Nov. 25, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Nov. 25, 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 2 p.m. the day of publication (Nov. 25).
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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. 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
(updated 11-25-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said clarity is the normal stain, while the water level is low. The lake has been lowered a foot. Bream reports are good. Use redworms, crickets or hand-tied jigs. Crappie are good. Baits being used are pink, small, medium or regular crappie minnows, as well as white/chartreuse or black/chartreuse jigs and hand-tied jigs.
Black bass are good; catches are still coming on spinnerbaits, topwater baits and buzzbaits. Catfish are good on stink bait, dough bait, nightcrawlers, trotline minnows and goldfish.
(updated 11-11-2020) Angler Dennis Charles said he has not been able to collect many reports of late, BUT of those anglers who do share their stories, crappie are slow in midwater away from the shore. Bream are slow off the weeds. Bass are suspended 12 feet on average; try the whole box. Catfish are by the docks and deep holes. Try the box on them as well.
Little Red River
(updated 11-25-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said, “We had about an inch of rain Tuesday night and the river is dingy. The generation today (scheduled to run two generators for 3 hours Wednesday starting at 5 p.m.) should help clear the river.
“The posted schedule has not been accurate for the last couple of days. I am not sure why; maybe a spike in demand for electricity. It is wise to check during the day for an unexpected generation.”
Greg says the rainbows are taking small midge pupa and small caddis pupa. The browns are beginning to move and taking egg patterns and midge pupa.
He adds, “It is that time of the year when you should be careful when wading the shoals where the fish are trying to spawn. A redd is an area on the bottom of the river in the gravel where the fish have cleaned the debris from the rocks and lay their eggs in the gravel. These areas are easily identified by being cleaner and shining on the bottom. Please avoid wading through these areas. Disturbing the eggs destroys them and therefore reduces the amount of browns in the river. Wade around, not through, the redds. The browns are not stocked in the Little Red River and depend on this spawn to survive.
(updated 11-25-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says Little Red River is at normal level and has a little color from the rain this week. The trout bite remains good on maribou rigs, Rapala Countdowns and Shadraps.
(updated 11-11-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said, “We are in the typical fall and winter generation pattern for the Little Red River. We are seeing some generation on weekdays and very little, if any, generation over the weekends. This generation pattern is unpredictable and could change depending on power demands. It’s highly recommended to check forecasted and real-time generation before planning a trip to the Little Red.” For fly fishing, Lowell recommends midges, hare’s ears and sowbugs. Hot pink and 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 458.45 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said, “Happy Thanksgiving to all and may you all be blessed to fullest for the future.
“Not a lot new to report. The water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 458.40 feet msl, and that is 3.64 feet below normal pool, with some on-again wait-more-wait generation for various reasons. Overall catching is real good in places and real bad in others. According to the presence of shad, the turnover, weather conditions and species, that is the short of it. Try and mimic below for best guestimations of when, what and how.”
Black bass are shallow to 100 feet. Try Alabama rigs, spoons, spinnerbaits, Wiggles Warts, jigs, topwater baits -- a lot will work; stay around shad or where they are using. Crappie can be caught trolling and fishing vertically, with jigs and minnows. No report on catfish. Walleye are roaming as well; spoons will get a good bite when you find them. Try main and secondary points. Some bream are still shallow and will bite the regular stuff, no report on the rest of them. Hybrid and white bass are doing about the same as black bass: Where things are settled good, a spoon on structure right now is key. Most of the rest are roaming. Stay with shad and try to mimic them.
(updated 11-25-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is 3 feet low and has clear clarity. Black bass are good on Alabama rigs, swimbaits, jerkbaits, Rat-L-Traps and jigs.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 11-25-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake is murky. The level is low (some water is used to flood the waterfowl hunting area), and a lot of stumps are showing. Bream catches are fair, but the bream are mostly small in size. Try redworms or crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and white-bodied jigs. Fish close to the shoreline for best success. Black bass have turned around, and anglers report good-size catches and good stringers. Use a spinnerbait. Catfishing remains good, especially on trotlines. Bait the lines with goldfish or nightcrawlers.
(updated 11-25-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the lake’s clarity and level are normal and the surface water temperature is 62 degrees. Crappie continue biting well on small crappie minnows or on jigs. No reports on bream, black bass or catfish. Yellow bass continue to be caught in good numbers on Rooster Tails, he said.
(updated 11-25-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the Overcup water level is down by 8 inches. Surface temperature is around 56 degrees, he said. Clarity is murky. Black bass have been doing well and chasing shad. Use a shad-like bait. Bream are slow but anglers are still catching some. “I personally caught a bluegill that was 10 inches long and weighed 12 ounces,” Johnny said.
Catfish are being caught on worms. “A guy caught a 6-pound channel cat out of the windbreak,” Johnny said. He adds that crappie are doing well off the docks on the 95 side, but have been slow the last couple of days. “Come see us off Highway 9. Johnny Banks at Overcup Bait Shop for all your needs.”
(updated 11-4-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said water temperature remains in the mid-60s. The largemouth bass bite is good. Some can be found in shallow water or just outside the grass line biting a variety of lures. Try using Rat-L-Traps or that style of bait, along with swimbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Kentucky (spotted) bass are good as well. Some reports have surfaced of them being found in 15-20 feet off drops and rocky banks Use jigs. White bass are slow. There have been reports of anglers catching them while trolling. Try using minnows, Rooster Tails, jerkbaits or rattle-style baits. Crappie are good. Reports have come in of them moving out of deeper water and being found in 16-18 feet in shallow brush. Some can still be found scattered. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are fair. They can be found on windy points by drop-offs in 12-16 feet of water. Use crickets, worms or beetle spins. Catfishing is good. Try using chicken liver, nightcrawlers or baitfish.
(updated 11-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) had no reports. Lisa’s Bait Shop will be closing on or before Nov. 25.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 11-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) had no reports. Lisa’s Bait Shop will be closing on or before Nov. 25.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 11-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) had no reports. Lisa’s Bait Shop will be closing on or before Nov. 25.+
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 11-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) had no reports. Lisa’s Bait Shop will be closing on or before Nov. 25.
(updated 11-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) had no reports. Lisa’s Bait Shop will be closing on or before Nov. 25.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 11-18-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 11-25-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says the water is clear and at a normal level and current. Crappie reports have been good. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good on crankbaits, plastic worms and live worms. No reports on bream or catfish.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 31,886 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 26,579 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 25,626 cfs.
(updated 11-25-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river has a normal level and is stained. Black bass are good on jerkbaits, shad-colored Rat-L-Traps and black/blue jigs. Crappie are good on orange/chartreuse and white/chartreuse crappie jigs in 8 feet of water around any standing timber.
(updated 11-18-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said that reports it’s heard from the Terry Lock and Dam area had the water clarity is murky with a surface temperature ranging 60-63 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are fair on worms. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass will bite fair on crankbaits or topwater baits.
(updated 11-18-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 11-18-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake clarity turned murky this week. The water feels cool, about 63-65 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream reports have been fair; use redworms. Crappie are biting fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair; try a crankbait. Catfishing is fair with redworms and nightcrawlers.
(update 11-25-2020) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) is closed for the season and will reopen in February after duck season closes.
(updated 11-18-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake arrived at the desired power pool level, and generation schedules have reflected that change, although the fluctuations have been puzzling: minimum flow amounts, then to five units and in between, all in one 12-hour period. Be on the lookout for quick rises and falls in the water level over the next few days, and ensure you have the baits on hand to cover the changes.
“Always keep some worms to dangle when the water is rising -- either red wigglers, nightcrawlers or the scented XFactor or Berkley artificial worms, doesn't matter. When the water steadies and flattens out some, you can experiment with flashy spoons (hammered red/gold, ⅙-ounce spoons work nicely) or, depending on water level, you might flicker an ⅛-ounce white or orange/brown jig. At the 9,000 to 12,000 cfs range, turn to the silver stick baits, white bellies (we favor Rapala's No. 5 countdowns).
“Some of the guides really like to fish falling water because of the challenge it presents. Try using a jerkbait in the "bleeding" series, with some slow sinking, wobbly action. The brown bite is slow but not nonexistent. Keep working a mid-size sculpin in the deeper holes and chances are pretty good you'll get a hit or two.
“We're still experiencing some nice daytime temperatures, perfect autumn weather to usher in the holidays. Coffee's on; stop in and grab a candy cane.”
(updated 11-25-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the rainbows are good on pink worms, shrimp and PowerBait. The lure anglers were doing slow, they say. River clarity is clear and level is low. There have been 4-6 generators running from the dam. The catch-and-release area below Bull Shoals is closed until February.
(updated 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they had about a half of an inch of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.9 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation and had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. The lakes in the White River system are all at or below flood pool and anglers should see wadable water soon.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31, 2021 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
On the moderate flows the White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge).
John also says, “By all accounts this is the strangest year of my life. Before this year I always thought that the first year I spent in Vietnam was my most memorable. Now I am beginning to think that 2020 may be the strangest.
“From the guiding perspective it started like any other. I had several guide trips for the beginning of the year and was beginning to schedule a number of trips for the spring. Then along came the coronavirus. All of my scheduled trips were canceled by my clients. Then our governor, Asa Hutchison, closed the state to outside visitors. Now it should be noted that at the same time he said that fishing and hunting was about the safest things that we could do. Fresh air and sunshine were good things. I went three months without a guide trip. My wife, Lori, and I enjoyed the opportunity to fish together whenever we wanted to. However we were concerned about our financial situation due to the loss of business.
“Once the statewide lockout ended, my guide business picked up. My clients found that they did not want to fly to Montana this year. The fishing is good here and close to home for a lot of people. Parents did not want to take their kids to Disney World because it was closed and decided it was reasonably safe to take them fishing on Dry Run Creek. I am currently over the level of business for the year that I had this time last year.
“Though business has returned, it has changed. I do not pick my clients up at their lodge and drive them to the river in my Suburban. I meet them at a neutral location and they follow me to the river. At lunch, everything is prepared the night before and individually wrapped or individually prepackaged when purchased. We sit outside and maintain social distance and sanitize our hands before and after lunch. The toughest thing for me is I no longer shake my clients’ hands when I meet them or say good-bye.
“While the guide business has done well, the social side of fly-fishing has suffered. The North Arkansas Fly Fishers (our local fly fishing club) and White River TU 698 (our local Trout Unlimited chapter) are not able to hold meetings. Holiday parties have been canceled. I always look forward to them and I will miss seeing my fly-fishing friends.
“Even bigger is the cancellation of this year’s Sowbug Roundup, our big fly-fishing show. I am on the committee that organizes the show and its cancellation in March was a major disappointment. We have scheduled our next Sowbug Roundup for next May.
“Not everyone has been as lucky as Lori and I have been. We have been virus-free and able to make a living. Our thoughts go out to the families of those that have died, been ill or lost their jobs.
“As we look to the future, we note several potential vaccines for the coronavirus. This fact is giving me hope that this pandemic is close to being put under control. I certainly hope so.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Army Corps of Engineers has been slightly slowing the generation and the shad are getting balled up more. Baitfish are pushing toward the backs of creeks. “I have been doing better towards the back of creeks, and some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels,” Del said. The topwater bite has slowed drastically. Try a spinnerbait, chatterbait or square bill for powerfishing “shallow” if there are bushes with deeper water close by and shad, or if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. As the sun comes up, change tactics and slow down. Work the pockets, channel swings and transitions with wind. Brushpiles are getting good if there is shad present. The fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc.
“Keep it moving. The jig bite is picking up. Try a half-counce jig in green pumpkin orange, green pumpkin blue, or green pumpkin orange shaky head,” he says.
Bull Shoals Lake clarity is dingy to clear, he said. Water level is normal and the surface water temperature is 62 degrees.
Visit Del’s YouTube page, Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock, for the latest information and Del’s tips on fishing Bull Shoals.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.75 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 11-11-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the fall fishing season on Norfork Lake has started. “This means to me that all species start feeding heavily for the cold winter months. But the best part is that most species school up to feed. When you get into a feeding school of fish, you’ll have a blast. For me the bass bite has been the best over the last week. You can find this species all over the lake and in several different types of areas. The area that has been best for me is in 30-40 feet of water on the edges of large flats. Typically, this is close to a ledge or at an area that gets deeper very quickly. Use your GPS to find contour lines that are very close together on the outer edge of the flat which will show the contour lines farther apart. The bait likes this type of area and the bass will be feeding heavily. I like to vertical jig with a spoon, from half-ounce to 1-ounce depending on the wind conditions. Drop-shot rigs with a small worm should work great. A second method that is still working is to cast out a crankbait that dives 12-15 feet deep. The fish might be on bluffs or on the shallow side of the lake. White with a chartreuse back has been the best colors for both crankbaits and spoons. The old standby, worm or jig fishing, is also catching some nice fish.
“Over the last week white bass have started to show up in large schools more consistently. You may find this species feeding on the bottom, suspended, or just cruising through the area. I am finding whites in a variety of depths, but recently it seems that 30-40 feet is the magic number. The easiest time to catch them is when they are feeding on the bottom. I vertical-jig with a spoon and the best thing is that when you are jigging your spoon you may catch any species in the lake especially if there is lots of bait around.
“Crappie fishing has been pretty good. One thing that I have noticed is that the schools of crappie are roaming around and not necessarily holding tight to the brush. So, don’t hesitate looking out from the brush especially if the bite is tough. Jigging with a small spoon or a small grub is working great. You can also use live bait. When I have marked crappie on my graph, they have been suspended down 12 feet to close to the bottom. You either need to see them on your graph or keep trying different depths until you find the one where the fish are feeding.
“Striped bass and hybrid bass fishing is picking up, but still isn’t consistent. They can be found back in some of the major creeks such as Bennett’s Bayou and also up river from the Calamity area up to the Udall area. They are starting to school, and if you find them feeding, you will catch fish. I am starting to find both stripers and hybrids on the flats where I have been fishing, but it is the beginning of this pattern. Very soon large schools will show up on the flats early in the morning and then again in the evenings, if prior experience holds true. I have caught this species on swimbaits, as well as spoons. I have found them in the same depths as the other species, but don’t hesitate checking in deeper water as they will continue to move around to follow the baitfish.
“I have not been very diligent in writing a fishing report lately, but if you want some great fishing tips and to see what is currently biting, like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook and you will get frequent fishing updates on Norfork Lake.
The lake level is falling slowly with periodic power generation and currently sits at 555.8 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature has been fairly stable and was 64 degrees Tuesday morning. This temp should start to fall again with the cool front entering our area as I am writing this report. The lake is clear, but still somewhat stained in our area. The farther south you go the clearer the water gets.
“Happy fish and see you on the lake.”
(updated 11-25-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report
(updated 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. The lakes in the White River system are all at or below flood pool and anglers should see wadable water soon.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a pheasant tail size 14 below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is less pressure while school is in session; expect less pressure during the week. Weekends can be pretty busy, however. Brown trout have begun moving into the creek. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms remain 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 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. With the cooler temperatures, the bite has slowed. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,120.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is “starting to really pick up. Stripers are starting to get on a good fall/winter pattern. Look for Stripers from Rocky Branch all the way up the White and War Eagle. Keep moving; the bite has been pretty consistent. Look for bait and look for striper marks near the bait. Use brooders working as are umbrella rigs.
“Crappie are good on brush and laydowns near main river channels. Walleye for the most part have been slow; a few have been picked up in the Monte Ne area on trolled cranks.”
Check out Jon’s Facebook page at FishOn Guides Goshen Arkansas for updated reports as conditions change quickly this time of the year.
(updated 11-18-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is clear and the surface temperature is in the 60s. Water level is 2 feet high. Crappie reports are fair. Crappie are being caught in 10-12 feet depth on jigs. Black bass are being caught in shallow water with fair results. Use spinnerbaits, crankbaits or a topwater lure. No reports on catfish. No reports on bream.
(updated 11-25-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “This week's report will be a short one, as I have been tied up with work. The bite in the tailwater has been good. Most fish are being caught with spoons and PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. This week's hot spot is between U.S. Highway 62 Bridge and Spider Creek. If you can get on the water before the Army Corps of Engineers starts generating, the bite will be more productive. If you're fishing flowing water, try fishing the slackwater or drifting.
“I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Have fun, stay safe and catch some fish.”
(updated 11-18-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake clarity is still murky. The surface water temperature is 60 degrees, while the water level has fallen back to normal. Crappie are good. Minnows will work best now, and anglers continue to troll for them. Black bass are good on topwater baits. No reports on catfish or bream.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 11-25-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says the lake clarity is clear and surface temperature is 62 degrees. Water level is normal. The bream bite continues to be fair; use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good using crankbaits and crappie tubes. Black bass are good on soft plastic worms and jigs. No reports on catfish.
NOTE: A sustained drawdown at Lake Charles began Nov. 15. Water from Lake Charles is released annually via a diversion ditch to flood greentree reservoirs at Shirey Bay Rainey Brake Wildlife Management Area for waterfowl hunting. Since the amount of water needed at Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA is dependent on rainfall, heavy fall rain events the last few years have prevented a substantial drawdown at Lake Charles. This year, fisheries biologists are working with the Wildlife Management Division to maintain a low lake level through January 2021. Once Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA is flooded, biologists will allow excess water to pass through the WMA to the Black River without any adverse effects. The goal is to maintain Lake Charles at least 8 feet below normal pool, although the lake level could drop beyond this if more water is needed at the WMA.
Drawdowns help congregate baitfish and sportfish, which can increase growth of sportfish. Drawdowns also provide adjacent landowners an opportunity to repair fishing piers and boathouses, or complete other AGFC approved land-use projects. AGFC reminds adjacent landowners that a permit is required for activities occurring on AGFC property, including building new structures and stabilizing shorelines.
For a copy of the AGFC Land Use Policy or a permit for a new fishing pier or boathouse, or for any other questions, please call biologists Allison Asher or Brett Timmons at 877-972-5438.
(updated 11-25-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said she received a few reports of small crappie being caught. Lake Charles is down 2 feet because of the drawdown needed to help flood Shirey Bay Rainey Brake Wildlife Management Area for waterfowl season.
She says the next good stretch of days for fishing will fall Nov. 27-Dec. 3. The lake is murky. Surface temperature Sunday morning was 59 degrees.
For catching those crappie (Lake Charles is known for ample numbers of crappie), use minnows or jigs. Target the brushpiles, stumps and rocky points. There were no reports on bream, black bass or catfish, though the lake often has hot stretches on all those species.
(updated 11-25-2020) The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett will be closed on Dec. 1, allowing the lake to begin refilling with rainwater. Property owners with piers and boathouses on the lake have this period to get their last repairs done before the lake will begin filling up.
The lake, at Lake Poinsett State Park, has been undergoing a three-year renovation with a new water control structure, more than 10,000 linear feet of shoreline work, more than 100 habitat structures placed on the lakebed, and nearly 100 trees anchored for fish habitat with more anchoring in the plans as the lake begins to refill.
When the lake has enough water for stocking, channel catfish will be stocked to give anglers target fish to seek, while prey fish such as shiners and shad will be stocked. After the prey fish have established a base over the next year or so, predator fish such as largemouth bass and crappie will then be stocked.
(updated 11-25-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) says it is closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
(updated 11-25-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been running at 330 cfs (350 is average). Water clarity has been clear. The river has been looking great with the catching really hot on most days, he says.
“Big Woollies and streamers are what the bigger fish have been hitting,” Mark reports. “My White Lightning has landed most of the big trout in our pictures (see above). On the tough days nymphs are producing. Euro nymph techniques have been very productive on the slow sunny days. Lots of mayflies and caddis hatching on the sunny days.
“Hot pink trout magnets are the ticket spin-fishing. Some days go with white, black or red. Gotta get in front of them and they will eat it up.”
(updated 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Wednesday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 8.56 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 10.78, almost 15 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 22.25 feet, nearly 4 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 11-18-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) received reports that walleye are biting fair in the river. Try using minnows, jigs or a crankbait. They heard no other fishing reports.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 11-25-2019) Cane Creek State Park had no report.
(updated 11-25-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), said it appears the fish were biting, but may have stopped due to some recent storms that moved in. More storms are expected later on during the week, although there are a few sunny patches expected as well. The lake does appear to be a bit lower for this time of year. Recent storms have stirred up the lake, making the water very muddy.
(updated 11-25-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
(updated 11-25-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Monday that Millwood Lake was near normal conservation pool and stable, and water clarity was improving. Discharge was around 430 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 224 feet msl and falling with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Millwood State Park is open to campers. See the COVID-19 related information, and camping reservation requirements at www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/millwood-state-park.
Surface temps were stable over the last week, ranging 53-62 degrees under full sun, depending on location. Clarity was improving over the past few days in the oxbow lakes along Little River, with Little River's current slowing, ranging 15-30 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility along Little River was 5-10 inches depending on location. Further up Little River has more heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain, or thunderstorms. Continue to use caution on the lake while boating.
As for fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: The water temperatures continued to stabilize this week, dropping only a few degrees overnight, and ranging from the low 50s to low 60s, then staying in the middle 50s to low 60s most all day long. The Millwood Mayhem continues with the largemouth and white Bass feeding and schooling at or near the surface in many locations. Largemouth bass continue in a feeding mode, following threadfin shad schools in the oxbows. The highest activity has been best at midday for several weeks. Numerous schools and pods of bass continue random surface-breaking on shad in McGuire Oxbow up Little River with the improvement in water clarity and reduced stain. Heavy, thumping ¾-ounce 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic and Splatterback Shad continue working below the surface or on the surface when the bass are chasing and busting the shad near standing timber in 10-20 feet of depth, with 6-8 foot deep flats nearby. Johnson Chrome Spoons are working when bass break in the lily pads. Bomber Fat Free Shads, custom painted Little John Crankbaits and Bomber Flat A's in shad or chrome patterns continue working for solid bass in the 2-to-4-pound range following shad and bait pods over 15-20 feet of depth. Adolescent largemouth bass continue random surface-breaking on schools of threadfin shad at multiple locations, near or in lily pads for short durations in the best water clarity of the oxbows up Little River. Good numbers and large schools of 2-to-4-pound largemouth will suspend over 15-18 feet of depth. Where vertical structure drops from 6-8 feet depth flats into 18-feet drops, the custom-painted Little John Crankbaits in Splatterback Shad or Millwood Magic, and ¾-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Splatterback and Millwood Magic continue working for the suspended bass. Chrome 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 also connected with the suspended bass over 14-18 feet depths in the oxbows. Water temps have not yet dropped enough for the shad to commit to the backs of the creeks and the schools of shad continue roaming in and out of flats and creek junctions.
Largemouth and Kentucky bass (spotted bass) from 2-2.5 pounds were schooling also at Millwood State Park near the marina, and several kids were having a "field day" casting spinnerbaits and Senkos and grubs on jigheads to the breaking bass from the campground area near the boat ramp, running back and forth along bank, all the way out to the boat ramp on the rocky point at the eastern end of the park toward the dam.
Shallow square-bill cranks like the Bill Lewis Echo 1.75 or SB-57 in Millwood Magic, Splatterback and Fat Free Shad in Tennessee Shad continue drawing reactions as a few bass are beginning to follow the shad near creek channels. Shad schools are roaming much of the day, sometimes suspending near several creek mouths, in McGuire Lake Oxbow. The MR-6 Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Splatterback or Louisiana Shad colors continue getting good responses. Best locations are near intersecting creek channels dumping into McGuire. The creek channel points, which dump into Little River, and where large stumps and pads are nearby have been holding small schools of juveniles from 2-3 pounds.
* White bass: They continue roaming the oxbow lakes up Little River and are following the same large schools of threadfin shad as the largemouth bass, occasionally surface-breaking on shad and willing to bite crankbaits, jigging spoons and Rat-L-Traps, Little John Cranks and Bomber Fat Free Shad Cranks over the mid-channel depths, and near tributary points with stumps and grass. Trolling McGuire Oxbow upriver with mid-depth Bomber Fat Free Shad and Little John custom-painted crankbaits in Tennessee Shad and Splatterback Shad over the past couple weeks have connected with good schools of 2-to-3-pound whites. Vertical-jigging War Eagle Underspins with a short 2-to-3-inch white curly grub trailer connected with whites once the schools were located by trolling and watching the schools follow the shad on electronics. Fat Free Guppy Crankbaits in Citrus Shad also were catching shallow-feeding whites in 5-8 feet near vertical structure and standing timber in McGuire. “It's a great time to take a kid fishing for this hard-charging, rod-hammering big white bass,” Siefert says.
* Crappie: They slowed over the past few weeks with the high current in Little River, but are slowly recovering and improving on various jigs fished along Little River and near Okay Point along the Saline River. The black/chartreuse or red/white or pink/black have been getting fair responses, and were working better than minnows from 12-15 feet of depth in planted brushpiles. Casting Blakemore Road Runners also were catching some decent black crappie last week in and near planted brush along Saline River and Okay.
* Catfish: Blues were fair on trotlines and yo-yos last week along Little River from 9-12 feet depth using cut shad, buffalo, drum or King’s Punch Bait, “but folks we spoke to this week told us they had slowed down with the closing of gates at the spillway,” Siefert reported.
* 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 536.91 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 398.27 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) had no reports.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.52 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.47 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2020) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake is clear and the surface temperature this week is 58 degrees. The water level is about 2 feet below normal. Bream reports are good. Crappie are biting well, also. Anglers are using minnows or black/gray jigs. No reports on bass or 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 11-25-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 49 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Currently, both lakes Hamilton and Catherine have been drawn down 5 feet; the drawdown will remain in place until March 1. Numerous underwater hazards are now visible in the tailrace due to the low water conditions, and boaters and wade fishermen alike should use caution when navigating the area. Rainbow trout fishing has now returned to Lake Catherine with the AGFC stocking 1,400 trout on Nov. 13. The trout are highly scattered now from the bridge to the dam, which is normal for the early part of the fall season. Decent numbers of fish have been caught by fly-fishermen who are now able to access areas that hold fish. Egg patterns in orange or yellow have accounted for several limits of quality rainbows presented under a strike indicator. Micro-jigs in black or white have also worked well when used in the same manner. Boaters trolling shallow running crankbaits that imitate shad or crayfish have taken numbers of trout during times of generation. The majority of trout are in the 11 to 12 inch class and are full bodied. Bank fishermen are also catching trout on powerbaits and nightcrawlers cut in half used under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater.Schools of white bass are inhabiting the tailrace and feeding on threadfin shad. Topwater action has been observed in the early morning below the bridge. Walleye still remain in the tailrace and can be 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. 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. The infusion of trout always shocks the system into action with more and diverse species of fish migrating into the area to live and feed.
(updated 11-11-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 57 degrees in most places. Water clarity has improved a lot, the creeks are clear with some backwater still dingy. Bass fishing has been good on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and Bamboozie. The A-rig bite was just starting to heat up when the warm temperatures hit but that bite will be coming back. Crappie has been fair, too, good in 8 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Stick to natural colors like monkey milk. Stripers are still holding around shell beds and hard bottom points on the main river, with some starting to move up into the creeks. White bass are in the creeks and the bays; inline spinners, small crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits have been working on stripers and white bass. Bream have been gathering on brushpiles 3-4 feet deep; crickets and worms will catch them.
(updated 11-24-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), had no report. For questions contact our visitor center at (479) 967-5516. Be safe while on the river and take time to put a line in the water!
(updated 11-25-2020) 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 for the annual dock and shoreline maintenance. Water levels have exposed many shallow areas. Please use caution at all times. Water temps are around the 60-degree mark in most areas. Fishing is still basically on the same pattern it has been for three weeks now. Without good freezing nights the frogs are still abundant, and it is no surprise that the bass are still feeding well on frog patterns, skipped under docks especially. Bass also are doing well on topwater with a pearl or silver Zara Spook fished in a walk-the-dog retrieve. Some bass have already transitioned to a late fall or winter scenario, and it pays off to throw a flat-sided craw-colored crankbait or Wiggle Wart-style bait down the rock ledges. As the water breaks into the mid-50s a suspended jerkbait will start to play a factor instead of the topwater Spook. Crappie are fair to good early in the morning over deep brush in the 25 feet depth range, but suspended over the tops. Live minnows on unweighted hooks and white or shad jigs are the go-to’s right now. Hybrids can still be found breaking just inside main lake points early in the morning and about 3 in the afternoon. A jerkbait or broken minnow can wreck a school in a hurry. Bream are still in 15-20 feet of water around docks and structure.
“Happy Thanksgiving to all! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.43 feet msl (normal pool: 342.0 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the clarity is murky and the lake level is normal. Surface water temperature is 60 degrees. Crappie reports are good. Crappie are being caught at 16 feet depth on minnows and lemon jigs. Black bass are slow but there have been some fair catches. Spinnerbaits are working, along with Zara Spooks. Fish a Rat-L-Trap 3 feet deep for success, too. A few blue catfish have been caught but mostly the catfishing is poor. Bream will bite redworms a little, but the results lately have been poor for bream as well.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.34 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2020) John Koestler at Masterbaiters Bait and Tackle (501-209-6538) on Arkansas Highway 7 reports that the fishing in Lake Ouachita was rough, but they did manage to get some bass on crankbaits and also jigging spoons. Still lots of bream in 20 feet of water. Surface water temperature is 52 degrees. Crappie bite should be good in a week or two. “We were getting some in 25 feet of water,” John says. Walleye are being caught in 30 feet with grass on jigs or crawlers with spinners. Points have also been producing walleye and bass. “Give us a call. We will do what we can to help you out!”
(updated 11-18-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair to good. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are schooled up chasing baitfish. Try a small ⅜-ounce spoon in submerged schools and your favorite topwater in those same areas. No report on walleye. Stripers are still very good. These fish are being caught on live bait. No report on bream. Crappie are good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. No report on catfish.Water temperature is ranging 62-68 degrees, the clarity is clear throughout, and the lake level Tuesday was 577.17 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 384.60 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2020) Fishing has closed for the year at Cook’s Lake. Cook’s Lake will serve as a waterfowl rest area from November through February and will reopen to fishing in March if the water level permits. For more information please call the center at 870-241-3373.
Bear Creek Lake
(updated 11-11-2020) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says anglers have had success catching crappie from depths of 12-15 feet due to cooler weather. Anglers have reported catching crappie on minnows and jigs. The minnows seem to be getting the best bite at the moment. The U.S. Forest Service has coordinated a team to begin surveying for the new construction of the spillway. “This is the first news we have heard! We will continue to update anglers as this project progresses.
Storm Creek Lake
(updated 11-11-2020) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says anglers have had very little success catching fish at this location. Catfish seem to be biting the most.