Dec. 16, 2021
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Dec. 16, 2021, with updates added after Dec. 16 and through the next Fishing Report release on Jan. 6, 2022. 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 noon the day of publication (Dec. 16).
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Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 12-16-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake has the normal stain and the lake level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are still good. Anglers are mainly going with redworms, but crickets will work. Crappie slipped back to good this week. Minnows are working. Also, try jigs in white and chartreuse, or Monkey Milk with blue or purple. Black bass are good. Swimbaits, spinnerbaits and any baitfish seem to be working. Catfishing is good on trotlines and pole fishing with stink bait, nightcrawlers, dough bait and large trotline minnows.
(updated 12-16-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) says that fishing for crappie is good at Gold Creek as well as around Wilhelmina Cove.
Little Red River
(updated 12-16-2021) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said they are seeing sporadic generation from the Greers Ferry Dam, creating low water conditions most days on the Little Red. This provides good wading conditions on all sections of the river. Midges, pheasant tails, hare’s ear and Woolly Buggers are recommended for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing, use ink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 12-16-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout are good on jerkbaits and Rooster Tails.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 455.44 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 12-16-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass are good on floater spoons and Silver Buddies.
(updated 12-16-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry lake is at 455.40 feet msl and falling pretty slowly. It is 6.64 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl for this time of year. “We are in winter patterns, for sure,” Tommy said. “The bite is good and gets better every day until super cold. The weather we are having is ideal for catching on any highland reservoir in the country.”
Catfish are eating, just not a lot of anglers trying to catch them this time of year (but you should be, Tommy notes). Crappie are being caught as shallow as 10 feet down to 50 feet; various ways working. Not much to report on bream, but they are eating as well on crickets if you can get them, or just a pinch of a crawler. Some walleye are on the move for spring spawn. Find the grouped up ones, and drag a crankbait or crawler real slow in 25-50 feet.
Black bass are scattered all over. Some are super shallow out to 50 feet and, again, a vast bunch of different baits are working, as well as techniques. Hybrid and white bass are eating on top, on humps, bends and drops all over lake and rivers. Lots of baits are working.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 12-16-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water clarity is clear and remains very low. Water from Harris Brake Lake helps flood the nearby waterfowl hunting areas at Harris Brake WMA, which otherwise would be dry at this time with little rainfall recently. Bream are fair. The low water isn’t helping the bream. Crappie fell back to fair, also mostly likely on account of the low water. Try minnows. Bass fishing is fair, with the catches being very small. Bass have moved to deeper areas. Try a plastic worm in watermelon color. Catfish may be taking the rest of the year off, or at least taking a break until they sense a change in the water.
(update 12-16-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210) said the lake remains fairly clear and at a normal level. Bream fishing has been fair, with a few caught around the shoreline. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good. They are being caught at 7-8 feet depth. Minnows and jigs will work, of course, while live bait and Bobby Garland Baby Shad in multiple colors also are working for anglers. Crappie are over the underwater brushpiles.
Black bass are good but they are in deeper water. Try using lures that can get 5-6 feet deep, along with live bait. Catfishing has been good. Catfish Charlie bait is working along with nightcrawlers on the bottom. On the yo-yos and trotlines, bait them with goldfish.
Dad’s is a 24/7 self-serve bait shop.
(updated 12-16-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported that water temperature is in the mid- to upper 50s. The lake is still low (4-5 feet) so boaters should exercise caution. Largemouth bass fishing is good. Some reports have the bass being found still scattered at all depths, but most are deep. Try using Alabama rigs, deep-diving crankbaits, spinnerbaits and drop-shots. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are fair. There have been some reports of them being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks, while other reports have them being found on brushpiles. Trying using Texas-rig on brush, or jigs. In the WestRock Landing Winter Series black bass tournament this week, Eric Wallace landed 15.59 pounds of bass, while Daniel and Larry Romine caught the Big Bass of 5.61 pounds, so there are some big black bass out there biting now.
White bass are slow. Reports have come in of them being found shallow chasing shad. Try using swimbaits. Crappie are good. Anglers report this week that the crappie are suspended at 22-28 feet deep on the move and aren’t stacking up yet. They were still deep this week over brush. Use jigs and minnows. Bream and catfish are both slow with no reports coming in this week. To get the cats’ attention now, though, try using chicken liver, worms or crayfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 5,017 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 9,376 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 12-16-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are still fair. Look for them in 5 feet of water. Crankbaits and plastic worms are working best. No reports on catfish or bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 5,353 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 3,902 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 1,559 cfs.
(updated 12-16-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said bass are good on spoons off the ends of the jetties and on mid-diving crankbaits.
(updated 12-16-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie are good on the river on minnows and jigs off the rocks and at the ends of jetties. Expect a bite in 8-10 feet of water. Catfish are fair below the Murray Lock and Dam. Use live bait.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-9-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says the water is low and clear. Fishing has been slow this week. Last week, crappie were good on crappie minnows and jigs.
(update 12-16-2021) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) is closed for the season, as private Peckerwood Lake is turned over to waterfowl with the upcoming season. Herman’s will reopen in February.
(updated 12-16-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said this December continues to be very mild with Christmas just a little over a week away. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam are at minimum flow or less (700 cfs) with an occasional burst bringing the river level to 3,000-4,000 cfs for an hour or two in the late morning and sometimes late in the afternoon. The lake has been rising slowly to 655 mls, but is still about 4 feet below power pool for this time of year.
Kids will be looking for Christmas vacation adventures, and there is none better than catching trout on the White River. Any orange scented egg bait (Berkley PowerBait or XFactor) and shrimp are reliable baits to provide a lot of action and help them catch some rainbows.
Mild daytime temperatures for the next week mean a good time to pick up your rod and reel and get outside. When you see a rise in the water, reach for the wiggly worms. However, wading opportunities abound during early morning here in Cotter, when we have seen very low water. The browns have given some attention to sculpins and minnows, even in the middle of their annual spawn.
Rule of thumb: Gold spinners and spoons will work best when the sky is clear and sunny; change to silver-colored baits when fishing under overcast skies.
“Come on over and tie on your favorite baits; catch some trout and revel in the changing seasons we are so blessed to enjoy. The Trout Capital USA, Cotter, Arkansas, is lit up for Christmas like never before. Visit the park after sunset and see how the city has decorated Big Spring Park. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.”
(updated 12-16-2021) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says, “How about this beautiful weather? Temperatures have been nice during the day making for a perfect time to be fishing. The varied generation from both Bull Shoals and Norfork dams have had the river levels rising and falling. Last Friday the Norfork Hatchery stocked 1,200 trout at the Calico Rock boat ramp and another 1,200 trout at the Chessman Ferry boat ramp. Due to the varied river conditions the trout haven’t been biting as well but they are still catchable using spoons, Rooster Tails and Power Eggs with shrimp/worms/corn. Fishing is best if you recognize the river is starting to rise and if you can stay in front of the rising water. We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
(updated 12-16-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they have had over 3 inches of rainfall in Cotter, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.6 feet to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 2 feet to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.3 feet to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool or 9.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had significant wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.9 feet to rest at 0.9 foot over power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had less wadable water.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. With the recent rains, we can expect more generation, particularly on the Norfork.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31, 2022, 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 White, the hot spot has been the Wildcat Shoals. On the low water the bite was excellent! The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise).
(updated 12-9-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said water is low and clear. Trout are good. They are catching a lot of numbers on Shad Raps in size 4 and 5, and jerkbaits (2-3 inches in white color) and white marabou jigs.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 655.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 923.47 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-9-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said patterns are steady, while the temperature drops a little on the lake. Bass fishing is still fair one-half to three-quarters of the way back into the creeks, Look for wind and shad-surfacing action. Birds and loons have arrived around the shad. The deep bite is hot, and bass are keying in on the shad in 40-70 feet. That seems to be the predominant bite.
In stormy, windy conditions, power fishermen can key in on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. On windy days, Rock Crawlers, square bills and Wiggle Warts will work around the windy transitions. Offshore, the shad are starting to group up a lot better. Try a Jewel Scuba Spoon or drop-shot a Damiki Ice Jig. Fish the conditions.
Bull Shoals clarity is good, the surface temperature is 57 degrees. Water level is about 4 feet low. See Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 551.50 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-16-2021) Lou Gabric, at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, says Norfork Lake fishing has been good over the last week or so. Striped bass fishing has improved the most, and as the water continues to cool the striped bass bite will only get better. Stripers & hybrids have started to school up and feed for the cold winter months. The biggest change for this species is that they have started to go deeper to feed. There is a lot of bait that has moved out to deeper water and you can find them from 40 to 60 feet down in depths of water from 40 to 100 feet. The easiest for catching them is if you can find the bait on the bottom. That makes vertical jigging much easier than trying to catch a suspended fish. I am still finding this species on moderate to deep flats. Try and find some structure on the bottom whether it be a drop-off, old foundations or some rotten timber that has sunk over the prior years. Jigging a spoon, ice jig and a plastic jig is working. Many times the fish will hit the bait on the fall, so if your line goes slack, set the hook quickly. Live bait is probably working the best at this time because it is much easier to catch that lone fish with live bait than trying to drop a spoon in front of his mouth.
Largemouth bass fishing has also been very good for me. The fish I am finding and catching are in 30 to maybe 36 feet of water relating to underwater points, small drop-offs, small humps or to nearby brush piles. The areas that I have found to be the best are typically out in the middle of the lake. Small schools are feeding at different times of day. When you find these feeding fish it has been very normal to land 5 to 10 nice size largemouth in a very short period of time. Just remember when you jig up a bass and are reeling it up to the boat do not let the fish jump out of the water. If they do get to jump 9 times out of 10 you have lost the fish. You can also find bass in tighter to shore and fishing jigs and worms are working for these shallow fish.
The white bass bite has also been good. You will find them in the same areas as the stripers and largemouth. Vertical jigging a spoon in 35 to 45 feet of water has been the best method and depth to catch this species. Catfish have also been biting very well out in deeper water along with the largemouth bass, striped bass and white bass. I have caught some nice flatheads over the last week from 26 feet of water out to 34 feet of water. Vertical jigging a spoon will catch this species along with the channels and blues.
The main reason I enjoy vertical jigging in the fall is that you never know what you might catch. All species in Norfork Lake will be roaming and feeding on the flats at the same depth and time of day.
Crappie are in their typical areas, inside of or on the tops of sunken brush. Find brush in 30 to 40 feet of water and vertical jig a small spoon, cast out a small plastic grub or drop live crappie minnows to the tops of the brush.
Norfork Lake is falling slowly and currently sits at 551.66 feet msl which is roughly 2 feet below normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature has fluctuated from 55 to 57 degrees over the last several weeks and this morning was close to 57 degrees. The lake is slightly stained to clear.
Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.
(updated 12-9-2021) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort reported Wednesday that the lake level is 552.64 feet msl and had dropped about 1 inch in the last 24 hours with both generators running about 4 hours. The White River at Newport is 3 feet. The surface water temperature was 55.5 degrees and dropping with the cooler weather this week when Steve went out fishing Tuesday. “There was a cool breeze from the northwest but it calmed at about 4 p.m. when the fish started to bite. It was slow before then. Very slow. The cold fronts just keep coming through about one or twice a week and do not help fishing any. I saw no other boats for the entire time I was out.
“I started out with the crappie jig and switched to the spoon when the wind quit. Crappie, Kentucky bass, bluegill and walleye are the best bite now with a few smaller stripers being caught trolling.
“Overall the lake is in excellent condition and at a good level for fishing. Work the bank for bass at sunset and brushpiles earlier at 25-35 feet the rest of the time. Winter bass fishing will pick up as the water cools. Some big crappie are being caught but not high numbers. Some white bass are on deeper brush.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.
(updated 12-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.9 feet to rest at 0.9 foot over power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had less wadable water.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. With the recent rains, we can expect more generation, particularly on the Norfork.
There has been some wadable water on the Norfork and it fished well some days and poorly on others. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. School is back in session and now is a great time to fish it, particularly during the week. Weekends can get a bit crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “Our recent return to low water has had an unexpected effect on fly-fishing. We have had three years of almost uninterrupted high water and have been spending almost all of our fishing time in boats. Now, all of a sudden, we have more wadable water than we know what to do with. Most of us have not used our waders in quite a while.
“My wife, Lori, and I are a bit different from the others. When we guide on Dry Run Creek we always wear waders. This allows us to reach certain spots to fish that others without waders cannot reach without getting quite wet. We have also found that we can net big fish more effectively if we are in the creek with them. I am always amazed when I see guides working on Dry Run Creek while wearing flip-flops. You cannot do much wading in flip-flops.
“I also ask my young clients on Dry Run Creek to wear waders. If they do not have waders, I frequently furnish them. I have several pairs of waders and boots available to loan out. These waders receive quite a bit of abuse and it is a full-time job to keep them repaired.
“Those fly-fishers who have not used their waders in a while may be in for a surprise. First, in three years they (the anglers) may have gained a pound or two. I have several friends with this problem. Today’s waders come in more sizes and are designed to fit much closer to the body than waders from years past. This reduces the drag and makes it easier for you to wade. The problem is that if you pick up 20 pounds or so, they may be too tight. Neoprene waders will stretch a bit but the Gore-Tex waders will not.
“Second, your waders may not have been properly stored. Did you hang them up and let them dry thoroughly before putting them away. The same thing goes for your wading boots. If not they may have mildewed, which causes a significant funky odor and could harm the waders and boots. Were any leaks repaired before they were stored away? If not you may be in for a surprise. Most leaks are easy to repair.
“The trick is to get your waders out of storage a day or two before you are going to use them. Try them on. Do they still fit? If not it may be time to buy a new pair. Do the look or smell funky? If so wash and dry them. If you think they leak, fill them with water and mark any leaks and repair them.
“Don’t wait until the last minute; you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 12-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are still navigable. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are not active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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 1,118.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-16-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver lake has not changed too much. It still remains about 3 feet below normal pool level. The lake is fishing as good as it has been since last spring. Water temps are in the low 50s and clarity is from stained in river arms to clear toward the dam. Best bets right now are most all species except walleye, which remain elusive. Crappie are real good right now and with the weather we have been having it is a very good late fall bite. We have been catching limits on every trip and a bonus is that we have put some really big crappie (for Beaver) in the boat. Had a trip Tuesday and we managed four fish that almost hit 16 inches. Crappie are from real shallow (3 feet) to around 20 feet deep. Seems the bigger fish are very shallow. So, do not be afraid to hit those shallow stick-ups. “Jigs are working, as I am sure minnows are also.
Stripers are good from Prairie Creek up all the way to Camp War Eagle. Look for bait and birds. Brood minnows are working well. Some big fish are being caught. Bass are good. Fish the usual points and secondary points. Again, just like the crappie, bass can be up real shallow. Have not heard of catfish reports but would assume they will bite. “Be safe while out on the lake. Get out and get in on this spring bite – I mean, this fall bite (lol!) Good luck.”
Check out Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 12-16-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported that stripers are fair for anglers trolling brood minnows. Crappie are good in 8-15 feet of water. Minnows and jigs are working; target the brushpiles. Black bass have been hit or miss with fair catches this week Anglers are having success with crankbaits in the morning. Jerkbaits are good during the day. Also use a CC Spoon. Bass are related to the brushpiles now. Catfishing is fair, with prepared bait working best. The clarity is clear, surface temperature is in the low 50s, and the water level is normal.
(updated 12-9-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said that this past week, the fishing has been good. The water levels are a little lower and the Corps of Engineers has the water flowing around 6 a.m. The majority of the trout that are being caught are in the deeper pockets. Most have been caught using light terminal tackle with various Power and Fire baits. This time of year, spoons seem to do great. Try fishing with a quarter-ounce Colorado or something similar. You can still get a walleye here or there, but you really have to put in the work. With the water levels being down, try working a Rogue or similar hard bait. This week's hot spot has been the Spider Creek area. Once again, try to fish the deeper pockets of water. "We are supposed to have a warm-up in the weather. I would take advantage. Have fun and stay safe." Check out Austin’s fishing Facebook Page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for fishing videos and tips on the tailwater.
(updated 12-16-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported that the lake is still slightly stained and is at a normal level. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. No reports on bream, black bass or catfish.
(updated 12-16-2021) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake is clear and is back up to normal. Bream are fair. They are in 15 feet of water and biting redworms and crickets. Crappie also have moved deeper and are being caught in about 15 feet of water on minnows or jigs. Try fishing off the old bridge for best success. Black bass went into hiding. Catfish were fair again this week; try live bait.
(updated 12-21-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said anglers should be looking ahead to early January, when the best days to fish based on moon times are Jan. 1-6. Good days are expected to be Jan. 14-20. Then January has another run of great days based on the moon cycle, Jan. 29-31. And this week, on Wednesday and Thursday, also was lining up with good moon times.
This past week, bream have been fair on worms, while crappie are biting well on jigs and worms. Shelly had no reports on black bass, white bass or catfish.
The surface water temperature Monday morning was 48.2 degrees and the water level is low by 5 feet(Lake Charles helps provide water to Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA’s waterfowl hunting). The clarity is the usual murky.
(updated 12-9-2021) t Lake Poinsett is in the process of refilling, but is rainfall dependent and the region hasn’t had a lot of rainfall lately. The fishing now is predominantly catch-and-release for bream. They seem to be biting on crickets and worms. Small boats, kayaks or canoes are the only watercraft that can launch at this time.
The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed a year ago, following the completion of a three-year renovation projection, and the lake began to refilling. The lake has been undergoing an extensive 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.
Other forage species that were stocked this spring include fathead minnows, golden shiners and threadfin shad have been added in huge numbers to the lake to build up the food supply for the predators, which will be stocked in 2022.
(updated 12-9-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has closed for the season and will reopen in mid-February.
(updated 12-9-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said the Spring River is flowing at 250 cfs (350 is average) and water clarity has been very clear. The river has been very low for a few months now. Really in need of rain in this area. Guide trips have been in rafts lately. The drift boats have not done well on all of the rocks and low water areas.
Catching has been great over the last two weeks. Lots of blue-wing olives and caddis hatching, especially last week with the warm weather. Dries have been working on the spring, but beware the shad in the shallow areas. We’ve got big ones and they love dries! Nymphs and smaller Woollies have been great for numbers. White Lightning, a big white fly pattern sold in fly shop similar to big white Woolly, has been the producer many times for bigger rainbows and, of course, olive Woollies for the browns. Overcast days have been small streamer fun and nymphing on the sunny days. If the bite is not there, eggs or move!
Catching a few bass, but more largemouth than smallies. As the cold sets in, the smallmouth can start to bite. But slow presentations during winter months. The White Lightning was made for smallmouth during winter below a big hopper. Hopper during winter? Better than an indicator.
Work on the Jim Hinkle Spring River Hatchery is going well. The hatchery continues to stock the Spring weekly and has been doing great at working around the construction. The work is scheduled for a year before completion. Renovation of the hatchery is very exciting and shows how much Arkansas is investing in the area. Progress will be posted through the year.
With the river so low, wading is better, but please be careful – the river is all boulders and slick rock. Wading staffs are a lifesaver on the Spring.
(updated 12-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is over and the canoes are mostly gone. Fish the upper river at the Lassiter Access to avoid them or fish Dam 3 late in the afternoon, after they have left the area. 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, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 6.29 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 4.32 feet, also well below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta has was up another foot this week to 15.53 feet, still about 10.5 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 11-24-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville reports that walleye are fair around Locks 2 and 3 on live bait and jigs.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam at Pine Bluff was 5,421 cfs. Further upriver at the Maynard Lock and Dam near Redfield, the flow was 4,895 cfs.
(updated 11-24-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team says water temperatures in upper 50s. Water clarity 1-1.5 feet. Little to no flow on river. Water level several inches low consistently. Black bass are biting very well on shallow and lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, bladed jigs and topwater walking baits in shad colors over sandy flats with baitfish present, and along adjacent rocky banks especially with some wind blowing into/over those flats. On calm days, target docks, woody cover and brushpiles with dark-colored jigs. November to early December is one of, if not the, best times of the year to fish the harbor (Lake Langhofer) for black bass; very low fishing pressure and active fish feeding up for the winter.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 12-16-2021) Cane Creek State Park had no new reports.
(updated 12-16-2021) Dam repair work has been completed by the city of Monticello’s contractor, while the AGFC has been rebuilding the lake bottom and areas near where the shoreline will be for fish habitat when the lake is refilled, which will mostly be done by rainfall collection. Many artificial fish habitat structures have been created and put in place, and the AGFC has pumped several of the small ponds and has added rotenone to those areas for the elimination of unwanted species (i.e. grass carp, yellow bass), before the refilling of the lake begins. The city will determine when the gates are closed on the dam to begin refilling.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.01 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-16-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Millwood Lake continues on a slow rise. The lake Tuesday was at 259.15 feet msl and rising, and clarity has improved. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 224 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 1,140 CFS in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Surface temps were stable this week, ranging in 50-55 degrees depending on location. Lots of Little River buoy markers along the main lake channel MAY HAVE MOVED with recent gate changes at the Millwood Dam and high wind. Use caution in navigation on main lake river channels where river buoys may be out of channel from recent high winds.
The Millwood State Park Marina has closed for the winter season. Millwood State Park is open for camping, and the State Park office can be reached at 870-898-2800 for availability or more information. Corps of Engineers Campgrounds are open for camping. Call (877) 444-6777 for more information.
Mike offered this breakdown for fishing specifics this week on Millwood:
* Largemouth bass reactions slowed over the past week. The best feeding cycles shifted over the past few weeks to mid-day and afternoon. Threadfin shad are still roaming in and out of the shallow flats with any remaining lily pads, other times over drops from 9 feet to around 15 feet of depth. The black bass are continually roaming and following the huge pods of threadfin shad in the oxbows along Little River and in mouths of the creeks that dump into the river. Shad have been randomly surface-breaking when the bass are pushing the huge schools and pods of shad to surface. Watch for egrets and herons feeding on the shad. Bass will continue to be roaming with the cooler water temperatures, following the shad schools on primary and secondary points and into the creek channels. “We found several schools of 2- to 4-pound largemouths staging on points, and a few decent bass were already deep into the creek channels where the shad began moving into the backs of several creeks. Their feeding cycles seem to fluctuate wildly over the past several weeks.
Mike added, “Over the past couple weeks, we have noticed huge schools of shad staging on creek channel points and creek mouths, and over the last few days began moving deeper into creeks that junction Little River and the oxbows. Watch your electronics for huge shad pods ranging 6-14 feet deep on primary or secondary points. The screen will go completely solid mass when you locate the shad schools. Bass are holding near and underneath these huge shad schools. Some days, with lots of wind gusts, the shad will drop vertically into the 10-15 foot depths, and the surface activity will diminish. Other days, it’s like the bass are flipping a switch on and off again when it’s time to feed. The feeding binges can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and they flip the switch off again. Snake Creek, Hurricane Creek, White Cliffs Creek, and all the way up to Brown's Slough have been holding shad schools over the past several weeks.”
The best reactions over the past couple weeks continue to be on custom-painted Little John Crankbaits, Bomber Flat-A's, Fat Free Guppy's in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad and Bill Lewis Lure's MR-6 Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Ghost Shad, Chrome/Blue (sunny days) and Splatterback colors. H&H Spinnerbaits in yellow/black, white/green or white/chartreuse are getting a few good reactions on flats with the remaining lily pads. Rat-L-Traps in quarter-ounce-size Spin Traps and half-ounce Traps in Millwood Magic, Chrome/Blue Back and Chartreuse Silver Shad continue to catch random fish that are roaming and following the shad schools over the past couple weeks.
When fishing the points dumping into Little River, the Rat-L-Trap 1-Knockers in three-quarter-ounce size will get down deeper on the points with stumps present, and drop off into the river with a different vibration and presentation than the smaller Rat-L-Traps, and connect with larger schools. One point may hold all largemouth bass, the next point may hold all white bass. Both species are following the shad all along Little River and they are staging on the points, with some of the largemouth pulling into the creek channels where deep access to the river, stumps and points are attracting the shad.
The white bass continue roaming all along Little River, and have heavily schooled up all along Little River for several weeks now, They’re found from White Cliffs campground all the way up to U.S. Highway 71 bridge, and where the Cossatot River intersects and dumps into Little River. Hammered Cordell Chrome Spoons with a red bucktail, Rocket Shads, Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad, half-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Bill Lewis' MR-6 Crankbaits, and Spin Traps in Chrome/Blue, Millwood Magic, Tennessee Shad and Threadfin Shad colors all have been working catching whites over the past several weeks.
Watch your electronics for the mass of shad and whites from 12 to 22 feet of depth between White Cliffs Campground and Cemetery Slough along the river.
* Catfish improved over the past week with an increase in current along Little River, and normal pool being reached on Millwood. Trotlines, yo-yos and limblines were working over the past week, with best results on chicken livers, cut buffalo, cut shad and homemade blood dough. Trotlines seemed to be working best along Little River, set 14- to 18-feet depth.
(updated 12-16-2021) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reports that the lake is still a little dingy and is low by 7½-8 feet. The lake has been in a partial drawdown for several weeks. Crappie continue to produce an excellent bite. Hand-tied jigs and BoneHead plastics are working best. Black bass are fair in the afternoons. Catfishing are still excellent on any kind of bait. No reports on bream.
(update 12-16-2021) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) made his way down to Lake Columbia for some crappie fishing this week. He reported Wednesday afternoon that crappie are good on minnows and jigs in the early morning.
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 534.38 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 396.30 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-25-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says crappie are moving into their winter pattern. Fish with live bait or jigs over brushpiles near deep water channels.
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.50 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 524.83 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 12-16-2021) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) reported Wednesday afternoon that crappie are good on minnows and jigs in the early morning on White Oak Lake.
(updated 12-16-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the “Monster Crappie” show was filming on Atkins for two days and the fishing went really well. The crappie being caught were good-sized, he said. The crappie are in 10-12 feet depth. Try Bobby Garland chartreuse jigs or go with minnows. No reports on bream, bass and catfish. The lake is clear and still about 3 feet low.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 12-16-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 54 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Dec. 17, that extends through Thursday, Dec. 23. Anyone planning on navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to view these flow releases and plan accordingly. This schedule is posted weekly on the Entergy website for public viewing normally on Wednesday evening. The winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine was completed on Nov. 10. Each lake has been lowered 5 feet and will remain at that level until March 1. The Carpenter Dam tailrace is very dangerous to navigate now with numerous underway obstructions present. Wade anglers and boaters alike must use extreme caution when attempting to use the area.
Rainbow trout are now present in Lake Catherine and being caught in quality numbers. Wade anglers can now easily access areas that are holding schools of trout. PowerBaits and waxworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are working along with nightcrawlers and redworms presented in the same manner. Trout Magnets fished shallow in moving or still water can produce excellent results while the drawdown is in effect. The November and December stockings of trout are often difficult to pattern with rapidly changing weather patterns and low water levels. Bank anglers should stick to basic patterns of live bait and PowerBaits, while fly-fishermen should cast egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. Microjigs and Woolly Buggers have taken trout over 14 inches this week.
White bass have been observed breaking in the early morning hours chasing threadfin shad below the bridge. Casting spinnerbaits and jigs in one-eighth-ounce weights has been the best presentation to catch these fish the past week. Hybrid bass school alongside white bass and are being caught on the same techniques. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current has been productive catching white bass and hybrids, as well as walleye in the 2-pound class.
The arrival of rainbow trout to Lake Catherine in November and December brings life to the Carpenter Dam tailrace and kicks off the trout fishing season. Almost 3,000 rainbows are scheduled to be stocked below Carpenter Dam this month and this additional influx of fish will greatly enhance fishing opportunities for the public. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations.
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 9,376 cfs. Elevation was 337.84 feet msl, with the tailwater at 285.40 feet msl.
(updated 11-24-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 12-9-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports that Lake Hamilton’s water level is still low by about 5 feet (the lake is drawn down 5 feet annually for the winter) and water temps are in the mid-50s and falling rapidly. Water clarity is fair to good due to recent rains.
Bass up to this point have been very good. Now that the cold wave of high pressure has moved in for a few days, the fishing has really dropped off. It’s easy to find the bass but they have a strong case of lockjaw some days and we have been dealing with that the last 48 hours. We as fisherman need it to get cold and stay cold. Go-to – and we use that term loosely this week – are vertical presentations of the Ned rig and Damiki rig at deeper depths than normal. The pressure seems to have pushed the aggressive fish out to 30 feet or more of water in ditches and sunken structures (brush, rocks, etc.) Shad silver colors as the plastic for both presentations has worked. Be prepared that the hybrid and yellow bass are mixed in with the deep bass. It’s normal to pull 10 hybrids to one bass in the conditions we have right now. Even an occasional walleye shows up to get the vertical drops.
Crappie have been fair but the pressure has messed them up, also. A live small minnow dropped over brush or sunken structure in 35 feet or more of water in the early morning gets results. Hybrid bass are pretty much in every main channel meeting ditch at 20-30 feet throughout the lake. These fish eat great, but it’s hard to get any decent slabs as most are all small ones. You can target these fish easily with a pink-headed crappie jig bounced off the bottom.
Wear those life vests at all times! The water is now cold enough to kill just by being in it. Good luck and go Greeson!
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 341.94 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-16-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) says its anglers who stop in on the way to Lake Nimrod report that fishing is good. Catfish are biting on the south end.
(updated 11-11-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake is clear while the surface water temperature has tumbled to 58 degrees. Water level is low by 1 foot. Bream fishing picked back up, with fair results reported. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good. They are up in the river and being caught over the brushpiles in 3-5 feet depth. Use minnows or chartreuse jigs. Black bass are good. They are being caught shallow around the shoreline. A War Eagle Spinnerbait with gold willow lear and chartreuse colors, and a red shad Monster Worm are working best. Catfishing is fair; they’ve been caught on noodles baited with shad.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 567.77 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-9-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are good. Try a three-quarter-ounce CC Spoon or a drop-shot rig for these fish. Still no reports on walleye, bream or catfish. Stripers, though, are very good on live bait or trolling an Alabama rig. Crappie are still good on small jigs or minnows. Try brushpiles in the 15-25 foot depth range. The water temperature is ranging 54-58 degrees. The clarity is clear. Lake level is 567.78 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 12-2-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says, “We’ve been catching plenty of largemouth and spotted bass vertical-jigging spoons near the bottom on flats. Roam around and watch for baitfish and you’ll find the bass.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.40 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
(updated 12-2-2021) Reports from the Lick Creek area on the south side of the lake, submitted to the Fishing Report, say that a couple of anglers this week caught 80 crappie using jigs, and most were 11 inches or longer. The Lick Creek area is somewhat projected from the constant wind on Blue Mountain Lake.
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge was slightly up from last week to 12.11 feet, still almost 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 12-16-2021) The lake at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) is closed November through February to serve as a waterfowl rest area, and will reopen in the spring when the water levels permit.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 11-24-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said anglers at Bear Creek Lake report having a little success catching bream with red worms. Bream have been reportedly caught between depths of 4-6 feet. Meanwhile, there is very little fishing activity present at Storm Creek Lake now. Tyler says they haven’t received any reports from anglers within the last month. If you’re vising the state park, please let the Visitor Center know how it’s going.
(updated 11-24-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) had no new reports. Kent has turned his attention to hunting, but if fishing news arises from Horseshoe, he’ll let the readers know in this space.