Sept. 16, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Sept. 16, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 11 a.m. the day of publication.
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Quick links to regions:
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 through September. 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 9-16-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said anglers have welcomed the return of the usual, normal Lake Conway stain this past week. Water level is normal. Bream fishing improved with good results this week. Redworms and crickets are working. Crappie catches ranged fair to good. Anglers were using crappie minnows and white/chartreuse jigs for best results. Black bass are good on crankbaits, plastic worms, topwater lures, frogs, poppers and buzzbaits. Catfishing has been good. Use stink bait, nightcrawlers, goldfish, dough bait, trotline minnows or bream.
(updated 9-16-2020) Angler Dennis Charles reports that all types of bass are excellent all hours of the day. Anglers are finding success using anything in the box. Bream are slow all over. Crappie are showing their fins along the grass lines. Catfish can be found all over; go to deep water for your best chances.
Little Red River
(updated 9-16-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains low and clear with good water temperatures. Last week the water temperature was getting too warm due to lack of generation. The Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Power Administration and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reached an agreement to increase the flow to regulate the water quality and this averted any damage to the trout population. With the cooler temps, the trout should feed more and become more active. The lake level is 461.4 feet msl and generation should remain the afternoon variety of 2-5 hours depending on the electrical power demand.
Small flies such as mayfly nymphs, emergers and midges are still a good choice.
(updated 9-16-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) had no new reports. 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 461.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level in the lake is at 461.46 feet msl and falling. It is 1.08 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet msl. Crappie are still eating quite well on jigs, minnows and crankbaits in 12-30 feet of water. No reports on walleye. Black bass are in a funky mode, scattered from super shallow to deep. Lots of bream are still up that the bass are chasing, and fish are out deep and all in between, biting on a variety of baits. Fishing smarter, not harder, now will really pay off – just stay close to the bream or shad. Catfish are chewing all over the lake and rivers; use your favorite cut or live bait or homemade baits. Bream are eating up shallow out to 15 feet on small crankbaits, crickets, crawlers and inline spinners. Hybrid bass and white bass are feeding down for the most part but some are on top. Try 15-60 feet with spoons, inline spinners and muskie-style baits. Largo Specials are working well.
(updated 9-16-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that bass are good on the main lake points, hitting Carolina rigs, Zoom Centipedes and Texas-rigged pumpkin lizards in the buckbrush.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 9-16-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake is clearing up, while the water level is still low. Bream are good on redworms or crickets. Crappie continue to bite well on minnows and jigs. Bobby Garland Jigs in shiny shad and monkey milk colors still work best. Black bass are good. Largemouth bass are being caught around the island of the lake in the deeper areas. Topwater baits (Zara Spooks, in particular) are good along with white frog lures thrown in the early mornings. Catfish are good on trotlines baited with shad or chicken liver.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the AGFC are conducting herbicide applications to Overcup through September. 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 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 9-16-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the lake clarity is clear. The water level is high by about 6-8 inches. Bream are fair, with mainly baitfish bream being caught. The big bream have left the shoreline, he said. Fish with redworms or crickets. He says anglers are catching a lot of crappie, but they are of smaller size now; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good. Try a spinnerbait early in the morning. Crankbaits and topwater baits also are working. An excellent 30-pound blue catfish was caught earlier this week, Randy says, and overall the catfish bite is excellent. Use shad, bream or black salties and enjoy the action.
(updated 9-16-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 9-11-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland reported that water temperature is in the 90s. The largemouth bass bite is fair. Some can be found in shallow water or just outside the grass line biting a variety of lures. Try using swimbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Kentucky bass are also fair. Some of them are reported being found in 15-20 feet of water off drops and rocky banks. Try using jigs. In last Saturday's 3 p.m.-to-midnight bass tournament, Cody Bryant and Brad Lequieu caught a stringer totaling 16 pounds, including the 4.12-pound Big Bass. Also, Cameron Nesterenko and Andrew Wooley were the Tuesday night black bass tournament Anglers of the Year with 185.45 points.
White bass are biting slow. Some are reported being found in 20-22 feet in or around the channel. Try using minnows, Rooster Trails, jerkbaits and rattle-style baits. Crappie are fair. There are reports of them moving out of deeper water and being found in 12-18 feet in shallow brush. Some can still be found scattered mixed in with the white bass. Use jigs or minnows. Bream are great. They can be found on windy points by drop-offs in 12-16 feet of water. Try using crickets, worms or beetle spins. Catfishing is good on chicken liver, nightcrawlers and baitfish. Call the marina for information on fall bass tournaments.
(updated 9-16-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that even though half of Sunset Lake is restricted for fishing due to renovations currently underway, people are still catching some fish on it. Cut baits and black salties, as well as chicken livers, have been doing well for the catfish. Bream have done well on crickets and small jigs. Bass have been good on brooder minnows, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 9-16-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie are being caught off of crappie minnows. Bass and catfish are being caught off of brooders, and the catfish also have been caught in good numbers on chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Bream have been fair on crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 9-16-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says catfish, especially the flatheads, have been doing well on trotlines using black salties and live bream. Bass have been good on brooder minnows and 4-inch Zoom Lizards. Crappie are fair on crappie minnows. Bream are doing well on crickets and redworms. Next month, watch out for the walleye!
(updated 9-16-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she has still been hearing some reports of the nice-size redear sunfish being caught on crickets. Catfish have been slow but are biting nightcrawlers, chicken livers and cut bait. Bass have done well on small artificial crawdads, spinnerbaits and plastics. Crappie are still good for a few hitting the coves and fishing with crappie minnows.
(updated 9-16-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says a few good crappie have been hitting the bass minnows. Bream are being caught on crickets. Bass have been good on crappie minnows. Catfish are doing well on black salties and chicken livers.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 9-16-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 9-2-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says river conditions are not good. The clarity is muddy and the water level as of early Tuesday afternoon was high, with more rain coming. Fishing is poor and will remain so until the rain clears up, Ray said.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 8,346 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 17.108 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 21,956 cfs.
(updated 9-16-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said black bass are good, as they’re being caught closer to the jetties on black/chartreuse square-billed crankbaits, Bandit 200 Crankbaits, finesse jigs (like River Crawls) in the grass of the backwaters. Crappie are good around the rock piles on the river. Use black/chartreuse and black/blue crappie tubes. The river clarity remains muddy this week, and the water level and current are a little high.
(updated 9-16-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) received reports of catfish biting well in the river on skipjack.
(updated 9-9-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that catfishing is excellent below the hydroelectric plant at Murray Lock and Dam. Use skipjack (especially cut skipjack). Bream are fair in 4-5 feet of water on crickets fishing below the dam and around the rip-rap. Crappie reports are good from around the Burns Park area. Anglers are targeting 6-8 feet depth around the pylons and using regular minnows.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 9-16-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says bream are good on crickets and redworms.
(update 9-16-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the lake clarity is now dingy and the water level is low, but no stumps are showing. Bream are still biting well redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs; trolling might be your best bet. Black bass are good and reportedly biting chicken liver. Catfish will bite well on hot dogs, minnows and other live bait.
(updated 9-16-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The Arkansas Ozarks will be inundated with fall colors before long. Here in the Trout Capitol U.S.A., Cotter, Arkansas, our daily temperatures are moving towards the lower 80s, nighttime lows are in the high 50s, with sunny days. Just add a great catch of trout to that and you have perfection.”
They report that the best baits to catch those trout are large, peach-colored fluffy eggs and rainbow-tinted spoons. This past week the rainbow trout Thomas Buoyant Spoon proved successful. Yellow Berkley Eggs are always a good bet for a lot of action; they’re also seeing a nice catch with the XFactor Bubblegum Pink Eggs. Sculpins continue to be the best lure for a brown. “Don't let the ideal autumn weather pass without a fishing excursion.”
(updated 9-16-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says rainbow trout have been biting well the past several days, but brown trout have not been as good. Power Worms and shrimp are the best bait. River clarity is “really good,” they say, and the river level has improved to normal depth with four to eight generators running this week. Overall, they term the fishing as excellent now.
(updated 9-16-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Tuesday that during the past week they have had several no rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.3 feet to rest at 14.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 19.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 8.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate, and wadable water could be weeks away.
John says the grasshopper bite is still around. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. John’s favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.
He says the White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm with a peach suspended below it).
John said he got a pleasant surprise recently at Rim Shoals: “We have been blessed with fantastic fishing conditions for the past few days. The weather has been good. There has been little rain, sunny skies and cool mornings. The afternoons have been pretty warm, but I am accustomed to that. The big factor has been the water levels on our two tailwaters, the White and the North Fork rivers. Due to flooding downstream, the Army Corps of Engineers has been limiting generation to minimum flow on both streams for long periods every day. Though that pattern is coming to an end, it produced some incredible fishing while it was happening.
“Early in the process my wife, Lori, and I had a great morning fishing at Rim Shoals in my White River Jon Boat. The river was on the bottom and there was a heavy fog. It was so cool we wore light jackets when we started. The big plus was that we were able to fish with smaller flies and lighter weight. This made the casting easy. The fish were cooperating and we caught a lot of fish, including several in the 18-inch range. After a long period of high water, the trout were well fed and were fighting more actively than usual.
“Toward the end of the morning, I hooked a small trout, about 11 inches. It fought well but I was not overly impressed until I got it in the net. It did not look like the other rainbows that I had caught that morning. It was well-colored with full fins. Upon closer inspection I noted blood-red slash marks on its throat. I then noted large spots particularly on the rear of the trout. I quickly realized that I had caught a Bonneville cutthroat trout.
“Our local chapter of Trout Unlimited began a multiyear egg planting program on the White and North Fork rivers. The idea was to introduce another sustainable species of trout on our rivers that would reproduce naturally. It would hopefully be like our successful introduction of brown trout several years ago that has such a powerful impact on our fisheries. They started on the North Fork tailwater several years ago and added the White a couple of years later. It is a great project.
“The number one most desirable fish to catch on our rivers is now the Bonny or Bonneville cutthroat. I have caught several on the North Fork tailwater, including one that was 23 inches long. I was there when they planted the eggs, and catching one always brings a smile to my face. I had not caught one on the White, so this was a special occasion for me. Lori and I stopped fishing and took a minute to take a photo before carefully releasing it. I must say it felt a little strange to me to make this much fuss over an 11-inch trout but I considered this to be very special. I hope this is just the first of many beautiful wild Bonnies to come.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 674.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 915.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says it’s basically “September junk fishing right now.” The Army Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out of Bull Shoals Lake this past week, which has some of the fish moving out on the points, and there is baitfish suspended deep off the points. The target range is 10-15 feet early in the morning, then going deeper to 22-28 feet with a drop-shot later in the day. “Find the bait, find the fish,” he said. “If it’s hot, go deep. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow.”
He says fish are getting up early for topwater baits, with poppers and Berkley Wake Baits also being good choices. He suggests trying Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits or chatterbaits for powerfishing shallow water if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. Work major creeks about halfway back and out to the main lake. As the sun comes up, he says, change tactics. Smallies and Kentucky bass are stacked out along main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends but are closer to main lake points in 26-32 feet depth. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, and so forth. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue. Smallmouth bass are on gravel banks. Del says that at least the big crowds are thinning out now on the lake. There is still limited access to the ramps.
He says the lake clarity is dingy to clear. Surface temperature is 81 degrees. At his last check, the water level was 16.5 feet high and falling.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 562.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the summertime heat had been forecast to cool down, “then we get a beautiful summer-type day in the upper 80s. Fishing has been going on steadily during the summer, but I haven’t had much time allotted to fishing. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been able to get back to somewhat of my normal routine, but I’m still not totally there yet. At least I have been out on the lake four or five times a week and actually have even been out in the afternoons, which is rare for me. I am mostly an early-morning fisherman.
“At this time, it appears that bass fishing is the best bite, with walleye running a close second. Crappie fishing is improving and I think it will take off shortly. If you are a bluegill fisherman, the bite is very good.
“I have been mainly trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows, size 7, in 25-32 feet of water. I am trolling at 1.4 mph with my trolling motor. I am still using 8-pound test monofilament line. I let out about 50 feet of line, then add on a snap weight with a 1-ounce sinker. I then let out another 50 feet of line. My bait is getting down to around 25 feet of water. With this method of fishing, I have caught almost all species in the lake except for striped and hybrid bass.
“The type of area that has been best for me is the long shallow main lake points that jet way out into the lake. I try to follow the ridge of the point or stay slightly off to one side or the other keeping in the strike zone depth. My main goal lately has been looking for walleye. The best part of fishing this method is that if the walleye are not biting at the time, there will be largemouth bass and spotted bass to take up the slack. On two different occasions over the last week the channel catfish were hammering the baits. I bounce around different areas of the lake, from the mid-lake area, then up northeast to the Cranfield area, and then farther upriver. I have been able to catch a lot of walleye, but a lot of them have been short. I believe I have landed more keeper-size bass over the last couple of weeks than I have in a long time. If you are not into trolling, you can cast out a jig or worm and work it back to the boat along the bottom. Vertical-jigging a spoon will also work for all these species. I would use a half-ounce to three-quarter-ounce spoon and move around slowly jigging along the bottom.
“Crappie fishing is also getting good. (Tuesday) one of my guests was checking out a couple of his go-to brushpiles and landed six nice keepers in the 12-to-13-inch size range. He missed many others. The bottom of the brush needs to be in 25-30 feet of water and the best brushpiles come up to about 15-20 feet of water. The crappie were on the tops as well as buried inside of the brush. Small quarter-ounce spoons were working for him, but small grubs or just crappie minnows should work as well.
“I have not been striper fishing since the beginning of August, but will get back to it shortly. There are several areas in the mid-lake area where this species will show up shortly. There are currently scattered stripers roaming the deep waters in the mid-lake area, as I have marked them and one of my guests got to land one trolling a deep-diving crankbait.”
Norfork Lake level is falling about 2-3 inches per day and sits at 562.73 feet msl as of Tuesday. The surface water temperature is starting to drop slightly and currently is in the very low 80s. The water is stained throughout the lake, but this will clear up as the water cools. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 9-16-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 9-16-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate, and wadable water could be weeks away.
John says the grasshopper bite is still around. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. John’s favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during from flooding over the last two years. 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 school starting expect less pressure during the week, but there is pressure on weekends. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-16-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,121.04 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said, “Beaver Lake is at or near normal pool! Water temperature is around 79 degrees and dropping a bit each day. Lake turnover is in early phase and fishing reflects that. All species are scattered and moving daily. My advice is to move also during the day to find and stay on fish.
“Stripers have become very elusive and move major amounts from day to day. A bright spot is some very good topwater beginning to happen around the lake. Look on windblown main lake points. White bass and black bass are mixed in together. I have seen some massive boils from sunup and sundown on Point 12. We were throwing Spooks and others nearby Whopper Ploppers and had some excellent results. Crappie are starting to relate to brushpiles. Fish jigs and minnows and look for brush in 15-20 feet of water. This bite will get better every day as the lake completes its turnover. Fall fishing can be on fire!”
(updated 9-16-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is clear and is still a little high but is falling. Bream reports were fair; use redworms or crickets. Crappie are fair but you have to fish deeper areas with brushpiles. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair. Topwater baits are working early in the day and late in the evening. Jigs and plastic worms are working the rest of the day. Target the brush. Anglers report catching some really good-size catfish, and the overall bite is good. Use live bait.
(updated 9-16-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “This past week has been great for trout fishing. The water temps in the tailwater have gone up, due to the Corps of Engineers only generating for one hour. Most of the tailwater is in the 70-degree range. This will bring up the white bass and maybe even a few fall walleyes.
“Trout have been biting on spoons, micro jigs and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. You can look for the whites around Houseman Access and downstream from Houseman. Try trolling crankbaits, suspended in about 10 feet of water.
“I really have not narrowed down a hot spot for this week, as much of the fish are spread out. A few walleye were caught this past week, all of which were juvenile. With the cooler weather on the horizon, fishing should be great this coming up week. Hope you’re able to get out and have some fun.”
(updated 9-16-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake is back to murky. The water level is just “a little low,” they say, while surface water temperature is in the low 70s. Bream catches have been poor the past week. Crappie fishing is fair for anglers trolling minnows and jigs. Black bass reports have continued to be good, though there were no topwater reports this week. Use spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfish are biting nightcrawlers, glow worms and basic catfish bait in fair numbers.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 9-16-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the water is clear and at a normal level. Bream are good just off the shoreline. Use redworms and crickets. Crappie reports have ranged poor to fair. Some are being caught in 10 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Black bass improved with good results this week. They appear to be moving closer to the shore. Artificial baits have been working best. Catfishing remains good on cut bait and nightcrawlers.
(updated 9-16-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports the lake clarity as “pretty clear” while the level is normal. Bream continue to bite well on redworms, crickets, nightcrawlers and wigglers. Crappie continue to not bite. Black bass are good on crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfish are being caught in good numbers with chicken liver.
(updated 9-16-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said she received no reports on fishing this past weekend, though they had a lot of people on the water at Lake Charles. The weather looks great for fishing, and the next seven days are the best days to fish, according to moon times. “Come see us and tell us your fishing stories.” The lake clarity is murky and the level is high. The previous week, she reported that bass, catfish and bream were all being caught from the shoreline, and crappie were biting Firetiger-color jigs. For catfish, worms, cut bait, blood bait and chicken liver typically seem to work well here. Black bass will usually go after the regular assortment of bass lures, like topwaters, spinnerbaits and plastic worms.
(updated 9-16-2020) The lake at Lake Poinsett State Park has been undergoing a two-year 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 9-16-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are down to 360 cfs at the spring. Water clarity has been clear. “Yep, low and clear makes for tough days sometimes on those sunny days,” he says, “and those days when its overcast and you get to see the fish chasing your fly down, it is fantastic. If the fish are skittish, a Y2K with big midge/nymph dropper has been the ticket. On the good days, stripping an olive Woolly upstream has been the hottest action.
“Jim Hinkle has been stocking really nice-sized trout. A big thank you to all of the hard work they do to make the Spring River the great fishery it is.”
Mark says for spin fishing it will be hard to beat a hot pink Trout Magnet. “The trout eat them up. Use a Trout Magnet float, cast upstream with a drag-free drift and get that Trout Magnet just off the bottom. Reel it back slowly at the end of the drift. Had several chases (Tuesday).”
The smallmouth bass are hitting hard with the water clear. The Spring River is full of huge rocks and most of them have smallies hiding under them, he says. Trout cranks and Flicker Shad are hot on spinning tackle. On the fly it is hard to beat an olive lead eye Woolly Bugger. “Got to be a heavy fly. Lately the smallies have been striking on the drop. Not much of a strike, just dead weight, then the fight is on!”
The canoe season has ended with school starting up, he notes. Now during the week the Spring River is a quiet beautiful place to leave your worries behind and catch a few fish, Mark adds. For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 9-16-2020) 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. Canoe season is here and it can get very crowded, especially on the weekends. 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 9.68 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 12.17, slightly less than 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 24.05 feet, almost 2 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 9-2-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reported that water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s. Visibility 1 to 1.5 feet in backwaters and Lake Langhofer, 0.5 to 1 feet on the main river. Water levels were up a few inches and the river was flowing strong Wednesday. Black bass were biting a bit slow but they were eating buzzbaits worked over woody cover, and dark-colored craws/jigs within woody cover. Keep an eye out for schooling activity and be ready with shad-colored lipless crankbaits or small topwater plugs, as black bass are schooling with white bass in Lake Langhofer. You can continue to catch black bass after the surface schooling has stopped by working the lipless crankbait slower along the bottom in the same area.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 9-16-2020) 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 259.38 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said there have been many juvenile surface-breaking bass chasing threadfin shad and schooling on recent early mornings. He notes multiple double-ups simultaneously, and this type of action is great for bringing the children out to the lake.
He notes that as of Tuesday, the lake is undergoing a 2-foot drawdown by the Army Corps of Engineers for boat ramp repair, shoreline work, erosion abatement, dam inspection and repair as needed. However, due to recent thunderstorms in the region, the lake level jumped up dramatically, but now it is being discharged on the way back to the 2-foot drawdown level. Still, on Tuesday the elevation was above normal at 259.8 feet msl with a discharge of around 14,400 cfs into Little River, according to the Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Tuesday was around 240 feet msl and rising. 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, especially during 2-foot drawdown conditions that will last into October.
Surface temps have been stable over the past couple weeks, ranging 83-88 degrees. Clarity shifted dramatically over the past week with increased rainfall, discharge of current at the dam, and muddy inflow from rivers and tributary contributions. Heavy stain is seen in the back of the oxbows, along with muddy conditions along Little River and main lake. Clarity and visibility along Little River at 2-5 inches. Further up Little River has more incoming muddy and stain conditions. The oxbow's clarity moderate stain, ranging 5-10 inches depth of visibility depending on location, and several oxbow lakes continue seeing mudlines pushed in from current along Little River. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms.
As for the fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Along with the blowups if juveniles seen lately, largemouth bass along Little River's tributaries and creek dumps have pulled back out to drops and points extending into the river. Early morning continues to be key for the best bite of the day. McGuire, Horseshoe Oxbow lakes have the best water clarity. Buzzbaits, Bass Assassin Shad jerkbaits, crankbaits and Stuttersteps are still working early in the oxbows. Best activity period remains from dawn to around 10 a.m.
Juvenile largemouth continue to be seen randomly surface-breaking on schools of threadfin shad early mornings in multiple locations, near and in Lily pads for short durations. Bass Assassin Shads, Johnson Chrome Spoons with a short grub trailer, or H&H Short-arm Spinnerbaits will work through the pads when bass move in to feed quickly on shad. When the shad schools move to vertical structure and bass follow, three-quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Cordell 3/4-to-1-ounce Hammered Spoons, MR-6 Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Louisiana Shad and Tennessee Shad, and Little John Custom Painted Crankbaits have been connecting with suspended bass over 14-18 foot depths in the oxbows.
* White bass: They continue roaming the oxbow lakes up Little River, and some days are surface-breaking on shad and willing to bite crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps over the mid-channels, as well as near tributary points with stumps and grass.
* Crappie: Minnows have had the most consistent response over the past several days; however, with the incoming fresh rainfall and clarity diminished, the bite substantially slowed. Best responses over the past week have been in the clearest water of the oxbows in planted brushpiles from 8-15 feet of depth.
* Catfish: Consistent and improved on trotlines along Little River this week with the increase of river current. Cut Buffalo, King's Punch Baits, and sour cheese dough have been working.
* Bream: No report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 544.47 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 403.45 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) says he’s back on the water after having his first grandchild. “A boy, 7.1 pounds, 21.25 inches … better than any crappie I’ve ever caught,” he says.
As far as the fishing now, he says, “We’re getting on the crappie early this year. You can catch a fair mess fishing minnows under corks or tight-lining jigs on deep brush near deeper water channels. Focus on 16-20 feet deep. Fish on! See you on the water.”
(updated 9-2-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “It’s been raining. Water on the rise. Water level is at 404.46 feet and rising with more rain to come. Wish I had some better news but between the hot water and now the rain, it’s been tough.
“Catfishing should be on the upswing with the rising water. They will be foraging in the shallows at night, and so will the bream and baitfish. I prefer to fish inside the cover on the rise and on the outside edge on the fall. Live bait is a must. The moon is full, which normally is the bedding trigger for bream, but it is September and lots of rain water, but may be worth a try. Use your side imaging to locate the beds. Crickets and drop-shot for bream beds.
“Crappie are about as finicky as they can get. Vertical timber holds some suspended fish and deep brushpiles and laydowns right on the thermocline are the best bet. Fish slow. The bite is so light.
“Schooling fish, that is a spin of the wheel. They are reported from Point Cedar to Iron Mountain. Topwater on the surfacing fish, crankbaits and spoons after they submerge. Trolling is getting mixed bags of fish but not large counts.”
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.45 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 549.42 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 9-16-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) says he had no recent fishing report with the water being high and muddy. A couple of weeks back, he said, catfish were being caught in good numbers on stink bait and nightcrawlers. At that point, water was low.
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 9-16-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that fast flows and open floodgates remain the norm on Lake Catherine. With Lake Ouachita still over a foot into flood pool, Entergy continues to run very large amounts of water below Carpenter Dam in an effort to bring Ouachita down under flood levels. The Carpenter Dam tailrace has cleared considerably in the last week, making the area less dangerous and fishable in some areas out of the main flow. Another week of the current flow pattern should draw the big lake down to safer levels and allow Entergy to reduce flow at all area dams. As mentioned in earlier reports, the rainbow trout season was greatly impacted by flooding and ended much sooner than in a normal year. Few trout are present in the tailrace and trout fishing won't resume again in mid-November when the AGFC’s trout stocking program begins again. Anglers are still catching white bass from the bank in areas protected from the fast current. Jerkbaits in a black/silver pattern have worked fairly well in the early morning and again in the late evening before dark. Live minnows will work in slower waters tight-lined or presented under a bobber. The fall weather brings white and hybrid bass into the tailrace to feed on shad and crayfish. Reports of walleye being taken on crankbaits casted from the bank have been made this week in the clearing waters. Area game fish have moved close to the banks to avoid the hard current and are reachable by most anglers.
Boating and wade fishing are dangerous close to the dam and anyone attempting to do either are advised to use extreme caution. Individuals using the park area are urged to follow all regulations and practice social distancing and mask wearing.
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 9,063 cfs.
(updated 9-16-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said the past week saw warm sunshine and humidity with days of overcast skies. There was a little rain last Thursday. The National Weather Service forecast says Tropical Storm Sally may have at least some effect on our area regarding the timing of an approaching cold front. Current forecast models expect Sally to aid the flow of cooler and drier air into our area. Scattered rain and thunderstorms will be possible on Wednesday evening and through the overnight as the front arrives. Fall conditions are expected to arrive for the weekend, lowering dew points into the 50s and 60s with highs in the 70s and 80s. The water clarity remains somewhat turbid and less clear due to recent rain and increased river flows. Surface temperature is 79 degrees.
As of Monday the Corps of Engineers said river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam fell below 10,000 cfs after rising to 65,000 cfs last Thursday. The Ozark tailwater had risen about 5 feet but has fallen back to 339 feet msl since last report. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam has also fallen to 18,000 cfs Tuesday afternoon after reaching 40,000 cfs last Thursday. Dardanelle tailwater level has fallen back down to about 5 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park has remained just below 338 feet msl. Most, if not all, of the flow at both dams has been through the powerhouses, which have been generating most days.
(updated 9-16-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water temps hovering at 80 degrees throughout except in the river channel. Water clarity is upward of 8 feet. “What a difference a week makes! Bass are on fire!,” they say. The low light conditions of fall have brought on the annual shad binge to our lakes, and Hamilton is no exception. Shad patterns are obviously the go-to with all bass species right now. A white double or triple willow spinnerbait is the real heavy hitter right now, along with swimbaits and chatterbaits in white or silver. The drop-shot and Ned rig are also very effective by replacing the worms with small fluke plastics. Don’t forget about flutter spoons either, folks! Concentrate on 10-18 feet of water. “This should last a few weeks, so get out there and make your shoulder sore like us!”
Crappie are also enjoying this time of the year and it really kicks off their eating season, which typically last from now until early spring. Deeper docks are good locations near current with shade. Also assume that crappie will be suspended and shad bait balls waiting for small and wounded shad to come down after bass attacks.
Current is key on all game fish right now. The current brings the food right to them, so think like an hunter! Catfish are good everywhere on cheese chunks or cut bait. Bluegill are really good in 10-15 feet with crickets or worms. “Good Luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 360.25 feet msl (normal pool: 344.31 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says water clarity is dingy, and it is muddy around the dam. The water level is high but falling. Bream reports have been fair; use redworms or crickets. Crappie are fair. The bite can be found at 10-12 feet depth, right off the bottom. Minnows and jigs are being used; the purple/chartreuse and black/chartreuse jigs are working best). Black bass are good. Use spinnerbaits (best bet is the War Eagle white spinnerbait with gold willow leaf skirt) and Chug Bugs. Catfishing is good on limblines around Sunlight Bay.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.82 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are good. Topwater bite is picking up and spotted bass are schooled up chasing baitfish. Try a small 3/8-ounce spoon in submerged schools and your favorite topwater in those same areas. Major creek mouths and up the rivers have had the best reports. Walleye are good. Spoons and bottom bouncers with small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best right now. Stripers are still fair to 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 15-25 feet of water. Crappie are slow. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are good and being caught with trotlines and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature is ranging 76-80 degrees and the water clarity is clearing. Lake level is back down closer to normal conservation pool at 578.87 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 407.99 feet msl (normal pool: 386.36 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon gauge at 23.32 feet, down almost 2 feet from last week and below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 9-16-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said no one has fished Cooks Lake in the last two weeks due to high-water conditions. The lake is high but the White River is on the fall, which should create great fishing conditions for the last several weeks that the lake will be open. Black bass should be entering their fall pattern soon and can be caught on square-bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits around the cypress trees. Flipping tubes or jigs could also produce a good stringer. Bluegill have spread out but are still in the lake; worms and crickets are usually the ticket. Crappie should be moving toward the shallow brushtops soon.
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 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, please 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, call the center at 870-241-3373.
(updated 9-16-2020) Fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) had no report.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 9-16-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said had no reports.