March 28, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 28, 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 3-28-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported that the water level and current is normal. Surface water temperature is in the 50s. Clarity as of Monday was clear. Bream are good on worms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good using white spinnerbaits or plastic worms. Catfishing is good on worms or PowerBait.
(updated 3-28-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said crappie reports have been excellent. Best results are coming off crappie minnows and pink or orange jigs.
Little Red River
(updated 3-28-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said that as Greers Ferry Lake returns to near seasonal pool, the Army Corps of Engineers has closed the spillway gates and is regulating the lake level by water release through the two generator turbines. The amount of water release will depend on how much rainfall received throughout the state this week. Hopefully they should begin seeing a decrease of water release and more favorable generation/water release schedule as the lake is maintained around seasonal pool. If you choose to fish high-water conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. Concentrate on pools along the banks away from the strong currents. 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 the banks 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 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.
(updated 3-28-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the flow on the Little Red has returned to generators only. The floodgates were closed on Saturday, March 24. The lake level was 462.6 feet msl at 2 p.m. Tuesday, but has begun to rise due to the rain that started Tuesday. The forecast is for possible heavy rain the next two days, so we will have to wait and see how this plays out. Hopefully we will miss the heavy rains and the generation will remain on a more normal level. It’s springtime on the river and all depends on the amount of rain we receive. If we don’t get a big rain event, fishing conditions should improve rapidly over the next week. Check the forecasted generation each day to plan the time and section of the river which will offer the best water to fish. Be safe when boating the river during high water!
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 463.02 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 3-28-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said that as of 2:14 pm Tuesday, Greers Ferry Lake was at 462.58 feet msl and falling. It is 0.54 feet above normal pool for a few hours as the rain that was starting to fall heavy will add water to the lake. The Army Corps of Engineers is wanting to keep it 1 foot above normal pool if they can. We should get a rise of about 3 feet from this rain if forecasts hold. The catching overall is good around the lake, about normal for this time of year, as rains and cold fronts affect the overall bite and spawn. The black bass are eating a variety of baits from super shallow out to 45 feet, as some stay shallow all year and some have moved shallower now. They can be caught with spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, small crankbaits and jigs in shallow water; spinnerbaits, jighead worms and jigs at mid-depth; and Carolina rigs and football heads as well as spoons in deep water. As for crappie, some are shallow, some are mid-depth and some are still deep. Use jigs or jigs tipped with minnows for most of them; all the deeper fish can be caught in the pole timber slow-rolling a beetle spin. The catfish bite is picking up, Tommy says he’s been told, all around the lake. The hybrid bass and white bass are on and off hour to hour. Some whites have spawned while others have not. Some hybrids are scattered in rivers and creeks, and the rest are staying in lake. The deep bite is more constant at best with spoons, inline spinners and Alabama rigs; for the shallow fish, grubs, inline spinners and small swimbaits are working best. Some walleye are still being caught in the rivers as they are not all done spawning and the lake fish have picked up as well with the clearing water. Stay in the lake for now, then when mud gets there go back to the rivers. Until it happens again, try crankbaits, grubs, jigheads with minnow, drop-shots with small minnow imitation or grubs for the best bite in the lake or rivers. Bream are being seen floating around docks and some even shallow. Try small crankbaits, grubs or crickets.
(updated 3-21-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the fishing overall is good right now. The male crappie are moving in making their beds, and they’re biting in shallow water on grubs. The bite is about 2 feet deep. There is also a deeper water bite going on that’s good. With the changing weather patterns, the crappie seem to be in and out. They come in and bite in the morning time, and then again in the afternoons about 3 p.m. Bass are spawning or in their pre-spawn and the bite is good. Catfish also are good. Bream are starting to show up a little bit.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said one of her customers reports Harris Brake is still doing great on big crappie using No. 4 crappie minnows around the docks between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) reports that crappie is biting great in 4-6 feet of water Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Popsicle, Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone or chartreuse, Gumdrop, Penny Back Shad and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows, worms and frozen shad. Bass are biting great on buzzbaits and minnows, lizard plastic worms, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper. White bass are biting on Baby Shad in Popsicle, Slap Slanger, and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r, Cajun Spin and Silver Minnow. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper.
(updated 3-28-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said Wednesday that the water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is good, and the surface water temperature is around 58 degrees. Bream are starting to pick up on redworms and crickets. Bass are going well around the brushtops and structure and around the shoreline. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and shad. Crappie are good all over the lake, but are still moving around. Anglers aren’t catching limits, but they are catching some good ones. It has slowed down the last couple of days, however.
(updated 3-28-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is clear and the level has worked its way back to normal. Surface water temperature on Monday was 52 degrees. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Largemouth bass are good and are biting plastic worms. No reports on catfish, bream or white bass.
(updated 3-21-2018) 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 at the west end. Black bass remain 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 4-8 feet and 10-15 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 and dawn. Kentucky bass are slow. Kentucky bass for the most part are still a little deeper than the largemouth. The main lake, rocky banks or points are best with a crankbait or jig. White bass are slow. Less reports coming in on the whites the past two weeks. Some are saying the whites are staging. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons, deep-diving Bandits, and Bombers. 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 have come in on bream and no reports on catfish.
(updated 3-28-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said crappie are excellent. Crappie are 3-14 feet deep. Pink minnows and orange jigs are working best.
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are biting well on Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Popsicle and Slab Slanger as well as on minnows and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r. White bass are biting Slab Slanger, Baby Shad in Cajun Spin, and Silver Minnow. Bass are biting worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
(updated 3-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish are still doing well on bait shrimp, chicken livers and nightcrawlers. A few crappie being caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows around the bridge going to the other side. A few bream are being caught off of crickets and redworms. Bass have been doing well on white buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been hitting on No. 6 crappie minnows. While they have been great in numbers, they haven’t been great in size, most being about hand-size. Some big catfish have been caught off of nightcrawlers. Bass are biting the No. 6 crappie minnows as well. A few bream have bit off of crickets. One of Lisa’s youngest fish anglers, Allie Goshien, just 2 years old, caught her very first fish while with her parents Rob and Rebekah at the back pond that is called Lake Charles. She landed it on her daddy's rod-and-reel using a cricket. Her daddy said she was in her stroller and grabbed his pole off the ground next to her. Next thing you know, she had her first fish. Making memories with your children like that is the best.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said walleye have been hot! Lisa says she’s had within the last week four of her regular walleye customers catch their limit. The spillway was burning it up, with anglers catching them on brooders while some used stick baits. Kentucky bass have also been plentiful in numbers off of the brooder minnows. Catfish have done well off of the brooders as well. Crappie have been fair on No. 6 crappie minnows. “Just as the river has got back down and good, now we are to get rain,” Lisa says, “which, unfortunately, will have it messed up again.”
Lisa says some of her customers report Lake Ouachita as a hot spot, with crappie doing very well off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Also, Millwood Lake is a hot spot for the crappie, with the fish doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows.
(updated 3-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie been doing fair on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Catfish been biting on chicken livers, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. A few reports have come in of big bream being caught off of crickets fishing on the bottom. Bass have been hitting No. 12 bass minnows and white spinnerbaits.
(updated 3-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie been slow off of No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's Tennessee Shad 2-inch Triple Threat Grubs. Bass are being caught off of No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish have been doing well on bait shrimp and nightcrawlers. No reports of bream.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 3-28-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said they have had a few fishermen getting out, but they haven’t had real good luck. “We still have four to six weeks for this pool to really start popping,” Charley said. The AGFC has been doing a lot of testing of the river, along with federal fisheries biologists, he said. This includes test sampling for sauger, catfish, gar, black bass. They have sampled for jumping carp and other fish not native to the river. Meanwhile, reports are that white bass are staging on creeks and river mouths. Catfish are trying to move up to jetties. Largemouth bass on warm days are sitting on jetty tops.
(updated 3-28-2018) Professional angler Cody Kelley with Best in Bass Guide Service (501-733-5282) reports that fishing is pretty good across the board right now. Things are finally heating up to the point that you can go out and really have some fun! Bass are great in the backwaters. We are right on the verge of the spawn. Try your favorite plastics and jigs around backwater wood to locate spawning bass. Some good crappie fishing is going on right now. Crappie can be caught by dipping black/chartreuse jigs and minnows around laydowns and backwater spawning areas. For catfish, check the deep holes just outside of flats. Cody says he prefers cut bait, but you can catch them on many different offerings. Anchor up current of the hole and bottom bounce it back into the good stuff. Best of luck and give us a call to book your spring trip.
(updated 3-28-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and at a normal level and current. Surface temperature is in the 50s as of Monday. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. The crappie are in about 3-4 feet of water. Largemouth bass are also being found in 3-4 feet of water and are good. Use spinnerbaits or plastic worms. No reports on catfish, white bass or bream.
(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 3-28-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said bass are fair near the Murray Lock and Dam. Anglers are using white twister tails and large minnows.
(updated 3-28-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the clarity is stained and the river is at normal pool and current. Surface temperature as of Monday was 50 degrees. Crappie are fair. The crappie are in 5-10 feet of water and are biting red and chartreuse jigs as well as white and chartreuse jigs. Largemouth bass reports are good. The bass are favoring black and red jigs or a Jackhammer chatterbait. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 3-28-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is stained and the level and current are normal. Surface water temperature on Monday was 57 degrees. Bream are in 6 feet of water and the bite is good. Use crickets. Crappie are in 3-4 feet of water and the bite is excellent; use black and chartreuse jigs. Catfishing reports are fair. Skipjack is working best. White bass reports were good. Nothing was reported in the past week on largemouth bass.
(updated 3-28-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water level and current are normal and the surface water temperature is in the 50s. Crappie can be found in about 5 feet depth of water. The reports have been good using minnows and jigs. Catfishing is fair on worms. Nothing to report on largemouth bass or on bream.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-28-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water level and current are normal, while the surface water temperature is in the 50s. Crappie reports have the fish in 4-5 feet depth, and the bite for the past week has been excellent. Try for them on the banks with minnows or jigs. Bass are fair on crankbaits. Catfishing has been good with worms and cut bait. Nothing reported on bream.
(updated 3-28-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported that clarity was stained. The water level and current are normal and the surface temperature is in the 50s. Crappie reports have been good, though nothing else was reported. Bass are good. Catfishing is good using yo-yos. Nothing heard on bream.
(updated 3-28-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Spring Break on the White River near Cotter means lots of young fishers. There's nothing better than seeing a family enjoying the great outdoors, fishing for trout – and most often catching and releasing more than they can keep – in the beauty of our natural state. We have been provided with all types of water levels over the past seven days, fluctuating between low, shallow water to high, deep water so our professionals have been creative in ensuring guests to the river continue to catch a good share of rainbows and a number of trophy trout for pictures and bragging rights. A pair of brand-new fly-fishers caught upward of 25 trout this past week primarily with ruby midges tied on a No. 16 or No. 18 hook. Bait fishers have relied on sculpin minnows for most of the brown catches; some of the guides prefer palm sized (big) sculpins, most are just as successful drifting, mid-depth, a more available, smaller bait. The kids are staying busy catching rainbow after rainbow with scented shrimp and bright fluorescent chartreuse or yellow eggs. We're sending them back to school with some great fish tales.
(updated 3-28-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the dropping water levels mean that as of Monday no generators were running. The river level is normal and the clarity is clear. Browns and rainbows are both excellent with the bite. Anglers are using stick baits, jigs, shrimp, sculpins, PowerBait and Power Worms.
(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, several rain events combined for a quarter of an inch in Cotter, and they had warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 feet to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 feet to rest at 0.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 0.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and significant wadable water. On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There are some caddis coming off in the afternoon. 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 pink worm with a size 14 prince nymph 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said on March 15 that the lake level was at 659 feet msl and that it had dropped a couple of feet to where it was back to normal. They've been generating quite a bit of water at the dam and the water temps are about 48 degrees as of late last week, up to 56 degrees if you get in the dirty water and back to some of the creeks, and that's got the white bass moving up if you're into that kind of thing. The white bass are going in the backs of the creek, all the way in the back where it gets skinny, he said. Largemouth bass fishing has been, well, you're working for them this past week, Del said. Some days you do really well, and other days it's tougher. They're in transition, starting to come out of their winter haunts and moving out into the creeks headed toward spawning areas. Keep that in mind as you're fishing, the bluffier, deeper 45-degree banks are still holding a lot of fish and they'll just use those channels to go back into the creeks as they go toward those spawning areas. Some of them are starting to move just outside of the spawning areas, so a couple of different things Del is using: In the clear water he’s throwing a Fish Spin Head. That's catching a few fish, slow-rolling it back on the steeper shoreline. The jerkbait over the brush piles and the points, that's picking up a few fish. That bite is starting to wean on and off. The crankbait bite, if you have wind and you got dirty water, or if you just have a lot of wind (we've had a lot of wind last couple weeks), throw a Wiggle Wart or Rock Crawler. The Rock Crawler seems to be picking up a few more fish than the Wiggle Wart right now and the fish seem to be in that 8- to 10-foot zone. The jig bite has been one of the stronger bites for Del, he said. Fishing the jig, that water temperature is just right where those crawdads are starting to get a little active, so keep that in mind if you're going out. If you're going to the back and you're looking for that dirty water, there's fish in there. If we get the cold nights, though, those fish will move off because that's the first place to warm up is also the first place to cool off. If you do get in the back and you find the warmer water, Del said he found it up to 56-57 degrees. This week it's supposed to get warm, so you can start getting a few on a spinnerbait. It's not a real strong bite but you do need a little wind and some dirty water to make that happen. If you're going out toward the main lake and it clears up on you, he’s catching a few dragging a twin tail grub or shaky head. If it lays flat on you, opt for that or a jig. The deep bite’s pretty much has disappeared and Del doesn’t expect that back for a while. All these fish are looking to come up and spawn, and it's going to get good here in the next couple of weeks as they start moving up toward the spawning areas. There is a bit of a walleye bite going on. If you get out, go out the last two or three hours of the day, throw a jerk bait around. Some guys are catching a few out of jerkbait and that's going to continue here for the next couple months if you want to go catch walleye. I'd recommend that you wait until the last couple hours of the day and go throw a jerkbait around on the long bushy shallow points and gravel.
Del adds that they held the Big John's Tournament two weeks ago and it drew a great turnout, and he appreciates everyone showing up. They’ve more tournaments scheduled for the first Saturday of each month over the next couple months, he said.
(updated 3-21-2018) K Dock Marina has reopened for the season but has no fishing reports. The marina will be hosting the 2018 Hollister Project Graduation Bass Tournament on Saturday, April 7, its first tournament of the year. The tourney helps raise money for the Hollister (Mo.) High seniors. This will be a 50/50 payout tournament taking off at 8 a.m. and weighing in at 4 p.m. $50 entry fee per two-person boat with an optional Big Bass side pot for $10. Cash only. Early Sign Up will begin on Friday, April 6th at K Dock Marina. Tournament rules will be announced 15 minutes before takeoff. Breakfast items will be available for purchase at the marina that morning.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-28-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said that from the beginning of this past week they have seen a steady improvement in the weather and the fishing. The best bite early in the week was the Fout area but everybody started fishing the area and the bite slowed down. With the warm weather the last couple of days, the stripers started biting all over the lake. Stripers have been caught in the Twin Coves area, Buzzard Roost area and the Big Creek arm. The best method has been with either shiners or shad with just a split-shot or no weight far back of the boat. Saturday Tom started seeing stripers feeding on the surface and he and his party caught and broke off stripers on big 7-inch gizzard shad using planer boards. This tells me the stripers are starting to feed and anglers should see a big uptick in action once the big rains are over this week. Start looking for topwater action early and late afternoons off the points and bays halfway up the creeks and beyond. You will start seeing stripers feeding around Cranfield Island, Cow Point, Bennett's, Brushy Creek and Big Creek just east of Hand Cove Resort. Once the water starts to reach the 60-degree mark, Norfork Lake will turn on fire. The walleye have spawned up near Udall and are in their post-spawn mode, which turns the bite off until they recover from the spawn. The bite should improve in the next week with the warm weather. Everything will bite better with warmer weather. The best place to find fish is Bennett's Bayou and the Twin Coves area. Up past Cranfield there is a lot of bait in the area, much more than Big Creek, which could bode well for Big Creek because the predators may be more interested in whatever you present. But, as always, as Tom says, “Find the bait and you will find the fish.”
(updated 3-21-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is still trying to get to a consistent spring fishing pattern. Not a lot has changed over the last week except for the ups and downs of the weather. Every day brings different weather. But on a positive note the crappie and bass bites are good and the striped bass bite is fair. Striped bass are still located back in the creeks heading towards the warmer water. In the late afternoon they tend to head out a short distance, but are still in the creeks. Most of the stripers that I have caught over the week have been on live bait, threadfin, gizzard shad and shiners. They have mainly been hitting free swimming baits (with no weights) or baits with just a small split shot. If you're fishing with no weight, do not move much, and let the bait swim free. They will go to the depth that the fish are looking for. If you use a small split shot move slowly with your trolling motor so as to keep the baits farther up in the water column. If you want to use down poles with a larger weight set your depth at about 15 feet deep. I am doing both, but am getting most of my strikes on a small split shot rig. The cold fronts do affect how the fish bite, but the fronts have not chased them out of the creeks. Artificial baits are working as well. If you like to troll, use an umbrella or Alabama rig. Your bait needs to be between 10 and 20 feet deep. The other day on my way back to the resort, I was checking out a few deep bluff lines located back in the creeks and found big hybrids on the bottom in 25 feet of water. I was able to drop a spoon and vertical jig and caught a really big hybrid. Early in the morning the fish can be in really shallow water then as the day wears on they tend to move out to 30 - 40 feet deep water.
Lou says crappie fishing has picked up. They are still on the brush piles and have not moved onto the banks to spawn at this time. I believe they really want to, but the cooler weather is keeping them from proceeding. A few warm days and nights should get the crappie heading to shallow water. One of our guests found crappie on 25 feet deep brush piles. The fish were near the top of the brush 15-20 feet down. It seemed to him that if he went deeper he only caught smaller fish. Vertical jigging a small 1/4 ounce spoon was working great, but using a small grub with a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig head will work as well. Of course, live minnows on a slip float will work wonders with the crappie, as it does with all species. When they move to the banks cast out a small spinner bait, such as a Roadrunner, or a small crank bait or a small grub to catch some of these shallow fish. The largemouth and spotted bass bite is still good. The pattern is basically the same as a week ago. Head about half way back into coves and cast out a red crank bait. The red color is working best in the stained water, but if you are working in browner water try a lighter color, such as white and chartreuse.
Norfork Lake level has risen slightly, about 4 inches, over the last week and currently sits at 553.51 feet msl. The surface water temperature has stayed about the same from a week ago and currently ranges from 49-53 degrees, depending on your location on the water. Parts of the main lake, as well as, some of the creeks are clear and others are stained. I have fished most areas of the lake from the mid lake creeks to the Bennett’s area, and up to the Red Bank area. All species of fish are scattered throughout. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's annual fishing derby has commenced. Win large cash prize for the longest fish in three different species, along with a chance to win a free week stay. Give them a call at 870-492-5113 to make your cabin reservation and to join the derby. Go to the website for further details at www.hummingbird-hideaway.com.
(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remained steady at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had little generation and more wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially but has still fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit since 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 but it 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).
(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are both navigable and clearing. As the water warms the smallmouths will be more active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,123.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 3-28-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is stained and the surface temperature is in the 50s. Water level is normal. Anglers report that crappie are good in the river arms. The fish are around brush piles and responsive to minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and crickets. Walleye reports were fair. Nothing to report on bream or catfish.
(updated 3-28-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said The runoff and debris have 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 stripers are being caught 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," which 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 the 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 4. 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, Mont Ne, Hickory Creek, 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). Walleye season has kicked off with walleye being caught in various stages of the spawn. Most walleye are being caught in 20 feet of water or less. 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 jerkbaits like Rapala HJ14's 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 3-28-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing has been great this past week. Trout are biting on just about anything. The preferred method has been light terminal tackle with PowerBaits and assorted spoons. However, the fly-fishing should be nice as well. Looking at the contents of what the fish are eating, their stomachs were full of insects as opposed to snails from the previous week. A few white bass have been caught between Beaver and Holiday Island. No huge schools or baitballs really noted. Various had baits and soft plastics did the trick with the whites. Austin said he tried for walleye in the same area as the whites and did not have much luck. He did not see much activity on the graph as well. Your hot spot for trout is going to be between U.S. Highway 62 and Spider Creek.
(updated 3-22-2018) 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 Turnaround.
Always be attentive to rising water conditions. Nymphs, Midges are working well along with olive micro jigs. Stocking occurred last week and Fly- fisherman are report numbers of fish being caught. Conventional fisherman are catching nice fish using PowerBait and waxworms. The walleye are still a no-show but fishermen have been catching them downstream around the Houseman Area. It won't be long and the walleye will run closer to the dam with the white bass not far behind. A big shout out to all the Spring Breakers coming this week. It’s going to be a good one so get out there enjoy your weekend and catch a lot of fish.
(updated 3-28-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the lake is stained and is at a normal level. Surface water temperature on Monday was 55 degrees. Crappie are excellent. Use minnows or jigs. Largemouth bass are excellent. Bass are biting crankbaits and plastic worms. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-28-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water is murky and the surface temperature as of Tuesday was 60 degrees. Water level is normal. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits. Catfishing is excellent on chicken livers. No report on bream.
(updated 3-28-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “Well, I guess many of you have noticed a lot of water in Lake Poinsett. We had a lot of rain in February and the drain was stopped up. The water is now draining out again. I know you are missing your spring fishing here, so are we. But, we here at Lake Poinsett State Park are keeping plenty of bait and other fishing supplies here for your convenience. It is supposed to rain a couple days this week, but Saturday is only a 20 percent chance of rain, so that means it will be a good day for fishing.”
(updated 3-28-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the clarity is clear and the surface temperature is 56 degrees. Before Tuesday’s rains, the level and current were normal (call for an update). Bream are good. They’re found in deeper waters off the bottom. Redworms and nightcrawlers are working best. Crappie are fair on jigs. Bass are excellent and are being caught in 6 feet of water and deeper. Anglers are using crankbaits and jerkbaits. No report on catfish.
(updated 3-28-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 340 cfs and water clarity is clear as of the writing of this report. Rains over the next few days may change river clarity and levels. The catching has been excellent. The Jim Hinkle Hatchery has been stocking some really nice-sized rainbows over the last few weeks. Olive Woollies, brown Woollies and Y2Ks have been hard to beat on the fly. And red, white and hot pink Trout Magnets are producing great on spinning equipment and the fly rod. Please check Mark’s website linked above for latest river conditions.
(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. There have been 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 3-21-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the fishing is picking up. Clarity of the river is clear with a surface water temperature in the 50s. The water level remains high but is down to 6 feet above normal. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Largemouth bass are fair using plastic worms of Senkos. Hybrid bass and stripers are active below the dam. Use a swimbait. Nothing to report on crappie as well as catfish or walleye.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 3-21-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the upper 50s in the river and in Lake Langhofer. Some protected backwaters are reaching the low to mid-60s on warm sunny days. Water visibility is still down a bit from normal, only about 6 inches or less in most areas. The water level continues to fluctuate by several inches each day as pulses of water move through the river. Black bass are biting well on spinnerbaits, bladed swim jigs, shallow- to medium-running crankbaits and jigs worked along rock banks. Black bass also seem to be easier to catch during periods of rising or higher water, rather than dropping or lower water. Striped bass and white bass are congregating on the first sand drop-offs away from the banks where wind and baitfish are present. Groups of crappie have been located sitting over brush piles in 6-10 feet of water by sonar, although the team has not tried to catch them.
(updated 3-28-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said the fish are biting at Cane Creek Lake. With spring looking like it’s here to stay, temperatures are causing the water to warm up and the fish are reacting. Bass fishing is becoming more productive as the fish begin to strike lipless crankbaits and shallow-running cranks, both in craw color. Jigs and soft plastics Texas-rigged and run across the bottom in the shallows are also starting to show good results. As the temperatures continue to rise, look for bass to start striking topwaters, buzzbaits, and spinnerbaits burned fast across the water. Dragonflies are starting to molt, so many species of fish will be looking to the surface near logs and half-submerged structure for a quick meal. This has affected bream particularly well, as they are already starting to bite crickets. This is earlier than usual for Cane Creek Lake, but shows promise for a productive summer of bream fishing. Crappie have receded a little deeper, but are still taking advantage of the cool mornings and evenings. Fish a minnow near structure to capitalize on large spring crappie. Catfish are starting to bite aggressively, and trotlines are doing well. Fish minnows, cut bait or chicken livers on trotlines to hook heavy catfish. If you are pole fishing, put on blood baits and fish near the bank in divots and pockets while the water is still cool enough to draw the catfish into the shallows. Cane Creek State Park will be offering multiple fishing programs this summer, so be sure to check Arkansasstateparks.com on the Cane Creek Events Calendar for times to attend. The first Cane Creek Fishing Derby will also be held on April 7, so bring out children up to 14 years old for a morning of fun and fish. Winner gets a prize and all fish caught get to be kept. Fishing programs will be given after the fishing derby.
(updated 3-28-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had no report.
(updated 3-28-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello said the water in the south portion of the lake is clear while on the north side it is fair to murky. Surface water temperature is ranging 60-70 degrees. The level remains low. Fishing overall is fair. Crappie are good in 1-2 feet of water. Use soft plastic bass bait. Bass are good in about 2 feet of water, as the bass are moving up on the beds. Use a crankbait. No reports on bream, catfish or white bass.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 260.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 3-28-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level Monday had risen slightly and was about a foot above normal conservation pool at 260.2 feet msl. There is current of about 17,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday is about 244 feet msl. Water temps have improved over the past week. Surface temps as of Monday were ranging near 59 degrees early to about 66 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. Be sure and check the most recent 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. The Corps has completed cleanup on some Millwood Lake campgrounds, and a few are now open, like White Cliffs and Cottonshed; Beard's Bluff is still being worked on. Most all boat ramps, are now open, including Millwood State Park, after the 17-foot rise on the lake over the past few weeks. Be advised, there are at least 2 broken, missing or damaged boat lane markers on the north end of Little Gas Line to Highline Boat Lane from recent flood damage. Use extreme caution in the upper end of the boat land from the High Line to the Little Gas Line cutoff, and watch for missing or damaged telephone pole lane markers. No-wake zones are in effect at White Cliffs Campground on Little River, and marked with no-wake buoys. 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 10-18 inches. Little River's visibility ranges 6-9 inches with heavy to moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow's clarity ranges 15-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms.
Mike says largemouth bass have been improving over the past few weeks and temperatures have many bass in spawn mode. Bass have been good over the past week with the warmer conditions, from 3 pounds each, up to around 7 pounds each. Chatterbaits, dead-sticking Trick Worms and Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook, and spinnerbaits are working well. New lily pads are in bloom lakewide. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Firetiger colors, thrown near flooded bushes, buckbrush, and vegetation, have been working well over the past couple weeks for good bass in the 3-7 pound class. Most of these bass were roaming in and out of bedding areas, cruising in 3-7 feet of depth. Upriver and in oxbows away from muddy Little River current, there are continued signs of a spawn with the largemouth bass as the water clarity continues to improve. The backs of oxbows definitely have the best water clarity, still heavy stained. Deflecting Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75 crankbaits around and banging them into and deflecting off stumps, from 4-9 feet deep, were taking a few pre-spawners around 15-19 inches in length. The heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working near cypress trees from 7-9 feet deep. Best colors drawing reactions over the past couple weeks being Spot Remover, or white/chartreuse and FireTiger. Best color of cranks in the oxbows, like the Echo 1.75 squarebills, have been the Sexy Chrome, Rayburn Red Craw and Pinch'n Peach. Rat-L-Traps in Red Shad and Toledo Gold were picking up a few cruising fish as well this week. Gitzits with internal rattles continue working most anywhere where stumps, timber and any vegetation remains. Black/blue tail, black neon or pumpkinseed/chartreuse tail were getting the best reactions over the past couple weeks, the darker colors seem to draw better reactions in the more stained water areas. Targeting a lizard in the same areas where stumps and flooded buckbrush were present would pick up a few nice cruising bass from 2-5 pounds this week. Best lizards were black/blue, blackberry or June bug colors. 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, or Texas Craw continue to be the go-to colors, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer. Texas rigged Baby Brush Hogs continue finding a few 15-18-inch bass in the 4-8 foot depth range with watermelon candy, watermelon red and green pumpkin being good colors with the current water clarity.
White bass and hybrid bass have been running in the Saline River above Cottonshed Campground, and limits can be had in as little as an hour. Chuck'nSpins, Little Georges, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads and half-ounce Rat-L-Traps in shad patterns will get reactions from the whites in short order. The crappie bite was improving in the oxbows away from current on Little River. Crappie were responding best on jigs over the past week from anglers fishing near cypress trees in 3-6 feet depth. Mike says he even caught three big crappie this week near cypress trees on bass spinnerbaits! Catfish remain very good on trotlines using cut bait, chicken hearts and hot dogs in current along Little River in 10-20 feet depth.
(updated 3-21-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said crappie and bass are biting well. Bass are hitting spinnerbaits, creature baits and stick baits.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.17 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-28-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level has been falling sharply and is now just under full pool. Water temps are in the upper 50s to lower 60s with color throughout the lake. The fish definitely have the spawn on their minds and want to get shallow. The lake falling sharply has hindered most from their annual migration. However, if the lake will stabilize for a few days, it could be get GREAT quickly. Right now, most of the bass are on secondary points leading into spawning pockets. They can be caught using Carolina rigged lizards, YUM Christie Critters, or YUM Christie Craws in any of the natural colors like green pumpkin or watermelon magic. Shaky head worms in the same colors are working well also. Windy days are good for Booyah spinnerbaits or Smithwick Rogues in windy pockets. The crappie are good and are trying to move up also and can be caught in 10-15 feet in brush with Kalin’s Grubs or minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.66 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-28-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Rain, rain go away.” Water temperature is in the mid- to high 50s. The lake level is at 407.62 feet msl. The lake is clearing up and fishing reports are improving. The black bass fishing is on an upswing. Good catches are being reported from the lower lake up to Shouse Ford. Fish 6-10 feet deep. Long points are good places to try. These fish are getting ready to move up and spawn. Carolina rigs and worms are producing well. Watermelon is a stable color. Lots of good catching is happening on the crappie. They are in the shallow water areas. Try shallow brush piles from Arlie Moore to Cox Creek. Minnows and bobbers are working well along with jigs. Try stump thumping in about 4 feet of water. Brush piles are producing, also. No report on bream. White bass and hybrid bass are being caught in the upper lake around Cox Creek. Try trolling Rapallo Shad Raps or other crankbaits. Fishing is about to open up. Be safe and watch out for the other guy.
(Updated 3-28-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the high 50s and the lake has a slight stain. The lake is now down to almost normal pool and all boat ramps are open. Bass fishing is fair with several nice catches reported. The fish are moving out of the flooded brush and are in deeper water at 6-8 feet. It is normal for fish to move away from the shallows in falling water. Look for fish on secondary points in the big coves. Best pattern has been white spinnerbaits slow-rolled across points. Also try medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless. During the bright part of the day try a Texas rigged worm or lizard in green pumpkin or red shad. Look for fish between Edgewood and Point Cedar. Crappie fishing is slow because the high water moved the fish from the established brush cover. The fish will return to the 18-25 foot attractors once the lake is stabilized. Since most fish are in pre-spawn, look for fish on main lake attractors. Fish a 2-inch curly tail grub or tube on a 1/16-ounce jig head vertically to the top of the brush. Black/chartreuse works best in the discolored water. Tip: If you get snagged while fishing vertically, don't pull straight up because you will "break off" most of the time. Instead, just back off from the attractor and pull on a more horizontal angle and in most cases the lure will come out. Look for fish between Caddo Drive and Shouse Ford. Hybrid fishing is slow, however lots of white bass reported at mid-lake in the Alpine Ridge area. Use the sonar and look for fish in the big coves at 20-28 feet. Drop a 2-inch grub or tube down to the school. You should be able to see your lure. If not, readjust your sonar. Chartreuse/black works well.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 449.75 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.00 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 3-21-2018) White Oak Lake State Park (870-685-2748) located on the lower lake, reports the water is now at its normal pool. Crappie are moving to deeper water, sending fishermen on the water, but some crappie are staying next to the shoreline. Silver minnows have been doing well, with gold minnows hitting ever-so-often. Bass are starting back up with chartreuse baits such as buzzbaits and spinners, and also hitting on dark worm or lizard lures. Bream are coming back with crickets as the weather heats up.
(updated 3-21-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said water is still 18 feet high. No reports.
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 3-21-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is clear and the level is high by about 2 feet. Surface water temperature is about 57-58 degrees. Bass reports are good with most success coming on Alabama rigs. Crappie are fair. Catfishing is good using trotlines and yo-yos. Bream
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said catfish are biting on minnows and worms. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
(updated 3-28-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, reports that lake clarity is in the 3-5 foot range with water temperatures scattered from 57 degrees to 63. Largemouth bass are being caught well and with quality, but no real pattern has shown yet. With temperatures rising there may be fish bedding in some areas of the lake, but most fish are still in the pre-spawn state of mind. Cover lots of water to be successful. Go-to baits have been spinnerbaits in natural colors and creature baits such as tubes and lizards; also in natural colors like green pumpkin and salt-and-pepper. With the incoming rain this week please be careful out there and keep an eye out for rising water. Tournaments start this Thursday night March 29 on the lake and will continue into the fall. Good luck and Go Greeson!
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 3-28-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Ouachita is now out of flood pool, but could rise again with the forecasted rain of this week. Heavy generation is still the norm in the Carpenter Dam tailrace and this flow is scheduled until lake levels are brought into normal parameters. For over a month, open flood gates and very high flows have kept boaters and anglers alike off the water due to the treacherous conditions. As soon as Ouachita and all area lakes are stabilized, a much safer generation schedule will be implemented below Carpenter Dam. Rainbow trout fishing is what Lake Catherine is known for and thousands of quality trout are present in the tailrace and will be feeding consistently as conditions return to normal. Bank fishermen can catch limits of fish using PowerBaits, waxworms and mealworms, redworms and corn fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Spin-fishermen casting small jigs, Super Dupers, and Little Cleos in sliver or white will record limits of trout during periods of current or slack water. Fly-fishermen can still access areas that hold good numbers of rainbow trout and can be successful presenting Trout Magnets in white or pink, micro-jigs in black, or San Juan worms in red or hot pink with a strike indicator. The walleye spawn is still underway with the majority of fish caught by trolling shallow-running stick baits that imitate small minnows or crawfish. Carolina rigs tipped with nightcrawlers have taken the largest fish at night. White bass are making a run towards the dam with numbers being taken from the bank by fishermen casting flukes and Rapala jerkbaits in a black/silver combination. Crappie will soon migrate into the tailrace with the smaller males arriving first to prepare the spawning beds. Live minnows and small jigs will give anglers the best chance to catch good numbers of fish in the next several weeks. As conditions improve and safe fishing returns to Carpenter Dam, more reports will be available to the public. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should be aware of the generation schedules and must always follow all boating and park regulations.
(updated 3-28-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is warming to the 60s by the evening, upper 50s in the morning. Water clarity is fair in the river with some clear backwater and some clear creeks. Bass fishing has been good on the warm days with females moving up in the spawning areas. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and plastics have been working well. Crappie are starting to movie shallow. Go with minnows and jigs (chartreuse, chartreuse black, pink and pink yellow have been good colors). White bass and stripers are moving up the creeks. It has been a hit or miss on the bigger stripers. Topwater baits like poppers, Bucktail jigs and swimbaits will catch these fish. Bream have been good over stumps in creeks and around mats in the river. Use worms, crickets and small jigs. Catfish have been good on the main river in the bellies of the turns and in the mouth of the pockets. Don't go in too deep in the pockets. Cut shad has been good for bait. They have been preferring the heads the last few days.
(updated 3-28-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the crappie remain on the brush piles but are moving shallow to spawn. Water temp is 59 degrees. White bass are sticking to the shallow bays.
(updated 3-21-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 that Saturday was such a beautiful day just stunning, that he got put his boat in and the first thing he did was hit a couple of pockets. Lake Hamilton’s temperature was around 60 degrees, getting to 62-63 later in the day with sun. There were just not a lot of black bass in the pockets yet, he said. “We all want them to be on the beds but they’re not quite there yet.” He said he went all the way to the very back of the Little Mizarn, to the very last shoal you can get to, and caught a couple of whites there. There weren’t a lot, though, so he stopped on the way back to where it opens up into the first big flat on the left. He threw a Rat-L-Trap there and caught some whites doing that. “They’re not on the river all the way up to the shoal yet, they’re still staging and moving up those creeks and rivers into the Little Mazarn.” Phillip said he figured the Big Mazarn would be about the same, so he ran up Hot Springs Creek, which he said is a different scenario because there is deeper water close to the flats and shallows in back. About halfway in, he caught some whites in there on a Shad Rap on the rocks. But deeper end near the condos where the water gets about knee deep, there weren’t any fish, he said. Likely it was too shallow. But the fish are staging in the mouth of the creek and with a few more warm nights the fish are going to be up in there very shallow. Whenever it’s night and the lows are in the 50s, that’s when you’re going to see these white bass really make a run. Also a factor is the coming full moon phase. Pay attention to that.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 358.89 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water clarity is muddy and the lake on Monday was 16 feet above normal. Surface water temperature is 54 degrees. Crappie are fair with anglers fishing minnows or black and chartreuse jigs. Largemouth bass are good; try a white and chartreuse spinnerbait. Catfish are fair on worms. No reports on white bass or bream.
(updated 3-21-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the weather apparently was too cold and the lake too flooded for anglers to try their luck at last report. The clarity is stained and the level there is still high.
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) says crappie are biting well on Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Popsicle, Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone, Gumdrop, Penny Back Baby Shad Slab Slay’r and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows, worms and frozen shad. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 576.73 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-28-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are still excellent. Pre-spawn and spawning lures are best now. Shallow-running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits and green soft plastics are still doing real well at this time. Secondary points and coves are the best areas for these fish. Walleye are moving back out of the river and major creek channels. Bright-colored jigs and crankbaits are working best for these fish. Stripers are good on Alabama rigs and live bait. Major creek channels on the central and western part of the lake are still the best for these fish. Bream are still good and being caught on crickets and worms in deeper water near brush. Crappie are fair and being caught on minnows in 10-15 feet of water near structure. Catfish are still excellent up the rivers. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. Water temperature on Tuesday was ranging 60-65 degrees. Water clarity is stained, and the lake level Tuesday was at 577.01 feet msl. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
(updated 3-28-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that Lake Ouachita is the most colored that he can remember for this time of year. Normally, Ouachita is much more clear than it is right now. Kastner said he went all over the lake and “it’s amazing how off-color Lake Ouachita is. It’s not normal that it’s this off-color at this time of year for as long of a period after a rain. It’s been, what, three weeks since the last big rain. It was much different than I was expecting Saturday.” He contrasted that with Lake Hamilton, where he went Sunday, and where the water was “gin clear.” Expect clearer water, Kastner started out wanting to throw a Rat-L-Trap on the flats and a three-quarter-ounce and slow it down to get to the top of the moss bed, but the off-color ruined that approach. So, he switched to floating worms, and that worked, as he caught a 4-pounder, a couple of 3-pounds, and a couple of 2-pounders. “Had a good day fishing in knee-deep water. The reason is the color of the water. They’re moved up shallower because of that color.”
He said another pattern to look for is using a Carolina rig in the guts of the pockets. He said he did find moss in 8-10 feet deep, but at 7 feet there wasn’t any moss. So, anglers can throw a half-ounce egg sinker on a Carolina rig and not get all caught up in the moss, “and I think that’s where the big ones are. I came to that conclusion too late in the day Saturday, but I think that’s where they are, so you should be swimming a half-ounce jig or Carolina rig through the guts of these pockets.”
Kastner says we’re into floating worm time for the next 40 days or so. The Zoom Trick Worm has been time-tested forever and ever. Cream has the Scoundrel, a 6-inch worm, and if the fish are shallow it may be an even better option, Kastner said. “If you’re wanting to fish deeper, there’s a Magnum Trick Worm for that,” he said.
(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.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 402.60 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said it looks like fishing is finally starting to pick up at Bear Creek and Storm Creek. They had a successful bass tournament Saturday, and have seen quite an influx in bass and crappie fishermen over the last week. The water temperature at Bear Creek seems to be stabilizing, and we’re hoping to continue to see an increase in the crappie count. Many anglers say they are waiting on the full moon to begin looking for bream on the beds, so after the first of April they hope to see lots of folks out fishing. Remember, Mississippi River State Park offers a wide variety of artificial and live bait for your fishing needs. “We are also now offering fishing boat rentals on Bear Creek Lake. Stop by the Visitor Center to see what we can do for you,” Natalie said.
(updated 3-21-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek activity has been a bit slower than at Bear Creek Lake. A few crappie fishermen have been having some luck from the fishing pier but nothing to write home about – yet. Remember, Mississippi River State Park offers a wide variety of artificial and live bait for your fishing needs, she said.