March 2, 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.
TOP: Tad Toler, who with his wife fished the White River at Cotter with guide Eric Beecher, landed this nice brown trout this week. Wife Brittany also had a great trip too with a nice catch. Photo provided by Cotter Trout Dock.
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 3-2-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said some good activity has been reported near Palarm Creek with the water running. One angler had a good day catching a 4.4-pound largemouth and seven crappie, returning all those back to the water. So they are out there.
(updated 2-23-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said crappie have been biting in the usual hot spots like Gold Creek. Use something bright: chartreuse, Mo-Glo. Crappie were reported at about 6 feet depth in Gold Creek, and at 6-8 feet depth around the Highway 89 bridge area.
Bass anglers picking up topwater lures, Chatterbaits, buzzbaits, worms, shad-type flukes, creature baits and swimbaits.
Catfish are good on nightcrawlers, skipjack, shad, chicken liver and stink bait. People have been fishing for cats under the 89 bridge, Pierce Creek and around Dix, Green and Adams lakes.
Bream are starting to pick up. Redworms and crickets, of course, but also try bucktail jigs, maribou jigs and hair-tied jigs. Anglers seeking bream have been headed to Pierce Creek.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 6,167 cfs (turbine) as of 11 a.m. Thursday; the flow has ranged from 3,320 to more than 9,601 cfs over the past two days. The tailwater was at its lowest point, 273.10 feet, between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 5 a.m. Thursday (no generation). Greers Ferry Lake is 3.6 feet above 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 3-2-2023) Mike Winkler of Little River Fly Fishing Trips (501-507-3688) said Tuesday that Greers Ferry Lake is 4 feet above power pool. The Army Corps of Engineers are running five floodgates open and two units of generation at the time of this report. Always check the USACE Little Rock app for the generation schedule before heading out.
The fishing on the Little Red has been good considering all the water being released.
The nymph bite is good while fishing out of the boat. “I'm fishing a two-fly deep-water nymph rig set at various depths depending on where I'm fishing at on the river,” Mike said. “The hot fly at the moment is a San Juan worm or Mega Worm.”
(updated 3-2-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the Little Red is still really blown out with the water being released from Greers Ferry Dam over the past couple of weeks, and more rain this week probably means more water moving through the dam. No reports.
(updated 3-2-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) has no new updates. He suggests anglers and boaters 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 465.65 feet msl with slight falling (0.31 inch) over the past 24 hours (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 3-2-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 465.73 feet msl. The Army Corps of Engineers has really been pulling it down with generation; it is 3.69 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and rising. All species are scattered and eating; warm nights really do the job getting them pulled up. Crappie are scattered around all over water column eating jigs and jigs with minnow or trolled crankbaits in 5-50 feet. Black bass are about the same, but eating craws, jigs, crankbaits, Alabama rigs, spinnerbaits, traps or drag a Carolina rig or big football head super shallow out to 50 feet. There is also a jerk bait bite going on.
Walleye are way up the rivers and a lot of them still deep in lake. Try a jighead tipped with minnow, crawlers, crankbaits or a small grub. Bream are floating around wanting to be shallow; try a small crankbait, inline spinner or small piece of crawler. Catfish are eating a lot of dying shad; use live bait, while a spoon working as well. Hybrid and white bass are shallow out to 60 feet; grubs, spoons and inline spinners working as well as jerkbaits
(updated 3-2-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the fish are pushing toward the back of creeks, and most of the black bass reported caught have been hauled in from the middle to the backs of creeks this week. A red crankbait like a Rock Crawler would be good now, as well as a Wiggle Wart in a crawfish pattern. Anglers also have been throwing a green pumpkin jig and a peanut butter & jelly jig. Also, with a lot of water probably coming into the back of creeks from all the runoff, a white/chartreuse or white spinnerbait would be a good call.
For crappie, anglers have been catching lot of fish around the South Fork River and up around Choctaw. They’ve been catching them in about 10-15 foot of water.
The lake level is about 4 feet high and is probably coming up with this next rainfall, they note. Water clarity of the upper part of lake will be stained or muddy, while the lower part of lake will be clear.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-23-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville says crappie are biting and are typical for the changing water of late because of the weather, so move around from shallow to deep water. It’s still hit and miss. Make sure you have the right color: Monkey Milk, black/chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Kiwi, Mo-Glo, Silver, Blue Ice in jigs, or orange/white/diamond mist in Crappie Magnet. Also use minnows and nightcrawlers.
Bream are a year-round bite on redworms and crickets, but they’re slow now. Black bass are biting, but they’re slow. Use a dark-colored bait. Also, the minnows and nightcrawlers that work for crappie may get a bass reaction. Watermelon red, red/blue/grape colors in artificials are good choices for bass here.
Catfish are biting, but it’s been slow. Liver of all kinds, dough bait, minnows and nightcrawlers are the go-to baits.
(updated 2-23-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says fishing is mostly “no good” this week after all the rain. “It’s kind of slow right now.” Crappie are still biting but it’s difficult to catch them from the shoreline or dock. Out on the boats, anglers have caught some but not many.
However, white bass are really picking up and appear hungry and hunting for something to eat around the shoreline. Bream, too, are a little more active. Redworms are getting reactions from bream right by the dock. White bass are about 5-7 feet out from the shoreline and also going after the redworms.
The clarity is muddy to almost “yellow looking,” they report, and the level of the lake appears to be 2-3 feet deeper for some that at this usual time of the year. “People are fishing 5-foot deep for crappie.”
(updated 2-23-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said that crappie anglers should look for the underwater timber about 5 feet deep and use minnows. Catfish are still doing well on trotlines using shad or slicks. No bream or bass reports. Check out the Lakeview Landing Hwy 95 Facebook page for water temperature and other updates.
(update 3-2-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, had no new reports from the lake.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 38,257 cfs. The stage at Morrilton was steady at 11.68 feet (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 36,937 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-23-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the fishing has been really good. Crappie are really starting to move up shallow. Anglers are catching them as shallow as 3-5 feet now. “They are moving up, this water has warmed up, it’s clear and normal (level),” Ray said.
Anglers have also been doing really well on the black bass, which are also coming up shallow in 3-4 feet of water. Lizards, soft plastics of any type and crankbaits are working. Catfish folks are catching their target on yo-yos baited with minnows. The yo-yos are working for crappie, too, and also on minnows.
Not much to report on bream, “but I’m sure you could fish worms on the bottom and catch bream. That’s how it’s been all winter but nobody is fishing for them,” Ray said. “The main thing here is the crappie is moving up shallow.”
Plan your crappie trip to the Little Maumelle either early (sunup or before) and late in the day, an hour or so before dark and into the night (when the yo-yos are working). Use minnows or jigs. With the clear water, about any color is good now. Ray suggests shad-colored jigs or jigs favoring white, silver/white and pink colors.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 44,642 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 59,227 cfs. The elevation is 248.78 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was steady at 7.40 feet (flood stage is 25 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 63,311 cfs.
(updated 3-2-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river current is good for fishing, but the water is dirty/muddy in clarity. With warmer water temperatures, bass anglers should head toward the backwaters and fish shallower areas. They suggest using a chartreuse black back square bill. Also try a black/blue Chatterbait, while anglers also are having success using a black/blue jig. Just try to target any visible cover where black bass are pulling up to spawn.
The crappie have been on the backwater holes on the inside of jetties in 10 feet of water. Crappie anglers are catching them on orange/chartreuse jigs and red/chartreuse and solid chartreuse crappie jigs.
The water level of the river is a little higher than normal, but again the current is good now to take on the pool if you can handle the muddy water.
(updated 3-2-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said the river is slow on catfish for now, while crappie are “fair to middlin’” on jigs or minnows. “In another two weeks, things will really be on.”
Catfish in the 10-pounds and up just aren’t consistent now. They appear very lethargic.
But some good days have happened lately with crappie, as one angler reported a limit of big 14- to-17-inch crappie caught in the pool. How long it took that angler to catch all those crappie was a question not answered, however.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-23-2023) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) has not heard any reports from the lake or from the lower LR pool or beyond Terry Lock and Dam this week.
(updated 3-2-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said it “feels like spring; warmer weather is here (for now) and the fishing is strong on our rivers here in the Arkansas Ozarks.”
Bull Shoals Lake has reached the desired power pool level, 659.4 feet msl – a decrease in the output from the dam is anticipated although we are seeing some higher-than-expected releases. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Power Administration have been varying outflows fairly significantly over the past week, from about three units (9,000 cfs) to over five units (16,000 cfs), so be very careful and pay attention to the river conditions. Trout can adjust to water level changes without too much trouble, although it might take a little time, so be ready to try several baits.
The brown trout have been biting mid-sized to oversized sculpins and minnows and will chase a No. 5 or No. 7 Rapala. The gold/black Countdowns have been very successful on this water level. March sees a great catch of browns, some even biting on the old standby of PowerBait and shrimp.
The rainbows are responding really nicely to one-eighth-ounce jigs, white, olive/ginger, or olive/black, but several large rainbows have taken sculpin bait, too. The high water has allowed some fun streamer fishing with weighted line, white/gray or black, but wade-able waters might be on the horizon.
“Keep your rain gear handy – springtime in the Ozarks can be wet – but don't let that stop you from some all-round great fishing. The trout are calling! Come out to the White River for some great fishing.”
(updated 3-2-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said both Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes have reached their conservation pool level. We are seeing slightly reduced flows out of the dams resulting in water levels ranging from 7.5 feet to 9 feet. Once the water stabilized, the fishing has been very good drift-fishing with silver inline spinners with orange and white or sunrise Power Eggs with shrimp. With the upcoming storms, we will watch to see what happens with the water levels. If the Buffalo starts to flood, we can expect to see very high and very muddy water in Calico Rock. If we get the muddy water, try moving into the creeks where the trout will be looking for cleaner water and reduced currents. In the creeks, tie up to the bank and use corn to catch the rainbows.
(updated 3-2-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had three rain events combining for a bit over a half-inch of rain in Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.4 foot above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.7 foot below power pool and 15.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell a foot to rest at 0.4 foot above power pool or 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water and heavy flows. Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water.
Streamer season is upon us. The brown trout that have been spawning for the last three months are now working their way back downstream. Anglers are now targeting them by banging the bank with big streamers on sink tip lines. On the White, the hot spot has been White Hole. “We have had higher 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,” John said.
John also said, “Last week I wrote about fly selection. There is more to write than can be contained in just one column. What happens when you fish a stream for the first time and there is no one around to give you a suggestion? To make things worse, the guy at the fly shop knows less than you do. Believe me, I have been there.
“I look around and try to observe what is going on this stream. Are there any aquatic insects coming off? Are there any terrestrials insects on the bank about to fall into the water? Did it rain recently, washing worms into the stream? I will pick a rock off the bottom and look for any aquatic insects on it.
“In each of these cases I will take whatever life form I find and try to match it to a fly in my fly box. I match them based on size, shape and color. Size is most important. If you are accustomed to eating something a particular size, say a hamburger, then you will most likely eat something that size. Shape means is it a grasshopper, a worm, a mayfly or something else? Color is the last consideration. We don’t even know if trout see color like we do.
“My wife, Lori, was once fishing a stream in Spearfish, South Dakota, while attending a family reunion. It was her first time there and she was struggling. Her brother-in-law, Larry, saw a fly in a tree and retrieved it. Lori tied it on and caught a trout. That is excellent observation. If I catch a trout that has another fly in its mouth, I remove it and fish with it. If it worked then, it should work again.
“The best technique I know of is to pump a trout’s stomach. This is a controversial technique, as many anglers say you could harm the trout. I have pumped hundreds of trout over three decades and never lost a fish. By pumping a trout’s stomach you see what they actually ate, not what is available. The hard part is you have to catch a fish before you can pump it. I can usually scam up one trout.
“The stomach pump is basically like a bulb baster with a long thin plastic tube. You put the tube in the water and squeeze the bulb. You slowly reduce the pressure on the bulb while still holding it, and the bulb fills with water. You then gently push the tube down the trout’s throat. Squeeze the bulb expelling the water into the trout’s stomach. Pull the pump out of the trout allowing the bulb to fill with the water and the contents of the stomach. Squeeze the bulb and catch the stomach contents in your hand. Match the most prevalent item with the contents of your fly box (size, shape and color) and you have a fly that matches what the trout is feeding on.
“One observation that I have made over the years is that they are feeding on smaller food items than we thought.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.28 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 10,688 cfs and has ranged from 9,420 to almost 16,000 over the past two days; tailwater elevation was 455.90 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.45 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-2-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Bull Shoals Lake level is 659 feet msl lake level. The Army Corps of Engineers has been pushing water through. Water temp is 49 degrees, give or take. We have had dirty water, temps in the mid-50s. The warm rain and wind helped, but temperature and conditions over the next month will dictate your game plan and success. The shad are spread out everywhere, from main lake to backs of the creeks. Look for bigger spreads shallower than 60 feet; gulls and loons can help show the way. If you can find a wad, that’s where the big girls have been hanging, usually above the shad from 10-30 feet. Tater Shad Swimbait and the ice jig when there’s not a lot of action, or dead stick on the bait.
While some warmer creeks have a wave of fish up, they are mostly bucks. Windy, dirty cloudy, warm water calls for a crank, square bill, Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart. Sunny and flat, try slow-dragging a Jewel Jig or a green pumpkin shaky head slow banging on the rocks ledges in 5-15 feet.
The fish are in transition. The shad bite video gaming isn’t over, but it’s been nice to hit the bank and catch them somewhat regularly. Fish are already staging early prespawn areas in the creeks. The crankbait bite is hit or miss. The crawdads are becoming active. This should improve with warm days, dirty water while wind, wind, wind and clouds will help. Parallel steeper ledges 45-degree banks and transition banks, cover water. Use Rock Crawler reds on the steeper, clearer water; try a Wiggle Wart on mid-; and a Chick Magnet on the flat side in the stain. A jerkbait on breezy-day bluff ends over steeper swings and points with shad nearby will fool a few. I’m not a rig guy but they are setting up for that.
The smallmouth are definitely grouping up if you can find them. They are in roaming mode. A 2.8 McMinnow is on deck. Flat, clear and sunny the drop-shot is a player in 30-45 feet. You’ll have keep moving to find them but when you do there’s usually a few. White bass have started popping and walleyes will be up soon. There’s a full moon early this month. 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 midday Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.64 feet msl, which is down almost 3 feet from this time last week (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 3,056 cfs, a fairly steady number for the past two days.
(updated 2-23-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 553.71 feet msl and is right at the top of the power pool of 553.73 feet. The Army Corps of Engineers is very reluctant to drop it below that level. The White River at Newport is 16.39 feet and dropping. “Everyone is very concerned about the upcoming heavy rain and severe weather. I am way past predictions but just report what is actually happening.”
The surface water temperature is 50 degrees on the main lake and a few degrees warmer back in the creeks. The water cleared a little on both the main lake and creeks Wednesday with the reduced generation but you can see your lure down only 3-4 feet. Fishing has not been the best, but a few nice fish of several species have been caught every day. Every time things get better, another cold front comes through and slows everything. Go to the windblown creeks about halfway back and look for shad in 35-45 feet of water and drop a spoon on them. “You can catch about anything. I caught a few nice crappie in the 13- to 14-inch range after sunset (Tuesday) evening on a grub and minnow, but not very many.
“This rain and cooler weather will change everything and you have to be out there every day to stay on top of things. It is a typical early March.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.
(updated 3-2-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new reports. However, Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 3-2-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. There has been no wadable water on the Norfork tailwater. 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-head nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his favorite rig has been a size 14 pheasant tail nymph and a size 18 ruby midge. 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, and remember that school spring break is coming later this month, so that week will be busy too.
The hot flies at Dry Run Creek 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 3-2-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing poorly. With warmer temperatures, the smallmouths should be active soon. The most effective fly here usually is 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 1,120.62 feet msl, a 1-foot drop from this time last week (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl). As of noon, there had been constant release in the neighborhood of 3,600 cfs but no generation.
(updated 3-2-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake sits right at normal levels. The lake is almost at 50 degrees on the south end and high 40s on the north. Fishing was pretty good last week. Stripers are still hard to locate and also hard to get to bite when you find them. Places to look are Prairie Creek area and Horseshoe Bend. Lots of bait in those areas.
Crappie are fair/good and are either on the bottom on flats adjacent to main channels or attached to brush in 10-20 feet of water. Black bass are loading up on prespawn areas. Look for point and humps with some structure. Jerkbaits and swimbaits will continue to shine. Walleye are in the river arms and will continue to stay in those areas until the spawn is over in a month or so.
“We are expecting lots of rain in the next day with 2-4 inches forecast, and this will temporarily put a kink in the fishing, especially in the main tributaries that feed Beaver. I will tell you one overlooked fish to put in the boat with that type of rain is the catfish. This time of year with that kind of rain will jump start the cats. Good luck and stay safe!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 2-24-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the main topic of conversation this week is the walleye are starting to move into the creeks. Anglers are fishing mostly live baits (minnows have been the big thing) and they are finding mostly males, no females, and the males aren't really that big yet. The run has just started, they note. Look for them in the river arms and below Beaver Dam, around War Eagle and the White River arms. "They are not really going full bore, but they can be caught now and that's big." Crappie are rated fair to good. There are not a lot of crappie anglers out yet with the chill (35 degrees Friday) still in the air. The crappie are in a prespawn bite and found around brush and other cover. Many crappie anglers are using the LiveScope and searching them out and using a variety of baits, mostly jigs, artificials and minnows.
The fishing pressure on the lake is still light. The lake is in good shape and clear for the most part. Conditions are good.
Stripers, a year-long target on Beaver Lake, are being caught on big minnows, but pressure is light on them as well right now. Stripers are moving into the river arms and upper White.
Black bass are still in a winter pattern and that bite is rate fair. Jerkbaits, Alabama rigs are the baits of choice, and mostly it's tournament fishing time, though it has taken around 15 pounds to win the tourneys, The white bass run hasn't really started; some have been caught in the river arms but that is also still a winter fishing pattern for now.
Water temperature in the river arms is in the high 40s and the main lake is in the mid-40s. It's still far from spring-like temps. "We expect a big change in the next three weeks," they report. "It hasn't been a hard winter up here. Everything is happening as it should. The walleye are the first to pick up."
(updated 3-2-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said this past week has been great for fishing. Some days with the overcast can really produce a good bite as well. The trout have been pretty scattered with the increasing boat traffic chasing the walleye. Try to get to areas such as Spider Creek and up toward Parker Bottoms.
With generation, the trout have really been responsive to Pautzke "pink" Fire Worms drifted on a one-sixteenth-ounce jig. If you want to step it up a notch, add some trout Fire Gel to the worm. If the Army Corps of Engineers is not moving water through the dam, or if you can get into some slack water, fishing the bottom with light terminal tackle and Pautzke Fire Bait (Rocket Red) has produced some really nice numbers.
“OK, let's talk walleye. We are still catching these toothy critters, with most of them being caught between Houseman Access and Beaver town. Jigging soft plastics with (walleye) Fire Gel has been the ticket! Look for the walleye along weed lines, points and inside bends. If you’re going for live bait, you may try some Fire Dye to give your bait that a little added attraction.
“We are still waiting for the water temperatures to reach that sweet spot; as soon as it does, things should really start kicking off.
“Once again, follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for daily updates on these fish. Good luck and be safe!”
(updated 3-2-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no new reports.
(updated 3-2-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said crappie have really picked up. The fishing is good in deep water. Anglers are having best success on jigs in light colors, preferably jigs that are pink tipped and/or chartreuse.
Black bass and catfish are fair, but anglers didn’t suggest any specific baits. Bream are no biting right yet. Neither are white bass.
Shelly notes that the state park visitor center carries nightcrawlers, lures and jigs, and poles. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
The lake’s water temperature on Monday was 51.9 degrees. The lake is usually murky and the water is high.
(updated 2-23-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported Lake Poinsett had crappie biting well on minnows and jigs. Bass are starting to bite on artificials off of the points. Bream are biting on worms and Bream Killers. Catfish are slow but biting in the early evenings on stink bait and live bait. Crappie and bass are catch-and-release at Lake Poinsett. Normal state limits on bream and catfish now.
(updated 3-2-2023) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has reopened for the fishing season and for the past three weeks they’ve started to see increasing activity, particularly out of the bass anglers. The bass being caught in good numbers are reported all healthy “and chunky.” They are using a variety of baits, but it tends to lean toward crankbaits or jigs. No bass are on top yet, but they are moving in to shallower areas. They’ve seen some crappie anglers out, but so far there have been no reports. “It’s probably too early.”
The water level is normal and the clarity is dingy.
(updated 2-23-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels at the Spring are running at 440 cfs (350 cfs is average, while water clarity has been poor. Plenty of rain lately has the river up about a foot above normal and has the water stained a good pea soup tint.
The trout and smallmouth have been hitting well in the higher water. Woollies and streamers can work on good days, or nymphs on other days, with really nice bug hatches on the nice sunny mornings. A big crackleback fished deep has been good on several trips lately. And if the bite is off, a big Y2K can be the ticket. The hatchery has been stocking some really nice chunky fish.
Crankbaits for spin-fishing work well in high water. This is a great time to chase walleye with big stickbaits.
“Wading with the water up can be tricky – wading staffs can keep ya dry. Heavy rains lately can make river conditions change overnight. Check our blog (linked above) to make sure it's not up and muddy. Be great if all this rain was snow. But warm weather has made for great times on the water.”
(updated 3-2-2023) 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,” he says. 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 down about a half-foot to 9.22 feet, almost 6 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage also falling at 16.03 feet (flood stage is 26 feet). The stage at Augusta is dropping at 29.94 feet, still nearly 4 feet above flood stage of 26.00 feet.
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 62,783 cfs. The stage at Pine Bluff is at 31.68 and slightly on the rise (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 60,404 cfs.
(updated 2-23-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperature is in the mid-50s in Lake Langhofer to the low 60s in protected backwaters. Visibility is 6-12 inches. Water level has stabilized from recent rains. Black bass can be caught with shallow-medium diving crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs along rocks and docks. Bass are not yet loading into typical early spawning areas despite the abnormally warm temperatures. If the warm weather continues, the spawners should move soon.
(updated 3-2-2023) After a two-year project of rebuilding the lake habitat by the AGFC while the city of Monticello rebuilt the lake’s dam, Lake Monticello is reopened for fishing though the water is still well below what will be full pool when it refills. Lake Monticello is dependent on rainwater for refilling all of its 1,520 acres, and in late fall it had reached a coverage of almost 500 acres.
All fish that are caught are catch-and-release at this time and the AGFC Fisheries staff rebuilds the predator population and the forage base.
Late in 2022 the AGFC hatchery staff stocked about 180,000 fathead minnows, 111,902 golden shiners, 78,840 bluegill and 82,056 redear sunfish. 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 259.91 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Total hourly outflow at the dam is still high; at midday it was 16,271 cfs, which is steady for the past few days.
(updated 3-2-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake continues falling (after storms raised the level significantly) and clarity is improving. Millwood remains almost 9 inches above normal pool. Clarity remains stained to muddy in places this week but continues improving along Little River. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 242 feet msl (almost 15 FEET above normal) and falling with gate discharge at the dam near 16,000 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 webpage linked above, or the 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. Lake elevation and discharge at Millwood Dam can change dramatically in mere hours with thunderstorms and fresh water influx.
Surface temps are stable this week, ranging 49-58 degrees depending on location and the time of day.
Mike had these latest updates from specific species:
* Over the past couple weeks the largemouths and spotted bass have been randomly feeding along Little River and the oxbows, with the warmer days being best to make a run upriver. Flats next to deep creeks and secondary points with any fresh grass growth, new lily pad blooms and vegetation will coax a bite on a Chatterbait or square bill on warm and sunny days, mainly in the afternoon. A few chunky 2- and 3-pound male bass were the most aggressive at midday into late afternoon and those fish were being found randomly near and close to deeper creek channels. The bass have randomly been hitting Brazalo Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover, Chatterbaits in white or Firecraw, and Rat-L-Traps in Red Chrome Crawfish, Millwood Magic or Toledo Gold. Custom-painted Bent Pole Little John Cranks in Millwood Magic and Rayburn Red finessed through the new vegetation have picked up a few males in the 2- to 4-pound class. The best water clarity is back of the oxbows, away from the current of Little River, although the main lake from Paraloma Trail to mile marker 4 in Little River was fairly clear over the past few days before the thunderstorms.
Floating a Trick Worm like the Senko or Zoom Trick Worm and the Yum Dingers and Bass Assassin Shads is a pattern that’s beginning to get good reactions. Merthiolate, Blue Ice, Watermelon Candy, Pumpkinseed Shad and South African Special colors were all randomly working in the back of Clear Lake, Horseshoe Lake and McGuire oxbows. Brazalo Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover or River Shad with red blades were catching some decent prespawn males moving in and out of spawning flats over the weekend when the sun was up bright and high in the sky and you could see movement in 3-5 feet of depths on the spawning flats. Big female largemouths are beginning to stage at the creek mouths and on the first vertical drops from the spawning flats to deeper water. Red Chrome, Toledo Gold or Natural Crawfish in three-quarter-ounce sizes and 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps were picking up a few prespawn fish from 8-12 feet deep on vertical drops.
* White bass continue to bite well. Mike and his crew continue to find a few large schools 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 numbers ranging 2-3 pounds, and they continue biting well on Rat-L-Trap Spin-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons, Bomber Fat Free Shads, 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 current has dropped, but the schools of white bass and are migrating up and along Little River. Many different schools continue roaming Little River and have been caught casting or vertical-jigging spoons along Little River. Tail Spinner lead heads like the Little Georges, Little Cleo's 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. We expect to see greater numbers of large white bass schools running upriver near Patterson Shoals and Wilton Landing near Cossatot inflow ditch for their annual spawning runs over the next few weeks as the surface temps continue to hold in the mid-50 degree range.
Mike added, “We have not yet seen the prespawn fat gurls in great numbers at Wilton Landing as of Tuesday. We are finding large schools between Wilton Landing (U.S. Highway 71) and McGuire Oxbow. and Cemetery Slough and Brown's Slough, about another 2 miles above McGuire, or 3-5 miles downriver from Wilton Landing at U.S. 71. I would expect to find them near Wilton by late this week or next week if these temps hold.”
* Over the past few weeks, the crappie bite had improved – then thunderstorms and lake wind advisories destroyed clarity while the discharge along Little River increased well over 30,000 cfs. Now that has reduced down to around 16,000 cfs, but we have not been chasing those crappie lately, so nothing to report on them this week. With lake-wide temperatures increasing, we expect to see a greater amount of prespawn activity in the coming weeks.
* Also, no reports this week on bream or catfish.
(updated 2-23-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reported that the crappie are moving to the shallows. Anglers are caching lots of nice-sized crappie. Use hand-tied jigs in white/silver and gray/silver/white or use minnows for best results.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
For the most updated Narrows Dam generation schedule from SWEPCO, click here.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 547.74 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 405.91 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 443.67 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 542.69 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 3-2-2023) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-251-3831) had no new reports.
(updated 3-2-2023) 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 3-2-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 54 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Very heavy generation has been the norm for several weeks with both generators running huge amounts of water through the system to keep area lakes at winter drawdown levels. Flood gates remained open to aid in lowering Lake Ouachita out of flood pool. Little productive fishing has been seen in the tailrace under these adverse conditions and this scenario has continued since mid-January. Anglers should plan on staying off the water below Carpenter Dam until area lakes are safe to navigate and conditions return to normal. The public is urged to use extreme caution when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area during this time.
The weekly generation report is posted every Wednesday evening on the Entergy website under Hydro-Operations. All flood gates were closed below Carpenter Dam, but (as of this writing) this could change as heavy rainfall is possible on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The trout stocking program (9,300 trout stocked in January, 12,000 in February) has proceeded as scheduled so big numbers of fish are in the tailrace and can be caught when safe conditions allow bank and boat fishermen to access the lake. Trout are widely scattered from the bridge to the dam and can be caught in the shoals by fly fishermen casting micro-jigs in black and white under a strike indicator.
A San Juan worm in hot pink gives trout a visible prey item in the murky conditions. Trout key in on the shad kill this time of year. 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.
Excellent angling opportunities are on the horizon as soon as stable conditions return to Carpenter Dam, dependent on consistent weather fronts. The massive 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. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits that imitate shad or crayfish against the current will draw strikes from spawning walleye and is an excellent method of locating areas where walleye are congregating.
Lakes Hamilton and Catherine have begun the refilling process from the 5-foot winter drawdown, with each lake rising 6 inches per day. This process should be 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. More importantly, rising water is the death sentence for quality trout fishing. Regardless of clear or muddy conditions, rising water kills a solid trout bite where consistent action has been the case.
All the above information will enable anglers to successfully fish in Lake Catherine as soon as Lake Ouachita falls down out of flood pool and the need for heavy generation and open flood gates subsides. As stated earlier, this process is ongoing and is regulated by Entergy on a weekly basis. Always follow all park and lake regulations when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area and be aware of lake conditions before planning a day on the water.
As of Thursday midday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 36,937 cfs. Elevation was 337.64 feet msl and the tailwater was at 287.85 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage is down almost 1 foot over 24 hours at 7.44 feet as of Thursday afternoon (flood stage is 32 feet).
(updated 2-24-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) in Plainview hears from guides and anglers that crappie are doing very well now. Guide Jeff Larch, who operates River Valley Tours and takes groups out at Nimrod, went up in recent days to Dardanelle "and did very good on the crappie," they report.
(updated 3-2-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said that with the water warming up, black bass are moving toward the backs of the creeks or toward spawning flats. Target those 10-15 foot brush piles, and also the transitions areas where it goes from a little deeper water to a flat or channel swing. Anglers are mostly catching them on red Rat-L-Traps and green pumpkin Chatterbait. Also, anglers are flipping a jig around docks and around wood.
Crappie have been hanging around those 15-foot brush pile in the creeks, the guts of creeks and pockets. It’s best to throw a jig now, with Monkey Milk being a good color. With the stained water, also consider a white/chartreuse jig.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was at 352.61 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-23-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville says crappie are biting in spite of the various weather and water changes we’re seeing lately. Move around, check out shallow water and the deep water too. Good luck. It might be hit and miss now. Use jigs in Monkey Milk, black/chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Kiwi, Mo-Glo, silver and Blue Ice, or throw a Crappie Magnet that is orange, white or Diamond Mist. Minnows and nightcrawlers for live bait.
Bream are slow, but try redworms and crickets as they may be starting to get hungry as the water warms some. Black bass are biting but it’s been slow. We favor a dark colored bait and also watermelon red, red or blue, or shad-like baits. Also use minnows. Catfish like liver, dough bait, minnows and nightcrawlers now, but cats have been slow.
(updated 2-24-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Friday morning that the crappie are beginning to bite, and bite well. One of the guides going out from Andrews fished three days this week and on his teams the anglers were doing real well on the crappie. The preferred bait is a yellow-headed hair jig, and some minnows are being used, though not as many as jigs. The fish are about 8-12 feet deep.
The lake had made its way up to 50 degrees though on Friday morning it was recorded as 39 degrees.
Bass are slow and anglers are not catching many even up into the backwaters. Nobody is really catfishing now, and the bream anglers have not started bream fishing in number yet, though they were catching bream before the water took a big rise.
Nimrod was 18 feet above normal pool level, but even with the latest rain it is dropping. The Corps of Engineers is "running it strong," they report, and the water below the dam is at 314 feet msl. Above the dam and coming from the river the water is clear, though in front of the dam the water is muddy. In spite of the higher level these days, anglers are able to launch boats.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 576.86 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-2-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are good. A Rat-L-Trap, crawfish-colored square bill crankbait or a PB&J jig were working best. Still no reports on walleye. Stripers are good. An Alabama rig or live bait on main lake points or creek channel mouths on the rivers should be the best spot to find these. Crappie are good on small jigs or minnows. Try brush 20-35 feet deep. Bream still are trying to hide from the big fish, but should start biting soon. Catfish may have quit looking for the bream, but will be found soon on trotlines and jugs. The water temperature is ranging 45-52 degrees. Water clarity is stained. Lake level is 576.80 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 395.98 feet 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 is steady 28.78 feet, or 2.78 above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 2-23-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said the water temperature is rising and the water is clear. Water temperature was ranging 51-54 degrees as of Tuesday. Crappie are SLOW! With the water temperature coming up, one would think the fish would respond in a positive way that would allow us fishermen to catch some. Most fish are still holding in a winter pattern and are right on the bottom in 16-23 feet of water. Bait presentation should be very slow. “I tried a variety of methods and the one that worked best was spider-rigging with minnows at a slow crawl!” Kent said.
“For bass, what I gathered from the bass fishermen I spoke with, they are struggling as well with fish not responding to the warmer water. The shallow bite is practically nonexistent right now.”
Kent heard no reports on catfish or bream.
The lake, which closed during the winter to serve as rest area for migrating waterfowl, remains closed as the White River is over flood stage at Clarendon. Call the center at 870-241-3373 for more information.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 3-2-2023) Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040) had no new reports.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.