May 6, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for May 6, 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 AND LEFT) Phil Kimball, a firefighter in Northwest Arkansas, was longing to catch his first walleye. Guide Austin Kennedy, whose weekly reports fall under the Beaver Lake dam tailwater, knew where to find the walleye and Phil landed his first. Walleye are moving into main lakes and out of river arms in some of the bigger lakes. Now is a good time to find a walleye, and don't miss experience what great table fare walleye can be, too.
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 over the next several months. 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 from May 1, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021. 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 5-6-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake has its normal stain and is at a normal level. Bream have been biting well this past week. Redworms, crickets and bream jigs are working. Crappie are good. Use minnows or jigs (try a hand-tie jig for best results). Black bass reports are good. Anglers are using a variety of baits successfully: cranks, plastic worms, topwater plugs, frogs and bass minnows. Catfishing is good. Goldfish, dough bait, bream and nightcrawlers all have the catfishes’ attention.
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 465.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers ferry Lake is at 465.52 feet msl, or 2.98 feet above normal pool of 462.54 feet msl for this time of year. “It’s been staying pretty steady around this level with rain and generation,” Tommy says. “The lake has maintained a pretty good level for the spawn, which will be done with most species by the end of month.” Speaking of the spawn, bream appear like they had a very good hatch, so future catching looks good. As for now use crawlers and crickets in and around bushes, and out in front of the bushes, from super shallow out to 15 feet of water. As for walleye, most of them other than the resident fish have vacated to the rivers, and they will eat along with lake fish, plus ones that have gotten back to the lake from rivers. Focus on pea gravel points, and humps good are also good. Try crawlers and crankbaits in 12-25 feet of water. Catfish are eating well in places, and when water warms more they will really be on the prowl. Use most of the regular methods to catch them. Crappie are still spawning upriver and a lot downlake in selected areas; use jigs and minnows around bushes. Black bass are eating, spawning and guarding fry all over the lake and rivers. A large variety of baits are working from super-super shallow out to 20 feet, and wolf packs are roaming the shallows as well. Hybrid and white bass are feeling their oats, so to speak – some good catches are coming in, and a lot of 100-fish days are being seen right now with the shad spawn going on. Use spoons, inline spinners, topwater baits, grubs and swimbaits for hybrids and whites.
(updated 5-6-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says smallmouth bass are biting well on the lower end of the lake on Carolina rigs and peanut butter and jelly finesse jigs. Largemouth bass are good on the upper end; fish with topwater lures, buzzbaits and frogs or by flipping a jig around the bushes. The lake clarity is fairly clear.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 5-6-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the clarity is muddy. The water is calm and at a normal level as of Tuesday afternoon. Bream are biting in the morning on redworms and crickets. Anglers report good catches. Crappie are good. They are being caught in 5-6 feet depth on minnows, jigs (pink jigheads in particular) and other jig-style lures. Black bass reports have been poor. Catfishing is good; bait your trotline with shad and/or goldfish.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be conducting herbicide applications to Lake Overcup over the next several months. 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 from May 1, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021. 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 5-6-2020) 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 5-6-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake is slightly stained. Surface water temperature is ranging 65-68 degrees and the level is 4 feet high. Bream are good, and are best when the sun is out in the heat of the day. David says he has crickets with more coming Wednesday, and that’s what the bream like best now. Crappie also are good. They are at 10-12 feet depth on top of underwater brush, and they are pulling out of the buckbrush. Minnows and jigs, naturally, with Monkey Milk and Purple Monkey jigs along with tri-color crappie tubes being the best choices. Black bass are good. Look for them at 4-5 feet depth. No baits were suggested. Catfishing is good on jugs. Use size 20 trotline minnows. David hears that white bass are also biting well.
(updated 5-6-2020) 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 well 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. Katie Specht (left) caught this nice catfish at Bishop Park recently.
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, Lisa’s 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 a few weeks ago, especially gar, but they appear to be over with.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 5-6-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and at normal level. Bream are good. They’re being caught in 2 feet depth on worms and crickets. Crappie reports have been poor. They are slow and appear to be finished spawning. Black bass reports have been good. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastic worms all are working well. Catfishing is good; use chicken liver or minnows.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 5-6-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no new reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 5-6-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says conditions remain muddy in clarity and high and fast with the water flow. They hear good reports in backwater angling efforts for black bass; good catches have been reported, with the anglers using black/blue jigs, black/red tubes, buzzbaits and frogs. No other reports have come from the river. Fish ‘N Stuff is also providing reports from Greers Ferry Lake; check out this week’s report in the lake listing above.
(updated 5-6-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that white bass are biting great below the dam; use 3-inch chartreuse grubs. Stripers are biting well on 5-inch white grubs below the dam. Bream report are good; you’ll find them biting at 5-feet depth on crickets in the Willow Beach area. Catfishing is good below the dams; use cut bait, skipjack or shad.
(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.
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 choices of bait. Catfish will bite minnows and hot dogs now, and results have been good.
Logan Sheehan (left) caught this beauty of a brown trout on the White River at White Hole last Friday evening. Sheehan was using a black and blue jerkbait to haul in this 29-inch,, 12-pound brown.
(updated 5-6-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We've been surprised by a few low-water days this week; not low enough to wade very far out, but lower than over the last month. The lakes in our system are all very high right now and will need to drop soon, so expect big water before long.
“Now is a great time to jig; the 1/8-ounce olive green Zig Jig or a white maribou jig are stirring up a lot of excitement among the rainbows and allowing the anglers a fair share of action. Prepare for the coming high water by updating your tackle box: Gold/black and Rainbow Rapala Count Downs (No. 5 and No. 7), a couple of Vibrax Blue Foxes, a few ¼-ounce spoons (red/gold hammered Thomas Buoyants are nice), add a package or two of floating bubblegum pink worms or several San Juan red, pink and natural-colored worms to fill in the empty spots and you'll be ready for the river. Egg patterns are always required.
“Fishers have been blessed with some gorgeous springtime weather aside from a shower or two. Water clarity is great after a day of dinginess from creek runoff. The brown bite has switched back and forth between sculpins and minnows – keep both on hand if possible. The rainbows have been filling up on the large insect hatch we've had this week, so luring them in with a strong scent is the best way to hook some nice fat trout. Garlic PowerBait has proved successful, with either the yellow or white being the best. Watch for gold flashes in the river: the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has recently stocked another batch of golden rainbow trout, and they are quite a sight to see and lots of fun to catch.”
(updated 5-6-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the area is in “flood mitigation” with the Corps of Engineers running eight generators at night and five generators in the day from the dam. Fishing is good for rainbows, but anglers did not catch a lot of browns this week. They also report that some anglers were caught fishing “behind the two billboards where you are not supposed to” and were cited by law enforcement ($220 fines each).
They also report that some walleye are being caught by the spillway.
(updated 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) had no report.
(RIGHT) Golden rainbow trout were part of a stocking of 10,000 rainbow trout in the White River, from Norfork access up to Bull Shoals State Park. More golden rainbows will likely be part of more rainbows in general that the AGFC purchased from a Missouri private fish hatchery for stocking this year; stockings of these fish will take place over the next three months, and golden rainbows typically make up about 5 percent of the total rainbow stocking from this hatchery. Read more about how and why the AGFC purchased the fish at agfc.com under "Latest News."
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 685.06 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 570.11 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 10-18 feet 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.” The lake surface temperature has been hovering around 60-62 degrees. 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 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) had no report.
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 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,129.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is at 1129.50 msl, 0.5 foot from the top. “First off I want people that are boating to be very careful; there is a lot of floating debris,” Jon says. “The lake is continuing to warm with water temps in lower to mid-60s. Shad are on a big spawn and that is creating some good topwater action for bass. Spawn is on or post-spawn depending where on the lake you fish. Spotted bass and the smallmouth bite are good on the lower end of lake. Stripers are slowing down but can still be caught. You have to move and find them. Crappie are in all phases as we have caught them deep in 35 feet of water and up shallow, 3 feet or less in buckbrush. I have been doing good up the War Eagle Arm this last week. White bass are still good with some hybrids showing at Twin Bridges last week. Catfishing is good with all the usual baits and methods working well. Walleye are moving back into summer pattern. Look on main lake points and use worm harnesses.
“Bream are good in flooded buckbrush and are really fun for the kids. Most of us reading this learned to fish with bream/bluegill being the first fish we ever caught. Take the kids, get them involved. It may lead to a lifetime passion. It did for me.”
(updated 5-6-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said stripers are being caught in fair numbers at the deeper end of the lake. Beaver is still high by 9 feet this week, and the clarity is “fairly dirty,” they say. Bream reports are good, with crickets working best. Crappie catching has been fair. Some are shallow while others are more in the deeper areas – “it’s kind of weird with the crappie right now,” they note. Black bass are good. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs all will get bit. Catfishing is good; use nightcrawlers or catfish PowerBaits.
(updated 5-6-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing the tailwater this past week has been great. With the warmer water being put into the river from the flood gates, that has turned on the bite for multiple species. The trout bite has been good on light terminal tackle, fished with various PowerBaits. Spoons have also brought in some nice numbers. The white bass have been on fire. Most of these are around the Beaver town area and are biting on just about anything you throw at them. You can find them all the way up to the dam as well. The Kentucky bass bite has been fair, still suspended around ledges, chunk rock, structure and points. Soft plastics and crankbaits fished between 6-10 feet of water have produced the best results. “This week’s hot spots have been downstream from Beaver town,” Austin says. “With the nice weather coming up this weekend, it would be a great time to go fishing. Be safe, have fun and catch some fish!” For more information, contact Austin through his Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service).
(updated 5-6-2020) 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 5-6-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, had no new reports.
(updated 5-6-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) remains closed until further notice. Fishing is allowed on the lake, however.
(updated 5-6-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has reopened this week, but they had no recent reports to send along.
(updated 5-6-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said flathead and channel catfish are biting on minnows. Goldfish will also work. Anglers report good catches. Crappie are good on minnows, jigs and worms, but they have been small. No reports on black bass or bream. Shelly says best moon times for this month will come May 19-25. Surface water temperature early Sunday was 53 degrees. Water remains murky and high.
(updated 5-6-2020) The lake at Lake Poinsett State Park has been undergoing a renovation with plans to refill it later this year and for fishing to resume at levels far better than in recent years, thanks to improved fish habitat and new underwater structures. The water control structure was also repaired.
(updated 5-6-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are at 520 cfs (350 cfs average) and water clarity has been green tinted. All of the rain lately has kept river levels up for several months now. Water flow has been strong in the main river channel; extra care is needed when wading.
Hot flies have been olive Woollies on overcast days and Y2Ks on sunny days. An extra split-shot sinker about a foot above the fly to get down can be very useful in the fast water.
Mark says, “The (AGFC) trout management plan is still being created, and work on rebuilding Jim Hinkle/Spring River Fish Hatchery has not started yet. These are two key things that will help the Spring River go to the next level as a great place to fly-fish. Once completed, the Spring River will be a much better fishery. Jim Hinkle has been stocking 12-inch rainbows weekly.
“Weekends have begun to get busy early this year. Last Saturday we had a full-blown canoe hatch. All of the campgrounds and public areas are open. Please stay safe and keep the distance.” For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River 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 5-6-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 5-6-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 5-6-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 5-6-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 5-6-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no reports.
(updated 5-6-2020) 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 259.56 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, the lake is almost back to normal pool level. Millwood is about 2.5 inches above normal conservation pool, near 259.4 feet msl, and the discharge is about 5,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday remained around 233 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. Surface temps rose this week with increased radiant heat, and are ranging 70-75 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is improving am dos consistent in the back of the oxbows with stain this week. 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. Clarity and visibility along Little River is at 3-5 inches. The oxbows’ clarity range 12-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: They are now in post-spawn on Millwood and starting to recover from the past couple of 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 with what they are responding to. Bass Assassin Shads, Zoom Trick Worms, Senkos and Twitch Sticks have been getting good responses from decent 14- to 17-inch bass for the past 2-3 weeks. The response to square-bill crankbaits, medium-running Echo 1.5 crankbaits, chatterbaits and custom-painted Little John Crankbaits improved this week. A large number of the post-spawn bass have pulled out of the flats, although a few decent fish remain in 1-2 feet of depth. The post-spawn female largemouths are continuing to move slightly deeper off the flats into the creeks and points near vertical structure and drops. 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 bass from 3-5 pounds were caught over the past week on lizards, Senkos and Trick Worms.
Try 5- to 7-inch lizards, 5-inch Bass Assassin Shads, Baby Brush Hogs and Beavers around cypress trees, flooded buckbrush and bushes, where new lily pad stands are blooming; those continue to be good areas. Dead-sticking Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook near cover and stumps have caught some decent 15- to 18-inch largemouths. Mike adds, “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 lately are the Salt-N-Pepper Silver Phantom, pumpkinseed/chartreuse and Houdini. Lizards and Baby Brush Hogs getting best responses over the past week have been the blackberry, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, Junebug or solid black and purple flake. SB-57 cranks, square-bill 2.5 crankbaits, chatterbaits and S-Cranks continue working better this week, too. Best chatterbait colors in the stained water clarity are Firetiger, chartreuse/white or black/blue. Best depth zones are at the cypress tree knees from 6-10 feet, with 12-15 feet of depth nearby. Best crankbait colors recently have been Bluegill, Redear Bream, Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad.
* White bass: The whites have finished up their annual spawning migration along Little River's headwaters, upriver near U.S. Highway 71 and Patterson Shoals, although a straggler can be found trolling around the bridge pilings. Random schools have been caught over the past few weeks between McGuire and Cemetery Slough, migrating back downriver. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along primary points extending into Little River will pick up an occasional white. 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, have caught some decent, 2- to 3-poun whites over the past few weeks in 9-16 feet deep. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail vertically jigged behind primary points near the bottom, where stumps were located on the backside of points, were connecting with a few nice-sized white bass for several weeks. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few 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 the last few weeks, but the bite has become more scattered.
* Crappie: They have been 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 on 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- to 3-pound crappie over the past several weeks.
* Catfish: The bite continues to be consistent in the current along Little River. Cats remain good on trotlines and yo-yos using chicken hearts, cut chad or buffalo, as well as Punch Bait from 10-15 feet of depth in current.
(updated 5-6-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) says they hear that a few bass are being caught, but they’ve heard no other reports from Magnolia.
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 546.94 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.07 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 falling 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 438.23 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 541.16 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 5-6-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said the river remains high and muddy, and he had no reports.
(updated 5-6-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) has been shut down for a while due to the coronavirus pandemic, they say. But they are hearing reports from Felsenthal, though the area still has high water. Both bream and crappie fishing have been slow. A few black bass and some catfish are being caught.
(updated 5-6-2020) Donald Ramirez, owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, said the lake clarity is cloudy and the level is high. Black bass are good. Bass minnows and swimbaits are among the most successful baits the past week. No reports on bream, crappie or catfish.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 5-6-2020) 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 5-6-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 58 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has held off on generation the past week until noon so anglers could have the opportunity to fish. Dangerous flows have been the norm for months, making the area unsafe for boating and useless for angling. A new generation schedule is posted each Wednesday and the public should check on lake conditions each week before attempting to navigate the lake. Rainbow trout fishing has improved greatly in the last several days, with limits being caught by boat and bank fisherman alike. Numbers of catches are low, but the size of trout ranges 12-17 inches. These fish are healthy and colorful as the water temperature rises into the high 50s. The majority of trout are being caught on redworms or waxworms fished just of the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Nightcrawlers cut in small pieces and live minnows are also working well presented under a bobber. Live bait offerings like these are a tried and proven method of catching finicky trout that are negatively affected by cold fronts and muddy water that have plagued the area lakes. Fly anglers have been few and far between since the lake returned to normal summertime pool in March. Those that have adapted have caught rainbows casting San Juan worms in hot pink or red under a strike indicator. Micro-jigs in black or white have also hooked trout that are beginning to chase the shad migration that is beginning in Lake Catherine. Hundreds of thousands of threadfin shad move toward Carpenter Dam in May to spawn. These baitfish will be in the tailrace for several months. All gamefish species feed heavily on these shad, which provide a great source of protein.
No crappie or walleye reports are available. Both spawns were missed due to the treacherous and unsafe conditions present during these spawning periods. However, the month of May will bring big numbers of white bass to the tailrace. These fish will spawn and feed heavily on the shad schools. Trolling crankbaits against the current that imitate threadfin shad is an excellent method of locating schools of bass. Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jig presentations will dominate the majority of white bass numbers and will also attract walleye that live in the lake year-round. Live minnows tight-lined over deep water have accounted for some quality catches of white bass in the 2- to 3-pound range this week.
Rainbow trout fishing is the main draw this month and next as the big numbers of trout stocked in the lake have received little fishing pressure because of adverse conditions. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should be aware of the generation schedules and must always wear a lifejacket.
(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, reports Lake Hamilton’s water temps in the mid-60s throughout 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 has been producing with the drop-shot rig with a green Zoom Trick Worm, or black if the water is 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 Junebug (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 361.81 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reports that conditions and fishing remain about the same as last week. The lake clarity is murky and the level remains high. Bream are good, and in the past two weeks have been bedding on the points in shallow water. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are fair and 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 577.50 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
Donna Currington was on Lake Ouachita last month when she hooked this nice crappie.
(updated 5-6-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still very good. Topwater baits and jighead worms are producing very good stringers. Walleye are still very good, too. Jerkbaits and small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best right now. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on topwater C-10 Redfins and live bait on the central part of the lake. Bream are still excellent with crickets or PowerBait in 5-15 feet of water. Crappie are good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are good and are being caught with trotline and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature Tuesday was in the 68-74 degree range. Clarity is clear throughout. Lake level was 577.68 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 404.15 feet msl (normal pool: 387.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) had no new reports. Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for the latest information and recent photos of his and clients’ catches on the old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 5-6-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
(updated 5-6-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says things are still closed down at Cook's Lake due to Covid-19, high water and downed trees. “Hopefully by the time the river recedes from the parking lot, we will be able to reopen,” he says. “I have been fishing some other water bodies around the region mainly in search of bedding bream but have not graphed many. We should start seeing more beds this week with the warmer weather we have experienced and the full moon.”