April 4, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 4, 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 4-4-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the water as stained and the surface temperature at 55 degrees. Water level and current are normal. Crappie are good around the shoreline and in shallow water on minnows and jigs. Bream are fair. The bream are shallow and schooling. The bass bite is ranging from fair to good, depending on the time of day. Use plastic worms. Catfishing is good. Use cut bait, live bream and goldfish.
(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.
(updated 4-4-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Greers Ferry Lake has returned to near seasonal pool. Hopefully we see a more favorable generation/water release schedule over the next few days for wade and drift-fishing. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommend gold ribbed hare’s ear, caddis pupa, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and orange bodies on chartreuse heads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 4-6-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said spring is unpredictable in Arkansas. This is in understatement if ever one was made. So far, we have gone from low water on the river to extremely high water and from cold to warm and back to cold. It is definitely not boring for a guide on the Little Red River. The Corps has informed Greg that they will request 3,000 dfs for the generation on the Little Red River until the lake reaches its normal level, which is 462.04 feet msl. This will amount to two generators running for 12 hours per day. It is now 463.04 feet msl and rising slightly due to the rain this week. The hours of generation will start about 6 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. as long as the cold weather hangs around. If the weather warms, the starting time will probably be around 10 a.m. As always, check the generation forecast before planning your trip. We had a window to fish last Saturday with mild temperatures and the bite was fair to good on size 12 mayfly nymphs and size 14 bead-head caddis emergers. The water is clear but finding a day when the generation allows a low water window to fish is challenging. We missed the heavy rain earlier this week and hopefully we will get a break in the high water by the weekend with the lake returning to normal.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.96 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 4-4-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake on Tuesday was at 462.95 feet msl and falling. It is 0.91 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl, and will continue to fall with generation. The catching is on and off, hour to hour, day to day, with all the fronts coming and going through the state. Some of the crappie are in the bushes, some are on outside of bushes and some out deeper. All of them can be caught with jigs or minnows or a combination of both. No reports on bream. The black bass are chewing well off and on, getting ready to spawn; use spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastics up shallow. In mid-depth use jigheads and jigs. The deeper fish can still be caught on a Carolina rig or football-headed jig. No report or catfish. Most of the river walleye have finished their business and headed back to the lake and the lake fish are getting more active every day; try drop-shots with minnows or grubs, and crankbaits for the best results. The hybrid and white basses are eating and scattered out throughout the lake and river systems; try throwing grubs, inline spinners and flies for the shallower fish, while the deeper fish can be caught on live bait, inline spinners, spoons and swimbaits.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 4-4-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water is clear and the surface temperature earlier this week was 60 degrees. Water level is normal. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. No reports on bream. Nothing to report on catfish.
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton (501-778-6944) says her customers have been talking about Harris Brake on the big slab crappie on No. 4 crappie minnows. “One of my customers that has a place up there has been doing good between midnight and 4 a.m.,” she said.
(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 4-4-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said bass are doing well around brushtops and structure around the shoreline. They’re biting on plastic worms, spinnerbaits and minnows. Catfish are being caught on night crawlers around the banks. Bream are slow but should start picking up. Still catching some bream on crickets and redworms. Crappie are doing good on minnows and pink /white/chartreuse jigs around brush and grass around the shore. Water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. Thankfully we didn't get any rain Tuesday.
(updated 4-4-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is clear and the surface temperature is 58 degrees. The level is 2.5 feet high as of Wednesday. Bream are fair on crickets. Crappie are good; the fish are in 5-6 feet depth and are biting minnows or jigs. Bass are fair using shallow-running crankbaits. Catfishing is good on worms. Anyone trying creek fishing will find the water dingy.
(updated 4-4-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said the lake is still dropping this week and water temperature from the marina is 60 degrees and about 63 degrees at the west end. Black bass are very good. With water temps in the low 60s and on the water rise the black bass are moving to 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. It should be noted that Gary Bryant and Quin Minton were able to pull in five bass that weighed 12.5 pounds to win Tuesday night’s tournament, along with catching a 4.28 big bass. Kentucky bass are good, and they are still a little deeper than the largemouth bass. Try the main lake, the rocky shoreline or points with a crankbait or jig for best results. White bass are good. Fewer reports have been coming in on the whites over the past two weeks. Some anglers are saying the whites are staging. Normally the run is over by the first of April. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons, deep-diving Bandits, and Bombers for the white bass. Crappie reports have been slow. With the water level falling this past week it has been making it tough on the crappie bite. More reports are coming in of them being found scattered in different depths anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. No reports have come in on bream or 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 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said it's still doing well on the catfish using almost anything from chicken livers to bass minnows and stink baits. A few good-size bream being caught off of crickets over on the far side. Bass have been caught on spinnerbaits and brooder minnows. Crappie are doing well on pink crappie minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows, as well as on Kalin's Lemon Meringue 2-inch Grubs.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the front pond called Lake Norma has produced some nice bass off of red shad plastic worms. The creek that runs by it and by the back one called Lake Charles is Hurricane Creek, which feeds off of Hurricane Lake. So when it floods it brings fish from Hurricane Lake that go into the two Bishop Park ponds. The back one Lake Charles has been providing some large quantities of crappie for some anglers using No. 6 crappie minnows. Also, some small catfish have been biting on No. 6 crappie minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass been hitting plastic worms and No. 12 bass minnows. Crickets have been doing well for the bream.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “Well, I must say I am amazed for the walleye are still at their peak at the spillway and surrounding areas: Peeler Bend, Lyle Park and a couple of the forks on the Saline.” Lisa says they have been producing several numbers using brooder minnows and stick baits. The Kentucky and smallmouth bass and also largemouth bass have also done great lately using the same baits. Catfish been doing well on goldfish. Crappie are fair on No. 6 crappie minnows. Bream have been hitting crickets and redworms.
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said anglers are starting to catch some of the great big redear out there off of crickets fishing on bottom. Bass have done well off of Brush Hogs and flukes. Catfish have been biting around the docks off of redworms. Crappie have been slow as usual but some nice ones been caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's 2-inch Tennessee Shad-colored grubs.
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie been doing pretty well on No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's Blue and Silver 2-inch Grubs. Catfish and bass have been hitting No. 12 bass minnows. Bream been fair on crickets and redworms.
(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 4-4-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the surface temperature is 57 degrees. The level and current are low. Crappie are biting in 2-3 feet of depth and the bite is fair. Bass are good, with the best bite near the banks. Try using spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms and topwaters like the Zara Spook. Catfish are fair on worms and blood bait, as well as yo-yos. Not reports on white bass. Nothing to report on bream.
(updated 4-4-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said bream are good on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. No reports on catfish or white bass.
(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 4-4-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water level and current are high, and fishing is slow because of those conditions. The surface temperature came in at the mid- to high 50s. Crappie reports were good. The crappie are in about 6 feet of water and are biting red jigs. Bass are fair on white spinnerbaits and white crankbaits. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 4-4-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said bream appear to be moving up. Tony heard good reports from anglers using waxworms and crickets. Crappie are good on jigs, and especially good near the Terry Lock and Dam using Crappie Magnets or blue tube jigs. You’ll find the crappie in about 8-10 feet depth. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfishing is good on yo-yos and with cut bait. Below the Terry Dam, catfish are good on skipjack. White bass are good on the Terry end of the pool; use shad and chartreuse grubs below the dam. No conditions were reported.
(updated 4-4-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. No other reports or conditions available.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-4-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie reports were fair, with anglers using minnows and jigs. Nothing else reported.
(updated 4-4-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the fishing has been slow. The water is dingy with a surface temperature of 55 degrees. The level is normal. Crappie have been fair on jigs. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfishing is fair on worms. Nothing to report on bream.
(updated 4-4-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says recent rainfall is behind the increased generation from Bull Shoals Dam, causing higher water levels that in turn demand more drift-fishing and allow for fewer areas of exposed river bank where an angler can walk up to the river and cast a line. Wade fishing is on hold for a few days. On the bright side, we can pull out those rattlin' Rogues and fish the depths with stick baits that sink to 8 or 10 feet. Bright, fluorescent chartreuse will attract the bigger trout in this deep water; the orange belly, blue (or black) back Rogue remains popular because it works. We've had luck this past week with a variety of Vibrax spinners – in addition to the traditional gold Blue Fox, look for those with silver or red blades and add some weight to your line in order to stay close to the bottom. We'll be fishing for smallies this week on the beautiful Buffalo National River so we'll have some news next week provided the river falls just a little more. Think fish; come visit!
(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 4-4-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they had several rain events combining for four inches in Cotter, along with warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 4feet to rest at 3.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 32.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 4.3 feet to rest at 3.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 5.4 feet to rest at 4.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 4.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and significant 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 the top of power pool. With the quick rise in the lakes due to our recent heavy rains we can expect heavy generation in the near future. Last week, the White was fishing poorly. 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.
John also said, “I am frequently asked, ‘What is the best way to learn how to fly-fish?’ The answer remains the same: ‘Take the beginning fly-fishing class that my wife, Lori, and I teach at Arkansas State University Mountain Home.’
“Lori and I have been doing this for almost a decade. In fact, there are quite a few anglers in the area that have been taught by us. We taught fly-fishing for several years at several different venues before we began teaching at ASU. We have learned a few things about teaching along the way. The first thing is to present the subject in an easygoing, casual format. Questions are encouraged. The idea is to make the students feel at ease. The fact that Lori and I teach together reinforces that, particularly with female students. Lori is a great example of just how ladies can excel at the sport and look very feminine while doing it. She is an accomplished and effective guide in her own right.
“The next thing we learned is to keep things simple. Many instructors think that the best way to teach is to tell you everything that they know. On the other hand, we have distilled our curriculum down to the bare essentials. We teach you what you need to know. We teach two knots and four fishing techniques. We cover water safety, reading water and fly selection. This avoids confusion and allows you to concentrate on what is important.
“Our area of emphasis is teaching fly-casting. Lori is the natural lead instructor. She is hands down the best casting instructor in the area. She is the lead casting instructor each year at the Sowbug Roundup and regularly teaches private lessons. Of course, I assist especially, when we have large classes.
“You can use your own rod for the casting class. I always think that it is a good idea to learn with your own rod. We also furnish fully rigged fly rods, if you need one. That way you can buy your gear after you judge the level of your interest. While Lori leads the casting instruction, I lead the classroom instruction. She joins us in the classroom to reinforce my lectures.
“The classes will be held on four consecutive Thursday nights, April 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 6-8 p.m. There is a modest fee. If this sounds like something you would be interested in then register online at asumh.edu/services/community-education.html. If you are computer-challenged like me or do not have a computer, then contact Sarah Sikes to register over the phone at (870) 508-6105. Lori and I hope to see you there!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.68 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 559.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Thank God March is finally over. I have never seen a March like this in terms of weather and fishing. A normal March brings warm days with south winds and some rain. This March was nothing like that, when we did get a warm day with south winds it was followed by cold north winds, rain and cloudy days.” The lake level was 547 feet msl at the beginning of the March and it ended with a lake level of 558 feet and the usual rainy season has not begun yet. “I can only hope we can get some stable weather and that the [Army Corps of Engineers] can run some of this water off before June.” With this being said there are some bright spots, Tom added. The crappie have move shallow in 2 to 3 feet of stained water. The night bite for stripers is strong and the stripers are feeding on big baits. The stripers are still in deep water 15-40 feet of water but they are very shallow in the water column; the fish that are blowing up on Tom’s big baits are less than 10 feet feet deep. Tom says he is running his planer boards with only 5 feet from the board to the bait and stripers are blowing the baits out of the water. Fish are being caught in the Cranfield, Bennett's and Big Creek areas. Fish the points and sharp turns along bluff walls halfway up the creeks. 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.
Tom says that 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 since the predators may be more interested in whatever you present. But, as always, as they say, “Find the bait and you will find the fish.”
(updated 4-4-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's spring fishing season is slowly moving in the right direction. You know fishermen: Nothing moves fast enough when you want to get into some topwater action. The fish have started to move to the banks and are feeding heavily on shad and crawdads. Lou says he has found a little bit of topwater action, but it is still very sporadic. If we could just get some consistently warm days and nights to warm the water, then the bite will really take off. The shad that he has been netting at his dock are starting to get very fat, telling him they are not far off from their first spawn. All species will get very active during a shad spawn. Striped bass fishing is getting better, but it is different every day due to the ups and downs of the weather patterns. Lou says he fished Easter Sunday and landed five nice striped bass and hybrid bass and released all. Tuesday he fish the same area as Sunday and only landed three stripers/hybrids, but one was a 14-pound fish. The bigger females are finally starting to move in and feed. Live bait is working great. Lou set out two downlines at 15 feet deep and threw out two free swimming baits with a small split shot or no weight at all. If you find the fish schooled up, use no weight and sit still over the top of them. Sunday Lou saw sporadic topwater action with stripers or hybrids coming up and feeding. However, every time he saw them he was too far away to get his Zara Spook close enough. A few of the feeding fish were coming up in only 3 feet of water. This also tells Lou the stripers will be feeding at night, if you want a little slow- rolling a suspending stick bait action. Five-inch-long swimbaits are also working to catch this species. Lou is using a 3/8-ounce jighead on the swimbait, casting it out and letting it sink to about 15 feet, then making a slow steady retrieval to the boat.
Fishing for largemouth and spotted bass is getting to be very good. Over the holiday, Lou said, they had some bass fishing guests do very well. They caught all of their bass on three different baits: a shad-colored swimbait, same as he is using for stripers, a bone-colored Zara Spook, and a red crankbait. Yes, they did get into some topwater action for the bass. Look back in the main lake coves concentrating on the first and second secondary points in the cove. If you find shad in tight to shore. the fish will come up for the Spook. Crappie fishing is also very good. They started to move into shallow water, but moved back to deeper water when the cold fronts moved though. Lou says he’s sure a few have spawned already, but the majority still needs to finish their annual task. There are some good-sized fish being caught under docks as well as on brush in 20 feet of water. Work the tops of the brush during most of the day, but move up higher in the late afternoon. On occasion the crappie are moving between the brush and the shore. The majority of walleye have finished their spawning activities and are starting to get active over the entire lake. One of the best times Lou has found for walleye is right before sunset. Throw out a wally diver close to the bank back in coves and off of gravelly points. Cranfield area has always been a good place to catch walleye this time of year. You can also fish after dark with a suspending stick bait. Work the bait slowly and you will pick up walleye, stripers, hybrids and bass. Big white bass are also showing up on flats and back in coves off of the main lake. You will catch many small whites along with those big 2- to 3-pound fish. I have caught them vertical-jigging a spoon and casting out a blade-type bait. Currently Lou has been finding most of the whites in 15-20 feet of water lying on the bottom.
Norfork Lake level is rising slowly and sits at 559.44 feet msl, which is 5.6 feet above normal pool. The lake surface temperature was 54 degrees Tuesday morning in the main lake and increased 1-2 degrees as you head back into the creeks. The main lake is clearing but still stained, and most of the creeks are stained. Overall the lake is in great shape for fishing. The buckbrush is covered with water, which is a great place for the predators to ambush the unsuspecting baitfish. Follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's Facebook page for a frequent update of what is going on in Norfork Lake. And if you have not made your spring fishing trip plans, now is the time. April and May are two of the best months to fish Norfork Lake for all species. Call Lou at 870-492-5113.
(updated 4-4-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 3.8 feet to rest at 3.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had little generation and more wadable water. On the Norfork, the water is has cleared substantially but has still fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during last year’s flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 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). 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.
(updated 4-4-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are both high and off color. 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 1,127.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is stained and the surface temperature is 55 degrees. The water level is high by about 8 feet. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie fishing is hit or miss; use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms. No reports on catfish.
(updated 4-4-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said that with more wind and rain this last week, make sure that you are aware of your location and any debris that may constitute a navigational hazard. The white bass run is on with the females now showing upstream. Quantity and quality Beaver Lake stripers 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 still look for the "mud line," the distinct break between stained and clear water that will also concentrate bait and fish. For you diehard live baiters, fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 20 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 models 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. Soft plastic swimbaits and jerkbaits like flukes have been very effective as well and are a good choice when your fish are located near a point or other structure that has timber, rock piles or other snags that necessitate the need for a more precise presentation. Keep your eyes on the lookout for surfacing fish as they are taking topwater plugs like redfins. 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. Live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. On the mid- and upper sections, the water surface temperature is in the low to mid-50s, and you should check out these hot spots: Rocky Branch (check the back of Larue near boat ramp), Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow, Prairie Creek, War Eagle/White river junction (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects), White River and War Eagle River.
Walleye have 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 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 4-4-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said that with last week's rain and the system pushing through Tuesday, fishing has been a little slow. There is plenty of water in the river and good clarity. Most fish have been caught between Spider Creek and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. The preferred method has been light terminal tackle with various PowerBaits. The orange dough bait has produced the best. The walleye bite has been slow to say the least. Austin says he’s quite sure all this rain has caused the spawn to not go as planned. Three walleye were caught jigging grubs, but not after casting for several hours. Trolling with bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses have not produced. A few white bass have been caught between Houseman and Beaver town, but not in significant numbers. No bait balls have been marked in the tailwaters as of yet, but Austin says he’s sure it is around the corner. When the bait arrives, so will the bite.
(updated 4-4-2018) 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-around. Always be attentive to rising water conditions. Nymphs and midges are working well along with olive micro-jigs. Stocking occurred last week and fly-fisherman are report good numbers of fish being caught. The male walleyes are starting to make their move upstream. A couple of 21-inch fish were caught earlier in the week right below the dam off the gravel bar using jerkbaits and 1/8-ounce white P.J. jigs with a pink head. This rain has clouded up the water below the dam somewhat, but areas closer to the dam are fishable. Baitfish are present right below the dam and the anglers suspect that feeding fish are feeding on them as well. 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.
(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 4-4-2018) Seth Boone at Lake Poinsett State Park said Lake Poinsett, while closed to fishing for repairs, has been selling a lot of bait. Seth hears that everyone is trying for catfish out on the rivers, but crappie fishermen are getting excited about the crappie in some of the local lakes. Poinsett started cricket season this past weekend. We look forward to seeing all of the anglers in the area.
(updated 4-4-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the clarity is clear and the surface temperature is 55 degrees. Before Tuesday’s rains, the level and current were normal (call for an update). No reports on bream. Crappie are good on yellow, orange or white jigs as well as minnows. Bass reports were excellent. Anglers report great success on crankbaits and jerkbaits. Nothing to 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 4-4-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is high and off color. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. 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 3-28-2018) 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 4-4-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said the fish are still biting strong at Cane Creek Lake. Rising daytime temperatures have increased activity of many species of sport fish. Crappie are holding on till the very end and are biting in the cool morning and evening. Fish with a minnow in the deep, open pockets near the middle of the lake, and by the courtesy dock and spillway. The lower end of the lake seems to be more productive at the moment. Expect lower quantities caught but larger overall size for individual fish. Bass are becoming productive, hungry and aggressive. Reports are coming in of them breaking topwater during certain times in the day, specifically evening. Run shallow squarebills, lipless cranks and small spinnerbaits within 3 feet of the water’s surface during the brightest, warmest part of the day, and loud topwater baits with erratic action during the latter part of the evening to attract the aggressive bass that have already started breaking topwater. Soft plastic baits with lots of moving appendages can be Texas-rigged and fished by dragging them from shoreline or the tops of logs into the water. Expect bass hiding under structure to react once the bait clears whatever surface you’re dragging the bait across. Catfish are reacting well to raw chicken livers fished from poles or trotlines. Fish late in the evening toward the bottom in 8-10 feet of water to attract decent-sized blue and channel catfish. Use live fish such as minnows or small bream to attract that trophy flathead. Bream have started working early this year and reports have come in of significant sizes and quantities being caught near structure and even from the shoreline. While crickets are still the best option due to their similarity to dragonfly larvae, the increasing temperatures should cause them to start reacting to worms. Fish smaller worms like red wigglers until the temperature rises above the 80s and stay there, then nightcrawlers should become quite popular. Cane Creek State Park’s first Junior Fishing Derby of the year will be held on Saturday, April 7. Bring any children up to the age of 15 out at 8:30 a.m. to fish in the derby pond that has generously been stocked with channel catfish by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Heaviest stringer gets a prize. Hope to see you there!
(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 260.18 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said lake level as of Monday had dropped slightly and is about 10 inches above normal conservation pool and falling at 260.1 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 was about 245 feet msl. Water temps continued improving over the past week. Surface temps as of Monday ranged near 59 degrees early to 67 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website and its 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. USACE has completed clean up 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. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for broken or floating timber. 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
Largemouth bass attitudes and feeding continue improving over the past couple weeks with the improvement in surface temps, and many bass are 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. Spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, dead-sticking Trick Worms and Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook, and Rat-L-Traps are working well. New lily pads are in bloom lake-wide. 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 4-9 feet of depth. There are continued signs of spawn with the largemouth bass upriver and in oxbows away from muddy Little River current as the water clarity continues to improve. The backs of the oxbows definitely have the best water clarity, still heavy stained. Deflecting Rat-L-Traps, squarebill crankbaits and Echo 1.75 crankbaits and banging them into and deflecting off stumps, from 4-9 feet deep, would take 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 have been Spot Remover, White/Chartreuse and Firetiger. Best color of cranks in the oxbows, like the Echo 1.75 squarebills, over the past week or so have been the Rayburn Red Craw, Bold Bluegill and Ghost. Rat-L-Traps in Red Chrome, Red Shad and Toledo Gold are working for cruising fish this week. Heavy, fat tubes like the 4-inch Gitzits with internal rattles, continue working most anywhere. Real Deal Kustom Tackle jigs with a heavy craw worm trailer continue working on pre-spawn fish near cypress trees from 4-9 feet deep. Best colors seem to be the Black/blue/purple or Texas Craw, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer. Texas rigged Baby Brush Hogs continue finding a few 15-18-inch bass in the 4-9 foot depth range, and June bug-red, watermelon candy and watermelon red colors being best with the current water clarity.
Mike says white bass and hybrids have been running in the Saline River above Cottonshed Campground, for the past couple of weeks. Chuck'nSpins, Little Georges, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads and half-ounce Rat-L-Traps in shad patterns were getting really good reactions from the whites, and limits caught in under an hour in the Saline River. Crappie improved in the oxbows, away from current on Little River. Crappie were reacting very aggressively, hitting on jigs and minnows near the base of cypress trees from 2-4 feet deep. The catfish remain very good on trotlines using punch bait, cut bait like shad, buffalo, drum and the like, and chicken livers in current along Little River from 9-12 feet of depth.
(updated 4-4-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass are biting well on stick worm and flukes. A few crappie being caught on shiners.
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 548.13 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) 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 lower to mid-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. We have caught several lately wacky-rigging a YUM Dinger in watermelon candy and green pumpkin in spawning pockets around cover. 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 foot brush with Kalin’s Grubs or minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.88 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said he has nothing but good fishing reports this week. The lake is settling down after the tremendous rain they received. All the good reports are coming from the upper lake area. Crappie have been doing well in shallow brush piles and stump areas. Minnows and jigs are doing well. Bobby Garland Tennessee Shad and Baby Bass are always good spring colors. Popsicle and Monkey Milk are super colors, also. Drop-shooting in brush piles and jigging stump areas have been producing well. White bass and hybrids have been working the areas around Cox Creek and above. Reports are they are catching them on crankbaits, spoons, jigs and Alabama rigs. When you move above the Cox Creek Area, pay special attention due to shallow water. Use your electronics to stay safe. This cold snap will probably push the spawn back a few days; we will see. Fish safe and watch out for the other guys.
(updated 4-4-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 60s and the lake is mostly clear. Bass fishing is good with lots of nice catches reported. The fish are now preparing to spawn, so the best areas are close to the spawning coves. Look for fish on those secondary points. Most fish are still in pre-spawn, so back off somewhat from the shoreline and fish 4-8 feet of water. Best pattern has been a jig with a critter trailer in green pumpkin or crawdad. Also try the windy side of the lake and slow-roll a double blade spinnerbait. White and chartreuse are hard to beat. Look for fish between Arlie Moore and Point Cedar. Crappie fishing is good for some and slow for others. The fish are now in shallow water starting to spawn and it depends how good of a shallow water fisherman you are. The secret is to work the shore line cover hitting every bit of cover and keep moving until the fish are located. This might be a slow process because what looks like a great spot is empty and some subtle bit of cover produces, so just try everything. Best areas are at the upper end between Arlie Moore and Point Cedar. Not much doing on hybrids. Looks like most are up the river doing their false spawn, but no reports.
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton (501-778-6944) says she has heard just recently some of her customers being turned on to some big crappie being caught in the coves close to the bank with No. 6 crappie minnows.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 444.85 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.20 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 4-4-2018) White Oak Lake State Park (870-685-2748) reports the fish are slowing down. Since the flooding, crappie have slowed, but they’ll bite on minnows and jigs in deeper water ranging 5-7 feet. The bream are starting to bite on crickets and worms now as the weather becomes warmer. As we get into April, the bass are starting to spawn. Worm and lizard lures are working occasionally with spinnerbaits. With the weather producing rain this week, expect to see the catfish moving toward the shoreline to feed.
(updated 4-4-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said water is still 15 feet high. Not much fishing going on. A few spawning bass are being caught.
(updated 4-4-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is clear in places, and the surface temperature was ranging 56-59 degrees. The water level is 3 feet high as of earlier this week. Bream are biting slow, with poor reports. Worms were working best. Crappie are good, though, with the fish about 6 feet deep. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good along the cypress trail on crankbaits, plastic worms, Alabama rigs. Catfishing has been poor.
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 4-4-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, reports that Lake Catherine is reaching temperatures in the mid- to low 60s with water clarity in the 2-4-foot range in most areas. Fishing reports have been strong with big bags being caught. The first Thursday night bass tournament win scaled a whopping 19 pounds. Fish are all over the lake but mostly from main lake points back into coves and channels. Jigs, Texas-style worms and swimbaits are producing fish when located. Be mindful of other boaters, especially at night. Use those NAV lights and be safe out there!
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 4-4-2018) 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 floodgates 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 toward 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 4-6-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said bass fishing has been hit-and-miss due to the extreme weather changes. Water temperature has dropped to 55 degrees in some places and 58 degrees in others not warming a lot throughout the day. On the warmer days a black-and-blue jig with a bamboozie trailer has been working really well. Brush Hogs and lizards have been working great on the colder days. Crappie fishing has been the same hit and miss. When they are biting, minnows and chartreuse jigs have been working great. White bass and stripers are still traveling up the creeks. Bucktail jigs and grubs, swimbaits and topwater poppers will catch them. Catfish have been good in channel swings on cut shad. Bream have been good on crickets and worms around laydowns.
(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 356.19 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 577.67 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) 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 crank baits, spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, Trick Worms and lizards are “on fire” at this time. Secondary points and coves are the best areas for these fish. Walleye are good and moving back out of the river and major creek channels. Bright-colored jigs and crankbaits are working best for these fish. Stripers are excellent on Alabama rigs and live bait. Major creek and river channels on the 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 good 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 is ranging 62-68 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. The level is almost at full pool, at 577.67 feet msl as of Tuesday. 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 4-4-2018) Greeson Marine in Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boat, reports that Lake Ouachita is clearing nicely and visibility in many areas is in the 10-foot range already. Water temperatures are in the high 50s and low 60s throughout the lake. With the weird (yet normal) weather patterns that Arkansas has been having, the bass are doing all kinds of different things and therefore anglers can pick out just about any type of bait and have success. Big spotted bass are hanging out in up to 35 feet of water on rocky points near a main channel, and drop-shots and crankbaits are working well here. As you work your way back into pockets and coves you can catch largemouth and spots hanging around laydowns and broken shale in 25 feet up to 10 feet. Jigs, tubes and Texas rigged baits are working well here. In the shallow creek channels and ditches feeding these pockets you can find fish on beds. Get a good look at some pictures and turn around and go to deeper water. Suspending jerkbaits and spinners are taking good numbers of fish also in these pockets and lay-downs. Little success has been had on topwater but nearly everything else is working. Good Luck out there and Go Greeson!
(updated 4-4-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton (501-778-6944) said Lake Ouachita anglers have been doing great on the huge crappie. “Lots of my No. 6 crappie minnows have been going that way,” she said.
(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 clearer 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, 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 gobbed 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.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 401.72 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-4-2018) Professional guide Ronnie Tice of Horseshoe Lake Guide Service (901-687-6800) had no report.
(updated 4-4-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Bear Creek Lake was jam-packed with fishermen this past weekend, but unfortunately the report wasn’t what they were hoping. Most folks shared that they did their best catching early in the morning – between about 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. The crappie and bass were biting on live bait, but after mid-morning all activity seemed to drop off.
(updated 4-4-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek Lake still has little activity. The water has been up and muddier than usual, which might be pushing the fish into deeper waters. If this weather would ever decide what it wants to do, we might see increased activity down there, she said.