Jan. 9, 2019
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 9, 2019. 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 1-9-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is stained and a little high with swift current because the gates are open. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. Good deep for them, about 1 foot off the bottom. Use minnows. Look for the best bites in Minnow Cove, Gold Creek and Caney Creek. Nothing reported on bass. Catfishing is fair; try yo-yos at night with minnows or cut bait.
Little Red River
(updated 1-9-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Corps of Engineers has been releasing significant amounts of water daily from the Greers Ferry Lake to maintain the lake level at top pool level. 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 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 1-19-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the Corp informed him that they have reduced the generation to two units for 12 hours per day. You will need to check the SWPA Forecast (swpa.gov) for the times of generation. There is also a possibility that this could be reduced even more after Thursday. The river is clear, and with the lower generation the fishing should be good. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for nice weather.
NOTE: Greg will again be offering the free fly-fishing class at Heber Springs First United Methodist Church beginning Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Family Life Center. The class is open to all adults and older youth. Younger children can attend with a parent. The class will meet each Thursday evening from 7-9 for four consecutive weeks. These dates are Feb. 21, Feb. 28, March 7 and March 14. All persons interested in learning to fly-fish are welcome to attend. It is best to attend all classes but, if this is not possible, come when you can. If you have attended in the past and wish to participate again, please feel free to do so. Call Greg Seaton at 501-690-9166 to register for the class. If Greg is unable to answer then, he will return voicemails or texts.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.94 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 1-9-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.95 feet msl and falling with generation. It is 0.91 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and, with the ground so full of water, generation will have to continue to keep lake at normal pool. Crappie catching is still good all around the lake in certain spots with minnows and or jigs fished in 15-30 feet of water. No report on catfish. Black bass are being caught all over the lake from super shallow out to 60-70 feet of water; try dragging something or catch them suspended or right up on the bank with a blade. No report on bream. Hybrid and white bass are eating well all over the lake and rivers. Stay around the shad and the fish will be close, of course, using hair jigs, inline spinners, swimbaits and even some topwater baits. Spoons work great on sunny days; concentrate on 25-70 feet. Some walleye are roaming around with other species. Concentrations are preparing for the river spawn. Look in historic area for them to be piled up and use a jighead with a minnow, or a crankbait.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-9-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water level is normal and the clarity is clear. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are excellent. Shad and minnows were working best. No reports on bass, catfish or bream.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup will be in effect through March 1. 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 1-9-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is still murky, but getting better. Surface temperature is around 46 degrees. Bream are slow but still catching some on redworms. Bass are doing well on topwater baits around brush tops and shad pools. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline with shad and bass minnows. Crappie are slow but should start picking up with this cooler weather. “Come see us, off Highway 9 in Morrilton.”
Angler Bennie Goodman said
(updated 1-9-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake is muddy. The water level is high, up 2-3 feet above normal. Surface temperature was 47 degrees. The only reports were with bass, and those were poor. Two bass were caught.
(updated 1-9-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water temperature is in the low 50s and starting to clear up. Largemouth bass are good. With the water temperatures in the low 50s some bass are being caught in water as shallow as 8 feet. Some also are being found 25-30 feet off steeper rocky banks or secondary channels. Try using crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs. Kentucky bass are fair. They are mixed in with the other black bass, but most can be found in 20-30 feet of water. Try fishing off drops and rocky banks. White bass are fair. Some whites are being caught near brush piles with the crappie in 20-30 feet of water. Crappie are good. Crappie are still in deeper water. Reports of them being found scattered and not hay-stacked anywhere from 25-35 feet of water close to deep brush. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream reports are poor. Less reports coming in this week. Some are still catching bream on redworms. No reports on catfish this week.
(updated 1-9-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows and some have also been tipping them with crappie nibbles. Pink minnows work well over there as well. Many have been catching them off the dock. Catfish been fair on No. 12 bass minnows and night crawlers. A few bream have been caught on crickets. Bass have been good on brooder minnows and spinnerbaits.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-9-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that last week the crappie and catfish were doing good off of No. 6 crappie minnows out of the back pond. Even a few of those yellow bass that have escaped from Hurricane Lake in Hurricane Creek, which runs along the side of both of the ponds, been caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish, too, have been caught off of cut bait (frozen shad) and nightcrawlers. Bass have done fair on red shad-colored plastic worms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-9-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “All I can say about it is that right before Christmas Eve it was hot. The bass and walleye were being caught off of brooder minnows, as well as a few catfish. After all this rain, it's been too high to fish. But it's going back down and it's should be just right until it rains again. I had a guy that somewhere off of the river that have been taking the No. 6 crappie minnows and doing well on crappie.
Lisa says her customers have found several other hotspots in the region: Lake Ouachita has been doing well on crappie, quite a few pink crappie minnows been going there; at DeGray Lake the Bobby Garland in blue ice color in various styles, 2-inch slab slayer, baby shad and scent wigglers have done well. One of her customers caught some crappie at Harris Brake off No. 12 bass minnows. Also another customer has done well on the crappie there with 1/16-ounce orange jighead with white/chartreuse and 2-inch Bobby Garland Slab Slayer jigs.
(updated 1-9-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie that some catch out there are very nice ones, off of No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Also off of Kalin's 2-inch Grubs in the color Bleeding Tennessee Shad. But it is a very hard lake to crappie fish. Catfish have been good on goldfish and nightcrawlers. The red ear bream out there are huge, too. They usually catch them on bottom with crickets. One of the very best lakes to hit when it gets bream season.
(updated 1-9-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said this is another great crappie lake, but if you don't like traveling down a long gravel road for many miles. Then it's best you don't go there, especially if you have a nice truck and boat. That's why there is not a whole lot of pressure put on this lake. It's been known to be able to catch the crappie on No. 4, No. 6 crappie minnows as well as No. 12 bass minnows and even brooder minnows. Bass also like the No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish do well on stink baits and bait shrimp.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 1-9-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said weather and river flow have kept even the commercial anglers off the river. Few people who are trying to fish have been below the dams. Please remember: 70,000 cfs brings small boat warnings. Catfish are going to deep holes. Use shad-worm combo. Fishing is fair below the dams with the same approach. No reports on black bass. White bass are being caught below the dams; use spoons. Crappie are being caught below the dams in backwater 8-15 feet deep. Use jigs. No reports on bream. For sauger, use speck rigs in chartreuse and yellow.
(updated 1-9-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the fishing is not good at this time. The water clarity is very murky and as of earlier this week the level and current were high. He said the water is up and down these days. If you can catch the water right, he said, crappie will be fair catching. Minnows or jigs will work. Nothing else has been reported caught.
(updated 1-9-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said water is muddy and high and there were no reports.
(updated 1-9-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are biting fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or shad. White bass are good with spoons and twister tails.
(updated 1-9-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that water is muddy/dirty and very high with no fishing reports coming in from the regular pool. Below the Terry Lock and Dam, catfish are fair on skipjack. Water there is muddy and high.
(updated 1-9-2019) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) advises that anglers avoid the river at all costs if possible because of how high and how much current is in it this week. The clarity is “really muddy,” he said. “The flow is too high. People need to be very careful!” No reports on any catches.
(updated 1-9-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is a little muddy, while the level and current are high. No reports on bream or crappie. Bass are biting fair on crankbaits or using worms. Catfish reports are fair behind the Terry Lock and Dam.
(updated 1-9-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are biting fair below the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or shad. White bass are good with spoons and twister tails.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-9-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is a little murky and the water level and current are high. Crappie are good. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair on crankbaits and using worms. No reports on catfish or bream.
The lake has closed for the season and will reopen Feb. 2, 2019.
(updated 1-9-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Welcome to 2019! Mild January temperatures see White River fishers in shirt sleeves and sunscreen. Might not stay that warm, so come prepared for a change in the thermometer, but the rainbow trout catch remains steady, the brown bite rising.” Bull Shoals Lake has risen several feet over the last two weeks, so they are experiencing significant releases from the dam. That means you need to be prepared with weighted line with heavier, sinking stickbaits and/or sinkers that keep you close to the bottom (can mean 8 feet at least during heavier releases). Cast nearer the shoreline and let your bait drift back to you with a slightly taut line. High water is a challenge but the catch is usually a higher quality. Rooster Tails, gold blades, orange bodies; the browns are beginning to move back to their home bases and looking for fresh sculpins. “Time to plan the new year's fishing excursions; that might include checking off a bucket list item. We can help.”
(updated 1-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had two rain events totaling about 3 inches at Cotter), cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 2.3 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water.
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 (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 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, “Last weekend my wife, Lori, and I had a guide trip with Brian and his wife, Lee. They were from Monroe, Louisiana. Before the trip, Brian explained that Lee did not do well in the cold. As luck would have it, the weather was forecast with very cold temperatures, no sun and brisk winds. The night before, we talked with Brian to ensure that they had appropriate clothing. We decided to start a bit later than usual in hopes of slightly warmer starting temperatures. It was 27 degrees when we got on the water.
“I did everything that I could the day before, when it was warmer. I hooked up my river boat and made sure that it was gassed up and ready to go. I rigged two fly rods with fresh leaders 5X tippet, two nymphs (a ruby midge below a pheasant tail), an AB split shot and a strike indicator. I gathered all of the food that we would need for lunch and packed it into my Yeti. I also put a container of charcoal lighter fluid in my Suburban.
“The next morning I woke up at the usual time (5 a.m.) and showered and shaved. I took great care in choosing my clothing for the day. I put on polypropylene long underwear top and bottom. Over that I wore fleece lined blue jeans and a thick fleece pullover. I wore heavy wool socks and a pair of Bean boots lined with Gore-Tex and Thinsulate. To complete my ensemble, I donned a thick down jacket, fingerless wool gloves and my super warm Elmer Phud hat. It is waterproof, wind proof and insulated. It has a long bill and ear flaps that secure down with a Velcro strap. Lori was similarly dressed except that she wore an extra fleece hat under her Elmer Pfud cap.
“I got to the river early and launched my boat so that we could begin fishing immediately. They were into trout immediately. The hot fly was the ruby midge. We literally caught every fish on that fly. We fished all morning and it was cold. We had a few brief periods of sunshine but the wind was unrelenting.
“At lunch we pulled over to the ramp and while Lori was putting out the lunch, I started a camp fire in the fire ring. I used sticks and twigs that had dropped from the trees during a recent wind storm. There was plenty of wood around. I used my charcoal lighter fluid to get the fire going quickly. On a cold day a fire can make a big difference. It is nice to warm your hands. We all ate lunch around the fire. Another guide arrived while we were there. His clients asked if they could warm up by the fire. We welcomed them to share the warmth.
“We returned to the river and continued fishing. Midafternoon we took a break and were pleased to note that the fire was still going. We warmed up and returned to the river. We fished till almost dark. When we came off the river, the fire was still going. Our clients warmed by the fire, while I put my boat on the trailer and stowed my gear.
We finished the day and survived the cold. The fire helped a lot.”
(updated 1-9-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 662.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) 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 556.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Happy New Year to all. I hope the fantastic weather we have been having is allowing you to get out on the lake and do a little fishing. Norfork Lake is one of the best lakes I have had the opportunity to fish and I enjoy it most every day. Even though I have been out of pocket for the last couple of weeks, I am back out on the lake finding and catching fish.” Lou said Monday was his first day out on the lake for 2019 and he spent the day traveling to different parts of the lake, doing a lot of graphing and looking for striped bass with very little fishing. Tuesday was a different story, he said. “I retraced my travels from yesterday to the spots where I found fish. My first area at about 8 a.m. was the Cranfield and Pigeon Creek area. I found bait and fish, but very few takers. I fished this area for about an hour with little luck, then headed to a mid-lake creek that the wind was blowing into. Again I found scattered bait with fish following, and this time they were feeding. The fish were 40-60 feet down. The hybrids and whites were in the 40-50 foot range and the deeper fish were stripers. I was vertical-jigging with a spoon and caught many big whites, a hybrid and 2 striped bass. I was jigging for the suspended fish 60 feet down and a small school of big fish came under me on the bottom at 80 feet, so I dropped my spoon to the bottom. The spoon did not have a chance to hit the bottom as a striper just inhaled the spoon and the fight was on.
“The fish in this area were scattered though out the deeper water so I had to keep moving around until I located them. I finally decided to move to my next location and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of active fish. I was in between the two bridges in 90-100 feet of water. This time I found schools of fish only 20-40 feet down, but lots of them. They would not hit my spoon jigging, but when I dropped it though the fish and reeled up fast though them, they hammered it before the spoon got to the surface. One of the striped bass caught here hit the spoon almost on the surface, then took a straight-down dive to about 60 feet before I could turn its head. It ended up being a nice 14-pound fish. I ended up catching fish all the way up to 2 p.m., when I decided it was time to go home, but the fish were still there.”
Lou says winter time fishing can be a blast. The fish, as you have read, can be at any depth from surface all the way down to the bottom, located in very deep water. Lou said he did have a couple of live baits out part of the time and never got a bite on them, but they liked his spoon. Each place that he fished Tuesday are typical wintertime locations based on prior years’ experience. It does take some time to locate the fish, but when you do, hang on. Lou says he still only uses 8-pound test monofilament line, so he has his drag set a little loose. What is a little different this year, so far, is that the fish and bait typically move into the deep channels, but he is finding them near the channel or on very deep flats, but not in the channel. Nothing to report on other species at this time as he says he’s just getting back into the groove. But wintertime bass and crappie fishing are both typically very good and lots of fun.
Norfork Lake has risen about 3 feet since his last report and currently sits at 556.34 feet msl, which is less than 3 feet over the normal seasonal pool. The main lake is clear. Some coves and back in the creeks are stained. The water temperature Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. was 48 degrees and by the time he headed back to the dock it was slightly over 49 degrees. The lake is in great shape and the fishing is looking to be a lot of fun, Lou says.
(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 1-19-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some daily top water action. 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 (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14, size 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 size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s 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 1-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color, and the White River below these streams is high and off-color, also. 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 1,121.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is stained. The water level is normal and the surface water temperature is in the low 40s. The crappie is excellent. Anglers are having best success spider-rigging minnows as well as fishing with jigs. Work the brush piles. Bass are good during the daytime. Crankbaits, A-rigs and jerkbaits are all delivering. Stripers are hitting live shad, topwater lures, brood minnows and Rat-L-Traps.
(updated 1-9-2019) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) had no report.
(updated 1-9-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, I hope you all had a happy holiday! With the little warm trend we had this week, I was able to get out and do a little fishing. One thing I was happy to see, is water in the tailwaters! The rain we got over the past week, has really helped out a lot. Now how about those fish!” Trout have been hitting on just about everything, PowerBaits, jigs and spoons. I would say the PowerBaits, fished with light terminal tackle has produced the best bite. The hot spot has been between Highway 62 bridge and Spider Creek. “I did get out toward Holiday Island and got into some Kentuckies and smallmouth. Both seemed to be in deeper water and hit on suspended soft plastics. I look forward to spring fishing for walleye and whites. We do not have too much further to go and they will be here.”
(updated 1-9-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
(updated 1-9-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) had no report.
(updated 1-19-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, Wow, temperatures in the fifties. The fish must think it is “spring”. Maybe the fishermen think so too. Bait sales have picked up. We are keeping plenty of minnows in stock. Sorry we don’t have Lake Poinsett back yet and we are looking forward to that day. You may address your questions to “Game & Fish” and they will keep you up to date. Meanwhile, we at Lake Poinsett State Park are keeping bait and lots of fishing supplies in stock for you. Happy fishing!!
(updated 1-9-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that the water is clear and at a normal level. No surface water temperature was available. Crappie were good on minnows and jigs. Bass reports were fair, but no other information was available. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 1-9-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 400 cfs (350 average) and water clarity has been poor. Lot of rain last week has the river up a bit and poor clarity. Will clear quickly due to being spring-fed. Should be back to normal by the weekend. Stay tuned to springriverfliesandguides.com/blog for latest reports on river conditions. Woolly worms with orange and red tails are working well. During hatches, size 10 nymphs work great. Pheasant tails/hares ears. Hot pink and orange Trout Magnets are working well for spin fishers. Be extra careful wading with the higher river flow.
(updated 1-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is high and off-color. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. 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 1-9-2019) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said they have experienced a lot of rain recently, and that has curtailed all the fishing. The water is muddy and the level and current are high. No reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-9-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 1-9-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-9-2019) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet and while the AGFC completed vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through last 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. This 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 260.45 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday Millwood Lake began dropping back to normal from a rise over 2 feet from all the recent rain in the region. Army Corps of Engineers gate changes at the dam are releasing around 19,750 cfs on Monday. Millwood Lake is about 16 inches above normal conservation pool Monday at 260.5 feet msl. The tailwater below the dam as of Wednesday is now about 249 feet msl, with Corps gate release at the dam. Water temps were stable over the past week, with temps ranging 42-47 degrees Monday under full sun. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the 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 this week and floating debris is reduced. Clarity and visibility continue improving over the past week. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was 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 currently ranges 10-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
With Millwood beginning to fall back to normal level and beginning to clear up somewhat from the recent weather, the bite for largemouth bass is very good most days at the midday hours in the oxbows, and bass will respond to crankbaits in the oxbows. Anglers are getting good reactions using Bomber crankbaits, large bulky Gitzit Tubes, or Berkley Power Worms. The best locations over the past few weeks have been in the back of the oxbows on points where tributary creeks and ditches dump in, ranging 8-15 feet deep with stumps. For the past couple weeks, largemouths have been good during the heat of the day hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 8-12 feet of depth. The best crankbaits drawing reactions 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, Liv-N Chrome, Ghost Shad or Transparent are working in the more clear sections in back of the oxbows away from muddy Little River current flows. These are still drawing random reactions in creek channels with any cypress trees, standing timber, and stumps. Magnum tube jigs like Gitzits, Brush Hogs, 10-12-inch bulky Power Worms and Real Deal Custom Tackle Jigs continue taking a few chunky largemouths in the creek channels from 10-15 feet deep on stumps, and on secondary points with stumps from 6-10 feet deep. Blackberry, Pumpkinseed, June Bug Red or Red Shad and Blue Fleck colors continue to be good colors for soft plastic brush hogs or 10-inch Power Worms from solitary bass not chasing shad. Good reactions continue on Real Deal Custom Jigs in Habenero, black/blue/ or black/blue/purple using a black craw trailer for bulk. TIP: Put a rattle inside your tube jig on a tungsten knocker weight to draw a reaction in the stained water clarity conditions. Best colors of tube jigs and Gitzits have been smoke/black/red flake, black neon, and pumpkinseed or green pumpkin with tail tentacles dipped in JJ Magic Chartreuse dipping dye. Pitching the Gitzits on stumps from multiple angles seems to initiate a reaction in midday warmer periods. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover, white/chartreuse, Hot Mouse and Mouse colors are all getting good reactions in the oxbows. If the water clarity is heavier stained, switch over to a FireTiger color.
Decent size schools of white bass are still roaming in the oxbows, and nice 2-4 pounder continue randomly hitting crankbaits in Horseshoe and McGuire oxbow lakes up Little River. These white bass have dropped off into slightly deeper water over the past few weeks in the oxbows and were back randomly hitting Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails, and Rocket Shads. Best color crankbaits seem to be the Tennessee Shad and the Citrus Shad patterns. Crappie continue stacking up vertically, moved deeper and out of Little River muddy current, about 20-26 feet deep in standing timber of the oxbows, or on planted brush and were hitting Southern Pro Scale Head Little Hustler tubes in blue/white, blue/chartreuse, and blue/fire tail. Cordell Paddle Tail, smoke-colored grubs and Blakemore Roadrunners in white and chartreuse, were getting reactions away from muddy water in the clearer sections of the oxbows on standing timber in 20-25 feet depth. Catfish continue biting well on yo-yos and trotlines in the current of Little River. Chicken livers, hearts and gizzards, along with punch bait, and Catalpa worms have been working well for the last couple weeks from 12-18 feet deep.
(updated 1-9-2019) 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 547.98 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is just over full pool of 548 feet and has some color throughout the lake because of the recent rains. Water temps have made it the lower to mid-50s. The bass are in 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 as well using crawdad colored Bandit Crankbaits. Cotton Cordell or War Eagle Spoons are still working on flats adjacent to creek channels 20-30 feet deep in the clearer water. 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 foot brush with minnows or Kalin’s Grubs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 408.08 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) 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 450.27 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 537.74 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-9-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado had no report.
Angler Bennie Goodman
Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615)
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 1-9-2019) 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. Very heavy generation is taking place below Carpenter Dam as Lake Ouachita is over 1 foot into the flood pool. Heavy flows will continue until Ouachita falls out of flood pool. This process could last another week or more. Anyone navigating the tailrace should use extreme caution. 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 will also be effective presented in the same manner. 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 baitfish. Trout fishing starts slowly in the winter 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 navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is cautioned to be aware of the generation schedules and always wear a life jacket.
(updated 1-9-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 1-9-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said 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.
(updated 1-9-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, Xpress all-welded fishing boat in Hot Springs, had no report.
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 357.95 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said fishing is not great at this time. The Nimrod Dam is closed, they report. Water level is 15 feet above normal pool. The clarity is muddy. Nevertheless, crappie are biting fair below the dam. Fish with minnows or black/chartreuse jigs. Bass reports are poor. Catfishing are fair fishing with shad on the bottom, and they are good on trotlines. Nothing to report on white bass or bream.
(updated 1-9-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said they’ve noticed duck hunters out, but there is no fishing going on. Water is muddy and high.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.92 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are fair. Alabama rigs, jigs 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 and Bama rigs. 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 still slow and being caught with jigs or minnows in 20-30 feet of water near brush. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 46-50 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. The lake level on Tuesday was 579.10 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 398.12 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said it seems like the warmer weather has been bringing some brave anglers out to the state park. They have seen a slight rise in crappie activity in the past week or so – folks fishing with redworms at both Bear Creek and Storm Creek have reported higher numbers at both sites. Folks have also started fishing early for bass, but no incredible numbers to report. “We’re loving this sunny weather, and are hoping the rain holds off for a few more days,” she said.
(updated 1-9-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 1-9-2019) 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.