Jan. 19, 2023
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Reports are updated weekly, although some reports may be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for current news for the lake or stream you plan to fish.
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
Download the Fish Brain app and follow AGFC at: https://join.fishbrain.com/agfc-page
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
Lake Conway is currently in its annual winter pool drawdown from normal seasonal level. For the most up-to-date lake level, visit the U.S. Geological Survey's Lake Conway water level site.
(updated 1-12-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said it’s still all about crappie, although the lake had dropped a little (3.5 inches) because of a brief problem with a couple of the gates. Anglers are still going up to Gold Creek and catching crappie (on Wednesday, there wasn’t a parking spot available midday with everyone out, but Thursday’s cooler, windy weather cut into the crowd). Also, they are fishing under the Highway 89 bridge as usual and going up to Palarm Creek, too. Jigs and minnows are the go-tos, but anglers are using “a little bit of everything,” they report. You want something around 1- to 3-inch in style.
Catfish have been good and the shop is selling lots of the usual catfish bait, such as nightcrawlers, trotline minnows, bass minnows, stink bait, shad, skipjack and chicken liver.
Bass fishing has still be slow of late. Customers are buying baitfish, crankbaits or spinnerbaits for bass fishing. A few bream are being caught on redworms and crickets, and they’ve sold a few hand-tied jigs (Danamax seems the preferable jig for bream).
The lake is the normal Conway stain.
(updated 1-5-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said anglers are headed to Gold Creek area for the best crappie bite. They’re fishing with both jigs and minnows and, at least last Saturday, they were bringing home limits of crappie.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reports the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 20 cfs (turbine) as of noon Thursda, steady over the past two days with no releases. Greers Ferry Lake is 0.9 foot below normal conservation pool. Check with the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time release data or by calling (501) 362-5150). Also check the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecast generation schedule.
(updated 1-19-2023) Mike Winkler of Little River Fly Fishing Trips (501-507-3688) said Greers Ferry Lake is just .09 foot below power pool with all the rain we have had and is still rising. For the past week, Southwestern Power Administration has been running water on days when the temperatures are cold out and not been generating on days when the daytime temperatures are warm.
Always check the USACE Little Rock app before heading out. They are always subject to change so check the release feature on the app to see if they are running water.
The bite has been good for nymphing under an indicator in the falling water or streamer fishing in the high water. The hot flies right now are egg patterns and Mega worms or San Juan worms along with midges. Or a small buggy pattern.
The streamer bite has been good when the dam is releasing water. “I've had a couple of guide trips just throwing streamer patterns chasing after brown trout.
“We have been throwing Double Deceiver patterns in brown and yellow, or olive on a No. 8 weight rod with a 330 sink line.
(updated 1-19-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the trout have been doing pretty well. The water level is low on the Little Red, as the lake is below normal and Southwestern Power Administration hasn’t been running much water for electric needs. On low water situations like this, they recommend fishing by wading at any of the several AGFC access spots: for instance, Libby Shoals, Swinging Bridge, Cow Shoals and JFK Park accesses. While wading in those areas, they recommend throwing a small Rooster Tail and also a small Rapala Countdown (No. 1 or No. 3). Also try a 1/32-ounce maribou jig. This will catch both rainbows and browns, but it’s mostly rainbows when the water gets this low. The clarity is stained where the creeks are running off into the river, but the rest is mostly clear.
(updated 1-12-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said, “We’re still experiencing low water conditions on the Little Red. Water release/generation is sporadic, with multiple days of zero water release. This pattern makes it challenging for boaters but provides wading opportunities on all sections of the river.
“We are currently in spawning season for our brown trout, so be careful when wading to not step on the spawning beds (the redds) that are made in loose gravel on shoals. Always check generation schedule and be aware of unexpected water release. Midges, egg patterns, small pheasant tails and soft hackles are recommended for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing, we recommend pink, white and cotton candy colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads.”
Check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday morning, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.151 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 1-19-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is back up. It had been on a steady slow rise for a while, and now some on and off generation is taking place so this week it has settled at 461.10 feet msl, or 0.94 foot below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The water temperature ranges 49-53 degrees. Bass fishing is good all over. Try to stay away from the most stained areas unless you want to fish in that type of water; try to stay in medium-stained water and throw Wiggle Warts, Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, A-rigs or drag a football head, or hop a jig off that second drop. Deeper fish can be caught on C-rig as well as football head, and remember this time of year some are right on the shoreline. Some topwater baits are working.
Crappie fishing is great all over, but remember they have moved with the water now – a new puzzle, straight up and down or troll; casting works, also. Try live bait, crankbaits and jigs. No report on catfish or bream.
The river spawning walleye are on the move, for sure, but will eat big crankbaits trolled 15-40 feet. The lake fish are best with a jighead minnow straight up and down or on down-riggers with big cranks down to 50 feet. Hybrid and white bass will eat two or three times a day now, or sometimes all day, 40-80 feet in turns or off of turns in deeper guts. Use hair jigs, spoons, swimbaits, inline spinners or live bait for best results.
Remember, this Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. both days, and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., it’s the 41st annual Arkansas Marine Expo at the State House Convention Center in Little Rock, put on by Griffey Attractions and Crew, dgarractions.com. The expo will have everything under one roof for the water, from fishing to skiing and all in-between. Come on out and enjoy, see you there.
(updated 1-19-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said Greers Ferry Lake is about a foot low. Clarity up in the upper part of lake and up in the rivers has little stained color to it, but lower end of the lake is clear. The bass have mostly been biting on finesse jigs and also on Alabama rigs. Anglers are catching them on the average in 15 feet of water. They’ve also been biting a red crankbait up shallow, too.
Angles have been catching crappie on little 2-inch swimbaits and hair jigs up in the Choctaw area. They are catching them in about 20 feet of water.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-5-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water temperature was on the rise Thursday. The water level is higher than in was in the most recent report, now up 2 foot high. The clarity is muddy, “there is no real color,” they said. The crappie anglers are out early before sunrise and back at it after 4 p.m., catching good numbers of crappie and “decent-sized” ones. They report some crappie ranging 13-15 inches in length, with weights from 1.5 to 2 pounds. Use your favorite Bobby Garland Jig; the crappie at Harris Brake Lake seem to favor the Shiny Hiney or Crystal colors, but warning: there was a big run on Crystal at the bait shop, so you might want to look elsewhere for the time being. Use your jig with a one-sixteenth-ounce jighead. Also, anglers are using minnows. One boating angler, they report, hooked a crappie 15.5 inches in length and weighing almost 2 pounds.
But maybe the most excitement for one angler was landed a crappie tagged by the AGFC and worth $100, they say.
White bass are jumping around and fairly easy to catch now, they report, with the regular jigs working well for them, too. Crappie minnows appear to be good bait now for largemouth bass.
Some folks were trying a noodle to land some catfish in recent days to no avail. No other reports came in.
(updated 1-5-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-242-1437) said, "The water levels are higher than they have been since last spring, I believe. The rain has kicked up a lot of murky water. It's throwing the fish off, but I believe by Friday the water temp will even out more and make for a better fishing day.
“Crappie are really liking the pink minnows. And if you're jig fishing, then try white with red or black tips and chartreuse tails. Redworms for bream, and catfish haven't made an appearance that I know of yet.
“Y’all remember to have your life jackets if not on your body at least by your side. The high water levels may be hiding stumps – if you're trolling around, be careful. You can always call me (501-242-1437) and I will let you know what the fish are doing at that time. Also, you can check out the Lakeview Landing Hwy 95 Facebook page for temperature and humidity updates.”
(updated 1-5-2023) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) off Arkansas Highway 9 said the water level is up by 1 foot and clarity is murky. Johnny was unsure on surface temperature. “Not anything to report, seems like nobody is getting out at the moment. Things should start turning around soon.”
(update 1-12-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, crappie are over brushpiles in 6-7 feet depth and the bite is fair to middlin’. Real stuff or the tricolor jigs are the way to go.
Black bass, for some reason, sunset is the best time to catch them right when it’s turning dark. Try a Tequila sunrise worm, but they are hitting on minnows too. Also anything white and spinning. Fish at 3-4 feet depth right off the bank.
Catfish like the goldfish and stink bait. David says he’s been selling out of worms so that tells him the bream are biting, too.
(updated 1-19-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) had no new fishing reports. The lake level is down significantly as Central Arkansas Water lowers the lake to eliminate some of the hydrilla in the lake. Access in early December was reported as “iffy” from the ramps.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 13,958 cfs. The stage at Morrilton is falling at 9.73 feet (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 448 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-12-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says the main thing going on on the Little Maumelle is the crappie fishing. “The crappie are doing real good. I caught a bunch yesterday afternoon myself,” Ray says. He was fishing 7-8 feet deep and using jigs fishing late in the day. He says they’re biting really early or real late, with nothing during the day.
The water is clear and at a normal level.
Anglers fishing further up from the marina caught some black bass but didn’t mention the baits used. Ray says he’d term the bass bite on the river as decent. Some redear have been caught in the past few days using redworms fished right on the bottom.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 15,538 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 19,077 cfs. The elevation is 249.23 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was at 7.27 feet (flood stage is 25 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 18,392 cfs.
(updated 1-19-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says crappie is still biting pretty well. Anglers are mostly catching them in some of the backwaters behind the jetties in 10-15 feet of water. Solid chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and red/chartreuse crappie jigs are the baits to use. Many crappie are suspended either 5 feet above the bottom or 5 feet down; they’re in the middle water column or closer to the bottom.
Bass are being caught on fire craw-colored Chatterbait or on a red crankbait. Fish down the rocks of the jetties, where most of the bass are being hooked.
The Little Rock Pool water level as of Thursday was normal if not maybe up a bit since the last rainfall. Clarity is stained to muddy.
(updated 1-5-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said that mainly what they’ve heard is the catfish are biting off the Murray Lock and Dam by the hydroelectric plant area on skipjack. They’ve heard no other reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
The lake is closed to fishing until February while it serves as a rest area for migrating waterfowl through waterfowl season. Call 870-626-6899 for more information.
(updated 1-19-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said mild January temperatures see White River anglers in light jackets, shirt sleeves and sunscreen. Might not stay quite that warm, so come prepared for a change in the thermometer, but the rainbow trout catch remains steady, while the brown bite increasing. Bull Shoals Lake has fallen slightly over the last two weeks to 656.54 feet msl, a couple of feet below seasonal power pool. The generation has remained fairly steady at a little less than one unit (2,200 cfs). There have been spurts of increased flow when power demand increases during the occasional cold snap, up to 12,000 cfs at times (four units). Low water signals great wading opportunities and slow-and-go time for boaters. Watch out for one another and practice civility and cordiality.
“Clear, cold water is great for trout fishing, so join us on the river with your arsenal of spinners and Rooster Tails. The predicted overcast skies tell us we'll do best using bait with yellow bodies, silver blades and black skirts. A bright, shiny hammered spoon (blue/silver) will attract the rainbows, and the rainbow-colored Buoyants and Cleos will be worth their weight in trout. A nice white Woolly Bugger with silver flash should draw them to your hook, too.
“The brown trout spawn is thinning out, so we're seeing them move downriver to their home neighborhoods, looking for sculpins and minnows. Shad continue to catch their eye. Variety is the name of the game; if you don't get a bite after several casts with one bait, change locations, change your bait, or both. Stay stocked, keep catching, and enjoy the great outdoors in The Natural State.”
(updated 1-19-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the White River in Calico Rock continues to be low, averaging between 4.5 and 3.5 feet. “The rain Wednesday may cause the river to become muddy but I don’t expect the water to rise very much. I would expect by the weekend any dinginess in the water should be gone.”
Fishing in the low-water conditions has made fishing with copper- or gold-colored spoons (either quarter-ounce or one-sixth-ounce) effective as the trout move up onto the gravel bars to feed. Rapala Countdowns have been effective this week, as have white-colored jigs. Drift-fishing with sunrise Power Eggs with a piece of shrimp or worm continues to be effective on both the gravel bars and deeper holes. Fishing with sculpins has been slow, but when the browns or rainbows bite, the trout have tended to be larger.
(updated 1-19-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a quarter-inch of rain in Cotter, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 foot to rest at 2.5 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 38.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 1.9 feet below power pool or 11.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water and more moderate flows. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest 0.1 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had more wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are still at or below power pool. With cooler temperatures, we can expect higher flows and less wadable water. We can expect heavy generation during peak power demand.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31 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 White Hole,” he said. “We have had some lower flows that have fished well. 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. My favorite has been a cerise San Juan worm with an orange egg dropper.”
Remember: The White and North Fork 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 soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “When I first began guiding lo these many years ago, all of my trips were wade trips. Back then most fly-fishers were wade anglers. When I moved to Cotter 23 years ago, I quickly realized that if I did not have a boat, I would miss a lot of trips due to high water. I therefore bought one.
“My first boat was a used Shawnee with a 15-hp Mercury pull-start motor. It cost $1,000 and was only 33 inches wide. That is pretty narrow. I felt like I was in a canoe. I was especially concerned when I had very large clients as they would adversely affect the trim of the boat when they cast. It had a bench-style live well that ran the entire width of the boat making it difficult to move around. I sold it and got a new boat.
“This was also a well-used Shawnee. It was 48 inches wide and had a walk-through live well, which gave me a lot more room and was much easier to move around in. It was much steadier, especially with heavier loads. At $3,500 it was a bargain. I replaced the Evinrude motor that it came with it with my Mercury. I had some custom work done. I replaced the spider chairs with pedestal seats to give me more room and upgraded the trailer. It served me well for 12 years but was beginning to show its age. I sold it and bought another.
“I bought my next boat from the estate of my brother Dan’s girlfriend. It was the boat he used. It is a 2005 Supreme that is 60 inches wide. It had been stored in a garage and had been used very little. Dan hated to fish from a boat. He preferred to wade. This was a much better boat with a deluxe trailer and an electric start Honda outboard. Once again, I had some custom work done. I had the spider chairs replaced with pedestal seats and added cup holders. I added roller bunks to the trailer and put a jack plate and a trolling motor to the boat. After seven years of heavy use I replaced the 15-hp Honda engine with a 20-hp (thanks to my sister Ernestine). I am very happy with my boat and consider it the last boat that I will ever buy.
“I recently heard that a fellow guide had purchased a new boat and trailer with no motor for $28,000. This guy must be doing much better than I am. Over 23 years of guiding, I have spent $9,000 on three boats. I heard that inflation is on the rise, but this is alarming. The new boats that I see some of these guys have remind me more of bass boats with their metal flake paint jobs and huge motors. What happened to trout boats?
“Will these new boats enable them to catch more trout? I hope so!”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 656.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Flow on Thursday midday was 4,143 cfs, and tailwater elevation was 453.50 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.06 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-19-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Bull Shoals Lake water level is at 656 feet or 2 feet below normal winter pool. The water temperature is about 48 degrees. Fishing has been fair. For the shallow-fishing anglers, there is plenty of fish on the bank, especially if there’s wind and clouds covering water where the wind hits 45 degrees at chunk rock, a steep bank or ledge rock. Fish close to deeper water. Use jig or shaky head and drop-shot in a deep brush/ledge. Fishing in 30-40 feet we’re cranking a Spro crawler and Wiggle Wart, red craw Stone Cold or green variations. You’ll have keep moving to find them but when you do there’s usually a few close.
The winter patterns are working offshore. It’s video gaming. Shad are still spread out. It’s all location, location. Target bigger bait balls and shad becomes the structure. Fish the creeks hollers – every day every creek will be different. Even in the main lake, look for loons and graph. That pays off this time of year. If fishing near ledges or trees near shad, a jerkbait will pull a few, usually early or late in the day when shad are up in the water column. Some shad may be suspended over deep water. If they are being finicky, hang a Tater Shad over the side on a Moon Eye Jig. With schooling fish, use a Jewel Scope or spin jigging Rap. Under shad, use a Jewel Scuba Spoon for those bottom dwellers. Lots of different species showing up out there in the middle. Each day is different so fish the conditions.
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his 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 553.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Flow below the dam Thursday midday was 3,243 cfs.
(updated 1-19-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 553.70 feet msl and rising slowly with a half-inch of rain Wednesday. They are running one generator at Norfork Dam for about four hours in a 24-hour period and regulating the level to the top of the power pool of 553.75 feet msl and keeping it very stable with no signs of any winter drawdown so far this year. The White River at Newport is 7.89 feet and dropping, indicating not much water is being let out anywhere. The surface water temperature is back over 50 degrees and was 51 on Wednesday with the warm ambient temperatures. It was 48 degrees last week. The main lake is fairly clear and you can see your lure down about 5 feet and the creeks are stained a little green, but not bad.
Most all fishing has slowed since last week and the evening bite just at sunset for bass and crappie has diminished the last few days, as has the morning bite for temperate bass, but a few good fish are being caught every day. Spoons are the best for open-water fish on shad and slip floats, with live minnows and small jigs in brush for bass and crappie are both working. Some bass are near the shoreline in the evening on windblown secondary points partway back in the creeks and behind brush piles. Overall, fishing is fair to poor but the lake is in excellent condition.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.
(updated 1-19-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new reports, but Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 1-19-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest 0.1 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had more wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are still at or below power pool. With cooler temperatures, we can expect higher flows and less wadable water. We can expect heavy generation during peak power demand.
There has been more wadable water on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). 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). My favorite rig has been a pheasant tail nymph size 14 and a ruby midge size 18. The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better. Weekends can get a quite crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs, various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white mop flies. 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. 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-19-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing poorly. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are much less 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 1,118.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl). The release at the dam Thursday was 20 cfs, steady over the last two days.
(updated 1-19-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-253-3474) said Beaver Lake is still holding at 1,118.45 feet msl, which is 3 feet below normal pool of 1,121 feet msl. The lake is clearing throughout and, with the warm temperatures last week, is close to 50 degrees, especially in the river arms.
Fishing has been fairly consistent this past week. Crappie are good on any structure located in 10-20 feet of water. Jigs in almost any color will produce. Lately we have been doing well on black/chartreuse and red/chartreuse. Fish them on either one-sixteenth- or one-thirty-second-ounce heads. The War Eagle arm seems to be holding better-sized crappie than the White side. Stripers have been good, but my advice is keep moving until your graph is showing lots of bait. The fish are moving around daily. One day here and gone the next. We have been trolling shad and brood minnows. Fish have been averaging 15 pounds with some 30-pound fish sprinkled in to keep it interesting. Look anywhere from the islands at Prairie Creek all the way up the river arms.
White bass are located near the shad just like the stripers. Walleye are elusive for the time being, but that will change soon. “If we can get a few good river rises in the next weeks that will start the migration up into spawning areas. Great fishing is on the horizon; we just need to get through the next month. Stay safe out there and good luck. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 1-12-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said fishing is fairly active on the lake. Anglers are still catching a lot of crappie. They’re armed with their LiveScope and throwing both jigs and minnows with solid results. The walleye are on the move. Anglers report catching a few on the White River. Stripers are fair in the lake; brood minnows are the bait now. They haven’t heard much to report on catfish or perch. Black bass are fair and responding to hair jigs, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.
(updated 1-19-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said with water conditions improving in the tailwater (weekly it seems), reaching the fishing grounds by boat has become a bit easier. This week the trout were eager to bite what we were throwing. Using Pautzke Fire Bait, on light terminal tackle did the job in most places along the tailwater. When the Corps of Engineers started generating, we then switched to drifting Pautzke Fire Worms on one-sixteenth-ounce jig heads, which produced nice results as well.
This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. “Remember to follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for more Tailwater updates. Good luck, get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 1-19-2023) After a Christmas break, Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reopened last Saturday, Jan. 14.
(updated 1-19-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said she had no fishing reports from this past week. She did add that best moon times for fishing fall Jan. 18-24, so give Lake Charles a try. The water is high with usual murky clarity. Surface water temperature is 47 degrees.
(updated 1-12-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported Lake Poinsett is full with bream and catfish able to be caught at state limits, according to AGFC. Bream have been biting on nightcrawlers toward the bottom of the lake bed. Catfish anglers “have been pretty silent about their success, but I bet you could catch a few on livers,” he says. Bass and crappie are still catch-and-release, but a few are being caught on jigs and some live minnows.
Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) is closed for the winter and will reopen in February. They are taking reservations on their answering machine for spring.
(updated 1-5-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been getting low at 320 cfs, and water clarity has been heavily green tinted. “Perfect conditions over the last week. A few weeks ago the river was very clear, but recent rains helped stain the water. Always check our blog for current river conditions. The warm weather this week has storms in the forecast, heavy rain can change river conditions,” he said.
The brown trout are biting with this warm up lately, with streamers, nymph rigs, tight lining and, heck – the browns are even eating the Y2Ks. The AGFC is really working to get browns in the Spring River. One of our browns was caught on the world famous bead-head olive Woolly Bugger, and on the swing, no doubt! A few bigger rainbows were rolling up on the flies, but stocking size has been smaller lately. Caddis and mayflies are hatching heavily with some dry fly action, but really good nymphing during hatches.
A few smallmouth have been caught lately, but they are few and far between. “The smallie bite should pick up as it gets colder. My most productive smallie setup during winter is a white lightning below an indicator. It really slows the presentation down and seems to work.
“Crazy nice weather for winter! Get out and enjoy it while it lasts!”
Check out Mark’s blog for latest fishing conditions at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 1-19-2023) 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. 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 rising at 7.30, nearly 8 feet below flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was rising at 8.74 feet (flood stage was 26.00 feet). The stage at Augusta at 19.91 and falling Thursday, more than 6 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 1-19-2022) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
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 10,672 cfs. The stage at Pine Bluff is at 31.56 feet and falling (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 44,769 cfs.
(updated 1-19-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new report from the river.
(updated 1-19-2023) After a two-year project of rebuilding the lake habitat by the AGFC while the city of Monticello had the dam rebuilt, the water in Lake Monticello now covers about 470 acres. The acreage of water in Lake Monticello’s lakebed has only increased about 20 acres since May as a result of minimal rainfall. The water in Lake Monticello covers about 1,520 acres when it is at full pool. When the lake was first flooded, it took about five years for Lake Monticello to reach full pool, with two drought years during this period.
Fisheries District 5 staff in Monticello worked with AGFC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery staff to stock about 180,000 fathead minnows, 111,902 golden shiners, 78,840 bluegill and 82,056 redear sunfish into Lake Monticello during the month of October. The fish were placed in a hog trough on a trailer pulled by a UTV. The fish were then transported about 220 yards from the boat ramp to the water’s edge, where they were stocked. It took quite a few trips to stock all of the fish that were on the hatchery truck.
The AGFC plans on stocking threadfin shad this fall. Florida largemouth bass will be stocked during the summer of 2025. The aforementioned forage and bream species will be stocked again in the fall of 2025, along with black crappie.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.53 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Total hourly outflow at the dam by midday was 1,218 cfs, about average since 8 a.m.
(updated 1-19-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was 259.5 feet msl, or 4 inches above normal conservation pool falling. Clarity improved this past week along Little River (but might have changed midweek after expected thunderstorms moved through). Millwood Lake tailwater elevation is near 225 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam near 1,500 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 Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Watch for random floaters and broken timber during any navigation on Little River and Millwood Lake.
Surface temps are stable this week, ranging in 43-50 degrees depending on location and the time of day. Clarity along Little River improved further up Little River with river clarity ranging 5-8 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of oxbows is normal stain, visibility ranges 10-20 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain or thunderstorms.
Mike provided these details of the fishing for the past two weeks:
* Largemouth and spotted bass over the past couple weeks have been feeding in Little River and the oxbows with the warmer days recently thinking the spawn is getting nearer. Flats next to deep creeks and secondary points with any remaining dead lily pad stems will coax a bite on a Chatterbait or square bill on warm and sunny days, mainly in the afternoon. A few chunky, 2- to 4-pound males were the most aggressive at midday into late afternoon over the past couple of weeks, and those fish we are finding randomly near and close to deeper creek channels. The best bass activity, from midday to midafternoon, has come from randomly hitting Brazalo Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover, Chatterbaits in white and Rat-L-Traps in natural-colored crawfish browns and oranges or Toledo Gold and Red Chrome, custom painted Bent Pole Little John Cranks in Rayburn Red finessing through the dead pad stems. The best water clarity and reaction from chunky Largemouth Bass has left the river, and moved to the back of the Oxbows where the clarity is somewhat better, away from the current of Little River.
Mud Lake, Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows along Little River have had the best water clarity and the most aggressive largemouth and Kentucky (spotted) bass over the past couple of weeks. “In the back of McGuire oxbow, we were throwing a custom-painted, Little John Crankbait in Rayburn Red and a Bill Lewis SB-57 or MR-6 crankbait in Strawberry Craw, Blood Craw or Red Glitter Craw and picking up a few random bites. One-Knocker Rat-L-Traps in Red Shad, Toledo Gold or Goldfire Craw picked up several chunky, fat male bass on cypress trees and knees in 7-8 feet of depth near flats adjacent to spawning locations, but the retrieve had to be slow and deliberate deflecting off wood, stumps, and cypress knees. Expect to get hung up, but expect a big fat pre-spawn female to bust that 1-knocker any minute or the very next cast, this time of year.
* White bass continue to bite well. “We continue to find a few large schools of white bass over the past couple weeks along Little River above White Cliffs about 2 miles before getting to the mouth of McGuire oxbow. Those white bass were in large number ranging from 2-3 pounds, and were biting well on Cordell Hammered Spoons, Little George Tail-spinners, Heddon Sonar Metal Blades and Rocket Shads. The spoons, Sonar Blades and Rocket Shads seemed to work better by vertical-jigging in the school, letting the blade/spoon drop into the depth zone BELOW the school, then ripping it up, and letting it fall back into the school. The river clarity and current has improved, but the schools were very obvious on your electronics, and are migrating up and along Little River. Many different schools continue roaming Little River and have been caught for several weeks, casting or vertical jigging spoons, along Little River. Tail Spinner lead heads like the Little Georges, Little Cleos, and Rocket Shads, caught some 2-3 pound Whites along Little River between White Cliffs Campground and mouth of McGuire oxbow, over the past 2-3 weeks.
* Crappie much improved over the past few weeks when clarity finally returned and the river discharge and current slowed. Best bite for us, has been on minnows, but jigs will randomly pick up a few decent bites on sunny days. Bee Lake had a few keepers to play with recently as long as the wind would let you stay out on the main lake. The best activity was midday, and the crappie were holding 12-15 feet of depth in our planted brush piles.
No reports on bream or catfish.
NOTICE: The American Gamebird Research Education and Development Foundation, under recommendation from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is conducting a 5-foot drawdown of Lake Erling in Lafayette County to combat the spread of giant salvinia, a highly invasive aquatic plant species not native to the United States. Giant salvinia, a free-floating South American plant that has become a major threat to fisheries in the southern U.S., was first spotted on a small portion of Lake Erling in 2018. Since that time the AGFC and AGRED, the lake’s owner, have worked together to monitor and minimize potential spread of the invasive species through information campaigns. With the recent detection of the plant at nearby Mercer Bayou and the spread of the plant within Erling, AGRED worked with the AGFC to determine a plan that would help combat the aquatic nuisance species. The drawdown will remain in effect until March 1, at which time the 7,000-acre lake will be allowed to refill.
(updated 1-5-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reported that the storm fronts that came through in recent days dropped more than 7 inches of rainfall on the area. “Our lake is still rising,” they reported Thursday, “it’s going over the spillway. The clarity is dingy. Fishing was tough today. Nobody had limits but we still caught some good crappie.”
All the crappie on Thursday were biting on hand-tied jigs in white-silver-white. Anglers were fishing in 16 feet of water, with some of the bigger crappie being hooked at 14 foot depth.
Anglers who went out for catfish were having a really good day, though, bringing in limits of catfish (blues and channels). They are using dip bait, as well as minnows. The cats are right on the bottom.
No reports on bass.
Water temperature Thursday was 56 and expected to rise into the weekend.
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 544.40 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 404.39 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.32 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.48 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 1-19-2023) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-251-3831) had no new reports
(updated 1-19-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) had no new reports.
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-19-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports reports that water temperature below the dam is 47 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy is running water nearly every day, but the times are subject to demand and fluctuate from a few hours to all day depending on the situation. Anglers should plan on dealing with current and plan accordingly. The winter 5-foot drawdown of Lake Catherine creates a dangerous environment when attempting to navigate the tailrace in current or zero flow. Numerous rocks and shallow sandbars dot the area, creating treacherous boating and wading. Extreme caution is advised by everyone using the tailrace and the public is advised to be aware of the generation schedules posted every Wednesday on the Entergy website.
January marks the first big month of rainbow trout stocking, with 9,300 fish scheduled for Lake Catherine. Currently, trout are widely scattered from the bridge to the dam and being caught in the shoals by fly-fishermen casting micro-jigs in black and white under a strike indicator. Trout key in on the shad kill this time of year as freezing temperatures stun threadfin shad in Lake Hamilton and these baitfish are drawn through the turbines and are scattered throughout the tailrace area. Flies that imitate injured shad will draw immediate strikes from hungry rainbows. Spin-fishermen using PowerBaits and lures that represent fleeing crayfish will also catch trout that are searching for prey. Quality fishing is now happening in the tailrace as conditions have stabilized and the game fish have resumed a more normal bite pattern. The influx of healthy rainbow trout to the lake rejuvenates the tailrace to an earlier scenario of quality fishing.
Mid-February marks the beginning of the walleye run for Lake Catherine. Smaller males migrate first into the tailrace to prepare the spawning beds. Larger females soon follow and all will remain in the area for weeks until the spawn is complete.
The annual 5-foot winter drawdown of lakes Hamilton and Catherine remains in effect until March. The lakes are scheduled to begin refilling somewhere between March 1-8 with the process completed by March 15.
It is important to note that dramatic drops in temperature greatly affect the trout bite in a negative way. It can take days for a regular bite pattern to resume after a big drop in temperature, so anglers need to be aware. Entergy will schedule daily generation from Carpenter Dam each week and the public is advised to read the Entergy Hydro website news for updates on lake conditions. Remember to always wear a life jacket when on the water and follow all lake and park regulations when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area.
As of Thursday midday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 448 cfs. Elevation was 337.76 feet msl and the tailwater was at 284.93 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage is at 4.57 feet and falling (flood stage is 32 feet).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was at 342.59 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-12-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said “they are catching the fish” these days on Nimrod, and especially crappie. “It’s unreal,” they add. Some anglers are catching limits in 5 feet of water at 3 feet depth, while others are reporting catching 30 in four hours fishing in 12-14 feet depth. Anything with a chartreuse glow to it is preferred, and a black/chartreuse jig will be ideal. Also, anglers are using minnows when Andrews can keep them stocked, they say.
The catfish are not too bad these days. The anglers catching cats are mostly using poles to bring them in. Lake fluctuations of late have cut out most limblining, but a few are being caught on trotlines with cut bait.
Nimrod is a bluegill lake but not a lot of those are being caught right now. Black bass are somewhat slow “but the fish are out there. This is a bass lake.” Some anglers have been seen catching bass, but what they’re using for bait is a mystery.
The water is “a little chalky” and the lake is at normal level, ranging 342-343 feet msl.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was up about 2 feet from last week to 573.87 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-19-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass remain good. An Alabama rig or a PB&J jig are working best. Use a Bama rig or live bait on main lake points or creek channel mouths on the rivers, which should be the best spots to find these. Crappie are good on small jigs or minnows. Try brush 20-35 feet deep. No reports on walleye, bream or catfish. Stripers are good. Water temperature ranges 44-50 degrees, and the lake clarity is clearing. Lake level Thursday was 573.84 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 1-19-2023) John at Masterbaiters Bait and Tackle (501-209-6538) on Arkansas Highway 7 outside Hot Springs Village said Lake Ouachita is doing great if you get out on the water. Bass are being caught from 5 feet to 40 feet. A-rigs and crankbaits are working, and we’re also getting them on jig and pig. Also, catching some nice crappie in 40 feet on brush. Minnows and jigs are your best bet. “So get out on the water and don’t forget, please take the kids fishing. They love going, also.”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.46feet msl (full pool: 387.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge at 22.82 feet and falling (flood stage is 26.00 feet.
The lake is closed to fishing until spring as it serves as a rest area for migrating waterfowl. Call the center at 870-241-3373 for more information.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.