Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Dec. 18, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Dec. 18, 2019 (updates have been added where reporters have provided reports during the holidays, though the next regular Weekly Fishing Report isn’t scheduled until Jan. 8, 2020). 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 12-18-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is stained and at a normal level. Bream are good and are biting redworms in 5-8 feet depth. Crappie are good both early in the morning and late in the day on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on crankbaits. Catfish are good on nightcrawlers and cut shad.
Little Red River
(updated 12-18-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red River continues to receive daily generation providing good wade and drift-fishing opportunities on all sections of river. Fly patterns of egg pattern, midges, gold ribbed hares ear and pheasant tails can be productive. Consider 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 12-24-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear with morning generation due to the cold weather. Warming temperatures over the weeknd should decrease the amount of releases. It seems to be changing daily so it’s best to check the schedule before planning your trip.
The rainbows are taking midge and egg patterns. Brown trout activity is limited with a few redds on some of the shoals. The browns that are being caught are mostly taking egg patterns. As always, be careful of wading through the shoals. “I sincerely hope that you and your famlies enjoy a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.74 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 461.75 feet msl. It is 0.29 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl for this time of year. There is a lot of generation every day. The water is a great color, we have shad everywhere, the weather has been great for fall catching and is going to get nothing but better until we get super cold, and then things will change again, but they still got to eat. Black bass are eating a long list of baits if you get it in front of one. They are all over the water column as well from top to bottom and suspended over 80 feet. Drag or throw something fast and let it sink through them and you will get bit; just stay with the shad and the cover you should be using this time of year. Crappie are eating it up as well. Catch them around wood or just floating around suspended on jigs or a minnow or a beetle spin in 15-50 feet and all in between. No report on bream. Hybrid and white bass are roaming and staying on structure better now since all the changes in the water here have gotten settled – on top, bottom and in between on a variety of baits. Inline spinners, any type of striper bait or live bait, and spoons will shine now as well. No report on catfish. Walleye are showing up more and more now with the water getting more oxygen in it and the turnover. Try crankbaits, a jighead minnow or even a jighead worm. Jerking rogues at night as well on the right nights will work.
“We do hope from Fish Finder service that everyone has a great and glorious Christmas and a very, very Happy New Year and remember, come do some catching ’cause we find’em, you catch’em.”
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 12-18-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the water clarity remains clear. The water level is low enough to see many stumps. Crappie are in deep water and the bite is good. Minnows and jigs are working along with other lures and crappie minnows. They report a lot of pelicans on the lake this year, which is not usual for Harris Brake Lake, they say. No other reports.
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 12-18-2019) 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 12-18-2019) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake is clear and is about 1 foot above normal. Surface temperature on Tuesday morning was 42 degrees. Crappie are good. “They are hungry,” David reports. A lot of crappie are being caught about 2-3 feet from brushpiles or by the creek bed coming into the lake. Tri-colored jigs in red/white/chartreuse colors work best. Minnows also will work. Bass are fair, with the best activity coming during the evening. They are shallow then. Use a crankbait. Catfishing is good on worms and chicken liver. Bream reports have been poor. David reports that he will be closed the last week of December through Jan. 6 and will “then be back with fresh minnows.”
(updated 12-18-2019) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said had no recent reports.
(updated 12-18-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been fair for a few customers using No. 6 minnows and jigs. Catfish have been biting slow with only a couple reporting catches on minnows and nightcrawlers. We’ve had no reports of bass or bream being caught recently.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 12-18-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some small crappie and bass have been coming from both ponds this week. No. 4 and No. 6 minnows as well as small jigs and grubs have been working pretty well. A few catfish have been biting the minnows too. Bream have been biting slowly but some small ones have been eating crickets and red worms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 12-18-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says it’s been hit and miss on the river lately. Over the weekend the water level had dropped and the water was so clear that fishing was tough. Smallmouth and Kentucky bass were biting fair on brooder minnows but the walleye were slow to bite anything. Crappie have been biting fair on minnows fished around brush or logs in deeper water. No reports of catfish being caught recently. Bream are biting crickets or worms.
(updated 12-18-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are still biting size 6 minnows and some jigs for a few customers. They report catching nice-sized crappie but no big numbers and actually catching and releasing more bass than crappie. Catfish are slow right now but a few have been caught on nightcrawlers and minnows. Bream are biting slow and are scattered. Only a few have reported catches on redworms recently.
(updated 12-18-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she’s heard no recent reports from Winona, but some customers have been headed that way with a mix of size 6 and size 12 minnows in search of crappie.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 12-18-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said water is up and down, trying to clean channel. Tugs are pushing just six barges as a time. Add the weather to this and you have very few people fishing the river. Even the commercial fishing folks are having a tough time. Our duck hunting was fair, but the weather front that came down Sunday and Monday brought some nice numbers of ducks in. Had three dads with their sons Sunday and had a great hunt. Monday, we had a young man who had a very hunt.
Catfish are biting fair below the dam on skipjack. No reports on anything else. “Merry Christmas from Charley’s Hidden Harbor!”
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 12-18-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water remains clear and at a normal level. Crappie are have made a good turnaround in the last few days, Ray said Monday, and anglers report good catches using minnows and jigs. Bass are fair on crankbaits and soft plastic worms. No reports on catfish or bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 12-18-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that crappie are being caught in good numbers on jigs, specifically a Bobby Garland Cajun Cricket. Also, baby shad will work. Bream action is poor, and no other reports came in.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-18-2019) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is stained to muddy and is at a normal level, but the flow is rising as of Monday afternoon. Crappie are good behind the jetties at 8-10 feet depth. Jigs are your best bet; use blue/chartreuse or black/chartreuse jigs. Black bass are fair and are hitting crankbaits. Crawdad Rat-L-Traps and shad-colored square-bill cranks are working best, but they’ll also bite black/blue Finesse jigs. No reports on bream or catfish. Also, the store is having a Christmas sale “so stop by.”
(updated 12-18-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that crappie are good in Wood Oak Bayou in Burns Park. They’re in 4-5 feet depth and are hitting Popeye jigs (chartreuse Crappie Magnet). Catfish are good on skipjack. Bream are poor. No other reports. Below Terry Lock and Dam, it’s much the same, with crappie good in 4-5 feet depth of water around the Willow Bend area. Use a white Conehead lure or a Stump Bug. Catfish are good on skipjack and cut bait. Bream are poor. No reports on bass.
(updated 12-18-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471), reporting on the fishing near the Terry Lock and Dam, said that black bass are fair on crankbaits and worms. Catfishing is fair on cut bait, shad and skipjack. Bream and crappie are poor.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 12-18-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is clear and at a normal level. The crappie bite is fair on minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair on crankbaits and worms. Catfishing is poor, and the bream reports are poor.
(updated 12-18-2019) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) is closed for hunting season and winter break. It will reopen in February.
(updated 12-18-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said tailwaters throughout the White River watershed are all very high. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the White River have been at the maximum turbine rate with additional spillway releases for at least the past seven days. The brave and the bold are accepting the challenge and have been on the river catching trout. Shiny spinners, up to 3/8-ounce or greater, with red or blue blades, are pulling them in. Pay close attention to the tug on your line because, with the swift current, discerning a trout bite from a snag might be trickier than usual.
“High water and cooler temperatures have kept river traffic to a minimum over the last week, so you’ll find one of the most peaceful, relaxing angling excursions of the year. We’ll all be taking a break from publishing reports over the next couple of weeks, so you’ll have to come out and make your own stories. My predictions over the Christmas break: Bull Shoals Lake will reach, or get very near, power pool level and water releases will slow dramatically. Two days after the first low water day, you won’t be able to keep your line in the water longer than a minute or two because you’ll be pulling in trout after trout.
“If you make New Year’s resolutions, here’s one you’ll find easy to keep for 2020: ‘Schedule a trout fishing trip this spring and one in the summer.’
“Have joyous, blessed Christmas and a wonder-filled new year. See you at the river.”
(updated 12-18-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they’ve had one boat out in three days running the spillway. The water is so high they cannot see the dock. “We’re looking forward to great fishing when the water drops back down,” they say.
(updated 12-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week they had a rain event (about an inch in Cotter), cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.6 feet to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 2.3 feet to rest at 4.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 4.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River and Table Rock had heavy generation with additional flows from flood gates. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had light flows and some wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are now at or near power pool; expect wadable water in the very near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31, 2020, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch-and-release through the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. On Feb. 1, 2020, this section will open to fishing.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise high water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
John also said, “This year, 2019, has been a high-water year. Most of the guide trips that I had this year were on high water. Traditionally, I have not enjoyed fishing on high water, but after fishing it so much this year I have learned several things that make it more enjoyable for me. I have not decided to sell my waders and pray for rain but I have come to be much more comfortable with it.
“When I got my first White River jon boat, almost 20 years ago, I was fearful of high water. Now after a couple of decades of boat handling in all conditions, I am more worried about handling my boat in low water. On low water you have to be more careful about rocks, fallen trees and other obstacles. On high water, most of these obstacles are well below the surface. Of course, you still have to be ever vigilant for obstacles like logs or other boats. In addition, I have found that I use a lot more fuel on higher water.
“I have always used eggs and worms (spaghetti and meatballs) as my go-to flies on high water. I have begun tying these flies on jigheads. By using the jigheads, I am putting more weight on the fly itself rather than the leader. This helps the fly sink quickly to the bottom where the trout are. Since the jigheads have the hook point up, they do not hang up on the bottom as easily as a standard fly tied on a conventional hook.
“With the addition of an AAA split shot, this rig is pretty heavy. I found that my usual ¾-inch strike indicators could not properly float it. I tried using two strike indicators but thought that it made the rig ungainly and more difficult to cast. The solution was to go to a larger strike indicator. I found that a 1-inch strike indicator worked well. I also had to go to a long leader/tippet combination (11-12 feet) to hit the bottom.
“The only remaining problem with this rig is that it is difficult to cast. With a rig this heavy and complicated (two heavy flies, a heavy split shot and a large strike indicator on a long leader) tended to have the loop crash on the back cast, resulting in a serious tangle unless the cast was made with a large open loop. If you are tangled you cannot catch fish.
“The answer was relatively simple: Use a Belgian cast, which does not have a loop or a stop in the back. The Belgian is performed in one smooth motion. You bring the cast back to the side. When the line is behind you, bring the line forward, in a classic overhead forward cast, with a stop at eye level. Since there is no loop, there is nothing to crash and tangle. It is easy to learn and teach. I use it whenever I am in the boat fishing with my wife, Lori. By using the Belgian cast I stay out of her way (she uses a classic overhead cast) and we never tangle each other’s line.
“By using these simple suggestions, you will be able to fish high water with ease.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the clarity of the water is cloudy. Surface temperature is 54 degrees and the level is 8 feet high, a drop of 4 feet from last week. Crappie are fair. They are in 20-40 feet of water. Fish with small spoons where you find shad. Also use minnows or jigs. Target the brushpiles, too. Black bass are fair. They’re best found in deep water. Wiggle Wart crankbaits are working well, along with Rock Crawler. Also try a spinnerbait. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor. 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 553.87 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 12-18-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 12-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had light flows and some wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are now at or near power pool; expect wadable water in the very near future. The Norfork tailwater is fishing better on the low flows. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole from the past two years of flooding. 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.
Remember that the White River, the Norfork Lake tailwater 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 12-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. 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 1,127.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-24-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says, “What a Christmas present from Mother Nature. Awesome weather, for sure!” Fishing has been pretty good for all of the big three species on Beaver: stripers, bass and crappie. The lake is clearing slowly but surely, and water temperature is the mid-40s range. Stripers are really good on brooders and shad. Look at water intake, Monte Ne, War Eagle arm and Point 12. Bass are good in brushpiles in 20-30 feet depth and main lake points and rock humps. “I have caught numerous spots and blacks while fishing for crappie in those exact areas. Crappie were doing real well but the last two days it has really become difficult. Look for crappie school up on brush and treetops in 15-35 feet of water. Good baits are Monkey Milk jigs and black chartreuse, the key is do not jig like it is spring; just barely twitch them and a tick is all you will feel, not a thump like spring. I have heard from several sources that that Army Corps of Engineers is going to start a MAJOR drawdown of Beaver by opening flood gates and lowering the lake 1 foot per day for 10 days. This should really change up the fishing pattern for sure. Stay tuned. Have a Merry Christmas, you all!”
(updated 12-18-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake has “pretty good” clarity as of Monday afternoon. The level remains very high. Crappie are good. Best success has come on jigs, but minnows will work too. They are biting in 8-15 feet depth. Black bass are good mostly on Wiggle Warts or other crankbaits. Also try a jerkbait. Stripers are going for brood shiners and anglers are doing really well on striper fishing. Catfishing is poor. Bream reports are poor.
(updated 12-23-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said fishing this week has been pretty good. Even though the Army Corps of Engineers has been generating from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the bite has been steady. The week’s hot spot has been between the state Highway 62 bridge and Spider Creek. The trout are hitting on hard crankbaits and various PowerBaits, fished with light terminal tackle. Bank fishing isn’t ideal due to generation, but if you can get out in a boat, try tucking away behind points and bends. “I hope everyone has a happy holidays!”
(updated 12-18-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 12-18-2019) Ralph Donnangelo, superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said it is still cold here with not much action – mostly cold and windy all week. Great for polar bears and penguins; not good for fishing. Park superintendent Heather Hula-Johnson confirmed the conditions, saying “it’s been ‘cold’ (at least to Arkansans) and very windy. There have not been many people out fishing. I dug around Facebook and found that one of the locals caught a monster bass on a crankbait a few days ago, but I cannot confirm the body of water that he was fishing on.” The water surface temperature is 48 degrees. The visibility is 2.25 feet. Water level is normal.
(updated 12-18-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are fair. They’re being caught in deeper water by the bridge. Use minnows or jigs. Largemouth bass are good. Use a crankbait or Green Grabs. Catfishing is good on chicken liver; target deeper 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 12-18-2019) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park had no report. Call the visitor center for any updates if you are going to Lake Charles.
(updated 12-18-2019) 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 12-18-2019) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says Water levels are running at 340 cfs and water clarity is green tinted, common for winter months. The big rainbows are moving and biting. Big y2ks and orange blossom special have been working well for the big fish. Guppies and White Lightnings are working well for the bass – smallmouth and largemouth. Hitting the slack water where it meets the current with a fast strip back is the ticket.
On spinning gear hot pink trout magnets remain one of my favorite ways to catch trout. Unflavored, it is a great catch and release tool. Red and white are a couple of my personal favorite colors also. They also make trout cranks in trout colors that can work for bigger trout and walleye.
(updated 12-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is in good shape. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. 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 12-18-2019) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports. Last week, anglers did catch a few bass.
(updated 12-18-2019) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville reports the water is muddy and the level continues to be high. That’s hampering fishing. They report “poor” results on all species.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 12-18-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
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 12-18-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no new reports.
(updated 12-18-2019) 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.51 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake is about 3-4 inches above normal conservation pool, currently near 259.5 feet msl; the discharge around 1,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates Monday was about 225-226 feet msl with 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 are ranging 46-49 degrees. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for stumps, random broken or floating timber in Little River. Clarity continues improving in the oxbows with the river receding. Little River is heavy stain, moderate current and with random broken timber and debris.
Mike says the cooler weather over the past couple weeks has all but eliminated the surface-breaking fish, and the largemouth bass and Kentucky bass are randomly feeding deeper and slower, yet still following the threadfin shad schools. The same Bomber crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps continue working, just continuing to slow down. Bass have moved out of lily pad stands to vertical structure on deeper drops into the oxbows and into the 9-12 feet depth range, and continue following huge schools of shad. The largemouths, Kentuckys and white bass are following these schools of shad, and the whites have been the most aggressive over the past week couple weeks. Square-bill crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps and Fat Free Fry, and Fat Free Guppy continue randomly connecting with the bunched-up bass. Little John cranks have been getting decent responses over the past few weeks. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-size bass over the past several weeks.
Rat-L-Trap MR-6 or Echo 1.75 medium-diving cranks in Millwood Magic, Threadfin Shad or Louisiana Shad colors and Bomber Fat Free Fry and Guppys continue getting reactions over the past several weeks on the fringes of large schools of juvenile black and white bass chasing shad in the mouths of creek dumps into the oxbows. Bass anglers should be able to find and hook into a nice mixed school of largemouth and white bass by trolling crankbaits in McGuire Lake and Horseshoe Lake oxbows, up Little River. Trolling medium- to medium-deep, crankbaits from 6-12 feet deep will connect with large, mixed-bag schools. Once you locate a large blob or school of shad on your electronics, that is a good place to begin slow trolling crankbaits from 30-40 yards behind the boat. Most of these schooled-up bass are suspending under the shad from 10-15 feet deep. War Eagle Underspins, Heddon Rattling Sonar or Heddon Gay Blade will be able to cast and reach any surface-breaking bass that may randomly appear.
The crappie improved near standing timber in the oxbows now that clarity is improved. For the last couple weeks, in the back of the oxbow lakes along Little River, the crappie were the most reliable, and biting jigs and minnows near standing timber where water clarity is much better. Chartreuse jigs were working initially, but as the clarity has improved, a smoke-colored Cordell Grub on a jig was markedly better, and minnows were working by vertical-jigging near standing timber in Horseshoe. No reports on catfish or other species.
(updated 12-18-2019) 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 537.60 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
(updated 12-18-2019) 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 402.68 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said white bass and hybrids are migrating toward the river. Vertical-jigging spoons in the Point Cedar/Shouse Ford areas are producing ample numbers of fish. Watch for the birds chasing shad.
(updated 12-18-2019) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina had no updates. He will begin reporting again after hunting season.
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 12-18-2019) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) in Camden had no new reports.
(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 12-18-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says the clarity has turned clear in the past week and the lake is up to a normal level. Bream are fair on worms or crickets. Crappie are good. They’re being caught off the shoreline on minnows and jigs. Bass reports are poor. Catfishing is fair using worms.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 12-18-2019) 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 12-18-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 51 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 fishing is currently very slow. Cold fronts constantly moving in and out of the state have created an inconsistent bite. Area guides report trips of zero activity. These fish were stocked in the tailrace Nov. 6 and have been caught from boat or bank. As soon as a more normal weather pattern takes hold – PowerBaits in white or yellow presented under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater will be an excellent way to catch trout. Fly-fishermen can wade to areas that hold good numbers of fish and can 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 12-18-2019) 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 cold front brought overcast skies for the past weekend. The forecast expects sunshine, cool temperatures and calm winds for most of the week. Visibility of the water is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is in the mid- to upper 40s. As of Tuesday (Dec. 17) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has held consistent at about 341 feet msl. Ozark tailwater release has fluctuated from about 30,000 cfs to 41,000 then down to 17,000 and then back up to 38,000 cfs. There has been no power generation at Ozark. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has dropped slightly to 338 feet msl. The Dardanelle tailwater has held around 7-8 feet; falling to near 5 feet this past Sunday. Tailwater release, like Ozark, has also fluctuated – initially from about 54,000 cfs down to 30,000 and then up to 46,000, back down to 17,000 cfs, and finally rose up to near 51,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day. Near Cabin Creek, the Army 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 most up-to-date releases from the Corps.
As for fishing, anglers should 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 12-18-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 12-18-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake temps continuing to slowly fall and are currently in the high 40s throughout the lake. With the recent rainfall over the last few days and constant cloud cover, the fish have gone a little deeper and have spread out, making them harder to locate. The lake also has some color to it in most areas. Bass over the last week were good, before the weather pushed through, on Damiki rigs in shad colors and drop-shot rigs with green pumpkin worms in the guts of creek channels and ditches in between main lake points. “With the changed conditions we recommend bumping up to a black and blue ¾-ounce or 1-ounce football jig and slowly work standing timber and ditches over the next few days. White ¾-ounce spoons fished vertically should get bit also when the fish ball up again.
Crappie continue to pick up, and when the water temps get to 45 degrees they should be filling coolers and live wells. Target them in 20-40 feet of water on slip corks with small minnows over brush piles and deep docks near the main channels.
No reports on catfish, but hybrids are in the main channels and tailraces from Blakely Dam. Large swimbaits and spoons trolled up the channels should produce and depths around 30-50 feet.
“Christmas is almost here so wear your life jackets at all times PLEASE and make sure you get to spend this wonderful time of year with your loved ones! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 11-27-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.49 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 574.58 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-18-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair to good. Vertically jigging a CC Spoon near structure in major creeks or fishing a pig-n-jig near brush has been productive. No reports on walleye. Stripers are still good. These fish are being caught on live bait or big hair jigs. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair. Try a small jig near brush in 20-30 feet of water. No reports on catfish. Lake conditions on Tuesday showed the water temperature ranging 46-50 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level was 574.56 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
(updated 12-18-2019) 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 12-19-2019) The USDA Forest Service has informed the AGFC that it will be drawning down Bear Creek Lake. They describe a problem with the spiillway and are wanting to prevent any water from going over the spillway and causing further damage, necessitating a drawdown. The exact depth of the drawdown is unknown at this point, but it likely will be a couple of feet.
(updated 12-18-2019) 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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