Jan. 8, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Jan. 8, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.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 listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://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: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors using airboats conducted foliar applications of EPA-approved herbicide – causing no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Conway in 2019. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from Lake Conway through March 1, 2020. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 1-8-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is stained and at a normal level. Bream are good and are biting redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair; your best bet is fishing with small pink minnows. Black bass are fair using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are fair on worms, minnows or dough bait.
Little Red River
(updated 1-8-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear with morning generation of about 2-3 hours. This may all change the latter part of this week with a forecast of up to 4 inches of rain in this area. This will put the lake in the flood pool and generation will increase to draw the lake down. This may also muddy the river. One should check the rain amounts and clarity of the river before planning a weekend trip.
There is still a blue-wing olive hatch occurring on the river, usually in the afternoons ahead of the generated water. Fish are taking small emergers, dry flies and pupa according to which stage of the hatch you are fishing. Most of the time the fish are taking emergers if they are breaking the surface.
Notice: The free fly-fishing class will again be offered in Heber Springs this year. The first class will be at 7 pm on Thursday, Feb. 20. The class will consist of four consecutive Thursday nights at the same time each Thursday. There is no charge for this class but you need to call and register so we can know how many persons will be attending. This class is for beginners and anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of fly-fishing. Please call 501-690-9166 to register for the class. “If I’m on the river, please leave a message and I will return your call,” Greg says.
(updated 1-8-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red River continues to receive small amounts of generation on weekdays, providing good wade and drift-fishing opportunities on all sections of river. Fly patterns of egg pattern, midges, gold ribbed hares ear and pheasant tails can be productive. Consider hot pink bodies on chartreuse jigheads for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.08 feet msl, 0.04 foot above normal pool of 462.04 feet, and is going to rise with forecast rain. “I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Happy New Year, and do not forget about the 38th annual Arkansas Marine Expo, which will take place at the Statehouse Convention Center Jan. 17-10. For more info go to dgattractions.com. Come on by and say 'hi' and look at all the new boats, tackle and all your on and off-water needs, as wel as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's fish tank. There will be giveaways, from a new boat on down, and children's events.
“Now to the other good stuff. The overall bite is good for all species of fish on the lake. Crappie are eating good anywhere from 18-40 feet of water on a variety of baits with lots of limits coming in most days. Catfish are going good; not many are fishing for them but all three species are eating well for this time of year all over lake and rivers. Black bass are scattered from super shallow out to 60 feet. You can drag something, or a lot of moving baits are working. No report on bream. Walleye are eating jighead minnows, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and you can troll. Or, fish straight up and down. A lot of fish are on the move with conditions as the river fish are getting ready to make run, and rest are loading up on the abundant of shad in lake and rivers. Five days after this warm rain, when water clears back up, should be the start of the best bite going forward.
“Hybrid and white bass are eating good in lakes and rivers on spoons, inline spinners, hair jigs, etc. in 28-60 feet of water as they will chew four or five times a day. Just stay around the shad. All species are in good shape and the good bite should continue with right conditions all spring.”
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-8-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the water clarity is muddy. The water level is normal. Most fishing has been poor. Crappie can still be caught with minnows in shallow water. Catfishing is poor. No reports on bream or bass.
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors using airboats conducted foliar applications of EPA-approved herbicide – causing no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Overcup this past year. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from Lake Overcup through March 1, 2020. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 1-8-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. The surface temperature is around 48 degrees. Bream are slow but still catching some on redworms. Bass are doing good around brush tops and structure, but just a few people are fishing lately. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and crappie minnows. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night lately, catching a few early morning and late evening. Everything has been slow but should start picking up. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 12-18-2019) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake is clear and is about 1 foot above normal. Surface temperature on Tuesday morning was 42 degrees. Crappie are good. “They are hungry,” David reports. A lot of crappie are being caught about 2-3 feet from brushpiles or by the creek bed coming into the lake. Tri-colored igs in red/white/chartreuse colors work best. Minnows also will work. Bass are fair, with the best activity coming during the evening. They are shallow then. Use a crankbait. Catfishing is good on worms and chicken liver. Bream reports have been poor. David reports that he will be closed the last week of December through Jan. 6 and will “then be back with fresh minnows.”
(updated 1-8-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no recent reports.
(updated 1-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some anglers are catching catfish using Wildcat Dough Balls and Sonny's Dip Bait, and also off of No. 12 bass minnows. Crappie have been being caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows, with some being tipped with a crappie nibble. Bass have been good off of brooder minnows, plastic worms and spinnerbaits. On some of the warmer days we had recently, the bream were fair on crickets and redworms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been good on size 6 crappie minnows out of the front pond and the back one. Bass have been biting on brooder minnows, while the catfish have been hitting nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. A few bream were caught off of crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says that there are usually three boat ramps, but due to the road construction the one down past Sunset Lake, under the I-30 bridge, is closed down for about twoyears or so. So the two you can access are Lyle Park and Peeler Bend access. “The river was 4 feet when I checked it this morning (Wednesday), which ain't bad, but usually my husband likes it between 4-5 feet. A few reports have been reported on walleye, smallmouth and Kentucky bass being caught off of mainly brooder minnows, but some also off of No. 12 bass minnows. Also some nice catfish have been caught off of No. 12 bass minnows fishing on the bottom .
(updated 1-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been good on No. 6 crappie minnows, pink crappie minnows and Kalin's 2-inch Grubs in Tennessee Shad and also the Bleeding Tennessee Shad color. Bass are fair on brooder minnows around docks. Catfish have been good on nightcrawlers and cut bait. In about a couple of months, crickets fished on bottom will get you some of those really nice redear bream. This lake is well known for it' big redear bream. “While this is 13 miles from my shop, it’s a 280-acre lake,” she noted.
(updated 1-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie, bass, bream, catfish and walleye can all be found in this lake. The crappie have been known to be caught on No. 6 crappie minnows as well as No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish will bite nightcrawlers, goldfish and bait shrimp. “No reports from my customers from here lately.”
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 12-18-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said water is up and down, trying to clean channel. Tugs are pushing just six barges as a time. Add the weather to this and you have very few people fishing the river. Even the commercial fishing folks are having a tough time. Our duck hunting was fair, but the weather front that came down Sunday and Monday brought some nice numbers of ducks in. Had three dads with their sons Sunday and had a great hunt. Monday, we had a young man who had a very hunt.
Catfish are biting fair below the dam on skipjack. No reports on anything else. “Merry Christmas from Charley’s Hidden Harbor!”
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-8-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the level is normal. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Black bass are good on crankbaits. Catfishing is fair with trotlines and using cut bait. No reports on bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 1-8-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that crappie are being caught in fair numbers on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair. Bream, black bass and white bass are poor. The water is dingy and at a normal level.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-8-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is stained to muddy and is at a normal level. Crappie are good. Use blue and black jigs or minnows. They are biting in 8-10 feet depth. Target the jetties. Black bass are good, also on black and blue jigs or on crankbaits. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 1-8-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says that in the main pool the water is dingy but is at a normal level. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bream and bass are poor. Catfishing are fair on skipjack. Sauger are everywhere, they report, and are hitting black and pink jig. White bass are poor. Below Terry Lock and Dam, crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. They’re being caught in 10-15 feet depth. Catfish are fair on skipjack. Bream, black bass and white bass are poor.
(updated 1-8-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471), reporting on the fishing near the Terry Lock and Dam, said the water is high and clear. They said black bass are fair on spinnerbaits, jigs and minnows. Crappie are fair using minnows or jigs. Catfishing is fair on nightcrawlers. Bream are poor.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-8-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is clear and at a normal level. The water remains cool. The crappie bite is fair on minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair on spinnerbaits or jigs. Catfishing is fair using worms (specifically nightcrawlers). Bream are poor.
(updated 1-8-2020) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) is closed for hunting season and winter break. It will reopen in February.
White River (Augusta-Des Arc section)
(updated 1-8-2020) Angler William McCoy had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Welcome back and ‘Hello 2020!’ During the last two weeks of 2019, the Christmas break, the Army Corps of Engineers was able to attain normal power pool on Bull Shoals Lake, so we are now sitting at or very near the desired 659 feet elevation. Water releases into the White River below the lake have decreased to an average of three generators with some additional lake releases in late afternoon as they lower the lake levels behind Bull Shoals. Very soon, we'll see a more accommodating river level for easy access for our wade and bank anglers. Although we are still in the midst of the brown trout spawn, we've been able to bring several nice browns to the boat with sculpins drifting over areas that are often above water. Rainbows are loving the flash of a copper-colored spinner or the orange belly of a Smithwick Rogue.
“We are being treated to a very mild winter so far; early mornings require layers of warm clothing (and my favorite Toasty Toe foot warmers), but the afternoons offer warmer temperatures that add to our enjoyment of the river, which is always more serene during cold months with fewer anglers. Make 2020 the year (or another year) of introducing a young person to the great outdoors, including the joys of catching some spectacular trout. See you on the river!”
(updated 1-8-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said river clarity is good and the river level is normal. Six generators have been running at the dam. The trout bite is excellent, both rainbows and browns. Use shrimp or spoons.
(updated 1-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week they had no rain, cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.9 foot to rest at 1 foot above seasonal power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 3.3 feet to rest at 1.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River and Table Rock Lake had heavy generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater moderate flows and wadable water most days. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are now at or near power pool; expect wadable water in the very near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. 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 cerise high water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the clarity is clear and the water is now at a normal level. Surface temperature is 50 degrees. Crappie are good. They’re best around brushpiles and are biting minnows and jigs. Bream are good, also targeting the brush, with worms and crickets. Black bass are excellent. Best catches are coming on Rock Crawler crankbait. Also use an A-rig. Catfish (big blue cats in particular) are good on jugs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater moderate flows and wadable water most days. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are now at or near power pool; expect wadable water in the very near future.
The Norfork is fishing much better on the low flows. 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 two years due to flooding. 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 ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing better. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week. The weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
John also says, “As many of you know, one of my favorite things in the world is to wade fish on the Norfork tailwater. My last few excursions have been beset with complications. Due to an almost never ending level of heavy generation at Norfork Dam the opportunities have been few and far between.
“The first instance was a couple of months ago when I had a three-day opportunity to wade the Norfork. The day before the low water began I had worked very hard guiding two young men on Dry Run Creek. I passed on the first day to rest up despite gorgeous weather and a long period of low water. The next day the temperature dropped and it rained, then sleeted and finally snowed. I passed. On the last day, they ran water and I was unable to wade. This one was my fault – I should have fished on the first day.
“My second opportunity came a few weeks ago. I had a Monday where the water was scheduled to be off for seven hours. I arrived at the Ackerman access at 8 a.m., which was a couple of hours after the water had been turned off. I quickly strung my rod, donned my waders and headed upstream to the catch-and-release section.
“I went to my favorite spot and caught a nice trout on the third cast. I caught my next one two casts later. I was into my fifth fish when I looked around and noted that the water was rising. It was 9 a.m. and they had turned the water on several hours before it was scheduled. I was disappointed, to say the least, because I had fished less than an hour.
“My most recent opportunity was last Monday. I had been out of town for four days to spend the holidays with my family. I had noticed a few days of low water while I was gone. I was anxious to get in a day of fishing. The prediction was for the water to be turned off from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. I got up early, showered, shaved and got dressed. It was to be cold and windy so I wore polypropylene long under wear, fleece pants, a fleece jacket, a down jacket, heavy wool socks, fingerless wool gloves and a fleece hat with a nylon shell.
“The plan was to leave the house about 10 a.m. That way the water would be dropped out by the time I drove to the access, strung my rod and put on my waders. Before I left the house, I checked my computer to ensure that the water had been turned off. It had not. I waited another hour and checked again with the same result. Before I gave up hope I waited another hour and checked one last time. They were still running water.
“I felt like I had dressed up for the prom and had been stood up. I was a bit angry. This time the Corps of Engineers had messed me up. I wonder if the employee in the control room at the dam owns a watch.
“I am not ready to give up. I will keep trying until I get to wade the Norfork again.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,121.11 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is nearing its massive and fast drawdown Lake is currently at 1,121 feet msl with a few more feet to go. “We are expecting heavy rains Wednesday and Thursday. I hope not!
“Fishing has been fair at best. The lake is warmer than usual for this time of the year. Crappie are fair with spider riggers bring in limits, but it takes some time to fill them. If you are dead-sticking you must work over the brush and be patient and the fish will hit. I watch on my Livescope and I have to bounce it basically off their heads to get a strike.
“Stripers are good. I had some clients out and we ripped them with War Eagle Spoons last week. We also got onto a white bass bite and caught some huge ones mixed in with stripers. Walleye are in transition areas. If lake can just stabilize, we will be in for some good fishing. That is a big ‘if’ though.”
(updated 1-8-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the late is now just 1 foot above normal level. Surface temperature is 45 degrees. Clarity is good. Crappie are good. They are in 8-20 feet depth. Jigs are working best. Focus on the brushpiles. Black bass are good on crankbaits and jerkbaits. Bream are poor, but there is a bite on worms. No reports on catfish.
(updated 12-18-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said, “Fishing has been good if you can brave the weather. The water is still high and shore fishing may be a challenge. However, if you have access to a boat, you can surely land some trout. The Corps of Engineers is still releasing water during the morning hours, but you can still catch them.
“Most trout have been caught pulling various hard baits and jigging with ¼-ounce jigs. Most of the fish have been caught between Spider Creek and the Highway 62 bridge. If you can find some still water, various PowerBaits with light terminal tackle have produced some nice numbers as well.
“Well that's all for this week. I hope the weather clears up and you can get out and catch some fish. Have a safe and Happy Hollidays!”
(updated 1-8-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 1-8-2020) Ralph Donnangelo, superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, had no report.
(updated 12-18-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are fair. They’re being caught in deeper water by the bridge. Use minnows or jigs. Largemouth bass are good. Use a crankbait or Green Grabs. Catfishing is good on chicken liver; target deeper water. Bream are poor.
(updated 1-8-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) had no reports.
(updated 1-8-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park had no report. Call the visitor center for any updates if you are going to Lake Charles.
(updated 1-8-2020) Lake Poinsett is closed until next year as repairs continue on the habitat. The Lake Pointsett State Park Visitors Center sells bait still, and the shop is in proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas. Ome Coleman at the Lake Poinsett State Park says, “We are still selling plenty of minnows. Although the lake is still gone, we are still here to supply your fishing supply needs.”
(updated 1-8-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are running at 315 cfs (350 average) and water clarity is clear. With the low, clear water at this time the catching has been tough. Cloudy days are normally much better. Casting Woollies with a quick short strip back has been working well. The sunny days have been the tough days, and hands down the most productive technique for us has been a Y2K suspended under an indicator. Nymphs can work well during hatches. “Plenty of caddis and small mayflies have been hatching. And when the minnows are chasing the bugs, try a Guppie, my minnow pattern, and they can be very productive some days. The Y2K has been the fallback fly. If the trout don’t seem to be biting at all, they will hit that Y2K.
On Tuesday of this week, water at dam 1 in Mammoth Spring was released to drop the water out of the small lake above dam 1. This is done once a year during the winter to try and kill the moss that grows so thick in the river. It did mess the river up. The water is muddy in town but should clear within a day.
On Monday Jan. 13, at the Mammoth Spring High School cafeteria there will be a meeting on discussing a trout management plan for the Spring River. “The Spring River has been a put-and-take river for over a hundred years. Stocking began from the federal hatchery in Mammoth Spring in 1904, maybe a little earlier. We have been hoping for catch-and-release areas and a slot limit for many years now. We do not know any plans at this time; the meeting will be a start of the process. Creel surveys and questionnaires were sent out last year. There will be a full report on my blog after the meeting.
“The forecast for the end of this week is calling for heavy rains. It will take a lot of rain to affect the river with the dry conditions lately. Always check my blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.”
(updated 1-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is in great shape. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and North Fork 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 1-8-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 1-8-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-8-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 1-8-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no new reports.
(updated 1-8-2020) The lake is undergoing a drawdown so that the dam can be repaired and the fish habitat rebuilt. There are no limits on game fish during the drawdown.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.48 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said few but random lily pad stands remain in isolated patches, most have died back, and stems remain holding a few black bass near vertical structure on deeper drops in the oxbows. “Most bass we are finding are roaming shallow on full sun and bright skies into the 3- to 6-foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 9-15 feet depth ranges. The largemouths have been turning on during the heat of the day – better on bright, sunny, clear days when water temps will rise a few degrees in mid-day. Square-bill crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, War Eagle Underspins, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits continue randomly connecting with the randomly roaming bass. Rat-L-Traps, MR-6, Echo 1.75 and Little John cranks have been getting decent responses over the past few weeks. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-sized bass over the past several weeks. Seems like over the past few days the feeding mechanism turns on like a light switch, and shuts off almost as quickly during the heat of the afternoon, best from noon-3 p.m.
White bass continue roaming the oxbows of Little River, at creek dumps into the oxbows or connect with the river. Rat-L-Trap Tail Spinners in Millwood Magic, or Splatterback colors, and Bomber Fat Free Guppy cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad were catching a mixed bag of bass following schools of shad along both sides of points extending into the oxbows where stumps present and near vertical structure. Best Little John crankbait colors over the past couple of weeks were the Millwood Magic, Splatterback and Louisiana Shad colors. Some mouths of creek dumps held very large schools of whites and Kentucky bass over the past several weeks. The spotted bass were not feeding as aggressively over the past week as the Whites.
Crappie were holding near standing timber in the oxbows now that clarity is improved. But for the last couple weeks, in the back of the oxbow lakes along Little River, the crappie were slow due to unseasonably warm weather. And, where they were biting jigs and minnows near standing timber two weeks ago, they seem to have spread horizontally, even though water clarity is much better – a lack of cold weather recently seemed to slow the bite considerably. Chartreuse jigs were working initially, but as the clarity has improved, a smoke colored Cordell Grub on a jig was markedly better a few weeks ago, and minnows were working by vertical jigging near standing timber in Horseshoe.
As of Monday, Millwood Lake is about 3-4 inches above normal conservation pool, near 259.5 feet msl; the discharge is around 1,800 cfs in Little River according to the USACE. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 227 feet msl with discharge at the gates and dam. 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. Surface temps as of Monday ranged near 50 degrees to 53 under full sun. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for stumps, random broken or floating timber in Little River. Clarity continues improving in the oxbows with the river receding. Little River is heavy stain, moderate current, and with random broken timber and debris.
(updated 1-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) says they’ve heard anglers were catching crappie and bass around the bridge.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 535.95 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) Tamara Lunsford, park superintendent at Daisy State Park near Kirby, had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 403.23 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said white bass and hybrids are migrating toward the river. Vertical-jigging spoons in the Point Cedar/Shouse Ford areas are producing ample numbers of fish. Watch for the birds chasing shad.
(updated 1-8-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina had no updates. He will begin reporting again after hunting season.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.78 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.15 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-8-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) in Camden had no new reports.
(updated 1-8-2020) Angler John Gulley, CEO of Lone Sportsman Outfitters, had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass and crappie are biting well. Bass are being caught on crankbaits, jigs and soft plastics. Crappie are biting shiners or jigs; popsicle has been a good color lately.
(updated 1-8-2020) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says fishing is very slow, with few anglers this past week. No reports.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-8-2020) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-8-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature 48 degrees below the dam with clear conditions in the tailrace. The 3-foot winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine is in effect until March 1. The rainbow trout bite is currently very good. These stocked fish can be caught from boat or bank. PowerBaits in white or yellow presented under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are an excellent way to catch trout early in the season. Fly-fishermen can wade to areas that hold good numbers of fish and record limits of trout by casting Woolly Buggers, micro-jigs and egg patterns. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current that imitate shad or crawfish will work well in times of slack water or flow. January trout stocking will be 9,300 fish and will greatly enhance trout numbers, giving anglers better opportunities for success. White bass numbers are good close to the dam although the size is smaller than normal. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jig presentations will all draw strikes from these temperate bass from the dam to the bridge as they feed on shad that are moving in and out of the tailrace. Hybrid bass also run alongside these fish and will feed on the same prey items. Stripers have been observed feeding below the bridge in the late evening. Balloon rigs with gizzard shad give anglers a good chance to hook a big striper, but artificial lures such as Super Spooks and Alabama rigs should not be overlooked. Strong rods and lines are recommended for these predator fish, which possess great power and are often in the 20- to 40-pound range. Blue catfish in the 4- to 6-pound range have been caught next to the dam on live minnows and stink baits. Anyone navigating Lake Catherine should always wear a life jacket and be aware of the generation schedules. All park rules and regulations must be followed in the Carpenter Dam tailrace.
(updated 1-8-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said they had mostly clear skies and mild temperatures this past week. A system brought overcast skies and light rain this past Thursday and Friday. The forecast leading into the weekend is more complex. Currently, a low-pressure system is expected to bring rain, heavy at times, and gusty winds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Potentially severe storms are possible overnight on Friday. The system will exit the area throughout the day Saturday with a potential for winter precipitation. As usual, this forecast is very likely to change as we approach the weekend.
Visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 44 degrees. As of Tuesday (Jan. 7) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has held consistent at a little over 341 feet msl. Ozark tailwater release has gradually risen since last week from about 26,000 cfs to 43,000 cfs. There has been no power generation at Ozark. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has not fluctuated and has been holding near 338 feet msl. The Dardanelle tailwater has held around 8 feet; only fluctuating about 1 foot. Tailwater release has risen from about 33,000 cfs last week up to 50,000 cfs on Saturday. It is currently slowed to about 40,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day.
Dredging operations at river mile 222 near Cabin Creek are complete. However, the Corps of Engineers continues to issue navigation instructions for areas in pool 10. Near the river bend at Shoal Bay, between river miles 221.7 and 222.5, run the red line of the currently buoyed temporary channel. Around the river bend at Cane Creek, between river miles 232.5 and 233.5, run the red line. At O’Kane, between river miles 248.0 and 250.0, run the green line. Visit https://www.swl.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1985098/mkarns-nav-notice-swl-19-81-pool-10-change-in-water-elevation-and-sailing-instr/ for more information.
Anglers, Please use caution when on the water. Many channel markers have drifted and there are many submerged hazards as a result of flooding. The Lake Dardanelle State Park tournament season will begin soon. We are hosting a crappie tournament scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 11. There are no new reports from anglers. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 1-8-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 1-8-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still at 3-4 feet below normal pool and temperatures ranging from 49-51 degrees throughout the lake with clarity over 10 feet. “We have had some gorgeous weather this winter and it really shows in the amount of fish being caught! Smaller lakes around Hamilton have been on fire, and Hamilton is doing well to for the most part, but we haven’t got it all the way figured out yet. Spotted bass are very aggressive to the drop-shot in green pumpkin and watermelon seed and Damiki rig in white pearl and smoke colors. Target these fish on massive current breaks like bridge piers and submerged brush and boulders that come out the main channels.
The largemouth have been very elusive over the last week. They are shallow on chunk rock flats on the sunny days or they are deep in excess of 25 feet on brushpiles. Take your pick and let us know! Target the flats and rip rap with craw-colored flat-sided crankbaits and suspending jerkbaits and the deeper fish with finesse worms and finesse jigs in green pumpkin.
Lots of folks are catching crappie right now in 12-15 foot of water near the main channels on submerged timber and brushpiles. Remember to adjust to the lake drop and compensate. Target the crappie with live minnows set on slip corks or by vertical-jigging vertical structure in deep water (25-plus feet).
“For you folks looking for the hybrid fish this time of year, it’s really easy: the Highway 7 bridges and Electric Island near Carpenter Dam. Troll at 40 feet plus with something that looks like a shad and have fun! Wear those life jackets at all times folks! That water is still deadly even though the weather is gorgeous. Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.44 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the water is clear and at a normal level. Surface temperature is 52 degrees. Crappie are excellent. They’re being caught in 6-12 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Best bet is fishing the river channels. Bream are good on worms or crickets. Black bass are poor to fair. Best bait has been spinners. Catfishing is excellent. They’re biting in 5-6 feet on shad.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 575.21 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair to good. Alabama rigs in major creeks or fishing a Pig-n-Jig near brush have been productive. No report on walleye. Stripers are fair. They’re being caught on live bait or big hair jigs. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair to good. Try a small jig near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No reports on catfish. The water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees and the clarity is stained. Lake level earlier this week was 575.20 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
(updated 1-8-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no new reports.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.69 feet msl (normal pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-8-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) had no report. Check Ronnie’s Facebook page for his latest posts and photos.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 1-8-2020) Bear Creek Lake is undergoing an emergency lake drawdown on the St. Francis National Forest/Mississippi River State Park in response to a damaged spillway. After damage was noted at the Bear Creek Lake spillway, the USDA Forest Service began procedures to lower the lake water levels to improve capacity and hope to prevent an overflow, which could further damage the spillway. The water level as of Jan. 8 is down 4-5 feet, with a goal of lowering the lake level about 10 feet. Therefore, the boat ramp is not safe and is being closed immediately until the lake spillway repairs can be made, the Forest Service said. The Forest Service personnel will work in conjunction with the State Park and the AGFC to monitor lake levels. The plan forward is to consult with a geotechnical engineers to assess the damage and make recommendations on repairs. For more information, contact the St. Francis Ranger District at 870-295-5278 or Mississippi River State Park at 870-295-3382.
(updated 1-8-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the fishing season is over at Cook’s Lake so that the lake can serve as a waterfowl rest area. Check back in late February for the spring plans and reopening for fishing. For information, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.