Feb. 12, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Feb. 12, 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 2-12-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is stained normally and the water level is normal. No surface temperature was reported. Bream are biting well on redworms and waxworms. Crappie are also good, and they’re being found in the shallows. Look around Willamena Cove, Palarm and in Adams Lake. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good. Anglers are having best success with white spinnerbaits, white crankbaits and white chatterbaits. Catfishing is good using cut shad or nightcrawlers.
Little Red River
(updated 2-12-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said, “I am tired of the rain! I am hearing that said a lot lately and I agree. A little sunshine would be a welcome sight. The lake is still almost 3 feet high with generation round-the-clock. The release continues to be slightly less than two full units. The flow changes during the day due to regulating the electrical grid. This will continue unless heavy rain causes flooding problems downstream. It will be best to check the daily forecast before planning a fishing trip.”
Greg says large nymphs, micro-jigs and streamers are the best bets on the higher water. The river was a little stained Wednesday morning but fishable. Heavy rain was expected Wednesday afternoon. “Please stay safe if on the river during the generation. Higher water with increased flows requires more attention to remain safe on the water.”
Greg adds about his free fly-fishing classes and ongoing registration: “This is your chance to learn to fly-fish or expand your knowledge of fly-fishing for free. We are having a great response to the class this year, so be sure to call and register. I am happy to say the free fly-fishing class will again be offered by First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs with the first class on Thursday, Feb. 20, beginning at 7 pm. The class will meet each Thursday for four consecutive weeks. Adults and older youths interested in learning to fly-fish or expand their knowledge of fly-fishing are welcome. Please call me at 501-690-9166 for additional information or to register for the class.”
(updated 2-12-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said 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. The key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high-water conditions. Also for fly-fishing during high-water conditions, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, micro-jigs, egg patterns and streamers. Hot pink, cotton candy and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake was at 464.89 feet msl on Tuesday, 2.85 feet above normal pool for this time of year of 462.04 feet msl and coming up more with the rain and forecasts of rain. “All species are in their wintertime haunts, even with the warm weather we have had – just the angle of sun and it’s time for them to move somewhat deeper following the shad, etc.,” Tommy says. Crappie can still be caught trolling or jigging in 18-35 feet of water. The river-spawning walleye will make another push uplake and further upriver to do their thing, and main lake walleye will bite in the 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 water out to 60 feet. No reports on bream. Hybrid bass and white bass will eat spoons, inline spinners, E_Bar City Spinnerbaits, hair jigs, swimbaits and Alabama rigs in 30-60 feet. No reports on catfish.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-12-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water appears a little murky but is at a normal level. Anglers have been trying crappie fishing but the results have been poor. Catfish will bite the best of any fish now. There have been good reports. Try using chicken liver soaked in garlic and using bream, along with hot dogs also soaked in garlic. Nightcrawlers will draw in the cats, too. Nothing reported on bass or bream.
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 2-12-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said lake water level is high and muddy still. Surface temperature is around 47 degrees. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night (between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.). Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with minnows and shad. Johnny said, “Really hasn't been a lot of people fishing. Hopefully it will be getting better soon.” Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 2-12-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said Brewer is clear and is at a high level, while the fish appear to be down deep. Crappie are at about 20 feet depth but the bite is good. A tri-color crappie tube has been the bait to use, along with minnows and jigs. Catfishing is good fishing on the bottom, as well, though you’ll find them more shallow if you’re fishing on the spillway. Chicken liver is their preference this week. No reports on bream or black bass. David took over ownership of this location last year and reminds everyone that 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 2-12-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been fair with pink minnows, No. 6 minnows and Bobby Garland Jigs in Monkey Milk and Ghost colors at night and early in the mornings. Bass have been hitting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows as well as jigs and crankbaits. Catfish are biting nightcrawlers and bait shrimp fished on the bottom. Bream fishing has been slow but some have been hitting crickets and worms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-12-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie and bass have been biting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. Catfish have been caught recently on minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bream fishing has been slow, but crickets or redworms will catch a few.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-12-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says off-and-on rain has made it hard to catch the river just right but when it's right the fishing is good. Brooder minnows will get you bites from smallmouth, Kentucky and largemouth bass, as well as walleye. Crawdad-colored crankbaits will work, too. Crappie fishing can be good with No. 6 minnows or your favorite crappie jigs. Catfish will bite best at night on minnows, nightcrawlers or goldfish. Bream fishing is fair with crickets or redworms.
As far as hot spots elsewhere go, Lisa says she’s still hearing about Lake Hamilton; the crappie have been doing well on pink crappie minnows and No. 4 crappie minnows. And the walleye on the Saline River was good “but the river has went up and it's fixing to do a lot of raining this week, so it's going to be getting that much higher and mess it up.”
(updated 2-12-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting fair for some using No. 6 minnows and Bobby Garland Baby Shad Jigs. Bass fishing has been fair with minnows, crankbaits and jigs fished on bottom. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows, night crawlers and stink baits with blood added. Bream are biting slow and customers tell us red worms are the only thing they can get them to bite lately.
(updated 2-12-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says catfish have been biting at dusk for a couple of anglers using minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass are hitting live minnows, plastic worms and lizards and jigs. Crappie fishing has been fair with jigs and No. 12 minnows. Bream have been biting fair on crickets and redworms. “We've had a couple of reports of walleye being caught in the lake and below the spillway on brooder minnows.”
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 2-12-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-12-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the clarity is muddy and the water level in Little Maumelle is low because the Arkansas River is running fast. Catfish have been an angler’s best bet, with fair results on worms. Poor reports on bream, crappie and black bass. Nothing on white bass.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 2-12-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that the pool clarity is muddy and the water is high. No fishing reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-12-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river has a muddy clarity and the level and flow are high. The river is moving at 92,000 cfs with a craft advisory. Black bass reports have been good, though. Anglers report good results using red Rat-L-Traps and black/blue chatterbaits in the backwaters. Poor reports on bream, crappie and catfish.
(updated 2-12-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the river is running high, fast and muddy and the water temperature these days is cold. Therefore, no fishing reports throughout the pool, as well as the pool below Terry Lock and Dam.
(updated 2-12-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-12-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is clear and the level is high. Anglers report a fair crappie bite on minnows and jigs. Catfishing is fair using regular worms and nightcrawlers. Nothing reported on bass or bream.
(updated 2-12-2020) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) reopened for the fishing season bright and early Monday. Donna Mulherin says the crappie bite is good. Minnows and jigs will work for the hungry crappie. Black bass are biting well on spinnerbaits. The catfish are the really hungry ones, with an excellent bite reported. Throw them some hot dogs to munch. Bream are poor, but that’s to be expected now. The water as of Tuesday morning was clear and at a normal level.
(updated 2-12-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the brown trout bite has been hot this week. The high water has made finding their hiding spots a little more difficult, but after their spawn the browns are very ready to take your minnow or sculpin. Most kinds of white lures or jigs have also proved successful. Any type of yellow or peach-colored egg pattern have been very popular this week with both fly- and spin fishermen alike. Either a regular soft egg pattern or even a hard bead type just above the hook has done a good job mimicking the trout eggs after the spawn. The consistent high water has helped the rainbow trout grow quickly this winter and they've been eagerly taking worms (both live and plastic) or Sunrise or Orange PowerBait. “Be ready for the cold mornings and come out to catch some great trout.”
(updated 2-12-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said clarity is murky and the river is high. Six to eight generators currently are running (as of noon Tuesday). As for the trout bite, though, it’s very good for browns and rainbows, and they say there’s really been no changes as that’s concern. The best way to fish for the trout has been trolling jigs or using stick bait.
(updated 2-12-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had three separate rain events (combining for 2.5 inches here in Cotter), cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.5 feet to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.6 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.2 feet to rest at 9.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.4 foot below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.7 feet to rest at 5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and limited wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Norfork Dam in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes. Due to yet another series of rain events last week and more this week, these areas are now weeks if not months from wadable water.
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 Monday of the recent rains, “This morning I woke up to the sound of the sump pump in my basement going off. I immediately knew that it was still raining. It rained all day yesterday, will rain all day today and will probably rain tomorrow. I went out to the garage to check on my two feral cats, Blackie and Maggie. They were curled up in their bed and showed no interest in going outside. There was water standing in my side yard. My wife, Lori, said that she was tired of the constant rain. My sister, Ernestine, sent me a message on my iPhone asking if it would ever quit raining. I don’t know.
“River guides don’t mind the heavy rain so much. The reason is that we have the best raingear that money can buy. We start with good rubber footwear. If it is really rainy I wear knee-high muck boots. If it is lightly raining I will wear L.L. Bean rubber low-quarter shoes. For the lower body the garment of choice is bib rain pants. They keep your lower body dry even when your rain jacket is open. A pair of waders is a good substitute. A good rain jacket is a must-have. A hood, tight-fitting cuffs and plenty of pockets (mine has nine) are necessities. I bought mine a size too large to fit over a couple of warm fleece layers. A ball hat with a long bill is nice to keep the rain off of your glasses.
“The main thing that guides worry about is the water clarity on days like this. When we get heavy rain, a lot of sediment is washed into the river, making it muddy. I saw photos of the Buffalo yesterday on Facebook that showed it was the color of chocolate milk. I assumed that Crooked Creek was the same. In fact, every creek emptying into the White and North Fork is running muddy. When we get conditions like this, the common wisdom is to go upstream until we find clean water. That means that the water in the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is still clean because there is just one creek emptying into the river on the Marion County side. Fortunately this section has been closed from Nov. 1 until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. It has only been open for a few days and there are still plenty of large trout there now.
“The other thing that guides worry about is the rainwater accumulating in the boat. In a heavy rain the water can quickly rise to ankle deep or higher. This could be very uncomfortable for clients with low-quarter shoes and the additional water makes the boat heavier and less maneuverable. I carry a water bailer in my boat so I can quickly toss the accumulated rainwater out. One of my fellow guides has an automatic electric bilge pump in his boat. It makes a lot of sense to me.
“Despite this, I am beginning to get concerned. If I did not already own a White River jon boat, I would begin to build an ark.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 667.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is cloudy and remains high. As of Tuesday noon it was 8 feet above normal level. The surface water temperature is a cold 46 degrees. The crappie bite is good. You’ll find the crappie around shad and they’ll bite minnows and jigs. Black bass appear to be deep but starting to move. There is a fair bite, with spoons, jigs and the jigging Rap working best. Walleye are biting jerkbaits in the evenings. No reports on catfish or bream. 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 558.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been an interesting experience this winter. A typical winter pattern for striped bass never materialized. Normal in the past has been: Bait goes to the deep-water river channel in the main lake and suspends 40-60 feet down and striped bass hide out within the bait and get active when they get hungry. It appeared that the normal pattern was starting to happen around the beginning of January, but then the lake level changed abruptly and affected the bait. The quick rise in the water level moved a lot of the bait into the creeks closer to the flowing water. With the quick 6-foot rise in the water level, there was a lot of mud drawn into the lake.
The northern part of the lake is still a little brown, but it’s finally starting to fall out. This mud line has also affected the bait. “I am not sure of the technical reasoning behind it, but the bait that I find in the muddy water stays very high in the water column. I find the majority of the bait, as well as the fish, from surface down to about 20 feet or maybe 30 feet at the most. This isn’t to say you will not find a few fish deeper at times. When I am fishing in the mid-lake creeks where the water is much clearer, the majority of the bait will be 40-60 deep and the fish will be in the same depths. I have mainly been fishing from the three mid-lake creeks north to the Bennett’s Bayou area and anywhere in between. I have fished the three mid-lake major creeks and have found bait in at least one of the creeks, if not all. Typically, I have found fish on the bait, but not all the time.
“Bennett’s Bayou area is another major creek where I have fished for striped bass and again can typically find a lot of bait and sometime fish will be in the area. Yesterday (Feb. 11) I found some nice hybrids feeding in 30 feet of water along a shallow sloping bank. During this past weekend I did have several days that I found scattered bait with lots of scattered stripers in one of my normal deep-water main lake winter haunts. The fish were suspended 5-20 feet deep feeding on small schools of shad in 100-plus feet of water. The water in this area is still a little on the brownish side. I have been using three different methods of fishing over the last week or so. Live bait has worked well at times for both the shallow fish, as well as the deeper fish. I have also been trolling a Rapala deep-diving crankbait, especial when the fish are higher in the water column. “When you find deep fish and want to troll, you will either need a down-rigger or use inline weights with weights from 2-5 ounces depending on what depth you want to get to. The third method is to cast out a Kastmaster (blade bait) or a larger 6-inch swimbait with ½- to ¾-ounce jighead.
“I guess there is a fourth method, which is to vertical-jig with a spoon, but this method has not produced well for me lately, even though this is typically a go-to method of fishing for me at this time of year.”
Lou says he has not fished for bass or crappie over the past several weeks, so not much to report there. “What I have noticed on bass is that when I get close to a deep-water bluff line, I mark many bass suspended down 20-40 feet feeding on shad. I have had several reports from friends that are crappie fishing and they are catching some nice fish. The crappie are still on 30-40 feet deep brush that come up to at least 20 feet. The crappie have been suspended on the tops of the brushpile.
For more frequent fishing information on Norfork Lake, follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook. Lou says, “Spring is quickly approaching, which is a prime time to fish our lake for all species. I am definitely looking forward to this time of year as all species go to shallower water and become really aggressive.” Norfork Lake level is starting to fall slowly with increased power generation and currently sits at 558.54 feet msl. There is rainfall in the forecast for Wednesday (Feb. 12), which may change the level slightly. This level is roughly 5 feet above normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 46-47 degrees. The main lake from the U.S. Highway 62 bridge, then north of bridge, is brown to heavily stained. South of the 62 bridge the water becomes much clearer in both the main lake and the creeks. “I have not been north of Cranfield, but I have heard the Red Bank area is starting to clear somewhat. Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 2-12-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.7 feet to rest at 5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and limited wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Norfork Dam in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes. Due to yet another series of rain events last week and more this week, these areas are now weeks if not months from wadable water.
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 over the past two years. 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.
Remember that the White River and Norfork tailwater 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 2-12-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. 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 1,129.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is still really high 1,129.66 feet msl with top flood pool at 1130.00 feet msl. Water temps are in the mid-40s.Water is stained to muddy from the Pin Hook area up the White River to the Prairie Creek area. Stripers are fair around the transition from stained to clear water areas. Look around Rocky Branch, Fords Creek and Rambo. Walleye can be found up the War Eagle, up the White River and in main creek areas on the lower end toward the dam. “We fished a few days last week,” Jon says. “I caught some brown bass fishing for walleye in 27 feet of water on main lake points. We again caught some nice white bass up White River arm on plastics.
“I feel if we can get some stable water and weather we are on the verge of the lake opening up on a good pre-spawn bite for all species. Crappie were on one day and shut off another. We were dealing with a full moon and wild temp swings. Jigs and minnows picking up fish in 15-25 feet of water. Hang on, good fishing around the corner.”
(updated 2-12-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake now has a muddy look and remains high, up 5 feet over normal. The surface temperature is in the low 40s. Crappie are being caught in fair numbers, mostly by trolling. Work your minnows around brushpiles. Black bass are fair on Alabama rigs and jerkbaits. Nothing reported on catfish, bream, walleye, stripers or any other species.
(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 2-12-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) has heard only poor reports across the board in the past week. The water is a little murky and at a normal level.
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 2-12-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says they term the clarity "average" for Sequoyah and the water level is high. Crappie are biting fair on crankbaits and Flicker Shad. Catfishing is fair on cut shad. Nothing reported on black bass or bream.
(updated 2-12-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the clarity is murky and the water level is high. They’ve had no fishing reports of late.
(updated 2-12-2020) 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 2-12-2020) Seth Boone, the park superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, says the lake remains drained for the ongoing repair work; however, the state park has “continued being the light in the dark for bait. We are looking forward to the lake coming back in about a year for guests to enjoy.” The park’s bait shop is in close proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas while Lake Poinsett is repaired.
(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 2-12-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is a bit high. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and 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 2-12-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 2-12-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no catches to report. The water is high.
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 2-12-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 2-12-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), said there has been some activity on Lake Chicot, but the weather the last couple days may have stalled it. The lake level appears to be coming up fairly quickly, so if the rain stops and the lake levels off, fishing on Lake Chicot should pick up nicely. Friday and Saturday weather calls from some sun, but temperatures will be cooler, so those who attempt to fish Lake Chicot this weekend, keep that in mind.
(updated 2-12-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently closed.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.73 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake was back on the rise again from recent thunderstorms and another 3-5 inches of rain. Millwood was 11-12 inches above normal conservation pool, near 260.2 feet msl on Monday; the discharge was around 12,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 243 feet msl with discharge. 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-flow river conditions. Continue to use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and debris fields are present in the high river flow current conditions this week. Surface temps are averaging 45-49 degrees. Little River is heavy stain, moderate current, and with random broken timber and debris. Clarity and visibility on Monday was heavy stain, ranging 3-5 inches, and muddy in many locations. The oxbow's clarity was improving recently but with recent thunderstorm runoff it was ranging 5-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain or thunderstorms.
The recent cold fronts dropped surface temps over the past week, so it’s on again/off again, and the recent unseasonably warm week, then freezing night temps, have the largemouth bass back on the drop-offs and suspended. Rat-L-Traps, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits were working last week, then the bass were totally lockjawed the couple days after the front. MR-6s, Echo 1.75s and Little John cranks were getting decent responses over a week ago. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-sized bass over the past several weeks and they were moving shallow on afternoons. The best responses from largemouths 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 higher, and calm or 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 largemouths over the past few days in the clearer water sections of the oxbows up Little River, where clarity was best away from river current.
For several weeks, the white bass have been roaming up Little River and the oxbows, and staging in preparation for a spawning run along creek mouths in junctions with the river. Heavy thumping ¾- 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, 2- to 3-pound whites over the past few weeks from 12-16 feet deep. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail vertical-jigged behind primary points – and near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points – were connecting with a few nice sized whites again this week. The whites are staging just out of the current, in creek mouths, and they’re hammering Tennessee Shad Square-bill Crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few whites in 10-14 feet swimming and dropping the bait.
No reports on spotted (Kentucky) bass. Crappie are 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 in 12-16 depth on standing timber. Minnows were working where the water clarity was best. Catfish have been very consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel Cats in the 3- to 4-pound range have been biting chicken gizzards and hearts, Punch Baits and Ivory Soap over the last week on trotlines set at 9-12 feet depth in current.
(updated 2-12-2020) 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 544.53 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.96 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 2-12-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) in Camden said that Upper White Oak is muddy and the level is high. He says anglers were catching crappie this past weekend, but that the section is really flooded as of Tuesday. No other reports from Upper White Oak, and nothing heard from Lower White Oak, he says.
(updated 2-12-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said the river is on the rise, but the fish are still biting. Bass have slowed down, but crappie are biting well. Anglers say it’s the best bite they’ve seen there in a couple of years.
(updated 2-12-2020) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake remains very muddy and very high. She’s had no fishing reports lately.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 2-12-2020) 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 2-12-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that open flood gates and extremely high generation flows have stopped fishing below Carpenter Dam for over a week. Entergy has scheduled this pattern in an attempt to keep area lakes at the winter drawdown levels and to keep Lake Ouachita out of flood pool. Muddy water and very fast flows have created a treacherous situation on Lake Catherine and all anglers are advised to remain off the water until conditions return to normal. With an additional 2 inches of rain predicted on Wednesday, these conditions are expected to worsen. No one should attempt to navigate the tailrace for any reason.
(updated 2-12-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that since last Tuesday (Feb. 4) they had overcast skies with some mixed precipitation and cool temperatures. This past Friday and Saturday did bring sunshine and some nice temperatures. For this week, a flash flood watch has been issued until Wednesday night as more rain is expected. An accumulation of up to 2 inches is possible by Thursday morning. This system is expected to leave behind below-normal temperatures with highs in the 40s and clear skies. Friday morning lows may be in the low 20s. Rain chances return for this coming Saturday evening and Sunday. Visibility of the water is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature at last check was 43 degrees.
As of Tuesday (Feb. 11) the Army Corps of Engineers has reported the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater is near 346 feet msl and flowing about 70,000 cfs. The Ozark tailwater has steadily fallen since last report after the tailwater elevation reached about 350 feet msl and 107,000 cfs last Tuesday. Ozark has been generating power consistently this past week. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has consistently been on the high side of 338 feet msl. The Corps of Engineers has reported the Dardanelle tailwater is presently near 12 feet and flowing about 75,000 cfs. Dardanelle’s tailwater crested last Wednesday night near 18 feet with a release near 116,000 cfs. Both the tailwater elevation and the flow have steadily fallen since then. The powerhouse has been generating all day.
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 soon will be very busy. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 2-12-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels slightly up due to the rain with more on the way. Water clarity is fair, but should decrease as the seek goes on. Water temps are hovering around the 50-degree mark in most areas. Bass are still biting well in brushpiles, current breaks, ditches and coves near the main channel in 23-28 feet of water. Bass are laying on the bottoms looking up and will readily come up after a Damiki rig or even a large white-, black- or shad-colored crappie jig with a fluke tail. Fish these baits 2 feet of the bottom and just let it soak – it is imperative that you have your sonar dialed in! If you are not a finesse fisherman then a ¾-ounce Finesse Jig in olive or brown with a craw trailer and dragged slowly through brushpiles is the way to go. Crappie are doing fair during the day, but nothing to brag about. Pink or purple jigheads with pink or purple bodies are doing well fished over brush near the main channels. Tall brush sitting around 40 feet is best. It is a good idea to downsize your presentations to as small as you can manage. Crappie this time of year are big and hungry but not very dumb. Keep trying and experiment. Nighttime is the right time for crappie, if you can stand the cold. Hybrids are congregating near the Highway 7 bridges in 40-70 feet. “Wear those life jackets folks! Live to lie about a fish another day! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.15 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the water is a little dingy and the surface temperature is 43 degrees. The water is 2 feet above normal. Bream reports are fair. Anglers are catching them around Porter Creek bridge off River Road. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are good. They’re at 10 feet depth of water and biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair on jigs. Catfishing is good, again around Porter Creek off River Road. Use worms.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.94 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-12-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair. Use Alabama rigs in major creeks, fish a Pig-n-Jig near brush or run a lipless crankbait in the shallows for best results. Walleye are on the spawining run up the rivers. Stripers are fair to good. These fish are being caught on Bama rigs, hair jigs or spoons in the mouth of creeks. No report on bream. Crappie are slow. Try a small jig near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 46-49 degrees. The water clarity is stained on the west side but clear on the east. Lake level is up to 577.63 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 2-12-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said the catfishing is “awesome.” An excellent bite can be had in 4-8 feet of water using stink bait or shad. Also, the crappie bite is good. There is a deep trolling bite, he said. Crappie are biting from 2-30 feet depth. “I caught a limit today,” he said Tuesday afternoon. For best success, fish the piers and canals. Bream reports are poor, as are black bass reports. Ronnie reported that it was windy and rainy Tuesday afternoon. The water level is high, the temperature feels cold at the surface and the clarity is murky. Ronnie has Facebook page; check it out for photos and other information from his fishing excursions at Horseshoe Lake, an old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 2-12-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says there isn’t much to report from these lakes as of late. Bear Creek lake levels are still low – folks are still fishing and occasional catching some crappie, but nothing major to report. Storm Creek Lake has been slow on activity as well. Hoping for better fishing once spring hits. The USDA Forest Service is diligently working on the project to fix a break in the levee at Bear Creek Lake. If anyone has questions they can contact the USFS office at 870-295-5278.
(updated 2-12-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says that they always like to shoot for the first of March to o pen up Cook’s Lake. However, the White River at Clarendon is approaching 29 feet, and that leaves the boat launch at Cook’s Lake inaccessible for the time being. “We will continue to monitor the conditions and report when it looks like Cook’s Lake will reopen.” For more information, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.