Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Dec. 4, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Dec. 4, 2019. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter 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 12-4-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is at its normal stain and the level has returned to normal. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good using crappie minnows or jigs. Fish the stumps. Lots of good catches around the Highway 89 bridge, a usual hot spot. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are good using worms, stink bait, nightcrawlers and minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 12-4-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear but the latest rain put the lake back in the flood pool and generation has been two units for a 12-hour period for the last four days and is scheduled for the same Wednesday. This provides little wading opportunities. Drift-fishing is fair to good by staying ahead of the new generation.
The brown trout are beginning to move and “we’ll have to wait until after the generation is reduced to be able to tell if the spawn has actually started. I feel like the increased generation will spur the browns to move to the shoals. As always, please avoid the redds while wading to ensure the eggs hatch and produce our brown trout. The Little Red does not stock browns and these eggs are our only source for this beautiful trout. The redds will appear as clean areas on the gravel bottom and will almost “shine” in the clear water. Again, please do not wade thru these areas.” Greg says to check the generation schedule before planning your trip.
(updated 12-4-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red River is seeing extended periods of generation this week. This generation pattern is providing good wade and drift-fishing opportunities on the river. 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 12-4-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the water clarity is a little murky and “a tiny bit below” average level. Surface temperature on Tuesday afternoon was 48-49 degrees. Crappie are good. Some anglers are limiting on crappie. One angler caught 16 in one hour fishing off the dock. Minnows and jigs are working. Bream are poor. Black bass are fair and are biting goldfish or bass minnows. Catfishing is good using goldfish.
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 12-4-2019) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said had no recent reports.
(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 11-20-2019) 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 11-27-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the water is murky and normal level. Catfish are hitting great on skipjack below the dam. Those were the only fish reports. But he said ducks are more plentiful in his area than he’s seen in the past 10 years, and it’s the place to be.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 12-4-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and at a normal level. Bream are poor. Anglers are catching just a few bream while they’re crappie fishing. The crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair on soft plastic worms or on crankbaits. Catfishing is poor.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 11-27-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) hears that black bass are biting well in this pool. Use black/blue jigs. Nothing else reported.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-4-2019) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) reports that the river as low advisory warning of current at 99,000 cfs, and they urge anglers and boaters to be careful on the water. Fishing is still going well for crappie or bass, though. Crappie are being found at a depth of 5-10 feet and are being caught at the rocky points, ends of jetties on black/blue jigs, chrome/black Rat-L-Traps and blue/white or blue/chartreuse crappie jigs. Black bass are being caught using black crankbaits or Rat-L-Traps; they’re also best around the rocky points. Bream and catfish are poor.
(updated 12-4-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that crappie are fair. They’re biting in 6-8 feet depth on chartreuse/white jigs or on minnows. Black bass are fair; best bet is to use a shad-colored Rat-L-Trap. Catfish are good on skipjack. Sauger are being caught on black/pink crappie jigs below the Murray dam. No other reports. Below the Terry Lock and Dam, striped bass are being caught on white grubs, while white bass also are fair on white grubs. You’ll find sauger eager to bite too on black/pink crappie jigs.
(updated 12-4-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-4-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water remains clear and now is high. The crappie bite continues to be good, with minnows and jigs working. Black bass fell off with the high water, though; poor results. Bream are poor. Catfishing continues to be good; use worms and chicken liver.
(updated 12-4-2019) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) is closed for hunting season. It reopens in February.
(updated 12-4-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Being downstream from Bull Shoals Dam, we are experiencing a fairly heavy generation schedule due to persistent, if intermittent, rains along the White River watershed. Over the past week, Bull Shoals Dam has been issuing four to five generators consistently (12,000 to 15,500 cfs) and recently added approximately two more units (5,200 cfs) of spillway water to the flow. All in all, this river denizen believes the 2019 management of the White River system has been excellent. Challenging for anglers, but not impossible; it forces us to use every trick in our tackle boxes.
“Best time for 3/8-ounce or better stick baits, swimming 4-6 feet deep. Shiny and bright. Gold body, orange belly. You can continue to cast spinners, but increase the weight to ¼-ounce. Pink or blue blades on the Blue Fox Vibrax have lured some nice rainbows this week. If you like to stick to the scented egg pattern route (and it works most times), try lemon lime or pink. The X-Factor shrimp hue, both in egg patterns and 3-inch worms, is winning a lot of converts. Take a break from the season’s hustle and bustle and join us for an hour or two of peace on the river. Stop in for some Christmas conversation when you visit the Trout Capital USA, Cotter, Arkansas.”
(updated 11-27-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) the Corps of Engineers has been running 3 generators and the river is falling out. The water is clear. Anglers have been catching all rainbows. Two anglers caught 60 rainbows. Overall, the bite is good. Shrimp and Power Worms work best, along with stick baits and long white worms.
(updated 12-4-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had several rain event (almost an inch in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include winter weather advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.6 feet to rest at 13.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 22.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.1 feet to rest at 3.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 9 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.6 foot below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with some limited wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1 foot to rest at 6.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation with and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last few weeks all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. The section will reopen to fishing on Feb. 1.
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.
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.
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 12-4-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the water is muddy and is about 12 feet high this week. Surface temperature Tuesday midafternoon was 55 degrees. He says bream are good and biting redworms and crickets. Crappie are found about 20 feet depth and the bite is good; fish around the brushpiles. Black bass are fair on plastic worms. Walleye are being caught in about 30-40 feet depth on spoons and jigs. No reports on catfish. 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 12-4-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he experienced a fantastic bite Tuesday morning for hybrids, stripers and white bass, and he expects that as long as the weather stays stable, he believes the late fall bite will be fantastic.
Lou adds, “ I hope all had a great Thanksgiving. Linda and I hosted Linda’s side of the family at the resort and we had a great time and ate way too much. One of our meals during the week was a Norfork Lake Crappie fish fry, and, boy, was it good.”
He says Norfork Lake fishing has had some ups and downs this fall with all the changing weather patterns. “This was especially true last week when I fished with family members every day except when the weather was too rainy or too windy. We caught some fish, but it was definitely a difficult fishing week. The last frontal system past through us (Monday) morning, so the lake had a day to stabilize and (Tuesday) was a fantastic fishing and catching day.
“I began doing a lot of graphing. I started out on the 101 bridge flat and found a lot of bait out in 70-plus feet of water, but very few fish. I headed back to the Cranfield Island flat and graphed, but saw little. I then headed back to the Pigeon Creek area and again found lots of bait and also found more fish, but the fish were scattered and did not appear to be feeding. I checked out a few other areas with little success until about 9:30 a.m. Once again on a large flat, I found streams of bait 20 feet thick with schools of fish on top of the bait. They did not appear to be feeding, but within 15 minutes the bait began to scatter and more and more fish appeared in a feeding frenzy, which lasted for the next 2 hours. I was in 30-40 feet of water and was vertical-jigging a spoon. After spooning up my first hybrid I decided to set out two down lines with live threadfin shad. I set one at 23 feet and the other was at 30 feet. It did not take long until the live bait was getting hit. To show how good the bite was, at one point I had my spoon on the bottom and saw that I missed a bite on a live bait. I set my spooning rod in a rod holder and started to reel in the live bait rod. I heard a rattling and saw my spooning rod double over. I landed a nice 10-pound hybrid. The stripers and hybrid have been very mobile, so you need to keep looking at the different flats on the lake, once you find the bait start looking around for feeding fish, if none move to the next flat. The fish will be somewhere feeding. I often go back to the same flat where I had found bait and fish at a later time and many times the fish have gotten energized.
“When you find the feeding frenzy of fish, all species may be in the same area. Today I landed walleye and crappie on the spoon. Other days largemouth bass have been plentiful. With all the scattered fish I am marking, it might be a great time to troll. Keep your bait at 20-30 feet and stay in 40-70 feet of water. If you can stay on the bait, you will catch some nice fish. Umbrella rigs, A-rigs, swimbaits or deep diving crankbaits are good baits to troll with.
“In general, crappie are still hanging in the brush on the tops of the brush. They will be anywhere from 8-25 feet down on brush in 40 feet or less. Don’t hesitate to check out some very shallow brush on these sunny days, the crappie may move up.
“Bass fishing has basically stayed the same as my last report. Early and late in the day look up in 10-20 feet of water. Work a jig or worm slowly along the bottom. As you know I like to find the deep bass. They will be in 25-40 feet of water on underwater drop offs or rock piles and will also be chasing the bait fish along with all the other species of fish.”
Norfork Lake level is falling rapidly and currently sits at 558.96 feet msl, the Corps of Engineers has opened the flood gates to bring the lake level back to normal pool. The lake will be dropping about 5 to 6 inches per day for the next week or so, based on Corp. of Engineers communications. (Typically, with the lake level falling, the bait and fish tend to move out of the creeks to the main lake or at least to the mouths of the creeks.) The lake is somewhat stained and will stay this way until the water level stabilizes. The surface lake temperature this morning was 53.5 to 54.5 degrees. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 12-4-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1 foot to rest at 6.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation with and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last few weeks all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the near future.
The Norfork has been fishing poorly on the high flows. The dissolved oxygen level is improved. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. 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. 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 12-4-2019) 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 12-4-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says, “Well, we did get more rain and Beaver just keeps on staying 9 feet above normal pool. I am hoping the rain will give us a break for a while. There still is major debris in the lake and hard to launch at most ramps. I have been out most days and fishing is fair at best. Stripers can be found in Big Hickory and up War Eagle arm. Crappie are around structure in 15-20 feet water. They can be caught on jigs and minnows. Piney Creek is holding crappie. Black bass are hit or miss on various baits. White bass are good in river arms trolling. The fish are just in a negative mood due to rises in water and up and down weather as of late. Some stable weather and water will do wonders.”
(updated 12-4-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the river arms are clearing while there are some stained areas left. The level is “way high,” they report – “there is a lot of water.” Crappie are biting well, mostly around cover, brushpiles and rocky points. Use minnows or jigs. Striped bass are good. They appear to be schooled up and are biting big minnows and jigs. Look for them in the river arms. Catfishing is poor, and the bream bite is poor.
(updated 12-4-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said, “No fishing or a fishing report this week due to spillway gates being opened at the dam. As of (Wednesday), there are still a few gates open. I have been posting the updates as I get them from the Corps of Engineers on my fishing Facebook page. Maybe next week, folks. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!”
(updated 11-27-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the clarity is stained. Water level is normal. Surface temperature is 49 degrees. Crappie are being found at about 8 feet depth of water. The bite is good on small jigs. Black bass are good and are hitting spinnerbaits and square-bill crankbaits. No reports on bream and catfish.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 12-4-2019) Ralph Donnangelo, superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, had no report.
(updated 11-27-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake still clear but is still also a little high. Crappie reports continue to be fair. The crappie seem to be in deeper water. Jigs and minnows are working. Bream are poor. Use redworms for your best chance at a nibble. Black bass reports were poor. Channel catfish continue to bite well on chicken liver or minnows.
(updated 11-27-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is clear and the lake is still down about 1 foot below normal. Crappie are “pretty deep” now and the fishing for them is fair. Use minnows. Black bass are fair, with best response coming on diving baits. No reports on bream or catfish. “It’s pretty slow,” they say.
(updated 11-27-2019) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park said the lake is still high and murky, and the surface temperature Sunday afternoon was a 39 degrees. The only fish biting appear to be crappie. Reports of a few crappie being caught from the pier on jigs. No other reports.
(updated 12-4-2019) 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.”
(updated 12-4-2019) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are running at 385 cfs (350 average) and water clarity has been green tinted. Lots of rain lately has the river a little above average flow. Extra care should be used wading the river. Rainbows have been hitting well on white streamer patterns, and a Y2K with small nymph dropper is the go to for a sunny day with a bug hatch. The hot fly of the week has been the Orange Blossom Special, a brown Woolly with Florida orange tail. “There are big rainbow trout moving around. Some big browns, gotta work for them with streamer tactics. Might need a tungsten bead or little extra weight to get the fly down. And when swinging flies be sure and let the fly swing all the way out. The end of the swing is the thing on the Spring,” he says.
(updated 12-4-2019) 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 12-4-2019) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 11-27-2019) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) says the river is a little muddy. It’s also a little down lately. Catfish reports are good. They are favoring Sonny’s and the Triple S. Trout catches are good on a red crankbait. No other reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 11-27-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the low 50s, visibility is up to 1.5 feet in Lake Langhofer and less than 6 inches around tributaries and the main river channel. Black bass are fair, but the bite is slowing daily. Once the water temperature drops into the 40s, the river at Pine Bluff becomes pretty poor for black bass. You can still get bites slowly working shad or crawfish-colored crankbaits and shad-colored jerkbaits along steeper rock banks within Lake Langhofer. Remember to use crankbaits with tighter actions during the cold months. Dark-colored jigs around wood and those same steep rock banks are effective if there is little to no wind. The fish are healthy when you get bites, but it can take a while to get them this time of year.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 12-4-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, says the fishing at Cane Creek has remained relatively stable over the past week or so. “The short warmup we had didn’t seem to harm to crappie fishing too much. They’re still biting well on shiners and rosey reds. Electric Chicken and Monkey Milk colored jigs work well in certain areas, especially near the spillway. Bass are in a cold-weather pattern that should stay until spring. Use square-billed baits, 2-5 feet deep, bounced off of as much structure as possible. The more commotion there is, the better you stir those sluggish bass into biting. Catfish are biting well on the old favorite, chicken livers, like they’re going out of style. Fresh fish seems to also be working well, so don’t be afraid to run a shiner on a heavy line and drag it near the bottom.”
(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 12-4-2019) 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 12-4-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake is still about a foot above normal conservation pool, near 260.2 feet msl; the discharge around 14,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Heavy rains in recent days in Oklahoma have pushed a lot of water down the river. 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, especially during drawdown conditions. Surface temps are ranging 52-54 degrees, and Mike says we could be seeing a rise in water temps as air temps rise; he said Wednesday might hit around 70 degrees air temp. 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 in effect.
The Army Corps of Engineers will begin putting 25 more river buoys in place starting Friday, from mile marker 2 on Little River to mile marker 9, which should greatly help boaters.
Mike says the largemouth and spotted bass bite has tapered off somewhat this week, but the white bass activity is still heavy. It’s just not as shallow. They are catching over 20 white bass a day still, where now they may only catch 3-4 black bass, he said.
What’s different though even about the white bass is that they’ve dropped into vertical structures of the oxbows (Horseshoe, Mud and McGuire lakes) and are now at about 7-12 feet. But they are still aggressive. Best baits to use are the crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps, “same as we’ve been throwing for the last three weeks,” Mike said. “You have to fish them a little slower and a little deeper, but you’ll still get a good bite.” 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.
The heavy current has made Little River a “trainwreck,” he said, of mud, logs, debris and all kinds of trash coming down the river. “It looks like a train collision with a log truck and a lot of chocolate milk.”
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. Catfish have improved with the increased current in Little River. Yo-yos, jug lines and noodles have been working recently in oxbows like Horseshoe on Little River and White Cliffs Campground. It’s best in the afternoon using blood bait, punch baits or chicken livers.
(updated 12-4-2019) 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 12-4-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no new reports.
(updated 12-4-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says the clarity is “a little cloudy.” The lake level is up 2-2.5 feet as of Tuesday but appears to be dropping. Bream are fair on worms. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass reports have been poor for a while. Catfish are biting fair on worms, specifically nightcrawlers.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 12-4-2019) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 12-4-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 52 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 March 1. Rainbow trout are now thriving in Lake Catherine. These fish were stocked in the tailrace on 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. The December trout stocking will be close to 3,000 fish and will greatly enhance trout numbers, giving anglers better opportunities for success. This time of year the tailrace 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 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 11-27-2019) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495) said that mostly clear skies and cool temperatures bookended a cold front this past week. The weather folks have a busy forecast for this report. A smaller cold front was expected to arrive Tuesday, leaving sunshine and dry, colder temperatures Wednesday. Another system is forecasted to arrive Thursday bringing widespread rain on Friday. Then, on Saturday, another cold front will arrive with strong, gusty winds. Heavy showers and thunderstorms with rainfall totals of 2-3 inches are possible by the end of the day. Visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 54 degrees.
As of Tuesday (Nov. 26) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has fallen about 5 feet since last week to 340 feet msl. Ozark tailwater release rose briefly over the past weekend but has fallen back to 30,000 cfs. There has been no power generation at Ozark. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has held near 339 feet msl. The Dardanelle tailwater has fallen from 12 feet to near 8 feet. Tailwater release there fell also rose briefly but has fallen back to about 28,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day. Near Cabin Creek, Corps of Engineers floating plant continue to work at river mile 222, and a contract dredge is expected to work at river mile 222. 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. 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/ for the latest updates and news.
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) 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 11-27-2019) 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 11-27-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports that the lake has dropped to winter pool, and with rain and more incoming, the water clarity is just fair but murky up the creek channels. Water temps still continue to linger in the low to mid-50s throughout the lake. It’s very hit-and-miss right now for all species. It seems the conditions are changing drastically every other day but bass can be caught on jigs, spoons and drop-shot rigs tipped with green worms off main points and at the creek channel mouths. Crappie should be outstanding before cold fronts push through, but no promising report as of lately. Stick with minnows and white jigs. There has been some action reported on walleye up the river channel by trollers using crankbaits and spoons. Catfish have been fair but slowing in the creek channels and feeder creeks. Good luck out there, and go Greeson!
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 12-4-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the lake is muddy. The dam is open and the lake level jumped up 7 feet in three days, they report. Level as of Tuesday afternoon was high at 349.8 feet. Crappie were doing well until the water jumped up, they report. They term the bite fair now, on minnows or jigs. Poor reports across the board on bream, black bass, catfish and white bass.
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 11-27-2019) 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 stained and the surface temperature is ranging 58-62 degrees. The lake level Tuesday was 572.40 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
(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.
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 12-4-2019) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) reported that the canals are muddy, but the water is clear in the main lake. The water level is normal. Bream are shallow and the bite is good. Ronnie is using waxworms, crickets and crappie jigs. Look for bream around the brushpiles. Crappie are good. There are crappie in the 2-pound range that are deep and being caught trolling. Ronnie had a group out that caught 75 fish and kept 20 recently. Minnows and jigs will work. No reports lately on black bass, he said. Catfishing is fair. Worms, stink bait and chicken liver are attracting the catfish, and they’re also being caught in nets going after shad. Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for more up-to-date reports and photos of his and his clients’ catches.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 12-4-2019) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no fishing reports.
(updated 12-4-2019) 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 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.
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails
Don't miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!