Feb. 6, 2019
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Feb. 6, 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
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Conway 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 Conway for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 2-6-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said on Monday that the lake was “pretty clear” and was at a normal level. The crappie bite has been good. Crappie minnows and jigs are working, as are bass minnow. Fish the Caney and Gold creeks for best success. Bass are good on crankbaits and minnows. Catfishing has been good using dough baits or minnows. Bream provided a good report this week, with worms and crickets both working.
Little Red River
(updated 2-6-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said current generation pattern is around 12 hours each day. This pattern provides opportunities to wade fish the middle and lower sections of the Little Red River during the morning. 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 Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 2-6-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear but running high for most of the day. With the White River falling below the 21 feet gauge at Georgetown, the Army Corps of Engineers has increased generation to about 14 hours a day. The forecast for the rest of this week is for a good chance of rain and colder temperatures. “We’ll have to watch the amounts of rain and hope that the lake does not get too much into the flood pool, which will cause the heavier than normal generation to continue,” Greg said, adding that the bite remains fair to good in the mornings ahead of the new generation. The warm weather over the weekend and the first part of the week caused a few caddis to hatch on the lower river. “We have to remember it’s still February but it shows what a little warm weather will do for the insect activity.”
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 youths. 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 501-690-9166 to register for the class. Greg says if he’s unable to answer then, he will return voicemails or texts.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.36 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 2-6-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.42 feet msl and falling with generation. It is 0.38 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and should rise more with the rain coming. The expected warm rain will put all species on the heavy feed. “Fish are on the move as we speak, as I saw yesterday they are there one minute and gone the next.” Some species are in 25 feet but most are still in 42-70 feet of water, Tommy said. Crappie are eating jigs and jigs with minnows in 25-30 feet of water around pole timber and brush piles. Lots of fish are being caught. Catfish are still going strong, “heard of an 85-pounder but have not verified it yet,” Tommy noted. As for walleye, the river fish are on the move; try crankbaits and live minnows, points, cuts in lake and rivers. Black bass are eating Alabama rigs, jerkbaits, crankbaits and C-rigs, as well as football heads, hair jigs wacky rigs, etc. in 25-70 feet of water. Some are right on the bank but not a lot. No reports on bream. Hybrid and white bass are eating on and off all day. Find the shad and the fish will be close. Use spoons, inline spinners, hair jigs and swimbaits.
(updated 2-6-2019) Cody Smith of Fish Greers Ferry Guide Service (501-691-5701) says, “2019 is going to be an awesome year here on the reservoir. Water levels are falling slightly and approaching normal pool.” Surface temperatures on the lake are ranging from the low to mid-40-degree range. Water color now is very much dependent on location. The lake has visibility levels from 1-10 feet with the clearest water being closest to the dam and way up the rivers where inflow is clear. With the water temperature and oxygen levels being pretty consistent from 1-45 feet, it’s giving the Greers Ferry gamefish plenty of options on depth. “From my assessment last week the 12-35 feet mark is ideal right now for most all gamefish. The dirtier water has them spread out a bit and not really relating to cover while some of our clearer water has fish really shallow and holding tight to manmade and natural cover.” Crappie have not really made their way out of the winter holding areas and can be quite difficult to stay with. White bass are utilizing those mid-depth zones staging for their run upriver and in the creeks. Choctaw Bay and a few areas in the rivers are holding really big numbers of whites and occasional hybrids. The walleye are really on the move staging and beginning prepare for the upcoming spawn. The smallmouth bite has been best for bass fisherman on the lower end, while largemouth have been better in the shallower dirty water. “I’ll be updating reports over the coming weeks and it won’t be long until we are boating limits of crappie. Book your trip now so you won’t miss out on the best dates. Fish on.”
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-6-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the clarity as “pretty clear” and the lake level as being down slightly from normal. No surface temperature was reported. Fishing is a bit slow. Anglers only reported crappie catches, though the crappie catching was good. Use minnows. Nothing reported on bream, bass or catfish.
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 2-6-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is murky, but it’s improving. Water surface temperature is about 45 degrees. Bass are doing well around brushtops and structure. Bream are slow, but anglers are still catching some with redworms. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night. Anglers are not catching a lot, but are catching some good ones on small No. 4s. Catfish are slow, but Overcup had a lake record for blue channel catfish caught, with a 71-pounder brought in. Carl Prince caught the blue on a floaty using shad, Johnny says.
(updated 1-30-2019) Angler Bennie Goodman reported very little fish activity.
(updated 2-6-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said Tuesday, Feb. 5, he had no reports from anglers. The previous week, he said, it had mostly been too cold to fish though a few anglers gave it a try. Crappie were good the previous week, setting up about 20-25 feet on the bottom. They were under the bridge on the north end of the lake hitting jigs. White bass also were good a week ago, sitting on the bottom with the crappie.
(updated 2-6-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water temperature last week started in the mid-40s and warmed up toward the end of the week to the low 50s. Largemouth bass are good. With water temperatures rising, they are moving out of deep water. Some reports are coming in that the largemouths are on the outer edge of the grass. Some can still be found in deeper water, 18-25 feet. Try using chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, drop-shots and swimbaits. Kentucky bass reports are poor. Less reports this week but most can be found in 16-22 foot of water. Try fishing off drops and rocky banks. White bass are good. Some whites are being caught near brush piles stacked on the crappie in 20-30 feet of water. Crappie are good. Crappie are heading out of the deeper holes. Reports of them being found in 16-20 feet of water close to brush piles. Try using jigs and minnows. No reports of bream. Nothing reported on catfish.
(updated 1-30-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she heard a few reports from Sunset Lake this week. Crappie fishing has slowed and anglers that have been catching a few good ones haven't been as fortunate this week. Customers fishing for catfish have been catching a few on live minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass have been hitting minnows and small jigs and spinnerbaits. Bream have been biting fair on crickets and redworms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-6-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie and catfish have been biting fair on No. 6 minnows. Bass are hitting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows, small plastics worms and curly tail grubs. Bream are biting slow but will bite crickets or worms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-6-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said smallmouth and Kentucky bass have been biting well on No. 12 and brooder minnows. Walleye fishing has slowed a little as the river has fallen and cleared, but a few have still been caught this week on No. 12 and brooder minnows. Catfish are biting minnows, nightcrawlers and black salties. Crappie have been biting pretty well in some deep holes and back waters on No. 6 minnows. Bream will bite crickets and red worms.
(updated 2-6-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting well for some baiting lines with minnows, goldfish and black salties. Bass fishing has been fair with minnows, spinnerbaits, jigs and some crankbaits. Crappie are "hibernating," according to customers that usually catch a few on Norrell. Bream will bite crickets or redworms fished just off the bottom around deep logs, brush or rocks.
(updated 1-30-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers. Valencia has been stocked by the AGFC with trout, and they are biting PowerBait.
(updated 1-30-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says crappie are fair, with the crappie being caught in the channel of the lake on pink/chartreuse jigs and on minnows. Largemouth bass are fair on the pier by the church. Best success will come using crankbaits or deep-diving jerkbaits. No other reports.
(updated 2-6-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the crappie have been biting well for a few using No. 4 and No. 6 minnows as well as a couple of different styles and colors of Bobby Garland jigs. Bass are biting minnows, jigs and spinnerbaits. Catfish have been biting minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. A few good-sized bream have been caught on the jigs and smaller minnows while crappie fishing.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 1-30-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
(updated 2-6-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said Monday the water clarity is clear with the level now normal. Anglers report good bites from bream, though no other information was forthcoming. Crappie are fair. Bass are biting well. Nothing report on catfish. White bass are fair and being found on the creek.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 1-30-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfishing is fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or cut shad. White bass are good with white twister tails and spoons.
(updated 2-6-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that conditions are not conducive to good fishing; the clarity is muddy and the current is fast while the level remains high. Everything was poor across the board: bream, crappie, bass, catfish and white bass.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-6-2019) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said that after a few weeks of rough going, the river is now fishable but it’s still tough. The clarity is muddy but the current is 43,000 cfs and the level has returned to normal. Crappie are biting in 10-12 feet of water on red/chartreuse and black/chartreuse jigs. Anglers report a good bass bite, particularly around jetties. Red Rat-L-Traps are working nicely. Nothing reported on catfish, and no reports on bream.
(updated 2-6-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said water remains at a high level and current and the clarity is muddy. Fishing is poor all around, Tony reports. Bream, crappie, bass, catfish and white bass all rated poor by anglers this week in the major areas of the Little Rock pool. Things are better around and below the No. 5 dam on the river, though. Crappie are good and are being found in 15 feet depth. They’re hitting blue and silver Super Jigs mostly. Stripers and white bass are also good, too, Tony reports.
(updated 2-6-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity near Terry Lock and Dam on the river is “a little murky.” The river is running a little high, they report. No surface temperature was recorded. Bass are fair on plastic worms, live worms and crankbaits. Catfishing is fair. No bream were reported, and nothing was heard as far as crappie fishing.
(updated 1-30-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfishing is fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or cut shad. White bass are good with white twister tails and spoons.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-6-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says fishing is slow here but anglers are catching some fish. The clarity is “fairly clear” while the level is high. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Bass reports are fair, with crankbaits and plastic worms working best. No reports on catfishing, and nothing on bream.
(updated 2-6-2018) No report. The lake has reopened as of last weekend.
(updated 2-6-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is “not bad” but the river level remains high. Temperature at the resort is 74 degrees but few people were fishing, they said Monday. Six generators are running at the dam. The anglers who were trying to fish reported good catches on trout. Rainbows are hitting regular trout lures while the browns are biting on minnows.
(updated 2-6-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says weather extremes are the norm there in the Ozarks in February; yesterday in shirt sleeves, Friday you’ll be back in parkas. The trout bite has imitated the fickleness of the weather with a day of fantastic catches, then a day of less than fantastic creel fills. But they say that on their stretch of the White River in Arkansas you know there's always the possibility of a lunker trout right around the bend. This week, with water levels approaching four generators from the dam, they have had great luck with 4-inch and 5-inch stickbaits. The Smithwick Rogues are both great throws and priced so that you don't feel like you've lost an arm and a leg when you lose a lure. A variety of colors have caught both browns and good-sized rainbows so vary your bait based on sky color. Try the white belly, black back on overcast days, and an orange belly, blue back on sunny days. The Table Rock Gold, 4 ½-inch Rogue (“I call it purple”) brought several nice browns to the boat. “The smallmouth bass were biting minnows this week just at the mouth of Crooked Creek. When minnows weren't working for either trout or smallies, we put a sculpin on a No. 4 Aberdeen hook and waited for larger browns to gather. Worked one out of two days. And that's our story this week. Come on over.”
(updated 2-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had a trace of rain, cold temperatures and heavy wind. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell a foot to rest at 0.7 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool and 8.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell a foot to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are still above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam on the White River, which was closed beginning Nov. 1, is reopened. These trout have not been fished over in three months. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the state park below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 size 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 10 cerise San Juan worm with a size 12 Y2K suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down. The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and a bit high. The smallmouths are much less active with the cold conditions. My 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.
John also said about the latest gear he’s seen: “With my fishing gear, I am very much a traditionalist. My favorite fishing rod is a Sage Light Line that I have fished with for about 30 years. The Orvis CFO reel that I use is the same age. I still wear a traditional fishing vest and an ancient cowboy hat, when fishing. For me to adopt new gear, it must function better than the gear that I am using.
“My first fly rod was fiberglass. I was perfectly satisfied with it until my brother bought a new Sage graphite rod. I cast it once and had to have one. Except for a brief flirtation bamboo fly rods, I have fished graphite rods ever since simply because they cast better than anything else. Similarly, my first waders were neoprene. I was satisfied with them until I tried breathable waders. I have worn nothing else for the last 20 years.
“Recently, I was introduced to a new strike indicator, the air lock. Over the years, I have used dozens of different strike indicators and found them lacking in one way or another. I have been using Tru Turn and Thingamabobber strike indicators. The Tru Turn indicators were two pieces of plastic foam connected with a piece of rubber band. It held well and did not slip. It was infinitely adjustable and you could easily add it to your rigging after you tied on your fly. The problem was that the rubber band would fail over time and the strike indicator would fail.
“The Thingamabobber (I love the name) would float heavy rigs and hang on well. The problem was that it would slip on smaller tippets and would leave a serious kink in your line that was impossible to remove. I used the Tru Turn (which was smaller) when I was wade fishing and the Thingamabobber when I was drifting in the boat.
“The airlock is a plastic bubble that looks a lot like the Thingamabobber. It attaches to the leader with a slotted stem, which accepts the leader and a plastic washer and nut to lock it down. These strike indicators do not slip or kink the line and they are very easy to see. You can add them to your leader after you tie on the fly.
“I have also switched over to a new net. For several years I have been using a beautiful large Brodin wooden boat net with a clear rubber net bag in my boat and on Dry Run Creek. It was large enough to handle the largest trout, had a very long handle and was light enough to use all day. There is something about a wooden net that appeals to me. The problem was that the wooden frame was kept constantly wet in my boat and it was beginning to delaminate.
“I replaced it with a Fish Pond Nomad guide net. It is lightweight (it floats), has a large clear rubber net bag and a long handle. I like it so much that I got my wife, Lori, one just like it to use on Dry Run Creek. I have used it for a few years now and found it to be just about indestructible. It is scratched up a bit but still very functional. I have also acquired a smaller version of it with a shorter handle to carry when I am wade fishing.
“There is always some new gear coming out. Some of it is worth checking out.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-1-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is at 661 feet msl, it's about 3 feet above pool. Water temps are still hanging around 48 degrees and the water’s been crazy. The lake’s been coming up, Table Rock is dumping on us, and Bull Shoals Dam is generating a lot of water out. From the rain the lake’s cleared up a little bit, but it's moved the shad around quite a bit, those big monster schools of shad that they were seeing for the past month. Those have broken off in the little pods. Some of them are deep. Seeing a lot in 70-80 foot of water in the main channel or off the points. If you can find the shad balls in 30-50 feet of water you can get after them using a spoon or an ice jig. If you're looking to do that, the deep fish you can video-game fish them for a little bit. It's usually good for one or two fish, and then you're just going have to go find the next little ball shad. You can look for the birds, there are still loons on the lake, so if you want to cruise the creek channels, most of those that were in the back or moved out closer to the main lake. Those deep fish, if they're real finicky you can pick some more off using a Dubuque rig or by dropping a mat down in front of them. The bite for that and the ice jig are kind of just leaving the pole sitting still. So, if you are fishing a deep fish you're going to have to work for them a little more than what we have been, spend a little time graphing and it'll pay off. Now with the water temp where it’s at, some shad are dying off and that'll bring into the jerkbait bite, fishing channel swing banks, bluffs, bluff ends, points anywhere close to those shad is probably a good place to start. This time of year if we get a little bit of sun, that's kind of what you're looking for at this time of year. You’re not looking for a lot of wind, but if you do get some wind you can go cranking, you can throw a Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart. Del says he’s using the Red Crawler, the greenback orange belly and the same color in the Wiggle Wart. Depending on how deep the bank is, the channels swing banks with chunk rock on them are kind of what you're going to look for. “The other thing I don't throw a lot but I have thrown it little bit this week is throwing an umbrella rig, an A-rig. This will flat-out catch them. The thing with the A-rig, that bite’s going to get better as the water drops a little bit. I’m catching those fish mostly out of brush piles, keeping the boat in 40 foot of water, brush piles off of bluff ends, anywhere they're close to the main channel where those shad are at. If you're going rig your rig you have to have to use silver with one other different color or you won't catch fish guys. Just mix up the baits and see what they want.
“The last thing is a jig. I’m using either a rubber jig, the jewel jig, and dropping those down in same spots where the shad are out. The jig bites been hit-or-miss but it's going to catch fish year-round. Those are usually a little better quality fish. I’m using the greens, the green pumpkins, brown, something with a little blue in it has been working, too.” Some days are going to be slow out there, it's the dead of winter and some days are going to be really good. You’re going to catch fish, you're just going to have to work for them a little bit harder. Meanwhile, Del will be hitting the fishing and boat shows in the north in coming weeks.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “It has been a while since I have posted a report on Norfork Lake, but after another visit to see the grandkids, I am back fishing and the fishing has been pretty good. One of the best things about Norfork Lake is the diversity in fish species. If you have followed my reports you know I love to fish for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass, but if the bite is slow for these species you can switch up and go bass fishing, crappie fishing, walleye fishing or catfishing.” Lou says the white bass bite continues to be outstanding. You can find white bass on the large flats. A couple flats he has fished over the last week are the Cranfield Island flat and the flat east of Howard Cove (locally named Big Sandy) and at times the 101 bridge flat. The best depths have been from 35-55 feet of water and the fish are at all depths. Feeding with the whites are hybrid bass and striped bass. Vertical-jigging a spoon or casting out a blade-type bait such as a Kastmaster are both working well for me. Most days you can catch a boat-full, but of course the changing weather patterns affect the bite of all species. “I have also had luck finding and catching a few nice striped bass in deeper water. I have found scattered stripers on the deep flats outside of deep water channels. These fish have been 40-50 deep and I typically only see a few fish at a time. Several nice-size stripers have been caught by jigging a spoon, as well as by trolling an umbrella rig.”
The crappie bite has also been good over the last week, Lou said. “The best location for crappie are inside one of the newly refurbished Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's fish attractors. I don't remember the exact number, but this group did an incredible job of refurbishing roughly 180 sites on Norfork Lake. I can personally attest that these new brush piles are holding big fish and not just crappie. The crappie that I have caught have been at the bottom of the brush in about 30 feet of water. They do tend to come up off the bottom in the late afternoon following the bait. I have been using a quarter-ounce spoon to catch my crappie, but small grubs (you can tip it with a crappie minnow) are working as well. You can also use live bait with a slip float to catch your fish.”
The largemouth and spotted bass bite has also been very good over the last week. The bass Lou has caught are also buried in the brush, he said. The depth of the fish changes daily and lately 40 feet has been the magic number, but Tuesday afternoon he caught several 30 feet down on the bottom. Deep-diving crankbaits and plastics are working well. Lure action has been the best on the points of bluff-line walls or where the bluff wall changes to chunk rock. Norfork Lake level is falling slowly when the dam is generating and currently sits at 553.98 feet msl. This level is slightly higher than the current normal seasonal pool. Most of the lake is somewhat stained, but the main lake is starting to clear nicely. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning ranged 45-47 degrees depending on fishing location. Lou says he covered a lot of water Tuesday morning. He started in the Cranfield area then headed back to the Howard Cove area, then moved farther back into Bennetts by Fout Marina. “I caught some fish everywhere I fished, mainly white bass and largemouth bass.”
(updated 2-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell a foot to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are still above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Norfork has fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small Y2K suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing well. The hot flies have been size 14 sowbugs, size 12 Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). It is cold out there be sure and bundle the kids up. 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and a bit high. 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 1,120.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is clearing and the surface water temperature is ranging 42-44 degrees. The level appears to be dropping every day, and they consider it low as of Monday. Bream reports were poor. Largemouth bass are fair on jerkbaits and Alabama rigs. Striped bass are hitting lipless crankbaits with good results. No reports on any crappie fishing. Catfishing is poor. There were reports of some white bass catches on crankbaits and jerkbaits, and male walleye were reported caught in a few numbers. The walleye are staging for the spawn.
(updated 2-6-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing was good this past week. The water level was great and in the mid-40s. Austin says he looked for some walleye between Beaver and Spider Creek, but noted nothing. “I did not fish for bass this week, but they should be quite active.” He says trout responded well to various spoons, PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle and jigs. This week’ hot spot was the Houseman Access area, up to the first bend. The preferred method was PowerBaits. “I did not mark any baitfish as of yet, but I suspect they will be right along. We had a couple days of nice weather, so I hope you were able to get out and fish. Still waiting on the walleyes!”Lake Fayetteville
(updated 2-6-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake level is normal and the clarity remains stained. Surface water temperature is a consistent 43 degrees. Fishing has picked up a little over the past slow week. Crappie catches are poor, however. Bass are fair, and catfishing is fair. No other details surfaced for catching, and no bream catches were reported.
(updated 2-6-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the lake conditions stayed clear and at a normal level. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are good, but they are favoring the deep water. The bite seems to be improving. Work the usual crappie baits around the bridges. Bass reports were poor. Catfishing is good. No reports on bream.
(updated 2-6-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “I am being told that some people think that Lake Poinsett State Park is closed because the lake has been drained. We ARE open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and closed on Saturday and Sunday for this month only. Beginning in March the visitor and information center will be open every day, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The campground is open every day all year. And, yes we have live bait as well as other fishing supplies. The sale of minnows and nightcrawlers is increasing. I am getting good reports from those who are fishing at Lake Hogue.”
(updated 2-6-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that the lake is very clear and at a normal level. No surface water temperature was reported. Crappie are biting well. The best catches are coming near the docks or around brush piles, and the crappie are in 10-15 feet depth. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair, but they are very deep in the lake. Anglers reported catches in the range of 40 feet depth. Use crankbaits. Nothing reported on catfish and no reports on bream.
(updated 2-6-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 400 cfs (350 average) and water clarity has been good. The river is looking great and the smallmouth bass and brown trout have been hitting. “More rain is in the forecast may flood the river this week. But we’re hopeful it will not. As always check my blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest updates on river conditions.” It has been a very wet season this year and the main river can be difficult to wade. The trout are biting great, anglers just might have to work a little harder to get the fly down. Olive Woollies and Y2Ks have been the main producers. “On some days we have had some great hatches and a pheasant tail, hare’s ear or Copper John work great. Make sure and let the fly swing out at the end of the drift with short fast strips back upstream. Hot pink and orange Trout Magnets are hot on the spinning rods, and crankbaits for the browns work great.”
(updated 2-6-2019) 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 2-6-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the river clarity is clear, while the level is still high by about 11 feet after reaching 14 feet height. They reported Monday that though the water appeared to be coming down, no one was fishing this week.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-16-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperature is in the upper 40s, while visibility ranges from less than 6 inches to about 12 inches in protected places. Water level is fluctuating quite a bit day to day with the waves of storm runoff coming through. The threadfin shad die-off continues. Black bass are very slow. Best bet for a bite is to use black/blue jigs worked slowly along steeper rock banks close to deep water. White crankbaits and spinnerbaits worked very slowly down the rocks can work, too. Set your expectations low for black bass in this pool this time of year; it's difficult to get many bites.
(updated 2-7-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park, says crappie are biting on minnows and bright pink crappie jigs. The expectation of rains and storms next Monday and Tuesday will likely mean a muddied-up lake, and that will put a hold on fishing.
(updated 2-6-2019) 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.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 2-6-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 260.47 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday the lake continued falling back to normal pool with current discharge at the Millwood Dam. Army Corps of Engineers gate changes at the dam were releasing around 7,100 cfs on Monday. The lake was about 7-8 inches above normal conservation pool at 259.8 feet msl (by Wednesday it was up from that to 260.47 feet msl). The tailwater below the dam dropped slight this week to 235.8 feet msl. Water temps increased over the past week, and Monday they ranged 45-52 degees. 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. Clarity and visibility conditions improved over the past week, navigation is considered cautious along Little River with the current discharge around 7,100CFS. Some debris remains present in Little River current, use caution. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity & visibility is moderate stain, ranging about 5-6 inches. Little River's visibility ranges 3-4 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow's clarity currently ranging about 10-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
As lake conditions improve, the bite for largemouth bass has improved as well over the past few days and is better during the midday hours in the oxbows. Bomber crankbaits, large bulky 10-inch Berkley Power Worms, and 6-inch lizards are getting good responses. The best locations over the past few weeks have been in the back of the oxbows where water conditions and clarity are best, like the back of McGuire and Horseshoe oxbows. Best bite certainly best during warmest periods of the day, around 8-15 feet deep drops with stumps and remaining vegetation being prime locations. Mike and his anglers continue seeing improvement using crankbaits, ¾-ounce slow-rolled War Eagle Spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks with 10-15 feet depth. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were Bomber Fat Free Shads, or square-bill cranks in Citrus Shad, Threadfin Shad, or Bandit Cranks in Crawfish patterns. Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75s in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Liv-N Chrome, Ghost Shad and square-bills and Echo 1.75's in Gizzard Shad or Ghost Minnow continue working. Magnum 4-inch Gitzit Tubes with internal rattles are still drawing a few solid hits from solitary, 2- to 3-pound largemouth bass on stumps in outer creek channel bends, ditches, wash-outs, ridges and points in the oxbows. Best colors of tube jigs and Gitzits over the past couple weeks have been black neon, black/blue tail 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 at midday. Slow-rolling, heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Hot Mouse colors continue getting good reactions in the oxbows in 7-10 feet of depth. If the water clarity is heavier stained, switch over to a FireTiger color. No reports and not much activity with white bass this week. Mike says they would expect that to increase later in the week if the water continues warming as it has since late last week. Crappie continue improving in the oxbows, the clearest water you can find being the most activity areas. Crappie are stacking up vertically over planted brush with jigs from 12-15 feet of depth. Best colors of jigs over the past week or so have been black/chartreuse, white/chartreuse or blue/chartreuse. Catfish continue biting well on trotlines set in the current of Little River at 15-20 feet depth. Yo-yos set from cypress trees over 8-12 feet water in back of Mud Lake are still catching some nice 3- to 5-pound cats. Punch bait, chicken livers and gizzards, and catalpa worms have been working for cats over the last several weeks on the yo-yos.
(updated 1-23-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) reported that it has received no reports on catches.
Lake Greeson Tailwater (Little Missouri River)
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 544.07 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 404.40 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said fishing is pretty much how it’s been the past few weeks: vertical-jigging spoons 35-55 feet deep is producing ample fish. Water temperature is 49 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points. Be smart, be safe on the cold water, he adds.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.31 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.36 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-23-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado said the river is still 12 feet high and fishing is slow. A few bass are being caught in the current.
(updated 2-6-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says clarity is muddy and the lake is returning to a normal level. Surface water temperature on Tuesday was 42 degrees. Anglers tried for crappie but reports were poor. Bass fishing also was poor. Nothing reported on bream, catfish or white bass.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(Updated 1-30-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catcher All Guide Service, reports that Entergy is currently running a minimum flow pattern below Carpenter Dam. Fast flows and dangerous currents had been the norm for weeks as Lake Ouachita stayed in the flood pool for most of January. Fisherman can now safely access areas that hold good numbers of rainbow trout as the stocking schedule is in full swing. Bank fisherman are recording limits of trout using corn floated just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Waxworms or mealworms are also working well presented in the same manner. Spin fishermen casting Super Dupers in silver or gold colors have perfectly matched the injured threadfin shad that are drawn through the turbines in times of generation. Shad are a main prey for trout and other area gamefish below the dam. Little Cleo's and small jigs are also very effective in current situations from the bank or boat. Fly-fishermen are taking advantage of the 5-foot drawdown and are wading to areas that hold big schools of fish. Woolly Buggers in black or green and San Juan worms in hot pink cast with a strike indicator have been deadly for those anglers who chose to brave the freezing temperatures of the last several days. Overall, rainbow trout fishing has improved dramatically in the last week as stable conditions have returned to the Carpenter Dam tailrace. Fishing will only become better as the month of February brings another 12,000 rainbow trout into the area. As January comes to an end, the walleye spawn looms on the horizon. Smaller males will begin to show up in early February to prepare the beds for the much larger females. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current below the bridge is an excellent way to target these fish that guard their beds aggressively. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or night crawlers work better in slack water conditions. The spawn will start below the bridge and bedding fish can be found all the way to the dam by late February. White bass fishing has been very slow with no reported catches. Striper activity has also been slow. These fish are often found together in the tailrace as both species feed on shad schools and injured baitfish. Rainbow trout are king below the dam as huge numbers are stocked this time of year and this influx of trout gives fishermen the chance to catch a beautiful fish and provide their families with a tasty and healthy table fare. Anyone navigating Lake Catherine is urged to be aware of the generation schedules and always use caution and wear a life jacket when on the water.
(updated 1-30-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 46 degrees. The river is muddy. Creeks are starting to clear. All species have been slow due to the high and dirty water conditions. But as the creeks start to clear there will be opportunity. Jerkbaits, and Alabama rigs will play a role in catching you some largemouth bass. A jig and Bamboozie will also play a role; make sure the jig is small, and shorten up the Bamboozie and dragged it very slow on bottom without picking it up. The bite is really light and you should be ready for it. The striped bass have also been good on jerkbaits and Alabama rigs. The best bite has been early. A single swimbait will work, also. White bass have been with the stripers. Jerkbaits and spoons will catch you some good white bass. Crappie have been hit-and-miss due to the current in the creeks. The clarity is getting good with the current, it's been just a tad bit swift to keep the jig where the crappie are. Chartreuse, black/chartreuse, Bobby Garland Monkey Milk and Cajun Cricket have been working well if you can keep the jig in front of the fish.
(updated 2-6-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still down 3-5 feet in all areas of the lake with slightly stained water and clarity 2-4 feet. Lake clarity will change this week with the rains expected. Water temperatures are hovering near the 50-degree mark throughout. The bass bite is sluggish due to water temps and the increased pressure of fisherman practicing for upcoming tournaments. Bass are still, for the most part, deep in the 20-30 foot range, but when the sun comes out expect the fish to move up into depths of 10-15 feet, and feed near the main channel points over rip-rap and rocky areas (rocks hold heat). Go-to baits will be watermelon seed jigs with subtle trailers, suspending and deep-diving-suspending jerkbaits in shad or crawfish colors and, of course, the drop-shot rig with finesse-style Senko worm setups. Crappie are smoking hot right now just over the tops of brush piles near the main channel and feeder creeks. Look for depths of 20-35 feet using your side imaging and downscan. Minnows and tipped jigs are working well fished just above the fish (typically 20 feet). Walleye and hybrids have been mixed in with bass-infested areas and are good attackers of vertical-fished white or chrome spoons. “Wear those life jackets, folks, it may be 70 degrees outside but the water temps are still dangerously cold! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 1-30-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the pattern has been the same for several weeks here. Vertical-jigging spoons at a range of 35-55 feet depth will produce plenty of catches. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.51 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is cloudy and at a normal level now (342 feet). No temperature was reported. Anglers report catching fish in deep waters. Crappie are fair on minnows and white/chartreuse jigs. Bass reports are fair. Catfishing is fair. Nothing reported on bream.
(updated 2-6-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the lake is clearing and the water level is normal. Still, they say, not a lot of fishing is going on. Crappie are the best thing going, they say, with good reports. Bass are poor. Catfishing can be good at times. The bream bite is poor. No other details were offered.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 576.09 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) 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 working OK at this time. No report on walleye. Stripers are still 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 slow and being caught with jigs or minnows in 20-30 feet of water near brush. Catfish produced no reports. Water temperature is ranging 46-50 degrees. The clarity is clear. Lake level is at 576.08 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 384.38 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), reported that the crappie have been quite active both at Bear Creek and Storm Creek lakes this past week. “We have also seen an uptick in our worm sales; leading me to believe that live bait seems to be doing the trick.” Natalie said they have also had some bass fishermen out and about fishing with both jigs and crankbait in preparation of some fishing tournaments coming up at Bear Creek Lake – “they’re tight lipped about what worked and what didn’t,” she added.
(updated 2-6-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 2-6-2019) Cook’s Lake will reopen for fishing the first weekend in March.