July 8, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for July 8, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are 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 until 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 7-8-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake continues to feature its usual stain and the level is still normal as well. Bream catches have been good; use redworms or crickets. Crappie continue to bite well this week. Best bet is to go with either minnows or a white/chartreuse jig. Black bass are good. Spinnerbaiots, topwater lures, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, frogs flipping jigs and plastics are have produced well. Catfishing is good; go with stink bait, nightcrawlers, bream, goldfish and trotline minnows on your lines.
Little Red River
(updated 7-8-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear with two-unit generation for about 19 hours a day. The times of generation vary so one should check each day for the schedule. This means high water and strong current most of each day through Friday. There may be a slight window on Wednesday morning and Friday morning if the schedule permits.
Please remain careful of kayaking and canoeing on the river during the high water. If all goes well with the rainfall, the lake should be back to normal by next week and windows will be available for small craft boating and fishing. “Overloading a small fishing boat during this high water is also dangerous in the current,” Greg says. “We had three incidents over the Fourth of July with all persons rescued without injury. It was also evident that we had less people on the river during this holiday due to high water. I wish to commend those that chose not to risk the danger of the swift water. Most accidents occur because of a lack of knowledge about the generated water.
“Please get this information before using small water craft on the Little Red. USACE Little Rock is a good app for your cell phone.”
Greg adds that when the river returns to a normal level, the blue-winged olives should be hatching, so small mayfly nymphs and midge pupas will be a good choice of flies in the lower water.
(updated 7-8-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) had no reports. He says always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 463.57 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level is at 463.62 feet msl; it is 1.08 feet above normal pool of 462.54 feet msl. “The overall catching is fixing to be super good all over as the water comes out of the bushes soon as it gets back to normal for a while, maybe,” Tommy said. “Crappie are still eating well, with limits being caught most days; fish from 10-40 feet at present. Walleye will be getting grouped tighter now as we heat on up; drag crawlers for best results. Catfishing is good if you get out there; fish from 15-40 feet deep. Black bass are all over the charts from super shallow out to 40 feet. White and hybrid bass are chewing everyday good all over lake. Bream are doing their thing, guarding fry and getting ready to do it again.”
(updated 7-8-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says bass are biting well at the lower end of the lake in 15 feet of water on crankbaits, and in the early mornings on topwaters schooling.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 7-8-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said that a 5-year-old anglers caught 8 pounds worth of bream at the kids fishing derby last week on the lake. Apparently there are some big bream to be found here. Other anglers are reporting good results fishing for bream, using redworms and waxworms or crickets. Crappie improved over the past week, with good catches being hauled in. Crappie are being found in 10 feet depth and they’re biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are good; throw a plastic worm, a topwater bait and other usual bass lures. Catfishing is good. Try small bream or perch and expect to get bit about 10-14 feet deep. Harris Brake Lake’s clarity is a little muddy, they report, and the water level is low.
NOTE: The AGFC’s temporary advisory concerning the appearance of blue-green algae bloom has been lifted. Overcup Lake has been and remains safe to fish, but swimmers, paddlers boaters and anglers are always urged to use caution and avoid any algae that could appear on the water during warmer months. The algae can break down and release toxins into the water, and the AGFC has been monitoring the blue-green algae level for the past several weeks. Recent tests show that the advisory can now be lifted, the AGFC’s Matt Schroeder said.
For more information call the AGFC Mayflower Regional Office at (877) 470-3309 weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Also, in another note that doesn’t prohibit fishing but is a warning for anglers on the lake, as well as homeowners around the lake: Employees and contractors with the AGFC are conducting herbicide applications to 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 lake water through until 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 and, if left uncontrolled, could restrict access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hinder native wildlife and fish populations.
(updated 7-8-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 7-8-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the clarity is slightly stained as of Tuesday noon, with surface temperature at 75 degrees. Water level is still high. Bream reports were good; throw redworms their way. Crappie are being found at 10 feet depth over brushpiles, and the bite is good. Use minnows. White bass are good and are showing up on top of the water. Anglers are using spinnerbaits, topwaters, minnows and gold fish. Catfishing is good on yo-yos with stink bait or goldfish.
(updated 7-8-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said water temperature is in the mid- to upper 80s. The largemouth bass remains fair. Some can be found outside the grass in 12-15 feet but most are moving into deeper water biting a variety of lures. Try using drop-shots, swimbaits, deep crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Kentucky bass also are fair. Some reports of them being found 18-20 feet off drops and rocky banks. In Tuesday night’s black bass tournament, Robert Kinslow and Sam Drennon landed a 4.06-pound Big Bass, while Casey Tissue and Clayton Vote won the event with an 11.09-pound stringer of five bass. White bass fishing has been slow. Some can be found in 16-20 feet in or around the channel; use minnows, Rooster Tails, jerkbaits or rattle baits. Crappie are good. There are reports of crappie being found in 14-16 feet depth. Some can still be found scattered and mixed in with some white bass. Use jigs or minnows. Bream are great. They can be found on windy points by drop-offs in 7-8 feet and 12-14 feet depth. Crickets, worms or beetle spins will work. Catfishing is great. Chicken liver, nightcrawlers and baitfish are the go-tos. For information on fishing the Tuesday night tournaments, call the marina.
(updated 7-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said fresh chicken livers have pretty well been the key for catching some good catfish there. Crappie have been biting early in the morning and later in the evenings fishing deep with both pink and regular crappie minnows. Some bass have been doing well off of minnows, Zing Tails, plastics and spinnerbaits. Bream have been doing great on crickets and redworms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 7-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says these ponds, like Sunset Lake, have been good on catfish using the fresh chicken livers, with mainly the back pond doing better on them. The bream have been good, though, on both ponds. Bass have been fair on plastics and also some are being caught off small spinnerbaits. Some reports of small crappie being caught off of pink crappie minnows and Kalin's Bleeding Tennessee Shad 2-inch Grubs.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 7-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some anglers have been catching some nice crappie off of crappie minnows. Bass have been doing well on black salties, a Zoom Zlinky in green pumpkin color, and also in the Brush Hogs. Trotlines baited up with black salties and goldfish have been bringing in some good catches of catfish and bass, too. Bream have been plentiful off of crickets.
(updated 7-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are fair on pink and No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass have been doing well off of black salties, plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Bream, especially the big redear, have been great off of crickets. Catfish have been good off of nightcrawlers, bait shrimp and shad and skipjack.
(updated 7-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Lake Winona crappie are fair off of No. 6 crappie minnows and blue/white crappie jigs. Catfish are good off goldfish, bait shrimp and nightcrawlers. Bass have been going after the black salties. Bream are good on crickets and also redworms.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 7-1-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had big news about the catfishing in the river recently, with good flatheads being caught anywhere from 10-25 feet deep. “They are drift-fishing for catfishing … a lot of the catching is when they’re floating by the tip of the jetties and when they’re floating on the upstream side of the jetties.
“I haven’t seen catfish caught like this in 3-4 years. Of course, the river has been up until now.”
Charlie says numbers of anglers in his area have improved recently, particularly with the river dropping some. “Now, the river is nice, calm, the flows are good. It’s getting in the summer months, and we see mornings where the water is down, not much generating at the power stations, and then it starts building up in the mornings. I like it when the flows are between 40,000 and 70,000 cfs.”
The jetty tips have been good for bream and bass, he says, but where there is grass nearby the bass are moving toward the grass lines. White bass are “basically on the jetty tips” as well. Anglers are using anything from redworms to chartreuse and Firetiger crankbaits and doing “fairly well on that. When the water is starting to clear, they’ll probably have to go to pearl or white colors and they’ll be doing pretty good.” Anglers are also getting a few white bass now below the dam, catching those on crankbaits.
“Then you go up the Petit Jean River, and I had a man who caught some big crappie, not a lot, but some big crappie on live minnows,” he notes.
Bream are starting to move around a lot and are good now where water is coming up to the grass lines, and it’s good for the bass too. The bream are running the edges and biting crickets.
But it’s the catfish that have him pumped up. “The catfish are just going nuts. We’ve had some 40-pounders caught.”
Charlie urges people who stop on the river islands to be aware of the least terns that are now in the islands now and to be careful where they stop. “I’m told they have chicks on just about every island, so be careful where you step if you’re going to get on an island.”
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 7-8-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) reported the clarity as clear and the water level normal. Bream have been good on worms and crickets. Crappie aren’t showing much; poor results. Black bass are good, however, with bass being caught in shallow water early in the mornings and late in the evenings. Throw a spinnerbait, a buzzbait or soft plastics for best results. Catfish reports have been good using chicken liver or cut bait.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 8,909 cfs.
(updated 7-8-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no new reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 10,587 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 12,238 cfs.
(updated 7-8-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water is slightly stained and at a normal level. Bass fishing has been tough, but they are biting well on black Bandit Crankbaits and green pumpkin and orange finesse jigs at the ends of jetties on the main channel.
(updated 7-1-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said catfishing in the river is good below the Murray Lock and Dam and the hydroelectric plant on cut shad and skipjack. Black bass fishing is slow. The water has slowed down, and there is not much current. Crappie are good below the Terry Lock and Dam on black/chartreuse Super Jigs in 8-10 feet depth. Bream are good in the Willow Beach area in 3-4 feet of water on crickets.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 7-8-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
(update 7-8-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the lake remains clear. The lake also is not full, she said, but no stumps are showing as of yet. Bream reports have been good. Worms or crickets will work equally well. Crappie reports are poor still. Black bass fishing is good, with topwaters being the go-to these days. Catfishing is good using worms, prepared bait or hot dogs.
(updated 7-8-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said water levels on Bull Shoals Lake, Beaver and Table Rock are lowering very slowly, without massive all-at-one-time releases. Bull Shoals Lake is still less than 5 feet from the top of the flood pool, 30 feet from desired power pool level. While river levels are a little higher than some years, the level remains fairly steady – not a lot of big increases or decreases – which keeps the trout happy which keeps the anglers happy. You can experiment with shrimp or with various colors of floating eggs, and you'll bag a bunch, but the action will be faster when you use them together. We've seen tremendous luck this week with silver and blue spoons and spinners; also unleash your 3/16-ounce Blue Fox spinners with red blades. Spinnerbaits are best in the morning.
One of the best baits for a lazy drift down the river is the Berkley pink worm with or without the mouse tail. Try the orange Power Worm, too, to lure the more curious of the trout. You may have heard that Arkansas Game and Fish stocked some golden rainbow trout. They're hanging around Cotter and seem to be partial to purple baits: Trout Magnet purple grub small jig (add some weight for the high water). “It's good to keep a 6-foot distance between you and your fellow anglers, but you can shorten that distance between you and your catch. Keep anglin' and stay aware of surroundings with the higher water.”
(updated 7-8-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the Corps of Engineers is running a lot of water round-the-clock at Bull Shoals Dam. Drift-fishing is fast. Anglers are catching rainbows while drift-fishing with PowerBait. The bite for rainbows is good. Not many browns are being caught now. They expect water to be running for a while.
(updated 7-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had had two rain events that totaled three-quarters of an inch, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to rest at 30.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.4 feet msl. This is 4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.2 feet to rest at 10 feet above seasonal power pool and 4 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 6.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 20.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.1 feet msl and 3.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater heavy flows and no wadable water.
The lakes of the White River System are near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm with a peach egg suspended below it).
John also said, “I recently had a guide trip with a father and son. I have guided them in the past. On this particular day, we had high water. The casting was tough with long leaders a lot of weight and two large flies (a brightly colored San Juan worm with a weighted egg dropper). They had very different levels of success even though they had exactly the same gear. They were using the same rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet, split shot and flies. Their depth was set the same. The son landed almost 20 trout and the father caught one. What was the difference? It was the way they were fishing.
“The son was a good caster but kept his casts to around 25 feet. With a short line out, he could easily control his drifts. He carefully mended his line to maintain a perfect drag-free drift. He was an intense angler who constantly watched his strike indicator and quickly set his hook at the slightest twitch of it. He fought his fish on the reel and never allowed slack in the line during the fight. He took his time bringing the fish in and never tried to horse them in. In other words he did everything right.
”His father did just the opposite. He has been fishing all his life but had a lot of bad habits. He cast too far. With the line 50 feet or more from the boat he was unable to control his drifts and his line frequently had a high level of drag. This problem was exacerbated by his habit of not mending his line properly. If your line has drag, it is propelled through the water either faster or slower than the current and your fly does not look natural to the trout.
“To make matters worse, he was not paying enough attention to his strike indicator. He was always looking around at the bank, birds or other anglers. I saw the strike indicator go down several times and told him. By the time he set the hook the trout was gone. I was not just sitting in the back observing this situation. I patiently explained what he was doing wrong and gently explained how he could fish more effectively. He did not listen.
“I really wanted him to catch fish. A good guide can put you on fish. He can steer you to the right technique and the best fly for the situation. He can give you suggestions on how to improve your cast, get a better drift and fight a trout more effectively. He cannot catch your fish. If you are going to spend the money to hire a guide, do yourself a favor and listen to him. You will catch more fish.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 691.21 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 925.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Corps of Engineers has limited access to the ramps and parking, so Del urges customers/boaters/anglers to call first, especially on weekends. Summer fishing patterns remain in effect, he says. Topwater baits are the way to go early in the mornings. Poppers, the Berkley Wake Bait, a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait or chatterbait will be perfect for power fishing. During the middle of the day, you’ll find smallies and Kentucky bass on main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swing bluffs and bluff ends. They’re biting well on swimbaits near shad balls. On cloud days with wind, and old big worm is good around sunken trees, near ledges, or use a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue in 18-28 feet for good results. Jewel Special Ops Jig Beaver is good around the bushes in less than 10 feet where you can reach the shore. For smallmouth bass, look to the gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads for good places to drag baits like a Ned rig, a Hula Grub, a tube, or a Lil’ McMinnow. Also drop-shot the bluff points, main lake points and the hump islands in 24-36 feet depth of water.
Bull Shoals is 32 feet high but falling, and the surface water temperature is 84 degrees. The clarity is dingy to clear. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for video with more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 575.47 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the severe thunderstorms this past week upset the stripers. Fishing was very good until Thursday, due to the lighting storm we had Wednesday afternoon. That storm changed the bite from good to poor – the fish get in a funk and become inactive. It takes several days to see a change.
“Friday the bite picked up and Saturday it was great,” Tom said. “My son found a big school and the clients caught their limit in 30 minutes. My clients got into the action but we missed more than we caught. Saturday late afternoon another big storm passed and Sunday we saw the same inactivity.
“The only thing that has saved our trips is the small stripers 18-23 inches. They are still high in the water column and we continue to catch them on our free lines, which consist of a split shot and hook set back about 75 feet from the boat. The bigger fish are suspended at 60 feet. Once the weather remains stable we will see those fish become active, then the fun will begin.
“For now continue to fish water depths in the 50- to 100-feet range to catch stripers. On the lower, southern end of Norfork Lake, fish the points at first light, then move to the bluff walls where the channel hits the bank. My first-light setup is two long lines 50-plus feet behind the boat with a split shot and gizzards. Downlines are set at 30, 40 and 50 feet. Once the sun is up all the downlines will be set at 60 feet.
“The best walleye bite is bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers along the old shoreline. You get lots of bites but few legal walleye. Fish the rounded points that have a gradual slope.”
(updated 7-1-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, Fishing Norfork Lake has entered its summer pattern with striped bass going deep and most other species hoovering around the old shoreline of roughly 23 feet. It appears there may be a thermocline formed in the 20-foot range, plus or minus a foot or two. Hard to tell with a depth finder when it’s this shallow.
Striped bass fishing has been pretty good once you find the fish. They seem to be moving in and out of the major creeks. I am currently finding them on main lake bluff line points, especially when the point transitions from solid rock to chunk rock or gravel. The stripers seem to be close to the point, but still out in deep water 80 to 100 feet and most of the ones I have been catching are suspended 60 to 70 feet down. Some smaller stripers and hybrids are suspended about 20 to 30 feet down feeding on the shad which is staying close to the surface down to 20+ feet of water. The best fishing time for me at this time has been around 6:30am to 9am. There have been many reports of striped bass being caught lake wide, especially from the mid-lake area down to the dam and from the dam back towards Big Creek. I have mainly been fishing with threadfin and gizzard shad, but vertical jigging a spoon is working as well.
Largemouth bass fishing has also been good. The areas that have been best for me have been the same places where I have been finding striped bass. If there is bait on the points the bass will be from the surface down to about 25 feet. They have been close to the shore all the way to the bottom, especially later in the day, but the times I am fishing they are out in the deep water suspended and feeding heavily on shad. There still has been some topwater action, but this activity is slowing down. Swimbaits, spinner baits and minnow shaped crank baits are all working.
Walleye are being caught just outside of the sunken buck brush or on the old shoreline roughly 20 to 25 feet down. Dragging a crawler harness with a small spinner is picking up some nice fish. Crappie are in the same area, but may move up into shallow water during the day. With our high water there is brush all over the shoreline so the challenge is locating the fish.
The current water depth has been dropping roughly 3 inches a day with constant power generation and is at 576.76’ MSL. The surface water temperature this morning was 83 degrees. The water is clear with a slight stain, which is typical this time of year with the warmer water. Happy fishing and see you on the lake. Hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day.
(updated 7-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 20.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.1 feet msl and 3.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater heavy flows and no wadable water.
The lakes of the White River System are near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try an egg pattern 18 inches below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With summer here there is a lot of pressure. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 7-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. John’s favorite fly on these waters 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 1,127.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is continuing to drop. Water temps are on a major rise. The water was 87 on Tuesday. Thermocline at Horseshoe Bend is around 18 feet. With the water temperatures like this, the summer bite should heat up. Trolling will be the most productive way to put crappie in the boat. Hot n Tots and Bandits will work. Troll at 2 mph or less for best results and look from War Eagle to Prairie Creek for good results.
“Stripers are on a very EARLY a.m. bite and that bite is pretty good. Look on main points from Point 6 to the dam. Bass are schooling early and late and dropping off into deeper water as day progresses. Catfish are good on jugs and trotlines. Walleye are hit and miss; try crawler harnesses and trolled crankbaits early and late. Bream are excellent.”
(updated 7-8-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said lake conditions are featuring good clarity, while the water remains high but inching closer to normal level for a change. Bream are fair, with redworms or crickets working. Crappie are good. Anglers are trolling and night fishing under the lights for the crappie. Carry minnows or jigs with you. Black bass are fair. Anglers report topwaters are working in the mornings. In the afternoons, the best bets are jerkbaits or jigs. They’re also night fishing for white bass, they say. Catfish are wrapping up their spawn, they report, and the bite is good on juglines.
(updated 7-1-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Fishing these high waters the past couple of weeks has been great, depending on where you were. Most trout have been caught on light terminal tackle with various PowerBaits. Spoons and Rooster Tails have done the trick, too. The hot spot has been between Parker Bottoms and the dam, the water temperature there is in the high 40s to low 50s. From Spider Creek to Houseman, the temperature is anywhere from 60-70 degrees. A few walleye are still being caught as well. Most of them are being caught trolling various crankbaits in the Beaver town area. No other species were targeted this week.
“Summer is starting to heat up, so make sure you stay hydrated. Have fun and catch some fish!” For more information, contact Austin through his Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service).
War Eagle Creek/Beaver Lake Area
(updated 7-1-2020) Loy Lewis with War Eagle Creek Outfitting (479-530-3262) said War Eagle Creek fishing is going great for smallmouth bass between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Public Access and War Eagle Mills area. Ned rigs are getting the most consistent bite, along with live minnows.
The War Eagle Creek cove arm going into Beaver Lake, when it intersects with the White River all the way back up to the War Eagle Mills area’s $2 dollar access point, the fishing is excellent for largemouth bass, big smallmouth, crappie, all methods of catfishing, bow fishing, and “be expecting any Beaver Lake fish species on the hook!” Bass boats have easy access at War Eagle Cove boat ramp off of Natural Walk Road.
At Big Clifty arm cove off Beaver Lake, spotted bass fishing is going great, especially by springs, runoffs and points. Big smallmouth bass have been seen in the same areas. All catfishing methods will provide a good time in the upper arm back halfway. Follow War Eagle Creek Outfitting on Facebook for photos; call 479-530-3262 for guided trips and for free water access and parking.
(updated 7-1-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says catfish are good on worms. Black bass are also good on worms. The lake is slightly stained and water is high.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 7-1-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water is clear and is about 1 foot below normal. Bream are biting well on worms and crickets. Crappie are poor. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. Catfishing is good with Punch Bait, stink bait and nightcrawlers.
(updated 7-8-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports the lake clarity is clear and the water level is normal. Bream catching has been good using worms or crickets. Crappie reports are poor these days. Bass are good; bring out your topwater baits in the early morning to catch them. Catfishing is good using stink bait or chicken liver.
(updated 7-8-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said bream were very active over the July 4 weekend on worms. Catfish were good for anglers using Catfish Pro Blood/Chicken Liver. Anglers were catching some nice flatheads and channel cats on jigs baited with the chicken liver and Catfish Pro. Minnows and gold fish also worked, along with worms, other blood bait, stink bait. No reports on black bass or crappie. The lake clarity is still murky while the level is normal. Surface water temperature Sunday morning was 64 degrees.
(updated 7-8-2020) 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 7-8-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are at 490 cfs and water clarity has been lightly stained. “No rain for a few weeks has the river levels down. Still above average flow, but very nice to see it finally start to get back down to normal levels,” he said.
Hot flies the last few weeks have been olive Woollies and minnow patterns like the Guppie. During the heat of the day the bite will slow down. “We have been only doing half-days on guide trips with the heat. After lunch when that sun starts bearing down the trout go straight to the bottom. The bite early up to lunch has been great.”
Trout cranks and Flicker Shad have been working well. Over the last week there have been some big fish caught on black Trout Magnets. Flaming orange and pink will work well, too.
“Saturdays have been busy with floaters,” Mark says. “Through the week is the time to fish, and Sunday is usually quiet. The river is very cold, so get out and have a great time. And be safe!” For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 7-8-2020) 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).
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Wednesday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 9.80 feet, more than 5 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 14.32, almost 12 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 26.90 feet, slightly above the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 7-8-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 7-8-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 7-1-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), said catfish and bream are biting on Lake Chicot. Possible scattered thunderstorms expected during the week, with a slight chance of rain in during the weekend. Lake Chicot will be busy with guests for Fourth of July weekend, but there still time to get out there and snag a good fishing spot.
(updated 7-8-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
Cane Creek Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.79 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Tuesday that Millwood Lake was rising rapidly from recent 3- to 5-inch rainfall and thunderstorms; it was 7 inches above normal pool, near 259.8 feet msl; the discharge was around 3,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday remained around 232 feet msl and rising with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or 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, and the State Park is open to campers. See the COVID-19 related information and camping reservation requirements at www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/millwood-state-park.
Surface temps are stable this week ranging 87-92 degrees, depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood, watching for random broken or floating timber. Clarity in the oxbows is improved, consistent in the back of the oxbows, with normal stain. The depth of visibility in the oxbows ranges 12-18 inches. Little River has normal stain this week, and clarity and visibility along the river is 5-8 inches.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Early morning continues to be key for the best bite of the day. Good blowups are happening near stumps and cypress trees and knees on Buzzbaits, Bass Assassin Shads, Spit’n Images and Stuttersteps early, with the lake nearing normal water clarity and stain in the oxbows. Best activity period remains from dawn to around 9-10 a.m. Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits continue working near lily pads. Over the past couple of weeks, most largemouths are actively feeding at night and at early daybreak for a few hours in the oxbows of McGuire, Mud and Horseshoe lakes. Reactions to Stuttersteps and shallow square-bill cranks in Millwood Magic improved over the past couple weeks. SB-57 square-bills in Tennessee Shad, Bluegill and Sneaky Shad continue getting good responses.
Bass Assassin Shads and soft plastic frogs are getting random reactions at dawn from 5-8 feet of depth around stumps, lily pads and cypress knees. The Bass Assassin Shads continue working near lily pads at dawn, and near cover, grass and stumps. Best colors of Assassins continue to be the Salt-N-Pepper Silver Phantom, Grey Ghost and Panhandle Moon varieties. Bulky 10-inch Power Worms were getting fair responses over the past week and best colors have been the June bug red, blue fleck and black grape.
Jumbo Gitzits and large Magnum Tubes with rattles, Texas-rigged, are working in 6-10 feet depth. Best tube choices in the stain water of the oxbows are pumpkinseed/chartreuse, black/blue tail and bluegill or appleseed. Texas-rigged Senkos, Zoom Trick Worms and Salty Rat Tails continue working near cypress trees and knees drawing a fair response from lethargic largemouths in 8-12 feet depth. Best colors over the past several weeks have been the watermelon candy, Blue Ice and June bug/blue tail.
* White Bass: Vertically jigged War Eagle Underspins and Kastmaster spoons have connected with some nice 2- to 3½-pound whites over the last two weeks in Little River between Jack's Isle and Hurricane Creek. Additionally, white bass were observed pushing shad to the surface and breaking in McGuire and Horseshoe oxbows at dawn on cloudy mornings a week ago. Clear Baby Torpedoes, chrome Dying Flutters and Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic or Splatterback colors, with Spin Traps in chrome/blue back, were catching these random schoolers last week.
* Crappie: As has been the case for 3-4 weeks, best bite continues to be early. Minnows and jigs have been working away from current and flow of Little River, in any clearer water sections of the oxbows and Millwood State Park, and near Okay Landing and Cottonshed areas near cypress trees from 3-5 feet deep and planted brushpiles from 8-10 feet of water. The crappie responses continue to improve with small jigs in chartreuse/white, chartreuse/blue and black. Millwood State Park continues seeing good activity in the pockets and coves near cypress trees and grass from 4-6 feet of depth. Cottonshed and Okay Landing areas are giving up some nice, healthy 2- to 3-pounders over the past several weeks.
* Catfish: They have been fairly consistent over the past few weeks on trotlines and yo-yos in Little River. Cut shad or buffalo, goldfish (available at Millwood State Park Marina), spoiled chicken hearts and gizzards, as well as Punch Baits, were working well for 2- to 4-pound blues and channel cats on yo-yos hung from cypress trees 3-8 feet deep in Mud, Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows up Little River.
* Bream: No report.
(updated 7-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 544.31 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.31 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well, we survived the Fourth. Lots of boats and people. Well. There is little new to report. Bream beds are showing up all over the lake from Arlie Moore to Shouse Ford. Look for the waffle (the appearance of the beds) and go after them with a drop-shot of just sinker and hook with cricket. Bass are in their summer pattern. Topwaters and buzzbaits early, then move to points with soft plastics or crankbaits. Crappie are slow for sure, in deep water brush or standing timber. Fish above the thermocline, which is around 25-30 feet depending on your location.
“The surfacing fish have been showing up a little more since the Fourth. Look for the calm water from Iron Mountain to Shouse Ford. Topwaters (Whopper Plopper, Devil Horse, poppers) spoons, ShadRaps and Rat-L-Traps after they go down. Trolling crankbaits or A-rigs also producing.
“Practice social distancing.”
(updated 7-1-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says the white bass and hybrid stripers are feeding early. A variety of artificial baits from spoons to A-rigs to swimbaits have been effective. Trolling crankbaits have produced well, also.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.75 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.52 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 7-8-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said lake clarity is muddy and the water level is high. He had no fishing report.
(updated 7-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
(updated 7-8-2020) Donald Ramirez, owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, had no new fishing reports.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 7-8-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 64 degrees with clearing conditions. Heavy rains have stained area lakes, and they take days to settle back to normal. Entergy has scheduled an 11 a.m.-11 p.m. generation pattern that has included an open flood gate below Carpenter Dam, which has created a dangerous flow in the tailrace. Boaters are cautioned to remain a safe distance from the dam during this time. Rainbow trout fishing is very slow with the majority of fish migrated away from the dam. The majority of the trout season was lost due to flooding, much like last year. Typically, the trout season is over now on Lake Catherine and this year is no exception.
While the white bass spawn is over, good numbers of fish remain in the tailrace and are feeding on shad. The size is running small but these fish are actively feeding and are being caught on jigs, spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and live minnows. Walleye are also present from the bridge to the dam and being taken on the same presentations. The hot weather draws these fish to the tailrace to feed on shad and crayfish.
Little topwater action has been observed around the dam this week, which normally marks the feeding patterns of big stripers that migrate in and out of the area to rest and feed. Hybrid bass often accompany these predator fish and both species can be hooked by casting Super Spooks and weightless jigs in a rainbow trout color.
Flow discharges can change rapidly, and anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to stay alert and always wear a life jacket when on the water.
(updated 7-1-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that in the past week they have experienced mostly clear skies with sunshine and humidity. Daytime heating did generate showers in areas on some days. The National Weather Service forecast expects sunshine and heat for the coming week. A heat advisory is possible on Thursday as a ridge builds over the area through the weekend. With less rains and slower river flow the water has cleared up near the surface and visibility reaches a few feet. Surface water temperature is 82 degrees.
As of Tuesday (June 30) the Corps of Engineers last reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam was at 25,000 cfs. The tailwater is near 340 feet msl. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam is 0 cfs this morning. Dardanelle tailwater level has moved between 6 and 4 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park remains elevated and has kept between 338 and 339 feet msl.
River flow at both Ozark and Dardanelle has been slight at times. Their spillway release has been flowing periodically and then stopping. Powerhouse generation has been periodic as well.
No fishing tournaments were hosted at Lake Dardanelle State Park this past weekend. Lake Dardanelle State Park continues to comply with State and Federal guidelines and directives for social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The status of our facilities continues to be evaluated. In accordance with our governor’s directive, tournament officials are required to submit an event plan and permit application to the state Department of Health before their event. Tournament officials are also required to present their ADH permit and event plan to Lake Dardanelle State Park and agree to our tournament regulations regarding COVID-19. For details or questions contact our visitor center at (479) 967-5516. Be safe while on the river and take advantage of nice weather or time to put a line the water!
(updated 7-1-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded high-performance fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton as of Tuesday (June 30) is a murky, debris strewn, mess. We have had no less than 6 inches of rain in the last 24 hours and the lake shows it. Navigate all waters of Hamilton with extreme caution!
Bass have been good up until this week on deep drop-offs of banks and bridge piers with fish holding and suspended at depths from 10-25 feet. Approaching these fish with drop-shot rigs, wacky weightless rigs and Ned rigs has produced well. With the water clarity becoming murky it is important to go to darker colors like plum, June bug and black for the simple reason that the bait is more visible. Topwaters like frogs and buzzbaits should also produce in and around debris-strewn areas. Bass will be touching hard cover, using it as a reference point to their position.
Crappie should also be doing the same thing in brushpiles and bridge piers. Jigs in darker colors will be the ticket with these fish as they will be mostly reflex strikes. Fish the vertical presentations to get in tight areas where these fish will be.
Bream are good everywhere on worms and crickets fished right of deeper docks. Good-sized eating fish are readily available.
“Again, please use caution, folks! Use those life jackets at all times under power. Good luck, and happy birthday USA!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 344.93 feet msl (normal pool: 344.31 feet msl).
(updated 7-8-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reports that the lake clarity is “really clear” and surface water temperature is 87 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream reports continue to be excellent. Anglers are using crickets and minnows with great success. Catch the bream on the flats. Crappie are excellent, too. The crappie are 6 feet deep and are biting minnows and jigs, specifically Beaver Bottoms. Black bass are biting well on chatterbaits, black salties, and June bug red worm and white/chartreuse colors. Catfishing is excellent with “just about anything floating on the water” getting eaten, they report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.24 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 7-1-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still fair. Topwaters, drop-shot finesse rigs and jighead worms will work best. Walleye are good. Spoons and bottom bouncers with small spinners tipped with a crawler work best. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on live bait on the east part of the lake. Bream are still good with crickets or worms in 5-15 feet of water. Crappie are fair. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are good and being caught on trotlines and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature continue to range 78-84 degrees. Clarity is stained. Lake level Tuesday was 577.46 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 401.27 feet msl (normal pool: 386.36 feet msl).
(updated 7-1-2020) Fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said Horseshoe has had a lot of wind lately and the bite has slowed up. Bream fishing is excellent around the lily pads and cypress trees on redworms and crickets. Crappie are slowing down, and Ronnie says he’s been throwing back a lot of small crappie. Try a crankbait for best success. Black bass are fair. He says he and his groups are usually catching about 20-30 fish per day but now they’re catching about five or so. Catfishing is excellent on stink bait around the piers. “Lots of activities this weekend for the Fourth and the 50th anniversary of Horseshoe Lake.”
(updated 7-8-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says that the White River has now fallen out enough to be able to open Cook’s Lake for youth and mobility-impaired anglers. There has been no fishing on the lake this year so there is no accurate report to give. However, Wil suggests to fish this lake like any other oxbow. Black bass should be targeted around cypress trees. Try using square-bill crankbaits or flipping black and red tubes or creature baits. Bluegill should be good around laydowns with redworms and crickets. Crappie can be picked off of brushtops using tube jigs. Cook’s Lake is a 2.5-mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility-impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species. Due to current guidelines, Cook’s Lake will be open to fishing during normal business hours, starting Wednesday, July 15, with fishing available each Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., water level pending. Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youths under 16 or mobility impaired, and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat, but we ask for trolling motors only. To comply with current guidelines, we ask that you call ahead at least a day in advance to register to fish. Before launching, please check in at the Conservation Education Center and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 7-8-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no reports.
White River/Clarendon Area
No fishing reports. The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon stage gauge reading at 24.83 feet, below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.