Feb. 19, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Feb. 19, 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 2-19-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is stained and the level is low. Bream are good on redworms and crickets, as well as artificial jigs. Crappie are good on minnows and tube jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, buzzbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing is good using nightcrawlers, dough bait and minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 2-19-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) on Wednesday said, “We missed the heavy rains the last couple of days and the river is clear. The generation continues be less than two full units on a 24/7 schedule. The flow is averaging between 3,500 and 4,000 cfs. Southwestern Power is using the Little Red to regulate the electrical grid, so this causes fluctuations during the day. This flow is keeping the river about 6 feet high, so drift fishing is the only option. These levels are subject to change, so it’s best to check daily. The free app USACE LITTLE ROCK is a good source for this information. The Releases option shows the current generation and the SWPA Forecasts shows the projected schedule for the next day. This is updated each day after 4 p.m. Be sure to check the date above the chart to make sure it’s been updated.
“Large nymphs, sowbugs, San Juan worms and micro-jigs seem to be the best fly choices.
“Please be safe while fishing the higher water. Check the path of your boat while drifting to avoid docks and other obstacles. Drifting against these, on the upstream side, can be dangerous.”
NOTE: This is your last chance to sign up for this year’s free fly-fishing class in Heber Springs. Classes start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, and run four consecutive Thursday evenings at First United Methodist Church, 11th and Pine Street in Heber Springs. Classes are free but please call Greg to register at 501-690-9166.
(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 466.40 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 466.44 feet msl. The water is coming up and going down according to generation, and is 4.4 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The catching overall is great. Crappie continue being caught trolled and jig-lined in 15-30 feet of water over various depths. Black bass are all over the water column from real shallow out to 60 feet eating a variety of baits. No report on catfish. Walleye are trying to feed some, the river fish on their way upstream while the lake fish are eating on deeper points and humps in lake on crankbaits and jighead minnows. The river fish will eat the same as well as as grubs and Rogues. No report on bream. Hybrid and white bass are eating well roaming around 25-60 feet deep all over the lake. Stay with the shad and try spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and live bait.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-19-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake is muddy and high. White bass are enjoying the conditions, though, with a good bite on crappie jigs and minnows. No reports on black bass. Catfishing is good on worms and goldfish. Bream and crappie are poor.
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 2-19-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the water is stained and is high. Crappie are good. Anglers report catching crappie at 15 feet depth using No. 6 crappie minnows and tri-color crappie tubes, as well as Bobby Garland Jigs. Catfishing is good. They are also at 15 feet deep and are biting chicken liver and Catfish Pro on the bottom. Black bass reports are poor, and bream is poor.
(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 2-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been fair early in the mornings with No. 6 crappie minnows, Bobby Garland 2-inch Swimming Minnow in Monkey Milk, and Kalin's 2-inch Grubs in crystal. Bass fishing has been good with No. 12 bass minnows, Finesse Pumkin-colored worms and small spinnerbaits. Catfish have been biting minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bream are starting to bite a little better on crickets and worms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Crappie fishing has been fair with No. 6 crappie minnows and pink minnows. Bass are biting minnows and small plastics. Bream are biting crickets and redworms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says the Saline River has been high and muddy and “we haven't had any reports this week.”
Her customers have clued her in on some other hot spots not far from Benton, though. “Stripers have done well on brooder minnows over at Lake Ouachita for a couple of my customers. One even caught a crappie off of the brooder minnow while fishing for them. Peckerwood Lake in East-Central Arkansas has been seeing a lot of my No. 6 crappie minnows, and one of my customers’ son caught a very nice 16.75-inch crappie weighing 2.6-pounds. Lake Hamilton had a guy get some crickets to go back over there and he got on a bed of big bluegill!”
(updated 2-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass fishing has been fair early and late in the day with live minnows and Carolina-rigged plastics. Catfish have been biting minnows, black salties and nightcrawlers. Crappie have been biting No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin's Bleeding Tennessee Shad Grubs. Bream fishing has been slow but should pick up soon; crickets and redworms will catch them when they start to really bite.
(updated 2-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie fishing has been good with No. 6 and No. 4 crappie minnows, as well as Bobby Garland Swim'r Threadfin Shad and Live Minnow colors. Bass have been biting minnows, Carolina-rigged plastics and beetle spins. Catfish are biting minnows, goldfish, nightcrawlers and stink bait. Bream fishing has been fair with redworms and nightcrawlers.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 2-19-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-19-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is moving fast and is muddy. The level is low on the Little Maumelle. Fishing is mostly poor. Catfishing is fair on worms and chicken liver. However, crappie, bass and bream were poor the past week.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 2-19-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that for another week the pool clarity is muddy and the water is high. No fishing reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-19-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) notes that anglers and boaters need to be aware of the small craft advisory in effect on the river; flow was 105,000 cfs as of Tuesday afternoon. The river is muddy and high. That areas that anglers can access, though, have a good crappie and bass bite going. Anglers report good results on crappie using white/blue jigs and red/chartreuse jigs. Black bass are good on black/red jigs or a black/blue buzzbait. Catfishing is poor and bream is poor.
(updated 2-19-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the high water level and current and muddy clarity have created poor overall conditions for fishing. Poor reports across the board the past week, they say.
(updated 2-19-2020) 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 2-19-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake is dingy and at a normal level. Black bass and catfish are biting best. Anglers say the bite on bass is fair but offer no hints of baits used. Catfish catches also are fair on worms, chicken liver and hot dogs. Poor reports with crappie and bream, but use minnows and jigs for a little crappie activity.
(updated 2-19-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River below Bull Shoals Dam is full of fighting trout, and the high water being generated by the hydroelectric dam helps provide a plentiful food source. “Looks like we're going to experience a good shad kill this winter, which means the browns will be filling up on fresh shad and snapping at shad-lookalikes (white jigs, spinnerbaits with white or white/gray skirts and silver blades, or shad-shaped Rattlin' Rogues) near the dam. It's a fun time to work for a lunker brown; don't be surprised by heavier-than-normal river traffic. The shad do not usually make it further downriver than Wildcat Shoals, so you'll want to be on a minnow or a sculpin to attract the browns in the more southern neighborhoods.
Those jigs (ZigJigs or Maribou) are attracting rainbow trout, too. Keep a battery of different colors on board, but white is working well all up and down the river. Drifting scented pink or orange worms draws the rainbows in, too. Remember that XFactor produces an unscented worm that can be used in the catch-and-release areas on barbless hooks.
"The groundhog says we're going to have an early spring, but we've still got some winter mornings to work through. Come dressed in layers so you can enjoy The Natural State all day, every day."
(updated 2-19-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said clarity remains murky and the river is still high. Six to eight generators currently are running The trout bite is good browns and rainbows. Browns are going after white jigs and stick bait. Rainbows are taking to the drift rigs.
(updated 2-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had another rain event (a little over an inch in Cotter), cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.2 feet to rest at 9.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 26.4 tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1 foot to rest at 1.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and there was no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2 feet to rest at 7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy flows and some nice wadable water. The Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Beaver and Table Rock lakes in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due yet another rain event last week, the region is now months from wadable water.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise high water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
Remember that the White 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.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 668.74 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the clarity is cloudy and the lake still is at a high level, about 9.5 feet above normal. Surface temperature on Tuesday afternoon was 46 degrees. The crappie bite continues to be good. Jigs, and particularly small jigs and small spoons, will work. Black bass are deep but the bite is fair. Throw a jerkbait or a CC Spoon. Walleye are fair on cloudy days, of which there have been several of late. Use a jerkbait under the cloudy skies. Nothing else was reported. Del provides a video regularly on Youtube (Del Colvin/Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) in which he talks about various and timely methods to fish the lake, which baits are working best and areas to target.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 560.52 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake “is in its final stages of winter and spring is right around the corner. I can’t wait! I really enjoy winter fishing on Norfork Lake, but I am getting the warmer weather fever.
“We have several guests staying with us and a couple of them have been crappie fishing. Over the last several days they have caught many crappie, with most on the small side. (Tuesday) was a different story. (Tuesday) morning they were jigging a ¼-ounce spoon in brushpiles that were anywhere from 20-40 feet deep. They found some really nice slabs in 22 feet of water. The fish were buried in the brush. They ended up landing a dozen or so 12-inch-plus crappie and releasing all the smaller ones. (Tuesday) afternoon they went out for a short period of time and again landed a bucket full of nice crappie over 12 inches long.
“Over the last five or so years Norfork Lake has had several high-water events that lasted throughout the spawn. High water is a benefit to the fishery as it adds new nutrients into the ecosystem to help feed the new fry, as well as provides plenty of new cover for the newly spawned fish to hide. To say the least, catching big slab crappie in Norfork Lake is common at this time and when you land a nice 15-inch fish, know that it came from the year 2015 spawn. Yes, it only takes about four years to grow to this this size. Over the next several weeks, as the water warms the crappie will begin to school and roam the banks from brush to brush in pre-spawn mode. This will be a great time to slow-troll crankbaits such as a Flicker Minnow for these schooling fish.
“Not only crappie have been positively affected by the various high-water events, but our bass population has also been greatly increased. Another of our guests has been trolling crankbaits in 20-40 feet of water and has done quite well with bass. Largemouth and spotted bass have been roaming close to the shorelines. They have been suspended out away from the bank down 10-30 feet deep. I was out looking for striped bass (Tuesday) and started to mark a lot of fish out in deep water of 60-70 feet. The fish were anywhere from 5-30 feet down. I had live bait set at 30 feet and the spotted bass were just mauling the baits. I started casting out my ½-ounce chrome colored Kastmaster and letting it sink down to about 20 feet and the largemouth bass were just inhaling the bait. It takes about 8 seconds for my lure to reach this depth with 8-pound monofilament line. I slowly retrieve the bait with a jerk-stop-reel retrieval method.
“As the springtime water temperature begins to rise, all species will become much more active and aggressive. Most species will start to move in closer to the shoreline to feed and topwater action will start to happen – first will be the largemouth bass. I know I am getting excited.”
The surface water temperature Tuesday morning ranged 45-47 degrees. The lake is fairly stable with a slight lowering of the lake level with both generators running continuously. The current lake level is 560.62 feet msl, which is roughly 7 feet over normal seasonal pool. Some coves and various areas of the lake are still discolored from the recent rains, but all the areas Lou has been to are starting to clear up nicely, he said. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 2-19-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 2-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2 feet to rest at 7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy flows and some nice wadable water. The Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Beaver and Table Rock lakes in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due yet another rain event last week, the region is now months from wadable water.
The Norfork 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-19-2020) 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 1,128.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver is dropping ever so slowly. The lake goes from dingy to muddy down the lake to around the Prairie Creek area. Stripers are good right now around Prairie Creek downlake toward the Rambo area and also in the Monte Ne area. As usual, use your graphs and watch for the white birds working an area to locate fish. Fish are being caught on brooders, swimbaits and War Eagle Spoons. “Crappie are pretty good. You have to work to fill a limit but it can be done. Look for fish in 20 feet of water on brush. Black/chartreuse is a good color to start with. River arms are clearing fairly well with water temperature in the mid-40s. It was almost 50 (Monday). It will drop this week, though.
“Walleye are starting to show. We caught some on plastics on big channel swings. It will just get better. If you can run shallow, look up War Eagle Arm. Best walleye bite going is below Beaver Dam and Kings River. Good as I have seen this early. Big fish are being caught. Hope rain holds off this weekend and gives Beaver a break! A few flatheads were caught this week, also on brooders in river arms. White bass are staging around Neil’s Bluff and Natural Walk areas.”
(updated 2-19-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake clarity mostly is fair (somewhat dingy). Surface temperature as of Tuesday afternoon was in the high 40s. Beaver Lake remains high. Crappie reports have been fair. Minnows and jigs are working equally well; target the brushpiles. Black bass are kind of spotty, they report. Fair catches have come in on crankbaits, Rock Crawlers and Alabama rigs. A few walleye have been caught in the backwaters; the bite is fair, with minnows working best. Anglers report catching a few white bass. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 2-19-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said, “Fishing this past week was kind of tricky with the flood gates open a foot at the dam. However, if you hit the right area with the right baits, you could catch some fish. Most of the trout were caught between Highway 62 bridge and Spider Creek. Most trout were caught on light terminal tackle, fishing with various PowerBaits. Spoons also did great, throwing into the current. This week’s hot spot was this area. The walleye spawn is getting really close. Males are being caught between Beaver town and Holiday Island. A few nice-size females are starting to appear as well. Most walleye have been caught jigging live minnows and throwing various hard and soft baits. Try tossing into inlets and coves. Look for humps and rocks in about 20 feet of water.
“I hope you are able to get out and fish. As of (Wednesday), the Corp shut down all the gates. Have fun, stay safe and catch some fish.”
(updated 2-19-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 2-19-2020) Heather Hula-Johnson, park interpreter at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said she spoke with some anglers who said the fishing there is slow but that they eventually had luck catching crappie and white bass, both on minnows and both at about 15 feet depth around brushpiles. The catches were rated fair. No other species were reported. Visibility in the water is 1.75 feet and the surface temperature Tuesday was 47 degrees.
Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, says the park's new courtesy dock is now open and ready for use.
(updated 2-19-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says the water is very clear and is at a normal level. Black bass are fair on live worms and plastic worms. Catfish are biting shad, with fair results overall. Poor reports on crappie and 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 2-19-2020) 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 2-19-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels at the spring have been 490 cfs (350 cfs is average), and water clarity has been green tinted. Normal clarity for this time of year. Heavy rains over the last few weeks have river levels above normal. Be careful wading.
The trout have been biting great on Y2Ks and Orange Blossoms. Both flies have fluorescent orange that stands out in the water. If the bite is slow, run a nymph as a dropper for more hits. It has been tough to get the fly down. A sink tip line or a couple of extra split shot should do the trick. Also focus on the areas that have calm flows. The trout do not seem to like the fast water lately.
Mark adds that this is a great time to catch bigger fish. Starting in March, stocking will increase in preparation for the spring season. Less stocking at this time means a better chance to catch a trophy. Check out Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.
(updated 2-19-2020) 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. 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 2-19-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 2-19-2020) 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 2-19-2020) 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 2-19-2020) 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 2-19-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Millwood is up and down again from recent thunderstorms and another 3-5 inches of rain. As of Monday, the discharge at the dam was around 19,000 CFS in Little River according to the USACE. The tailwater below the dam and gates, as of Monday is around 248 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. Wilton Landing on U.S. Highway 71 was closed off this past week due to high water/unsafe conditions in Little River.
Surface temps as of Monday ranged 48-53 degrees. Little River is heavy stain, moderate current, and with random broken timber and debris. Clarity and visibility ranged 3-5 inches. The oxbow's clarity was improving recently but with thunderstorm runoff is 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 up and down of Millwood Lake level has the bass not knowing if they're coming or going, so it’s on again/off again, again. The largemouth bass were trying to transition to shallow roaming and bedding flats two weeks ago; now they have pulled back out to nearest structure with the lake again on the fall. Rat-L-Traps, chatterbaits and Little John crankbaits have been working over the last few weeks, and MR-6, Echo 1.75 and Bomber deep Fat Free Shads were getting decent responses over the past couple of weeks. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-size bass over the past several weeks and they were moving shallow on afternoons. 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 or 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 14-17-inch largemouths over the past few days in the clearer water sections of the oxbows up Little River where clarity was best. Mike noted upwards of 55-degree water temps over a week ago, and with the cold fronts passing, it’s dropped back into the upper 40s again. River bass have disappeared with all the high current and muddy inflow.
For several weeks, the whites 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-ounce and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points, have caught some decent, 2-3-pound whites over the past 2-3 weeks from 12-16 feet depth. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail vertical-jigged 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. White Bass have been staging just out of the current, in creek mouths and 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 report on spotted bass or crappie. Catfish have been very consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel cats and blues have been biting chicken livers, Punch Baits and hot dogs over the last week on trotlines from 9-12 feet of depth in current.
(updated 2-19-2020) 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 545.58 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
(updated 2-19-2020) Tamara Lunsford, park superintendent at Daisy State Park near Kirby, had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 409.10 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 2-19-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) in Camden said that both Upper and Lower White Oak are muddy and the level remains high, making fishing tough. Poor reports on bream, crappie, bass and catfish.
(updated 2-19-2020) Angler John Gulley, CEO of Lone Sportsman Outfitters, had no report.
(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 2-19-2020) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) had no report. Sharon has informed us that she has sold the property but will stay on into March to bring the new owners up to speed. Check out those great cheeseburgers before she leaves Lucky Landing.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 2-19-2020) 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 2-19-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that open flood gates and extremely high generation flows have continued for another week as heavy rainfall plagues this area. Fishing has stopped below Carpenter Dam in the treacherous conditions. Entergy has scheduled this discharge pattern in an attempt to keep area lakes at the winter drawdown levels and to draw Lake Ouachita out of flood pool. Muddy water and very fast flows have been the norm for weeks on Lake Catherine and all anglers are advised to remain off the water until conditions return to normal. With an additional 3 inches of rain falling on Tuesday, these conditions are expected to worsen. No one should attempt to navigate the tailrace for any reason.
(updated 2-19-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that since Feb. 11 they had mostly overcast skies with rain and cool temperatures. This past Friday and Saturday did bring sunshine and colder temperatures. For this week, a high-pressure system will clear the skies and bring colder temperatures to the area. Highs are expected to be near 50 with low near freezing. Cold rain is forecasted to return for Saturday and Sunday. Visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature Tuesday was 44 degrees.
The Corps of Engineers reported the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater at near 348 feet msl and flowing about 81,000 cfs. The Ozark tailwater did rise late last week but has steadily fallen since. 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 near 16 feet (297 feet msl) and flowing about 102,000 cfs. Dardanelle’s tailwater crested early Thursday morning (Feb. 13) near 20 feet with a release near 135,000 cfs. Both the tailwater elevation and the flow have steadily fallen since then. The powerhouse has been generating all day. Anglers, please use caution when on the water. Many channel markers have drifted and there are many submerged hazards as a result of flooding. The Lake Dardanelle State Park tournament season will be very busy soon. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 2-19-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 2-19-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels up due the continuous rainfall, which will continue in spurts through the week. Lake temps are in the high 40s throughout the lake. Water clarity is poor and will get worse. Bass have been doing fair to good on the Damiki rig fished in the guts of coves and creek channels in between main lake points. Instead of using a smoke or shad coloring on this bait, try a bubblegum pink, chartreuse or white. Jigs and soft crawfish imitations had been doing pretty well, but again its time to change colors to a black or white and expect to slow down even more and add rattles to baits to try and attract the fish in poor conditions like we have now. Crappie had been doing fair and still may produce over the tops of brush in the main lake and main tributaries over brush. Crappie typically are suspended 15-25 feet down over dense or vertical structures. Keep in mind all fish will be as close to structure as possible until the water clears. Lake Hamilton will be on the rise on or about March 1 as the annual drawdown ends, so fishing is not going to get better for a while. “Boaters need to use extreme caution on the lake as large debris and trash will be coming down the main channels. Slow down and save your lower units and props. Entire trees and submerged logs will be in that channel. Wear those life jackets, folks! That water is COLD, DIRTY and dangerous. Live to fish another day! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 352.96 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Tuesday afternoon that clarity was “not great,” with heavy rains having passed through the area. The lake was high, with level at 353 feet. For the past few days, though, the crappie bite has been good. The fish are being caught at 16 feet depth mainly on black/chartreuse jigs. Minnows and other crappie jigs will work as well. Black bass are fair. Blue/black jigs are the best bait. Catfishing is good, with Turbo Minnows reported working best. Bream reports are poor. Anglers mostly are catching crappie right now, they say.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.97 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-19-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair. Fishing with Alabama rigs in major creeks, fishing a Pig-n-Jig near brush or running a lipless crankbait in the shallows have been productive. Walleye are on the spawning run up the rivers. Stripers are fair to good. These fish are being caught on Bame rigs, hair jigs or spoons in the mouths of creeks. No report on bream. Crappie are slow. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees. The water clarity is stained on the west end nad clear on the east. Lake level is up to 578.97 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 2-19-2020) 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 open up Cook’s Lake. However, the White River at Clarendon was approaching 29 feet last week, 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.