Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Nov. 20, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Nov. 20, 2019. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://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: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors using airboats will be conducting foliar applications of EPA-approved herbicide – which will cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life such as fish – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Conway in 2019. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from Lake Conway through March 1, 2020. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 11-20-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is at its normal stain and the level is low by 2 feet, as the gates are now open. Bream action picked up. The catch the past week was good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. They’re being caught in the lily pads and around brushpiles on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on a variety of baits: spinnerbaits, plastic worms, buzzbaits, finesse worms and chatterbaits. Catfishing is excellent. All kinds of minnows are attracting them, along with chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
Little Red River
(updated 11-20-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains low and clear. With a forecast for rain later this week, the clarity may change by the weekend. With little generation, the river does not clear as quick after large amounts of rain. It may be best to check later in the week before planning a weekend trip. The amount of rainfall and generation can be found on the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock app. The generation has been minimal during this week with a two-hour release on Tuesday from 6-8 a.m. This has been the only generation this week. With the mild temperatures, there will probably be very little generation for the rest of the week.
“I am still not seeing any brown activity on the shoals. The spawn is running late this year. The rainbows are feeding mostly on midges so small emergers or midge pupa seem to be the best choice of flies. Egg patterns are producing some fish along with sowbugs.”
(updated 11-20-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red River is receiving sporadic generation during the week in the early mornings with little to no generation on weekends. Fly patterns of midges, gold ribbed hares ear and pheasant tails can be productive. Consider white and hot pink bodies on chartreuse jigheads for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 460.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 11-20-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 460.29 feet msl and staying about steady, and even coming up just a bit. It is 1.75 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The turnover is moving down the lake and finishing up. Do not waste your time fishing tannic-colored water as it will not be in condition to for the fish to bite much at all. Find clearer water and that is where the feeding will be going on. Crappie are still going good trolling and fishing straight up and down. Use small crankbaits, Roadrunners, minnows and jigs in 9-30 feet depth. Hybrid bass and white bass are going strong if conditions are right but it’s hard to stay with them as they are moving around a lot. If and when weather will get stable and turnover is done, 300-fish days will be common. Use spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits, a Texas Tornado or Alabama rigs in 25-60 feet. No report on walleye. The bite has picked back up with bream, partly with the uptick in weather temps. Try fishing a crawler or cricket in 18-28 feet. Catfish are still wanting to eat on jugs and lines. A lot are following other feeding fish and are eating scraps. Black bass are eating something drug around, on top, and in between. This is the time of year for a great bite on a highland reservoir. Lots of baits are working from super shallow out to 60 feet.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 11-20-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the water clarity is “a little dingy” and the lake is low; the gate has been opened. Surface temperature Tuesday early afternoon ranged 50-51 degrees. Bream are fair on worms or crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are biting fair on crankbaits. Catfishing is good; use chicken liver, hot dogs or worms.
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors using airboats will be conducting foliar applications of EPA-approved herbicide – which will cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life such as fish – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Overcup in 2019. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from Lake Overcup through March 1, 2020. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 11-20-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is still murky. Water temperature is around 60 degrees. Bass are doing well around brushtops and structure around the banks, they are chasing shad as usual. Bream are slow, but anglers are still catching some on crickets and redworms around the shore. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline with bream and minnows. Crappie are doing well around brushtops and stump rows in about 8 feet of water. “Not catching a lot but we are catching some good ones, as we all know it changes from one day to the next,” Johnny says. “Come see us at Overcup Bait Shop off Highway 9 in Morrilton. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 11-20-2019) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), says, “Winger is the best time to fill the freezer, boys.” David had good reports on crappie and bass from Brewer. The clarity is clear and the lake is at a normal level. Surface temperature on Tuesday early afternoon was 48 degrees. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Good catches of crappie were noted, with the fish being caught at 3-5 feet depth. Best bets were No. 6 crappie minnows or tri-color tubes. David said of the tubes, “They’re eating them like candy.” Black bass are good mostly in the evenings when they are found in the shallows. Catfishing is fair. Use chicken liver.
(updated 11-6-2019) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said water temperature has dropped and the largemouth bass bite is good. Most of them can be found in 16-20 feet of water dusk and dawn biting a variety of lures. Some reports say the black bass are biting shallow early in the mornings on topwater baits. Try using chatterbait, crankbaits, jerkbaits, drop-shots, and swim baits. At a recent bass league event, three two-angler teams each caught more than 12.70 pounds of fish, with Dillon Roth and Kyle Faith landing a 5.19-pounder and winning the event with a five-bass stringer of 12.89 pounds.
Kentucky bass are also good. Some reports of them being found in 10-16 feet of water outside the grass line at dusk and dawn. They can also be found in 18-22 feet off drops and rocky banks. White bass are fair. Reports of them schooling but not staying up for long. Some can still be found mixed in with the crappie on the flats or near brush piles in 8-12 feet. Try using minnows, Rooster Rails, jerkbaits and rattle-style baits. Crappie are fair. Reports of them being found stacking in deeper water around 18-22 feet. Some can still be found scattered mixed in with the whites. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are slow. They are moving into deeper water around 18-22 feet. Try crickets and worms. Catfish are good. Chicken liver, nightcrawlers and baitfish are working.
(updated 11-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few catfish are still being caught with bass minnows, nightcrawlers and Wild Cat Stink Bait. A few crappie been picked up off of pink crappie minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass have been hitting brooder minnows and topwater baits.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 11-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few crappie being caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Catfish still being caught, too, off of bass minnows, nightcrawlers. Bass are hitting the bigger minnows.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 11-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says she hasn’t heard of any walleye being caught yet, “but I should be letting you know something on them after this weekend. The river is at the right level and the color is good, provided we don’t have a lot of rain between now and then.” She says a few bass have been caught off of brooders. “Other than that I haven’t heard much from there.”
Lisa has heard of some hot spots outside her immediate area from customers. Lake Atkins crappie been good off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Lake Hamilton, the No. 4 crappie minnows have been the key for the crappie there. Harris Brake also has some good crappie doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows and the No. 12 bass minnows.
(updated 11-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the crappie – and they have been pretty decent ones – are being caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows out of the coves. Bass have been good on brooder minnows.
(updated 11-6-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been slow and far in between with No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish are being caught off of goldfish and black salties as well as nightcrawlers.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 11-20-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 11-20-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and at a normal level. Bream reports have been good. The bream are in deep water but are biting redworms and crickets. Crappie reports were fair. Use minnows or jigs. Nothing reported on black bass, catfish or white bass.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 11-20-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 11-20-2019) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) reports that the river clarity is muddy and the water level and current are high. In fact, they say, the currents are at a dangerous level now, and they urge anglers and boaters to be careful. There is fishing on the backwaters with crappie biting. Fish around the brushpiles with minnows and jigs. The catch is fair. Poor reports on bream, black bass and catfish.
(updated 11-20-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that in the main pool crappie are good. They’re biting in 8-10 feet depth on Bobby Garland Cajun jigs. Fish around the jetties. Catfish reports were fair, with shad the best attractor. Nothing reporting on bream or black bass. Below Terry Lock and Dam, catfish are fair on shad, and crappie are biting like in the Little Rock pool, in 8-10 feet depth on the Bobby Garland jigs. Also, reports came in on sauger being caught using pink/black tube jigs.
(updated 11-13-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) reported that near the Terry Lock and dam, the crappie bite is good on minnows and jigs. The black bass range from poor to fair, with fish biting spinnerbaits and crankbaits. No reports on bream or catfish. The water is clear and the level is a little above normal. The surface temperature Tuesday was in the low 50s.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 11-20-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is clear and the level is normal. Crappie remain good; the best trick is fishing with a chartreuse/red jig. No other reports.
(updated 11-20-2019) Donna Muherin at Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) says the lake is closed for hunting season. It reopens in February.
(updated 11-20-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the White River which snakes around the Cotter peninsula (Trout Capital USA) is still fairly high with a steady four generators (12,300 cfs) flowing around the clock. Since the arctic snap passed through last week, we’re now being blessed with beautiful, mild days, cold nights and amazing creel fills of colorful rainbow trout. We are having success with a variety of spoons and heavier-than-normal spinners. Locate any rainbow colored spoons or Rooster Tails in your tackle box and throw those first. If you prefer bait, the guides are taking out lots of red wiggler worms and backing them up with shrimp and peach, orange or sunrise egg patterns. The X-Factor steelhead orange and shrimp colored baits (egg clusters and regular sized egg patterns) as well as their red worms are attracting the rainbows, too. The browns are not immune to bait now even during the annual spawn, but they’re mostly striking in an attempt to get rid of the annoyance. With the Thanksgiving weekend coming up, we’ll be seeing more visitors to the area and an increase in river traffic. For those of us on the river often, it’s time to be especially careful. We have a big river, wonderfully tended by Arkansas Game & Fish with lots of trout, and enough room for every type and size of angler who visits. We look forward to seeing you and sharing fishing stories.
(updated 11-20-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the noted the AGFC’s trout stocking truck has been in there area twice in the last two days, this being reported Tuesday afternoon. “Everything looks good, but no one is fishing much,” is the report. The river is clear and the water us normal. They report 5-6 generators running at the dam.
(updated 11-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had yet another major rain event (almost 4 inches in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include winter weather advisories) and moderate to heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 5.8 feet to rest at 9.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 2.6 feet to rest at 2.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest 8.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.8 foot below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation with some limited wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.6 feet to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw moderate generation with some wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last four weeks all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next few weeks.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam has closed through Jan. 31, 2020, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch and release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. On Feb. 1, 2020, this section will open to fishing.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise high water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
John also talked about taking a first-time fly-angler out on the high water: “My wife, Lori, had a client, Peggy, a retired field engineer, that wanted to learn how to fly-fish. Lori spent some time teaching her to cast and some of the basics. She was reluctant to take Peggy out due to the high water. Lori does not run the boat, so all of her gigs are usually wade trips. I will go along if needed to run the boat.
“Peggy was in town for a few months and they had held off booking a trip waiting for lower water. High water is more difficult to fish because the fish are not as concentrated and the casting is much more difficult. As you know, that has not been in the cards. This is one of the worst high-water years I have seen in a long time. It is almost Thanksgiving and they are still running high water with no end in sight. As Peggy’s time in the Twin Lakes was coming to an end they decided to book a trip on high water with me handling the boat. That way Lori could concentrate on coaching Peggy.
“I arrived at the ramp first and rigged a couple of rods for high water (two heavily weighted flies, a San Juan worm and an egg, a big split-shot and a deeply set strike indicator) and launched the boat. They arrived as I was parking my trailer. They were running about 16,000 cfs, or the approximate equivalent of five full generators. The temperature was about 50 degrees with way more wind than predicted.
I am the high-water specialist. Therefore I took a few minutes to teach Peggy how to make a Belgian cast. This is a simple cast that easily delivers heavy two fly rigs without tangling. You bring the fly line back with a smooth side cast and transition to an overhead forward cast when the back cast is fully extended. She picked it up quickly.
“We began fishing and she was soon into trout. While she picked up the casting quickly she was more challenged with fighting the fish. She lost the first three trout she hooked before she landed one. Lori worked with her. She concentrated on hooking the trout, keeping constant pressure on it, and allowing it to run if necessary.
“Peggy was incredibly conscientious. She really wanted to learn how to fly-fish. She carefully listened to Lori’s instruction and did her best to pick it all up. There is a lot to learn in one day and it is not easily done. She began to pick it up. Soon she was performing flawlessly catching several nice trout.
“Around noon we headed back to the ramp and I put the boat back on the trailer. Lori took a few minutes to teach Peggy how rig and fish a Woolly Bugger. They walked over to the ramp and picked a couple more trout. Peggy was stoked. She had picked over a limit on her first day of fly fishing and did it on heavy water.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 670.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-6-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the water is clear and Bull Shoals has risen to about 2.5 feet high as of Tuesday morning. The lake is at 65 degrees on the surface. Del reported last week that the lake has turned over. Crappie continue to be caught, with good results reported. They are deep, however. Most are being caught in 25-30 feet of water and are being found around the Corps brushpiles. Use minnows. The bass are picking up with the Corps running a lot of water, he says. If it’s windy, Del suggests using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Otherwise, got with topwater baits, the Whopper Plopper, or fish with jigs around the rocky points. The reports have been good on bass. Walleye are being caught trolling. Nothing has been reported on bream, while catfish reports were poor. Check out Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his latest video reports and tips on catching the fish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 558.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 11-13-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good to me the last week, but things will be changing with the polar blast we are currently getting. The cold frigid weather will push the bait out of the creeks. They will head to more comfortable water temperatures in the main lake and yes, the fish will follow. The bite has been good for all species and will continue to get better and better as the fish start to feed heavily for the upcoming winter months. Start looking at the large flats in 30-50 feet of water for bait and fish of all species in the coming days, as the water continues to cool rapidly.
A couple different types of areas have been holding striped and hybrid bass. The best areas for striped and hybrid bass at this time, have been back in the major creeks or up river. Bennett’s, Big Creek and upriver from Calamity to the Udall areas have been great places to find striped and hybrid bass. The bait has been very thick in all these areas and the fish have been feeding. Fishing with live bait, such as shiners, thread fin and gizzard shad has been producing the largest number of fish, but artificial baits have also been catching fish. You will find stripers in these creek type areas in 20-40 feet of water and they will be at all depths. The second type of area where I have been finding stripers and hybrids, as well as, white bass is on large flats. You will need to do some searching with your electronics until you find bait. The fish will be nearby. I have found large schools of fish and you can have a blast vertical jigging with a spoon, as long as you can stay on the feeding fish. Most of the fish I’ve found on the flats have been in 30 – 45 feet of water. The fish may be suspended, but the best bite is when you find them feeding on the bottom. The flats fishing should get much better as the bait starts to move out of the shallow water of the creeks.
The crappie bite continues to be good. On Sunday (Nov. 10) I decided to check out a brushpile that was near the flat where I had been fishing. It was a main lake point that has brush in very shallow water and out to about 30 feet of water. I started to jig with a quarter-ounce green with florescent green back spoon. I moved across the point and when I got to 10 feet of water the bite just exploded. The fish were 5 to 10 feet down, in the very shallow water out to about 20 feet of water. I landed 14 fish in less than 20 minutes. This really is not the norm, but when you find fish this active it is a blast. Typically, the crappie have been on 25-35 feet deep brush and have been suspended 10-20 feet down over the top of the brush. Live bait, small grubs tipped with a crappie minnow or a small spoon have all been working.
The bass bite has also been good. Bass seem to be everywhere, in shallow water, as well as deep water. During the late fall I look for feeding bass in 30-45 feet of water on large flats. Once you find the school of fish, drop a ¾ ounce spoon on them and you will catch one after another. I typically do not find feeding bass until midmorning, after the sun gets high in the sky. The best locations on the flats are under water ledges or underwater points on the flats. Drop-shot rigs will also work very well on these deep fish. The bass are in shallow water as well. Plastic worms, crawdads, lizards, etc. are working well for the shallow fish. Cast your bait up to the shoreline and work it back slowly. Bass are hanging in the sunken buck brush along the shallow shoreline or along the deep bluff lines on the drops and ledges. Crank baits, buzz baits and spinner baits are also working well depending on the wind. As the water continues to cool the jerk bait bite will start to work. This should happen soon.
Walleye and catfish are also feeding on the flats in the 30-45 feet of water. Jigging a spoon will catch you some nice fish of all species.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is falling. The surface water temperature is in the upper fifties and should drop a few more degrees over the next several days with the cold air temperature that we are currently having. The lake level is on a slow rise and currently sits at 558.03 feet MSL. The water on most of the lake is stained, but will begin to clear again as the water level stabilizes. A few more very cold days are forecast for our area, but warmer fall type weather is on its way back the latter part of this week. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 11-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.6 feet to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw moderate generation with some wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last four weeks all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next few weeks.
The Norfork has been fishing better on the moderate flows but has been a bit crowded. The dissolved oxygen level is slightly improved. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing better. The browns have begun making their annual migration up stream. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week. The weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 11-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are a bit high and off-color. The smallmouths are less active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,128.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-20-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is finally starting to stabilize after all the heavy rain events. “Unfortunately, we are expecting some more rain. My hope is that it is not another 2 inches as some are predicting.” He says stripers are being caught in the Prairie Creek area and farther down toward the dam. “Lots of bait in those areas at this time,” Jon says. “Lake is in low 50s and upper 40s, depending on your location.”
Jon says there is a pretty good smallmouth and spotted bass bite happening toward the dam area in clearer water on tubes and drop-shots on any points. Crappie are good; look in brush around 10-20 feet deep. Use minnows and jigs. Shad are starting to ball up in the War Eagle area and lots of birds are in the area. Those are all good signs leading up to a good winter bite in that area. Crappie are also being caught in the Blue Springs area. “Lots of debris still throughout the lake so be very careful. Some serious-size stuff floating around. Have heard of walleye caught in Point 12 area. This is the time of the year when you need to chase the bait and the fish will follow the shad. Point 12 area is a great place to start. Hopefully the rain will be kind and not mess up the steady clearing of the lake.”
(updated 11-20-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake remains stained and the level continues to stay high. The surface temperature wasn’t recorded. Crappie dropped down some, with anglers reporting fair catches. They’re fishing in the river arms as well as lake brushpiles. Use minnows. Black bass are fair. Crawdad jigs (shaky heads) are working, as well as spinnerbaits and plastic worms, but the best catches are coming from the river arms. Strippers are good on big minnows in the river arms. Catfish reports were poor, and there were no reports on bream.
(updated 11-20-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said, “Sorry for not reporting the past couple weeks. I was either not fishing due to weather and I also caught pneumonia and was down for two weeks. With that being said, the tailwater is still a little high, but the trout fishing has been good. Most trout caught have been caught with light terminal tackle and various PowerBaits. Also, various spoons and trout jigs have done nicely, too. This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and U.S Highway 62 bridge. The best time to fish has been early morning, if you can bare the cold. Not much further to report. I hope you’re able to get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 11-20-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the clarity is a little stained. Water level is normal. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. No reports on catfish and bream.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 11-20-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake as remaining clear since last week, while the level is a little high. Crappie reports were fair. Jigs are working best. Bream are poor. Black bass are good, with the best catches coming on plastic tubes. Channel catfish are good and they’re biting chicken liver.
(updated 11-20-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is clear and remains down about 1 foot below normal. Surface temperature as of Tuesday morning was mid-50s degrees. Fishing has improved for crappie and bass since the last report two weeks ago. Crappie are good and are being caught in 15 feet of water. Use minnows. Black bass are good, but the bass being caught are smaller-size. Use a crankbait. Catfish and bream are poor.
(updated 11-20-2019) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park said the lake is still high and the surface temperature Sunday afternoon was a 39 degrees. The lake is murky. She had no fishing reports, but reminds anglers that the best moon times for fishing this month are Nov. 23-29.
(updated 11-20-2019) Lake Poinsett is closed until next year as repairs continue on the habitat. The Lake Pointsett State Park Visitors Center sells bait still, and the shop is in proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas. Ome Coleman at the Lake Poinsett State Park says, “We are still selling plenty of minnows. Although the lake is still gone, we are still here to supply your fishing supply needs.”
Also, District 3 biologists in the AGFC Fisheries Division report that 232 spider buckets have been staged and ready to be deployed in Lake Poinsett. Spider buckets are artificial habitat structures composed of ABS pipe, set in concrete-filled buckets. These new structures will replace degraded woody habitat as part of the lake renovation. These structures have benefits for all lake species. They can be placed on the ground in shallow, shoreline areas to benefit catfish and largemouth bass or on pallet towers in open waters to give a more tree-like appearance for crappie and sunfish species.
Also, The foundation work began on the new water control structure on Oct. 8, with the driving of the first foundation H-piling. In total, nine 50-foot pilings will be driven. The 50-foot pilings will create the foundation and support for the water control structure.
(updated 11-20-2019) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are running at 320 cfs at the spring and water clarity is clear. “The river is looking great. The leaves are finally done falling for the most part. The trout have been biting great on olive and brown Woollies. Minnow patterns can work really well some days. If there is a hatch coming off the water, bead-head nymphs will work well,” Mark says.
Smallmouth have been hitting well on sculpin and minnow patterns. Find big rocks in fast-moving water and the bass have been hiding around them waiting to ambush your fly. Last week a really nice brown trout was landed on a Woolly. “Brown trout and smallmouth bass on the Spring River both like hitting flies on a sink tip with a steady retrieve from a downstream cast. Vary your retrieve speed to find the most productive presentation,” he says. Hot pink, white and Florida orange Trout Magnets have been hot. Always set the float to get the Trout Magnet just off the bottom of the river.
(updated 11-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is a bit high and off-color. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is officially over. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 11-20-2019) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 11-20-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are around 60 degrees. Visibility is up to 2 feet in Lake Langhofer, less than 1 foot in the main channel of the river. Black bass are biting well on crawfish and shad-colored crankbaits, shad-colored jerkbaits, and dark-colored finesse jigs 3-6 feet deep along steep rock banks. Work the crankbaits slowly parallel to the rock banks and use fresh sharp hooks on the jerkbaits because the fish are swiping it at times.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 11-20-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 11-20-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), says the lake level is still low from the drawdown, which has made several boat ramps inaccessible. Getting access from the shoreline is possible, but be prepared to walk out a little way through the mud and vegetation. For those who are working around this the fishing should be picking back up with warmer temperatures predicted for the week. This is a chance of rain Friday though, but the warmer temperatures should help improve the fishing on Lake Chicot, at least temporarily.
(updated 11-20-2019) The lake is undergoing a drawdown so that the dam can be repaired and the fish habitat rebuilt. There are no limits on game fish during the drawdown. Some nice fish reportedly were still being caught in late September, though the lake is noticeably way down now.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.36 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 11-20-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday Millwood Lake was about 13 inches above normal conservation pool, currently near 260.3 feet msl; the discharge was around 8,600 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Tuesday was about 235 feet msl with good discharge at the gates and dam. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Surface temps on Monday ranged 53-60 degree, and “we expect that to drop rapidly over the coming week if the cold fronts slam us again,” Mike said. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for stumps, random broken or floating timber with high flow rates in Little River are in effect. Clarity consistent from last week, muddy lines are pushing daily into the oxbows. Little River is muddy with rapid current, and worse further up river with random broken timber and logs and debris.
Mike says, “Millwood Mayhem continued this week! Bass are still biting with a frenzy and the largemouth, white bass and Kentucky bass continue the fall frenzy feeding. If anything, the cold snap we were hit with last week appears to have kicked the feeding bite into a higher gear this week because all the bass are feeding aggressively and biting almost any crankbait or Rat-L-Trap you can throw at them as fast as you can throw it! It’s a great time to take a kid fishing on Millwood.”
Nice fat, chunky largemouth bass continue chasing and busting shad over the past week with cooler temps during early morning, the overall surface activity improved in the pads and on shallow flats adjacent to creek channel swings. Bass continue moving in an out of lily pad stands chasing shad and blowing up with abandon on Bass Assassin Shads, Chrome Johnson Spoons with a 3-inch grub in pearl, white or snow storm trailer. This shallow lily pad bite can break into a frenzy in several different areas at the same time. When bass begin chasing and breaking on shad into the lily pads can be mayhem. The bass are following these schools of shad and chasing them at the surface again with improved consistency over the past few weeks. Square-bill crankbaits like the Echo 1.75 in shad patterns and Ghost Minnow, Rat-L-Traps and Bomber Fat Free Fry, Shad and Fat Free Guppy continue catching these schooled-up bass.
White bass continue roaming and schooling up with juvenile largemouths and spotted bass following shad in Little River at creek dumps and the oxbows at dawn, most surface breaking diminished over the past couple weeks in Horseshoe and McGuire Lakes in the oxbows up Little River. Rat-L-Trap Tail Spinners, Bomber Fat Free Shads, Fingerlings, and Fat Free Guppy cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad were catching a mixed bag of Bass following schools of shad along both sides of points extending into the oxbows where stumps present. Best colors were the Millwood Magic, Citrus Shad, and Louisiana Shad colors over the past couple weeks. Some mouths of creek dumps held very large schools of Whites and Kentucky Bass over the past several weeks.
The crappie in the river have scattered over the past couple weeks with the increased current and muddy inflow in Little River, but in the back of the oxbow lakes along Little River, the Crappie are recovering, and biting jigs and minnows near standing timber where water clarity is much better. Blue/white, white/chartreuse, or blue/chartreuse jigs, and minnows were getting bit again over the past week, vertical jigging near standing timber in Horseshoe. The catfish bite improved over the past week with the increased current in Little River. Hanging yo-yos, setting jug lines or using noodles in oxbows like Horseshoe on Little River and White Cliffs Campground worked early in the week, best in the afternoon, using blood bait, punch baits or chicken livers.
(updated 11-6-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) has heard no reports.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 537.19 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-20-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is almost 11 feet below full pool of 548 feet, which is normal for this time of year. Water temps are around 60 and dropping with this cold weather. The Bass are in their fall patterns. They can honestly be caught anywhere from 1 foot deep to 30 feet deep right now. If you find the shad you will find the bass. Bandit 200 crankbaits in shad colors are working on rocky points and flats really well. Booyah Hard Knockers in Chrome/Blue are also working well in these areas. Carolina rigged Yum finesse worms or Christie Craws are also working well. Cotton Cordell and War Eagle spoons are good along creek channel drops as well. Crappie have been good lately. They can be caught in brush 15-25 feet deep on minnows and Bobby Garland jigs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 400.09 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.78 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.15 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 11-6-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass are biting well on crankbaits and lipless crankbaits. A few being caught on spinnerbaits. Crappie are starting to bite; fish with jigs and shiners, just need to get out and fish.
(updated 11-20-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says the clarity is clear and the lake level is normal. Bream reports are better lately. Anglers report good catches on redworms. Crappie are excellent. Anglers are catching them in deep holes as well as around the shoreline. They are doing very well; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair. Your best bet for catches is using black/blue jigs. No reports on catfish or white bass.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 11-6-2019) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park says the clarity is clear. Surface temperature Tuesday morning was 58 degrees. The water level is lower, as Entergy has begun its annual drawdown of the lake. Plans for this year is a lowering by 3 feet. Bream are good. The fish are being found in a depth of 5-8 feet and near the docks. Use worms. Also fish near the brushpiles. No reports of crappie being taken this week. Black bass are good. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are working. Bass have been slow to bite for a lot of anglers, though; look for them in deeper water. Catfishing is fair. Use nightcrawlers, stink bait and chicken liver. Fish for them on the lake bottom. No reports of white bass being taken.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 11-20-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 48 degrees below the dam with clear conditions in the tailrace. The winter drawdown is now complete for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine. Each lake was lowered 3 feet and this level will remain in place until early March. Rainbow trout are now thriving in Lake Catherine. These fish were stocked in the tailrace Nov. 6 and can be caught from boat or bank. PowerBaits in white or yellow presented under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are an excellent way to catch trout early in the season. Fly-fishermen can wade to areas that hold good numbers of fish and record limits of trout by casting Woolly Buggers, micro-jigs and egg patterns. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current that imitate shad or crawfish will work well in times of slack water or flow. November still holds numbers of white bass although the size is smaller than in a normal year. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jig presentations will all draw strikes from these temperate bass from the dam to the bridge as they feed on shad that are moving in and out of the tailrace. Hybrid bass also run alongside these fish and will feed on the same prey items. Stripers have been observed feeding below the bridge in the late evening. Balloon rigs with gizzard shad give anglers a good chance to hook a big striper, but artificial lures such as Super Spooks and Alabama rigs should not be overlooked. Strong rods and lines are recommended for these predator fish, which possess great power and are often in the 20- to 40-pound range. Blue catfish in the 4- to 6-pound range have been caught next to the dam on live minnows and stink baits. Anyone navigating Lake Catherine should always wear a life jacket and be aware of the generation schedules. All park rules and regulations must be followed in the Carpenter Dam tailrace.
(updated 11-20-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said river conditions are poor, very dirty. Water temperature is in the 40s warming to the 50s. Creeks are beginning to clear, which should improve the river dramatically. Largemouth bass have been excellent, with spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, Alabama rigs, jigs and plastic craw baits working great in the dirty water. Crappie have been good. Minnow and jigs had been working well in brushpiles and treetops at 5-8 feet deep. Best colors have been Monkey Milk, Electric Chicken, pink, chartreuse, chartreuse/black. White bass and striped bass have been good on spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and swimbaits. Channel catfish have been good in the creeks on worms and blood bait. Blue catfish has been good on cut shad, crawfish and cut perch. Flatheads have been good on live perch and live skipjack.
(updated 11-20-2019) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495) said they have seen mostly clear skies and cool temperatures over the past week. A cold front is expected to arrive Thursday night. Possible heavy rain is expected Thursday night and into Friday morning. Clear skies and cool temperatures will return for the weekend. Visibility in the water is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 52 degrees. As of Tuesday (Nov. 19) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has fallen about 6 feet since last week to 345 feet msl. Ozark tailwater release has fallen to 61,000 cfs. There has been no power generation at Ozark. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has risen about a foot to 339 feet msl. The Dardanelle tailwater has fallen to about 12 feet. Tailwater release there fell to about 55,000 cfs last Saturday but has risen again to near 72,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day. Near Cabin Creek, the Corps of Engineers floating plant continues to work at river mile 222, and a contract dredge is expected to start work at river mile 222 later in October. The Corps of Engineers has issued navigation instructions for areas in pool 10. Near the river bend at Shoal Bay, between river miles 221.7 and 222.5, run the red line of the currently buoyed temporary channel. Around the river bend at Cane Creek, between river miles 232.5 and 233.5, run the red line. At O’Kane, between river miles 248.0 and 250.0, run the green line. For the latest Corps reports, visit https://www.swl.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1985098/mkarns-nav-notice-swl-19-81-pool-10-change-in-water-elevation-and-sailing-instr/.
Anglers, please use caution when on the water. Many channel markers have drifted and there are many submerged hazards as a result of flooding. The Lake Dardanelle State Park tournament season has entered the off-season. There are no reports from anglers. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 11-20-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the crappie are moving into their winter patterns on cover where there is deep water nearby. Crappie have been harvested on both jigs and minnows fished 12 feet and as deep as 20 feet.
(updated 11-13-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake temps reaching the upper 50s in the main lake and low 60s in the murkier and shallower areas. “It’s really hard to do a report when we have had the drastic weather change that we have experienced over the last 48 hours. Bass have been doing very well over the last week in several different ways. Dragging a Texas-rigged tube or worm in watermelon seed, plum or pearl white/silver colors to the inside of main lake points and 8-15 feet of water. Preferably near some type of structure like a dock, but really some submerged grass is best. The other good approach has been to vertical-jig a spoon in 15-25 feet of water in positions up creak channels. For this technique, electronics are an absolute must! Find the fish and drop it on them! Pretty simple. Crappie have been picking up in the last few weeks, but it hasn’t been stellar.
The good news about this bitter cold weather, and likely the only good news for most of you is that the crappie really turn on when that water temp gets to 50 degrees. When it does, use slip corks and minnows with a split-shot on a weightless Aberdeen hook and set them just over the tops of brush in 20-35 feet of water. There are some crappie guys out there who are getting very excited right now! Please use extra caution this time of year when on the water. Life jackets are a must from here on out. Hypothermia is a real danger! Good luck and GoGreeson.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.51 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-20-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the lake is “pretty clear” and the level is high and rising. Surface temperature is 59 degrees as of Wednesday morning. Crappie continue to bite well. They are found in 11-15 feet depth and are biting minnows or jigs. Black bass are good and are favoring pumpkin seed jigs. Catfishing is good using hot dogs. Bream have been poor for a while now.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 571.45 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl)
(updated 11-20-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is about 6.5 feet below full pool and has held pretty steady this week. Water temps are around 60 and will get lower with the cold weather we are having. Bass have been very good lately using a variety of methods. Drop shots or shaky heads with Yum Finesse Worms (watermelon/green pumpkin) are working really well around brush 20 feet deep. Half ounce Cotton Cordell and War Eagle spoons are also working well in the same areas. You never know what you might catch when dropping those spoons. Crappie have been fair to good around 20-25 foot brush using Bobby Garland plastics on 1/16 ounce heads. Slow is the key.
(updated 11-20-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are good. Vertically jigging a CC Spoon near structure in major creeks or fishing a drop-shot or shaky head near brush have had success. Walleye are fair. Three-quarter-ounce CC Spoons jigged vertically and nightcrawlers on drop-shot rigs are still producing. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on live bait or big hair jigs. No report on bream. Crappie are fair to good. Try a small jig near brush in 20-30 feet of water. Catfish are fair and anglers are having luck with rod-and-reel using live nightcrawlers or hot dogs around brushpiles. The water is clearing and the surface temperature is ranging 60-64 degrees. The lake level earlier this week was 571.42 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 Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.69 feet msl (normal pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-20-2019) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said the water has turned “really clear” after rains early in the month muddied it up. Surface temperature Tuesday was 42 in the morning and 46 in the afternoon. Water level is mornal. Bream are good in the canals on worms and crickets. Crappie a good trolling, he said. They are being found shallow in the canals, while the main crappie bite is in the lake, at a depth of 25 feet. The bite under the piers is slower now. Black bass are poor. The only bass being caught are small, he reports. Catfishing is excellent on trotlines from pier to pier.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 11-6-2019) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said there is not much to report out there way. They have some anglers hanging on to the end of the season, but no big catches to report. “Most of our fishermen have hung up the rods and picked up their camo; hunting season is upon us here in the forest,” she said.
(updated 11-6-2019) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the fishing season is over at Cook’s Lake. “Fishing was very slow this year but that is the cards we were dealt,” he said. Fishing is closed until spring 2020 so that the lake can serve as a waterfowl rest area. Check back in late February for the spring plans and reopening for fishing. For information, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.
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