was filled with rows of long tables that had about 50 middle-aged ladies seated at the tables. All were busy tying all manner of flies. I was amazed with what I saw.
“I was there with my brother, Dan. At the time, he lived in Stockton, California, and made his living as a commercial fly-tyer for the Delta Angler Fly Shop.
“When I returned to that shop 10 years later, the ladies were gone. They had been replaced by fly-tyers in places like Sri Lanka or Nigeria that would tie for much less money than the ladies could live on. They had been replaced by fly-tyers located offshore. The same thing happened to my brother. He was no longer able to support himself as a commercial fly-tyer. We eventually formed Berry Brothers Guide Service.
“Now when you go into fly shops most if not all of the flies on sale are not tied in the United States. Our commercial fly-tyers took a hit, but how did the customers do in the process? Did the reduced price of flies get passed on to the consumer? No. In fact, the price of flies has steadily increased over the past few years. When I was the manager of Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, the profit margin on flies was higher than on anything else in the shop.
“Is the quality of these flies any better than the locally tied flies? I don’t think so. These flies are usually tied by someone who has never seen a caddis fly or cast a fly rod. When I carefully inspect them, I do not see the care and attention to detail that I see on locally tied flies. Then there are the local patterns that are just not available from the overseas tyers.
“There are a couple of ways to get the flies you need. The best way is to locate and utilize local tyers. When I managed Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, I had identified about a half-dozen local tyers. Though there were a lot of flies tied offshore, in the shop when I arrived, all of the flies that I bought when I was there were from local tyers.
“You might consider custom flies. This is where you hire a fly-tyer to tie flies to your exact specifications. You could specify a particular hook (maybe a wide gap hook that is factory barbless), a specific color or a fly you designed yourself. You could also tie them yourself. That way you know that they will fit your specifications.
“The flies we fish with are the weak link in our fishing system. Use the best flies you can obtain for the best results.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.21 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said this past week they saw some wild weather on Norfork Lake. The winds blew all week, with Tuesday being the worst. You would think with the cold weather and windy conditions the stripers would quit biting. On the contrary: Tom says he mainly fished the Bennett's area most of the week while his son fished the Big Creek area. In four days they boated over 50 stripers with their clients or with Tom and Sean pre-fishing, and most of the stripers were released. Friday night a heavy rain came in and really shut down the fish. On Saturday they only caught 10 stripers and hybrids. The fish are holding in waters between 20 and 30 feet. Tom is using small gizzard shad. Most of the fish are being caught using downlines set at 16 feet. They have also caught a few on planer boards and balloons. Once the winds shift around to the south and they get some warmer nights, Norfork Lake will really turn on for all species. Lots of largemouth bass are being caught on crankbaits and spinnerbaits, and the crappie are also biting. Everything will bite better with warmer weather. The best place to find fish is Bennett's Bayou. There is lots of shad in the area much, more than Big Creek, and as they say, “Find the bait and you will find the fish.”
Tom says he received a call from Barry Stokes, who has a sports show on Fox News Southwest, about fishing on Norfork Lake for stripers. Barry was filming a show on Bull Shoals for walleye. The weather turned bad so they did not catch any walleye but they did film a bass show. He came over Friday and did some pre-fishing. Since they only use artificially lures he was having a hard time finding any active stripers. Tom says he told Barry where and how to fish for them but he could only catch whites and largemouth. Tom fished Bennett's on Saturday and he came by and again asked about where he could find some stripers. I told him where to go and he found some but could not get them to bite. He got out his drum foot pedal and started banging his boat. I have seen this on TV but never in person. Barry had a swimbait ready as he banged the boat. He would see a fish come off the bottom and drop his jig down and, bang, he caught a hybrid. He caught an 8- and 11-pound hybrid and 12-pound striper using this method. “He filmed his show catching those fish. If I would not have witness this I would never have believed it. It's true that you can teach an old dog new tricks,” Tom says.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is getting better and better. Spring is in the air and the fish have sensed it! Walleye should be spawning. White bass are at the beginning stage of their spawn. The crappie spawn will not be far off. Largemouth will start to stage with a little increase in water temperature. Norfork Lake is in great shape and the fishing patterns are becoming similar to prior years. Striped bass and hybrid bass fishing is picking up daily. Various baits are working, with live bait (shiners or shad) being one of the better types of baits. You will be able to catch fish on A-rigs by either casting or trolling, casting out a Kastmaster, casting or trolling a 5-inch swimbait, or vertical-jigging with a spoon. Lou says he is finding most of his fish from 35 feet of water to all the way up to the shoreline. The fish are suspended from the surface down to 15-20 feet deep. The majority of the bait he is finding is suspended up in the water column. The warmest water is typically holding the most active fish. Bennett’s Bayou and all the major creeks should be holding fish, as well as Big Creek in the southern portion of the lake. As you head into the creeks the water will gradually get warmer the farther back you go. Tuesday, Lou had a guest with his two grandsons land some nice hybrids using shiners back in Bennett’s. He then went into shallower water and started to cast out an A-Rig and landed both hybrids and big white bass. Two days ago Lou was fishing the same area and landed three nice striped bass all on shad. As the water continues to warm the fish will get more active and fishing will get real exciting.
Lou says white bass are really close to their spawn if not already doing it. He has been catching the small males in the backs of creeks for the last week, “but the catch (Tuesday) of the larger females tells me the white bass run should be in or close to full swing,” he said. The upcoming warmer weather toward the end of the week should have the whites going crazy. Small spinners and blade-type baits are two very good baits to catch the whites this time of year. Fish the backs of creeks and upriver in the Calamity to Udall area.The bass bite has been really good for his guests over the last week. The pattern that they found was to go about halfway back into coves off of the main lake and fish the banks with a crankbait. Red was the color they had the most luck with and they found lipless, squarebill and regular bills were all catching fish. They were landing over 10-12 keeper-size fish each day. There were a lot of smaller ones being caught as well, but this is very normal. The best area for his guests was from Cranfield to past Red Bank. The color of water really did not matter. Crappie fishing is in transition. Lou says he found some nice crappie back in Fall Creek yesterday in about 25 feet of water lying on the bottom. He had to keep one since it wouldn't swim away but otherwise was releasing his fish. When the sun comes out they move up in the water column. Spoons, small jigs and live minnows are all working. The crappie he cleaned was full of eggs and you could tell it was very close to spawn. Lou said he would hazard a guess and say that in the next week or so you can start working the banks with a small Road Runner and will catch some nice fish. This is also assuming the weather is stable and the water temperature continues to rise.
Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable and currently sits at 553.21 feet msl. The surface lake temperature ranges from 49 degrees up to 53 degrees depending on where you are on the lake. The water clarity varies depending on your locations. The water is still slightly light brown from Hummingbird's Cove to around the Red Bank area. Most other areas that Lou has been to are stained to clear. The mid-lake creeks yesterday were as clear as he have seen in quite a while.
(updated 3-14-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 5.3 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had little generation and more wadable water last week. The water is has cleared substantially but has fished a bit better. 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 is not fishing as well as usual. 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).
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 3-14-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are still a bit high. As the water warms the smallmouths will be more active. John’s favorite fly here 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 1,121.10 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is stained and the surface water temperature is 50 degrees. The level is normal. Bream are ranging fair to good. Worms or crickets will work. Crappie are good. Use minnows or marabou jigs. Bass are good on crankbaits and jerkbaits. Walleye are excellent on the White River and are hitting Flicker Shad. No reports on catfish.
(updated 3-14-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said the runoff and debris has cleared nicely in the upper reaches of the White and War Eagle rivers. The walleye spawn is on and should continue through late March. The white bass run is beginning with the males showing upstream. Quantity and quality Beaver Lake striper are being caught up in the upper reaches of the rivers, but some striper are still scattered throughout the lake and are still using mouths of coves, backs of coves and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. You should also look for the "mud line" when fishing runoff areas. The mud line is a distinct break between stained and clear water and will also concentrate bait/fish. 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 Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. You should also try fishing jerkbaits by letting the bait remain motionless for an extended period time before the next erratic action. Make sure you do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three striper or hybrid or combination, Walleye must be 18 inches long with a limit of four. Know your species and make sure you identify any fish you keep. There is no limit on white bass. 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 the go-to approach, as always, on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers.
Mike says that on the mid- and upper sections water surface temps are in the high 40s-low 50s, and anglers should check out these hot spots: Rambo Creek Arm, Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, War Eagle/Whit River junction (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects), White River (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects all the way up to Nells Bluff) and the War Eagle River (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects all the way up to Sidewalk Hole).
The walleye spawn will be finishing up soon and with walleye being caught in various stages of the spawn the bite will slow until the post-spawn doldrums have run their course. Most walleye will be caught 20 feet or less in depth over deep water on the main lake typically starting in April, when the walleye get back on the feed. The river will harbor some walleye throughout the year in locations adjacent to the deepwater/channel and available cover like chunk rock and timber. 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. Also try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse. A variety of jigs in combination colors of white, orange and chartreuse are also producing walleye. You should try casting to structure or snap-jigging to cover water. Night fishing shallow water with jerk baits like Rapala HJ14s in Tennessee Shad, black back or blue back will produce some hogs in areas near the War Eagle Mill and Twin Bridges/Richland Creek.
(updated 3-14-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) had no report.
(updated 3-3-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the Bertrand ramp area has been fishing well. Fish upstream from Parkers Bottom in the Trophy Management Area as well as Campground C, Riverview walk-in areas as well as the turn-a-round. The river is at 915 feet and some change so getting across will be no problem. Always be attentive to rising water conditions. Nymphs and midges are working well along with olive micro jigs. Walleye should be making their way up from Table Rock soon as many anglers are anticipating a good run this year. No word on anyone catching glass-eyes up by Bertrand yet but things could change. Stocking occured last week and fly-fisherman are report numbers of fish being caught. Conventional fisherman are catching nice fish using PowerBait and waxworms. 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 3-14-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is stained and the surface temperature is 55 degrees. The level is normal. The only species to report is bass. Anglers said bass are fair on spinnerbaits and jerkbaits.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the water is clear and the surface water temperature is 52 degrees. Water level is high. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits. Catfish are good on chicken livers. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-14-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said it looks like winter is over, for here anyway. Although, Lake Poinsett will not be fishable for a while (not scheduled to reopen after renovation until 2020), the State Park folks are keeping a supply of fishing supplies and live and frozen bait, and there are nearby lakes to fish. Along with minnows and gold fish, they now have rosies. Also, they keep the redworms and night crawlers. Soon they will have crickets.
(updated 3-7-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is stained and has a surface temperature of 50 degrees. Water level and current are normal. Crappie reports have been fair. Crappie are in 6-10 feet of water and biting minnows. Bass are good. Try crankbaits or jigs. Catfishing is fair on worms. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-14-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 350 cfs at the spring and water clarity has been clearing. Woolly Buggers and Y2Ks have been the hot flies all week. It takes a little extra effort to get the fly down. Hot pink and red Trout Magnets are hot on spinning equipment.
(updated 3-14-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is still a bit high. 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 now. 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 3-7-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water is clearing and the level is high. Crappie reports were fair on jigs. Nothing else was reported caught.
(updated 3-7-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said it’s looking like spring at Cane Creek State Park. Reports are coming in that the fish are waking up hungry. Crappie are still biting on minnows at both ends of the spillway. With the water warming up, small crawfish and bait fish are becoming more active. Bass have started hitting spinnerbaits. Slow roll a bright-colored spinnerbait (chartreuse, white, etc.) near structure along the banks. For those still having luck with crankbaits, a shallow-running squarebill will still be your best bet for another couple of weeks until the sun is out enough to warrant using deeper-diving baits. However, if the weather stays nice for the week, I would recommend adding a crawfish-colored bait to your arsenal. Catfish are biting dough baits in the shallows. Try Catfish Pro blood-flavored baits on a circle hook while pole fishing, or set a trotline with cut bait. The State Park store just received a large shipment of fishing gear for the new season. Stop in, grab all the bait and supplies you need, and ask one of our knowledgeable staff to point you toward a hot spot. If you catch anything, please make sure to let us know to increase the accuracy of future reports.
(updated 3-14-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had no report.
(updated 3-14-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello reports the water is clear with a surface water temperature in the low 60s. The water remains low and will for a while because of the drawdown for repairs. Anglers can now access the Plantersville ramp. Crappie are fair on shiners. Largemouth bass are excellent. They are in 5-10 feet of water and hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastic worms. No other reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 262.31 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that the lake level as of Monday is about 3 feet above normal conservation pool and falling at 262.5 feet msl; and there is current of about 36,500 CFS in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday is about 254 feet msl. Water temps have improved over the past week. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on our website 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. The Corps is working on reopening all the campgrounds and boat ramps, cleaning up deposited debris, after all the 17-foot rise on the lake over the past few weeks. Surface temps as of Monday ranged near 55 degrees early to the 60 degree range later under full sun, depending on location. Clarity and visibility are mostly stained heavy in places, especially current rolling upriver. The main lake and lower sections of Little River are not quite as stained or muddy as the northern sectors. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 5-10 inches. Little River's visibility ranges 2-5 inches with heavy to moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow's clarity currently 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. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for broken or floating timber.
Largemouth bass activity continues improving as the temperature climbs. Bass were improved over the past few days with the warmer ambient conditions, and best on sunny and warm days, from 2-3 pounds each, up to 8 pounds, and best during the heat of the day. Chatterbaits, slow-moving swimbaits or suspending jerkbaits, dead-sticking Trick Worms and Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook for suspended bass. Smithwick Rouges, Cordell Redfins and other suspending hard jerkbaits, along with slow-rolling heavy spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps, are taking a few stragglers in and near creek channels where there are any remaining vegetation and lily pad stems. You’ll pick up a few decent bass in the 2-5 pound class using heavy, large-thumping, ½- and up to ¾-size Rat-L-Traps in any of the natural (brown/orange) Crawfish, Red Chrome, Red Shad, Toledo Gold or Rayburn Red Zombie colors, and using medium-diving Bomber Fat Free Shad crankbaits in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, as well as slow-rolling heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or fire tiger colors, deep in the creeks, in the creek channels or along sloping points dumping into the river. It had to be a really slow roll or stop-and-go type retrieve to entice a bite. Big, slow moving swimbaits, stop-and-go retrieved, are randomly picking up a few nice contenders in the 4-5 pound class in deeper creeks and ditches. Areas further upriver and into the oxbows away from muddy Little River current seemed to hold a few reactive bass, and the water clarity is mostly heavy stain lake-wide. The back of the oxbows definitely have the best water clarity, still heavy stained, yet the most lethargic bass. White bass and hybrid bass have not been contacted over the past week with all the increased current in Little River. There has been no report on crappie with the increased muddy current in the river. Blue catfish and channel cats have been very good on trotlines with the increased current. Use chicken livers, gizzards and hearts, and cut shad of buffalo. With the heavy current along Little River, aim for 9-15 feet of depth.
(updated 3-7-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said water level is about 8-10 inches above normal, clarity is very good at 1-3 feet based on location. Water temperatures are running in the 62-66 degree range under full sun. Bass are paring up, cruising very shallow in 1-2 feet of water, and preparing for spawn most lake-wide. Largemouth are fair to good up to 7 pounds each on Bass Assassin Shads, Senkos, Trick Worms, Beaver Bugs, jigs, spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, Squarebills and chatterbaits. We have not observed bass on the beds yet, but preparing them, running in and out of shallow pockets, in preparation, and cruising these areas in large numbers and in pairs. Best color of Bass Assassins are pumpkinseed, Silver Phantom and Grey Ghost. Senkos and Trick Worms are working in black, blue flake, watermelon-red, crystal ice and green pumpkin. Beavers and Craw bugs are working in green pumpkin-red or watermelon-red. Best color of jigs seem to be black/blue, black/purple, green pumpkin or Texas Craw. Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits in shad or bream colors are working. Rat-L-Traps are working best in slightly deeper water areas, 4-8 feet of depth near spawning flats in Sexy Chrome, Red Shad or Red Chrome.
Lake Greeson Tailwater (Little Missouri River)
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 557.23 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report. The lake has been too high to fish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 416.33 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Local angler George Graves said he hasn’t found anyone fishing, so he has no report this week. Boat ramps at DeGray have been underwater and/or barricaded since the February heavy rains. The only ramp opened is at Iron Mountain. The only problem is that just about all the fish are in the upper end of the lake this time of year, he said. It make be a while before the other ramps are usable.
(updated 3-7-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said DeGray is flooded. Amity Landing, Point Cedar, Shouse Ford and Arlie Moore boat ramps are closed. Parking lots are underwater.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 467.60 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 555.08 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 3-14-2018) Greeson Marine of Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bread all-welded Xpress fishing boats, reports that on the 944-acre Lake Balboa, bass have drawn back out to the mouths of pockets and points. The cold weather over the last few days has dropped the water temps back down into the 53-56 degree range and the fish have responded by moving into 10-22 feet of water and holding near or on as much cover as possible. Swimbaits, natural-colored tubes and worms are still producing on shoals and rocky boulder strewn ledges surrounded or adjacent to deep water. The submerged grass bite should pick up along with the temperatures in the next week.
(updated 3-14-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water clarity is muddy and the lake is high about 2.5 feet. Surface water temperature was 55 degrees. Crappie are biting fair on minnows and jigs. Bass reports were poor, but spinnerbaits were getting some reaction. Nothing to report on any other species.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 3-14-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that over 16 inches of rainfall fell in the Hot Springs area over the last two weeks, which led to open flood gates and very heavy generation below Carpenter Dam. Massive amounts of water were released thru all area dams to keep lakes Hamilton and Catherine from flooding. The heavy rainfall raised Lake Ouachita over 12 feet in five days and put the big lake into flood pool. Extremely muddy water and fast currents have been the norm below Carpenter Dam for the past week. Entergy is currently scheduling heavy generation to bring Lake Ouachita down out of flood pool. This process will take weeks and has made the Carpenter Dam tailrace unsafe to navigate. Little fishing has taken place due to the treacherous conditions. All boaters and bank fishermen are urged to keep off the lake until the situation has been brought back to normal. March 1 marks the start of the refill of both lakes Hamilton and Catherine with each lake brought back to normal summertime pool on March 15. Again, no one should attempt to navigate the tailrace by boat or wade fish until flood conditions have passed and the water levels are once again safe to use.
(updated 3-14-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 3-14-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the water temperature is in the mid-50s. Crappie are moving up and stacking on brush piles fished 8-12 feet deep. White bass are moving into the shallow bays in great numbers. Pick your favorite swimbait, grip it and rip it.
(updated 2-28-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that Hamilton is one of the best bass lakes in January and February. A lot of people are on Hamilton pre-fishing for tournaments this weekend, and a lot of 5-pounders were caught during the high school tournament held there last weekend. Heard two good reports from Monday; it was one of the prettiest days we’d had in a very long time. Guys were throwing Alabama rig and a jig both. Some warm water was still coming in and there was some crankbait action in the creeks. That’s going to continue. With more water coming in, it’s going to be awfully hard not to throw a Rat-L-Trap. It works well in those freshwater runoffs. Rat-L-Traps were what was used by several of the anglers last weekend in the high school tournament.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 370.28 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) had no report.
(updated 3-14-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 580.95 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-14-2018) Greeson Marine in Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boat, reports the lake being drawn down to more normalized levels very quickly. Water temperatures are between 53-59 degrees varying on what part of the lake you happen to be on. Water clarity is between 1-3 feet. Mixed reports on where fish have been caught but the consistent response is “scattered.” Spotted bass have been biting well when located in buckbrush on dark Texas rigged creature baits like tubes and worms. Largemouth and a good number of spotted bass have not yet moved into pre-spawn. The recent cold snap has moved fish back out to main lake points in 15-25 feet of water, but look for them to regroup over the next week and start moving toward the shallower secondary points adjacent to deep water.
(updated 3-7-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are still good. Rat-L-Traps and jerkbaits are producing some quality fish. Walleye are spawning and are up the river and major creek channels. Stripers are good on Alabama rigs. Major creek channels on the central and western part of the lake are still the best for these fish. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair and being caught on minnows in 25-35 feet of water near structure. No catfish reports. Surface water temperatures ranging 54-58. Water clarity is stained. Lake level is in flood stage at 583.4 feet msl.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 409.48 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-7-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said activity remains about the same as last week. There was a good turnout and some good fishing for the bass tournament on Bear Creek Lake this past weekend; Natalie believes the largest bass weighted approximately 6 to 6.5 pounds. Just something for anglers to keep in mind: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is moving forward with the repair and replacement of the boat launch at Bear Creek Lake. There is no set start date yet; however, once construction starts, the ramp will be CLOSED to the public for approximately 4-6 weeks. The State Park will keep everyone informed as more information becomes available.
Remember that Mississippi River State Park has all of your bait and tackle needs. They offer a variety of live bait, including worms and shad as well as artificial bait and lures. Stop by the Visitor Center and let them help you out.
(updated 3-7-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek Lake hasn’t seen a substantial uptick in activity that Bear Creek has; however, Natalie said, she has spoken to some anglers who are gearing up for crappie season. Looking forward to seeing more folks out and enjoying our lakes, and hopefully catching some fish.