Feb. 5, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Feb. 5, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 2-5-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake continues to maintain its normal Lake Conway stained and is back to a normal level as of Tuesday morning. Bream are good on redworms, crickets and artificial baits. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and white chatterbaits. Catfish are good on nightcrawlers, dough bait and big minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 2-5-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said heavy generation schedule is expected on the Little Red River due to recent rains. For fly fishing, we recommend san juan worms, micro jigs, egg pattern and streamers during high water conditions. Hot pink, cotton candy and white colored bodies on chartreuse jig heads 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 2-5-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said that after four days of 12-hour, two-unit generation, it is now two units at a reduced rate running 24 hours from Greers Ferry Lake dam. The flow will fluctuate slightly during the day due to the fact that they are regulating the electrical grid with Greers Ferry. This will probably continue through this weekend and, depending on the amount of rainfall, most of next week. With the rainfall and colder temperatures, one should check each day before planning your fishing trip. The lake is still about 2 feet above normal and rising. Please stay safe if you're 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 464.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 2-5-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 464.16 feet msl, 2.12 feet above normal pool for this time of year of 462.04 feet msl and coming up more with the rain and forecasts rain. All species are in their wintertime haunts; even with the warm weather we have had, just angle of sun and time for them to move somewhat deeper following the shad, etc. Crappie can still be caught trolling or jigging in 18-35 feet of water. With walleye, the river spawners will make another push uplake and further upriver to do their thing, and lake fish will bite in lake deeper 28-40 feet on jighead minnows, and crankbaits trolled. Black bass can be caught dragging something, Alabama rigs, or crankbaits as well as hair jigs or spoons in real shallow out to 60 feet. No report on bream. Hybrid and white bass will eat spoons, inline spinners, E_Bar City Spinbaits, hair jigs, swimbaits and Alabama rigs in 30-60 feet. No report on catfish.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-5-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says fishing picked up a little in the past week. The water as of Tuesday was a little murky but at a normal level. Crappie fishing is poor, and there have been no bass reports. But anglers report catching big white bass. The results have been good, but no lures were mentioned. Catfishing is good with chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
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 2-5-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said water is high and the surface temperature Tuesday morning was 58 degrees. Crappie are good on No. 6 minnows and pink minnows, along with tri-color crappie tubes and Bobby Garland Baby Shad. Black bass are good on minnows and Tequila Sunrise worms. Catfish are good. The bites are on the bottom using chicken liver and black salties. David says all bait and, now, groceries are available at Dad’s Bait Shop.
(updated 2-5-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said water temperature is in the mid-40s. Largemouth bass are fair. Some can be found shallow around 8-12 feet biting a variety of lures. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and swimbaits. Kentucky bass are slow. Some reports of them being found in 10-15 feet of water outside the grass line at dusk and dawn. They can also be found in 18-22 feet off drops and rocky banks. White bass are slow. Crappie are fair. Reports of them being found scattered in the river channel around 20-24 feet. Some can still be found scattered mixed in with the whites. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are slow, no reports this week. Give a try, though, using crickets and worms. Catfish are slow. Best to use chicken liver and crayfish.
(updated 2-5-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been doing well early in the mornings off of pink crappie minnows and size 4 crappie minnows . Fish around the dock and also closer to the little island out there. Bass have been biting on the brooder minnows and also small jigs like beetle spins and spinnerbaits (black at night and white and pink during the day). With the warmer temperatures the bream have been going after the crickets and redworms pretty well. Catfish are being caught off of nightcrawlers and No. 12 bass minnows. You can find the regulations for this lake in the new AGFC Fishing Guidebook on page 70 at the top of the page (which we have if you need one!).
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-5-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are being caught on No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish doing good on No. 12 bass minnows, nightcrawlers and cut bait. Bass are fair on brooder minnows and No. 12 bass minnows. Bream being taken on crickets as well as on redworms and brown Rock Hoppers .
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-5-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says with the access to the river under the I-30 bridge past Sunset Lake being closed due to the construction, it has made it hard for some to get up to the spillway. For now putting in at Lyle Park access and going down to it would be an option. Catfish have been doing pretty well there at the spillway with minnows on the bottom. If you want the walleye, use the brooders just with a small split shot and let them go; don't fish them on bottom unless you want a catfish. “A couple of guys have done good on the walleye there with brooders. Some getting a few and others getting almost their limit.”
Lisa adds “My husband went early Sunday morning. He caught four walleye, missed three others, then caught a nice Kentucky. He said once it got sunlight the fish cut off, he didn't have another bite. Which is 6 per person. You can find the regulations for the river in the new AGFC Fishing Guidebook on page 78 at the top of the page.”
Crappie are doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Bass have been doing well off of brooder minnows too.
Some of Lisa’s customers indicate to her that Lake Hamilton crappie are doing well on the brush using the pink crappie minnows.
(updated 2-5-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she’s heard good reports of some slab crappie being caught up in the coves using No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Black bass are being caught around the docks with No. 12 bass minnows and brooder minnows as well as spinnerbaits and Zing Tails – Firetiger color has been good. Catfish are good on cut bait, goldfish and nightcrawlers. As few bream are being caught off of crickets fishing on bottom.
(updated 2-5-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says catfish are doing fair on bait shrimp, nightcrawlers and goldfish. Crappie are good on No. 6 crappie minnows and No. 12 bass minnows. A few walleye have been caught off of brooder minnows & bass minnows. Bream are fair on crickets. Black bass have been caught off of minnows as well, lots of small bass.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 2-5-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-5-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is fairly clear and remains at a normal level. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Ray admits that, as of his report they were doing well, but with the rainfall that came late Tuesday things will get murky. Black bass are good on plastic worms. No reports on bream, catfish or white bass.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 2-5-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that the pool clarity is murky and the water is high. No fishing reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-5-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is a little dingy and is high. The river flow as of early Tuesday afternoon was 86,000 cfs; “you can fish right now,” they repot. Crappie are good. They’re biting in 8-10 feet depth on black/chartreuse and blue/chartreuse jigs around the rocky points and jetties. Black bass are good. Use spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, black/blue jigs and work them in the backwaters for best success. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 2-5-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the river conditions have chased away the anglers for the most part. The water is murky and high. No reports.
(updated 2-5-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-5-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) heard no reports the past week.
(updated 2-5-2020) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) will reopen for the fishing season on Monday, Feb. 10, at 6 a.m.
(updated 2-5-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing in the Arkansas Ozarks in the winter can take you by surprise. “In the past week, we put on our slickers during a sleety rain in the low 30s, then searched for our sunscreen on Sunday when temps reached nearly 80 degrees. Caught trout every day – no surprises there. Come equipped with a good selection of baits, especially in February and March with the wild changes in weather.
“In addition to unpredictable weather, the White River tailwater of Bull Shoals dam, has been extremely high and moving fast due to continued releases from the dam. Expect generation to remain in the 15,000-plus cfs range for the next several weeks, at least.”
White streamers with some good weight to them and added flash were popular with the anglers this week. Shiny silver spinners with white skirts brought success on the sunny days, as well as fuzzy egg patterns of varying colors (try peach first). Be creative in keeping your baits moving from near river bottom back up to top waters. To lure the browns, who are now moving away from spawning beds, alternate between a good-sized sculpin and a really big river minnow – Red Fins if you can find them. “Come on over and enjoy the river's surprises.”
(updated 2-5-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said clarity is a little cloudy and the river level still is high. The dam has six generators running. Despite that, the trout bite is excellent, they report. Rainbows have been “caught on everything.” PowerBait is a sure way to catch them. Browns are biting stick baits and white jigs. The rainbows being caught appear to be getting bigger, they report.
(updated 2-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they received half an inch of rain, cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 6.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.6 foot to rest at 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 7.4 feet above seasonal power pool. The White River had heavy generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.2 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes.
Due yet the rain last week, the area is now weeks if not months from wadable water.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is now open as of Feb. 1.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead 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.
John also said, “Last weekend I heard some tragic news: Forrest Woods had passed away at 87 years of age. He had lived a full life and touched the lives of many people in the Twin Lakes area. He was a self-made man who had accomplished much. If you asked him what he did he said that he was a cattleman. His early career included working on the construction of Bull Shoals Dam. He was a cattle farmer, ran a construction company and was a trout fishing guide on the White River.
“He was an entrepreneur at heart and began a boat building business, Ranger Boats, behind a gas station in Flippin. He is considered to be an early developer of what is now known as the modern bass boat. His company grew and became the most widely recognized bass boat in the industry. He sold the company in 1987. Recently he was instrumental in starting Vexus, a new bass boat manufacturer. Along the way, he was a professional bass fisherman and was identified with the FLW bass fishing tour that was named after him. He was an early proponent of bass tournament fishing. Forrest put Flippin on the map.
“He was appointed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee and served for seven years. He was chairman during his last year on the commission. The Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center was renamed in his honor. He is a member of the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, the International Boating Hall of Fame, National Marine Manufacturers Hall of Fame, Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, Arkansas Game and Fish Hall of Fame, Arkansas Walk of Fame and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
“Living in Cotter I frequently ran into him at local restaurants, like the White Sands Restaurant in Cotter or Diego’s Mexican Restaurant in Flippin. He was always smiling and always had a kind word.
“My wife, Lori, did some consulting work for Ranger Boats on employee relations several years ago. Every employee that she dealt with thought highly of Forrest and generally considered him the best boss ever.
“As an old trout fishing guide myself I have nothing but admiration for him. He had a huge impact on our area and the sport of fishing. He will be missed.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 666.49 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-5-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is murky and high by 7 feet. Surface temperature Tuesday afternoon was 48 degrees. Crappie are deep, about 40 feet. The bite is fair on minnows and jigs. Target the brushpiles. Black bass are fair. They are found deep around the schools of shads. Best success is fishing with spoons or a jigging rap. Stripers are being caught at 50 feet depth around schools of shad. No other reports. 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 557.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 2-5-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 2-5-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 2-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.2 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing better. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole from 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 (size 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.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-5-2020) 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 1,128.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-5-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is holding steady almost 8 feet above normal. “We fished almost every day last week. Some of the days the fish were on a good bite and others had lockjaw. Stripers are good on brooders and have heard good reports Rocky Branch and Rambo areas. The White River arm is clearing and fish are on the move. I expect three weeks from now, depending on the weather, fishing should really ramp up. Crappie have been good on some days and a tough bite on others. Crappie are on structure in 20 feet of water and are also suspended at 15 feet in main lake arms. Look in Friendship Creek, Piney Creek, Hickory Creek and Blue Springs.
“We caught some nice white bass two days ago in the White River. Walleye are starting to show, mostly small males, on cranks. On the clear end we have heard of jerkbaits catching some bass. A-Rigs fished on bluff lines and main points are starting to pick up. Water temps in the 40- to mid-40-degree range. I am concerned the Army Corps of Engineers will have to open gates again soon. We are way too high coming into spring. That may change up some spring patterns. I have not seen the lake at this level going into rainy spring season. Stay tuned …”
(updated 2-5-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is “pretty stained.” Beaver Lake remains high by about 7 feet. Crappie are fair. Most of the fish being caught are in the 15-20 foot depth. Use minnows or jigs. Bream reports are poor. Black bass are fair on deep-diving crankbaits and jerkbaits. Catfishing is poor. Anglers are catching walleye deep on down-riggers and bottom bouncers, as well as brood minnows.
(updated 2-5-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said, “WOW! What did you all think about the weather on Sunday and Monday? Sunday was the best day, as Monday was quite windy. Sunday, I took a trip out on the tailwaters and we did great. The trout where hitting great on various PowerBaits, fished with light terminal tackle. They also hit on spoons of various sizes and jigs. This weeks "hot spot" was between the U.S. Highway 62 bridge and Spider Creek. The water temperature from Houseman to Spider Creek has been between the mid-40s to low 50s.
“We also decided to chase a few more species that day. Fished up towards Beaver town, tossing two or three crankbaits and were catching a mixed bag of white bass and Kentucky bass. We were throwing at points, inlets and chunk rock. The bite of the day was the walleye. Most walleye are still in the staging areas, in deeper water. Most being on the inside bends, points and humps. Most of the walleye caught were slot males, but we did manage to get a few in the mid-20s. I can definitely say with certainty, the spawn is still a ways out. With that being said, the males are spread out between Holiday Island and Beaver town. The walleye were caught using various methods. The most productive was jigging. If you go to my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service), you can keep up with bite, as I will post more frequent information there from time to time.
“I hope you all were able to get out and catch some fish. With this next system moving in (Tuesday), I suspect the bite should be great this weekend. Stay safe, have fun!”
(updated 2-5-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reports that the lake has a little stain and is high (about 8-10 inches above normal level). Fishing is off right now – poor reports on bream, crappie, bass and catfish.
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 2-5-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the clarity is a little dingy and the lake remains at a normal level. No temperature was reported. Bream are poor. Crappie are good. Anglers are trolling on Roadrunners and Flicker Shad. Minnows and jigs also are catching them. Black bass are poor. Catfish are fair on chicken live and prepared bait.
(updated 2-5-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said water is “really murky” and high by about a foot. No surface temperature was reported. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good for anglers using deep-diving crankbaits. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 2-5-2020) 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 2-5-2020) Lake Poinsett is closed until next 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 2-5-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says lots of rain over the last month has the river water levels up. Water flow at the spring is 435 cfs, 350 average. At this time water clarity is poor from a recent heavy rain. The Spring River can clear quickly, but the rain needs to stop. Wading in the main river channel has been treacherous with the river up. Use a wading staff for extra support. The bottom of the Spring River can resemble greased bowling balls in places.
Over the last week the trout have been biting well on cloudy days. Orange Blossom Specials and egg patterns, and fluorescent orange flies, have been working well with higher water. Some really nice trout have been caught lately. River conditions have made fishing unpredictable and really good on days with good water levels. Check out Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.
(updated 2-5-2020) 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 2-5-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 2-5-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 2-5-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperature is in the upper 40s. Water visibility is less than 1 foot in most places, less than 6-8 inches near tributaries and the main channel. Black bass are slow but can be caught with slowly worked finesse worms on shaky heads from brushpiles and steeper rock banks 6-12 feet deep within Lake Langhofer. Temper expectations; black bass in this section of the river are usually very slow until the water warms to the low to mid 50s. We're still a few weeks out.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 2-5-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 2-5-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no new reports.
(updated 2-5-2020) 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 259.86 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 2-5-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said this most unseasonably warm week with the lake getting closer to normal pool have the largemouth bass back on the hunt. Rat-L-Traps, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits are working again, mainly on roaming and moving-up-shallow, feeding bass. 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, has held some decent-sized bass over the past several weeks, and they are moving shallow on these warm February afternoons. The best responses from largemouths were during the heat of the afternoon, best 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 and no river current was present. Bream-colored square-bill crankbaits, Little John Custom painted crankbaits in bream and shad patterns, along with Baby Brush Hogs were taking some decent 14- to 17-inch largemouth bass over the past few days in the clearer water sections of the oxbows up Little River where clarity was best away from river current.
Best reactions have come on Rat-L-Traps & MR-6 or Echo 1.75 medium-diving cranks in Ghost Minnow, Red Chrome, Red Shad, Lectric Re, and Craw colors over the past several weeks. The best activity for the past couple of weeks in McGuire Lake and Horseshoe Lake oxbows, up Little River had the most dependable bite. The majority of these roaming bass were suspending near vertical structure for many hours of the day, and turn on like a light switch for a few hours under the warmest hours of daylight, from 5-9 feet depth with 12-48 feet of depth nearby. Custom-painted crankbaits in craw patterns, and Brazalo Chatterbaits in Millwood Mayhem Bream, Texas Craw and Blue Violet using a black frog plastic trailer, were catching roaming largemouths on sunny afternoons up on flats adjacent to vertical drops, in dead lily pad stems from 2- to 4-pounds each. Cordell or Kastmaster Spoons were connecting with vertical-suspended bass from 10-15 feet, where the water clarity was much better away from muddy current and high flow in Little River.
White bass have been roaming up Little River and the oxbows, staging in preparation for a spawning run, along creek mouths in junctions with the river. Heavy thumping ¾-ounce and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slowly and deep behind primary or secondary points, caught some decent white bass 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 nice-sized 2-3 pound whites again this week. Just out of the current were where the white bass have been staging, in creek mouths and hammering Tennessee Shad square-bill crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Most of the white bass remain staging along Little River, stacked up behind points, just out of 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. If these water temperatures stay in the mid 50's again for another week, the white bass spawning run is about to be ON.
Crappie improved in the oxbows where the clarity is improved near standing timber. Vertical-jigging Blakemore Roadrunners, 1/8-ounce hair jigs, and Southern Pro Little Hustler tubes in Smoke Shiner or Golden Shiner were getting bit from 12-16 feet deep on standing timber. Minnows were working where the water clarity was best. Mike says they even picked up a few crappie on quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap-Spin Traps near cypress trees recently. Catfish have been very consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River, and 3-4 pound channel cats have been biting chicken gizzards and hearts, Punch Baits and Ivory soap over the last week on trotlines from 9-12 feet of depth in current.
As of Monday, Millwood Lake remains about 12 inches above normal conservation pool, near 260.2 feet msl; the discharge around 17,000 CFS in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday is around 243 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. Use extreme caution in Little River navigation where logs and debris fields are present in the high river flow current conditions. Surface temps as of Monday, ranged 50-54 degrees. 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 2-5-2020) 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 542.17 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).
(updated 2-5-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips had no report.
(updated 2-5-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina had no updates. He will begin reporting again after hunting season.
White Oak Lake
(updated 2-5-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) in Camden had no new reports.
(updated 2-5-2020) Angler John Gulley, CEO of Lone Sportsman Outfitters, had no report.
(updated 2-5-2020) 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 2-5-2020) 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 2-5-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 48 degrees below the dam with clear conditions in the tailrace. Lakes Hamilton and Catherine are scheduled to be refilled beginning March 1. The rainbow trout bite remains spotty. Despite thousands of fish stocked in the area, constant generation and drastic temperature fluctuations have kept many anglers off the water. Area guides have caught fish, but the overall size is small and numbers low. 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 waters have 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 and hybrid bass have vanished from the tailrace in the last week. The walleye spawn is about to start as small male walleye have been caught below the dam preparing the beds for the larger females. Anglers trolling small crankbaits during periods of generation have taken walleye in the 1½-pound range. Through February larger females will migrate into the area. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers will be a perfect technique to target spawning walleyes. 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 2-5-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said for much of last week they had overcast skies with cool temperatures and calm conditions. The past weekend saw sunshine and with spring-like temperatures near 70 degrees. The forecast for this week begins with rain and a chance of mixed precipitation. Seasonal temperatures and sunshine are expected to return as we approach the weekend. Water visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 45 degrees. As of Tuesday (Feb. 4) the Army Corps of Engineers has reported the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater is near 346 feet msl and flowing about 64,000 cfs. Ozark tailwater crested last Thursday (Jan. 30) near 353 feet msl when the release reached 126,000 cfs. Both the tailwater elevation and the flow have steadily fallen. Ozark has been generating power consistently this past week. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has not fluctuated and has been holding near 338 feet msl. The Corps of Engineers has reported the Dardanelle tailwater is near 12 feet and flowing about 73,000 cfs. Dardanelle’s tailwater crested last Thursday near 19 feet with a release near 125,000 cfs. Both the tailwater elevation and the flow have steadily fallen. 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. Check out 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 latest updates.
As for fishing, 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 2-5-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 2-5-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still at a drawdown with water temps in the mid- to high 40s throughout. Water clarity is still decent but it has a slight haze in most areas. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are still doing really well on main channel drop-offs and obstructions to current (brush, docks and piers). You can find these aggressive eaters at 23-28 feet and can be caught with vertical presentations like small chrome jigging spoons and shad-colored Damiki rigs. Largemouth bass seem to be hanging out at the same depth as spotted bass but they are hunkered down in brushpiles. You can go after these fish with brown ¾-ounce football jigs and Texas-rigged worms and crawdads in green pumpkin, plum or black. Crappie are easily spotted on electronics hanging over the tops of brushpiles near the channels at 20-30 feet. Getting them to bite has been really tough. Darker colors like black, blue and purple mixed with pink or purple jigheads seem to get more strikes, but that being said the strikes are subtle and not frequent. Crappie are likely feeding at night. No reports on catfish or hybrids. “Wear those life jackets! Even on beautiful days the water is still cold, and still deadly. Good luck and Go Greeson!"
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 343.35 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-5-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the water has dropped over the past week to just an inch above normal. Surface temperature Tuesday morning was 48 degrees. No clarity was noted. Bream are fair on redworms. Crappie are good. They are near the bottom and hitting black/chartreuse jigs, along with minnows. Catfishing is good with the cats biting minnows near the water’s surface. Bass reports were poor.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.54 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.
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 2-5-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said the canals are dingy but the clarity is good din the main lake. Water level is normal. The bream bite is excellent. Use redworms or crickets and fish in the grassy areas. Crappie are excellent. Ronnie is finding them shallow. Minnow or jigs will work well. Trolling has been slow. Best area to look is under the docks. Black bass reports are poor. Catfishing is excellent. The cats are by lily pads by the docks on shallow water.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 2-5-2020) 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 2-5-2020) 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.