Feb. 26, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Feb. 26, 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 2-26-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is the normal stain, while surface temperature Tuesday morning was 54 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are good. They’re found in 8 feet depth and are biting redworms and crickets. Crappie are active early in the morning and late evenings, and anglers report good catches. Gold Creek, Pierce Creek and Caney Creek are all hot spots. Use minnows and jigs. Black bass are good. Try a white spinnerbait, June bug worms or a crankbait. Catfishing is good with nightcrawlers or dough bait.
Little Red River
(updated 2-26-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear with generation on a two-unit, 12-hour schedule. Some days it has been a continuous 12 hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and other days it has been a split morning and evening schedule totaling 12 hours. When the schedule is changing like this, it is best to check the day before to plan your trip. USACE LITTLE ROCK is a good app for your phone to check the current and proposed generation.
Rainbows are biting micro-jigs, sowbugs, large nymphs and San Juan worms. An occasional brown is being taken on these same flies. The lake level is 466.1 feet msl, which is 4 feet high. “The generation will remain on this schedule until the White River and lower Little Red River will take additional amounts. At that time, the hours of generation will increase until the lake returns to normal. Again, be safe and cautious when on the river during generation,” Greg said.
(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 466.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 466.07 feet msl, 4.03 feet above normal pool for this time of year of 462.04 feet msl and staying there with generation. There is a lot of water in the ground, and when they let up generating it will come back up. Crappie are still eating well all over the lake as they have all winter. Troll baits, or fish straight up and down with minnows and or jigs in 15-40 feet of water. Walleye are ready to do their thing; the river fish males are coming in, no reports of big females; the lake fish are eating different baits as well on points and secondary points. Black bass are chewing either on bottom, suspended, or on the bank. A large variety of baits working. No report on bream. Hybrid and white bass are eating as well on live bait, spoons and inline spinners. Stay around the bait and be patient for the best catching in 25-40 feet.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-26-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water is murky and high. Fishing has been poor the past week. No reports on any species.
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 2-26-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake clarity is stained and the level was of Tuesday morning was high. Crappie are good. They are deep, around 10 feet depth at the channel of the lake. Tri-color crappie tubes are a good bait, along with minnows at jigs. Also some crappie were caught at 3 feet at the spillway using Crappie Bombs (available at Dad’s). Black bass are fair. They appear to be moving in the evening. They’re being caught at 4-5 feet depth. Catfishing is good. The bite is close to the bottom, and chicken liver is your best bet. Bream reports were poor.
(updated 2-26-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no report.
(updated 2-26-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “One of my customers went there and in an evening he caught 12 crappie. He was using No. 6 crappie minnows. He said they were a little bigger than hand size. Not only good eating size, but his kids had a blast. Making memories sometimes is one of the best thing out of taking a kid fishing.”
Also, catfish been doing fair on nightcrawlers and No. 12 bass minnows. Bream are fair on crickets. Bass have been hitting minnows, small jigs and spinnerbaits.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-26-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Bream are fair on crickets and redworms, while bass as well as catfish have been biting bigger minnows.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-26-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says with the water levels being high, with a little bit over 5 feet high Sunday, and higher days even the week before, it hasn't been the greatest for fishing – except on out on the river a few walleye or smallmouth were caught here and there off of brooder minnows. And Lisa had a report of some crappie being caught off of a slough off of the river using No. 6 crappie minnows.
Beyond her usual spots of weekly coverage near the bait shop, Lisa has all heard of small ponds and lake have good fishing for bass and crappie using minnows. “They’ve been biting them pretty good,” she said.
(updated 2-26-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish are being caught off of goldfish and nightcrawlers as well as bait shrimp. Crappie deep off of No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Bass are being caught off of spinnerbaits and big minnows. Bream have been hitting crickets fishing deep.
(updated 2-26-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says she hasn’t had any reports from here.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 2-26-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) says commercial fishermen have just come back to fish as the water is just now getting where they can fish. “We have had six years of high water. I have not had even catfishermen in three and a half weeks.” He says catfish below the dam will bite; use skipjack. Results have been fair. They’re also in the deep holes in the river and will bite skipjack. White bass are biting fair below the dame. Use Sassy Shad in pearl. Sauger fishing below the dam is slow but they will bite some. Use horsehead spinners with a red head and chartreuse body. No reports on black bass, crappie or bream.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-26-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the level is a little low. Crappie are fair. They are deep, around 6-8 feet depth and will hit minnows or jigs. Black bass are fairly deep and the bite is fair. Try soft plastic worms or jigs. Catfishing is fair on yo-yos and trotlines baited with minnows. No reports on bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 2-26-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no fishing reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-26-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river was a little high, stained and muddy, but there is fishing going on. Crappie can be found around the jetties and the deeper backwaters. They’ve been caught at a depth of 10 feet on red/chartreuse jigs. Minnows will also work, along with other jigs. Focus on the rocky points. Also, black bass are good in shallow waters. Use a spinnerbait (white/chartreuse appears to be the best color), a black/blue jig and chatterbaits. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 2-26-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) heard no reports this week.
(updated 2-26-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-26-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said there is not a lot of fishing going on at Clear Lake. The water level is high and the clarity is murky. Poor reports on all species.
(updated 2-26-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake is still dingy in clarity and at a normal level. Poor reports on everything this week.
(updated 2-26-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said they continue to experience high water levels in the tailwaters of the White River watershed in Arkansas. That requires anglers to continue to be creative: Try some things you might not have tried before. Learn to dangle a jig – the white Maribou or ZigJig has worked great this past week. Add weight to your line, add a bright-colored bead several inches above the hook, and use an extra flashy lure. The quarter-ounce Rapala X-Rap runs between 6-8 feet and moves like a live minnow – a great option for fishing this deep river right now. “We've had good luck bringing some fair-sized browns to the boat using river minnows. Troll a minnow (live or manufactured) mid-depth 3-4 feet from the bank and be ready for the tug. Finding a spot to fish along the river bank hasn't been easy, but there's a spot just upriver from the Cotter access point that often produces a good stringer of rainbows and a quiet, scenic place to enjoy the best of fishing life. See you there.”
(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 2-26-2020) 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 half an inch or rain in Cotter), cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.2 feet to rest at 7.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 28.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.8 foot to rest at 0.7 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 8 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and some nice wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Bull Shoals Dam in an effort to lower the water level on this lake.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam where there was a shad kill. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise high water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said there is 3-4 feet visibility in the creeks and 8 feet visibility in the lake. Surface temperature Wednesday morning was 46 degrees. The water level remains high (about 7 feet now). The crappie fishing is good “if you can find them,” Del says. They are suspended in 40 feet of water. Focus on the brushpiles. Black bass are good. Use A-rigs and jerkbaits, as well as jigs. No reports on catfish. White bass are fair; Del says a few reports are starting to come in from the usual spawning areas. Walleye are being caught trolling up the river. No reports on bream.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 559.25 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Winter seems to be dragging on for us here on Norfork Lake, but if the extended forecast is correct, spring may start showing up soon. We still have this week of inconsistent cool weather, but then things are supposed to change. I am ready! Highs in the upper 50s and 60s and lows in the 40s are on the way. None too soon, as the night bite for striped bass should start very soon.
“The night bite is when the striped bass and walleye head into the shoreline to feed after dark. One of the best fishing methods for this bite is to cast out a suspending jerk bait such as a Smithwick Rogue. Cast the Rogue as close to the shoreline as possible, then do a very slow steady retrieval back to the boat and hang on. It is so much fun to hook into a big striped bass when you cannot see much. This bite typically starts around mid-March. Some think it gets going on the full moon in March. Hopefully the upcoming warmer weather will get it going soon.
“Over the past week the striped bass bite has had its ups and downs, but I have had a couple of good days. Yesterday (Monday, Feb. 24) was a great day of catching some big fish. I started out fishing on a large main-lake flat in about 80 feet of water. There was a lot of bait in the area, at times the bait was from the surface down to 30 feet. I was marking a few big fish inside of the bait. I started trolling with a walleye deep-diving crankbait that dives to about 20 feet. I landed a really nice striped bass (17 pounds, 2 ounces) and a 7-pound hybrid. The interesting thing was that I caught both fish when I was making a turn and they hit the inside bait. The inside bait on a turn would be going slower and might be coming up a little. My baits may have been running a little too deep or the fish were wanting a slower moving bait.
“I then decided to see what the crappie where doing. I headed to a cove where the wind was blowing in. I checked out a brushpile in 20-35 feet of water. I caught a few short fish and started to move to the next brush. When I got out to the middle of the cove in about 40 feet of water, I found bait that was from 10 feet down to the bottom and marked a lot of fish. I thought most of the fish were largemouth, so I threw out two Berkley Flicker Minnows that dive to about 14 feet. I started to slow troll with my trolling motor at about 1.4 mph and headed a little closer to shore. When I passed a secondary point in about 28 feet of water the shad-colored bait got hammered. I assumed I had a nice bass on the line. I set the hook and the fish just took off to deeper water. I knew instantly that I had a nice striped bass on the line. I only had 6-pound monofilament line on and the Flicker Minnow has two very small light treble hooks, so I knew I had to baby this fish. It took 20 minutes to land it, but it ended up being my personal best striper so far this year at 18.69 pounds.
“During the battle I marked quite a few big arcs, and I think they were heading out of the cove. I continued to troll in the cove, going back and forth between 25 feet of water and 40 feet of water, staying in the bait. After the striped bass, I got to land four really nice largemouth bass in the 3.5- to 4.5-pound range. One of the bass attacked the shad-colored lure and the other three liked the other lure, which had a bright purple back. The bass seemed to hit every time I came out of the bait or right before I would start to go through the bait. Seeing bigger striped bass in shallow water is a great sign that spring is on its way.”
March is transition month from winter to spring. There will be a lot of exciting changes to fishing during the month mainly due to the warming trend of the water. Crappie will begin to school and roam from brush to brush staging for their spawn. Walleye will be spawning, with some of them coming off of their beds in the early part of the month. Bass will move in tighter to the banks and begin to feed heavily and we will start to see some topwater action for bass. As already mentioned above striped bass will be feeding very shallow in the dark and will start to stay in shallower water even after daybreak. A lot of fun to look forward to.
Norfork Lake is currently falling 3-4 inches per day with both generators running continuously. The surface water temperature has remained about the same, between 45-47 degrees. The water is stained in most places where Lou is fishing, but seems to be clearing daily. Most if not all of the brown water has fallen out leaving a greenish stained water, which is fantastic for fishing. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 2-26-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and some nice wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Bull Shoals Dam in an effort to lower the water level on this lake.
The Norfork is fishing better. There was a shad kill below this dam. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge (#18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week. The weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
John adds, “I went fishing on the Norfork tailwater a few weeks ago. I caught some low water and it was my first wading trip in several months. When I waded upstream to my favorite spots I quickly realized that the wading was more difficult than it had been in the past. Was I getting too old to wade or was I just out of shape? At 73 I should be young and fit enough to wade. I was just out of shape.
“I have gone to a gym to stay fit for years. A year ago I quit. The idea was that I would do all my own yard work and wade fish as often as I could. That would keep me fit. The problem this year has been constant rain and high river levels have not allowed me to do yard work or wade fish very much. My conditioning level had slipped a lot.
“My wife, Lori, and I had a conversation and we agreed that our general fitness had suffered and we both needed to get back in shape. Lori called Joy at Shape Fitness in Cotter and joined up. It’s close to home and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I have always done better in the gym with a work out buddy and Lori is great at that. Although she doesn’t stay as long as I do she is always there and helps me stay focused.
“I quickly found that I had not lost any strength. I still could use the same weight levels that I had used previously. The problem was my stamina. I decided to concentrate on the elliptical machine as it is easier on my joints. On my first try, I was only able to do about three minutes before I ran out of gas. Over the next few weeks, I gradually increased my time on it until I could do about 30 minutes. I began to feel better and could feel my increased stamina.
“Last Saturday, I got my chance to check out the success of my program. The Norfork tailwater was scheduled to be off for an entire day. I eagerly prepared for my trip. I arrived at the river early. There were a few new anglers getting ready but no one had entered the river. The weather was cold but promised to warm up. The river was backed up to a point far above the Ackerman Access due to heavy generation on the White and significant runoff from the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek. I could see lower water upstream that was quite inviting.
“I suited up and headed up toward the lower water that I could see. I had chatted with the new anglers and suggested that they join me, as the fishing would be better upstream. The water was several feet deeper than usual and the going was tough. I was handling it easily. I was out-wading these guys that were 50 years younger than I was. It was a comfortable feeling. I found that the wading was easy and I enjoyed the day much more than I had on my previous trips.
“If you are going to wade, you need to be in good physical condition. Getting back in the gym helped me get into that good level of fitness.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-26-2020) 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 1,128.31 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is holding steady, very high still, and “at least the rain has given us a break. Stripers are red hot. If you never have caught a big striper, now is the time! Stripers are fairly easy to catch if you know where the shad are. If you have a boat, invest in a decent graph and learn what a bait ball looks like. Go and buy some large brood minnows. Look for bait and the big fish arcs on your graph and make note of the depth.
“One easy way to troll bait for them is to buy a small bag of balloons. Tie the balloon on your line and attach a weight about two feet above your hook (size 2 or 4 hooks will work fine). If stripers are showing at 12 feet on graph, tie your balloon at 12 feet. The key is you need to drop bait back of boat and troll slowly, 1/2 to 1 mph. Troll through bait balls, making note of big fish arcs on your graph. Adjust your bait according to arcs on the graph. Stay in areas showing bait and large fish on your graph. You can troll four rods this way without having to buy planer boards. Stagger you baits/balloons to avoid tangling them. About a 15-foot difference in length will work. Do not be afraid to try it. Beaver has a great striper population. Look right now in Big Hickory, Monte Ne, Prairie Creek and up War Eagle past Natural Walk area.
“Now, onto fish reports: Stripers hot. Crappie are getting better daily. Look in brush/structure in 20-25 feet of water. We have caught some real slabs last few days. Jigs are doing really well. Walleye are good on the clear end of the lake; look on main points adjacent to spawning flats. Walleye in river arms are hit and miss. Some days some nice fish are being caught. Troll Flicker Shad and similar cranks at 2 mph. Bass are starting to hit jerkbaits. Some big catfish are being caught on live baits. Good luck, and stay safe.”
(updated 2-26-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake remains very high. Crappie reports are fair. The crappie are scattered and the ones being caught are ranging in water depth from 5-25 feet. Minnows and jigs (especially small jigs) are working. Focus on the brushpiles. Black bass are good. Anglers are using jerkbaits, Alabama rigs and Rock Crawlers. Catfishing is good. The winter trotline users are catching big catfish now, they report. Walleye are just getting started but are good in the river arms on minnows. No reports on bream.
(updated 2-26-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing was nice this past week. “Saturday turned out great, not only for trout but walleye as well. Nothing has really changed with the preferred catching methods since last week’s report. I would say that most of the walleye action is still downstream toward Beaver. Throwing hard baits, jigging with live minnows and soft plastics have been the way to go. Look for most of them to be in 14-20 feet of water. The trout bite has been consistent as well. Most are being caught on various spoons ¼-ounce to ½-ounce, hard baits and light terminal tackle with various PowerBaits. It was kind of hard to lock down a hot spot, because it seem like they were widespread.
“Once again, feel free to contact me through my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) if you need a little more information between reports. I didn't fish for white bass this past week, but I am sure nothing has changed since the last report. I did not mark any bait balls this week, but when I do I'll be sure to let y’all know. Have fun, stay safe and catch some fish!”
(updated 2-26-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 2-26-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, says he had little to report. While the lake water levels continue to be very high, the lake was very busy last weekend but anglers were tight-lipped about any success. Heather Hula-Johnson, park interpreter, reported no completed creel surveys from anglers. She said Tuesday that visibility in the water was 1.5 feet and the surface temperature was 47 degrees.
(updated 2-26-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says the water remains clear but is high. Crappie are good on minnows and for anglers trolling with Roadrunners. No reports on bass, bream or catfish.
(updated 2-26-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the clarity is stained, but the water level is back to normal. Surface temperature Tuesday morning was 45 degrees. Crappie anglers are on the lake, but they’ve received no reports at the marina. However, black bass are good. Anglers are having success using a diving crankbait. They’ve noted a lot of bass anglers on the lake doing well the past week. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 2-26-2020) 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 2-26-2020) 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 2-26-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 2-26-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no catches to report. The water is high.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 2-26-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 2-26-2020) 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 2-26-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
As of Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.8 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Monday that Millwood is up and down again from recent thunderstorms but was dropping again, leaving the lake 7 inches above normal conservation pool of 259.2 feet. The discharge was around 16,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was about 243 feet msl with discharge. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website lined 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. Surface temps as of Monday ranged 45-50 degrees. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for stumps, random broken or floating timber in Little River. Clarity continues improving in the oxbows with the river receding. Little River is heavy stain, moderate current, and with random broken timber and debris.
The largemouth bass males continue to roam in 5-8 feet depth in creeks and bedding flats on warm afternoons, near vertical structure with the lake again falling. Rat-L-Traps, chatterbaits and Brazalo Spinnerbaits have been working over the past couple of weeks, and MR-6, Echo 1.75 and SB-57 MDJ crankbaits were getting decent responses over the same period. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, has held some decent sized bass over the past several weeks, and they 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/no river current were present.
The crankbaits getting best responses were the Red Chrome, Toledo Gold, Ozark Craw and Red Rayburn Craw, along with Baby Brush Hogs taking some decent 14- to 17-inch male largemouths roaming flats in the clearer water sections of the oxbows where clarity was best away from river current. “We noted upwards of 55-degree water temps two weeks ago, and now have dropped back into the upper 40s. Where you find shallow 5-8 foot depth flats with stumps you can find a few decent 2- to 3-pound male bass roaming on warm afternoons, if near to a quick creek bend drop into 8-12 feet structure.”
Best colors of chatterbaits and spinnerbaits have been the Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover or Arkansas River Shad. The majority of bass continue suspending near vertical structure for many hours of the day, and they turn on like a light switch for a few hours under the warmest 2-3 hours of daylight, from 5-9 feet depth with 12-48 feet of depth nearby. “We have been seeing the male bass roaming the flats through the dead lily pad stems from 2-4 pounds each searching bedding areas, but not committing to stay in the flats for very long periods. The larger females are staging on points and drops where stumps are present.”
For several weeks, the white bass have been roaming and staging up Little River and mouths of the oxbows 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, white bass over the past couple of weeks in 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, was connecting with a few nice-size 2- to 3-pound whites over the past several weeks. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few white Bass in 10-14 feet swimming and dropping the bait. Most of the white bass continue staging along Little River, stacked up on points, from 12-15 feet deep. Deep-running Fat Free Guppy cranks in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad were picking up a few whites this week. White bass were found again over the past couple weeks between White Cliffs Campground and the entrance to McGuire Lake along Little River where points intersect with creek mouths dumping into the river, although the water was very muddy and had tons of current.
Crappie improved over the past week with the improved clarity and conditions in the oxbows. A crappie tournament over the weekend produced some really nice slabs from 2-3 pounds each. Minnows and jigs were working near standing timber in the clearer sections of the oxbows from 8-12 feet deep. Catfish have been consistently biting over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel Cats and blues have been good on Punch Bait and homemade cheese dough over the last week on trotlines from 9-12 feet of depth in current.
(updated 2-26-2020) 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 544.60 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.11 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 2-26-2020) 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 2-26-2020) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the reports were poor across the poor this past week. Check with Donald, the new owner of Lucky Landing, for any updates later this week.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 2-26-2020) 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 2-26-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that open flood gates and heavy flows have been the norm below Carpenter Dam for weeks. Heavy rains kept Lake Ouachita into the flood pool, forcing Entergy to run round-the-clock generation from all area dams to keep the lakes at winter drawdown levels. Very little productive fishing has taken place in the Carpenter Dam tailrace due to the unsafe conditions. Area guides have not been on the water and advise others to use caution on the lake until water levels subside considerably. Currently, Lake Ouachita is now slightly out of flood pool, and with little rain predicted for the next week, a much safer current flow could occur later this week when the new schedules are implemented. If this occurs, boaters and wade fishermen alike can resume fishing in the tailrace. Thousands of rainbow trout have been stocked in Lake Catherine this month and can be caught using various techniques. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current will be a very effective presentation for boaters attempting to find schools of trout. Cold temperatures continue to stun big numbers of threadfin shad, which are drawn through the turbines from Lake Hamilton. These injured shad make an easy prey item for hungry trout. Artificial lures like Little Cleo's and Super Dupers will draw solid strikes and record good numbers of quality fish. Casting small jigs in the 1/16- to 1/8-ounce size are another mainstay method of catching rainbows. Of course, PowerBait in white or yellow will catch trout when a finicky bite is the norm. Fly-fishermen will be able to safely wade and cast micro-jigs in black or white under a strike indicator. San Juan worms in red or hot pink and egg patterns in green or yellow will hook fish in slack or current. Trout Magnets should never be overlooked by anglers serious about catching rainbow trout.
The first complete slackwater situation below Carpenter Dam after many weeks of hard current will give anglers a real chance for some spectacular action. Despite the fact that little fishing has gone on below the dam, the walleye spawn should have begun with the smaller males moving up first to prepare the beds. Trolling crankbaits that imitate crawfish over sandbars and rock structure will cause wary walleye to strike. Carolina rigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers will be effective once spawning beds are located. It is important to note that Sunday, March 1, will begin the refilling of both lakes Hamilton and Catherine. Rising water normally hurts the trout bite and creates murky water. Normal summertime level will take just over a week to complete. Always wear a life jacket when navigating the Carpenter Dam tailwaters and be aware of the generation schedules.
(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 2-26-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 2-26-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake water level still down 3-4 feet for the winter drawdown (which concludes March 1) with lake temps in the mid- to high 40s throughout. Clarity is fair and clearing more as the week goes on. Bass have been doing well in areas of 25-28 feet in ditches that join the main channels. Bass are fairly inactive and usually will not be seen on electronics because they are literally laying on the bottom. Fishing the vertical presentation with a Damiki rig, Ned rig or small flutter spoon in shad or green pumpkin colors will produce. Crappie have been semi-active and suspended over brush in 30-plus feet of water and typically suspended from 12-25 feet down. Pink and chartreuse jigs with pink or purple heads have been doing fair, but also experiment with natural colors like browns and blacks on jigheads. Hybrids are still congregating in the channel near the Arkansas Highway 7 bridges. No catfish report. “Come see us at the Hot Springs Boat and RV Show this weekend! Keaton Grifford, Greeson’s resident pro angler, will be available Saturday from noon-7 p.m. to talk fishing tactics, patterns and, of course, Xpress boats. Meet the guys who write the fishing report. Good luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 2-19-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 344.45 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Tuesday morning that clarity was good, and the lake was not quite as high as last week. The level was 4 feet above normal pool. Surface temperature was 53 degrees. Crappie are biting well in a depth of 16 feet. Black/chartreuse and white/chartreuse jigs are working well, along with minnows. Check out the Porter Creek bridge area. Black bass are in deeper water but results have been good, anglers say. A blue/black jig will be your best bet. Catfishing is fair on yo-yos around the Porter Creek bridge area. Bream are poor.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.75 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-26-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still fair. Fishing with Alabama rigs in major creeks, a Pig-n-Jig near brush, or running a lipless crankbait in the shallows have worked. Walleye are on the spawning run up the rivers. Stripers are still fair to good. These fish are being caught Bama 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 stained on the west side and clear on the east. Lake level is up to 577.76 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 2-26-2020) 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.