Jan. 29, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Jan. 29, 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 – which will cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life such as fish – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Conway last 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 Conway through March 1, 2020. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 1-29-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake remains at its normal Lake Conway stained and has dropped of late, now at low level. Bream are good on redworms, crickets, jigs and nightcrawlers. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfish are good on nightcrawlers, dough bait and minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 1-29-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said Wednesday the Little Red River is receiving 24 hours of generation. The Greers Ferry Lake level is above normal seasonal pool due to recent rains, so longer periods of generation to lower the lake level are expected. 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 the bank with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high water conditions. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, micro-jigs, egg pattern and streamers during high-water conditions. Hot pink, cotton candy and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 1-29-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear with two units running at a reduced amount round-the-clock. The flow is between 3,400 and 4,100 cfs, this amounts to approximately one-unit generation 24/7. “I have been informed that this will be the pattern through at least Monday, at which time they will probably go back to the two full-unit generation for 12-hour periods. Fishing has been limited with rainbows taking micro-jigs, large hare’s ear nymphs and sowbugs.
“Please stay safe, if on the river during the generation. Higher water with increased flows requires more attention to remain safe on the water.”
Notice: Greg’s free fly-fishing class will again be offered at First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs this year. The first class will be at 7 p.m. 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.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 464.67 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 1-29-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 464.42 feet msl. It’s 2.38 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling just a little as they generate – but if they stop it, just back up some. “Looks like if the weather holds, a lot of early spawning will take place with all species, but as in this part of Arkansas we will have a lot of changes from now through May and I bet they will not be all warm changes,” Tommy said. Crappie are eating well with lots of fish being caught if you want to get out there, either straight up and down or troll for them in 15-30 feet of water over deeper water. Black bass are scattered from the bank out to 60 feet and all in-between and can be caught with a lot of different methods, it’s a good time of year to hone a certain technique you usually don’t catch them on and learn it. Walleye will be stopping more to feed now they have done some traveling and feel better – try rogues, crankbaits trolled or thrown at night, or fish with a jighead minnow, grub or swimbait. No report on bream. “Catfish are still eating, I am told, but no report.” Hybrid and white bass are chewing as well in 25-60 feet of water on spoons, swimbaits, grubs, hair jigs, inline spinners and the new E-Bar City rig.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-29-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the only fishing they’ve heard about is the good catfish bite. Use worms. The lake is a little murky but is at a normal level. No other reports.
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors using airboats will be conducting foliar applications of EPA-approved herbicide – which will cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life such as fish – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Overcup last 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 1-29-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 1-29-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), had no report.
(updated 1-29-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no recent reports.
(updated 1-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “I have actually had a few say that they had caught their limit on catfish there just as of within a few days ago – which the limit is 3 catfish per person there. Nightcrawlers and bass minnows have proven good for their catches. As soon as hearing this, I looked up the stocking chart to see if the lake had been stocked recently, but if it had been, it hadn't been updated. I keep an eye on the chart weekly and if I see it has been updated on being stocked, I will screen shot it and put it on my Facebook page.”
Crappie have been doing well on pink crappie minnows as well as on size 6 crappie minnows early in the mornings, way before daylight, and also later in the evenings. Bass have been biting brooder minnows as well as bass minnows and Zing Tails in the Firetiger and rainbow trout colors.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are doing fair on crappie minnows and some jigs, especially black and pink. Bass are going after the bass minnows and plastic worms – the dark-colored ones like red shad and watermelon red. Catfish are biting on the minnows, too, on Wild Cat Blood Stink Bait. Also, a few bream are being caught on crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says with the water levels getting as high as 9 feet, fishing for the past week been kind of limited. But not to say it’s not doable – there have been a few reports of some walleye being caught using brooder minnows hooked through the underpart of its mouth coming out of one of its nose holes. Using an Eagle Claw 84 A No. 2 hook has always proven a good sturdy hook, being not too big of a hook. Along with a small split shot, Trilene XL 8-pound clear line works well. When fishing for the walleye, you want to fish as light as possible. The less you have out there the less their sharp sensitive eyes are able to detect. Water level as of Sunday morning was at 5.7 feet; let it get below 5 feet and have the water not muddy but at the same time not too clear, then an outing on the Saline for the walleye will be more favorable.
(updated 1-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie been good on No. 6 crappie minnows, some fishing in the coves or around docks. Bass have been hitting pink spinnerbaits, minnows and crankbaits. Catfish are being caught on bass minnows, cut baits and nightcrawlers.
(updated 1-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that just this past weekend “I had a few fishermen going there. Hope to hear word back from them. I have seen some very nice ones come from there. But being so far out, not many people venture out there. There are also a lot of bass there, too.”
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 1-29-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-29-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are fair on minnows. The black bass bite has picked up with good results. Angles are using plastic worms, regular worms and jigs. Catfishing is good at night. Minnows on yo-yos are getting eaten. No bream reports.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 1-29-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that crappie are producing fair results. They are at 6-8 feet depth and biting minnows. No other reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-29-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is muddy and high. There remains a small craft advisory in effect. Crappie are being caught on black/chartreuse crappie jigs, in particular, with emphasis on the brushpiles, rocky points and jetties. Black bass are good on black/blue jigs and red square-bill crankbaits. They’re being found in 3-5 feet depth around the grass, as well as around brush and shallow water around the rocky points. Also, reports of catches in the backwaters and jetties. Around those rocky points, use jerkbaits or a rattle-style bait. No other reports.
(updated 1-29-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the river is murky and high. Bream are being reported being caught around the Willow Beach area and the Fourche Creek area with good results. They are in 4-5 feet of water. Use crickets and target rocky points or rip-rap. Crappie are good. They are being found around White Oak Bayou at Burns Park. Anglers are having best success with chartreuse jigs and targeting 4-5 feet depth. No reports on black bass, catfish or white bass in the Little Rock pool. However, catfish are good below the Terry Lock and Dam. Use shad and skipjack.
(updated 1-29-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-29-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is a little cloudy and is high. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Black bass are deep and the bite is good on jigs. Catfishing is good using worms. Bream went unreported.
(updated 1-29-2020) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) is closed for hunting season and winter break. It will reopen in February.
(updated 1-29-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing below Bull Shoals Dam on the beautiful White River has called for more patience this past week and maybe a little more variety from your tackle box. The rain we received a couple of weeks ago brought the lakes in this watershed up several feet (Bull Shoals Lake is nearly 8 feet higher than just before the rain event) and the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a lot of that into the White River. Generation numbers are averaging 23,000 cfs, accounting for releases from both the turbines and project conduits. We are nearing the end of the brown trout spawning season and have seen them move away from the spawning beds and into other favorite spots (think: deep holes) from the dam to Calico Rock. Lots of territory for the trout, lots of opportunity for the anglers. Try luring the browns with a silvery white shad or bright, white stick baits. A nice white Wooly Bugger with silver flash should draw them to your hook, too. The rainbows have been a little finicky, picking and choosing which baits they'll snap at. Shiny gold or bronze spoons, as near to the bottom as you can keep them, will provide some success, as will a feisty red wiggler worm, floating mid-depth. “It's all about variety; if you don't get a bite after several casts with one bait, change locations, change your bait, or both. See you at the river!”
(updated 1-29-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river remains high. “There is a lot of water round-the-clock,” they report. Eight generators are running at the dam. No fishing reports.
(updated 1-22-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week they received a bit over a quarter-inch of rainfall, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.4 feet to rest at 8 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 28 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 4 feet above seasonal power pool and 12 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.7 feet to rest at 6.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River saw heavy generation and there was no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.8 tenths feet to rest at 6.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater saw heavy flows and had limited wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to a significant rain event last week, the waters are now weeks if not months from wadable water. 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 (my 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.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 667.27 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-29-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said surface temperature of the water is 46 degrees and the lake is 8 feet high as of Tuesday. Crappie reports are good. They’re deep, around 35-40 feet depth of water, and are found toward the main lake. Fish the brushpiles with minnows or jigs. There is also a deep bite for black bass with good results. Spoons and ice jigs are working best. The walleye action is “pretty random,” Del reports. Nothing on bream or catfish. Also, note that Del provides a video regularly on Youtube (Del Colvin/Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) in which he talks about various and timely methods to fish the lake, which baits are working best and areas to target.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 560.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is in its wintertime pattern, but with some twists due to all the drastic weather changes. “I guess this is normal, but when you go from 20 degrees to 60 degrees and then the water level changes 5.8 feet in a day, it tends to confuse the fish, or at least it confuses me.”
He adds, “Fishing would not be any fun if it was the same day in day out. With all the changes, it makes for a lot of searching different types of areas to see what the fish have decided to do. I guess it really is not the fish, but what the weather changes have done to the fish’s food source. Typically, as the water gets cold, large schools of shad tend to migrate out to deep water in the main lake river channel. This was what was happening over the last couple of weeks. With the rain last weekend, what is typical has changed. The bait has moved out of the main lake deep water. As of this (Tuesday) morning, I found lots of bait half way back in creeks, but still in deeper water.”
Lou says the movement of huge schools of shad affects the locations of striped bass. “Over the last couple of weeks, I was finding and catching striped bass between the two main bridges on the lake. The fish were in 80-120 feet of water and suspended anywhere from 20-50 feet down. Today I couldn’t find any there in the main lake. I finally found that the shad had moved halfway back into the creeks. And when I found the bait, I started marking big arcs scattered though out the bait. I set out three rods with live bait at 30, 35 and 40 feet deep. I was also jigging a white ¾-ounce spoon.
“About 20 minutes after I had set out the bait, a huge school of fish came under the boat. The fish were from surface to the bottom. All of a sudden each of the live bait rods got buried and I hooked into one with my spoon, but it came off immediately. I landed the first fish (a hybrid), then went to the second rod and the fish swam under the big motor and broke off, the last fish just stole the bait off of the third rod. After all was said and done, I got to land one of the fish and the big school had vanished. It was very hectic while it lasted. I kept moving around in this 75-85 feet of water. I had my spoon down to about 40 feet and I noticed a smaller school of fish at 55-60 feet down. I started dropping my spoon and the line went slack and the fight was on. The fish inhaled the spoon on the fall. I ended up landing a nice striped bass. After this I was still marking fish, but they were really scattered out.”
Bass and crappie are also affected by the weather and water level changes. They may not travel for miles (like striped bass) following the massive schools of shad, but they may change what depth they like to feed at, in the same general area. What the crappie were doing before the 6-foot rise in water level was feeding at the top of the brush on 25-35 feet deep brush. They were typically suspended down 12-20 feet deep. Small jigs or spoons have both been working well. Bass were also feeding in these same brush piles, but typically down toward the bottom of the brush. Bass were also on the shoreline 8-20 feet down and crankbaits were working great. “A couple of days ago I was back in a creek and found some nice schooling bass in 80 feet of water, suspended 30 feet down. I will be out doing a little crappie and bass fishing over the next week, so hopefully I will be able to figure out what this recent change to the lake has done to these species.” Norfork Lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 48-49 degrees. The lake level has risen a little less than 6 feet since last weekend and currently sits at 559.27 feet msl. Most creeks and coves are stained, but the brown water from the heavy runoff is falling out. The main-lake is somewhat clear. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 1-29-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 1-22-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.8 tenths feet to rest at 6.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater saw heavy flows and had limited wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to a significant rain event last week, the waters are now weeks if not months from wadable water.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing better. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (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 well. 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 said, “For the past couple of weeks I have been taking advantage of the recent wadable water on the Norfork Dam tailwater and enjoying it immensely. During this time, I was also trying to get my wife, Lori, to join me. Due to her heavy dog-training schedule she had not been able to join me. We have two show dogs, Tilley and Ghillie, which are both English Labrador Retrievers and take a lot of her free time. We went on a Sunday and did well.
“Last Wednesday we saw an even better chance. We were scheduled to have a nice long window of low water; the weather was warm, sunny with light and variable winds. We left the house a little early so that we could eat lunch at Heidi’s Ugly Cakes on our way to the river. Heidi is not open on Sunday. A trip to Heidi’s is a key to success on the Norfork.
“Lori and I arrived at the Ackerman Access around noon. The water was fully dropped out. We took a few minutes to rig our rods. I chose to stay with the double-fly nymph rig (pheasant tail with a ruby midge dropper) I had used before. Lori decided on an olive bead-head Woolly Bugger with some flash.
“We began walking upstream. Lori stopped about halfway up and waded over to a new spot that she had discovered. It is a nice deep run with a bedrock bottom. It holds plenty of trout but is challenging to wade. The trick is not to slip and fall. She always wears studded boots with felt soles to keep this from happening. In addition, she keeps her wading staff out at all times.
“I went far upstream to my favorite spot. I fished there for about an hour and landed three trout. I decided to move on. I went to my next spot. I fished there for about a half an hour. I did not get a bump. This was a place where I have caught a lot of trout in the past. It gave me something to think about. It was time to try new flies or even a new technique.
“I had noticed a few midges on the top of the water. I had not seen fish rising but I thought it may be time to try a soft hackle. I had tried a Green Butt (my signature fly and a very productive soft hackle) a couple of days before, with no success. I decided to try a partridge and orange soft hackle.
“I stripped off my two nymphs’ lead and strike indicator. I tied on a 3-foot 5X tippet and a partridge and orange that had a mashed down barb. I moved downstream to a spot that looked productive. I slowly fished my way downstream. I had gone about 15 minutes with no action. I was starting to worry that this would not work when I felt a subtle take. I landed a nice trout and continued fishing. Over the next hour I landed about a dozen trout.
“We had decided to fish until 3 p.m. so that we would be home to feed the dogs. It was time to go. I walked down to where Lori had been fishing. She had done well and had really enjoyed her afternoon on the river. She had stuck with the Woolly Bugger but had thought of fishing a partridge and orange.
“Our day had been special. For me, figuring what would work was important. For Lori, it was sticking with what was working that mattered.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-22-2020) 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 1,126.79 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-29-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver has been up and down last week. “We had some warm days, some really cold days. Water levels are very high, especially for this time of the year. Fishing was fair for most all species.”
Stripers are good using brooders and shad in Prairie Creek, Monte Ne and Big Hickory. Crappie are good on brush 15-25 feet. Jigs are working. Spider-riggers doing well on suspended fish in the 20-feet level. Jon adds, “Walleye are starting their pre spawn move. Been hearing reports in the War Eagle Mill area. White bass are starting to show up also in river arms. Spring is near.”
(updated 1-29-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the mid-lake portion is stained. The water level is high, up 7 feet this week. Surface temperature Tuesday was ranging a chilly 33-34 degrees. Nevertheless, anglers have been out in search of crappie and have been having good results. Target the brushpiles with minnows or jigs. Stripers are being caught trolling brood minnows in the mid-lake area. White bass reports are good from the river area. Nothing else has been reported in the past week.
(updated 1-29-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said, “If you have been able to brave the cold, you probably have been doing good on the river. Water levels are a little high, but the fishing is great. Trout are biting on just about anything from PowerBaits, to spoons, to jigs, to hard plastics etc. The trout hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. The white bass have been hitting on various hard baits, fished in 10 feet of water. An umbrella rig with various grubs has done nice as well. Look for the whites in the deeper water.”
Walleye are making their move up the river as well. Most of the ones caught have been shorts, but there is an occasional 5-pound fish. “When it comes to walleye, you want to match the hatch. Watch water clarity and temperature. Jigging, casting and bottom-bouncing are all great methods to catch these fish. If you have a graph, look for humps and rock piles and try to focus your attention there. The walleye are spread out throughout the river right now, so you will need to cover some water to find them. Hope you all stay warm and get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 1-29-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 1-29-2020) Ralph Donnangelo, superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said, “With Mother Nature throwing out temperatures like PowerBall numbers (47, 6, 28, 62, 12, 37…), our fishing results have been just as pointless as a broken pencil … there you go – a bit of late winter humor.
“Our water level remains high with the frequent rains, but crappie seem unaffected, as they represent the only fish species caring enough to courteously let themselves be featured in this week’s report.”
Anglers report good crappie catches. They are being caught in 15-20 feet depth around brushpiles and stumps.
Lake Fort Smith water level is high. Surface temperature on Monday was 46 degrees. The clarity and visibility is 1 foot. No other reports.
(updated 1-29-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the water is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are biting fair on minnows or jigs. Catfishing is fair using worms. No reports on bream or black bass.
(updated 1-29-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said water remains a little dingy and is at a normal level. The surface temperature is 45 degrees, and Wednesday morning it was “really windy,” they say. Poor reports across the board from the anglers.
(updated 1-29-2020) 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 1-29-2020) Lake Poinsett is closed until later this year as repairs continue on the habitat. The Lake Pointsett State Park Visitors Center still sells bait, and the shop is in close proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas.
(updated 1-29-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are just above 400 cfs (350 average) and water clarity is good. Last week the river was murky all week but has cleared up this week. The river level is up about 6 inches making for tougher wading. It’s moving pretty good.
Hot flies this week have been the Orange Blossom Special and Y2Ks. Anglers might have to use some extra weight to get down. For spin fishers, gold spinners and Florida orange Trout Magnets have been hot. “If you’re looking for bigger fish, try some trout cranks – bigger lures that get down quickly,” Mark said. Mark also reminds anglers to check his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.
(updated 1-22-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said The Spring River is fishing well. 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 1-29-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 1-29-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-29-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 1-29-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-29-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no new reports.
(updated 1-29-2020) 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 260.95 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 1-29-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake was about 2 feet above normal conservation pool, near 260.9 feet msl; the discharge was around 18,000 CFS in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 244 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 with rising and falling lake levels, especially during high river conditions. Surface temps as of Monday ranged 45-50 degrees. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood, watching for stumps and 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.
With the recent rise a couple weeks ago in the main lake and Little River, the water clarity went from good to muddy with limbs, logs, wide debris fields and high river discharge at the dam. The week prior to the rise, square-bill crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits were working, mainly on shallow roaming bass. Rat-L-Traps, MR-6, Echo 1.75 and Little John cranks were getting decent responses over the past few weeks. Anywhere a creek channel is close to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, those areas have held decent-size bass. The best responses from largemouth bass were from noon-3 p.m. The largemouths were much more reliable in the oxbows of McGuire and Horseshoe lakes where the water clarity was drastically better, water temps were warmer, and calm/no river current was present.
White bass were roaming up Little River and the oxbows, dropping into deep washouts and ridges behind most major creek dumps to the river. Heavy-thumping ¾-ounce and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points, caught some decent-size whites over the past week from 12-16 feet deep. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail, vertical-jigging behind primary points near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points, were connecting with a few 2-3 pound whites again this week. The whites were stacked up behind points, just out of river current, from 12-15 feet deep. Medium-running Fat Free Guppy cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad were picking up a few whites that were near the top of school of the same suspended whites. With the unseasonably warm water temps we are seeing, the white bass are roaming Little River in preparation for a final blast run up to U.S. Highway 71 and Patterson Shoals for annual spawning in a few weeks, if nothing changes and water temps stay in the 50-degree range. A few white bass were caught in the Cossatot River's inflow ditch last week, although the water was very turbid and fast-moving.
No reports on Kentucky bass (spotted bass) or crappie this week. However, catfish have been consistent over the past couple weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel cats, around 3-4 pounds, and Hi Fin Blues were biting chicken livers, gizzards and Punch Bait within the last week on trotlines from 10-16 feet of depth in current.
(updated 1-29-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
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 540.38 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-22-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is almost 8 feet below full pool of 548 feet msl. Water temps are around 50 degrees and the upper portion of the lake has some color. If you find the shad, you will find the bass. Bandit 200 Crankbaits in crawdad colors are working on rocky points and flats really well. Booyah Hard Knockers in red or gold are also working well in these areas. Bass can also be caught on Booyah and War Eagle Jigs. Black/blue and green pumpkin colors work best, depending on water clarity. Crappie have been good lately. They can be caught in brush 15-25 feet deep on minnows and Bobby Garland Jigs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.21 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-29-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
(updated 1-29-2020) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) had no catches to report on any species. The lake is murky and is high, up 3.5 feet above normal.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-29-2020) 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 1-29-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 47 degrees below the dam with clear conditions in the tailrace. The winter drawdown is now complete for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine. Each lake was lowered 3 feet and this level will remain in place until March 1. The rainbow trout bite is spotty at best. Despite numbers of fish stocked in the area, constant generation and bitter temperatures have kept many anglers off the water. Cold fronts have contributed mightily to the slow bite, with a different one moving in and out of the area weekly. More rain is scheduled for later in the week, so ongoing generation will continue until the excess water has been passed through the dam system. When a more consistent weather pattern emerges next week, anglers can safely access the lake and wade easily to areas that hold good numbers of trout. 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 and are often the go-to method of success when the bite is slow. 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 was 9,300 fish and the month of February is slated for 12,000 trout. Huge numbers of fish will override the slow bite and anglers just have to be patient and stick to tried-and-true techniques for success. White bass numbers are good close to the dam, although the size is smaller than in a normal year. 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. The walleye spawn will begin in early February with the smaller males moving up first to prepare the beds. 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 1-29-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that early last week a winter system brought some mixed wintry precipitation and rain. The forecast for this week begins with rain and then clear skies with mild temperatures. Visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface water temperature is 40 degrees. As of Tuesday (Jan. 28) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has fallen over the past weekend from near flood stage to near 345 feet msl. Ozark tailwater also fell quickly from 130,000 cfs to near 62,000 cfs. This past Wednesday Ozark began generating power for the first time since the flood. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has not fluctuated and has been holding near 338 feet msl. Over the past weekend the Dardanelle tailwater has fallen from 20 feet to about 12 feet. Dardanelle’s tailwater release has also fallen from about 134,000 cfs to about 78,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day. Dredging operations at river mile 222 near Cabin Creek are complete. However, the Army 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 the latest 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 be very busy soon. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 1-29-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton still at 3-4 feet below normal pool with water clarity up to 8 feet in most areas. Bass are doing fair to good in most sections of the lakes but especially well on isolated brushpiles in ditches and creek channels in 18-25 feet of water near the main lake points. Bass are being aggressive toward creature baits like jigs (brown, green pumpkin and black-and-blue) and green pumpkin Brush Hogs, crawfish and chigger craws. Damiki rigs in shad colorings are still drawing strikes but have really dropped off in January. “It looks like all creature baits for a while unless we start seeing very cold temperatures.” Crappie are being really finicky lately, and provoking bites can mean lots of patience and work. Downsizing crappie jigs and going with an Electric Chicken, or pastel purple and pink color choice with a purple or pink head, has been the go-to. Crappie are suspended over brushpiles or just suspended in general in depths of 35-50 feet. They are easy to find but hard to catch.
“Wear those life jackets at all times! The water temp is still deadly for another couple months. Live to fish another day! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 1-15-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are good on brushpiles where deep water channels are very nearby. Fish 10-15ft. deep with minnows under corks. Prepare to observe a light, easy bite.
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 353.29 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(Updated 1-29-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the water is murky and remains high by about 10 feet. No surface temperature was reported. The fishing is poor for everything: bream, crappie, black bass, catfish and white bass and “there have been no fisherman.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.66 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-29-2020) 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. Fishing with Alabama rigs in major creeks or fishing a Pig-n-Jig near brush has been productive. No reports on walleye. Stripers are fair. These fish are being caught on live bait or big hair jigs. No report on bream. Crappie are fair to good. Try a small jig near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees. The water clarity is clearing. Lake level is up to 577.72 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
(updated 1-29-2020) 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 1-29-2020) Angler Dane Goodwin had no report.
(updated 1-29-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said the fishing “is on fire.” The canals are murky but the overall clarity is good. The lake level is 3 feet high. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. They’re found on the grass beds. Crappie are excellent. The trolling bite that was hot a couple of weeks back is off, but the crappie are now in 2-6 feet of water and biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are poor. Catfish, though, are “super on fire,” Ronnie said. The bite is excellent on stink bait and shad.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 1-29-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says Bear Creek Lake’s boat ramp is currently closed due to low water levels. The USDA Forest Service made the decision to lower the lake to protect the integrity of the lake’s spillway, which is showing extreme signs of wear. Fishing from the bank is still welcomed. If anglers or other folks would like more information on this, they can look on the USFS website or call their offices during business hours at (870) 295-5278. Storm Creek Lake is still open for business, but with not much to report.
(updated 1-29-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the fishing season at Cook’s Lake will resume in the spring. For now, it’s closed so the lake can serve as a waterfowl rest area. Check back in late February for the spring plans and reopening for anglers. For more information, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.