Sept. 30, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Sept. 30, 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 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 9 a.m. the day of publication.
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Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://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: http://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 have conducted herbicide applications to Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir through September. The herbicides will 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 9-30-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake has its normal Conway stain and is at a normal level. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are also good. Try crappie minnows or go with a jig in white/chartreuse or black chartreuse. Baby shad is another good bait. Black bass are good. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms, Gitzits, frogs, buzzbaits and tube jigs are all working. Catfishing is good. Stink bait continues to be the go-to, along with nightcrawlers, goldfish, dough bait and trotlines baited with bass minnows and those other mentioned offerings.
(updated 9-16-2020) Angler Dennis Charles reports that 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 9-30-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear and low with minimum generation in the afternoons. The last two days the schedule has been one unit for 2 hours beginning at 4 p.m. Rainbows are taking small flies in the 18-to-20-inch range with mayfly nymphs, emergers and midge pupa being good choices. Small tippet and good presentations are required in the low-water conditions. The river is the lowest it has been in some time, so use care when motoring. The rocks always win!
(updated 9-30-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that trout are good on Rooster Tails, Buoyant Spoons, small maribou jigs and No. 5 countdowns.
(updated 9-30-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red River is receiving a couple hours of afternoon generation each day. This pattern provides wading opportunities on the upper river in the mornings and lower river in the afternoons. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends midges, pheasant tails, hare’s ears, sowbugs and streamers. Cotton candy colored bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin-fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501.362.5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the 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 459.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 9-30-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry lake is at 459.87 feet msl, down from normal level of 462.54 feet msl by 2.67 feet. “I hope everyone learned something from the electronics tip and have used it this past week. Just keep using those. Practice makes perfect.” Tommy says black bass are schooling at every chance they can on top and down as well. Big groups from large to small chasing bait all over the lake. Loner fish and structure fish can be caught dragging something or moving baits, and lots of fish are shallow. Crappie are eating well day in, day out even with cold fronts. Troll crankbaits, jigs and/or use live bait. Walleye have not got in our boat, but some are being caught dragging something or on crankbaits or caught under schooling fish. Catfish are being caught but are a little slow some days, as they are in transition as well. Some are being caught under schooling fish. Bream and black salties are working well. Bream are doing their thing as the moon starts down; lots to be caught on a lot of different baits. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating on and off all day and night; use spoons, inline spinners, Largo Muskie baits, swimbaits and topwater plugs all over the lake. Just stay with shad; fish are close from 35-60 feet.
(updated 9-30-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the water is clear and a little low. Bass are fair on drop-shot in 15 feet of water. Also use Carolina rigs, and try a topwater bait early in the morning or late in the evening. Walleye are good. Drop-shotting and nightcrawlers is working on the main and secondary points in 15 feet of water
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 9-30-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water is clearing up. It’s at a normal level this week. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie have fallen off; this week had poor reports. Black bass are good around the shoreline. Use a plastic worm. Catfishing is good. Chicken liver is working nicely, and trotlines baited with shad, goldfish or worms are taking their share.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the AGFC have conducted 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 9-30-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the lake is fairly clear and has taken a jump upward with the level 6-8 feet high. Crappie are fair and appear to be moving up. Fish with minnows or with black/chartreuse jigs. Black bass are fair on crankbaits. Catfishing is good; Randy reports that the AGFC recently stocked 1,200 channel cats into Overcup. Bream are slowing down and reports are poor.
(updated 9-30-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(update 9-30-2020 ) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303) had no report.
(updated 9-30-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no new reports.
(updated 9-30-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been excellent, especially off of fresh chicken livers. The lake was stocked Sept. 21, last Monday. “One of my customers has been catching some nice crappie there, too, off of crappie minnows. Bass have been fair off of spinnerbaits and minnows. Bream are good on crickets.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 9-30-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been reported doing well off of fresh chicken livers and stink bait. A few smaller crappie are being caught off of the crappie minnows. Bass have been hitting bass minnows and brooder minnows, as well as spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. A few bream have been caught off of redworms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 9-30-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few walleye have been caught especially on brooder minnows. But she also has had a few reports of one or two being caught off of the 4-inch lizards. Catfish and bass have been both doing well off of brooder minnows as well. Bream have been doing well off of crickets as well as redworms.
(updated 9-30-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie have been good on crappie minnows and Kalin's Jigs. Bream have slowed down somewhat, but still a few are being caught off of crickets. Bass have been caught off of plastics and brooder minnows. Catfish have been fair on bait shrimp, nightcrawlers and bass minnows.
(updated 9-30-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been good off of black salties, bait shrimp and bass minnows. Crappie have been hitting blue and white crappie jigs. Bass have been good off minnows, plastics and Zing Tails. Bream are fair on crickets and redworms.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 9-23-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said catfishing is mostly what’s going on just off the river in his area. Catfish are being caught on limblines with yo-yos up the Petit Jean River and Point Remove Creek using cut bait. Also, anglers are drifting across the points, mainly the jetties, and going upstream and dropping down on the drift to catch cats, also using cut bait.
“Then, we’ve got our bass and they are weird,” Charlie said. “There is really no pattern right now.” He said anglers are catching them where you can find slackwater off the river, between 0 and 30 feet. Anglers are fishing these jetties just above his area. “What they’re doing, they’re using jigs, black and blue. And they’re using crankbaits and those will be in the shad color or pearl color still.” Up into the mouth of the Petit Jean and at Flag Lake Cutoff, anglers are getting into some white bass and fishing the mudlines with crankbaits early in the day for success. And that’s basically it, he said. No reports on crappie or bream. A little less than two weeks ago, he adds, bream were being caught on Rooster Tails and going down the grass lines.
Charlie adds that he’s not getting many anglers, but he is seeing goose hunters come in and “they’re doing real good.” Canada goose season is open, as is early teal season. “The teal are not here yet up around me. A few are getting shot but not much.”
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 9-30-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is fairly clear and at a normal level. Crappie reports are fair; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good on crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing is good using chicken liver or basic catfish bait. No reports on bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 6,532 cfs.
No fishing reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 9,119 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 7,356.
(updated 9-30-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river is at normal level with a stained clarity. Black bass are good on quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and square-bill crankbaits.
(updated 9-30-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says stripers and white bass are schooling in the Little Rock pool around the former Cajun’s Wharf area. Catch them on topwater baits and white grubs. Catfishing is good below the Murray Lock and Dam using skipjack or shad. Crappie are fair off the rocky areas in 10-12 feet of water; use minnows. Black bass are good early in the mornings throughout the pool on topwater baits.
(updated 9-16-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) received reports of catfish biting well in the river on skipjack.
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 9-23-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the lake conditions as clear clarity and a low level with no stumps showing. Bream continue to be good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs; trolling still will provide your best response. Black bass are good and have taken to the chicken liver, Donna says. Anglers have a tendency to keep their baits secret here, but something tells us a topwater might work well now, as well as plastic worms. Try an assortment of things and see what works. Catfish are good on hot dogs, minnows and other live bait.
(updated 9-30-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said they’re starting to see some nip in the air – autumn's finally popping out. Cool mornings, warm days, perfect weather for float fishing on the White for trout. The rainbow catch has been fabulous; they're snapping up the shrimp and worm combo. Good sizes among the catch, too; there were several rainbows measured at 16 inches or above. “We are seeing a few grasshoppers out there now, so the hopper patterns and baits should lure some trout to the anglers. Come out and spend some time with us on the river – you won't regret it.”
(updated 9-30-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says fishing is great this week for rainbows, while browns are slowing down a little. River clarity is “really good,” they report. River level is normal, as the Army Corps of Engineers has been running eight generators round-the-clock. Overall trout bite is excellent.
(updated 9-30-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Monday that over the past week they had one rain event dropping about a half-inch in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.3 feet to rest at 8 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 26 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.9 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.5 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White River below Bull Shoals Dam had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 3.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 20.3 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are dropping at an increased rate and consistent wadable water could be three weeks away.
The grasshopper bite is upon us, John says. 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 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 (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 girdle bug suspended below it).
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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.
John also mentioned dealing with high levels of water we’ve had recently and fishing in them: “It seems like we have had high water forever. For the last couple of years we have relentlessly had high water with the exception of a few brief periods of limited water releases to provide relief from severe flooding downstream. Throughout this period my fellow guides and I have guided clients and caught fish.
“It has not been an easy process. To get to the trout on the bottom of deep water requires the use of heavily weighted flies and large amounts of additional weight. In addition you are required to use long leaders to allow the flies to sink to the bottom. This combination of large heavy flies, additional weight and long leaders is difficult to cast. The heavy flies and weight require a more vigorous line pick up.
“The combination of long leader and heavy flies requires casting a big loop to keep the loop from casting. Timing of the cast is critical. If you rush the back cast, you can produce a tailing loop. This rig can easily tangle. If your line is tangled, you can’t catch fish.
“While an experienced fly-fisher can competently handle this rig, first-timers can struggle. When I have a first-timer I begin the day with a casting lesson. To make the casting lesson more realistic, I add a couple of heavy split shots to the leader on the student’s rod.
“Last week I had a client that had never cast a fly rod. She was accompanied by her boyfriend, a previous client. I gave her a casting lesson and all went well. I thought she was a natural.
“We began fishing. There was a heavy fog and it was a cool start. The river was high, about 12,000 cfs, or the equivalent of about four full generators. The fishing was slow but the casting went well. There were no tangles. The wind picked up a bit.
“About this time, she made an errant cast that caught me in the nose. I always take pains to protect myself from this situation. I dress carefully. I have on deck shoes and socks, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. I also wear sun gloves and a broad brimmed hat. The only vulnerable spot is my face below my polarized sunglasses, and this is where I was hooked. I always bend down the barbs of all hooks used to limit the damage to a simple puncture wound.
“My client was very concerned that she had severely wounded me. I reassured her and pulled the barbless hook from my nose. The problem was that, though I had experienced no pain, I was bleeding like a stuck hog. It looked way worse than it was. It took several minutes to quit bleeding.
“She was so upset that she quit fishing because she feared that she would hook me again. I tried to explain that I was not hurt and this was a normal part of my day as a fly-fishing guide. I wanted her to continue fishing, but she would have none of it. I was disappointed and felt responsible.
“Sometimes things happen out there that we cannot control. Luckily I had pinched down the barb.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 668.13 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-30-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that even though Bull Shoals Lake has dropped considerably since the summer, there is still limited access to the ramps. He says the pattern is “September junk fishing right now.” The Army Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out, which has some of the fish moving out on the points, and there’s baitfish suspended deep off the points. Target 10-15 feet depth in the early morning, then 22-28 feet with a drop-shot later in the day. “Find the bait, find the fish,” Del says. If it’s hot, go deep. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow. He’s been getting up early for the topwater bite with poppers, and Berkley Wake Bait has been good. Try Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait or chatterbait for power fishing “shallow” if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. Work major creeks halfway back and out to the main channel. As the sun comes up, change tactics. Smallies and Kentucky bass (spots) are stacked out oblong main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends, but are closer to main lake points in 26-32 feet. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue. Smallmouth are on gravel banks. Del notes that at least the big crowds are thinning on the lake, making angling better.
He says the clarity there is dingy to clear and the surface temperature is 75 degrees. At his last check, the lake was 9 feet high and falling.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 559.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for all species on Norfork Lake is getting better and better. September fishing can have its challenges due to the changing water temperatures, changing lake levels, and frontal systems, but all species are biting. “Not necessarily every day,” he says, “but I believe they call that fishing. The striped bass bite is getting pretty good. Crappie are moving back to the brush, so at least you know where to find them. The walleye bite has been good, but it does take some work to locate them. The bass bite is almost always good whether you like to catch them in shallow or in deep water.”
He says striped Bass fishing has really improved over the last week in various parts of the lake. “I have found two different patterns for this species, but time of the day may have something to do with it. Early in the morning, occasionally starting before sunrise, I have found stripers on large flats feeding heavily on shad. They can be anywhere from 20 feet of water out to 40 feet towards the bottom. They are starting to school and when you find that large school of fish it is a fantastic bite. Other times the fish are scattered out and it takes a little bit more effort to catch them. The early morning bite seems to last no later than 8 a.m. or so. This morning after the bite slowed on the flat where I was fishing, I decided to check out a different type of area for the striped bass. I have caught fish out in deep water along a bluff wall in past years, and this year appears to be the same. I was in 120-150 feet of water and the fish were suspended down 35-40 feet deep. I found a large school of feeding fish once in this area, but most of the time I was marking one to three fish at a time.
“I have been using several different methods to catch striped bass. I have been slow trolling a Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9, with a 1-ounce snap on weight about 50 feet behind the bait with another 50 feet of line out. (This method is mainly for the flats.) I am also starting to vertical jig with a ¾-ounce spoon more often than I troll. I have jigged up stripers in both of these areas. The hardest part about fishing for suspended fish with a spoon is getting it down to the right depth. If you have a fish finder that picks your spoon up, this makes it simple, but if it does not, you need to either count down your bait, my rod and bait takes 8 seconds to get down to 40 feet, or drop it to the bottom and count the cranks up until you get to the desired depth. The stripers will continue to move around and as the water cools and the lake turns over the fish will be in many different types of area.
“Crappie fishing has been good, but has had its ups and downs, I believe due to the various frontal systems that have gone through our area. The best areas have been brush piles that are in 20-30 feet of water. The fish will either be suspended on the top of the brush or buried inside of it. Small jigging spoons or small plastics with a twister tail or a paddle tail are working great. Live minnows either on their own or tipped on a plastic jig will also work well. I have found crappie on both main lake brush, as well as, brush back in a creek.
“Walleye fishing has slowed a little, but we are still picking up some nice ones, along with a lot of shorts. Early in the morning and prior to sunrise they are being caught on long rocky points that jet out into the lake. They have typically been on the sides anywhere from 16 feet deep, down to 32 feet deep. During the day and late afternoon, they seem to be in 25-34 feet of water. Crawler harnesses with a bottom bouncer or trolling with a minnow style crankbaits are both working. Drop-shot rigs should also work with either a nightcrawler or large minnow. As the water cools, they will move up tight onto the shoreline and casting for them will start to work better, especially early and late in the day.
“Bass fishing has been good and they are being found in many different areas. Casting topwater baits, spinners and buzzbaits are working for the very shallow fish, especially where there is lots of brush still under water. There will be many shorts in shallow water, but there will also be a few lunkers. Jigs and worms are also working along the bluffs and out in 15-30 feet of water. Vertical-jigging spoons will pick up some nice fish. Work the deeper water, as well as, jigging near or on brush. Several days ago, I was trolling my Flicker Minnow out in 80 feet of water and picked up some really nice largemouth that were suspended down 25 feet. Bass are on main lake points, as well as, back in the creeks.”
Norfork Lake level is falling and currently sits at 561.18 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Tuesday morning was in the high 70s, Lou said. The main lake and creeks are stained but should start to clear as the lake continues to cool. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 9-30-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no new report.
(updated 9-30-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Monday that Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 3.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 20.3 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 consistent wadable water could be three weeks away.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit from flooding over the past couple of 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. Expect less pressure during the week with school back in session. 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 9-30-2020) 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 here 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 1,120.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-30-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is at normal levels and water temperature continues to drop with the cold nights. “Lake has almost turned over and I would say that within a week or two it will be done and fishing will uptick.
“Stripers have been hit and miss, with major movements happening daily. Many guides are struggling to put fish in the boat. I believe stripers are moving towards the Prairie Creek area at this time. Bass are schooling early and late; topwater will pick them off. Drop-shot is working main lake points. Crappie are fair, look for brush in 12-25 feet of water. Jigs and minnows are working and the bite is in transition from open water cranks to structure.
“The bite will continue to get better for all species in the next few weeks. So for everybody getting beat up by Beaver Lake lately, including myself, just hang on, help is on the way. The colder water and turnover will spark a fall bite.
“Bream and catfish are good. I am booking fall crappie and walleye trips. Check out my Facebook page at FishOn Guides Goshen Arkansas for updated reports as conditions change fast this time of the year.”
(updated 9-30-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said black bass are fair in the mornings on topwater baits. During the day, a shaky head worm or a jig will work best on black bass, but the bite remains fair then, too. There have been no real reports on white bass, which they say is out of the ordinary. Walleye are fair. “You can catch them if you know what you’re doing,” they say. The lake clarity is clear and the level is about normal. Bream, they report, are pretty much done for the season. Crappie are biting fair in 10-15 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Target the brushpiles. Catfish are being caught in fair numbers with live bait and jug fishing.
(updated 9-23-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing has continued to be good in the tailwater. There were a few days where the water temperature was in the 70s. On those days, some very nice fish were being caught, including a few juvenile walleye. Most trout are biting on spoons in quarter-ounce and various PowerBait, fished with light terminal tackle. Throwing some hard crankbaits have also produced some fish as well. This week’s hot spot is between Parker Bottomsand the dam. “If you want to find some nice brownies, that is where I would be.”
White bass and Kentucky bass are being caught around Holiday Island. Try finding schools with your electronics or the bait fish. Fish suspended baits in 10 feet of water, around structure and chunk rock. Look for them in the back of coves or at the mouth of them.
“The water temps have backed down in the tailwater, but that has not stopped the bite. Good luck, be safe and catch some fish. With deer season a few days away, I may be doing a report every other week, as I will not be on the water as often. Good luck!”
(updated 9-30-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake remains murky and the water level is low. Anglers are having to work for crappie, but they can be caught in fair numbers. Use minnows or jigs, and trolling seems to work best. Black bass are fair. Try a plastic worm or topwater baits. Catfish and bream were poor this week.
Lake Fort Smith
No report from the state park.
(updated 9-30-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the lake is very clear and has dropped about 1 foot below normal. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are hit and miss. It looks like fair results can be had by trolling crankbaits in the channels. Black bass are good. Use a spinnerbait in chartreuse, or try out large worms in red colors. Catfishing is really going great. Excellent catches will come your way if you use cut bait, chicken liver and other “real” baits.
(updated 9-30-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said good fishing days, based on moon times, should run through Sunday, but the best days for October should be Oct. 13-19, she says. “The weather is changing every day. The fish were biting good again this weekend with some nice bass and catfish caught.” Surface water temperature Sunday was 70 degrees and the lake clarity was murky. Lake level is high. Bream are good on worms and crickets. Fish around the brushpiles, stumps and rocky points. Crappie were good. Minnows and jigs, along with worms, worked well. Brushpiles, stumps and rocky points are busy with crappie, too. Black bass were being caught in good numbers in spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwaters, with a lot of bass found in shallow water. They are staying around brush and rock points. Catfish can be caught in good numbers on worms, blood bait, stink bait and chicken liver.
(updated 9-30-2020) 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 9-30-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the lake clarity has cleared. Surface water temperature is 72-73 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream fishing is good. Use redworms, crickets or red wigglers. Crappie are good. Minnows will work best. Bass are good; best bet is a swimbait. No reports on catfish.
(updated 9-30-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com
(870-955-8300) said water levels are at 350 cfs, average flow for the Spring, and water clarity has been clear. Low and clear water has the overcast days fishing amazingly well, and there have been some very tough sunny days. On the good days swinging a Woolly Bugger and stripping back at the end has been a ton of fun. On the slow days a Y2K with nymph dropper will produce. With spin-fishing there have been some excellent days with hot pink Trout Magnets. Other times a trout crank or Flicker Shad rules. “With the rocky bottom of the river, the crankbaits are perfect to get down, but when you’re hung up, give it some slack and the bait usually floats out,” he says. For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 9-30-2020) 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 9.55 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 12.27, almost 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 24.23 feet, almost 2 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 9-30-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 9-30-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new reports.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 9-30-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 9-30-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no report.
(updated 9-30-2020) 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 259.52 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 9-30-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake's 2-foot drawdown has ended. Millwood Lake is currently near normal conservation pool, and discharge is around 5,000 cfa in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Tuesday around 232 feet msl and falling. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Millwood State Park, the USACE Campgrounds and State Park Marina are open. See the COVID-19 related information and camping reservation requirements at www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/millwood-state-park.
Surface temps dropped over the last week to range 70-76 degrees. Clarity improved dramatically over the past week with reduction of discharge at the dam, and muddy inflow has tapered off. Clarity in back of the oxbows and main lake continues improvement. Clarity and visibility along Little River at 5-8 inches depending on location. Further up Little River has more heavier stain conditions.
As for fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: They continue randomly schooling in the oxbows, with the highest activity period shifting to mid-morning (9-11 a.m.), providing the best bite of the day. Several simultaneous schools were surface-breaking in McGuire Oxbow up Little River over the past few days with the improvement in water clarity and reduced stain. Small StutterSteps in Millwood Magic, Ken Pops in chrome/black back, Smokey Joe, Cordell Crazy Shads and Heddon Dying Flutters, along with Spitn' Images are working at the surface with lily pads and grass a short distance on flats near vertical structure. Bass Assassin Shad Jerkbaits and Johnson Chrome Spoons are working when bass break in the pads. Rat-L-Traps are still working for juvenile bass schools following shad and bait pods over 15-20 feet of depth. Adolescent largemouths continue random surface-breaking on schools of threadfin shad at multiple locations, near and in lily pads for short durations. When the shad schools move to vertical structure, the largemouths will follow the shad schools and suspend over 15-18 feet of depth. Where vertical structure drops from 5-foot flats into 18-foot drops, the ¾-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Cordell 3/4-to-1-ounce Hammered Spoons, MR-6 Crankbaits and Bomber Fat Free Shads in Millwood Magic, Louisiana Shad or Tennessee Shad have been connecting with the suspended Bass over 14-18 foot depths in the oxbows.
Target ditches with vertical drops near 12-20 feet structure. Points of creek dumps into Little River have been holding small schools of juvenile largemouths from 2-3 pounds. The points extending into Little River, with large stumps and pads nearby, have been holding good schools of bass for several weeks.
* White bass: They continue roaming the oxbow lakes up Little River, and they are beginning to follow the same large schools of threadfin shad as the largemouths, occasionally surface-breaking on shad. For the past several weeks they’ve been willing to bite crankbaits, jigging spoons and Rat-L-Traps over the mid-channel depths, and near tributary points with stumps and grass. “Trolling McGuire Oxbow upriver with mid-depth Bomber Crankbaits in Tennessee Shad over the past week, we connected with a few schools of 1-to-3-pound white bass. Vertical-jigging War Eagle Underspins with a short 2-to-3-inch white, curly grub trailer connected with the whites once the schools were located by trolling, and watching the schools follow the shad on electronics,” Mike said.
* Crappie: No report.
* Catfish: “Several guys we spoke to this week in Mud Lake were doing well using yo-yos hung from cypress trees in Mud,” Mike said. “They told us they were having best results using cut bait like drum and buffalo, or minnows, and this worked for the last several days.”
* Bream: No report.
(updated 9-30-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 545.05 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 403.79 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) says cooler water temps are bringing the crappie into the brushpiles more and more each day, and this rain should help even more. Target brushpiles in 18-25 feet of water where you can drown a minnow, or wet a jig 14-18 feet deep. Fish ON.
(updated 9-30-2019) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said his fishing reports will return with the spring fishing season.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.47 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.74 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 9-30-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) says the lake is 26 feet high and the clarity is muddy. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs.
(updated 9-30-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado had no reports.
(updated 9-30-2020) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water on Lake Atkins was getting choppy lately with the wind. Water level is normal. Bream are good on worms and crickets. Crappie are good using minnows or jigs. Bass are being found on the banks, and anglers are bringing in good catches. Try a 10-inch or a 7-inch worm. No reports on catfish.
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 9-30-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 64 degrees with clearing conditions in the tailrace. Lake Ouachita is just under flood pool, which has enabled Entergy to greatly reduce flow from all area dams. Extremely fast flows and muddy conditions had been the norm for weeks as flash flooding earlier in the month caused high-water problems in the state. Entergy now is running a much safer flow below Carpenter Dam and lake conditions are returning to normal. Rainbow trout fishing will return in mid-November when the stocking program begins again for the winter. Trout are normally in Lake Catherine the week before the Thanksgiving holiday. The beginning of fall finds white bass and hybrid bass still living in the tailrace and feeding on shad. Boaters trolling shallow-running crankbaits that imitate minnows or crawfish have caught these fish in decent numbers this week. Size ranges from 1 to 2 pounds with some hybrid catches over 4 pounds. Topwater action has been observed in the early morning below the bridge. Walleye still remain in the tailrace and have been caught on minnows tightlined in deep water. A few catfish have been taken on stink baits around rock structure close to the dam. No striper activity has been reported so far, but these predator fish migrate in and out of the area frequently. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should always wear a life jacket and must observe all park rules. Mask wearing and social distancing are still in effect.
(updated 9-23-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said the Hobie Kayak Bass Open Series fished on Sept. 12-13 here, and 112 anglers caught 587 bass weighing 1,111 pounds over the two days. Eighty-one percent of the field weighed a fish and the Big Bass was 5.51 pounds. The FLW Toyota Series competed last weekend, Sept. 17-19, and 121 boats and 242 anglers caught 1,004 fish weighing 2,054 pounds over the three days. The Big Bass weighed 5.44 pounds.
Anglers reported the bite was tough, which is typical for the fall transition. They used a wide range of lures, including plastics, spinners and Rat-L-Traps. Many anglers fished shallow and on hydrilla or water willow.
Over the past week, the area had several days of sunshine and cooler temperatures to welcome the fall season. The National Weather Service expects rain resulting from Tropical Storm Beta this week, tapering off Wednesday night. A cold front is expected to move through the area Saturday night with low chance of rain. Temperatures will begin below normal and may rise above normal through the weekend when highs will be near 80 and lows near 60. A colder front is expected to move in the middle of next week for a significant cool down.
The water remains somewhat turbid and visibility was little more than a foot or two. Surface temperature this week is 77 degrees.
As of Tuesday the Corps of Engineers reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam was near 18,000 cfs. Ozark has been flowing more water overnight and releasing less during the day. River flow there has been fluctuating between 25,000 and 8,000 cfs. The (Ozark tailwater had been consistently near 338 feet msl since last report. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was near 18,000 cfs and has fluctuated some between 30,000 and 9,000 cfs. Dardanelle tailwater level has fluctuated between 4-6 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park has remained just below 338 feet msl.
(updated 9-30-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, Greeson Marine, reports Lake Hamilton’s levels at normal pool with water clarity at 5 feet or more in most areas and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, with exception to the headwaters. Bass have been doing very well lately (at least the last three weeks). To recap what patterns have happened: First we went into the annual shad binge followed by the srawfish smashing of last week. We are now totally into junk fishing. Worms, craw patterns and shad patterns are all on right now, but it seems like the fish are getting a bit full. That being said, the only consistent pattern that we have seen are jigs (typically in half-ounce black and blue or pumpkinseed/brown coloring). Trailers need to be a craw legs-style in either June bug or green pumpkin. The other thing that is consistent on especially spotted bass is drop-shot rigs with a soft plastic natural-looking (salt and pepper coloration) crawfish. Crappie have started to come alive a little now that the water temps are down into their prime range. Crappie are scattered right now and mostly in and up creek channels in 20 feet of water. You can’t miss them when the electronics hit them, as they will look like a Christmas tree of balled-up fish. Hit the crappie with minnows and experiment with jig colors. Odds are that nothing beats a live minnow right now! Bluegill are good right now on worms and crickets in 15 feet of water and near shade or deep current. Catfish are good as always on cheese and cut bait near the channel in 20 feet. The season is changing, folks, so please use caution and get in the habit of wearing those life jackets again. Soon enough the water will be deadly cold. “Good Luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 343.41 feet msl (normal pool: 345.0 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says water clarity is good and the water is high but falling. Bream are fair but appear to be slowing down. They’re still biting redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. Anglers are finding them suspended in 8-10 feet in open water. They’re fishing minnows and jigs; your best bet is a Charlie Brewer Slider in orange/chartreuse. Black bass are good. Try topwater baits, a white Gitzit or a black/gold War Eagle Buzzbait. Catfishing is good around Sunlight Bay using chicken liver and shrimp.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.99 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are good. The 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. 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 has been ranging 76-80 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level, now 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 399.68 feet msl (full pool: 387.00 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon gauge at 22.38 feet, below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 9-30-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said the action at Cook’s Lake is slow but the weather the next few days would make a nice fishing trip regardless. Black bass are shallow and can be caught on spinnerbaits, jigs, tubes, and shaky heads. Black and red flake or green pumpkin are always great colors to try in plastics. A chartreuse and white spinner bait with a gold and orange blade should also do the trick. Crappie are starting to be caught on brush tops and around trees on minnows and jigs. Their bite should pick up with the fall weather we are experiencing.
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. to 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.
Bear Creek Lake
(updated 9-30-2020) Tyler Ball, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no reports.
Storm Creek Lake
(updated 9-30-2020) Tyler Ball, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no reports.