April 18, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 18, 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
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Conway will be in effect starting April 23, 2018, and ending March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Conway for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 4-18-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the water is stained and the surface temperature has been in the 50s. Water level is normal. Bream are good. The bream are in 3-5 feet depth and are hitting worms or crickets. Crappie have been fair and are mixed in with the bream in 3-5 feet depth and around brush piles. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good and are shallower now. Anglers were finding them in about 3 feet depth and biting plastic worms and lizards. Fish around the shoreline for best results on the bass. Catfishing is good on goldfish and cut bait.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said the best results it heard were on white bass, with fair catches. Anglers were using white twister tails. Catfishing is fair on cut bait. The water level is normal and the lake is stained to muddy.
Little Red River
(updated 4-18-2018) James Dillard of Tailwater Fishing Co. in Searcy says the fishing on the Little Red has been excellent. The Army Corps of Engineers has been running two units of water each day for 14-16 hours each day, providing good fishing when the turbines are turned off. The best fishing has been in the falling/lower water levels. Lots of caddis can be seen hatching on sunny days and the fish have been very actively feeding. Hot flies have been soft hackles and sowbugs. Trout Magnets in pink, white and chartreuse have been working very well, also.
(updated 4-18-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Greers Ferry Lake has returned to seasonal pool and we are seeing favorable water release for wade and drift-fishing in all sections of the river. For fly-fishing, we recommend soft hackles, gold ribbed hare’s ear, caddis pupa, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and white 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 4-18-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the rollercoaster ride continues. The Little Red area went from spring back to winter and now spring has returned. The storms last Friday night dropped about 2 inches of rain and raised the lake level about a foot. This caused the generation to be increased back to two generators running for 12 hours per day. Times of this generation vary so check the proposed generation for the next day.
Greg says that Monday was a tough day due to the new generation and fluctuation of the water level in the river but Tuesday was good by staying ahead of the generation. Insect hatches are beginning to occur on the river with caddis and March browns beginning to appear. Both are being taken subsurface so nymphs or caddis pupa are a good choice of flies. This generation pattern will continue until the lake reaches normal pool. It looks like another weather event is due this weekend so we’ll have to watch this.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.97 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 4-18-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.93 feet msl as of Wednesday and trying to come up. It is 0.89 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. It should stay a little over or at pool unless we get a lot of rain. The cold nights have really spread the fish and spawn out this year. Most species are still scattered from super shallow out to 50 feet of water. The more stable forecasts and warmer nights should get everything kind of to normal soon. The crappie fishing is up and down, with some biting better during the middle of the day, some late in the day and some early morning. They are eating minnows and jigs, as well as beetle spins from 1 foot out to 20 feet. The bream are showing up shallower along with the turtles now, and will eat small crankbaits and inline spinners; the deeper fish will eat crickets out to 20 feet. The walleye are starting to get together in numbers in the main lake, with a few stragglers still up some creeks and rivers. Try dragging live baits on jigheads and minnows on rocky flats 15-25 feet deep. The black bass are eating a variety of baits and are scattered everywhere. Some have spawned, some have not. When looking for deeper fish, stay around the bait. The shallow fish can be caught around anything sticking up in the water or in guts leading up to that on plastics. No report on catfish. The hybrid and white bass bite is still going on up the rivers and creeks, as far up as you can get, and they are scattered from there all back down the lake on various spots, bends, humps, etc. Try live bait, spoons, inline spinners and swimbaits.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 4-18-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water is murky and the lake is high. Surface water temperature was 64 degrees. Crappie reports were poor over the past week. There were catches though, with the fish found in 4-9 feet depth, as well as 20-30 feet off the shoreline. Use minnows and jigs, but crickets were also getting a reaction. Bass are fair and are active in 4 feet depth near the shoreline. Use worms. No reports on bream, and no reports 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.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup will be in effect starting April 23, 2018, and ending March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Overcup for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 4-18-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. Surface temperature is around 60 degrees. Bass are doing well around brush tops and structure around the shoreline. Crappie are doing well on minnows around brush and grass around the shore, and anglers are picking up some good 2-pounders and up. Bream are slow but should start picking up any day now. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and shad.
(updated 4-19-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake is clear and at a normal level. The surface water temperature is 62 degrees. Crappie are good and are in 12-14 feet of water, biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are good. The bass can be caught in 8-12 feet of water. They're biting minnows and jigs as well. No reports on bream, catfish or white bass.
(updated 4-18-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said the lake level has been up and down a lot this year affecting fishing, but is now about 10 inches above the spillway. Water temperature from the marina is 63 degrees and about 65 on the north side. Black bass are very good. With water temps in the 60s, 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. The blacks continue biting more during dusk and dawn. The Tuesday night anglers this week had a decent evening, with Rusty and Rhonda Gosvener catching a 5-pound Big Bass and winning the weekly tourney with 10.26 pounds. Roger says that 14 of the 23 teams competing were within 2 pounds of each other, as the black bass were very active. Kentucky bass are good. The spots are still a little deeper than the largemouth bass, and the best areas are the main lake, rocky banks and points using a crankbait or jig. White bass are good. Less reports have come in on the whites in the past two weeks. Some 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. Crappie are slow. With the water level falling the past week, it is making it a tough crappie bite. More reports are coming in of them being found scattered in different depths anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. Bream are good and are coming into shallow water off the rocky points and around brush piles. Try using crickets or jigs anywhere from 3 to 12 feet of depth. Lots more reports are coming in on catfish. They’re fair.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said catfish are reacting to cut bait. Good reports still on white bass hitting twister tails.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said the water level and current are normal. The clarity is muddy. The only reports received were about catfish. They were fair on cut bait.
(updated 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few catfish are still being caught even though it hasn't been stocked since March 13. They have been using chicken livers and nightcrawlers. White spinnerbaits have been good on the bass as well as scum frogs. Bream are being caught on crickets, especially around the bridge going to the other side of the lake. Some small crappie have been hitting on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been still doing great on No. 6 crappie minnows at the back on Lake Charles around the dock and also on the other side of the lake. And several nice-size catfish have been caught off chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Bream are doing fair off crickets and redworms. Bass have been hitting spinnerbaits and Zoom red shad color plastic worms. A few bass also have been caught off of plastic worms out of the front one, Lake Norma.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the walleye have slowed way down. She’s been hearing of a couple being caught off of brooder minnows still down by the spillway. However, the Kentucky bass have been doing very well on brooder minnows. Crappie have been hitting No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's Tennessee Shad-colored grubs. Catfish are good on black salties and chicken livers. Bream are being caught off of crickets and redworms.
(updated 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few, but very nice, crappie have been doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's Bleeding Tennessee Shad Grubs, Bass have been hitting No. 12 bass minnows and Rebel Teeny Wee Crawfish, ditch brown color. Nightcrawlers have been doing fair on the catfish as well as chicken livers and bait shrimp. Big redear are being caught on crickets fishing the bottom. A couple of more weeks and they will be doing great.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) says catfish are fair on cut bait. The water level is normal and the clarity is muddy.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says the clarity is muddy and the lake level is normal. Catfish are fair on cut bait. No other reports.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says the clarity is muddy and the lake level is normal. Catfish are fair on cut bait. No other reports.
(updated 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been good on No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish are biting on chicken livers. Bass are eating on No. 12 bass minnows. Bream are going for crickets.
(updated 4-18-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said Tuesday's warming trend will put black bass shallow, 3-5 feet. Use gitzits and/or jigs. After that, Charley suggests going with spinnerbaits. Had a couple of prefishing anglers catching 21/2 to 4 pounds in shallow water. These are some of the bass that AGFC have been putting in the river in the past four years. White bass are moving into creeks and river mostly. Use Sassy Shads. Catfish are moving around jetties; use whole shad. For crappie, try Point Remove Creek, Petit Jean River and Coppers Gap. Use red and chartreuse jigs.
(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 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass have been fair the past week on white twister tails. Catfish seem to be going for cut bait this week, with fair results. Level and current are normal, the clarity is muddy.
(updated 4-18-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the best reports heard came from below the Murray Lock and Dam beyond the pool, with anglers having excellent success with bass. They’re fishing with grubs. Crappie are fair in that same area on jigs. White bass are excellent. Tony heard no reports on bream or catfish the past week. The surface water temperature has been in the mid-50s with high level and current. The water is dirty.
(updated 4-18-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said the water level here was normal and the clarity was muddy. Catfishing reports were fair using cut bait or snagging. White bass are fair and are hitting white twister tails. No other reports.
(updated 4-18-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water is stained and the surface temperature Tuesday morning was 67 degrees. Water level and current are normal. Reports on crappie are good. The crappie are in 6-10 feet of water and around rocky points. Use black and chartreuse tubes for best results. Bass are good and relatively shallow now. Fish were being caught from 1-5 feet in the backwaters. Use crankbaits or tubes. No reports on catfish and no reports on bream.
(updated 4-18-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said bass are excellent below the dams and are biting grubs. Crappie are fair below the dams on jigs. Fish for them around rocky points. White bass reports have been excellent, too. Nothing to report in this pool for bream or catfish. The water appears dirty and the level the past week has been high. Surface water temperature was 56 degrees.
(updated 4-18-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is high in the area of Terry Lock and Dam and the clarity is muddy. Crappie are poor but will respond to minnows and jigs. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-18-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water clarity is muddy. No surface temperature was available. Crappie reports were poor, but some were biting on minnows and jigs. No other species were reported.
(updated 4-18-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the lake was dingy with a surface temperature Monday in the 50s. Water level was normal. Crappie reports are good. Anglers were having success on minnows and jigs. Bass are good with spinnerbaits. Catfishing is good; use stink bait. No reports on bream.
(updated 4-18-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “We're fishing the White River tailwaters of Bull Shoals Dam in the Arkansas Ozarks where we're still waiting for springtime to stick around and where the brown trout are biting! We've netted more browns than rainbows some days, and the trout we've netted have been healthy and are giving us some nice action. We've been treated to some fairly heavy generation from Bull Shoals but for most days last week the water remained a steady depth, which makes catching a little easier. In the deep water we hooked great rainbows with four-and-a-half inch Rogues, still working the orange bellied, blue-backed Rogue, but also had luck with the smoke-colored, suspending stick baits with silver bellies. Red wriggler worms work. Try also to snag a sculpin, tie it on a No. 2 hook, float it near the bottom of the stream and catch a beautiful brown or cutthroat. We're just starting to see a drop in generation, taking the water level down to minimum flow then sometimes increasing the flow to five generators or more. Challenging, and a test of your skills (and patience!), but always worth it. Time on the river is restorative. Come visit.”
(updated 4-18-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river water level was normal, and the clarity was good/normal when 4 generators were running. They’ve had up to 8 generators running the past week. The trout bite is good. Naturally, the cool weather at the beginning of the week wasn’t going to bother the trout. Anglers were using shrimp, jigs and stick baits.
(updated 4-18-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that during the previous week, they had a minor rain event producing less than a quarter of an inch in Cotter, warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.1 feet to rest at 4.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 31.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.1 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool. With the quick rise in the lakes due to our recent heavy rains, expect heavy generation in the near future.
The White has fished better. 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 added about the lake levels of late: “When I got up this (Friday) morning, I followed my usual regimen. I brewed a large pot of French press coffee made with freshly ground Colombian beans and sat down to study the current lake levels and generation. I was pleased to see that the level of generation from Bull Shoals had decreased substantially. (Thursday) the Corps of Engineers was running around 23,750 cubic feet per second. This is the rough equivalent of about seven and a half full generators. They only have eight generators, so this is near the maximum level. Overnight they decreased the generation level to around 18,000 cfs, a drop of around 25 percent.
“I checked the lake level at Table Rock and noted that it had fallen to within a few inches the top of power pool. They were cutting back on the level of generation at Table Rock and that meant that much less water would be running into Bull Shoals Lake. This would allow Bull Shoals to continue to drop with a lower level on generation. The Corps of Engineers typically drops the lake level at Table Rock first, then Bull Shoals and, finally, Beaver. It is important to remember that the lakes are linked. Table Rock is upstream of Bull Shoals and Beaver is upstream of Table Rock.
“What does all of this mean? Well, with the reduced level of generation on the White, fishing from a boat should be a bit easier and more productive. With a reduction like this you will be able to fish shorter leaders and use less weight, which should make casting these rigs a lot easier. On this water level, I am fishing my nymph rigs at about 9 feet deep with two AAA split shots. I am using a double-fly rig with an egg pattern below a cerise San Juan worm (spaghetti and meatballs). At this level, wading is out of the question.
“While I was doing this I noted an email from the North Arkansas Fly Fishers that gave me some up-to-date information on generation on the Norfork tailwater. I had noticed for the last few weeks that the generation on the Norfork was much less as a percentage of the total output than on the White. As a result, the lake level behind Norfork Dam was dropping much slower than Bull Shoals. The email explained that there was a generator down for ordinary maintenance at Norfork Dam (they only have two generators). As a result, they are going to open five flood gates 1 foot to increase the water flowing from the lake. The additional water will be about 3,500 cfs and will make the total flow about 6,000 cfs, which is the rough equivalent of two generators or maximum generation for Norfork Dam.
“The heavier generation will make things a bit tougher fishing from a boat. You will have to get down deep and rig similar to the requirements on the White. Wading is out of the question at this level.
“Based on the speed that the lakes are now dropping, I predict that all will be back at power pool in one month. This assumes no major rain incidents. Who knows? We may have some wadable water by mid-May.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-19-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday (April 19) that the lake level is about 664 feet msl. It's been going up and down; generation’s been on and off. The water temperature tops at about 52 degrees in the morning; he’s seen it as low as 48 degrees this week and found it as high as mid-60s. With the weather it's been kind of crazy. The fishing’s been up and down just like the weather has been. They've had snow in the same weekend, then 80 degrees two days later, so it's that time of year. The fishing is hit or miss just like the weather's been; there’s a lot of stuff going on. The fish are wanting to come up, but every time they come up, Mother Nature throws a curveball at them. Now, the shad are starting to come up in the water column into the creeks, and Del says he’s noticed a lot of the shad’s dying off, which has made fishing a little bit tougher this week. He says he’s had some of his best days these last couple weeks and some of the worst, so it's here today, gone tomorrow. Fishing the conditions is the most important thing. If it's sunny, flat, calm, what he’s going to do is grab either the Carolina rig and start fishing the secondary points usually halfway back into creeks channels all the way out to the main lake. Same thing with a Ned rig. He’s also dragging a jig now. Del says the bucks were back up a couple of days ago and the cold front moved through and kind of pushed them back out. If you get the overcast days with a little bit of wind, Del has resorted to going back to a jerkbait off the steeper secondary points leading into the spawning pockets. Now, if he’s going into the back of the flats, Del says he likes to cover water while fishing a little Keitech on an Owner Flashy, or you can just use the Straight Head if the water is clear. If you get around the shadows, a fluke is working. You can throw a fluke and pick up a few doing that. Del says, “Now I know you guys, you masculine guys, don't want to grab a spinning rod, but if the conditions call for it, you're just gonna have to do it.” He adds that Bull Shoals is right on the verge of some good fishing. “I don't expect any more major snow fronts or snowstorms coming, so hopefully that'll hold true.”
(updated 4-4-2018) K Dock Marina said they were really excited about the Army Corps of Engineers keeping the lake level around normal for this spring. Anglers have access to the boat ramp as well as the courtesy dock. “Big thanks to our friends at Taney County Road and Bridge for keeping the access road and parking lot cleared of debris!” The lake looks great. Still cold compared to the temps on Table Rock, but they are starting to get the surface temperature up. Crappie are really starting to hit live minnows, not on the shoreline yet, but decent reports down the lake from the dock. Slow presentation and live minnows on brush piles in the coves. Lake level was 658.66 (normal pool is 659 feet msl). Water temperature ranging 49-52 degrees. Water is stained to clear. Crappie are good to fair on live minnows on top of brush piles and structure. Colors of swimming minnows to use are: pink and chartreuse, pearl and Smoke & Glitter. Had a few anglers with some good limits last weekend. Most were finding the crappie in the creek coves from the 36 lake marker down to the Arkansas line. The water is a few degrees warmer down the lake. But, the coves near K Dock are really starting to produce some good numbers of big crappie. Black bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted) are biting Alabama rigs, jerkbaits and ½-ounce or smaller jigs. Bass will start hitting the threadfin shad and searching for crawfish for protein coming out of the winter months. A Ned Rig is a great plastic to throw in the spring as well. However, great reports of bass being caught on Wiggle Warts and Rock Crawlers in brown/tan and red craw colors. These work great with a little wind. Crank them down in the 5-8 feet range right now. Make contact with the rocks on the high bluff sides and then slow your retrieve. Remember, these fish are still a little slow coming up from 48 degrees water.
Also, walleye are fair on trolling with small to medium crankbaits. They are still deep, but that should change soon. They are hitting spoons off of points. For white bass, head to the Beaver Creek arm of the lake just 6 miles up from the dock. If the high temps arrive, they should be feeding there. Use a white Rooster Tail or a silver Rat-L-Trap.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 560.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said another crazy week of Norfork Lake weather produced lots of inconsistent patterns. We started the week cold and with good fishing. As the week wore on, they saw lots of high winds, bad storms, rising water, high boat traffic and slower fishing. Norfork Lake ended the week with cold weather but better fishing. Tom says they were catching good numbers of stripers up in Big Creek from Woods Point to 1C all last week and weekend. The lake level was consistent, then they opened the spillways about 1 foot and that changed the current in the lake and drew the fish out of the creeks. The stripers were still in the area but quit biting. Tom says he spent one morning fishing there and realized what was happening and moved to Point 1 and began catching stripers. The pattern stayed that way until Thursday when they closed the spillway. The fish were still inactive but then did start biting later in the morning in Big Creek again. Friday, it picked up and on Saturday Tom’s son, Sean, caught 13 stripers on planer boards with only a 6-foot leader near the shore. Tom, on the other hand, had only caught three but the fish were there, he said. You just had to be at the right spot along a bluff wall to catch them. Once this cold spell moves out the lake should see better action as it warms up and they get some consistent weather. Greg at Hand Cove Resort reports the night bite is still happening although the weather has greatly affected the bite. He expects it to be more consistent by the end of this week. Tom says he has seen some surface action the last two days, which means the topwater action is not far behind. Better sharpen those hooks for some reel ripping action.
(updated 4-11-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the beginning stages of Norfork Lake's spring fishing season have begun. It is a little behind past years due to the continual unseasonable cool fronts, but it is coming. Forecasts for the next few days are great, but another cool front is possible later in the week. The baitfish are moving toward shallow water to get to warmer water, and the predators are following to feed. Shad will be going through a spawn very shortly. The cool fronts do affect the fish, but if you adjust a little and move out to a little deeper water you will find the feeding fish.
Lou says he has had a very good week of fishing. Tuesday, he says, was outstanding. He caught well over 30 fish in the morning. The majority were the monster 2.5-3.5-pound white bass. He caught one that went over 4 pounds. Mixed in with the whites were the medium-sized hybrids going about 5-6 pounds. Lou ended up landing five hybrids. All of his fish were either released on site or at his dock after the photo op. He said he was finding fish on main lake points in 18-25 feet of water. His method of fishing was vertical jigging a ¾-ounce white-colored spoon. He was fishing northwest of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's cove. The striped bass he has caught by either casting out a 5-inch swimbait with a 3/8-ounce jighead or with live bait. The stripers have been in 15-30 feet of water and suspended at all depths. He has caught fish on downlines set at 15 and 20 feet, as well as with free swimming baits with a small split shot or no split shot. Most of the stripers are 8-12 pounds on the average. He said he’s finding striped bass northeast of his resort.
Lou adds, “I would like to welcome all of the Bass Cat boat owners that are arriving to Mountain Home to fish in the Bass Cat Owners Invitational Tournament. The warm weather forecast for the rest of the week should make for a great bass bite. Some of the larger bass had moved off of the shore, but will be returning very shortly. There are signs that some of the bass are starting to make their beds. Have a great tournament.” Norfork Lake level is falling slowly with one generator running full time and spillways partially open, releasing enough water to equal using a second generator. The current level is 559.74 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning on the main lake was 53.5 degrees and back in a creek was 55.5 degrees. These temperatures will be increasing throughout the week. Most of the areas he fished Tuesday morning were a greenish stained.
(updated 4-18-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 5.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool. With the quick rise in the lakes due to recent heavy rains, expect heavy generation in the near future.
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 the recent 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 (#18, #20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (#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 eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise #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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
(updated 4-18-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and less stained. 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 1,127.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is muddy and the surface temperature is ranging from the low to mid-50s. Water level is high. No reports on bream. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Crappie are shallow, in about 4-6 feet depth and around the brush piles. Anglers were using minnows, jigs and bobbers. Bass are good, with fish found both in shallow and deep water. Best bets are to go with spinnerbaits, crankbaits or jerkbaits. Nothing to report on catfish. White bass are excellent and have been caught at the head of the deep pool. Anglers were using Lil’ Fishies, Rooster Tails and Flicker Shad.
(updated 4-18-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said the walleye spawn has ended and a large portion of the walleye are making their way back to the main lake and a good portion of them can be found suspended 10 feet down over 20-plus feet of water near structure. The post-spawn negative feeding mood is wearing off and they are beginning to get back on the feed. 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.
Mike Bailey also said stripers are on the move and feeding intermittently throughout the day. The key to success will be covering lots of water. The white bass run is in full swing. Some quality Beaver Lake stripers are still being caught in the upper reaches of the rivers, but a good portion of the stripers are making their way north and are scattered throughout the lake. They are still using mouths of coves, backs of coves and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. For you diehard live baiters, fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 20 feet depth should get you some stripers. For the artificial baits you can try trolling umbrella rigs with white or chartreuse jigs/grubs or plugs like Rapala No. 14 husky jerks in black back or purple back colors, or Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. You should also try fishing jerkbaits by letting the bait remain motionless for an extended period time before the next erratic action. 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. Know your species and make sure you identify any fish you keep. There is no limit on white bass, there is a three-fish limit on striper/hybrids and a 20-inch minimum length on stripers. 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 website linked above. Live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. Water surface temperatures are in the low to mid-50s. On the mid- and upper sections check out these hot spots: Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow, Prairie Creek, War Eagle/White River junction, White River and 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).
(updated 4-18-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been very good this week. Most trout are being caught between Spider creek, Parkers Bottom and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The water temperatures in the area mentioned above have been in the mid- to high 50s. A few walleye are being caught between Beaver town and Holiday Island pulling various Rapalas and Berkley hard baits in 6-10 feet of water. The weather has been cold this past week during the morning hours. The hot spot for trout has been the Spider Creek area.
(updated 4-11-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the Bertrand ramp area has been fishing well. Fish upstream from Parker Bottoms 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. 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 we 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 4-18-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water temperature was 55 degrees Monday and the level was normal. Bream reports were poor. Crappie are good and are being found in random depths around the lake. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good using plastic worms. Again, like the crappie, the bass are at random depths. No reports on catfish.
(updated 4-18-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water is normal level and has a surface temperature of 51 degrees. The clarity is dingy. Crappie are biting well on minnows and jigs. They’re all over the lake, but noticeable around the shoreline. Fish for them in 1-6 feet depth. Bass are active all over the lake, too, with good results. Use spinnerbaits or plastic worms. Catfishing has been good on chicken livers. Look for catfish to bite between 3-12 feet. No reports on bream.
(updated 4-18-2018) Seth Boone at Lake Poinsett State Park said that, as is normal, Lake Poinsett is draining, but bait sales are going well. They have had a lot of anglers this past week seeking Rosy Red minnows. Some are fishing in Lake Hogue and some the rivers, but they are telling Seth the crappie are biting well in the afternoon. Catfish have been all right in the rivers. Mainly biting on live bait and some on stink bait.
(updated 4-18-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water was stained, while the level and current are normal. Surface water temperature was 56 degrees. Crappie are good and the fish are in 15-20 feet depth around brush piles and stumps. Minnows and jigs are both working. Bass fishing is good, but no other details were available. A good bass bite should work nicely for the upcoming weekend bass tournament. No report on bream. Nothing on catfish.
(updated 4-18-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 430 cfs and water clarity has been green tinted. The river is clearing nicely with a heavy green tint to the water. Olive Woollies have been hot with a split shot a foot above the fly to help get it down. Hot pink Trout Magnets are hot on spinning rods. River flows are above average. Be safe wading.
(updated 4-18-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable and less stained. 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 4-18-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said that with another big rain last Friday, the water is high and there were no fishing reports to give.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 4-18-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
(updated 4-18-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said crappie have finally slowed to just the occasional bite at Cane Creek State Park, which means that spring is truly upon us. With steadily warming temperatures during the day and night both, expect to see a surge in fish activity. Bream will be the most active biters when the spring hits its peak. Fish shallow, near the shoreline and near structure with crickets or worms and see which works best, as both are doing equally well at the moment. Bass are also biting more and more aggressively with each passing day. Run a spinnerbait with a medium-bright color such as red or orange right under the water’s surface. Lipless crankbaits are also receiving more and more hits because the bass are eating anything that looks like a minnow. If all else fails, and you don’t have a hard bait to throw, fish a minnow hooked as you would if you were crappie fishing, but thrown out further near deep structure. With recent rains and a large influx of water, the catfish are putting themselves in a feeding frenzy. Almost any strong-smelling bait fished near the bottom will solicit a bite. Liver is still the recommend bait of choice for most fishermen looking to catch channel or blue catfish. Flathead fishermen are using minnows on a trotline and receiving good results. A tip: If you’re fishing using live minnows as bait, save the ones that die. Put them in garlic salt and use them to bait trotlines to attract large catfish. The hotspots on the lake at the moment are the spillway, the Beaver Pond and the Cypress Brake.
(updated 4-18-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said the crappie have moved closer to the surface, with people having good luck with jigs at a depth of around 6 feet. Catfish were slow at the beginning of last week, but picked up as the temperature rose. Most anglers had better luck with shad than worms. Many anglers reported luck catching bream with nightcrawlers.
(updated 4-18-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky's of Monticello said the clarity is fair and the water temperature is ranging from low to mid-60s. The level is normal. The bass bite is excellent. The fish can be found from shallow water into the deeper areas. Chris says to look around the brush and use a topwater lure or plastic worm for best results. Crappie are good and are in 3-4 feet depth. Catfishing has been good on worms. Bream reports were poor. White bass were poor.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 260.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level climbed with all the recent thunderstorms, and on Monday was 24 inches above normal conservation pool and falling at 261.5 feet msl; and there is current of about 22,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday is about 247 feet msl. Water temps continued improving over the past week, with Monday’s surface temps ranging near 58 degrees early to 65 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. Clarity and visibility are mostly stained heavy in places, especially current rolling upriver. The main lake and lower sections of Little River are not quite as stained or muddy as the upper regions of Little River and Saline River. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was 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 currently 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. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for broken or floating timber.
Mike says largemouth bass continue in varying degrees of the spawn in most areas of Millwood this week. Upriver, largemouths continue to finish their spawn rituals, and areas along the main lake remain pre-spawn. Most largemouth bass have been very good to excellent over the past few weeks with the continually warming ambient conditions, from 3 pounds each, up to around 9 pounds each. Tournaments over the past few weeks on Millwood have given up numerous largemouths at weigh-ins from 6 to over 11 pounds each. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Sweet Beavers, Trick Worms, Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook, and Rat-L-Traps all continue working well. Black and June bug soft plastic frogs are working in new lily pad stands. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Firetiger colors, thrown near flooded bushes, buck brush and vegetation, continue to pull good bass in the 3-7 pound class. Most of these bass continue roaming in and out of bedding areas, cruising in 4-9 feet of depth. Shallow-running (3-5 feet) squarebill crankbaits and Echo 1.75s deflecting and banging into and off stumps were taking a few fat bass around 15-19 inches long. War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working near cypress trees, stumps, new lily pad stands and vegetation, all from 2-6 feet deep, with best colors being Spot Remover or White/Chartreuse and Firetiger. Best color of cranks in the oxbows, like the Echo 1.75 squarebills, have been the Rayburn Red Craw, Bold Bluegill, and Ghost. Rat-L-Traps in Red Chrome, Red Shad and Toledo Gold all continue to get reactions from 15-18-inch bass. Soft plastic Lizards, Brush Hogs and Beaver Bugs are all working very well near bedding flats, in close proximity to creek channel depths, around stumps and flooded buck brush; they continued picking up nice largemouths from 3-7 pounds this week. Best lizard colors for the past couple weeks were South African Special, PB&J, Watermelon Candy, black/blue and June bug. 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 in the current water clarity over the past few weeks have been black/purple, Candy Bug or Texas Craw, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer.
Mike says whites and hybrids have been running in the Saline River above Cottonshed Campground for the past few weeks. chuck-n-spins, 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 were caught in under an hour in the Saline River. Whites have almost finished their spawning runs up Little River headwaters and are wrapping up in the Saline River, too; they slowed this week in those areas. Crappie continue to be caught and are biting well in the oxbows, up Little River away from current, on cypress trees. Crappie were reacting very aggressively to both jigs and minnows over the past few weeks near the base of cypress trees from 1-3 feet deep. Catfish remain very good on trotlines using almost any cut bait like shad, buffalo or trash fish, in current along Little River from 8-15 feet depth.
Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website helpful links page linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website. The Corps has completed cleanup on most Millwood Lake campgrounds, and a most all are now open. Most all boat ramps are now open, including Millwood State Park. To volunteer for one of the cleanup dates or ramp and park information, contact Tony Porter at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office. To receive project updates, daily lake level information updates, gate release flows, tailwater information, park and campground information, or volunteer, call the US Army Corps of Engineers toll-free Millwood Project information line at 888-697-9830 or the Corps’ main number at 877-444-6777 to verify another project is open.
(updated 4-14-2018) 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 548.94 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level has risen some and is now just over full pool. Water temps have dropped in the last week and are in the upper 50s with color throughout the lake. Jason says he thinks a lot of the fish have spawned but can still be caught shallow due to the high water. Right now, most of the bass are on secondary points leading into and out of 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. Jason says they 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 409.51 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said he’s catching some crappie and bass 8-12 feet deep on brush piles. These are mostly staging females, so the males should be nearby on the banks. Fluctuating water levels have made it difficult, but persistence pays off.
(updated 4-18-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 60s and the lake is mostly clear with some color in the upper end. For those not familiar with DeGray, don't trust the reef/shoal buoys to be in the right spot. The extremely high water caused the buoys weights to come off the bottom and they drifted until the weight hit bottom, which could be far from the reef. Don't know when the Corps of Engineers will reset the markers. Bass fishing is good with quite a few nice catches reported. The fish are mostly in the coves in the larger creeks. Go to the back of the creek and throw a spinnerbait or jig with a critter trailer. Also try medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless. Use natural shad patterns in clear water, add some chartreuse or orange in colored water. Quite a few nice Kentuckies are showing along the rock bluffs at points 14 and 15. Work a 4-inch Texas rigged finesse worm down the rock ledges. Try green pumpkin or red shad. Crappie fishing is good for those who know how to fish the shoreline brush. These are spawning fish, so when one is located, chances are more will be present. Try coves from Edgewood to Shouse Ford. Use a 2-inch Kalin's Grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead. Black/chartreuse is hard to beat. Also try crappie minnows under a float. The only fish on the attractors are small; the larger fish are still up shallow. Hybrids are now starting to show with their migration down lake from their river "false" spawn. Look for fish in the creeks and coves following the shad schools. Try Woodall Cove, Big Hill Creek, Lenox Marcus and Yancey Creek. When fish are spotted "breaking," most any surface lure will work. When they are deeper, try a lipless crankbait or inline spinner. Also be on the lookout for schools at Point 15 late in the evening.
(updated 4-18-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well, things are looking up. Really getting some good reports.” John says that last Saturday there were 10 boats in a crappie tournament with seven fish to weigh-in. There was also a bass tournament that the winning catch was 12 pounds. Reports are good. Crappie are moving into the shallows. This brings Arlie Moore, Lenox Marcus, Shouse Ford, Brushy and Piney creek areas into play. All areas are good when the fish move in. Either use bobbers and minnows or jigs. Bobber fish the outlying edge of brush or shallow tops. Stay about a foot or so off the bottom. You can cast jigs to bedding areas in front of the brush line and slow-roll it back to you. Use the smallest jig the weather will let you handle and have good feel. Same old reliable colors. Popsicle, Tennessee Shad, Baby Bass and Monkey Milk are all good, but who leaves out the old black and chartreuse? Reports are that the black bass were just off the beds being caught on Carolina rigs recently. With this weather warm-up, they should be on the beds. Water temperature is around 60 degrees depending on whose unit you look at. The water level is still slightly high at 409.57 feet msl. Let’s go get ’em before the weather changes, it is Arkansas. Be safe.
(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 445.31 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 549.25 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 4-14-2018) 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.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 4-18-2018) Greeson Marine of Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bread all-welded Xpress fishing boats, reports that the village lakes are still hanging around that 60-degree mark with lakes slightly off-color due to the recent heavy rains. Water clarity in most areas is less than 1 foot. Most anglers are having some success fishing chatterbaits in bright colors such as white or chartreuse in shorelines with grass or brush. Most fish are being caught in 2 feet of water or less. Other anglers are having success with craw, shad and chartreuse crankbaits and swimbaits off main lake points and shoals. Winds have been high, as expected this time of year. Expect heavy chop on most lakes.
(updated 4-18-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the clarity is clear and the surface temperature Monday ranged 59-63 degrees. The water level is high. Bream reports were poor. Crappie were also poor but some were being caught on minnows and jigs around the brush piles. Bass are fair on crankbaits; fish around the cypress trees. Catfishing has been poor.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 4-18-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, reports that the lake is slowly warming, with some areas reaching around 63 degrees in shallower water. Water is slightly murky in the main lake and less than 2 feet of clarity in most pockets. Fish are starting to use their summertime patterns heading out to the main lake points and hard-to-reach structures along shorelines and docks. Many fish are still in their spawning patterns but most should be in the post-spawn. Texas rigged worms, tubes and crawfish patterns have produced well in black and blue and green pumpkin off points. Jigs in olive and brown have been doing well on the spawning fish. With the days getting warmer and the light staying around longer, look for fish to move to heavy cover and become very hard to reach. Try skipping baits up into and under cover. Game and Fish is wrapping up shocking for walleye. Walleye should pick up very soon
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 4-18-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Ouachita is back up into flood pool due to the storms of last 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 4-18-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water clarity in the river is dirty with some creeks starting to clear. Water temperature is warming to 66. Bass fishing is excellent throughout the river system. In the heavily fished areas, stick to fishing a weightless chiseler. Jigs and Bamboozie are working well in the river around structure, scam shad and frogs are working great around the coon tail weightless. Crappie have been good around grass and structure using minnows and jigs (chartreuse, black chartreuse, black and pink). White bass and stripers are in the creeks with good topwater bite early. Bucktail jigs and swimbaits working well. Bream are good in the creeks around stumps; use crickets, worms and small flies. Catfish are good on cut shad and skipjack just inside the pocket. Don't go in too deep; stay in the current.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 356.57 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reported the clarity is dingy and the surface water temperature remains in the 56- to 58-degree range as of Tuesday. Water is high. Crappie are good on minnows or red-colored jigs, also around the brush piles and in about 8 feet of water. Bass are good at a depth of 3-5 feet. Anglers were using spinnerbaits and plastic worms and fishing around the brush. Catfishing is fair on chicken livers.
(updated 4-18-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said more heavy rain last week raised the lake back to high level, where it’s been much of the past two months. No one has been fishing the past week, they say.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 579.19 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton (501-778-6944) said Lake Ouachita has still been doing great on crappie for a couple of my good customers using No. 6 crappie minnows. They have been hit or miss –some out deeper in the lake, while other 3 feet from the shoreline. The crappie they been showing were slabs!
(updated 4-18-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are excellent. Brush Hogs, Trick Worms and lizards are best 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 still working best for these fish. Stripers are excellent on topwater C-10 redfins and live bait. Major creek and river channels on the western part of the lake are still the best for these fish. Bream are good and being caught on crickets and worms in deeper water near brush. Crappie are very good and being caught on minnows in 10-15 feet of water near structure. Catfish are excellent up the rivers. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. The water clarity has been clearing, and the level on Tuesday was at 579.28 feet msl. Surface water temperature is ranging 62-68 degrees. 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!
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 400.90 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Bear Creek Lake had some serious crappie activity last week. Anglers on the bank and in the water were catching crappie on artificial jigs. Bass fishermen reported activity in coves with live bait. The Bear Creek Lake boat ramp is undergoing construction and is currently CLOSED – however, folks are still welcome to come out and fish from the bank in the day-use areas.
(updated 4-18-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek Lake still has limited activity. No major bites that they’ve seen as of yet. Hopefully the onset of this stable weather will help clear the water and bring the fish back out.