Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Dec. 11, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Dec. 11, 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 12-11-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is at its regular stain; the level is normal. Bream are rated poor, but they’re still biting some at 8 feet on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Find them most active around the Highway 89 bridge, Caney Creek and Gold Creek. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are good using cut shad or nightcrawlers.
Little Red River
(updated 12-11-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red River is receiving daily generation this week, providing good wade and drift-fishing opportunities on the river. Fly patterns of egg pattern, 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.
(updated 12-11-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the lake is back to normal levels so the Army Corps of Engineers is not scheduling releases from Greers Ferry Dam. This means the generation is scheduled by Southwestern Power for power demand only. With this change, we should see less generation and with the cold weather it should be morning releases during peak demand. “They have informed me that there is still a possibility for evening releases if the need arises. One should check the SWPA Forecast each evening before planning their next day fishing trip,” Greg said.
“There is some brown activity, but I would call it limited. Some redds are beginning to show up on the shoals, so please be careful while wading. These redds are the areas where the browns are depositing their eggs. They will show as clean areas on the gravel bottom that almost shine. Wading through these will destroy the eggs. My fishermen have caught a few female browns that have spawned, but for the most part, they are catching males.” He says rainbows are biting egg patterns and midge pupa and the browns are mostly taking egg patterns.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.92 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 461.92 feet msl. It is 0.12 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling with a lot of generation. The Army Corps of Engineers have dropped it over 2 feet trying to not let it get out of control for rainy season, but that is just guess at its best. All catching is good, you just have to get on the water to do it. Crappie are eating steady in 15-40 feet of water on minnows, jigs, trolled crankbaits or slow-reeling a Road Runner. No reports on walleye. Bass fishing is good top to bottom on a variety of baits, moving or drug along bottom. It’s a great time of year to catch a once-in-a-lifetime fish. No report on bream. Catfish are still eating well on a lot of different baits fished a variety of ways. Hybrid bass and white bass are no exception, eating top to bottom all over lake, spoons, inline spinners, hair jigs and topwater baits. The shad are just about everywhere. That’s good news for fish over the winter and headed into spring.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 12-11-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the water clarity is clear. The water level is 5 feet low (you can see stumps, they say). Surface temperature on Tuesday morning was a cold 32 degrees. Crappie are good on minnows or Bobby Garland pink and blue jigs. Fish on the shoreline. Poor reports on bream, bass and catfish.
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 12-11-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said had no new reports. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 12-11-2019) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), had no reports.
(updated 12-11-2019) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said had no recent reports.
(updated 12-11-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few catfish are being caught off of bass minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass are good off of brooder minnows and crankbaits. Crappie are good on pink crappie minnows fishing deep and some along with crappie nibbles.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 12-11-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish fair on bass minnows and cut up skipjack and small frozen shad. Bass are good on brooder minnows and crankbaits. Crappie good on pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 12-11-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says the walleye have started up. “My husband went last Thursday and caught his limit of six. They started biting for him right before sunrise. Brooder minnows are what he caught them on along with several nice smallmouth and Kentucky bass. As light as you can go, Trilene XL clear 8-pound test line, small spilt shot, and an Eagle Claw plain shank 84A No. 2 hook. Before sunrise or after sunset is usually pretty good. Or on an overcast day. And usually October to February are best times to catch them. But last year I had seen where the walleye were still being caught up into April. You can catch them other times of the year, too, but as far as really getting into them, the colder months are best to catch your limit.”
Lisa says she hasn’t heard any reports of crappie on the Saline River or at least not around these parts of it, which the Saline goes a good ways. A few catfish have been caught off of goldfish, black salties and minnows.
(updated 12-11-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been big but not big in quantities. Pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows, some Kalin’s Bleeding Tennessee Shad-colored 2-inch grubs. Catfish are being caught off of cut up skipjack and nightcrawlers. Bass are fair on brooder minnows and plastic worms.
(updated 12-11-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are good on bass minnows and blue and silver grubs. Catfish are good on bait shrimp, bass minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass are good on minnows.
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 12-11-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports some success for anglers fishing to the west of Interstate 430 in the pool. Crappie are good and are biting at 8-10 feet depth. Use pink minnows. Catfishing reportedly was fair on skipjack. No other reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-11-2019) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river flow is down to 70,000 cfs from last week’s 99,000. The water level is normal. Crappie are biting at 10 feet depth and the results have been good. Black/chartreuse or pink/chartreuse crappie jigs are your best bet. Fish the rocky points/the jetties perpendicular to the bank. Black bass are good and are being caught in 5-10 feet depth of water. Spinnerbaits are working, as well as small Alabama rigs fished around the jetties. Football jigs in black/blue and PB&J are another good choice. Work around the brush or rocky points. Also, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits were getting hit around the jetties. Moving into the backwater grassy or rocky areas, bass will be attracted to white/green pumpkin chatterbaits. Catfishing is good using worms. They’re being caught below the Murray dam and around Cook’s Landing on live bait. Bream reports were poor.
(updated 12-11-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that fishing is pretty much the same as it was last week, with crappie being 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, they hear fair reports on catfish. Use skipjack.
(updated 12-11-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-11-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is clear and a little high. The crappie bite has been good for a while now, with nightcrawlers, minnows and jigs all working. Black bass are good on minnows. Catfishing is good using minnows, jigs and nightcrawlers. Bream reports are poor.
(updated 12-11-2019) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) is closed for hunting season and winter break. It will reopen in February.
(updated 12-11-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River tailwaters of Bull Shoals Dam in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks, flowing past Cotter is running high and fast – and continues to produce great creel-fills for trout anglers, and for all anglers choosing to fill a creel or not. “Yes, water levels are high across the system from Beaver Lake through Table Rock Dam, into Bull Shoals and the White and North Fork rivers, and will remain high for the next weeks, but the sunny days and the promise of mild winter weather ignites that eternal hope of tight lines and a fighting trout.”
If bank fishing with a fat nightcrawler doesn’t excite enough fish for you, get a guide –they know high-water navigation, trout behavior, and they can find enough trout to keep you busy all day long. The shrimp/egg combo has proven most successful this week. XFactor’s shrimp pink hue remains a favorite of the rainbows. “We’re still attracting some browns with mid-sized sculpins, although the spawn plays a big role in decreased bites. Don’t be afraid to cast some big lures out there (less chance of getting hung up!) and the water depth will support a size 9 and size 11 Rapala Countdown, or a 3/8-ounce or better Rogue, swimming at 7 feet or deeper. Go with shiny gold sides and an orange belly first.
“The Trout Capital USA, Cotter, Arkansas, is lit up for Christmas like never before. Visit the park after sunset and see how we’ve decorated our Big Spring Park. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.
(updated 12-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had a brief rain event (just a trace in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include winter weather advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.3 feet to rest at 12.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 23.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 8.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River and Table Rock Lake had heavy generation with additional flows from flood gates. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 3.1 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy flows from the flood gates but no generation and no wadable water. 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 through Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 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 reminds anglers about the Sowbug Roundup, coming in early 2020: “The Sowbug Roundup is the annual fly-tying show sponsored by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (a 501[c] tax-exempt organization) held in Mountain Home. This is considered to be the premier fly-tying event in this area of the country and arguably the best in the United States. The proceeds are earmarked to fund local college scholarships (in fishery or environmentally related fields) and other education and conservation projects.
“The Sowbug Roundup will be held on March 26-28, 2020, at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. It is only $10 admission for all three days. There will be 150 fly-tyers, vendors, seminars, casting classes and fly-tying instruction all at no additional charge. This year’s show will recognize noted fly-fisher and fly-tyer Dave Whitlock. He is a living legend.
“A key component of the Sowbug Roundup is the fly-tying contest. I am the chairman of the fly-tying contest committee and oversee it. We have been holding this contest for several years and it is a popular event. Other fly-tying shows have copied us and implemented their own fly-tying contest. The idea is to recognize the best fly-tyers among us and to promote the art of fly-tying. The ultimate fly-tying accessory is a winner’s plaque to hang over your fly-tying desk.
“Rules have been kept to a minimum. The entrant must tie the fly submitted for judging. Each entry must include the name, address, phone number and email address along with two flies for each pattern submitted (they must be exactly the same size, color, etc.). You need to include the recipe for the fly, instructions on how to fish it and the category you wish to have it judged in (judges reserve the right to change the category, if needed). There are 10 categories, nymph, dry fly, wet fly, streamer, smallmouth bass, bass, warm water, salmon/steelhead, salt water and tenkara. In addition, there is a best in show award. You may submit as many patterns for as many categories as you want. You can win a maximum of three categories (best in show is considered a category). All flies submitted will become the property of the contest and will not be returned. Any fly that contains insect parts (legs wings, etc.) will be eliminated from competition. Commercially tied patterns will not be accepted. The decision of the judges is final. Committee members and judges are not eligible to participate in the contest.
“To participate, all you have to do is send your flies, recipes and fishing instructions to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, AR 72626 by Wednesday Feb. 12, 2020. The winners will be announced on Friday, March 27 at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig, which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church in Mountain Home.
“This is your chance to show how good you are. Anyone (except for members of the fly-tying committee) can enter. I look forward to seeing your flies.”
(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.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 669.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the water is murky and continues to be high, at about 13 feet on Tuesday morning. “I haven’t seen it like this in 10 years,” Del said. Bass are good, but their running deep. Best baits have been Zara Spooks and Ice Jigs along with drop-shots. Crappie are good and are found around the shad. Use minnows and jigs and work the brushpiles. Walleye are being found around the rocky points around dusk. Bream are poor, as are catfish. Check out Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his latest video reports and tips on catching the fish. Surface temperature on Tuesday morning was 55 degrees.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 555.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been really good over the last week for most species of fish. “I have mainly been targeting striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass and have had a blast. The striped bass are on their fall feed before the cold winter months.
I have found large schools of fish in a feeding frenzy. The best bite for the last couple of days has started a little after sunrise and has lasted until late morning. This time of year, however, they tend to feed all day long, especially on cloudy days with a little bit of wind.
“A great example was last Saturday. I had a hard time finding feeding fish early, but at about noon the fish started to go crazy and the bite lasted all afternoon. The old belief that if you find bait there will be fish feeding at some point is really holding true at this time. Best locations for me have been the large flats in the mid-lake area, such as Cranfield area, Mallard Point, 101 bridge, 101 Boat Dock area. There are others, but these are the ones I have been concentrating on. I am finding stripers in 35-50 feet of water with the fish at all depths. The bigger stripers and hybrids seem to be suspended up high in the water column, from 10-25 feet down.
“On the bottom I have found whites, but I have still found large schools on the bottom of the bigger fish. I have been fishing three different methods. I have used live minnows such as threadfin/gizzard shad and bigger shiners. I set the live bait at 15 and 23 feet down, but I think it would also work to cast out the bait with a split shot and move around slowly. The second method has been vertical-jigging with a spoon. Use a ½- to 1-ounce spoon. Drop your spoon to the bottom and jig it up and down off of the bottom. Be a little crazy with the spoon by using hard, fast pulls and also very slowly moving the spoon. I have caught several nice stripers when my spooning rod was put in the rod holder while I was answering the phone. The rod would just get buried. Keep an eye on your fish finder while you are jigging your bait on the bottom. When you start to mark fish up high, reel your bait up and hold on. I have caught the bigger fish while reeling up and sometimes they hit it just before I take the bait out of the water. Have your drag set loose or your line will break off or you’ll get your rod pulled out of your hands.
“My third method has been to cast out a ½-ounce silver Kastmaster Blade Bait. I do modify this bait by adding a white feather/hair jig trailer to the hook. I actual buy treble hooks with the feather/hair tied on. Gamakatsu makes a nice one. I use size 4 on the ½-ounce blade bait. I have been counting down about 8-10 seconds after I cast out the Kastmaster, then I start to retrieve the bait with slight jerk-and-stop motion to get the bait acting like a wounded minnow. Trolling is another great method of fishing at this time. Swimbaits, A-rigs and crankbaits are all producing some nice fish. Keep the bait 15-25 feet down.
“The last bit of info is that nature is currently providing a natural fish finder. Migratory seagulls are here and if you see these birds flying in a certain area and dive-bombing the water, go fish under the birds – there typically will be feeding fish under them. This happens annually in the fall and winter months and can be very helpful.”
Don’t forget to follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook and definitely press the like button for their page. “I have frequent posts giving some great fishing information for that day,” Lou says. Norfork Lake level is dropping very quickly now. The Corps of Engineers has the flood gates opened to bring the lake back to normal pool. The lake is currently dropping 6 or so inches per day and as of Tuesday sits at 555.12 feet msl. The surface water temperature has remained fairly stable over the last week and is in the 53-54 degree range. The lake is stained and will stay this way until the water level stabilizes. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 12-11-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 12-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 3.1 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy flows from the flood gates but no generation and no wadable water. 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 there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole from flooding the past two years. 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 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 12-11-2019) 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 1,128.35 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says, “Beaver Lake finally stabilizing and I have been out most every day last week. I have fished from one end to another looking for walleye without much luck, but the good news is I have a lot of intel to share! Stripers are good and getting better every day . They are up in Monte Ne, also in Big Hickory and the War Eagle arm. This is the time of the year to catch some monster stripers. Bundle up and the time is now!”
Jon adds that water is clearing and the shad are loaded up in those areas and the fishing is just getting started. “I fished in War Eagle arm on Saturday and the stripers were there busting bait balls. White bass were also in those areas pretty thick. I was catching crappie mixed in with the white bass suspended in 5-10 feet of water under shad balls. Use you electronics. This time of the year crappie follow the bait and do not have to be on structure whatsoever. Small jigs are working and small Wahoo Spoons in shad color will catch them. I found some massive schools of crappie in Blue Springs last Monday and Tuesday.
“As the lake clears some more, fishing is just going to get better! Bass have been pretty good on clear end – spotted bass are schooled up off main points. Dress Warm and go out and catch some fish! Call me if you want to do some video game fishing or would like some Garmin Panoptix Training. It is a blast, especially for young tech kids! Great way to get them outdoors and fall in love with fishing. I promise you Garmin Panoptix Livescope is a game changer and is a ton of fun catching crappie and walleye with it.”
(updated 12-11-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is dingy in spots but the river arms are clearing. The water level is “pretty high but coming down.” Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. They’re best in the river arms. Fish around the brush piles. Striped bass are good. Use big minnows and target the river arms. Catfish are poor and bream are 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 12-11-2019) Ralph Donnangelo, superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said fishing is slow there. “Really slow. The kind of slow that makes watching grass grow seem more like an Olympic speed event,” he joked. The water surface temperature Tuesday was 50 degrees. The visibility is 2.2 feet. Water level is normal.
(updated 12-11-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake is clear and has dropped to normal level. Crappie are fair using tube jigs. Black bass are good on crankbaits, plastic worms. Smallmouth bass are being caught on Red Rigs (first time in a decade, they report). Channel cats are good if you throw them chicken liver. They’re in deep water. Bream are poor.
(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 12-11-2019) 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 12-11-2019) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are running at 360 cfs and water clarity has been green. Lot of rain lately has the clarity in the river a heavy green tint. Y2Ks, olive Woollies and minnow patterns are working well. If the trout are being picky, use a Y2K with small nymph dropper. Big rainbows are on the move. Water levels are about average flow. Be safe wading and use a wading staff. Falling in is not an option with the cold temps. Layer up stay warm!
(updated 12-11-2019) 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 12-11-2019) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) reports anglers catching three nice bass over the weekend. They were using minnows and fishing off the bottom. They said the fishing were biting well and that they also missed several bass. No other catches have been reported.
(updated 12-11-2019) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) reports the water is murky. The water level is running 11-12 feet high. “Not a lot of people fishing because the river is so high,” they say. Bass are fair, though. They’re being caught on square-billed crankbaits and jigs, on the river and in the mouths of creeks. 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 12-11-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no new reports.
(updated 12-11-2019) 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 259.73 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake is about 10 inches above normal conservation pool (near 259.8 feet msl); discharge is about 9,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was about 236 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 at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Surface temps Monday ranged 50-55 degrees, and Mike said they expected that to rise over the coming week if the warming trend continues. 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. Clarity continues improving in the oxbows with the river receding. Little River is muddy with rapid current, and worse further upriver with random broken timber and logs and debris.
As late as Monday, before a predicted cold front moved through, the dog days of summer were doing their absolute best to hang on Millwood. Cooler weather this week has tapered off the surface schooling/breaking fish, but the largemouth bass and Kentucky bass continue feeding deeper and slower, following the threadfin shad schools with only random surface-breaking this week. The same Bomber crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps continue working, just slower. Bass have moved out of lily pad stands to vertical structure on deeper drops into the oxbows and into 9-12 feet depth, and continue following huge schools of shad. The largemouths, spotted bass and white bass are following these schools of shad, and the whites have been the most aggressive over the past week. 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.
Over the past week, bass are in the rear part of Horseshoe and McGuire lakes, with reduced surface-breaking. When the bass are not surface-breaking, you can still locate the large schools on your electronics where you see huge clouds of shad. Trolling over the past few weeks has landed nice white bass schools following the shad schools.
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 improved over the past week with the increased current in Little River. Yo-yos, juglines and noodles in oxbows like Horseshoe on Little River and White Cliffs Campground were working early in the week, best in the afternoon, using blood bait, punch baits or chicken livers.
(updated 12-11-2019) 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 538.82 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
(updated 12-11-2019) Tamara Lunsford, park superintendent at Daisy State Park near Kirby, had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 402.50 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips had no new reports.
White Oak Lake
(updated 12-11-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said a lot of bass and crappie are being caught. Bass are biting well on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Crappie can be caught on jigs and shiners in the river and old river bed. Crappie fisherman are catching some nice bream, also.
(updated 12-11-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says the clarity has moved from cloudy to “kinda murky,” she said. The water level is still up about 2.5 feet over normal. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair. Catfishing is fair using worms; fish down at the shallow end of the lake. Poor reports on bream.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 12-11-2019) 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 12-11-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 50 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. PowerBait in white or yellow presented under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater is 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. December trout stocking will be close to 3,000 fish and will greatly enhance trout numbers giving anglers better opportunities for success. White bass numbers are good close to the dam 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 12-11-2019) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495) said they had mostly clear skies and cool temperatures this past week. The early part of this week had overcast skies with an approaching cold front. The rest of the week is forecasted to have clear skies and calm winds with seasonal temperatures. Visibility of the water is limited to only a few feet. Surface water temperature is 48 degrees. As of Tuesday the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater had risen to about 346 feet msl over the weekend but has begun to fall slowly. Ozark tailwater release also rose over the past weekend to about 75,000 cfs but has since fallen back to 53,000 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 some from 12 feet to near 10 feet. Tailwater release there fell also rose to near 80,000 cfs but has fallen back to about 68,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day. Near Cabin Creek, the Army Corps of Engineers floating plant continues 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. Check the Corps’ website for any new updates.
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 12-11-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 12-11-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s lake levels still below normal pool for the yearly winter drop of 3 feet for dock maintenance. Lake temps are hovering around 50 degrees throughout the lake and visibility is good in most spots. Largemouth and spotted Bass are doing quite well when found. Most of the bass can be found in the gut or just inside main lake point tributaries. Target these fish in 20-30 feet of water. Winter patterns are doing well for these schooled up fish. Drop-shot rigs, Ned rigs and Daimiki rigs especially are getting aggressive strikes. Shad silver colors and green pumpkin have been the preferred colors. If you have never fished a Daimiki rig, give it a shot. It defies logic, but you do need Sonar on your electronics. Hybrids are moving toward winter feeding areas. It’s very simple. Find the birds on the lake surface or in the trees and the hybrids are nearby. Crappie are fair to good at depths of 20-35 feet of treetops and brushpiles. Minnows and white jigs and green pumpkin jigs are the way to go. Think small on your setups. Small jigs and small minnows with unweighted hooks. No catfish report. Note: Please be safe out there folks. Not only are shoals and sandbars much easier on which to run aground, but the water temperature is now deadly. Wear your life jackets at all times! Hypothermia is a real danger! “Good luck and Go Greeson!”
(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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.58 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-11-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the lake is murky and slow to clear up, but the river has cleared and is doing pretty well. The level is normal. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good and being caught at 10-12 feet depth in the river on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good, with best results on jigs or black and blue frogs. Catfishing is fair on jigs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 574.43 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 12-11-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no new reports.
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 12-11-2019) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) says the canals at Horseshoe are still dingy, but the lake has cleared. Surface water temperature Tuesday afternoon was 44 degrees. The lake level is normal. Bream are excellent; Ronnie reports catching seven bream or so Tuesday. They are in shallow water biting worms and crickets. Make sure you’re fishing around the brushpiles. Crappie also are excellent. Ronnie reports catching about 40 crappie on a busy Tuesday. Crappie are in shallow water and around brushpiles. Black bass are poor, no reports. Catfish are excellent and are also hanging out and hungry in shallow water. Use worms or chicken liver.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 12-11-2019) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said there is nothing much to report down their way at Bear Creek and Storm Creek. “It seems that most of our anglers have hung up their rods in favor of hunting season. The few die-hards we have left aren’t getting anything worthy of writing home about. Typical of this time of year. Hoping to have better reports in the spring.”
(updated 12-11-2019) 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.
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