Feb. 25, 2021
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Feb. 25, 2021. 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 9 a.m. the day of publication (Feb. 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 2-25-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Tuesday that lake clarity is the normal stain, but it was still frozen in places. Still there were some good fishing reports coming in. They report crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bream are good using redworms and crickets. Catfish can be caught in good numbers using stink bait, dough bait and nightcrawlers. No reports on black bass.
(updated 2-25-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said the lake had no ice by midweek but no one caught in any fish. Also, he heard no reports from Brewer Lake. At Lake Conway, he said, it was still frozen over “but we found some holes to jig through.” For more from Dennis’s fishing excursions around the central Arkansas region, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/arkansasfishingadventures
Little Red River
(updated 2-25-2021) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said, “There is a saying in Arkansas, ‘If you don’t like the weather, just wait. It’ll change.’ Case in point, in one week we went from a low of -2 to a high of 74 degrees. If you add about 12 inches of snow to this, it was quite a weather rollercoaster.
“The snow has melted and it was a gradual event, so the runoff didn’t muddy the river.There is a slight stain below Sulphur Creek caused by the snow melt from the streets of Heber Springs. Generation has been minimal the last couple of days due to the mild weather.
“As always, it’s best to check the forecast the afternoon before your trip. The bite is a little slow with rainbows and browns taking midge pupas, egg patterns and micro jigs.
(updated 2-25-2021) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) reminds anglers to 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 2-11-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the Little Red is stained to clear (depends on the flow) and normal level. The trout bite is pretty good; browns are favoring jerkbait, maribou jigs and Countdowns, while rainbows trend toward Trout Magnet, maribou, Countdowns, spoons and Rooster Tails.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 461.02 feet msl and is on slow rise with melting snow and ice. It is 1.02 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. Please be careful as some of the lake is still frozen over, such as creeks, rivers, etc. – “you can hit it and be in trouble quick,” Tommy said. “It will take a while for it to thaw. Caution, caution, please!”
He said some of it has thawed but they still have ice in places where you can quickly get in trouble “so be careful out there.”
Some fish have made an initial move with spawning getting on their minds with longer days and last few days of warmer nights. Crappie will eat if you get bait in front of them in 18-40 feet of water in and around brushpiles, or pole timber, or just floating around guts of deep pockets ; use jigs and minnows. No report on bream. Bass catching is good with crankbaits, traps, spinnerbaits, jigs, hair jigs, jerkbaits and Carolina rigs from super shallow out to 60 feet. Walleye in the lake are not doing much; river walleye are spread out all over. Try crankbaits and grubs or jighead tipped with minnow. No reports on catfish, but the blue’s good bite is fast approaching shallow. Hybrid and white bass are eating in river bends, creek bends, deep guts, off the side of humps, points, etc., on spoons, grubs, swimbaits, inline spinners, Largo Specials and live bait in 30-80 feet.
(updated 2-25-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is 1-2 feet low. Bass are good. They are suspended off points and brushpiles and being caught using mid-sized jerkbaits and Alabama rigs.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-25-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says clarity is clear and the water level as of Wednesday midday was high. The only fishing reports to pass their way were reports of good catches of crappie. Minnows and jigs are working.
(updated 2-25-2021) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said Tuesday that Overcup is still frozen. No reports.
(updated 2-25-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said he heard no reports from here since the bad weather hit. Before the winter weather fronts passed through, the word was that crappie are elusive and set up on the southwest end, favoring a drop-shot with small jigs. Catfish were catchable, it was just a matter of finding them. Bass were starting to show themselves along the grass.
(updated 2-25-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) had no new reports.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-25-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says clarity is clear and the river and current this week are normal. However, fishing has been poor for everything. No reports.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 24,565 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 24,465 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 31,419 cfs.
(updated 2-25-2021) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said river flows on Tuesday were slower at 23,000 cfs. Bass are biting well on the main channel and at the ends of jetties on clown color, silver and blue jerkbaits, as well as on football head jigs and spinnerbaits. No other reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-25-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake is still frozen as of Wednesday at midday.
(update 2-25-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that they are ready to reopen for the season, other than having a still-frozen-over lake. No fishing reports.
(updated 2-25-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Wow! Talk about extremes. A week ago today our high temp was about 24 degrees; yesterday we were in the mid-60s. The White River has seen some extremes, too. During the frigid, arctic days last week, Bull Shoals Dam was generating power round-the-clock and we saw releases of 21,000 cfs (aka about six units) raising the river level substantially. Now, minimum flow is the new norm; four days and counting of low, low water. Great wading water – especially now that the air temperature is more pleasant.
“Bring lighter tackle or you'll lose your lures to snags and river bed structure. Boaters: Be cautious, take your time motoring in the channel. You'll find some great schools of trout lurking in the deeper holes, so be ready to drop a line with enough weight to dangle a worm for a bit. The browns are gobbling sculpins; blues are attracting the most attention. Spring might be closer than we thought! See you on the river.”
(updated 2-25-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported Tuesday afternoon that the Corps of Engineers at Bull Shoals Dam had not run any water in about 5 days. Rainbow trout fishing is good, they say, but drift-fishing “is kind of difficult.” Also, they have not heard a lot about browns. Water clarity is clear.
(updated 2-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that during the past week, they had snow (another 3 inches at Cotter, on top of what had hit the previous Sunday-Monday), brutally cold temperatures (some below 0 degrees) and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1 foot below seasonal power pool and 17 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some heavy generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 1.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the severe weather past us, expect lower levels of generation.
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 an egg pattern with a pink San Juan worm).
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.10 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 913.90 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said there is a lot of moss present in the water. A lot of the shad are dying from the frigid temps and he’s spending hisidle time on the graph looking for loons and gulls. Most of the shad are suspended over the old creek channels or blown off to the side. Use a Rapala Ice Jig or Jewel Spoon, a Damiki Rig, or drop-shot a McMinnow. Shad are up high in the water column. Try a jerkbait or Megabass in early mornings on bluff ends and points with shad. Also fish the backs of creeks that still have skim ice and cold temps. Surface temperature Tuesday was 43 degrees. The lake is about a half-foot low.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 552.42 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report. Click on the resort website linked above for more information.
(updated 2-25-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports in March.
(updated 2-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 1.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the severe weather past us, expect lower levels of generation.
The Norfork is fishing well. 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 with a root beer midge dropper,” John said, “My wife, Lori, did well recently with an olive Woolly Bugger. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is less pressure with the colder weather. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10), mop flies and egg patterns.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-25-2021) 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,119.40 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is near normal level. “It was frozen most of last week. Not much to report.I did go fish below Beaver dam for walleye last Tuesday and did really well there. At this point it is on fire and a great place to go and chase walleye right now.
“Had a crappie trip (Tuesday) and broke up some of the remaining ice to get up the White River arm and found crappie on brush in 15-30 feet of water. Water temps were 39 degrees at Blue Springs. Hopefully we will jump into spring. I believe it set back things two weeks. It should be on soon!”
(updated 2-25-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said some walleye are starting to be caught. The lake is still mostly frozen as of Tuesday but starting to thaw. The level is down about 2 feet. Along with walleye, anglers are catching crappie and they report good catches. The crappie are 10-15 feet deep where anglers cand find the nonfrozen spots, and they’re using minnows and jigs. Nothing else was reported.
(updated 2-25-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) had no new reports because of the weather. Visit his Facebook page at Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service for more information.
(updated 2-25-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported that the lake is still frozen over as of Tuesday afternoon.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 2-25-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said Tuesday that the lake was still mostly frozen. No fishing reports.
(updated 2-25-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the lake was still frozen as of Monday morning and she had no reports for the week. She says that the best fishing days, based on moon cycles, should be March 10-16. Good days are expected to be March 25-31. When the water thaws, the level should still be low and the clarity will be murky.
(updated 2-25-2021) 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 2-25-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) remains closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances.” However, they are still accepting RV and cabin reservations.
(updated 2-25-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 350 cfs, average flow, and water clarity has had a heavy green tint. “After last week with all the cold and snow the trout were happy to see us floating down the river this week.”
Olive and brown Woollies are working well and Y2Ks with a nymph dropper is the ticket for slower days. On spin-fishing, a gold Rooster Tail has been wearing them out. Trout cranks are working good in the deeper holes, especially below waterfalls where the water can get deep.
Mark says that starting in March the trout stocking “will increase a lot. That always makes for easier catching. For the next three months the river will be prime fishing as long as a monsoon does not move through. The canoe hatch does not begin until end of May when school lets out.”
(updated 2-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is coming and it will get busy. 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 6.59 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 8.22, a drop of nearly 7 feet from last week and almost 18 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is still high at 20.75 feet, a big drop from last week’s near flood stage reading, which is 26.0 feet.
(updated 2-25-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 2-25-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 2-25-2021) Jeff Shell, superintendent at Cane Creek State Park, had no new reports.
(updated 2-25-2021) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no report.
(updated 2-25-2021) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam by the City of Monticello and the AGFC is making improvements to the fish habitat while the lake is currently drawn down for the dam work.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.64 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake is approximately 4 inches above normal conservation pool and falling; the oxbows' water clarity is excellent, while Little River is normal stain. The gate discharge at the dam is around 6,400 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.The tailwater below the dam and gates, around 233 feet msl and falling with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temps jumped this week, ranging in 42-48 degrees depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for random broken or floating timber in Little River. Lots of Little River buoy markers are missing along the main lake channel. Use extreme caution in navigation on the main lake. “There were only 2-3 markers from Yarborough point to Big Bayou Boat Run in Little River yesterday!” Mike said. Clarity improved over the past few days in the oxbow lakes along Little River. Current along Little River improved this week, and river clarity ranging 6-10 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows along Little River is at 25-36 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.
As for the fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: Bass improved this week with warmer days and sun. Just over the past few days, bass have begun roaming and feeding shallow again. Pockets along South Hickory and along the golf course on the west bank are beginning to see improvement and activity. Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, Ghost Craw or Rayburn Red Craw, and Red Chrome are catching fish. Custom Chatterbaits in Texas Craw or Blue Glimmer Shad will draw a few reaction bites. Brazalo Spinnerbaits in Millwood Mayhem Bream and Spot Remover caught decent bass this week, and heavy thumping 1-Knocker Rat-L-Traps with a very slow and deep retrieve along creek channels picked up a few 2-3 pound largemouths this week. “Most bass we are finding continue randomly roaming shallow under full sun and bright skies in the 3- to 6-foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 7-10 feet depth ranges,” Siefert said. “The best 3-4 hours is during the heat of the day, best on bright, sunny, clear days when water temps will rise a few degrees after lunch. Little John Crankbaits, got a few slow responses over the past week. Anywhere a creek channel runs into the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-sized bass over the past few weeks.”
Beaver Bugs, Brush Hogs and lizards were taking a few good male bass on flooded cypress trees, stumps, and along vegetation lines in ditches, creeks and flats from 3-8 feet deep. Best colors were Purple Smoke, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse, blackberry and Big Texan. Water clarity improved along the west bank pockets this week and visibility was 5-6 feet, which is extremely clear for Millwood. “A few places we noted had the appearance of early bed-making activities in numerous locations between South Hickory creek and Millwood State Park; however, we are guessing these were made prior to the ice and snow (when the perimeter of Millwood froze over a few days last week) from the week prior. We did not see any tending activities, just the initial clearing of places where bottom visibility and clarity allowed us to see depth and bottom in a few pockets along South Hickory.”
* White bass: Large schools of whites continue holding in deep holes along Little River and on the main lake in open water near standing timber, from 20-35 feet of depth. Vertical-jigging spoons caught a few hammer white bass the week before last along Little River and Saline River cutoff boat lane, between the 1-3 mile markers on Little River. “Chrome/blue, chrome/chartreuse and Leadhead Spoons and hammered Cordell Slabs with bucktails got the best response from the anglers we talked to,” he said. “Several whites in the 3-pound class were hard-charging the vertical-jigging spoons near any remaining standing timber/stumps out in front of the dam and 1-3 miles from the dam where Little and Saline rivers junction. We have yet to locate, with any consistency, any large schools of whites running in Little or Saline rivers as of this point for their annual spawning runs. Once the water temps climb out of the 40-degree range overnight and into the mid 50-degree range all day and overnight hours, we are expecting the white bass run to fire up in short order.
* Crappie: Have been slow. Nothing consistent to report.
* Catfish: Channel cats and blues in Little River were improved on trotlines, and in the oxbows on yo-yos, using King's Punch Bait, hot dogs and chicken livers and gizzards.
(updated 2-25-2021) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 537.61feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 403.02 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(update 2-25-2021) Local angler Charles Abernathy says water was around 40-42 degrees as of Wednesday depending on location. “The water up in the river around Point Cedar/Cox Creek was a blueish-green color I have never seen before,” he said. “I’m still seeing crappie schooled up in mouths of some major creek channels.I’m also seeing the larger ones hanging out in open water.I was in 30 feet of water and the fish seemed to be using the entire water column, but the majority seemed to be within 15 feet. On my latest trip, I was using an orange hand-tie and also a monkey milk Slab Slayer with chartreuse green head. They both worked fine. If you haven’t seen my two previous reports, look them up. That information is still valid.
“Spring is right around the corner and these crappie know it. If you wait for the spawn, you will miss a pretty good bite. They are feeding right now.
“I get quite a few emails and I enjoy reading/responding to every one of them. Thank you so much for reading these and thanks to everyone for letting me know. As always, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. I have a new YouTube channel where I share some fishing content. Look me up. Good luck out there and be safe and be nice.:
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.34 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 525.95 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said Tuesday the lake was still frozen and starting to thaw. He had no reports.
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 2-25-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 45 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Water levels are now back to the original 5-foot drawdown level established in November. Entergy is currently scheduling generation in the afternoon hours, which has enabled the public to take advantage of fishing opportunities and much safer boating. The weekly generation schedule is posted on the Entergy website each Wednesday afternoon, and anyone planning on using the Carpenter Dam tailrace is advised to check out the report. Currently, rainbow trout are the main attraction for anglers to target below the dam. Very good numbers of fish are present and feeding heavily on injured threadfin shad drawn through the dam from Lake Hamilton. Because of the huge influx of prey items, these fish are harder to catch and patience must be used for success. Fly-fishermen can still wade to areas that hold numbers of trout and should use a fly that imitates something other than a shad. A worm imitation such as the San Juan worm, often mentioned in this report, is a highly underrated fly that can produce good catches of rainbow trout in current or slackwater conditions. Woolly Buggers in green or black have done well this week, cast with a strike indicator. Egg pattern flies in orange or white have drawn strikes from finicky trout that are stuffed from threadfin shad feeding. Bank anglers have had little trouble catching limits of fish by using PowerBaits and redworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Much larger trout are scheduled to be released in March below area dams as the springtime approaches.
The walleye spawn has begun, but no reports have come in due to the heavy snowfall amounts of the past week. Anglers have been unable to access the tailrace area to launch a boat. These fish will be spawning in Lake Catherine until mid-April.
Both lakes Hamilton and Catherine are scheduled to be refilled beginning Monday, March 1. Many underwater hazards on Lake Catherine are still present in the low water conditions and boaters must use extreme caution when attempting to navigate their way to the dam. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and wear a mask and observe social distancing when encountering others.
(updated 2-11-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 46 degrees and falling. Water clarity in most creeks are good. Most of the bays are in good shape; some are stained. River conditions are dingy to dirty. Largemouth bass have been slow, but on those low-pressure days your best chance to have a good day is to stick to A-rigs or jerkbaits in or around 8-10 feet of water. Where this cold front is moving in, they may even move down to 15 feet.
Crappie have been fair. They have been holding close to the bottom in multiple depths depending on where you're situated on the river. Natural colors have been working the best: monkey milk or mayfly. You can find the fish from 10 feet down to 30 feet. Stripers have been excellent, and early mornings the bite has been best from daylight to 9 a.m. Swimbaits have been working the best, though there is a topwater bite occasionally, and large Rat-L-Traps also are working. Catfish have been excellent throughout the river system and the creeks. Shad, skipjack and stink bait have been working the best. White bass have been good on small crankbaits and spoons.
(updated 2-25-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, had no reports.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 343.05 feet msl (normal pool: 342.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-25-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is “pretty clear.” Surface temperature Wednesday at midday was 38 degrees. Water level is normal. Anglers report a good bream bite on redworms, crickets and nightcrawlers. Crappie are good in the open water; use minnows or go with black/chartreuse or red/chartreuse jigs for best results. Nothing has been heard on black bass or catfish.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 573.92 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-11-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) Black bass are fair. Try a small ⅜-ounce spoon or jig-n-rap out deep; 40-50 feet off main lake points. Bama rigs and pig-n-jigs will work for large mouths around brush in 25-40 feet. Trap time is right around the corner. No report on walleye. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on live bait and Bama rigs. No report on bream. Crappie are still fair. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 42-46 degrees. Water clarity is stained. Lake level is 574.60 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.66 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge at 23.18 feet, almost 3 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 2-25-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) is happy to report that Cook’s Lake will reopen for youth and mobility impaired fishing March 3. Like many lakes in the state, Cook’s has been ice covered for over a week but should be completely open by next week. The lake is stained, below flood stage and on a steady fall, which should create good conditions.There has been no fishing since last fall, therefore no updated report. We hope to have some anglers fish so we can let others know how to tackle this lake.
Cook’s Lake is a 2.5-mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility-impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species. Due to current guidelines, Cook’s Lake will be open to fishing during normal business hours, starting March 3, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., water level pending Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youth under 16 or mobility-impaired anglers, and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat, but we ask for trolling motors only. To comply with current guidelines, please call ahead at least a day in advance to register to fish. Before launching, please check in at the Conservation Education Center, and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.
(updated 2-18-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) reported last weekend that fishing has been slow. Before the latest winter storms, the water temperatures were in the high 30s and falling. A few crappie are being caught and most of those are in 22-24 feet of water near the bottom. Most anglers were using minnows to catch crappie. The preferred method right now is spider-rigging very slow, and the wind as of the past couple of weeks has made fishing this method very tough. As we get through this cold spell and get some sun and warmer temperatures, look for fish to move up in the water column and be on a more active pattern.
Catfish should be in deeper water and schooled up. If you catch one, stay put as there should be several more in the same place. No report on bass or bream.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 2-25-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report; no anglers were out during last week’s snow and ice and low temperatures.