April 29, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for April 29, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
TOP PHOTO AND LEFT: Martin Tinnin caught this tank of a rainbow trout Sunday on the White River while fishing with guide Casey Hughes. With heavy water releases at Bull Shoals Dam, the river was running at about 20,000 cfs, but the high water didn't seem to interfere with this big fish's feeding schedule. Hughes took advantage of a caddis hatch in slack water to put Tinnin on this 26-inch rainbow that was released right after the photo was taken.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be conducting herbicide applications to Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir beginning Friday, May 1. The herbicides cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but will kill gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. 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 the lake for the next three months. The use of herbicides is necessary to control the current problems with alligatorweed and other invasive vegetation species that have infested the lake, restricting access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hindering native wildlife and fish populations. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 4-29-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake has its normal stain while the water level is running high. Bream are good, with anglers using redworms, nightcrawlers and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, topwater plugs, frogs and buzzbaits. Catfishing is good; use stink bait, nightcrawlers, goldfish, bream and dough bait.
Little Red River
(updated 4-29-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) says the Greers Ferry Lake level is still above seasonal pool. “Right now the generation pattern is unpredictable, but we are seeing a few days that have lower water,” he said. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see the forecasted generation schedule. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, egg, hares ear, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. “Be safe while enjoying the river,” Lowell says.
(updated 4-29-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river was muddy Wednesday morning after Tuesday night’s rain, with two units generating all day at Greers Ferry Lake dam. “It would be best to check the generation each afternoon for the next day to plan your fishing trip,” he said. That information can be found by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information, or checking online at the Corps’ website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) for the forecasted generation schedule.
Greg says his guide service is still suspended “until such time as it is safe for me and my clients.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.52 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said Tuesday evening the water level at Greers Ferry Lake was at 465.58 feet msl, which his 3.54 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling. “The overall catching is off the charts at present and will continue to be so until the first part of July in the lake and rivers,” Tommy says. Crappie are still eating good all over, and some crappie again are in all number phases of spawn. Use jigs or minnows, or try crankbaits trolled, as well as jigs, for the best chance of catching. Walleye are still chewing crawlers, crankbaits, jerkbaits. Some of the bite is going away while some is getting stronger. In the main lake, try 12-18 feet, and in the main rivers or upstream they are real shallow while it’s cloudy.
Catfish are coming in, just not a lot of people fishing for them. Rods and reels, lines and jugs are working all over lakes and rivers with live bait, cut bait and stink bait. Black bass are eating from super shallow out to 30 feet and can be caught 30 different ways right now, from topwater baits on down. Hybrid and white bass are chewing real well – young to old fish, all over lake as well as in rivers. Some good hybrids are coming in, and lots and lots of white bass are, too. Use Blakemore Road Runners, grubs, topwater baits, inline spinners or spoons.
(updated 4-29-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the water is high but clear. Largemouth bass will hit floating worms in the buckbrush. Also try tubes and Senkos. Smallmouth bass are favoring Carolina rigs and tubes.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 4-29-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake clarity is murky and the level is normal. No surface temperature was reported. Bream activity remains good, with worms and crickets both working. Crappie are good. They’re biting minnows, Bobby Garland Jigs and plastic lures. Black bass reports are good as well. Plastic lures, jigs and worms appear to be the go-to baits. Catfish are biting well on trotlines baited with goldfish.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be conducting herbicide applications to Lake Overcup beginning Friday, May 1. The herbicides cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but will kill gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. 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 the lake for the next three months. The use of herbicides is necessary to control the current problems with alligatorweed and other invasive vegetation species that have infested the lake, restricting access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hindering native wildlife and fish populations. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 4-29-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no new reports. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for the latest updates and photos.
(updated 4-29-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said that “everything is biting on the ‘real stuff’.” David said there is a mass shortage of bait and he placed an outsourced order and has minnows and crickets on hand at the bait shop. The lake is slight stain and the level is 3 feet high at the top of the dock, but you can still see it, he reports. Bream are good, particularly in the afternoons with the sun out. Crappie are good. Anglers are catching them over the underwater brushpiles in 15 feet depth, as well as in the buckbrush in 3-4 feet depth. Use minnows or jigs (Purple Monkey and Monkey Milk colors, preferably). Black bass are good. They’re reported at 5-6 feet depth and biting spinnerbaits, along with minnows. Catfishing is good on jugs baited with trotline minnows. White bass were reported biting well, too.
(updated 4-29-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no fishing reports. The shop is open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(updated 4-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting good on No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Bleeding Tennessee Shad Grubs. Fish shallow around the edges of grass or brushy areas. Bass have been hitting wacky-rigged Trick Worms, Carolina- or Texas-rigged lizards and Baby Brush Hogs and live minnows. Watermelon/red, watermelon candy and Red Bug are the going colors in plastics right now. Catfish are being caught on chicken livers, nightcrawlers, minnows and Wild Cat Stink Baits. Bream fishing has been great for some young anglers fishing with crickets and redworms in mossy and grassy areas around the lake.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 4-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie and bass have been biting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows, Kalin’s Grubs and Zoom Trick Worms. Catfish have been hitting minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bream fishing has been good with crickets and red worms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 4-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says the river has been up and down a lot lately with the rains coming every few days. When it's not too high or muddy the fishing has been good. Bass have been biting No. 12 and brooder minnows, Zoom Lizards and Baby Brush Hogs, crawdad crankbaits and Zing Tail Spinners. Catfish are biting No. 12 and brooder minnows, goldfish, back salties and chicken livers. Crappie have been hitting No. 6 minnows, Kalin’s Grubs and Beaver Bottom Jigs. Walleye are slow and Lisa has heard no reports of catches this week. Bream fishing is fast and fun with crickets or redworms on small hooks and light line and tackle. There's also a lot of fun gar fishing on the Saline. Use good, strong 12- to 20-pound test line and a strong, sharp hook with a No. 12 minnow 18-36 inches under a float or with just a small split shot sinker. “When you see a gar or two at the surface, cast your bait close by and you'll probably get their attention. When one takes it, give it slack line until it stops, then wait until it starts to move again, tighten your line and set the hook,” she suggests. “Gar are strong fighters, a challenge to land and some say they make decent table fare.
Lisa adds, “Wherever you fish in our beautiful state, have fun, be safe and leave only your footprints behind. No trash please. And remember, Lisas Bait Shop in Benton has had all the bait and tackle you need, since 1985.”
(updated 4-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing is fair to good with No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Tennessee Shad and Arkansas Shad grubs and Beaver Bottom Baits crappie jigs. Fish shallow around brush or deeper around submerged cover like logs. Bass have been biting No. 12 minnows, Zoom Trick Worms, Baby Brush Hogs and Zlinkys. Spinnerbaits have been good on windy days. Catfish are biting minnows, black salties, goldfish, chicken livers and nightcrawlers. The best bite has been from dusk to an hour or two after dark. Bream fishing is about to get good. Some have reported catching some on jigs and smaller minnows while crappie fishing. Try dropping a cricket or redworm around brush or any underwater cover. The big redear tend to come from deeper water in the lake.
(updated 4-29-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been hit and miss. Customers report good catches one day with No. 12 and No. 6 minnows, Bobby Garland Baby Shad Jigs and Kalin’s Grubs, then only a few fish the next day. The fish have been coming from 16 inches to 12 feet deep and holding close to cover. One customer says they're confused. Bass have been hitting the minnows and jigs as well as Zoom Trick Worms and Brush Hogs. Catfish are biting at daylight, dusk and after dark on minnows, nightcrawlers, chicken livers and stink baits. Bream are starting to move up to shallow water in the sunny parts of the lake but are still slightly scattered. They can't resist a cricket, redworm or small jig like a Rock Hopper.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 4-29-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said all the activity is below the dams, and mostly it's catfish. They're using shad and skipjack, as well as live bream. Striper were being caught on wobble spoons, but that was earlier in the month. So, it's mainly catfish below the dams. "Then you go back into Point Remove Creek and up Petit Jean River, when the water is down, anglers were doing good on crappie three weeks ago," he said. The river is hard to fish now. They have had calm water for about six days over the past several weeks, he said. The river is high and fast (over 100,000 cfs). "Watch it on the river right now," Charlie said. Hidden Harbor has reopened and Charlie says he will have bait, gas for boats, a pump-out, and he has his boat stalls available. The boat ramp also is open. "If the river is over 70,000 cfs, the flat-bottom boats probably don't need to go out," he added. Charlie said that some of the backwaters in the pool were doing great afew weeks ago, espcially gar, but they appear to be over with.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 4-29-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said clarity has turned murky, while the water level is high. Bream fishing is good, he reports. They don’t appear to have bedded yet, and they’re being caught in 3-4 feet of water. Use worms or crickets. Crappie has slowed down some, he reports, with fair results this past week. Minnows or jigs will work. Black bass are good; try spinnerbaits or plastic worms. Catfishing is excellent. Cats will go after chicken liver or minnows.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 4-29-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no new reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-29-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says conditions are muddy with high and fast-running water as of Tuesday early afternoon. They’ve heard angler reports of black bass being good on the river and favoring spinnerbaits or black/blue jigs.
(updated 4-29-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says the area near Terry Lock and Dam is murky; pool water level is high. Crappie can be found active in the backwaters. They hear good reports; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are also biting in the backwaters. Try a crankbait. Catfishing is good, but no word on baits.
(updated 4-15-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports the Little Rock pool is muddy and high. Below Terry Lock and Dam near the Willow Beach area, they have heard good reports on black bass. Whopper Ploppers are working best; fish there in the early morning. Also, catfish are good below the hydroelectric plant. Use cut skipjack or cut shad. White bass are fair by the Terry Dam using chartreuse Sassy Shads.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-29-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said Clear Lake clarity lives up to the name this week, while the level is high. Bream fishing is good; use worms or crickets. Crappie reports are good, with minnows and jigs working well. Black bass are good; the baits of choice appear to be spinnerbaits, crankbaits or worms. No reports on catfish.
(updated 4-29-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the lake is "a little dingy" as of Tuesday midafternoon. Water level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream reports have been good; worms or crickets will get bit. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good, but anglers weren't sharing their choice of ait. Catfish will bite minnows and hot dogs now, and results have been good.
(updated 4-29-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “There is nothing better than a spring day in the Arkansas Ozarks fishing on one of our many rivers or streams or lakes. We're partial to trout fishing on the White River, but when the Buffalo National River reopens, get ready for some great smallie fishing on water that has been untouched by an angler's line for over a month! Imagine that … But, turn back to trout fishing because we've had a pretty awesome week. Although the three dams that ultimately affect our fishing here in the north-central area of The Natural State are all busily producing power by running tons of water into the rivers because the lakes are filled with spring rain, we're still netting exquisite trout.
“Nearer the dams, you'll find your best catch will be casting and trolling in the center of the river, right in the middle of the current. That's because warmer surface water from the lakes hits the rivers when the dams use spillways to increase the amount released, and we know trout like cold water. Keep to the center when spillways are in use. No surprises that the browns continue to chase mid- to large-size sculpins; rainbows will bite at fluorescent yellow or lemon-lime eggs with shrimp. These water conditions beg for big stick baits. There's a nicely producing Olive Green X-Rap with a 3-to 5-foot swimming depth and a flashy white feather, or the number 9 or 11 gold/black Rapala Countdowns should attract a nice selection of trout. The 3/8-ounce Smithwick suspending Super Gold Rogue or the Foxy Momma 4½-inch rogue will tempt a curious brown or cut.
“So far there aren't any social distancing rules between anglers and trout, so plan your next trip when possible and we'll celebrate on the river.”
(updated 4-29-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is “green colored.” The water is high, and the gates at the dam are still open. The trout bite picked up, with anglers having good results. Brown trout are going after streamers. Several rainbows were caught as well.
(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had two rain events (combined for a little less than 2 inches), cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 foot to rest at 22.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.1 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot 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 no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a deep-water worm with a weighted egg suspended below it).
Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 683.35 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is murky. Surface water temperature is 60 degrees (as of Tuesday afternoon) and the lake is 24 feet above normal conservation pool. Crappie reports are fair. Crappie are shallow and spawning, he said, and subsequently hard to find right now. Black bass are all at different stages of the spring – some are post-spawn, he said, others are spawning and some are pre-spawn. Your best bet is to fish them with Senkos, floating worms and 2.8 swimbaits. No reports on bream or catfish, Del says. Walleye are good. “People are starting to catch walleye pretty well,” he offers. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on catching the fish in Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 569.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been pretty good. The best bites on the lake are for crappie, large & smallmouth bass, walleye and then striped bass. Hey wait, that is most species in the lake!! Yes, most species are biting and the best bite is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is very typical for this time of year, sunrise and sunset are the best time to find active fish.
Two methods of fish are working the best for crappie. (1) Trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows size 7 and size 9. The size 7 get down to about 15 feet and the size 9 goes to about 20 feet. I troll with my trolling motor and travel about 1.2 mph. I fish in coves that have a lot of sunken brush piles. Somedays the fish are scattered out anywhere from 20 feet of water out to 40 feet. (2) Vertical jigging a small spoon or a small grub with a jig head. Find brush in 25 to 35 feet of water and then locate the part of the brush pile the comes up in the water column the highest. I am finding crappie suspended 10 to 25 feet deep. Vertical jig for them or mark your spot with a float, then cast to this spot with a slip float and then slightly twitch the line to keep the grub moving slightly. You can also tip the grub with a live minnow to get more action.
Largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass are hanging around close to shore. With the high water there is a lot of sunken buckbrush 10 to 18 feed deep. The fish are hanging inside the brush. On windy days cast out a spinner bait and work it on top of the brush. You can also use grubs, worms or flukes and cast them to just outside the brush and let them sink to the bottom. I would think that a Ned Rig would work great at this time, just outside of the brush. Many times, when you lift the bait off the bottom there is a fish on. Right at sunrise and again at sunset there is topwater action for this species. Any topwater bait or a swimbait will work great. Long shallow points, part way back into coves and also on the shallow side of the main lake are great places to try.
The walleye bite has been getting better for me. I have picked up some walleye when trolling my Flicker Minnows in 20 – 30 feet of water and also when I’m fishing close to the sunken buck brush on long shallow points. On these points I have been casting out a 6-inch swimbait and have been doing well for most species including Walleye. Once the bait starts to move onto the flats, bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers will start to work great. I have also done very well for walleye before sunrise, in the dark, using my swimbait in similar types of areas as long as there is bait in the area.
The bite for striped and hybrid bass has also been fairly good, but this bite has been inconsistent for me. One day I find the bait and the fish are nearby feeding, then the next day they are gone and I am out looking again. The cool weather frontal systems that we have been having weekly, affect this species the most. I also think the changing surface temperatures due to these frontal systems have a big role on striped bass feeding habits. I have found stripers in 2 different parts of the lake, but very similar types of areas. There have been days when the fish move out to deep water, 50 to 70 feet of water, and suspend from the surface down to 20 or 30 feet. Live bait is working very well, but casting out swimbaits is working the best for me. Other days I find them close to the shore line, especially long shallow points that have lots of flooded buck brush. The bait moves into the buck brush to hide and the fish follow. Pitching live bait with no weight into 10 to 20 feet of water then waiting for the pole to bend to the water before setting the hook is working, as well as, casting out swimbaits or shallow diving hard baits such as a suspending jerkbaits. I have gotten into some good topwater action for stripers, but not on a daily basis. This action is typically when I find the fish and bait out in deeper water. That is not to say throwing out a Zara spook into shallow water will not call a fish up.
If you enjoy looking at Facebook, go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page and you will get frequent and most times daily fishing reports and daily catches. My Facebook page is a great place to check out the most current fishing information on Norfork Lake.
"We had a big rain last evening and the lake is again on a slow rise. It came up 3.5 inches over night and the Corps of Engineers has just reduced the out flow of water so expect the lake to come up a little more. The lake surface temperature has been hoovering around 60 to 62 degrees. The lake has cleared up nicely, but with last nights rains I would expect the backs of the creeks and coves will become slightly stained. Overall fishing has been good and with stable weather and water levels the bite will become outstanding.
(updated 4-29-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “I was wrong last week when I said this past week would see lots of fish activity on Norfork Lake. The warm weather promised never materialized. Instead we had rain almost every day with some heavy downpours. There was some shad spawning in Big Creek last Wednesday afternoon (April 22). I was crappie fishing with no luck because the crappie are still off the banks. My son was catching shad and found threadfin spawning in a debris slick on a bluff wall. I assumed that was happening all over the lake until Sean told me the main lake was only 60 degrees. Sean had several good days fishing the main lake points near the dam, but the weather kept changing the pattern. One day stripers were active on the main lake and then the next day they were way up the creek. Nothing is consistent right now. Once we see consistent warm nights and south winds, the whole lake will see topwater bites and lots of feeding activity.
“The stripers should begin to feed on the main lake points and near mid-creek bluffs and on the flats up the creeks. Some good places to try this time of year are: Cranfield Island, Crystal Cove, Koso Point, Dam Cove, Big and Brush creeks, Woods Point, Diamond Bay, Thumb Point and School Bus Point.”
(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
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 due to flooding. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. With the coronavirus there is little pressure. 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
NOTE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the urging of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has closed access to the Buffalo National River for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 1,128.26 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake sits at 1,128.57 feet msl and water temps are in the low 60s throughout. Fishing is in transition to full-on spawn for the major species. Bass are on beds in some areas, as are crappie. “Both species are being caught up shallow, but I have caught many limits of crappie last week with fish in 30 feet of water. Go figure. And I am talking really nice-size fish. Unfortunately some of these fish look to be reabsorbing there eggs. The eggs in these fish were pale yellow, almost white. Not sure why, as I am not a biologist, just an observer. Then again I have been catching fish in buckbrush all week, also. The water levels and temperature swings may have something to do with it.
“The walleye spawn was also very strange. I caught walleye in February that had spawned. My tip is, look out in deeper water to fill your crappie limits – brush and laydowns from 20 to 30 feet of water were holding a lot of quality crappie. Good areas to hit buckbrush are in War Eagle Arm. Shad are spawning in good numbers the last two days in Big Hickory, Kelly Creek and up War Eagle. Lots of fish the last couple days, busting them early morning. Flukes and spinnerbaits will work as will other topwater and chatterbaits.
“Lots going on. All I can say is, have multiple rods ready. Stripers are good. The spotted bass and smallmouth are really good on lower/clear end of lake. Ned rigs and tubes were working last week. Walleye are setting up on main points. I use worm harnesses and have been doing well the last week.”
(updated 4-29-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is mostly clear, with just a little stain in the river arms. Water level is high, but that’s not stopping the fishing, they report. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie appear to be spawning in some areas; some are shallow and some are deeper. The crappie bite is good using live minnows, jigs and by trolling with a Bandit 300 and crappie crankbaits. Black bass are good. They are migrating to soft plastics fished around the shoreline. Also, crankbaits are working, along with jerkbaits, lightly colored Zoom Flukes, and Senkos. Catfishing is good; use chicken liver or prepared bait. “Everyone needs to go fishing,” they report. “Fishing is really good right now!”
(updated 4-29-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing has been good this past week. The trout bite has been consistent, with most hitting on various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. Spoons and small soft plastics have done well, too. The white bass are starting to make their way up the river. Most are being caught between Beaver town and Houseman Access. Look for them in 15 feet of water; if they’re on the bottom, try jigging. If they are around bait, throw some hard baits. Kentucky bass are being caught around structure and chunk rock. Soft plastics (suspended) and hard baits are the way to go with those guys. This week’s hot spot has been between Beaver and Holiday Island.
“I hope no one has caught cabin fever! If so, the RX is to get out and do some fishing! Stay safe, have fun and catch some fish,” he says. “If you would like further information, please contact me through my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service).”
(updated 4-29-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lake is open to fishing.
Lake Fort Smith
(update 4-29-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, had no new reports.
(updated 4-29-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) is closed until further notice. Fishing is allowed on the lake, however.
(updated 4-29-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) is has been closed throughout the month of April because of coronavirus. There is still lake access via the launch ramp. There is a deposit box set up for the launch fees.
(updated 4-29-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the water at Lake Charles remains high and murky. Shelly says the best moon times for May fishing will fall between May 19-25. Right now, black bass are biting well, with anglers having success with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, the Sixth Sense plastic worm and a wacky rig in green color with metallic flakes. She’s heard no reports on catfish, crappie or bream.
(updated 4-29-2020) The lake at Lake Poinsett State Park has been undergoing a renovation with plans to refill it later this year.
(updated 4-29-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels at the spring have been steady at 525 cfs (350 cfs is average) and water clarity has been good. There has been just enough rain lately to keep the river level up. The catching has been really good on Woolly Buggers of different colors. Hottest color has been brown Woolly with a flame orange tail. Jim Hinkle State Fish Hatchery has done an excellent job of stocking really good sizes of rainbow trout weekly. On the warm sunny days, smallmouth bass have been hitting on Woolly Buggers. For spinning tackle, trout cranks and Flicker Shad are still doing a great job of getting down deep to the fish. Hot pink Trout Magnets always work on the Spring River. On the bright sunny days it’s all about getting to the bottom. Most cloudy days are easy fishing.
Water levels remain above average so use extra care wading. A wading staff can really help getting around in the river.
For the latest river conditions, visit Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 4-29-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 4-29-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 4-29-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 4-29-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 4-29-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no reports.
(updated 4-29-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.65 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake is back on a slow fall. The lake is about 6 inches above normal conservation pool, near 259.8 feet msl; the discharge around 16,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates remains around 243 feet msl with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Millwood State Park and Marina are open for day use. Continue to use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and floaters may be present this week. “We noted numerous missing river markers from Yarborough point, down river to mile 2 in Little River this week,” Mike added. “Use caution where river current may have moved or damaged river buoys.” Surface temps rose this week with increased radiant heat and are ranging 67-74 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is improving. Little River stain is consistent this week, muddy in locations near Cossatot inflow and Wilton, with increase of current, and with random broken timber and debris.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Many of the largemouth bass on Millwood are now post-spawn over the past couple weeks, upriver and in many locations. A few males are still being seen near spawning flats, roaming in and out of flats near vertical structure in the oxbows but extremely finicky what they are responding to. Lizards, trick worms, Senkos, and twitch sticks, have been getting good responses from decent 14-17" Bass for the last 2-3 weeks. Squarebill crankbaits, medium running Echo 1.5 crankbaits, chatterbaits, and custom painted Little Johns have improved this last week. A large number of the postspawn Largemouth Bass have pulled out of the flats, although a few decent fish remain in 1-2 feet of depth. The post spawn female Largemouth are continuing to move slightly deeper off the flats into the creeks and points near vertical structure and drops. The Largemouths continue to recover from the spawning activities upriver in the oxbows of McGuire, Mud, and Horseshoe Lakes. Bass near Millwood State Park coves continue to bite well. In the pockets between Millwood State Park and South Hickory, several healthy Largemouth Bass from 3-5 pounds were caught over the past week on lizards and Senkos and trick worms.
5-7" Lizards, 5" Bass Assassin Shads, Baby Brush Hogs, and Beavers around cypress trees, flooded buck brush, bushes, where new lily pad stands are blooming continue to be good areas. The pockets near Millwood State Park have been producing good Bass for the past few weeks up to 5-6 pounds, and one can still get reactions this week from an occasional 2-3 pound Largemouth near the Millwood State Park. Dead-sticking Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook near cover and stumps have been catching some decent 15-18" Largemouths. A slow fall to the shad Assassin is critical, and too large/heavy a hook will kill the action. Line watching is mandatory, and many times, dead-sticking, the line will just start taking off when the Bass hit it on the fall and swim off with it, like a stick or trick worm. Best colors of Shad Assassins as of late, are the Salt-N-Pepper Silver Phantom, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse, and Houdini colors. Lizards and Baby Brush Hogs getting best response over the past week have been the blackberry, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, junebug, or solid black and purple flake.
Spinnerbaits, squarebill crankbaits, and S-Cranks continue working better this week too. Best spinnerbait colors in the stained water clarity are firetiger, Chartreuse& White, or Arkansas River Shad. Best depth zones we are targeting are cypress tree knees from from 6-10 feet, with 12-15 feet of depth nearby. Best crankbait colors getting good responses recently are the Tennessee Shad, Citrus Shad, Bream, and Smokey Shad.
* White bass: Whites have finished up their annual spawning migration along Little River's headwaters, upriver near Arkansas State Highway 71 and Patterson Shoals although a straggler can be found trolling around the bridge pilings. Random schools have been caught between McGuire and Cemetery Slough over the past few weeks, migrating back down river. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along primary points extending into Little River will pick up an occasional White Bass. Heavy thumping 3/4 and 1 oz Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome, or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points caught some decent, 2-3lb Whites over the 2-3 past weeks from 9-16 feet deep. A chrome 3/4oz Cordell hammered spoon with a red/white hair bucktail vertical jigging behind primary points near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points, were connecting with a few nice sized 2-3 pound Whites 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. Deep running Fat Free Shad cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, were working along Little River. The White Bass are still being caught, randomly in the same areas as last few weeks, but the bite has become more scattered.
* Crappie: Crappie are biting well over the past couple weeks. Increased surface temps have the Crappie shallow to spawn. Minnows and jigs have been working away from current and flow of Little River, in the clearer sections of the oxbows and golf course pockets, from 3-5 feet deep. The Crappie responses continue to improve and hitting small jigs in chartreuse/white, chartreuse/blue, and black. Millwood State Park is seeing good activity in the pockets and coves near cypress trees and grass from 4-6 feet of depth. Cottonshed and Okay landing boat ramp areas were giving up some nice healthy 2-3lb Crappie over the past several weeks.
* Catfish: The bite has been consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Cats remain good on trotlines and yo-yos using cut shad or Buffalo, and Punch Bait from 10-15 feet of depth in current.
(updated 4-29-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.34 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is 547.08 feet msl, or 0.92 feet below full pool of 548 feet. Water temps have warmed up to the mid 60’s and the upper portion of the lake has some color. Fishing is good in general right now. Bass are in all 3 phases of the spawn now. Suspending Super Rogues and Super Rogue Jr’s are also working very well on windy points. Chrome/Blue and Clown colors are working well. Wacky-rigged Yum Dingers and shaky head Yum Finesse Worms are working well in green pumpkin and watermelon colors. Carolina-rigged Yum Christie Critters are also producing some good catches in the same colors. Crappie have been good lately. They can be caught in brush 15-25 feet deep on minnows and Bobby Garland Jigs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 405.15 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Spring is here, turkeys gobbling, pollen fallling and fish spawning. Fishing time. Rains have done their damage to the spawn with water fluxuations. DeGray Lake shows signs of rapid rise with dingy water from upriver down to Lennox Marcus. Arlie Moore and Brushy areas are much clearer. Water temperatures have been up and down like a yo-yo. As of Tuesday surface temperatures were back to high 60s. The lake level is up to 407.34.
“Still seeing bass on the beds in the clearer water around Iron Mountain Area. Bass fishermen are catching fish on lots of baits. The buckbrush is loaded with bass, both Kentuckies and blacks. Anglers are using Wacky worm, Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, jerkbaits, crankbaits and, I guess the best producer now is still the spinnerbaits. White is the dominate color.
“Bream are active in the buckbrush and brush piles. Finding the big ones is the key. Crappie are still in the brushpiles. They are in water from 32 feet to 16 feet deep. Minnows produce more than jigs, it appears, but they bite both. Use your electronics to locate the piles. The crappie are gathered in clouds over the piles. The problem is that many piles are loaded with 8-inch crappie. However, if you can find the right one, it will be loaded with big crappie. This applies from Point Cedar to Arlie Moore.
“The newest event is surfacing fish. Hybrids and white bass are moving into the pockets to feed. Find a pocket where the wind is pushing shad into the pocket. Spoons, white swimbaits, Rooster Tail jigs, and topwaters are getting it done.
“Be versatile. Use your electronics. Look for the pattern. Stay safe and practice social distancing.”
(updated 4-29-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says crappie are finishing up their spawn and biting great on live bait. Ignore the banks and focus on the staging brushpiles and drown that minnow 6-8 feet deep.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 443.54 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 543.17 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 4-29-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said the river is high and muddy, and he had no reports.
(updated 4-29-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
(updated 4-29-2020) Donald Ramirez, the new owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, said the shop has reopened as of last April 20, but he says he had no reports and nothing was going on, with hardly anyone fishing. There have been some good catches at various times over the month on Lake Atkins, though, with some photos on his Facebook page. The lake clarity is clear and the current level (as of Tuesday midafternoon) is high.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-22-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports reports that heavy flows have been the norm as spring storms continue to keep Lake Ouachita slightly into the flood pool. Open flood gates and high generation have created a treacherous situation in all area dam tailraces. All boaters and anglers alike should use extreme caution if attempting to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace. People should remain off the water until conditions stabilize. Thousands of trout are present and thriving in Lake Catherine. When lake conditions stabilize, fishermen can begin to catch limits of trout using redworms or nightcrawlers under a bobber or fished just off the bottom. Worm presentations are often overlooked and will consistently produce results when other baits fail. Other live baits such as wax and meal worms will also perform well used in the same manner. Live minnows tend to catch larger trout that search for bigger prey. Powerbait and trout magnets in basic colors are two of the best methods of catching rainbow trout known to man are should never be forgotten by anglers who are serious about catching fish. Fly fishermen that cast San Juan worms or micro-jigs in black or white under strike indicators can expect a solid bite. Egg patterns in white or yellow will also work very well in slack or current flow. Woolly buggers have to be included in the - best - of fly patterns and should be present in every fly anglers tackle. The walleye spawn is on in the tailrace with fish spotted in the shallows at dawn and dusk. Trolling shallow running crankbaits against the current will draw strikes from hungry walleye guarding their beds. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers is a proven technique in current or slack water. Vertical jigging spoons in deeper water is often a forgotten method of catching walleye and will out perform many other efforts. Trout will be king for the next few months, but the crappie spawn has been hampered by the heavy flows. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace must always wear a life jacket and should be aware of the generation schedules.
(updated 4-29-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that rain and storms move through the area Tuesday; leading up to that they had several mild days of sunshine. After this week’s storms, the forecast called for sunshine and warm temperatures leading into the weekend. Recent rains and high river flow has kept the water muddy. Surface temperature is 65 degrees.
As of Tuesday (April 28) the Corps of Engineers reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam near 77,000 cfs. Release at Ozark had risen above 100,000 cfs over the past weekend but has since fallen. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam is reported near 90,000 cfs. Release at Dardanelle had also risen above 100,000 cfs over the past weekend and has since fallen.
As for fishing, water temperature continue to be favorable for spawn of several of our fish species. Look for crappie near the tributaries and creeks. “We are finding bream in shallow areas,” Jason says. “The catfish are biting on shad. No reports on bass. I continued to find mayfly nymphs in the rip-rap along the bank. Now is a great time to get out there and try to catch some crappie, catfish or bass.”
Lake Dardanelle State Park continues to comply with state and federal recommendations for social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Reservations for the use of the tournament fishing facility have been canceled through May 31. Tournament participants are advised to contact their tournament event directors for details specific to their tournament.
(updated 4-22-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred X-press all-aluminum, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born and bred, Xpress, all-aluminum fishing boats in beautiful Hot Springs reports Lake Hamilton’s water temps in the mid 60’s through out with water clarity on the upper end of the lake murky, and the lower end toward Carpenter dam with clarity up to 3 feet. Bass have been doing well in deeper water on main points. 12-20 feet of water have been producing with the drop-shot rig with a green Zoom trick worm, or black if the water its murky on any given day. The other technique that is hit or miss is wacky weightless rigging a Senko of some sort in green pumpkin or June bug(again depending on water clarity) and skipping and throwing near or under docks and other visible structures. The male Bass are still tight to shallow water areas for the most part. Crappie are fair to good everywhere in shallow and grassy areas. “rolling a jig” under a cork and just slow reeling back to you can be phenomenal if you can find the fish, but patience is key. Catfish are good everywhere with Blue cats in the deeper main channels adjacent to feeding flats and all other species on creek channels. Put on some cheddar cheese and have fun! The weather will eventually level out and we can have some consistency. Until then good luck and Go Greeson!
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 363.00 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake clarity is murky. The surface water temperature was 66-67 degree by midday Tuesday. The lake remains high, but the level is falling and the dam is open, they report. Bream perked up with good reports this past week. They are bedding on the points in shallow water. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are fair it it appears they are spawning. Anglers are catching them in 3-5 feet depth in and under trees. Minnows, or jigs in black/chartreuse and red/chartreuse are working best. No reports on black bass. Catfish are good and being caught on limblines with goldfish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.17 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are very good. Topwater baits, Ned rigs, and jighead worms are producing very good stringers. Walleye are very good. ShadRaps and small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best right now. Stripers are still very good. These fish are being caught on top water C-10 Redfins and live bait on the central part of the lake. Bream are excellent with crickets or PowerBait in 5-15 feet of water. Crappie are still very good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 4-15 feet of water. Catfish are still very good and being caught with trotline and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature is ranging 68-74 degrees and the water clarity throughout the lake is clearing. Lake level as of Tuesday was 577.29 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 402.00
feet msl (normal pool: 387.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said that due to the weather, things have slowed way down. He had poor reports on the bream, crappie and black bass. Catfishing was good using shad, stink bait and crawfish. Horseshoe is muddy and high, he said Tuesday afternoon. Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for the latest information, recent photos when the fishing was, and more on the old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 4-29-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
(updated 4-29-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says Cook's Lake is still closed due to AGFC facility closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.