Oct. 14, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Oct. 14, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter 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 10 a.m. the day of publication.
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Quick links to regions:
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. Geoloical 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 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 10-14-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake clarity has the normal Conway stain and remains at a normal level. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. Crappie minnows in either small- or medium-sized and also pink minnows continue to work well well, and a shiner or a jig will get action, too. Black bass activity remains good. Try a spinnerbait, crankbait, plastic worm, frog or a buzzbait. Catfishing is good. Stink bait, nightcrawlers, goldfish, dough bait and bass minnows all are working well.
(updated 10-14-2020) Angler Dennis Charles had no report.
Little Red River
(updated 10-14-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear and low. Generation has been the afternoon, one-unit variety ranging 2-5 hours with the 2-hour schedule being the most common. “Southwestern Power Administration has informed me that one unit is shut down for maintenance until sometime in November, so any generation will be one unit until that time. Afternoon generation should be the rule unless cold temperatures call for the early morning schedule.”
It is always best to check the next day schedule before planning your trip. The app, USACE LITTLE ROCK, is available free for your cell phone. Check the SWPA Forecasts icon on this app for the schedule.
Rainbows are taking small midge pupa and mayfly nymphs. There is a blue-wing olive hatch some afternoons and a few caddis are hatching. In deeper pools, microjigs are taking rainbows and a few browns. The browns have not started moving much at this time.
(updated 10-14-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that trout bite continues to be good on maribou jigs. Rooster Tails and No. 5 countdowns in trout or gold colors also are getting a good bite. The river is normal level and slightly stained.
(updated 10-7-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red River received unexpected generation the past few days due to the Army Corps of Engineers requiring use of the Greers Ferry Dam to regulate the power grid. The generation is a welcome surprise for this time of year. However, we are not expecting this generation pattern to continue much longer. Until then enjoy the good water flow that’s providing good drift and wade fishing opportunities. For fly-fishing, we recommend 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 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 459.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 459.23 feet msl and falling, 2.81 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The catching is getting better every day for all species and will continue to do so until turnover, then the bite will slow for two weeks, then it will be off the charts for rest of winter. Most shad and fish are moving at present from 60-80 feet up to tips of 45 and feeding on and off all day and night. Crappie are being caught from super shallow out to 40 feet on a variety of baits and techniques. Catfish are eating but seem to be real scattered. But some good fish are coming in, more blues than anything. Walleye are eating drop-shots, jigheads with crawlers and crankbaits at different depths with different conditions. Black bass are scattered all over the pond – some super deep, some super shallow, and all in between and on top. They’re eating a variety of baits. Some hybrid bass and white bass are pushing shad on the bank, others are eating in 44-60 feet or better on spoons, topwater baits, inline spinners, swimbaits, etc.
(updated 10-14-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says Greers Ferry is a little low and clear this week. Black bass are good around the lower part of the lake using wake baits and jerkbaits. Drop-shots and a Carolina-rig are both working as well. Crappie have been good; they’re biting in 25 feet of water on any natural shad-colored hair jig.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 10-14-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water has cleared; on Tuesday it was “pretty clear” while the water level was low. Bream seem to be slowing down. Catches were poor. Crappie continue to improve, as this week’s results were good. The best response is around the shoreline. Try minnows or jigs. Black bass are getting better as well, as anglers reported good catches. Like the crappie, the best action is around the shoreline. Try a spinnerbait or a plastic worm. Catfishing also saw an upswing with good catches. Chicken liver is a go-to. Trotlines should be baited with shad, goldfish, worms or hot dogs.
(updated 10-7-2020) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) reports that crappie are starting to pick up on Bobby Garland Jigs in popsicle, shiney hiney, glimmer blue, bbq chicken, cajun crickets, blue ice, shimmer, monkey milk, crystal, bone/chartreuse, gumdrop and pennyback shad, along with 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows and worms. Black bass are hitting buzzbaits and minnows, worms, lizards and Brush Hogs. White bass are biting on popsicle, slab slanger, baby shad and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r, and Cajun Spin and silver minnow. Bream can be caught on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the AGFC 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 10-14-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the clarity is a little murky from all the wind they’ve had around there. Water level is normal. Crappie continue to bite well. While some are being caught out in the lake away from shore, a few are being picked up off the docks as well. Minnows, jigs and chartreuse grubs are working. No reports on bream or black bass. Catfishing has been fair; give redworms or nightcrawlers a try for the cats.
(update 10-14-2020 ) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303) had no report.
(updated 10-7-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland says the water temperature is in the low 70s. Largemouth bass are good. 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 fair. Reports of some being found 15-20 feet off drops and rocky banks. Try using jigs. White bass are slow. Reports of some anglers catching them while trolling. Try using minnows, Rooster Tails, jerkbaits and rattle-style baits. Crappie are fair. There have been reports of crappie 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. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are great. Bream can be found on windy points by drop-offs in 12-16 feet of water. Crickets, worms and beetle spins will all work for the excellent bite. Catfishing is good. Try using chicken liver, nightcrawlers or baitfish.
(updated 10-7-2020) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) reports that crappie are being caught on Bobby Garland Jigs such as popsicle and slab slanger, as well as minnows and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r. White bass are biting slab slanger, baby shad, cajun spin and silver minnow in the jigs. Black bass are being caught on worms, lizards and Brush Hogs. Bream can be caught using crickets, worms and Rock Hopper.
(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.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 10-7-2020) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) says catfish are being caught on minnows and worms. Bream are biting crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Black bass can be caught using worms, lizards and Brush Hogs.
(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 10-14-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 10-14-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said clarity is clear and the river is at a normal level. Crappie have been biting fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good; try a crankbait or plastic worm. Catfishing is good; chicken liver and regular catfish bait are both working well. 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 6,960 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 7,021 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 2,561.
(updated 10-14-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river clarity is stained and the surface temperature is in the mid-70s. Black bass are biting really well on square-bill natural shad or chartreuse colors, white spinnerbaits and on a black quarter-ounce buzzbait. Also try a quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap in any chrome color. Crappie are good on orange/chartreuse and blue/chartreuse jigs in 8 feet of water around the lay downs. Catfish are good below the Murray Lock and Dam; best bet is to use stink bait or night crawlers.
(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.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 10-14-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
(update 10-14-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) had no new reports.
(updated 10-7-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, "Traffic on the river has slowed some, but the rainbow catch has not. The water has been in the 70s, and that's hot for this time of year. The temperature is beginning to some down; it's been mid-40sin the morning. There's been a good number of golden trout sighted this season. THey're growing. starting to get pretty big. It's always fun to spot one and more fun to catch. The Bluf Fox Vibrax has been a favorite for catching trout this past week. Small pieces of shrimp and/or a nice sculpin placed near a calm resting spot will often prove successful. Water levels have remained fairly consistent -- no traumatic extremes -- at about 13,000 cfs.
"The shorted days have kicked off the annual spawn of the brown trout. They are moving home, too, so watch as they move closer to their spawning beds. It will take a lot of time and varying baits to catch their attention at this time, so remain patient, stay on the river and keep it fun."
(updated 10-14-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says fishing this week mirrors last week. It’s still “absolutely great,” they report. Anglers are catching a lot of rainbow trout by drift-fishing. They’re also catching some browns drift-fishing primarily with crankbaits, with some also using jibs. Clarity is “really good,” they report. River level is normal, with seven generators running at the dam.
(updated 10-14-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said this weekend that over the past week they have had no measurable rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.1 feet to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 31.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 foot to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 17 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below seasonal power pool and 10.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River below Bull Shoals Dam had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.9 feet to rest at 2.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night and high water all day. Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be three weeks away.
“The grasshopper bite is upon us. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. My favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch,” John says.
Fishing the White has been inconsistent, he says, good one day and tough the next. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, #12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm with a girdle bug suspended below it).
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 664.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.02 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the lake is dingy to clear with a surface water temperature of 70 degrees. Water level, so high throughout the year, is now only 2 feet above normal at last check. “Ramps are open!” he says. The Army Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out of the lake. There are baitfish suspended throughout the lake. Start in the back third of a major creek. Some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. Topwater is good; poppers and wake baits are good as well. Try Whopper Plopper or buzzbait, and if they miss try throwing a popper until bite stops, then go with spinnerbait, chatterbait and square bill for powerfishing “shallow” if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. As the sun comes up, change tactics and move out. Smallies and Kentuckiy bass are stacked out on main and secondary points, pockets, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends, but are closer to main lake points with wind. With shad present, fish position will change depending on the sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Also try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue orange. Smallmouth bass are on gravel banks.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 554.81 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says, “The Norfork Lake water cools down and stripers get active, then we keep getting warm afternoons and the water warms up and the bite slows down. This past week I fished both Arkansas and Missouri waters and caught stripers on both sides of the state line. The best bite is above Point 10 in 14 feet of water, but only if it's a sunny day. Cloudy days with an east wind have the least productive bite.
“I also fished Bennett's Bayou and caught small stripers but there is plenty of bait around and it only takes the water to get into the high 60s and we will see a good bite.
“The walleye are biting on crankbaits trolled on long flats above Cranfield Marina. The hybrids, stripers. and whites are schooling in the evening in Bennett's Bayou, and some topwater action is happening early morning and late afternoon on the flats all around the lake. The same is happening in Brushy Creek in the south end of Norfork Lake. As the shad begin to move from the shallows and school you will see lots of action in the next several weeks.”
(updated 10-7-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing in October can be lots of fun, but also can be inconsistent. There are many changes going on in the lake, which affect the movement of the predator fish and bait. The water temperature starts to cool and the main thing is that the lake turns over. The lake is in the process of turning over, but it has been very gradual. The thermocline has dropped to somewhere between 50-60 feet and will continue to fall until the lake totally flips.
There has been a really good bite for bass. Largemouth and spotted bass can be found all over the lake. If you like topwater fishing, throw your favorite topwater bait onto points where you can see sunken brush still out in the water. The fish are inside of it and will come up and slam the bait. Spinnerbait, lipless crankbaits, regular diving crankbaits and jigs are all working in different areas. The bass are also on the bluffs, especially on points of large coves or small cuts in the bluff wall. Smallmouth bass are starting to show up as well. Keep your eyes open for topwater action. The bass will chase shad out in open water just about anywhere, but especially on the large flats.
Crappie fishing is also picking up nicely. This species has been moving back to the brush and they can be found at varying depths. Brush in 15 feet of water out to brush in 35 feet of water may be holding crappie. Small spoons, small twister tail or paddle tail grubs and live minnows on a slip float are all working. The fish can be at any depth over the brush from 7 feet down to the bottom. The depth of the fish will vary depending on the time of day.
White bass have finally come out of the depths of the lake and are showing up in different locations. Lou says, “Last evening, I was checking out a large flat outside of a cove and starting to hear what I thought was surface-feeding fish. I could not see any, so I started to head toward the sound. I finally saw white water on the other side of the lake along a long deep bluff line. There were schools of whites feeding heavily. They didn’t stay up long, and kept moving around. I stopped the boat in an area where I had seen the fish come up and waited. It was not long before they came up again and again. I had my half-ounce Kastmaster tied on and started to cast. I worked the bait in a jerk, stop and reel motion and kept it close to the surface and they loved it. From about 5:45 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. they were active. When it started to get dark, the topwater in this deep-water area stopped. I heard some activity on the shallow side of the lake and headed that way. I found hybrids and whites feeding heavily in very shallow water, 5 feet or less. The hybrids were coming completely out of the water at least a foot above the surface; it was amazing to see and very fun to catch. Topwater baits such as a Zara Spook would have worked great, but I can cast a Kastmaster farther.
“Striped bass fishing has been very inconsistent. I have found them off a large flat in the mid-lake area, as well as out in very deep water. On the flat the fish were in 45-55 feet of water suspended to the bottom, and in the deep water they have been suspended 35-60 feet down in 100-plus feet of water. I have caught fish in this area by vertical jigging a ¾-to-1-ounce spoon. Live bait may work better. As the lake continues to cool and the turnover completes, this species will become very active and start to feed very heavily.”
The surface lake temperature has ranged 69-73 degrees depending on location and time of day. The lake is still falling about 3 to 4 inches per day and currently sits at 557.05 feet msl. The water is stained, but does start to clear more as you head south. “I forecast a great fall fishing season, so get ready to have some fun. Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 10-14-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.9 feet to rest at 2.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night and high water all day. Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be three weeks away.
“The grasshopper bite is upon us. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. My favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch,” John says.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding over the past 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. There is less pressure with school back in session, expect less pressure during the week. Brown trout have begun moving into the creek. 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), mop flies and egg patterns.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also says, “(Saturday) I was guiding on Dry Run Creek. My client was a close relative of the two boys I had guided the previous Saturday. He is 14 years old and had never fly-fished before. He was a perfect candidate. He did not have any bad habits from previous instruction and he carefully listened when I gave him pointers.
He landed his first trout on his third cast. It was a small rainbow. But he carefully reeled it in and took his time. Five minutes later, he hooked a fat 24-inch male brown trout. I knew this would be a challenge. I generally prefer that my young clients fight and land a few smaller fish before hooking up a trophy.
“I calmly instructed him what to do. He had been fishing a short line and when he set the hook it eliminated all slack. I told him not to grab the fly line or hold the handle of the fly reel so that the trout could run if he wanted to. If the fish swam closer to us, I had him carefully crank in line. At my insistence, he fought the brown on the reel.
"I had him lift the rod and make sure that the rod was bent at all times to ensure that he had constant pressure on the fish. This is important because we were using barbless hooks and any slack in the line would allow the trout to spit the hook. The trout took several long runs but eventually surrendered to the net. We stopped and took some photos and then gently released the big brown.
“At the same time there was another lad fishing near us. He had fly-fished before. He was hooking trout and landing the smaller ones. Every time he hooked a large trout he lost them during the fight. I immediately knew what was happening. He was fishing a longer line and was holding excess line. When he hooked a trout, he attempted to land the trout by stripping it in. This is my pet peeve.
“When you tightly hold the line, the trout cannot run and struggles in place, often allowing him to slip the hook. An experienced angler can allow the line to slip in his fingers when the fish runs. This is not as effective as fighting the trout on the reel. With a reel, you use the drag on the reel to wear a big trout down so that you can control and eventually net him.
“Later in the day, his dad asked why his son was not landing the bigger fish. I explained that he was stripping fish and not fighting them on the reel. He said that the lad did not know how to fight them on the reel. That is one of the first things that I teach new fly-fishers. I have them fight all fish on the reel. I suggested that he teach him how to do it. I volunteered to help him.
“The key to landing big trout is to fight them on the reel.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-14-2020) 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 1,120.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,119.66 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is maintaining normal levels. The turnover has been sputtering due to the high daytime temperatures as of late. “I wish it would flip as this will usher in the great fall bite. Fishing is fair to good for all species. Water is hovering around 70 degrees. Stripers have been on a topwater bite last week. Look in all major creek arms at sunrise until 10 or so. Spooks, Redfins, swimbaits are all working. After that try brood minnows for best results.
“I have been hitting crappie the last few trips. Crappie are starting to turn the corner and hitting jigs and minnows in and around brush located in 15-30 feet of water. Water still has that turnover stain to it in the river arms and clearer as you head toward the dam. Bass have been fair on Ned rigs and there is a short topwater bite as well. Catfish are doing well on all the usual methods.”
For all who want to know, he said, the thermocline is around 45 feet and falling. When it hits around 60, it will have flipped. “As you can tell I always talk thermocline during the summer and the fall. It is a very important concept to understand to put fish in the boat during the summer pattern. Use your electronics to pinpoint this feature and it will make you a better fisherman. It is a beautiful time of the year and go out and enjoy the lakes and rivers of this awesome state.”
Check out Jon’s Facebook page at FishOn Guides Goshen Arkansas for updated reports as conditions change quickly this time of the year.
(updated 10-14-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is clear with a surface water temperature in the low 70s. Water level is normal. Stripers are good on topwater baits, brood shiners and live shad. Walleye have been good using bottom bouncers and Ned rigs.
Crappie fell off a little this week with fair catches. Try minnows, jigs and spider-rigging.
Black bass are fair. Continue to throw the topwaters early in the morning or late in the day. Also try spinnerbaits, crankbaits and a drop-shot. Catfishing is poor. Bream reports have been poor.
(updated 10-14-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing this past week has been good on the tailwater. Most trout are being caught with Pautzke Fire bait fished with light terminal tackle. Quarter-ounce spoons and small crankbaits are also getting the job done. With the water levels going down, you will need to fish some deeper water. This week's hot spot has been around the Spider Creek area. Be warned, it is 1 foot or less in some areas and getting there by boat may be a challenge. A few walleye were caught toward Beaver town trolling deep-diving crankbaits. Most were juvenile males, but there are some keepers in there for sure. Try to stay in 15 feet of water when fishing for the eyes. “Hope y’all are enjoying the fall weather and colors. Be safe, have fun and catch some fish!”
(updated 10-14-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake clarity remains “a little dingy.” The surface water temperature is in the upper 60s. Water level is normal. Bream reports picked up this week, with good results. Use redworms or crickets. The crappie bite continues to be good. Use minnows and jigs. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Still no reports on catfish.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 10-14-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says the lake clarity again is “very clear” and the water level is still down from normal level.
The bream bite remains good. Use redworms and crickets. Crappie dropped off with poor results this week. Black bass are good on crankbaits and plastic worms. The catfish bite is good on worms or cut bait.
(updated 10-14-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said fishing picked up Sunday with the sunshine. Black bass reports were good. The bass were being caught in shallow water on topwater bait. Make sure to throw to topwaters close to the brush or rocky points. No reports on bream, crappie or catfish this past week. Water clarity is murky as usual, and the surface temperature Sunday was 70 degrees. Water level is high. Shelly says the best fishing days based on moon times should be now through Oct. 19.
(updated 10-14-2020) 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 10-14-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the lake clarity is continues to be clear. The surface water temperature stayed at 70-72 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are still fair. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good and they continue to be suspended in 15-17 feet of water. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good; swimbaits are your best bet. Catfish were not biting.
(updated 10-7-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are at 330 cfs (350 cfs is average) and water clarity has been clear. Low, clear water has made the bite tough on some days. Lots of bugs hatching off, mainly caddis and mayflies. Leaves are beginning to fall, so an ant pattern can work some days. On the really tough days, bouncing a Y2K off the bottom will get bites. For spin-fishers it has been Trout Magnets in hot pink, red, black and candy corn. Got to fish them just off the bottom. Great for catch-and-release. For the bigger fish like browns or smallmouth, trout cranks can work well. The rainbow and brown trout crank are favorites.
The AGFC Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery has been stocking really nice-sized rainbows of 12-14 inches. “They are still waiting on funding to rebuild the hatchery from past flooding. It has been at less than half capacity since the 2017 flood. Jim Hinkle Hatchery stocks all the trout rivers in Arkansas and we all hope rebuilding and improvements will start soon. The hatchery has done an excellent job with the limited resources over the last three years. With no catch-and-release areas and no slot limit for rainbows, weekly stocking is very important. We catch-and-release all fish at Spring River Flies and Guides, we are trying to start a trend,” Mark said.
He adds, “Wading for the first time this year has become much easier with lower water, but do be careful with the very slick river bottom. Still lots of vegetation on the river. Cold weather is what we are all waiting for. It will kill off the vegetation and get the bigger trout moving.” For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 10-14-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Be sure to wearPine Bluff 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 9.34 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 11.01 almost 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 23.04 feet, more than 2 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 10-14-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the low 70s. Visibility is less than 6-8 inches in most places. Very little to no flow on the main channel and water levels have been consistently 6-8 inches low (careful going over jetties that are normally deep enough to cross!). Black bass are biting fairly well, especially on white or bright-colored spinnerbaits, bladed jigs and square-bill crankbaits around woody cover near the bank or on shallow sand ledges in windy conditions. Dark-colored jigs in the same places worked methodically through brush will pick up bites in calm conditions. Small fish can be caught along jetties on the main channel using the same lures. Keep an eye out for schooling activity and have a topwater like a Whopper Plopper, Zara Spook or popper-style bait ready to capitalize on surfacing fish (these can get you some big bites right now).
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 10-14-2019) Cane Creek State Park reports the lake is currently murky due to recent heavy rain. Crappie fishing is picking up. The bite is best in the early morning and late evening. No. 6 minnows seem to be the ticket fished at a depth of 4-6 feet. Bass fishing is starting to get into the fall pattern and bass can be found chasing schools of shad. Catfish are being caught on trotlines and limblines. Bream fishing has slowed down; however, we are still getting reports of decent-sized bream being caught on nightcrawlers at a depth of 4-6 feet deep.
(updated 10-14-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no report.
(updated 10-14-2020) 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 259.54 feet msl (normal pool: 259.27 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Mike Siefert at Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Lake pool is near normal conservation pool elevation at 259.25 feet msl, and the discharge is around 5,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Tuesday was around 229.5 feet msl and falling. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temperature was stable over the last week, ranging between 67-72 degrees.. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and watching for random broken, or floating timber in Little River. 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 is 5-8 inches depending on location. Further up Little River has more heavier stain conditions. The oxbow's clarity improved over the past week, but still with light stains, ranging 15-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location, with reduction of current along Little River.
As for fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: The cooler weather and lower nighttime temperatures have the largemouths in a feeding mode and following threadfin shad schools with random schooling in the oxbows. The highest activity period has been shifting to later in the morning and midday over the past couple weeks. Several simultaneous schools have continued random 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, Chug Bugs, Ken Pops and Cordell Crazy Shads in chrome/black back, and Clear Baby Torpedoes are working at the surface when the schooling bass bust the shad near surface over 12-18 foot structure, where lily pads are short distance on flats near the vertical structure. Bass Assassin Shad Jerkbaits and Johnson Chrome Spoons are working when bass break in the pads. One-knocker Rat-L-Traps continue working subsurface for bass from 3-5 pounds following shad and bait pods over 15-20 feet of depth.
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 in Splatterback, Millwood Magic, chrome Cordell 3/4-1oz 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.
* White bass: Not much changed over past week, with white bass continuing to roam the oxbow lakes up Little River. They are beginning to follow the same large schools of threadfin shad as the largemouths, occasionally surface-breaking on shad and willing to bite crankbaits, jigging spoons and Rat-L-Traps over the mid-channel depths, as well as near tributary points with stumps and grass, over the past several weeks. Trolling McGuire oxbow upriver with mid-depth Bomber Fat Free Shad Crankbaits in Tennessee Shad over the past week connected with a few schools of 1-to-3-pound whites. 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 Threadfin Shad on electronics. Fat Free Guppy Crankbaits in Citrus Shad were catching shallow-feeding whites in 5-8 feet near vertical structure and standing timber in McGuire, also.
* Crappie: Have improved with the reduction of muddy inflow and current of Little River. They improved this week in planted brush with the decrease of river current and improved water clarity. Jigs and minnows got the best responses in 8-12 feet depth around brushtops.
* Catfish: Have been fair to good along Little River on trotlines and yo-yos along Little River set from 9 to 12 feet deep and baited with cut shad, buffalo, drum or King’s Punch Bait.
* Bream: 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 543.14 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 400.18 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) says crappie are doing great on minnows under corks 10 feet deep on brushpiles. White bass can be found in roaming pods near the bottom in 20-plus-feet of water. Vertical-jig spoons and fill the livewell.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.38 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 542.73 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 10-14-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) says White Oak Lake is clear and normal. The river flowing in is low and murky. Crappie are good; Curtis is having success with medium shiners and pinks. Black bass are good on the shiners, too. Catfishing is good; try stink bait or chicken liver. He had no report on bream.
(updated 10-14-2020) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water this week has been calm and clear. Water level is low. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair; use worms. Catfish are biting well. Bait a yo-yo with live bait such as black salties or small perch.
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 10-14-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 63 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Lake Ouachita remains 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 is now running a much safer flow below Carpenter Dam and lake conditions have returned to normal. Rainbow trout fishing will return in mid-November when the AGFC’s stocking program begins again for the winter. Trout are normally in Lake Catherine the week before the Thanksgiving holiday or sometimes earlier depending on fish availability. 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. The closer to the dam you fish, the more likely you are to catch walleye in the fall. The deepest areas consistently hold walleye that live and feed in the tailrace. A few catfish have been taken on stink baits around rock structure close to the dam. No striper activity has been reported this week, 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 should be observed by everyone visiting the Carpenter Dam area.
(updated 10-14-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), had no report.
(updated 10-14-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water levels down a foot and water temps right around the 70-degree mark. Bass fishing has been for the most part absolutely terrible over the last week. Fish have lockjaw for several reasons, which is causing a perfect storm for us anglers: 1) no wind, 2) no water(as in rainfall = no current) and 3) it's hot! The only way to fish right now is to revert back to the summer pattern of getting up well before sunrise and being on the lake as the sun comes up. The water is cooler and more oxygen-rich at this hour. To go after these morning fish we recommend a black and blue football head jig with a black Bandito Bug (or Craw) trailer. Brighter jigs are not getting bit like the dark colors of this jig. Another approach is to vertical-drop a small tube or Gitzit on a Ned rig head when fish are spotted below your boat. Most fish concentrations are at depths of 20-25 feet off points, especially in brushpiles and in creek channel guts (but remember, there is not much current right now except in the main channel.) If you insist on banging the bank, then a white Zoom Horny Toad will get strikes until the sun comes up.
Crappie have been equally as awful, except in the dim light of morning on small jigs and live minnows. Bream are actually on fire right now and nic- eating fish are in the 20-25 feet range in coves and ditches and can be easily taken at most hours with crickets and worms below a slip cork. Catfish produced no report. “Good luck … you’ll need some. Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.45 feet msl (normal pool: 345.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says clarity is a little milky in the river. Surface temperature is 75-76 degrees. Water level is low.The bream bite if fair but slowing down. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good; the bite is at 6-8 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are working along with orange-headed Road Runners and Beaver Bottom in various colors. Black bass are good. White Gitzit Buzzbaits continue work, along with War Eagle Spinnerbaits and worms. Catfish are good below the dam. Perch, black salties and goldfish are your best bets to catch the cats.
(updated 10-7-2020) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are being caught on Bobby Garland Jigs in popsicle, shiney hiney, glimmer blue, bbq chicken, cajun crickets, blue ice, shimmer, monkey milk, crystal, bone, gumdrop, pennyback baby shad, slab slay’r and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows and worms. Bream are being caught on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Black bass are hitting worms, lizards and Brush Hogs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.85 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-14-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still 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 still fair. Spoons and bottom bouncers with small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best. Stripers are fair to good. These fish are being caught on live bait on the east part of the lake. Bream are fair with crickets or worms in 15-25 feet of water. Crappie are fair. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are good and being caught with trotlines and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature has been ranging 68-73 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level, now at 577.89 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 386.13 feet msl (full pool: 387.00 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon gauge at 20.44 feet, well below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Bear Creek Lake
(updated 10-14-2020) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says anglers continue to have great success catching Crappie at Bear Creek Lake. Anglers report catching Crappie at depths of 2-3 feet with baits such as minnows and jigs. Majority of catches being caught off of jigs. Some anglers are reporting catching a few catfish as well in deeper water. Anglers report using baits such as stink bait and homemade baits. Mississippi River State Park is still waiting on information from the Forest Service about when the construction of the spillway will be coordinated.
(updated 10-14-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said that although the weather is perfect, the fish at Cooks Lake have had an extreme case of lockjaw, so really no change from the previous report. The beautiful fall weather makes a trip worthwhile, though. Black bass typically now are shallow and can be caught on spinnerbaits, jigs and tubes. Black and red flake or green pumpkin are always great colors to try in plastics. A chartreuse and white spinnerbait with a gold and orange blade should also do the trick. Some anglers had success last week but were pretty tight-lipped on lures and techniques. Crappie are starting to be caught on jigs in hollow trees.
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 anglers, 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.
Storm Creek Lake
(updated 10-14-2020) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says anglers have been experiencing very poor fishing quality out of Storm Creek Lake. No reports at this time.