Dec. 3, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Dec. 3, 2020. All Fishing Reports will be published on Thursdays through waterfowl season (ending Jan. 31). 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 noon the day of publication (Dec. 3).
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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 12-3-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said lake clarity is the normal stain, and the water level is still low. Bream reports have been good. They’re biting redworms, crickets and hand-tied jigs. Crappie are good. Throw pink, small, medium or crappie minnows their way, or try jigs that are 1-3 inches in size. Black bass are good and are biting spinnerbaits, crankbaits, buzzbaits, creature baits and curly tail worms. Catfishing is going well, with stink bait, dough bait, nightcrawlers and trotline minnows all working well.
(updated 12-3-2020) Angler Dennis Charles said water is clear and cold. Crappie have been found midway down and the bite is excellent. Catfish are deep and by the docks. Black bass are roaming all over and all depths and, like crappie, the bite is excellent.
Little Red River
(updated 12-3-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear after light rain during the night on Wednesday. Generation has been sporadic with mostly afternoon releases for one to two hours. As always, it’s best to check the schedule for the next day and call during the day to verify the schedule.
Rainbows are taking egg patterns and small midge pupa. The browns are taking egg patterns. Please try fishing below the redds to catch the fish that are feeding on the eggs drifting off the redd. Avoid harassing the fish that are on the redds spawning. These fish will probably be caught by foul hooking rather than taking the fly.
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 12-3-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) had no report. 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.
(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.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 458.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 458.75 feet msl Thursday morning; it is 3.29 feet below normal pool for this time of year of 462.04 feet and falling for the most part. Turnover is about all cleaned up, so the bite should be better all over the lake. Winter will be here soon. Crappie are stacked around pole timber and piles and getting more so every day. Fishing straight up and down or trolling will catch them when you find them on jigs or minnows. No report on walleye. Bream are still somewhat active but deeper, around 8-20 feet. Try crawlers or a moving bait. As for catfish, there’s been no report as no one has been after them since deer season, but they’re a very untapped resource. Black bass are still from super shallow out to 60 feet eating a variety of baits. Pretty much pick your poison. It’s a great time of year to pick up a bait you’re not very familiar with and learn to use it. Hybrid and white bass are eating at will all over the lake and rivers on spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and hair jigs coming into play now as well.
(updated 12-3-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says smallmouth bass are biting well on Alabama rigs, jerkbaits and Rat-L-Traps on main lake points and along creeks.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 12-3-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake is clear. The level is “very low.” Bream fishing has fallen off, with poor results this past week. Crappie are good, though. Best fishing for crappie is around the shoreline. Use minnows or try jigs with pink jigheads and shiny colors. Also, crappie are biting trotlines with minnows. Black bass are good; look in the deeper areas of the lake. Spinnerbaits will work best. Catfishing is good using nightcrawlers or glow worms.
(updated 12-3-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the cold weather has pushed the crappie into shallower water and anglers are catching quite a few keepers right now. Crappie are good on small minnows and on jigs; he says pink, white and chartreuse are the good colors. He had no other reports. The lake has cleared up quite a bit from the recent rain. Water level is normal.
(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 12-3-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no report.
Saline River Access in Benton
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 12-3-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 12-3-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says river clarity is clear and the level and current are normal. Bream have been good; use worms or crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good using crankbaits or plastic worms. No reports on catfish.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 31,716 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 32,171 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 32,855 cfs.
(updated 12-3-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river remains at a normal level. Black bass are good on firecracker-colored spinnerbaits on the main channel next to rock jetties and grass on entrances to water. Use a River Craw Finesse Jig around grass and silver and chartreuse Rat-L-Traps around the main channel. Crappie are good close to the bank. Best bet is to use a 1/16-ounce jighead in black/chartreuse.
(updated 12-3-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that crappie are good on the river around the Murray Lock and Dam in 8-10 feet of water. Best bet for catching them is a black/chartreuse Super Jig. White bass are said to be good below the dam on chartreuse Lil’ Fishies and on 3-inch chartreuse grubs. Catfish are good below the dam using skipjack.
(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.
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 12-3-2020) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) is closed for the season and will reopen in February after duck season closes.
(updated 12-3-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing the White River waters around Cotter in the Arkansas Ozarks in December can be chilly, but cold weather fishing has lots of advantages, not the least of which is feeling like you've got the river to yourself. You might not see another angler for hours, but you'll always see some rainbows and very likely a brown or two.
“You'll be able to bring some in for yourself if you add some garlic scented egg patterns to your bait mix. Can't find it? Just include some minced garlic in a jar or package of artificial bait (doesn't even have to be egg patterns) and let it steep for a day or so. Remember, though, it is considered scented bait, not for use in a catch-and-release area.”
While Bull Shoals Lake has achieved the desired elevation for the season (659 feet msl), “we continue to see fairly sizable releases, so don't leave those heavier weights at home. We've had some success this week with orange and brown flashy baits: maribou jigs, quarter-ounce with the higher water, gold/orange Cleos, and Blue Foxes with an orange/red bell.
“When planning your winter fishing trip and checking the weather, study the nighttime lows as well as the daytime highs. Figure that your day will start at the lowest temperature from the night before, and it may even be several degrees colder on the water. Layer up and you'll enjoy your trip a whole lot more. We're looking forward to a healthy, safe Christmas season!”
(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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.97 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 12-3-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the shad are getting balled up more, so he suspects the deep bite is about to get better once generation slows. There are baitfish in the creeks and shallows. Spend your idle time on the graph looking for loons and video-gaming will pay off. “I have been doing better towards backs of creeks for numbers; at 35-65 feet, some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. Use an ice jig or spoon if it’s windy, Damiki drop-shot if it’s flat. If the shad are up high in the water column, the deep bite is hot. Powerfishing shallow if there’s wind, cloud, bushes/snags with deeper water close and shad. Rock Crawlers, Wiggle Wart and square bill are all working with some wind off 45-degree banks with nasty rock transition. As the sun comes up, or post frontal, change tactics and slow down. Use jigs and shaky head on channel swings. Brushpiles are getting good if there are shad present. Follow the shad regardless of the depth and you’ll find the fish. I’m fishing the conditions.”
The lake is clear and the surface temperature is 55 degrees. Water level has recently gone up above normal conservation pool. Visit Del’s YouTube page, Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock, for the latest information and Del’s tips on fishing Bull Shoals.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(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 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.
(updated 12-3-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is finally settling into a winter pattern, which means the stripers are schooling up and so are the crappie. Look for stripers anywhere from Prairie Creek to the Arkansas Highway 45 bridge. “Anywhere is fair game this time of the year,” Jon says. “Use your electronics to locate the shad and also watch for birds. Birds will show you where the stripers are feeding. I use binoculars and scan all major creek arms.”
Crappie are loading up on any wood cover at this time. Look along main river channel drop-offs in 15 to 25 feet of water. Minnows and jigs will work. White bass are schooling up, also; look around islands in the Prairie Creek area. Spoons will work right now.
“It’s cold but fishing is getting hot. Dress warm and fill the live well. Take only what you need; release the rest for the future. Fishing is getting good right now!” Check out Jon’s Facebook page at FishOn Guides Goshen Arkansas for updated reports as conditions change quickly this time of the year.
(updated 12-3-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said stripers are excellent around the Point 12 area and around Rocky Branch. Use big brood minnows for them. Crappie reports are good, with the fish being found in 8-12 feet depth around isolated wood. They’re biting minnows mostly. Black bass are fair; spinnerbaits, crankbaits targeting 10 feet depth and Alabama rigs are working for bass. Catfish are good using cut bait and prepared bait. Bream produced no reports. The water clarity is clear and the water level is low.
(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 12-3-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake clarity is stained and the water level is low. Crappie fishing is fair; uses minnows or jigs. Black bass are biting fair on plastic worms and topwater baits. Bream and catfish are not biting.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 12-3-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says the lake clarity remains clear and water level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are still fair; use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good, with small crankbaits working best. The bite for black bass is slow, while catfishing is very slow.
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 12-3-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said crappie continue to bite well while the bass bite is fair. The lake appears to be down about 4½ feet. Minnows or a black/chartreuse jig will work for the good crappie bite. The fish are scattered. Black bass are favoring shaky head jigs. She had no reports on bream or catfish. The surface water temperature Sunday morning was 53 degrees. The clarity is murky.
(updated 12-3-2020) The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed on Dec. 1, allowing the lake to begin refilling with rainwater. 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 12-3-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) says it is closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
(updated 12-3-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 320 cfs and water clarity has been clear, with just a little below-average river flow.
“Lately the trout are biting really well most days and there have been a few days it has been hard to get a bite,” he said. “On the good days big white streamers have been the ticket. With the colder temperatures there have been bigger fish moving around. Baitfish and crawfish patterns have been working well. For the really tough days, Euro nymphing has become very productive. Prince, hare's ear and pheasant tail nymphs all work well. Same rig can be used below an indicator. Plenty of caddis and mayflies hatching on sunny days.”
(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 Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 8.69 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 11.67, more than 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 22.86 feet, more than 3 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 12-3-2019) 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 12-3-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.73 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake was 5 inches above normal conservation pool on Monday and rising, with stained water. Discharge is around 1,300 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 226 feet msl and rising with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Surface temps have been stable over the last week, ranging between 48-56 degrees. Clarity which had been improving over the past few days in the oxbow lakes along Little River, stained up over the past few days from recent rainfall near 2 inches in the region. Current along Little River increased, and river clarity ranging 5-10 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows along Little River are at 15-25 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.
See the COVID-19 related information and camping reservation requirements at https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/millwood-state-park. Millwood State Park Marina is closed for its annual winter shutdown through the end of February. The Millwood State Park Office is open and can be reached at 870-898-2800 for additional information. The Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of evaluation and replacing Little River buoy markers that have been shifted or moved from recent high flow conditions. Continue to use extreme caution where river current may have moved or damaged river buoys!
As for fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: The water temperatures continue dropping a few degrees overnight with the incoming cold fronts, ranging upper 40s to mid-50 range. The Millwood Mayhem continues with the largemouth and white bass feeding and schooling at random in many locations near/over vertical structure in timber. The highest activity period for several weeks has been best at midday and in the afternoon. Numerous schools and pods of bass continue chasing shad in Horseshoe, McGuire and Mud oxbows up Little River the past couple weeks, with the best period of feeding early to midafternoon. Heavy, ¾-ounce 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, Transparent Holographic Shad and Splatterback Shad continue working subsurface when the bass are chasing and busting the shad near standing timber in 10-20 feet of depth with 6-to-8-foot deep flats nearby. Bomber Fat Free Shads, or custom shad-painted Little John Crankbaits, and Bomber Flat A's in Tennessee Shad patterns continue working for solid bass from 2-4 pounds, suspended over 15-20 feet of depth. 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- or 8-foot depth flats, into 18-20 feet drops, the Custom painted Little John Crankbaits in Splatterback Shad or Millwood Magic, and ¾-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Splatterback or Millwood Magic continue working for the suspended bass.
Shallow square-bill cranks like the Bill Lewis Echo 1.75 or SB-57 in Millwood Magic or Splatterback and Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad continue drawing reactions as a few bass are beginning to follow the shad near creek channels. Shad schools are beginning to move toward the creek channels much of the day, suspending near several creek mouths in back of McGuire Lake. The MR-6 Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Splatterback or Louisiana Shad colors continue getting good responses in creek mouths where you find large pods of shad on your electronics. Best locations are near intersecting creek channels dumping into McGuire. The creek channel points, which dump into Little River, have been holding small schools of juvenile largemouths from 2-3 pounds, where large stumps and pads nearby have been holding good schools of bass for several weeks, and where the largemouth and white bass have been staging up and along Little River waiting for the shad to commit to moving back in the creeks.
* White bass: Continue striking Chrome Cordell 3/4-to-1-ounce Hammered Spoons by vertical-jigging in and near flooded timber in 15-20 feet of depth in several oxbows and along Little River primary and secondary points. Several large schools of whites have been 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, Rat-L-Traps, Little John Crankbaits 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 a good schools of 2-to-3-pound white bass. 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 theshad on electronics. Fat Free Guppy Crankbaits in citrus shad were catching shallow-feeding Whites in 5-8 feet of water near vertical structure and standing timber in McGuire.
* Crappie: improved in Little River before the recent rainfall and increase of discharge at the dam, but with these recent colder water temps, they are beginning to stack vertically in planted brush along Little River just out of river current. They’re biting various jigs. The black/chartreuse or red/white or pink/black have been getting a few responses over the past few weeks, and were working better than minnows from 12-15 feet depth in planted brushpiles. Blakemore Road Runners were catching some decent black crappie last week near planted brush along Saline River and Okay Point.
* Catfish: Blues were improved this week with Little River’s increased current on trotlines and yo-yos from 10 to 16 feet deep using cut shad, buffalo or chicken livers and gizzards.
* Bream: No report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 536.47 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 398.42 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) reported that crappie are still biting but moving deeper. Fish brushpiles 14-16 feet deep in 24-plus feet of water where deep water channels are nearby. Water temp is in the mid-50s.
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 439.50 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.94 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said water clarity is clear and the lake level is low. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie fishing is good. They’ve taken to the cold areas of the lake. Anglers are catching them with minnows and with Bobby Garland Jigs in white and chartreuse. There were no reports on bream, 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 12-3-2020) 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. Both lakes Hamilton and Catherine have been drawn down 5 feet, and the drawdown will remain in place until March 1 when the refilling process is scheduled to begin. 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. Entergy has lowered Lake Catherine another 2 feet for repairs on Remmel Dam. This work is expected to take until around Christmas to complete. The lack of water in the tailrace has made navigation to the dam and powerhouse area nearly impossible. Extreme caution should be used by boaters during this time. Rainbow trout fishing has now returned to Lake Catherine with the Game and Fish Commission stocking 1,400 trout on Nov. 13. Another 2,900 fish are scheduled to be released this month. 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 that 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 in the same manner. Boater 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 just past the bridge. 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 12-3-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 53 degrees in most places, warmer down by Goose Island, cooler upriver by O'Kane Creek. The heads of some of the creeks are clear, but dingy midway and, yes, dirtier the closer to the river it gets. The river is dirty. Backwater areas are dingy to stained. Bass fishing has been really good. Square-bill crankbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, jigs and Bamboozie have been working well in the dirtier water. The majority of the fish have been coming from extremely shallow, with the larger fish coming out of deeper water. Crappie have been very good in 8 foot of water; mayfly has the colour of the week. And, of course, minnows will catch a few. White bass are in some of the creeks, and on some of the main river points square-bill crankbaits and spoons have been doing well on them. Stripers are scattered, some on jetty rocks, some on hard-bottom river points. Swimbaits and Rat-L-Traps, and occasionally a spinnerbait, will catch them. Catfish have been good on skipjack if you can find them; cut shad has been working, also. A lot of good catfish have been caught around persimmon trees. A lot of channel cats are still in the backwater areas and in the creeks, and they have been caught with worms and crickets.
(updated 12-3-2020) 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.
(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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.74 feet msl (normal pool: 342.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said water has been a little murky but is clearing up. The surface water temperature is 52 degrees, and the level is high. Crappie reports have been good. Crappie are found in 5-6 feet depth and are biting red/chartreuse jigs, black/chartreuse jigs and Beaver Bottom Jigs. Black bass are good; find them in shallow water hitting spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfishing is fair using jugs and limblines. Bream reports are poor.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.55 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are still 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 good; catch them on live bait. No report on bream. Crappie are still good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. No report on catfish.Water temperature is ranging 58-62 degrees, the clarity is light stain, and the lake level Wednesday was 577.89 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(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!”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.61 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-3-2020) 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 12-3-2020) 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 12-3-2020) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.