March 13, 2019
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 13, 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
(updated 3-13-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said that the lake clarity is muddy and the water is high. No surface water temperature was reported. Bream reports have fallen off and were poor for the past week. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Wilhelmina Cove and Gold Creek are the go-to spots. Largemouth bass are excellent as they are hitting crankbaits and jigs. Catfishing is good on the dam. Cut bait, prepared bait and large minnows are working best.
Little Red River
(updated 3-13-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear and the generation Wednesday was scheduled for 12 hours with two generators. The lake is 8 feet above normal but the releases have been lowered to accommodate the lower Little Red and White River flood gauges. “As I write this report, rain is expected today (Wednesday), so one should check the generation before planning your fishing trip. It just depends on the amount of rain we get as to how much longer this generation pattern will continue.” As soon as the lower river will allow an increased flow, the generation will return to the 24/7 two-unit variety until the lake is normal. The bite was fair on the one-unit generation and is also fair if you are able to stay just ahead of the rise when they are generating two units. Please take extra care if fishing the higher generation. The increased flow is dangerous when your boat is pushed against the upstream side of a dock or other obstacle. “Be safe and food fishing!” Greg says.
(updated 3-6-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said that as of this writing, the Little Red River is receiving two units of generation round-the-clock, creating high water conditions. This pattern is expected to continue unless the area receive heavy rainfall and the generation pattern is changed to avoid flooding downstream or the lake level is lowered to the desired level. The current pattern eliminates any wade fishing opportunities. If you choose to fish these conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. Key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high water conditions. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends egg patterns, San Juan worms, micro jigs and streamers during high water conditions, and pheasant tails, 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 470.10 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 3-13-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake was at 470.18 feet msl Wednesday morning. It is 8.14 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling just a tad from generation. The water temperature ranges from mid-40s to 51 degrees. The lake is experiencing a winter shad kill as threadfin are dying is several locations throughout the lake, just like all other lakes in the White River chain are right now. This will create a great jerkbait bite as we move forward. When the water reaches 42 degrees as it warms some shad will die off as a natural occurrence. The catching overall is good with the crappie leading the way in abundance, as well as whites, hybrids and black bass being caught. It’s just that time of year, weather or no weather. Crappie can be caught in pole timber vertical or trolling on flats as they are seeking warmer water to eat and spawn. Try jigs or a jig tipped with minnows or trolled crankbaits in 12-30 feet of water. Black bass are eating well all over the lake from right on the bank out to 60 feet on spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and Alabama rigs to dragging something. Catfish are still being picked up all over the lake for the folks getting out there on a variety of baits and techniques. No report on bream. Walleye are eating in rivers and getting going in the lake as well on jerkbaits, crankbaits, grubs, drop-shot rigs; use minnows or bream for your live baits choices. Hybrid and white bass activity is good with 100 fish a day or more possible in rivers and the main lake on right spots. Throw grubs, inline spinners, jerkbaits, hair jigs and swimbaits for horizontal fishing in rivers and inline spinners and spoons for vertical fishing in the lake. Stay around shad or around spawning areas.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 3-13-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the clarity is murky while the water level has returned to normal. Crappie fishing is good. Maybe they have moved to deeper waters with the rain front that passed through Tuesday, but before then they were at 4 feet depth and biting minnows. The crappie were off the bank by the minnow shop, they report. Striped bass are fair off the bank. Catfishing is good, they said, with a 6.5-pounder caught this week. Bream reports were poor.
(updated 2-27-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 3-13-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake is dingy and it remains high, now up about 4 feet after being 2-2.5 feet high last week. The surface water temperature is 47 degrees; it was raining Tuesday when the report was filed. Crappie have been fair on jigs. Nothing has been caught on minnows. The crappie are about 20 feet deep. A few largemouth bass have been caught, he said, but not many, rating the reports fair. Poor reports from anglers on bream, catfish or white bass.
(updated 3-13-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland reports that surface water temperatures are in the upper 40s. Largemouth bass are slow. They are in transition and moving out of deeper water. With the temperatures rising, the bass are starting to move in and are getting ready to spawn. Some can still be found in depths of 16-22 feet. Try using chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, drop-shots and swimbaits. Kentucky bass are poor. Fewer reports this week but most can be found deep in 18-25 foot of water. Try fishing off drops and rocky banks. White bass are slow. Some reports are coming in that the whites are moving through the channels (late run for Lake Maumelle). They are also being caught near brush piles on the west end of the lake 18-25 feet of water. Try using jerkbaits and rattle-style baits. Crappie are slow. Crappie are heading out of the deeper holes. Reports of them being found in 18-22 feet of water close to brush piles and are still scattered. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are poor; no reports came in this week. Catfishing is slow. Try using stink bait, crayfish or worms.
(updated 3-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that between rain, cold and wind, the fishing has been tough. A few crappie have been caught off of the dock using pink crappie minnows. A couple of bream had been caught off of the bridge going over to the other side of the lake with crickets. Catfish have been slow but some are being caught off of nightcrawlers, bait shrimp and bass minnows. Bass have been hitting brooder minnows.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she hasn’t even heard from anglers at Bishop Park, so she went Sunday evening for a few hours. “Between us and about nine or so other people fishing it, we didn't even get a bite nor did I actually see anyone else do so, either. Again perhaps the rain has got the fish messed up.”
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the river has been high. “We need the rain to stop and the river to go down and get clear. I haven't had any of my regulars go to the river. My husband hasn't even been since Feb. 1, it's just been too high for his liking. Hopefully it will be back to normal so I can be giving a good report on it.”
(updated 2-27-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing continues to rate fair. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 3-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she had heard no recent reports from here.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 3-7-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said rain and cold have kept most anglers inside, and even his commercial anglers have pulled their nets for a week or so. What the commercial anglers say is the fish are laying down and not moving. No report on bass. Catfish below the dam are biting on skipjack. No reports on bream. Nothing reported on crappie. Stripers below the dam are going for 2-ounce chartreuse jigs. A few sauger were caught below the dam.
(updated 3-13-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the fishing is simply not been good the past week. The clarity is muddy, though the water level and current are normal. Poor reports on bream, crappie, largemouth bass, catfish and white bass, across the board, Ray said.
(updated 3-6-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says the Maumelle pool is muddy with high level and current. Surface temperature recorded as 49 degrees. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Largemouth bass are fair on shad-colored crankbaits. No other reports.
(updated 2-27-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass are fair and are biting chartreuse twister tails and spoon.
(updated 3-13-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that not a lot is happening on the river of late in terms of fishing. The river is muddy, the level is high and there is a lot of current. No reports.
(updated 3-13-2019) Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) reported that as of Monday afternoon, the river was muddy but was starting to clear up. The level and current were normal. Crappie reports were good. Crappie were favoring blue/chartreuse jigs in 10-15 feet depth of water. Largemouth bass were “pretty good” over the past few days. The bass were relatively shallow, about 3-5 feet below the surface and hitting white spinnerbaits as well as black and red Gitzit baits. Catfishing was poor. Bream were reported poor.
(updated 3-13-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said fishing remains slow on the Terry Lock and Dam end of the Little Rock pool. The clarity of the water is muddy. Catfish reports were fair, but that was all the information provided. Nothing reported on crappie, bass or bream.
(updated 2-27-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass are fair and are biting chartreuse twister tails and spoons around the Murray Lock and Dam.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-13-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water level is a little high, while the clarity “looks pretty good.” No surface temperature was reported. The crappie bite is good on minnows and jigs. A few largemouth bass were caught, and the activity was termed fair. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-13-2018) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the clarity is still a little dingy but the water level has stayed normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie improved over the week to good, anglers told her. Spider-rigging and yo-yos were working best on the crappie. Bass are fair. Catfishing is fair. No reports on baits uses for either, however. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-13-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the weather's been chilly, the water has been high and the brown trout bite has been phenomenal. The favorite bait for the lunker browns landed this week has been shiner minnows caught fresh out of the river. Check out the video fishing report at cottertroutdock.com to see pictures of some of the great trout reeled in just this week. The high water has
also been helping the rainbow trout grow and they’ve had many very healthy-sized rainbows pulled in. Pink PowerBait worms in conjunction with white PowerBait have been the best way to hook the rainbows. “Pack an extra jacket and come to the White River for some great trout fishing right now,” they say.
(updated 3-13-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is fair but a little cloudy, as there is fast water. The river level is high with six to eight generators running. Despite that, five browns were caught that were about 23 inches in length. The trout bite overall is good. PowerBait is working well, and river rigs were catching their share. Rainbows are doing well, they report.
(updated 3-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had just a trace of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.9 feet to rest at 6.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell a foot to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 4.2 feet to rest at 5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps opened six of the 12 gates 1 foot each, releasing about 4,500 cfs as well as 6,000 cfs releases from the two power generation turbines for a total combined release of 10,500 cfs or the equivalent of three hydropower turbines at full power. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. 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 12 egg pattern suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down).
John also mentions the upcoming Sowbug Roundup at Mountain Home: “It is that time again, just a few weeks till the Sowbug Roundup. I admit that this is my favorite fly-fishing show ever and I have been to a bunch of them. I have traveled to Oregon, Montana, Tennessee and Georgia and the best one I have ever attended was right here in Mountain Home. It is produced by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and our local fly fishing club. The proceeds from Sowbug are allocated to funding local scholarships. I have been a member since I moved here 19 years ago.
“This is basically a fly-fishing show that has become the premier fly-tying event in the South and arguably the top show in the United States. This is their 22nd year. I have attended the last 19 and regret missing the first two.
“This year’s Sowbug will be held at the Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home on March 28-30. Admission is only $10 for all three days. Children accompanied by an adult are admitted free.
“The big draw is the fly-tyers. There are over 100 from all over the United States. The show is set up so that you can easily watch the tyers and also interact with them. Questions are always welcome. The tyers want to show you what they are doing. I learn something from every tyer that I watch. Over the years I have met and become friends with a number of the tyers and attendees. As a result this has become a major social event for me.
“There are also several vendors. The Golden Rule Fly Shop is one of my favorites. I always buy hooks that I cannot find anywhere else. Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher is always there, as are several other fly shops. There are a variety of other vendors. I always have a booth where I promote my guide service and sell used fly tackle. My sister, Ernestine, always flies in from Memphis to help me.
“Seminars are always a big draw. There are several this year about fishing streamers. I am presenting one on how to fish soft hackles, nymphs and dry flies. That is basically everything but streamers. My wife, Lori, the top fly-casting instructor in the area, will be teaching two casting classes. There are several other classes. All seminars are free and open to all attendees. Some classes may have an attendee limit.
“There are a number of raffles, auctions and silent auctions. On Friday night there is a Shindig, our tyers’ dinner. There is a big auction and the winners of the fly-tying contest are announced. I am chairman of the fly-tying contest and this is where we get to acknowledge the best tyers among us. There are a few tickets available.
“Don’t miss this year’s Sowbug. I think it will be the best ever. Stop by my booth and I will tie you a fly.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 663.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-27-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “The water is coming up, we've got a lot of rain last week. Cold rain, at that. It’s now about 9 feet high and water surface temperature about 45 degrees depending on where you're at. If you get a warm day, the backs of the creeks with the dirty water seem to warm up. That's kind of what I've been keying on,” he said. “However, with it being cold and no warm days in the future, that bite’s not looking so good. I know everyone's chomping at the bit for spring. It's slow.” Del said he’s been away a lot at fishing shows in the Chicago area recently, but he’s been out enough to find a couple of different bites that have been working for him. The deep bite has been slow, but anglers can find it drop-shotting, spooning or using a Damiki rig anywhere in that 25-35 feet range. “If you see them you can video game them and you can pick a few off,” he said, “but it’s going to be hit or miss on that bite.” However, he added, if a warm front comes through, he expects the crankbait bite to pick up. Use a Rock Crawler in natural colors in clear water, or go with brighter colors in the dirty water. “If you’ve got wind and you’ve got sun, it’s going to be a good day to go crank. That bite should get better over the next couple of weeks as the water temperatures start to come up. Hopefully we get a couple more warm fronts.”
Del adds that the jig bite is another that’s been working around the channel swing banks. Look for the chunk rock, the little ledges. He’s had best success in about 15-25 feet depth. “In the creeks has been better for me than out on the main lake,” Del said. Also, he mentioned, he’s found a swimbait bite by throwing a single swimbait and slow-rolling it as slow as possible. He’ll says to look for the shad, and if there are loons and seagulls and little pods of shad he’ll pick up a jerkbait or a swimbait to get a few more fish. The jerkbait is working over the points with brush piles. Del says the new brush piles are still holding some fish. Del also notes that the Alabama rig has been kind of the bread-and-butter for wintertime fishing there and that probably will continue until the warm up. He also says he’s seen a few crappie stacked up in the brush piles. The walleye jerkbait is getting close, too, he says.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 556.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-13-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are wrong and change the game plan. I had been catching threadfin shad in the marina for two days and could not keep them alive. I called on some experts and got lots of advice that I tried, but nothing worked.
“On the night of the second day I woke up and said it’s time to switch baits. In the morning I went to Gerry's Quick Stop and purchased 2 pounds of large shiners. I started fishing where I had caught fish the previous weekend but after two hours and no bites I moved to the flat above Fout Marina and started catching stripers right away. By the end of day one trip we boated eight hybrids and stripers. We also missed as many fish. Day two we caught fish right away but also kept missing them. The stripers were bigger on day two and we finished with a limit but only kept five, keeping the bigger fish.”
Tom says there are large schools of threadfin shad on the flat by Fout Marina and on the flat above Fout. He says he’s been running 10 rods, two planer boards, six long lines with only a split shot, and two downlines set at 20 feet. His groups caught or had bites on all the type of rigs.
Stripers and hybrids will continue to feed before their spawn. You can catch fish in the Fout area, Big Creek above Reynolds Island and also Brushy Creek. “I caught fish around 6B in Bennett's Bayou before the run-up. Now they have moved out to deeper water around Fout Marina and Crystal Cove. The best bite was from midmorning until late afternoon. Shad, shiners, spoons and umbrella rigs have been catching all of the species. The threadfin shad are dying by the thousands and will continue to until the water temperature hits and stays above 50 degrees.
“We need warm nights and south winds to warm the water. Once that happens the lake will explode with fish being caught all over the lake. Once the south winds begin blowing, start fishing the northern bays and banks. The night bite will start after that, so fish the northern banks as they warm the fastest in the spring. These same patterns will happen in all the creeks on Norfork Lake.”
(updated 3-13-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is starting to pick up for all species. “It would even get better if Mother Nature would give us some consistently nice weather, but I guess we cannot control the weather.” The water temperature is starting to rise again, but it is still 4-5 degrees colder than it was at this time last year, which was in the low 50s. Spring is on the way. The long-range weather forecast looks great with warmer, dryer weather. Everything is looking up!”
Lou says crappie fishing is improving. Some say the evening bite is the best, he notes, but the morning bite was fairly decent Monday for Lou. “I headed out to check some new water for striped bass. During my graphing exercise I would occasionally stop and fish nearby brush piles. I checked out some 45- to 50-feet-deep brush, but found no fish and also checked out some 20-feet brush with no fish. The 30- to 35-feet-deep brush piles appeared to be the best for me. The crappie that I found were buried inside of the brush towards the bottom. I caught some nice fish in the 11- to 13.5-inch range, along with a few short fish. All were released. I was jigging with a quarter-ounce white with chartreuse back spoon. The bite was super light. Live bait would work well with a slip float or used with a small curly or paddle tail grub.
“Crappie have also started to move under my dock. One of our guests, between rain showers (Tuesday), fished our dock with a small Kastmaster. He landed three nice crappie along with many short bass. As the water continues to warm, the crappie will gradually move towards shallower brush piles. I mainly found my fish on main lake brush or brush at the mouths of coves.”
Lou says largemouth bass fishing has also been good. This time of year he has typically found nice bass in deep, 40-50 feet of water, but that's not the case this year. The bass have moved up in shallow water and are being caught on crankbaits and jerkbaits. “I was talking with Paul, the owner of Gerry's Quick Shop, about the bass bite. He is definitely in the know, as a lot of his shoppers are bass fishermen. Gerry's is one of the largest tackle shops in Mountain Home and is definitely a go-to bait shop for many. The current color is red and the old standby of peanut butter and jelly. The green-to-clearer water is holding more of the bigger fish than the stained, brown-tinted water. Main lake shallow points have been a great area to fish as of late, especially if the deep water channel swings in close to the point. Once the water level stabilizes, the backs of creeks will become the go-to spots. As with other species, when the water warms, the bass will become more active and start gearing up for their spring time spawn.”
Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing has also been good, he said, but not consistent. “I am finding these species on large flats in 27-60 feet of water. When I find them on a main lake flat they have been in the deeper water of 40-60 feet. They are typically suspended at all depths. When I head back to a major creek flat, I am finding them in 27-35 feet of water, and again they are at all depths. The water has typically been several degrees warmer back in the major creeks, so the fish are shallower. I have been using live bait, either thread fin shad, gizzard shad or shiners, and they are all working well. With live bait, I have a couple of downlines set around 30 feet and then a couple of free swimming baits with a small split shot. Vertical-jigging with a spoon, one of my favorite methods of fishing, is also catching some nice fish. Trollers are picking up some nice fish trolling large swimbaits or umbrella rigs. There are scattered striped bass throughout the lake and they are typically suspended down to the 50-foot level. The whites are in the process of spawning or have finished up the process. Once they complete the spawn they will move out into the main lake, assuming the warming trend continues.
Norfork Lake level is falling fairly rapidly as the Army Corps of Engineers has opened some of the spillway gates to evacuate the excess water. The lake level sits at 556.93 feet msl, which is less than 4 feet above normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature has been in the mid- to upper 40s. Some of the creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is starting to clear. The lake is in great shape and fishing is a lot of fun. “Don't forget that Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's Facebook page has daily fishing updates on current catches by our guests and me,” Lou says.
(updated 3-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 4.2 feet to rest at 5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps opened six of the 12 gates 1 foot each, releasing about 4,500 cfs as well as 6,000 cfs releases from the two power generation turbines for a total combined release of 10,500 cfs or the equivalent of three hydropower turbines at full power. 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 over the past year. 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 sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) 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.
(updated 3-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are still 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 1,122.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is back on rise again. Water temps on the river arms climbed 12 degrees up to near 50 degrees – big ups and downs, but typical this time of year, Jon says. Water on north end is at 42 as of Tuesday and real clear. Jon fished near the Lost Bridge area Monday and caught some really nice smallmouth bass holding on rock/humps in 35 feet of water. Bass fishing in general is picking up. Suspending jerks will kick in soon. Stripers are doing well; call a guide that specializes in stripers and they can put you on some fish right now, he says. Seek clearer water and look for birds working; stripers are scattered throughout the lake.
Jon says, “Today we fished the White River arm and some real nice walleye were caught and some big white bass.: Troll cranks or use plastics. The water started to rise midday and bite slowed. The river gauge came up 3 feet and debris started to show.
Crappie are good on any structure on the main river channel, 10-20 feet deep, on spider rigs with minnows and/or jigs. “I witnessed some catfish caught on cranks, so if you actually target catfish in river arms with some current, I think you can put some in the boat. Have also seen some monster spoonbill that have been getting hooked incidentally on trolled cranks. White bass are ready to go. Head up War Eagle and the white arms, and when this water clears, hang on!”
(updated 3-13-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the fishing is “really good” right now. The lake is a little muddy and the water seems a little high and moving. Both river arms are good, however. The crappie bite is good. The fish are around cover, brush piles, stumps and rocky points. White bass are starting to bite on crankbaits around rock points and steep banks. Jerkbaits also are working. The largemouth bass bite is fair. Walleye are good on the river using deep-diving crankbaits or 3-inch plastic grubs. Nothing reported on catfish and nothing reported on bream.
(updated 2-27-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, what a nice few days we have had. However, that is all going to come to an end towards the end of this week, as an arctic front is pushing through. If you can brave the cold, there are fish to be caught.” He says trout have been responding well to various applications. Quarter-ounce spoons of various colors have seemed to do better this week. PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle have also produced some nice numbers. This week’s hot spot has been between Houseman Access and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. If you can get out before or after generation occurs, you have a real opportunity to net some nice fish. You can download an app on your smartphone from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the generation schedule. “Hope you all have some time to get out and fish.”
(updated 3-13-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 3-13-2019) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said things appeared to be slowly picking up over the past week. While the lake water level is high, the lake is clear in places of deep water, while it’s murky in other places where rainwater runoff is flowing into the lake. Visibility is 2¼ feet. The surface temperature as of Tuesday was 50 degrees. Crappie are fair. Jigs were working best, with the fish settling around brush piles and rocky points in about 15 feet depth. Largemouth bass are also evident around brush piles and rocky points, but the bite has been poor. Your best chance is to throw crankbaits, chatterbaits or jigs, and focus your efforts in 10- to 16-foot depth. No reports on bream or catfish. Heather Hula with the state park said she got a chance to speak with several anglers who were out pre-fishing for a kayak tournament. Everyone said the fishing was slow but they were catching some black bass here and there and one person caught a largemouth. The water is warming up slowly, but the rainwater runoff has the good fishing spots in a muddy-ish condition. Seems like the fish are after the attention-getting, noise-making baits. “What I gathered is that we’re working with reaction bites, not so much the aggressive/territorial/hungry bite,” Heather said.
(updated 3-13-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the lake conditions as muddy and at a normal level. No surface temperature was reported. Crappie are good, but they remain deep. Minnows work best. Bass catches are average/fair. No baits were suggested. Catfish are good on minnows. The bream bite is poor now.
(updated 3-13-2019) Randall Watts, the superintendent at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595), says the clarity is murky and the surface water temperature earlier this week was 37 degrees. Lake Charles’ water level is high. Crappie are fair. Use jigs or worms and target the brush piles or stumps. Largemouth bass are fair. They are biting but they are slow and there’s not a lot of fight. Crankbaits and chatterbaits are working best, with bass hanging around the brush and the rocky points. Catfishing is good on goldfish and worms. A 55-pound catfish will caught using goldfish on a jug. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-13-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “We are selling more bait this week. In a couple weeks we should be in full swing here at Lake Poinsett State Park with more live bait. Soon thereafter we should be getting crickets. Looking forward to seeing you. Happy Fishing.” While Lake Poinsett is closed to anglers until 2020 for the AGFC’s renovation of the lake, other area lakes such as Lake Hogue and Lake Charles are nice destinations. Stop in for your bait supplies on the way there.
(updated 3-13-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is dingy and is high by about 1 foot. No surface water temperature was recorded. Crappie are fair. Minnows and jigs are working; target a depth of about 15 feet. Bass are fair, with the bass situated about 10 feet deep. No baits were suggested. Catfishing is poor. Poor reports on bream.
(updated 3-6-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 450 cfs (350 is average), and water clarity has been good. The river is looking the best it has in a while. The river is still up and extra care should be used when wading. A wading staff can be a great asset when wading the Spring River. The river bottom is very slick. Water clarity has a green tint. Catching trout has been all about getting the fly down to the river bottom. Not easy with a higher river flow. Extra weight on flies or a sink tip fly line can be helpful. Y2Ks and big Woollies have been the go-to flies. Double-nymph rigs can work well, also. Fluorescent orange and red Trout Magnets and Flicker Shad are working well for spin fishers.
(updated 3-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is a bit high. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 3-13-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 3-13-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 2-27-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, said it’s once again the time of year for Cane Creek to come alive with fish of all different species; they’re looking to get some grub after being largely inactive for the last few months. Although there isn’t much to say for the first real fishing report of the year, the promise of activity is on the horizon. Water temperature is hovering around 50 degrees, even with a large inflow of water after the most recent rains. This means that catfish, bass and crappie alike will be coming to the surface once the air temperature stabilizes and warms up marginally. With all the debris being washed into the lake from the creeks and banks, there will be plenty of activity from fishing competing for foodstuffs in confluences and mudflows. Water clarity drops off at about 15 inches, making the water of “muddy” quality, meaning that visibility is at its lowest. Instrument testing indicates that the most visible colors for Cane Creek at the moment are bright pinks, chartreuses, dark forest/olive greens and dark blues. That means the best artificial baits will be along the lines of Bobby Garland Electric Chicken jigs, pumpkinseed soft baits or craw-colored cranks that run anywhere from 3-8 feet deep. Bass have started making a slight comeback after a quiet winter, with heavier largemouth bass striking when provoked. Use baits that are either easy to see or cause enough of a disturbance in the water that the fish can feel them. Catfish will also go after pungent-smelling baits as the water warms. The Cane Creek State Park Visitor Center recently received a large shipment of great fishing gear that tends to be hard to find in most places, both bait and tackle! Keep your fingers crossed for stable weather in the coming weeks to see Cane Creek Lake become a hotspot for spring break fishing.
(updated 3-13-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), says that as of last Sunday the public boat ramps had just recently been opened. The lake level has decreased but is still muddy. Be cautious of debris from damage docks. There was some rain expected for Wednesday. But temperatures look to be mild for the coming week.
(updated 3-13-2019) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet while the AGFC completed vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through last September. The lake is rising with rainfall that will cover the new anchoring of cut gum trees and other vegetation that is good for fish habitat on the shallow shoreline areas. During the drawdown, tree stumps were showing in the coves toward the east and northeast of the lake; those are good areas to target now 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 261.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Monday that Millwood Lake pool was on the rise from recent thunderstorms. Lake elevation was 15-20 inches above normal pool. The Army Corps of Engineers made gate changes at the dam Monday and began releasing around 11,000 cfs. The tailwater below the dam is also back on the rise with USACE gates release at the dam. Water temps rose over the past week, ranging 55-60 degrees on Monday. 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. Clarity and visibility conditions diminished over the past few days with thunderstorms and increase of current along Little River and navigation is considered hazardous along Little River with the current discharge. Some debris remains present in Little River current, so use caution. Further upriver finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain ranging 5-8 inches. Little River is muddy and visibility ranges 1-3 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow's clarity worsened with rising lake level, and mud lines are pushing stain into the oxbows, with 5-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms.
The bite for largemouth bass over the past few days continues to be hit-and-miss from all the recent cold frontal passages. It’s still best during the midday hours in the oxbows and pockets, away from strong river current. Bomber, Bandit and random square-bill crankbaits, large bulky Hogs, Bang Fat Jobs, Bass Assassin Shads and Lizards are getting good responses. The bite frequency and patterns improved with increased surface temps this week. The best locations over the past few weeks have been in the back of the oxbows and pockets along main lake where water conditions and clarity are best. Best bite continues during afternoon's warmest periods, from noon to 4 p.m., along flats adjacent to wide creek wings and away from Little River muddy current. Where stumps and fresh lily pad shoots are blooming are prime locations. Mike and other anglers are seeing very good bass reactions with Bass Assassin Shads, War Eagle Spinnerbaits in grass, and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 8-10 feet of depth. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were square-bill cranks in craw patterns and Bandit Cranks in brown/orange Crawfish patterns. Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75s in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, red chrome, Toledo Gold and Echo 1.75s in Rayburn Red Craw or Ghost Minnow continue working during the warmer periods in back of the feeder creeks dumping into the oxbows. The cranks are still drawing random reactions by deflecting around and over stumps in creek channels with any cypress trees, standing timber and stumps. Bulky, fat tube jigs like 4-inch Gitzits, Brush Hogs, Bang XX FAT JOBS and lizards, 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 primary points with stumps from 6-10 feet deep. Green pumpkin, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, chartreuse pumpkin and blackberry colors continue to be good choices for soft plastic Brush Hogs or lizards to catch a solitary bass. A slow-moving Real Deal Custom Tackle jig in Texas Craw, black/blue, amber/chartreuse or June Bug, with black craw trailer, are getting a few good reaction bites near stumps, from 9-12 feet of depth in outer bends of creeks and ditches with cypress trees. Bass Assassin Shads are getting great reactions in the oxbows in 2-5 feet depth of water in fresh hydrilla, coontail grass, deertongue grass and new lily pad growth.
A few white bass were caught over the past week on Little Georges, Cleo’s, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads and Rat-L-Traps up Little River between McGuire Oxbow and entrance to Cemetery Slough. The white bass are evidently still on the move upriver and are staging in preparation for their annual spawning runs up the Little River to headwaters above the U.S. Highway 71 bridge. Crappie continue improving in the oxbows. The clearest water you can find has the most activity, and they are stacked up vertically over planted brush with jigs from 5-8 feet of depth. Best colors of jigs over the past couple weeks or so have been white/chartreuse, red/white or blue/chartreuse. Blues and channel cats continue biting well on trotlines and yo-yos set in the current of Little River, and in back of the Oxbow Lakes where current from Little River is bleeding through, set 12-18 feet deep. Yo-yos set from cypress trees over 8-12 feet deep in back of Mud Lake are still catching some nice 3- to 5-pound cats. Punch bait, chicken livers and gizzards, and homemade dough balls have been working for cats over the last several weeks on the yo-yos and trotlines.
(updated 3-13-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.63 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Tamara Lunsford, park superintendent at Daisy State Park near Kirby, said Monday that Lake Greeson surface water temperature was 52 degrees with turbid clarity. Greeson was 1.14 feet below normal pool. Bream are fair and found in 6 feet depth of water. Fish for them around brush piles, stumps and rocky points with worms. Crappie fishing is good. Anglers are using jigs around brush piles or rocky points. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Most bass are being caught in 10-15 feet depth and around brush. Catfish are fair on worms and blood bait. White bass reports are poor, but some can be caught fishing crankbaits or silver spoons in the deeper holes.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.04 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the white bass and hybrid bass are spawning upriver. The water is warming, so it won’t be long for the crappie to stack up on brush piles.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 438.54 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 538.84 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 3-13-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says clarity is clear and the water level is back to normal. The fishing, however, is not, with nothing really picking up this week. Poor reports across the board on bream, crappie, largemouth bass, catfish and white bass, she said. Surface temperature on Tuesday morning was 46 degrees.
(updated 3-13-2019) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park (501-844-4176) said the water is dingy and the surface water temperature was 51 degrees earlier this week. Black bass fishing is fair. Some bass are being caught using crankbaits. Chuck Emrick of Fishing With Chuck on Lake Catherine Guide Service reported to Steve that “as the water warms, the spring spawn will begin improving the local catch.” Catfishing is fair, with some catfish being caught on trotlines using cut shad as bait. Bream are poor, as are crappie and white bass.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 3-13-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch'em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Catherine is now refilled to normal levels. The lake rose 6 inches per day and was brought to normal summertime pool March 10.This process began March 1 and has kept the lake stained from heavy rains earlier in the month. The Carpenter Dam tailwaters are clearing somewhat, but cloudy water has been the norm for days. Thousands of rainbow trout are present in the tailrace, but are adversely effected by the rising waters. Trout despise muddy conditions and the bite is almost nonexistent while the lake is rising. Also, Lake Ouachita is still in the flood pool, which forces Entergy to run heavy generation to pass excess flow through the dam system This is a very important fact to remember this time of year when you are attempting to fish for rainbow trout. Trout behavior will return to normal a week to 10 days after the lake has reached summertime pool. Meanwhile, the walleye spawn is in full swing with both males and females present on spawning beds. Little fishing has taken place for these fish due to the adverse conditions; however, these fish will bite and are not as affected by rising water as trout are. Trolling small crankbaits against the current that run 4-6 feet deep is an effective method of locating spawning beds and causes walleye to give a reaction bite. Anchoring in areas that hold walleye and casting Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers will produce positive results as long as these fish are in the tailrace. Crappie will migrate into the tailrace in the next week to begin the spring spawn. These fish will stay close to the banks during current flow behind rock and sandbars. Live minnows and small jigs are the best bet when targeting crappie that will feed heavily in areas where they make spawning beds. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to be aware of the generation schedules and always follow all park and boating regulations. Wear a life jacket and live to fish another day.
(updated 3-13-2019) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495) said much of the week has been overcast; the lake saw a heavy rainstorm last Saturday morning followed by strong, gusty winds in the afternoon. The lake clarity at the lower end is clearing up after Saturday’s heavy rainstorm. The Big Piney and Illinois Bayou rivers are clearing up, also. Surface water temperature was 50 degrees. The pool had been low but is now around normal elevation. Upriver, the Ozark Lock and Dam No. 12 had been releasing near 20,000 cfs and rose to 72,000 cfs Saturday afternoon. Flow then slowed down to about 33,000 Sunday night. They have been generating all day and did not release much through the spillway on Monday. Downriver, the Dardanelle L&D No. 10 had been releasing about 14,000 cfs and rose to 73,000 Saturday night. Flow then slowed down to around 30,000 cfs on Monday morning. They have also been generating all day and haven’t released much through the spillway since Monday. Weekend tournaments are taking place on the lake.
(updated 3-6-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 47 degrees with some backwater reaching 50 before this cold front. River clarity is still poor. Creeks are clear with some clear backwater. Black bass have been good on Alabama rigs, jerkbaits, and jigs with Bamboozie. Spinnerbaits are beginning to come into play on the warmer days. Soft plastic jerkbaits such as the scam shad are working well on the shallow fish. Stripers are still good with swimbaits, A-rigs, Rat-L-Traps and jerkbaits. Crappie have been good deep on Cajun Crickets and Electric Chicken in chartreuse and chartreuse/black. Catfish have been good on cut bait on the main river in the channel swings. Bream have been fair in the creeks on jigs and crickets.
(updated 3-13-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels at or just below normal pool with water clarity varying. The main channels are murky with temps at or below 50 degrees mostly. Most arms and creek channels have decent clarity of up to 2 feet and temps in the mid-50s. One would think that the conditions that we have going would be producing good reports but with the lake levels changing, the recent and coming rains and the high winds, it’s simply dang tough out there, folks. Things should pick up when we get a little stability. Until then, for bass try Alabama rigs and deep-diving flat-sided and lipless crankbaits as the weapons of choice for search baits. Bright colors are the way to go with the water clarity murky. Chartreuse, FireTiger, orange and craw colors should be semi-effective. If you can locate fish, try switching to a suspending jerkbait or a shaky head jig or finesse jigs and see if there are a few more takers. Fish should be thinking about staging on main lake points or the next location up the bay or creek channel, but no reports as of yet of any massing of fish. No crappie report. “Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 346.11 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the clarity in the lake is “not good.” The surface water temperature Monday was 47 degrees. During a bass tournament over the weekend, seven fish at about 20 pounds won the event, they said. Largemouth bass in general are “jumping in the boat,” they report, and the bite is excellent. Swimming jigs are working best. Catfishing is fair; they are beginning to bite, with nightcrawlers getting the most hits. Crappie fishing is good on minnows and jigs. The crappie are at 16 feet depth. Bream reports were poor.
(updated 3-13-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) had no reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.32 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are good. Jerkbaits and crankbaits fished on main and secondary lake points or in creek channels are working at this time. Walleye are moving back into the lake from the pawning run. Small minnow-colored crankbaits and hair jigs should be the trick now. Stripers are good. Major creek mouths and main lake points on the western end of the lake are the best for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are fair and being caught with jigs or minnows in 20-30 feet of water near brush. No report on catfish. Surface water temperatures are ranging 48-52 degrees. Water clarity is stained. The lake level Tuesday was at 578.48 feet msl, slightly less than a half-foot above normal pool. 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 390.94 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-27-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), reported that crappie are still biting well at Bear Creek and Storm Creek. Bear Creek anglers are seeing lots of activity off of the bank near habitat and fallen trees, using live bait. No major reports on bass, although they do have some tournaments coming up and hope to have something to report on that next week.
(updated 2-27-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 3-13-2019) Wil Hafner, education program specialist at the Potlatch Education Center at Cook’s Lake, said plans were for the lake to reopen for youth and mobility-impaired fishing this month, but due to White River flooding, the opening has been rescheduled. Check back in this space or call the center at 870-241-3373. Cook’s Lake, when it reopens, will make fishing available on the 2-mile-long oxbow off the White River to youth under age 16 and to mobility-impaired anglers on the first and third Saturdays of each month, through October. Anglers can be accompanied by a helper who may fish.