March 23, 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: One of fishing guide Del Colvin's customers on Bull Shoals Lake hauled in this nice black bass this past week. Del, who sent in the photo, reports that the cold nights and cool water haven't helped the overall fishing, but he and his clients are finding a few, and he reports that many bass are in prespawn now. Read more of his report below from Bull Shoals Lake.
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
For the most up-to-date lake level, visit the U.S. Geological Survey's Lake Conway water level site.
(updated 3-23-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said bream are very active now, biting mainly on redworms; crickets are a little slow with the bream. Crappie are slow. Catfish are on, however. They’re biting on the typical catfish bait, with a real interest for trotline minnows, crappie minnows and goldfish.
Black bass are doing really well. Although it may seem a little early for them, topwater lures and soft plastics appear to be getting the best action now.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 6,151 cfs (turbine) as of noon Thursday, beginning at 7 a.m.; the Corps ran water from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday with about that same amount of flow. The tailwater was at 276.47 feet as of noon Thursday. Greers Ferry Lake is 8.4 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 3-23-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said that with recent rains, Greers Ferry Lake is above top seasonal pool, creating unpredictable generation for the Little Red River. “Currently we are receiving 12-16 hours of daily generation beginning early mornings. If you plan to fish the Trout Magnet in high water, consider using extra weight and focus on eddies and close to banks using pink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads. For fly-fishing, consider weighted San Juan worms, weighted egg patterns and streamers.”
Always check generation schedule and be aware of unexpected water release. Check before heading to the Little Red River for Greers Ferry Dam water release by downloading the USACE Little Rock app, Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 3-23-2023) Mike Winkler of Little River Fly Fishing Trips (501-507-3688) said Wednesday that Greers Ferry Lake is 8.4 feet above power pool. The Army Corps of Engineers has been running two units usually starting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it's subject to change. Always check the USACE Little Rock app for the generation schedule before heading out.
“With the current generation schedule the bite has been good fishing the falling water in the morning. I've been putting in at Lobo Landing access and starting a little early to beat the new batch of water that hits in the afternoon. Afterwards, I've been putting in at the dam for the second half of the day and fishing a deep water nymph rig.
Set the indicator at various depths depending on how deep the water is, anywhere from 6-12 feet deep, with split shot to get it down. Hot flies for this technique are San Juan worms and egg patterns along with caddis, pheasant tail nymphs or anything buggy.
“The streamer bite has been good. Try fishing sink lines on your streamer rod with articulated patterns and pound the bank.”
(updated 3-23-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the water has been running more with longer hours of generation from the dam, so expect the water to be higher. Those conditions will call for throwing a small jerkbait with a gold or Firetiger color to it. Trout anglers, looking for both rainbows and browns, have also been catching them on a No. 5 Shadrap, and they’re also using the Trout Magnet Trout Worm, in pink color. Reports also have the trout biting on Little Cleos spoons in eighth- and quarter-ounces. With the higher water right now, people have been targeting the banks above and below the shoals.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 470.47 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 470.44 feet msl and has been falling the last couple of days, but is fixing to start back up after rain later today. It is 8.40 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. As predicted, all species are in a holding pattern. Before all the cooldown it looked like about a two-week early spawn and just a little cool, but as its looking now we will be two weeks late as cold weather is forecast for the rest of month. But also remember, with a new warming trend, it’s not like turning a light switch on and off; it will take fish a few days to adjust. We shall see.
Black bass are eating jerkbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits in guts or side of guts. The rest are out deeper and can be caught dragging something, and some are right up on shoreline. Some crappie are as shallow as a couple of feet, while most are 10-40 feet – jigs, minnows or crankbaits are catching them. Walleye are eating crankbaits, plastics on a jighead or live baits in a lot of different places all over the lake and rivers. Catfish are eating around dying shad in lake and rivers. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating a lot of days away from the super stained water, they do not like it. Spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and small grubs are working 10-50 feet. No report on bream.
(updated 3-23-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the water is 8 foot high, and that’s had anglers kind of fishing the original bank line on the edge of the bushes in 9-10 feet of water. They are throwing crankbaits, single swimbaits and also a Carolina rig for the bass. Other anglers report catching fish in the backs of creeks where there is flowing water with a spinnerbait or crankbait. And they’ve also been flipping a jig around the shallow wood in the backs of creeks and rivers.
The upper portion of the lake is stained and maybe muddy in some parts, while downlake it’s stained to pretty clear.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 3-9-2023) 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 3-23-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) had no new reports.
(Updated 3-23-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said the water is clearer than it has been. Catfish are doing well on trotlines baited with cut shad or nightcrawlers. No report on bass or bream. The crappie are still out in the deeper water. “But I believe they are moving up closer to the banks. Anglers are requesting lots of pink and crappie minnows,” she said. Check out the Lakeview Landing Hwy 95 Facebook page for water temperature and other updates.
(update 3-23-2023) Will Lancett, an AGFC fisheries biologist conducting creek surveys here through May, said he had nothing good to report from the lake yet. A local bass tournament last weekend didn't even have a limit weighted in. They did have a 6.5-pounder weighed in for Big Bass. The water temperature was around 53-54 degrees Thursday, from what anglers reported, and nobody that was bank-fishing caught anything. It's his guess fish have been thrown off by the weather and should be committing to moving up shallow in the next few weeks. Best guess is the fish are trying to transistion from offshore brush to staging areas and have changed their minds a few times with the cold snaps we've been having. Fishing here should really pick up throughou April, and Lancett says he wouldn't be surprised to see some 25-pound bags weighed in.
Crappie reports have been poor as well. In about 40 angler hours as reported in the creel survey, there may have been 1 crappie and 3 bass caught on Thursday, he says.
(updated 3-23-2023) West Rock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported water temperature remains in the mid-50s. Fishing for white bass in the lake is slow. The lake is dingy on the west end so it’s been a tough bite for the last few days. Black bass fishing is good. Fishing on Thursday morning on a windy point was working well for black bass. Try using jigs. Some reports have them being caught a few reels off the bottom and also near brush and rock piles. Crappie fishing is slow. Reports of people catching a few using jigs.
Two weeks ago, anglers were catching a bunch of small white bass males by the bridge and some by the creek after the hard rain that week. This Wednesday afternoon the lake was too dirty on the west end for some anglers looking for any white bass there, and they didn’t do any good outside of catching a few black bass.
Another angler reportedly was looking hard Thursday beyond the west end for white bass and said the water temp was 56-57 degrees. Watch for the temp to hit 58-60 degrees and the white bass run into the river should be on.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 34,218 cfs. The stage at Morrilton was fishing at 11.18 feet and falling 1.32 over a 24-hour period (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 27,813 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 3-16-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said water level is normal and the water is in “perfect shape” for fishing with clear conditions. Lower temperatures this week have not seemed to affect the fish. “They are close enough to be ready to spawn,” Ray said.
Crappie are doing well and being caught in 4-5 feet depth. Still working well on minnows and jigs. Black bass are doing real well, also, and they’re being caught in the same depth of water. Crankbaits and soft plastics such as lizards and worms are working best.
Catfish are doing real well, with a lot being caught on yo-yos baited with minnows. Not much to report on bream, he said.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 39,480 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 43,204 cfs. The elevation is 249.15 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was steady at 7.58 feet (flood stage is 25 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 44,069 cfs.
(updated 3-2-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says anglers are mostly catching fish mostly in the backwaters and behind the jetties and more in the pockets. They’ve mostly been Texas-rigging with a black/blue creature bait or have been flipping a black/blue jig up shallow on the edge of the bank. Bass are going to be shallow now, pretty close to the bank, with the water warming and with the sun shining.
Anglers also have been seeking bass by throwing a 3.5 black/red Gitzit Tube. They’re flipping that along the bank and fishing it slowly.
Guys and gals searching out the bass have been taking a spinnerbait in white/chartreuse out along the bank areas. Also try a chartreuse and black back square bill; these anglers are fishing just down the bank and covering water. They’re also covering water with a black/blue Chatterbait. Your best bet now will be focusing on the backwater and getting behind jetties and into the pockets.
They haven’t heard any reports on crappie fishing this week, but those fish should be staging soon in 8-10 feet of water behind the jetties and likely located near wood or a drop-off. If you’re seeking the crappie, go with an orange/chartreuse, red/chartreuse or white/chartreuse crappie jig.
The pool’s clarity is stained to muddy. Sunday, the river was lower than it had been lately around the Murray Park accesses. Level Thursday in the pool was ranging little low to normal.
(updated 3-23-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said springtime temperatures are finally here – for good we hope – and the fishing is hot on the rivers here in the Arkansas Ozarks. The water level on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam has continued to stay steady: high water of about four or five units (12,000 to 15,000 cfs). Expect this to continue as the Army Corps of Engineers weathers through the spring rains. Bull Shoals Lake is 665.35 feet msl and the Corps and the Southwestern Power Administration are prescribing heavy releases to bring the lake level nearer to seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl.
How to fish this high water? Use a heavier weight to float your baits nearer the bottom in this water; cast near the banks where the trout don't have to fight the current and always keep some wiggly worms on hand. This is great water for sinking Rapalas, even as heavy as a CD9 or maybe even an 11. We're hearing that the best-kept secret is the brook trout Rapala.
Worms work very nicely with the high water level. The brown trout have been biting anything from minnows to sculpins and some silver flash lures. Some browns have even been caught on the old standby of PowerBait and shrimp.
The kids enjoying spring break on the river are staying busy catching rainbows with shrimp and bright fluorescent orange or yellow eggs. You can begin your catching day with a quarter-ounce silver and blue hammered spoon, and finish up with a Rapala Rainbow CD5. “We're sending them back to school with some great fish tales. Come test the waters and enjoy a spring day in the Ozarks. Bring some rain protection – it's March in Arkansas!”
(updated 3-23-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that again this week in Calico Rock they are seeing river levels near 11 feet. Both Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are releasing a lot of water. Norfork Dam reopened 10 spillway gates. Current weather forecasts predict another 2-plus inches or rainfall on Friday. “Although the river continues to be high, it seems like the fish have gotten accustomed to the high water and fishing has picked up. With Norfork opening the spillway gates we continue to see the trout gorging themselves on shad. Drift-fishing with shad has proven effective as has a silver inline spinner with yellow or orange Power Eggs and shrimp. There was one trout stocking this week with the AGFC using their pontoon raft to stock fish downriver of Calico Rock.”
(updated 3-23-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they saw a few minor rain events (combining for a half-inch here), colder temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at 6.5 feet above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 5.8 feet above power pool or 3.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water and heavy flows. Norfork Lake fell 1.5 feet to rest at 3.5 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had a lot of wadable water the last few days. All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. We can expect higher flows on the White and some wadable water on the Norfork.
Streamer season continues. The brown trout that were spawning for three months are working their way back downstream. Anglers are now targeting them by banging the bank with big streamers on sink tip lines.
He said, “On the White, the hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. We have had higher flows that have fished well one day and poorly the next. 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 also said, “Last week I got an email from my old fishing buddy, Joe Nicklo. He is a regular tyer at the Sowbug Roundup and an avid fly-fisher. He wanted to know when the caddis would hatch. Caddis is a prolific aquatic insect and our biggest hatch of the year. This means topwater action, a fly-fishers dream.
“My answer was that the hatch always occurs during the Sowbug Roundup, when I am working in my booth. I sit there and talk to angler after angler when they come in from the river and talk about how prolific the hatch was and how many trout they caught on dry flies.
“This is nothing less than torture for me. As an avid fly-fisher I live for dry fly action. There is something about watching a big trout taking a fly from the top of the water column that rings my bell. We do not get much topwater action here in the Twin Lakes area and this is our biggest and most reliable hatch of the year. I yearn for it.
“Now, like all of nature’s phenomena the actual timing of the emergence of a hatch of aquatic insects is not a reliable thing. I cannot guarantee that it will occur during the Sowbug Roundup this year, but that is when it usually happens. I know that I will be carrying plenty of caddis flies on all of my trips for the next few weeks.
“Another thing to consider is the current water conditions. Due to some heavy spring rains, the lake levels on all of the lakes in the White River system (Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes) have risen above power pool into flood pool. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers are running 16,000 cfs around the clock at Bull Shoals Lake. That is the equivalent of five full generators.
“The river rises about a foot for every generator they turn on. That means the river will be about 5 feet higher than minimum flow, which means no wading unless the Corps ramps down the flow. It also means that the trout are unlikely to rise that high to feed from the top. Look for side channels and quiet banks.
“Fly selection is pretty easy. Before the hatch, my favorite fly is the prince nymph in a size 14. Look for them with a brass bead so they will sink quickly. If you observe rises but see no insects, switch to a Green Butt soft hackle in size 15. This is my signature fly and I will be tying it at Sowbug. When the trout begin taking adult insects from the top of the water, switch to a green elk hair caddis size 14.
“My final thought is: If you go fishing during Sowbug and catch the hatch, do not come in and tell me how well you did.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 665.11 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 16,405 cfs and has ranged about that same level past two days; tailwater elevation was 457.40 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.35 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Bull Shoals Lake level is 665 feet msl, or 6 feet above normal pool level. Water temperature is 50 degrees give or take. The cold rain and cold nights didn’t help this fishing this week. Temperature and conditions will dictate your game plan and success. Bass fishing is up and down like the weather; there are some fish moving up. While some warmer creeks have a wave of fish up skinny, they are mostly bucks with an occasional big. Windy, dirty, cloudy and warm rainwater calls for power fishing with crankbaits, Chatterbaits, a square bill. You’ll have the watch the Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart with all the bushes. Try on the last couple of swing banks or in or around the pockets. Cover water. Sunny, flat water and stained conditions try slow-dragging a Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin. If you have clear water try a green pumpkin three-sixteenth-ounce shaky head or a Ned. Also go with the ol’ Wobble Head with a menace, slow-banging on the rocks, ledges and points in 5-15 feet early; look in 15-20 feet by midday, outside spawning areas.
The fish are in prespawn mode. It’s getting to where you can beat the bank and run into a few targets staging early prespawn areas in the creeks, as well as swings and points outside the spawning areas. A Chick Magnet fished on flat sides are putting a few in the boat; fish the dirty rocks. A Megabass Jerkbait on breezy day on bluff ends over steeper swings and points with shad nearby will fool a few, but has been hit or miss. I’m not a rig guy, but they are set up for that. The shad are moving up again, and video gamers everywhere from main to backs of the creeks look for bigger spreads shallower than 30 feet. Gulls and loons can help or hurt; if they are over deep water, expect drum and walleyes. Throw around the ol’ McMinnow 2.8 Swimbait in white or shad colors; this has been the deal for me.
The bass are definitely grouping up if you can find them. They are in packs! Whites and walleyes are spawning or in prespawn, so early or late in the day is the deal to fool them. 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 556.56 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 8,198 cfs, with constant generation in that range for several days.
(updated 3-23-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for most species has been pretty good Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, but it will get better once we get some stable weather and a stable lake level. Normal early spring requests. “I have several guests in and they are all catching fish. The bite in the dark is going strong as long as you find where the fish are hanging out. Casting a small 3.5- to 5-inch paddle tail swimbait with a quarter-ounce jighead has been working the best.
“You can catch just about any species in the lake, including walleye, crappie and stripers, by casting out a swimbait. I prefer white or a Sexy Shad color. Once it gets light out, the fish tend to move off the shoreline and into deeper water, about 30-40 feet deep on the same points. I found fish yesterday morning on main lake points. I have been using Tater Baits, Tater Shads in the Bayou Magic, Key Lime and White Trash flavors. I catch most of my stripers by keeping the bait motionless about 3 feet off of the bottom.
“On Tuesday morning before the heavier rain started, I landed my limit of stripers/hybrids, including a 9-pound-plus hybrid. He really gave a great battle. Bob, another guest, found nice largemouth bass back in a creek in very shallow, muddy water. He was also casting out a swimbait. Another area that has been holding a ton of bait and fish is partway back in a creek where the fish are in 30-60 feet of water. Most of the stripers in this area are suspended 20-30 feet down. You will also find a lot of white bass in the same areas with the striped/hybrid bass.
“Wednesday morning was another good day to be on the lake. I checked out a new area and fished a flat in 30-40 feet of water. On one end of the flat I found a lot of bait and found white bass and a few stripers feeding heavily. The fish were at all depths, but the fish on the bottom were the most aggressive. I managed to land a monster striped bass weighing in at 30 pounds that was suspended 20 feet down in 37 feet of water. All my fish Wednesday were caught by slowly vertical-jigging a Bayou Magic Tater Shad. This big guy took 30 minutes to land on 8-pound test monofilament line.”
The surface water temp is holding around 50 degrees. The lake level is falling and currently sits at 556.92 feet msl. The northern part of the lake remains stained. Enjoy Norfork Lake.
Lou also posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 3-23-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 556.88 feet msl and has dropped 4 inches in 24 hours as of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. They are running one generator about half the time and are varying spillway gates discharge, and recently were cutting back. The White River at Newport is 23.36 feet and they are trying to drop the area lakes as fast as they can. “They are predicting 2-3 inches of rain Friday and I hope we do not get it, especially in the Norfork watershed.
“The surface water temperature was 51 degrees when I came in at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The clarity is remaining about the same but wants to clear up. I could see my lure down 3-4 feet. Trollers are catching a few temperate bass dragging live bait and umbrellas through shad and others are casting artificial lures back in the bayous and bays.
“Crappie fishing on brush is not the best, but a few fish are being caught every day. That is about the same for most species. Shad are moving under docks under lights about 9 p.m. and bringing spawned out white bass and walleye and a few crappie with them. If you can find feeding fish it can be good, but that is not happening every day. Some bass are back in the creeks near the shore, but not a lot.
“Overall, fishing is just fair.”
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog for a daily report.
(updated 3-23-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.5 feet to rest at 3.5 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had a lot of wadable water the last few days. All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. We can expect higher flows on the White and some wadable water on the Norfork.
John said, “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). 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. Some students may be on spring break during the week. 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 Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 3-23-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing poorly. With cooler temperatures, the smallmouths have not been 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 1,126.20 feet msl, or 5.8 above normal pool (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake continues to remain high, and with rain forecasted for midweek and Friday (and they are saying a bunch) the lake again will be close to top of power pool again for the fourth straight year.
“This is a good/bad situation. The good is that a good spawn should be happening this year. The bad is it makes the lake much “bigger” to fish. With that I mean it floods lots of areas with trees and brush that will spread out the fish. Lots of habitat will be in the flooded portions and produce lots of areas for fish to locate. High water is a good thing but it does cause issues with campgrounds and boat ramps. I personally like the lake at normal levels, but as of the last few years it has been abnormally high. We should reap the benefits with good spawns in the next few years.
“One issue with these big rains and big rises in the rivers is the amount of silt and erosion that continues to pour into Beaver. If you never have been up the War Eagle or the White River, you should sometime and witness the massive amount of erosion going on.
“Now, on to the fishing report: Stripers are finally starting to show in the mid-lake areas. Places to look are Prairie Creek points 6, 7, 8 and 9. I would also check Point 12, as this is traditionally a great spring spot. Crappie are fair and are very scattered. There are fish up shallow and fish suspended in 50 feet deep and holding in the top 10 feet of the water column. With warming temperatures coming, the push to the shoreline will take off. Walleye are fair. That bite has been hampered by a drastic drop in water temps, dropping 10 degrees in the last week. We were at 55 degrees last week and dropped to 43 Tuesday. That bite will pick back up when the water gets above 50 again.
“White bass are really missing so far with only a few being caught upriver. Strange actually! Water temps, I believe, are stalling the run. Black bass are hitting jerkbaits and Alabama rigs on points that lead back into many of the arms from mid-lake on toward the Dam.
“Stay safe out there. Watch the weather and wear your life jackets.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 3-16-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said Thursday the fish are active, though they conceded that could change any minute with the frigid temps expected to roll in this weekend (highs predicted in the 40s through Sunday).
Walleye are going full bore in the rivers and that run is on, they report. Anglers are fishing minnows or any kind of softer-style baits. The white bass are just starting and anglers are catching some nice ones. Go to the rivers for both of those species. The White River and War Eagle Creek are very active with white bass anglers.
“That’s as of now, it’s pretty good,” they say.
Crappie are in prespawn mode abut are being seen around cover and channel edges, and the fishing is pretty good for them as well.
No reports of stripers this week.
The water conditions are good, with water temperature getting into the low 50s.
They rate the overall fishing as good. “It’s take your choice. They aren’t spawning yet (whites and crappie) but the fish have been actively feeding, so we’ve had good reports. Everything is just now starting up here. It’s been a pretty good week. Walleye have been the big conversation piece, and the white bass. That’s just prespawn on the whites, they’re just on the front edge of what it will be. It’s a good time to fish. At least today.”
Beaver Lake is 4 feet or more elevated over normal pool.
(updated 3-23-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said, “Fishing has been great this week. The trout bite has picked up as well as the walleye and white bass. Trout are being caught using Pautzke Fire Bait, Fire Balls and Fire Worms (drifting). Fish with light terminal tackle, on bottom. Try to hit the deeper holes with the bait and Fire Balls. Drift the Fire Worms when the Corps of Engineers is flowing water.
“The walleye bite has continued to increase and temperatures are starting to climb. Most are getting caught on soft plastics with Fire Gel scent. Also trolling crankbaits scented with Fire Gel. Try to focus baits in the 8-10 feet range. The walleye are spread out, so you’ve got to cover water.
“White bass have been hitting hard and soft swimbaits. As with the walleye, they are spread out.
“As a side note, with the increasing boat traffic, please try to be courteous to other boaters. If you are under power and approaching a standing boat, slow down and try to communicate with the standing boat to see which side to yield to. Remember, you are under power, the standing boat cannot maneuver as quickly as you.
“I hope you are able to get out and catch some fish. For daily fishing updates, follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service). Have fun and stay safe.”
(updated 3-16-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said crappie are doing really well on jigs. Bream also are biting well; try redworms, which are available at the bait shop. Black bass are biting on craws and soft plastics, and there has also been some topwater action lately. The small lake is stained, and the temperature has been fluctuating with the changing air temps. The lake level is normal.
(updated 3-23-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the high water and colder weather hampered the fishing this past week. Bream were all that were reported, with fair results caught on crickets and jigs. Nothing was reported on crappie, black bass or catfish.
Shelly says best days to fish based on moon times will be April 17-23. Good days should be April 1-9. Maybe it will have warmed up by then. The lake remains its usual murky clarity. Surface water temperature on Monday afternoon was 50.3 degrees.
(updated 3-23-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported Lake Poinsett’s 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 3-9-2023) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has reopened for the fishing season and for the past three weeks they’ve started to see some 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 3-9-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said the Spring is flowing at 560 cfs (well above the 350 cfs average), and water clarity has been poor depending on rain amounts through the week. Plenty of rain lately has the river up and murky at times. Always check our blog for latest fishing conditions on the Spring River. Our blog page is on the website linked above.
The catch has been good with sink tips or split shot to help get the fly down. Lots of bug hatches on the sunny days has made nymphing productive most days. Just takes a little more weight to get down. “A few browns have been caught lately but mainly good rainbows and smallmouth. Grandma's brownies and Cracklebacks have been hot for my guide trips with a sink tip or spit shot. And if no luck, go to a Y2K with a nymph dropper for the days they are not biting.”
The smallmouth have been hitting lately on deep slow presentations. Sink tips with snag free flies work well. Minnow and sculpins patterns are the fav, with crawfish patterns working well too some days. Got to get it down!
With river levels up, be safe wading; a wading staff can save a life. The Spring River has a very slick river bottom that is hard to wade normally, so be careful. With the public areas getting a lot of pressure, places like Riverside Resort that is open through the winter can offer better wading and less pressure. All of the campgrounds will open April 1, providing more accesses. And stocking will increase through March, getting ready for the summer season.
“Water has been up but that has not slowed us down from catching fish and having fun!”
(updated 3-23-2023) 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 was slightly falling at 11.06 feet (flood stage is 15.0 feet). The Newport stage is slightly falling 23.27 feet (flood stage is 26 feet). The stage at Augusta is steady at 32.09 feet, almost 6 feet above flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 3-23-2023) 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 37,803 cfs. The stage at Pine Bluff is steady at 31.45 (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 44,928 cfs.
(updated 3-9-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports water temperatures in low 60s mostly with upper 60s in protected backwaters. Visibility is less than 6 inches in most places, with slightly better visibility in protected backwaters. Black bass are biting fairly well on small dark-colored jigs and soft plastics. Black bass are transitioning into traditional spawning areas but have not quite loaded into them yet. Check staging areas for now and anticipate more activity in spawning areas over the next few weeks.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.23 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Total hourly outflow at the dam is still very high; at midday it was 17,767 cfs, which is steady for the past few days, peaking at 19,581 cfs very early Wednesday morning.
(updated 3-23-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake has dropped over the past few days and the clarity was heavy stain to muddy in some locations with high river flow and current. The lake was 260.8 almost 19 inches above normal pool and falling. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 244 feet msl (almost 20 feet above normal) and falling with gate discharge at the dam near 20,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at 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.
Surface temps were stable this week, ranging in 55-60 degrees depending on location and the time of day. Clarity is much worse further up Little River, with river clarity ranging 3-5 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of oxbows is heavy stain, while visibility is 5-7 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain and muddy conditions with high current flow.
Mike provided the latest on the fishing by species this week:
* Largemouth and spotted bass have been staging for several weeks near creek channels and dumps into Little River; however, high flow conditions in Little River make river fishing somewhat difficult to maintain. Some males from 2-3 pounds were found shallow in 1-3 feet of water on flats near vegetation, and others in 6-9 feet deep creek channels where grass and reeds and fresh lily pad shoots are emerging. Square-bill crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps and Brazalo spinnerbaits were working.
Over the past couple weeks, largemouths were randomly feeding in creek channels dumping into Little River. The oxbows have had best water clarity, albeit somewhat heavy stain to muddy conditions. 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 recently and those fish were randomly near deeper creek channels hitting Brazalo Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover, Chatterbaits in Firecraw or black and blue 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, finessing through the new vegetation, have picked up a few males in the 2- to 3-pound class.
Floating Zoom Trick Worms, Barlow's Salty Rat Tails and Yum Dingers were getting good reactions recently. Merthiolate, Firecraw, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse and South African Special colors were all randomly working in the back of Clear Lake, Horseshoe Lake and McGuire oxbows. Bass Assassin Shads in Pumpkinseed, Houdini and Chico's Red Ear have been getting bit near cypress trees and fresh vegetation from a few prespawn female largemouths. 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 past couple weeks when the sun was up and you could see movement in 3-5 feet depths on the spawning flats.
Brush Hogs and Yum Christie Critters in black/blue, black neon and lizards in blackberry or cherry seed were picking up some cruising shallow bass. Big female largemouth have been starting to stage at creek mouths and on first vertical drops from the spawning flats to deeper water. Red Chrome Crawfish, Toledo Gold or Natural Crawfish in three-quarter ounce, and 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps were picking up a few prespawn fish from 8-12 feet deep on vertical drops. A few big fish have also been found in shallow grass, reeds, and vegetation. Male Largemouths have been observed making beds in numerous areas in fairly good numbers for last few weeks, with cold fronts chasing them back and forth from 1- to 3-foot flats back to the creek channels on cold nights. Majority of the females are still yet to spawn on beds.
Mud Lake and Clear Lake's clarity worsened over the past few days with increased current passing through, but Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows along Little River have had the best water clarity and the most aggressive largemouth and spotted bass over the past few weeks.
“In the back of McGuire oxbow, we were throwing a custom-painted Little John Crankbaits in Rayburn Re 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 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 prespawn 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 over the past couple weeks along Little River, and the most and largest schools have been between Cemetery Slough and Cossatot River inflow ditch. Those whites were ranging from 2-3.5 pounds and continue biting well on Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons, Bomber Fat Free Shads, Little George Tail-Spinners, Heddon Sonar Metal Blades and Rocket Shads. The spoons, 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 current along Little River has slowed somewhat this week, but the schools of white bass continue migrating up Little River for their annual spawning run. Many different schools continue roaming Little River and have been caught for several weeks, from Cemetery Slough upwards toward Wilton Landing. We expect to see greater numbers of large white bass schools running further upriver near Wilton Landing, Cossatot inflow ditch and Patterson Shoals for their annual spawning runs over the next week as the surface temps continue to climb in the mid-60 degree range.
* Crappie have been hit or miss with the muddy current in Little River, high wind and lake wind advisories on main lake over the past few days. The best bite was near Saratoga, Beard's Bluff and Millwood State Park on live minnows from 9-14 feet deep in planted brush and around PVC pipe attractors.
* No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 3-16-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) that the lake is at full pool (before any predicted rain had arrived Thursday) and “all of the fish seem to be biting.”
Anglers are catching a lot of crappie now, and lot of those crappie are in the 2-pounds-plus range. They’re being caught from the bank on out; the majority are being caught in the shallow flats in 6-12 feet of water. Bright-colored jigs are the way to go, and hand-tied jigs are doing the best, but quite a few crappie have been caught on minnows also.
The catfish seekers are catching a bunch of channels and blues on cut bait. Bass anglers aren’t letting on to what they’re using, but they appear to be bringing in a lot of bass as well. One regular angler had a five-bass stringer that weighed 20 pounds Wednesday.
“The cool snap didn’t even affect them a whole lot. The water is looking good, clear. We have no complaints on our end,” they report.
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 547.49 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 405.54 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Randy Plyler with Plyler Outdoors Guide Service (870-210-0522) said bass fishing has been up and down this past week with the weather changing from cold to warm conditions. Lake level is at 405.65 feet msl and falling. Bass are being caught on a Carolina rig as well as jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. Crappie are moving up to shallower brush piles and can be caught on jigs and live bait. White bass are still running upriver and can be caught on a variety of baits. No report for hybrids.
(updated 3-23-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said for all the lakes he fishes in the Hot Springs area – DeGray, Hamilton and Ouachita – the report remains the same as it’s been for over a week. The water was clearing up after all the recent rain events (though more rain was coming). Crappie are moving up into the brush piles. The females are full of roe and ready to lay. Check the northwest corners of coves for that warmer water and shallow spawning fish. Staging brush piles near that warmer water will just load up with more and more fish as springtime blooms. “We’ve been catching crappie on live bait 8-12 feet deep on brush piles in 16-24 feet of water.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 445.91 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.67 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(updated 3-23-2023) 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 3-23-2023) 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. Flood gates remain 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. Numerous rocks and shallow sandbars dot the area creating treacherous boating and wading. The weekly generation report is posted every Wednesday evening on the Entergy website under Hydro-Operations. Currently, all flood gates have been closed below Carpenter Dam, but this could change as heavy rainfall is possible this week. The trout stocking program 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.
As of Thursday midday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 27,813 cfs. Elevation was 337.43 feet msl and the tailwater was at 286.95 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage had drop another foot or so from last week to 6.64 feet as of Thursday noon (flood stage is 32 feet).
(updated 3-23-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature Wednesday morning was 47 degrees. This water warmed up to 50 degrees in some places and 53 in others. Water clarity in the river is poo, with some creeks beginning to clear. Crappie have pushed back out to deeper water. It seems if you can find some trees they are suspended in the trees at 10 feet. In the narrows they're scattered at different depths – some real deep and some around 12 feet. Monkey Milk has been the color. Black/chartreuse has been good. A large amount of bass has been pushed back, also. You can still catch quite a few buck bass in the shallows, but the big females are out in deeper water, waiting to move back shallow. Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits will start coming back into play as the water warms back up. Jigs have been working well on the deeper fish. And red crankbaits. What stripers that we had have left. They were being caught on swimbaits and Rat-L-Traps. White bass are in some of the creeks and they are being caught with white bucktail jigs and spoons. Catfish are just inside of the current breaks. Cut perch and skipjack were working well. Channel cats has been feeding on worms on the edge of the flats.
(updated 3-16-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said for all the lakes he fishes in the Hot Springs area – DeGray, Hamilton and Ouachita – the water is clearing up after all the rain events. Crappie are moving up into the brush piles. The females are full of roe and ready to lay. Check the northwest corners of coves for that warmer water and shallow spawning fish. Staging brush piles near that warmer water will just load up with more and more fish as springtime blooms. “We’ve been catching crappie on live bait 8-12 feet deep on brush piles in 16-24 feet of water.”
As of noon Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 16.2 feet high at 361.22 feet msl (normal pool: 343.71 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says that the crappie anglers with LiveScope are catching their 30 “but it’s kinda tough out here right now.” The lake is holding at 361 feet msl and is not dropping a whole lot even though they are moving a lot of water at the dam, they report. Nimrod is murky and the fishing is slow, though the guides and others are still getting out 4-5 days a week and doing some catching.
There are some blue cats being caught on yo-yos in the shallower water. The water temperature is 51 degrees. They’ve been sending some anglers to nearby lakes but the fishing is slow all around. The bream aren’t reporting on Nimrod, and the black bass aren’t taking even to the reliable-on-Nimrod War Eagle Spinnerbait.
“I will run out of minnows, though,” they report, “but I’m not gonna lie, it’s just tough out there.”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 578.20 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still good. Rat-L-Traps, crawfish-colored square-bill crankbait or a PB&J jig were working best. Jerkbaits and Carolina rigs are getting some action, too. Walleye are still slow, but there are random reports of these fish being caught on jerkbaits. Stripers are good. Alabama rigs or live bait on main lake points or creek channel mouths on the rivers should be the best ways and spot to find these. Crappie are very good on small jigs or minnows. Try brush 20-35 feet deep. Time to get your trotlines and jugs set for catfish, and so far still no reports on bream. Water temperature is on a slight rise, ranging 54-58 degrees at midweek. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level is 578.46 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 3-23-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said crappie are moving up into the brush piles. The females are full of roe and ready to lay. Check the northwest corners of coves for that warmer water and shallow spawning fish. Staging brush piles near that warmer water will just load up with more and more fish as springtime blooms. “We’ve been catching crappie on live bait 8-12 feet deep on brush piles in 16-24 feet of water,” he said. Darryl has been fishing Ouachita, Hamilton and DeGray Lake lately.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.25 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 28.88 feet, same as this time last week, or 2.88 above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 3-9-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said that with last week’s 6-plus inches of rain there, the lake came up and got muddy to stained in most areas. The surface temperature has continued to rise and was 60.5 degrees as of Sunday afternoon. More rain is forecasted for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We shall see how the fish respond.
With the rising water and the rising temperatures one would think the crappie fishing would be on fire. The crappie are/were still deep and finicky. “Spider-riggers that I spoke to were struggling to catch fish. Longlining over a 4-hour period produced one fish for us.
“LiveScope was the only tactic that we could find to consistently produce and that was at a slow rate. With the water having color to it, we swapped bait colors and caught our fish on an Oxbow Jig in the color Orange Crush (a jig I make).
The fish are still very pale, coming from an average of 18 feet deep. On a better note, after a while in the live well the colors come in and the males are getting darker.
“There was a bass tournament on Saturday (two tournaments, I think). I was coming out as they were weighing in. There were some really impressive fish released back into the lake. I didn’t see many with a five-fish limit but it looked as if most had two or three fish. Most folks I saw bass fishing were in the shallows.”
Still no reports as yet on bream or catfish.
(update 3-23-2023) Wil Hafner, facility manager at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321), says the center is prepping the lake for fishing; they are just dealing now with high water from the White River (more than 2 feet above flood stage at Clarendon). Cook's will open for youth and mobility impaired and up to two guests as soon as the water recedes and allows access to the dock and ramp. Please note the change in phone number to the facility as well, listed above.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.