Dec. 19, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
NOTE: The Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report will not be produced Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 because of the holiday season. The next Fishing Report will be issued Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Dec. 19, 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 through 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 12-19-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the clarity is “a little muddy” and the lake level is high. They report that all gates are open, but if anglers get away from the dam then it’s good fishing. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and Bobby Garland-style jigs. Bass are good on plastic worms, minnows and buzzbaits. Catfish are good on minnows and nightcrawlers.
(updated 12-12-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) reports that anglers say crappie are excellent. Try using pink minnows or orange/chartreuse jigs. No other species were reported caught.
(updated 12-19-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said that with the recent rains, and the forecasted weather patterns, the Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing significant amounts of water from Greers Ferry Lake through the turbines and flood gates to maintain the lake level at top pool level. Daily generation often changes from published schedule, so it’s best to check both scheduled generation and current water-release information to determine if the river level is safe for fishing the Little Red. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends weighted egg patterns, San Juan worms and streamers during high-water conditions and midges, soft hackles, sowbugs and streamers during normal water conditions. Hot pink, cotton candy and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin-fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 12-20-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said Thursday (Dec. 20) that the Army Corps of Engineers will close the spillway gates on Greers Ferry Dam at 4 p.m. Then, 24-hour, two-unit generation will continue through Friday. Saturday, the plan is to go to the 12-hour, two-unit generation schedule until the lake level reaches 462.04 feet msl.
Because the next fishing report will be Jan. 9 due to the holidays, please remember the brown trout spawn is still underway and avoid wading thru the redds. You are helping to ensure a continued good population of brown trout in the Little Red River. Greg adds, “Watch in the upcoming weeks for information on the free fly-fishing class I offer in Heber Springs. The class meets once a week in the evening for 4 weeks the last two weeks of February and first 2 weeks in March. Hope you can plan on attending. Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 463.62 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 12-19-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry lake is at 463.64 feet msl and falling as of Wednesday morning. It is 1.6 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. NOTE: The Greers Ferry Dam spillway gates are being used to supplement turbine releases. The spillway release is approximately 2,400 cfs. So, with that being said, they are trying to get it back down to normal pool. The catching is good overall as every gamefish species is healthy going into the colder season. The crappie catching is good on jigs and minnows in the pole timber and in and around brush piles in the 12- to 30-foot range straight up and down, and that bite will be good all winter. No report on catfish. No report on bream. Bass fishing is good shallow to 60 feet of water on a variety of baits; pick your choice and stick with it all over the lake or rivers. No report on walleye. Hybrid and white bass catching is good all over the lake on spoons, inline spinners and hair jigs, and anything that mimics a threadfin shad is good from 25-60 feet of water. If it gets colder, expect some to go to 80 feet before February. “Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year as well from our family to yours.”
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 12-19-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water level is high and the clarity is cloudy but is clearing. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are excellent. Fish the east side of the lake, where everyone is maxing out, they say. Use minnows. Bass are good. Anglers are have success with plastic worms, shiners and large bass minnows. Catfish are good on worms and shiners/minnows. No report on bream.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup will be in effect through 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 12-19-2018) Angler Bennie Goodman said that with the big rain last week the lake was up at least 2 feet. Same story: Only undersized crappie are biting, but they are active. The larger fish must have gone out and suspended in deeper waters. You’ll need lake knowledge or really good electronics to find them. Catfish are still active. Bream and bass are poor at best. Water temp is normal for this time of year.
(updated 12-19-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 12-19-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake is clear and the level remains high. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are excellent. They are in 10-12 feet depth. Fish with minnows, chartreuse twister tails and with Crappie Magnet on the bottom. Bass are fair – “spotty,” Larry says – are are best around the brush with a crankbait. Catfish are fair. Anglers report catching a few. No reports on bream.
(updated 12-19-2018) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water temperature is ranging 46-48 degrees. Largemouth bass are good. With the water temperatures in the high 40s some bass are being caught in 10-15 feet near stumps, as well as some being found suspended off creek channels in 20-25 feet of water. Try using crankbaits, jerkbait and jigs. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are good. They are mixed in with the largemouth bass, but most can be found in 10-15 foot of water. Try fishing off drops and brush. White bass are good. Some whites are being caught on brush piles with the crappie in 20-30 feet of water. Crappie are great.
Crappie continue staging in their fall pattern. Reports of them being found on top of deeper brush suspended about 20-30 feet of water. Try using jigs and minnows. Search for sharper ledges and deeper brush. Bream are poor. Fewer reports coming in this week. Some are still catching bream on redworms. No report on catfish
(updated 12-19-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been fair on No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass have been hitting topwater baits and brooder minnows. Catfish have been good on No. 12 bass minnows and nightcrawlers. A few bream are being caught off of crickets.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 12-19-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the pond in the back has been doing well on crappie using No. 6 crappie minnows. While they haven’t been very big crappie, anglers have been getting a good amount. Catfish, especially some big ones, have been reported being caught off of No. 12 bass minnows and stink bait. A few bream reported caught off of crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 12-19-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the river is “high and muddy, is all I can say about it. I think they are calling for more rain. This is not good. It needs to go down and clear up in order to get on it and walleye fish. That’s what my husband is waiting for.”
(updated 12-19-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are fair on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Catfish have been hitting nightcrawlers and cut bait. Bass have been hitting brooder minnows and spinnerbaits.
(updated 12-5-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are fair on minnows and red/chartreuse jigs. Fish the east end of the lake for best success.
(updated 12-12-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is excellent. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 12-5-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says bass are good around the spillway. Anglers are using Texas Ridge creature baits or deep-diving crankbaits. Catfishing is fair around the launch ramp. Try using minnows or nightcrawlers.
(updated 12-19-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are good on No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish have been hitting nightcrawlers and No. 12 bass minnows. Bass also have been hitting No. 12 bass minnows.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 12-5-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said weather and hunting have just about shut down fishing in that area. Most fishing is below Lock and Dams 9 and 10. Catfishing is mainly around deep holes and around jetties below the dams. Use a combo of liver and shad. For stripers, use a wobble spoon or float a live shad. A few sauger are being caught with a speck rig tipped with minnow. Bass are biting on a worm or a jig fished slow. No reports on crappie, bream or white bass.
(updated 12-19-2018) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the level and current are normal. Bream are deep but they are biting; anglers reports fair results with worms. Crappie are excellent. Minnows and jigs will work. The bass bite continues to be good; Ray says he hears they are “biting on everything.” Throw minnows or jigs and you’ll get a response from crappie or bass. No reports on catfish.
(updated 12-19-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie are excellent. They can be found in 10-12 feet of water and are biting pink minnows. No other reports.
(updated 12-19-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are good around he Murray Lock and Dam. Try snagging or use skipjack. White bass are fair. Use spoons and twister tails.
(updated 12-19-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that crappie remain excellent in the river around the Burns Park area, in the backwater and near Cajun’s Wharf on the Little Rock side. They’re biting in 6-8 feet depth around Cajun’s Wharf, and are at 10 feet or so elsewhere. Use jigs, Shad Buster, crappie jigs in silver with a chartreuse tail. Bass are fair in the Little Rock pool; go below Terry Lock and Dam for excellent bite bites; throw Super Flukes. White bass are fair below the Murray dam. Use 2-inch shad-colored swimming minnows. Bream are poor. Catfish are fair below the Terry Dam.
(updated 12-19-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is muddy and the level and current are a little high. Vince urges anglers to check conditions before going out as the water is moving fast. Bass reports have been good. Anglers say they are at 5-10 feet depth and are hitting both really dark and really bright colors. Some are using red-colored crankbaits with success, as well as crawfish and jigs. Fish the rock points. No reports on bream, crappie or catfish, however.
(updated 12-19-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is muddy, while the level and current are high. Crappie are excellent. Best results will be with minnows. No reports on bass, catfish or bream.
(updated 12-19-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are good below the Murray Lock and Dam. Try snagging or use skipjack. White bass are fair. Use spoons and twister tails.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-19-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is muddy, while the level is high. Crappie are excellent. Use minnows. No reports on bass, catfish or bream.
The lake has closed for the season and will reopen Feb. 2, 2019.
(updated 12-19-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the nice weather has been an early Christmas present around here and that looks to continue through the next week. “With highs reaching almost 60 degrees some days, we've had beautiful days to catch some trout. The browns we've seen have been biting on sculpin if you can find where they are hiding,” they say. Sunrise PowerBait has been very successful in reeling the rainbows this week and, as the spawn continues, shifting to orange or garlic-scented orange PowerBait will keep pulling them in. The low water has provided ample fly-fishing opportunities and anglers using olive Wooly Buggers have been reeling in a lot of trout. The warm and sunny weather has also been responsible for many afternoon hatches, so dry fly-fishing later in the day has proved very successful. “Now is the time to treat yourself to a Christmas present of trout fishing on the White River.”
(updated 12-19-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had three-quarters of an inch of rain, cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.4 feet to rest at 3.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 2.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had significant wadable water most days. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 0.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are well below the top of power pool. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. They have been some blue-wing olive and some midge hatches (try a size 20 parachute Adams). The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size14), 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 combination is a size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
John adds about the 2019 Sowbug Roundup and fly-tying: “A few years ago we added a fly-tying contest to the schedule of events for the Sowbug Roundup. Over time it has become one of the most anticipated events at the event. We have discovered some really talented fly-tyers in the process. Tyers like Chad Johnson and Tradd Little come to mind.
“Last year Steve Jensen won the award for Best in Show. Steve has been around a long time. I have known him for 35 years. He is a respected fly-tyer. He entered the fly-tying contest for the first time and won.
“This could happen to you. There are a lot of really talented fly-tyers out there who have never entered. You cannot win unless you enter! The whole idea is to bring some recognition to those tyers out there who are doing some fantastic work and have not received the recognition that they deserve. My brother, Dan, was a fantastic tyer but I could never get him to enter the contest. It is one of my great regrets.
“If you decide to enter, you will discover that rules have been kept to a minimum. The entrant must tie the fly submitted for judging. Each entry must include the name, address, phone number and email address along with two flies for each pattern submitted (they must be exactly the same size, color, etc.). You need to include the recipe for the fly, instructions on how to fish it and the category you wish to have it judged in (judges reserve the right to change the category, if needed). There are 12 categories, nymph, dry fly, wet fly, traditional streamer, single hook streamer and articulated streamer, smallmouth bass, bass, warm water, salmon/steelhead, salt water and tenkara. In addition, there is a Best in Show award. You may submit as many patterns for as many categories as you want. You can win a maximum of three categories (Best in Show is considered a category). All flies submitted will become the property of the contest and will not be returned. Any fly that contains insect parts (legs wings, etc.) will be eliminated from competition. Commercially tied patterns will not be accepted. The decision of the judges is final. Committee members and judges are not eligible to participate in the contest.
“To participate, send your flies, recipes and fishing instructions to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave., Cotter, AR 72626 by Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2019. The winners will be announced on Friday, March 29, at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig, which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church in Mountain Home. Now is the time to start tying. I hope you enter.”
(updated 12-12-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear and the level is normal, but there has been nobody fishing. “If someone came out, they would catch fish,” they tell us. The trout bite is good.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.67 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake winter striper bite is going strong now. “I went out Tuesday looking for some stripers since I struck out the week before. We headed towards Fouts Boat Dock but were slowed down to a crawl by the heavy fog bank that started at the 62 bridge. We creeped all the way up to Fouts, where I had caught so many winter stripers last year, and looked from there back to Bidwell Point and could not find bait or fish.
“My next move was to look in Float Creek. I have structure scan, so I'm very certain when I see fish they are stripers, compared to 2D sonar that show lots of hooks that look like big fish but when you view them using structure scan you realize your viewing small fish. I finally found some good white lines that I knew were stripers. I threw out two long lines and then set out seven downlines. It didn't take long and we hooked up with a fat well feed 12-pound striper. We caught a small hybrid, several largemouths, and catfish while I continued to search for stripers. I moved out to deeper water and found small schools of stripers in 60 feet of water on the bottom. When I put the shad I was using for bait on their noses, they would slam the bait. In the first school we caught one and missed one. The next school we hooked up with four all at once and managed to land three. It was a great way to end our trip. The moral of the story is keep looking, use your electronics and have faith once you find fish. Winter fishing is fun and you never know when the bite will come since they will feed all day long.”
Tom says the other good area for stripers right now is above Cranfield toward Steward Point. Lots of whites, hybrids and stripers are being caught using spoons and Kastmasters. The stripers will be in large schools along with the white bass. Shad, shiners and spoons are the best baits. Because they are now schooled up, anglers using those baits should expect the action to be very fast. Trolling will produce fish but because you're moving, you are not staying on the schools long enough to catch many. Tom adds that even though it’s cold, winter striper fishing is one of the best time to catch lots of fish and have the lake to yourself. The good part of winter striper fishing is the fish will stay in this pattern for the next several months, so there should be not a lot of traveling looking for fish. When you find big balls of shad, the stripers will be close by. The stripers will move to the channel toward Crystal Cove and stay on the big flat and channel near Howard Cove and Blue Lady. Float Creek will begin to hold fish as the water turns colder. Stripers tend to congregate near and in the four corners area of 5A. Tom says they are using shad but shiners will be an effective substitute to shad. The best method is downlines set off the bottom about 2 feet. Tom says he also had one rod set about 20 feet down to catch the roving hybrids that are in the higher water column. Float and Panther creeks should also hold stripers, plus Big Creek. “Follow the same pattern, find the shad and the stripers are nearby.”
(updated 12-12-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing has been exciting as always. There have been fantastic days of catching along with some mediocre days, but it is always a great day to just be able to be out on the water. If you have been following my blog, I am sure you have noticed that I enjoy fishing for striped and hybrid bass the most, whether they are located in deep water or shallow water, but I do fish for other species in order to keep up with their movements and patterns.”
He says the striped and hybrid bass bite is really starting to improve. They are being caught in several different types of locations at varying depths. On Monday, Lou said, he spent the day checking out various areas, but mainly concentrated on the deep water channels. Bait is starting to move into the 80-plus feet channels on the main lake and the stripers are either buried inside the bait balls or are following. This is a typical winter pattern, and as the water continues to cool, more and more bait will move into the deep water and suspend 40-60 down with the striped and hybrid bass hanging out close by. Lou did end up finding several large schools of fish following bait, which were suspended 50-60 feet down. Lou says he managed to land a nice hybrid and broke off a second fish. He was vertical-jigging with a 1-ounce spoon. Another good fishing method at this time to target these suspended fish, he says, is to troll with umbrella/Alabama rigs or with just a single large swimbait. The main key is to be able to get your bait down to the fish at 50-55 feet. Using live bait has also been very productive.
“Today I was checking out various flats on the lake. I started at the 101 bridge flat and worked my way west to the Cranfield area, then headed northward to the Seward Point and Briar Creek flats. I found fish on all the flats, but it was mainly scattered white bass. At about 10:30 I was checking out a final flat and found a few arcs in 48 feet of water. I stopped and started to fish and my fish finder screen lit up like a Christmas tree with all kinds of fish. For the next two hours I vertical-jigged with my 1-ounce spoon and also casted out a ½-ounce Kastmaster. I ended up landing a couple nice striped bass, a few hybrids, flathead catfish, largemouth bass and lots of jumbo-sized white bass. I dropped my spoon and let it sit about 1 foot off of the bottom, then placed it in the rod holder, I then would cast out my Kastmaster and let it sink to the bottom and then retrieved it slowly with a stop, jerk and reel retrieval method. I would glance at my spooning rod on occasion and find that it was buried with a fish on. I had a great time with a great big grin on my face.”
Lou says the largemouth bass are also starting to move toward deeper water as the water continues to cool. This is normal for this species, as well as for all the species in the lake. Lou says he has been catching some nice fat largemouth while vertical-jigging for stripers in 50 feet of water. You can also jig around sunken brush piles in 30-40 feet of water and catch some nice fish. The third location is along the rock bluff walls. Cast out a worm, crawdad or a jig & pig to the shoreline and let it sink down the bluff wall. Most of the fish caught on plastics are in the 20- to 30-feet depth range. There are still a few fish up shallow, but most are deep following the bait, which is going deeper. Crappie are still in their normal habitat for this time of year and will be found buried in brush during the morning and daytime in 30-40 feet of water. In the evening they will come up in the water column and may be only 8-15 feet down. You need to test different depths until you find that magic area where they are feeding. “I have actually caught a few nice keepers on 50-foot-deep brush piles over the last week, so don't hesitate to check out the deep areas for crappie.” Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable. Generation has been sporadic. The current depth is 552.94 feet msl. The main lake surface water temperature this morning ranged 48.5-51.5 degrees. The lake cooled as Lou traveled northward, he said. The main lake is clear with a very slight stain and most coves and creeks are stained. The lake is in excellent condition as are the fish. “If you would like to see a more frequent update on fishing activity on Norfork Lake, follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook,” he says.
(updated 12-19-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 0.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are well below the top of power pool. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some daily topwater action. Navigate this stream with caution. There has been major gravel recruitment over the past year or more at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, Copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. John says his favorite rig has been a red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek is fishing much better. 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 12-19-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are much less active with the cold conditions. 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 1,118.79 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is clear. Water level has fallen, it’s a little low (more than 2 feet below conservation pool), they say. Surface temperature is in the high 40s. Crappie action continues to be good. They can be found in 8-15 feet depth and are biting minnows, jigs and tight-lined spider rigs. Work the river end of the lake. Bass are fair and are hitting topwaters, crankbaits and big shad-looking jigs. No reports on bream. Catfish returned no reports.
(updated 12-19-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) striper activity forecast for this week is good. Stripers are in fall transition mode and are heading into their winter locations. They are on the move, and being mobile/flexible will be key to finding them. Mike Bailey says they continue seeing some topwater action, so get those binoculars out and be on the lookout. For you diehard live baiters, fishing using weighted lines, balloons and downlines between 15-35 feet 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, as well as Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5- to 6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. Down-rigging those baits will be effective as well. Make sure you do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three striper/hybrid or combination. Walleye must be 18 inches long with a limit of four. Fish location is greatly influenced by lake level and current flow. Current in Beaver Lake from generation will generally position fish on upstream or downstream edges of structure; check the daily lake level and flow data link on Bailey’s website. Mike also says live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. This week, water surface temperatures are in the mid- to high 40s. Mike suggests checking out these hot spots on the mid- and upper sections of the lake: Point 5 (stripers are still being found over deep open water and near the tree/bluff lines between points 5 and 6), Rocky Branch, Larue (check the main channel bends and cuts as stripers move through on their way upstream), Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow (check mouth of this arm), Highway 12 bridge (check mouth of the river and main lake structures, striper heading upriver), Prairie Creek (pay attention to areas around the islands and point 10; stripers still found over deep open water and near the tree/bluff lines during daylight hours, at night fish the shallows with jerkbaits and Rat-L-Traps) Blackburn Creek, Hickory Creek (check channel bends and gravel bars, watch for surfacing fish), War Eagle/White River junction, White River and War Eagle River (check channel bends and gravel bars and watch for surfacing fish).
(updated 12-12-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, it looks like the Corps of Engineers has got the generators back online. It has been a little too cold for me to fish in the past few weeks, but I did manage to sneak in a couple of hours (Tuesday).” Browns and rainbows were quite active Tuesday, he says. Most were caught using quarter-ounce spoons of various colors. However, the rainbows also responded well to PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. “The hot spot for me was Parker Bottoms, hitting the deeper holes and fishing the ripples. As we continue to have below-freezing weather, I will not fish regularly until spring. With that being said, I will post a report if I did get a break from the cold and have a chance to get out. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Be safe, have fun and if you’re able to brave the cold, go catch some fish.”Lake Fayetteville
(updated 12-19-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is clear and at a normal level. The surface water temperature is 42 degrees. Crappie are fair and are found 4-6 feet depth over 20 feet of water. Use jigs. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
(updated 12-19-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water clarity is muddy but the lake is at a normal level. No surface water temperature was recorded. Crappie are good on minnows. Bass reports are poor. Channel catfish are good on chicken liver. Bream are poor.
(updated 12-19-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “Is this really December? With temperatures in the 50s, it is a good time to go fishing. Do we have minnows? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes.’ Lake Poinsett State Park is here to supply your fishing needs. It is a good time to buy that angler in your life a new fishing pole and other supplies for his or her tackle box.” While Lake Poinsett is closed to anglers until 2020 for extensive repairs, there are other lakes in the immediate area to check out, including Lake Charles and Lake Hogue. Also, the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program is stocking the pond at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
(updated 12-19-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) had no report.
(updated 12-12-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 275 cfs (350 average) and water clarity has been clear. The river is low and clear. Y2Ks have been the hot fly for numbers the last week with a few big fish biting. The big fish fly of the week has been the White Lightning. It is a big white fly tied on a size 6 jig hook. Mimics a big bait fish. For spin-fishing it’s hot pink Trout Magnets all the way. On the tough days, pull the float off and bounce the Trout Magnet off the bottom in the deeper pools. The trout will hit it as it swings out. Lots of fun!
(updated 12-19-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season is over. 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 12-19-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said it had no report this week. The water is running high and muddy and no one is fishing. The water is up 10-12 feet there. Call for any change in conditions in coming days.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 12-19-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports the water temperature is around 50 degrees and the water clarity is murky, less than 6 inches of visibility. The threadfin shad die-off is in full effect. The whole pool is quite dirty from the rainfall runoff lately and the black bass are lethargic. Your best bet is to slow way down and soak dark-colored jigs along the steepest rock shorelines in the area and be patient.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 12-19-2018) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 12-19-2018) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet and while the AGFC completed vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through September. The lake is rising with rainfall will cover the new anchoring of cut gum trees and other vegetation good for fish habitat on the shallow shoreline areas. During the drawdown, tree stumps are showing in the coves toward the east and northeast of the lake; those are good areas to fish for the bass. Next spring should be a great time to check out this fishery.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 261.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake is dropping back to normal from a rise of over 2 feet from all the recent rain in southwest Arkansas. Army Corps of Engineers gate changes at the dam were releasing around 15,250 cfs Monday. Millwood was about 27 inches above normal conservation pool on Monday, at 261.5 feet msl. The tailwater below the dam was about 243 feet msl with USACE gates release at the dam. Surface water temps dropped over the past week, and on Monday they ranged 40-45 degrees. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Watch for sudden gate changes and debris, which will increase with current in Little River. Navigation is normal, and floating debris is reduced in navigation this week. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 5-7 inches. Little River's visibility ranges 3-6 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow's clarity ranges 10-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain or thunderstorms.
Mike says that despite the stained-up lake from all the weather conditions, the bass bite is still very good most days for largemouth bass during the midday hours in the oxbows, and he is finding bass still hitting crankbaits there. Best reactions came using Bomber Crankbaits, large bulky Gitzit tubes, War Eagle Spinnerbaits and Yum Dingers. The schools of largemouths, Kentucky bass (spots) and white bass are getting fewer and farther apart, but continue to follow shad schools. Best locations over the past two weeks for these schools were at mouths of creeks and sloughs dumping into the back of the oxbows on points and ditches with dead lily pad stems and stumps, ranging 10-12 feet deep. Bass continue hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks in 8-12 feet of depth. Surface-feeding activity levels have disappeared with current conditions. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were Bomber Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad, or Pearl White. Rat-L-Traps and SpinTraps in chrome/blue and shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Sexy Bone Nova, Blueback Herring, or Liv-N Chrome continue working, albeit slower.
Decent-size schools of white bass continue following shad in the oxbows, and nice 2-4 pound white bass continue randomly hitting crankbaits in Horseshoe and McGuire oxbow lakes up Little River. These white bass are following the same schools of shad along Little River and the oxbows as the largemouths, and were back to randomly hitting Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails and Rocket Shads. Crappie were beginning stacking up vertically, 10-15 feet deep, in standing timber of the oxbows and, before all the storms and rise in the lake, were hitting Paddle Tail smoke-colored grubs and Blakemore Roadrunners in white and chartreuse. Since lake turbidity has increased over the past few days, the crappie have retreated to deeper water. Catfish continue biting well on yo-yos and trotlines in the oxbow lakes up Little River. Cut baits, punch bait and catalpa worms have been working well for the last couple weeks.
(updated 12-12-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) heard no reports the past week. Late last month, crappie were biting well.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 549.05 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is about a foot and a half above full pool of 548 feet and has risen some with the recent rains. Water temps have made it the mid-50s. The bass are moving into their winter patterns. Shaky-head-rigged Yum Finesse Worms and drop-shots rigged with Yum Kill Shots or Sharpshooters are working OK on main lake points around brush as well. Ned Rigs using half of a Yum Dinger are also working well. The jig bite is getting better using Booyah Finance Jigs. The crankbait bite is picking up using shad-colored Bandit Crankbaits. Cotton Cordell or War Eagle Spoons are working well on flats adjacent to creek channels 20-30 feet deep. The Yumbrella has started working well over deeper brush using the small Yum Pulse Swimbaits. Crappie are really good lately. They can be caught in 15-30 feet of brush with minnows or Kalin’s Grubs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.12 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said vertical jigging spoons 35-55 feet deep is producing ample fish. Water temps are at 50 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.89 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 530.53 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 12-12-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado says the river is back on the rise. The bass have slowed down a little. There are still a few crappie being caught in the riverbed and at Wildcat.
(updated 12-19-2018) Angler Bennie Goodman said crappie are really active in the coves at night. They seem to taper off after daylight. Jigs and minnows are working. Not many to be found even with good electronics on the ledge off the levee. Bream, bass and catfish are poor. Water not up much and water temperature is normal for this time of year.
(updated 12-19-2018) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) reported that the lake is clear and it is up about a foot above normal level. No temperature was reported. Crappie are excellent, as has been the case the past few weeks. “It’s really good,” she said. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are poor. Catfish are poor. Poor reports on bream.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 12-19-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that the winter drawdown is now complete for lakes Hamilton and Catherine. A 5-foot draw is now in place and will remain at this level until March 1, when both lakes are scheduled for refilling. Normal water levels have returned to the area after days of open flood gates, which created unsafe navigation below Carpenter Dam. Rainbow trout are now stocked in the Carpenter Dam tailrace. Bank fishermen are catching trout on waxworms or mealworms floated just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Redworms or nightcrawlers presented in the same manner will also be effective. Fly-fisherman can wade to areas that hold numbers of trout and can catch limits of fish casting egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. San Juan worms in red or hot pink will draw strikes from hungry trout in areas close to the main channel where some current is present. Spin-fisherman casting Super Dupers in silver or gold over current flow will have success as rainbows will be feeding on injured threadfin shad. Rock structure provides a perfect ambush point for trout chasing bait fish. Trout fishing starts slowly in December as lower numbers are stocked this time of year, so anglers need to use patience and use different techniques until one is found that produces results. Some striper activity has been observed below the bridge late in the evening around 4 p.m. Alabama rigs and Super Spooks in white give anglers a good chance at hooking one of these large predator fish as they feed on trout and gizzard shad. Walleye and yellow bass are feeding on threadfin shad schools that have migrated in the tailrace. Anglers using Carolina rigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers will catch walleye in periods of slack water by the bridge. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current has taken good numbers of yellow bass and trout although the size runs on the small side. Anyone planning to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace is cautioned to be aware of the generation schedules and always wear a life jacket.
(updated 12-19-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is warming to 54 degrees. The river and the lower end of most creeks are dingy. Some of the bigger creeks, the upper ends are beginning to clear. Striper fishing has been excellent on jerkbaits, swimbaits, A-rigs, spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Largemouth bass has been slow due to the dirty water, but the best bite has been on dark jerkbaits, and plastic crawls, along with small jigs and Bamboozle. Scam shad has been working weightless in the clearwater. Crappie have been slow due to the dirty water and current. Churches Glow has been working deep, as well as Chartreuse Blue, Electric Chicken and Cajun Cricket. Bream have been caught on small jigs while crappie fishing in the creeks in 12 feet of water. Catfish have been good on live bait skipjack and perch.
(updated 12-19-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, Xpress all-welded fishing boat in Hot Springs, reports lake temperatures still in the high 40s with water clarity stained and visibility at 5 feet or less. No reports on bass, but the crappie continues to be excellent. Large groups of crappie are balled up in deeper brush piles up to 45 feet deep and a being taken wholesale on slip bobber rigs with smaller minnows, unweighted hooks and 2- to 4-pound test line. Position the bait just over the piles and get ready! Strikes are not aggressive so be patient with the hook set. No catfish reports, but you striper guys need to be looking around 55 feet and look for the gulls on the surface. Fish near the state Highway 7 bridges. “Good Luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 12-19-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said he’s seen no change here over the past week. He says that, like he’s found at DeGray Lake, vertical-jigging spoons at a range of 35-55 feet depth will produce plenty of catches. Water temperature is 50 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 347.53 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is muddy and is a little high; on Tuesday it was more than 6 feet above full pool. Fishing is slow. Anglers reports poor results across the board: bream, crappie, bass, catfish and white bass.
(updated 12-19-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.33 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are still fair. Bama rigs or spoons fished on main lake points or in creek channels are best at this time. No report on walleye. Stripers are fair on live bait. Major creek mouths and main lake points on the western and central parts of the lake are the best for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are slow and being caught with jigs or minnows in 15-20 feet of water near brush. No report on catfish. Water temperature this week ranges 46-50 degrees. Water clarity is stained. Lake level is 578.31 feet msl. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 385.50 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-19-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), not much has been happening here lately. The warmer weather drew out some fishermen the past few days, but so far no notable catches on either lake (including Storm Creek Lake). Last week was a wash due to weather, and with hunting season kicked off, Natalie believes most of the state park’s fishing patrons have hung up the rod and picked up a bow for the time being.
(updated 12-19-2018) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 12-19-2018) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) is requesting to recycle your real Christmas trees to be donated to be used as fish structure around the mobility impaired fishing dock at Cook’s Lake. Drop off locations include the Potlatch Conservation Education Center at 625 Cook’s Lake Road, Casscoe, AR 72026, or the bus lot across from Grand Avenue United Methodist Church in Stuttgart. Merry Christmas from the Cook’s Lake staff!
Cook’s Lake is a 2.5-mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility-impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species. Cook’s Lake will reopen for fishing the first weekend in March, 2019.