Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 15, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
NEW IS GREEN/YELLOW IS TWO WEEKS
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Jan. 15, 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 conducted 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 1-15-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is muddy and is a little low. Bream are fair; use redworms. Crappie are good using small minnows and small jigs. No reports on black bass. Catfish are good using nightcrawlers.
Little Red River
(updated 1-15-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said Greers Ferry Lake remains 3 feet above normal and the generation is scheduled for two generators running 24/7 starting Wednesday. This will probably continue for two to three days. At this time, it will go back to the two-units-for-12-hours schedule because the White River at Georgetown will be near flood stage. When there is a window to drift-fish ahead of the rising water, sowbugs, micro-jigs and large nymphs will be good fly choices.
“It has been a while since we have seen this amount of generation so please exercise caution if you are on the river,” Greg says. “Watch for underwater obstacles as well as docks and tree limbs. Do not approach docks and trees from the upstream side since this amount of current can capsize a boat or other watercraft.
Notice: Greg’s free fly-fishing class will again be offered at First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs for the eight year. The first class will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20. The class will consist of four consecutive Thursday nights at the same time each Thursday. There is no charge for this class but you need to call and register so we can know how many persons will be attending. This class is for beginners and anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of fly-fishing. Please call 501-690-9166 to register for the class. “If I’m on the river, please leave a message and I will return your call,” Greg says.
(updated 1-15-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red River is receiving 24 hours of generation daily. The Greers Ferry Lake level is above normal seasonal pool due to recent rains, so longer periods of generation to lower the lake level are expected. If you choose to fish these conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. Key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high-water conditions. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, micro-jigs, egg patterns and streamers during high-water conditions. Hot pink, cotton candy and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501.362.5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry lake is at 465.39 feet msl and going up and down a little with generation each day. It is 3.39 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl for this time of year. Overall the catching is good on all species all over lake and in rivers. Black bass can be caught from super shallow, on top, out to 60 feet using a variety of baits, rattle-style baits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits or dragging bait. Crappie are coming in from trolling, and fishing straight up and down with minnows, jigs, crankbaits and Road Runners, all in 15-30 feet of water. No report on bream. Walleye are being caught with jigheads tipped with minnows and on crankbaits, jerkbaits or with grubs in a variety of depths fished straight up and down or trolled. As for catfish, there have been no report since the storms. Hybrid and white bass are eating as well on inline spinners, grubs, hair jigs, spoons and topwater baits in depths ranging from 25 feet out to 60 feet. Stay around shad for best catches on any species.
Tommy also says, “Do not forget about Little Rock Boat show this weekend.” For more information go to dgattractions.com. He’ll be there.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-8-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the water clarity is muddy. The water level is normal. Most fishing has been poor. Crappie can still be caught with minnows in shallow water. Catfishing is poor. No reports on bream or bass.
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors using airboats conducted foliar applications of EPA-approved herbicide – causing no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life such as fish – to treat alligatorweed on Lake Overcup last year. 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 1-8-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. The surface temperature is around 48 degrees. Bream are slow but still catching some on redworms. Bass are doing good around brush tops and structure, but just a few people are fishing lately. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and crappie minnows. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night lately, catching a few early morning and late evening. Everything has been slow but should start picking up. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 1-15-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), had no report.
(updated 1-15-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no recent reports.
(updated 1-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting fair on pink and No. 6 minnows as well as Bobby Garland Baby Shad Jigs in Gumdrop and Monkey Milk colors. Bass have been hitting minnows. Catfish have been slow, but a couple of customers had a good trip this week with No. 12 minnows and nightcrawlers and managed to get a limit of three each. Bream are biting slow.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting nightcrawlers, minnows and bait shrimp. Crappie fishing has been fair for some this week fishing late in the afternoon until dark. The bite has been best on No. 6 minnows for about the last 30-45 minutes of daylight. Bass will hit minnows as well and you’ll pick up a few while crappie fishing. Bream have been biting fair on worms and crickets but mostly small ones are being caught.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says the river has been clear and fishing has been tough lately, but fish have still been caught. Walleye fishing has been fair at night with brooder minnows. Bass have been biting minnows and crawdad-colored baits. Crappie fishing has been good with No. 6 minnows. Catfish have been a little slow but biting best at dusk on live minnows. Bream are plentiful and fun to catch with redworms and crickets. The recent rain raised the river to an unsafe level for a few days. Fishing should be great as soon as it drops to a safe level and is still slightly stained but not muddy.
Lisa also reports that a couple of groups and some individuals have been working hard recently to clean up debris and illegal dumpsites along the Saline River. “We appreciate that. Please, wherever you go, pick up your trash, and a little of someone else’s if you can, and report illegal dumping to the proper authorities. Nothing ruins an outdoor adventure like the sight of ugly trash and litter. Keep it clean and beautiful. Be safe and get out there and fish, hunt or just enjoy nature.”
(updated 1-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some customers have been catching a few crappie on No. 6 minnows. They report catching good-sized fish but no big numbers. All they tell us is they are catching them in back in some coves. Bass fishing has been slow. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp around some docks where they’re normally fed. Bream have been slow but a few of the big redear have been biting redworms.
(updated 1-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she hasn’t heard many reports from Winona lately “but we have had some going there looking for crappie and walleye.” Winona is a great smaller lake that gets little fishing pressure compared to most area lakes due to its limited access. Those that know the lake do well there.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 1-15-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-15-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is muddy and level is high. Specifically, he notes that the river is “running red and creeks are muddy, too.” Catfishing is fair. Some people that live near Maumelle are catching some fish, he said. No other reports.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 1-15-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that the river is muddy and high. Last week, when conditions were better (dingy and at a normal level), crappie are being caught in fair numbers on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair. Bream, black bass and white bass are poor.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-15-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is muddy and is high. There is a river advisory with an above small craft warning, as current flow on Tuesday early afternoon was 195,000 cfs. No catch reports this week.
(updated 1-15-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says that the river is running high and is muddy. When conditions were better the previous week in the main pool (dingy and normal level), crappie were fair on minnows and jigs. Catfishing are fair on skipjack. Sauger are everywhere, they reported, and were hitting black and pink jig. White bass were poor. Bream and bass were poor.
(updated 1-15-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports. Conditions have been unfavorable for anglers.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-15-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said cloudy conditions and high water have turned off the fishing, with poor reports across the board: bream, crappie, bass and catfish all poor.
(updated 1-15-2020) Herman’s Landing (870241-3731) is closed for hunting season and winter break. It will reopen in February.
White River (Augusta-Des Arc section)
(updated 1-15-2020) Angler William McCoy had no report.
(updated 1-15-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks is on the rise after several inches of rain fell last week over the White River watershed. “The White River below Bull Shoals Dam is clear here in the Cotter region with some fluctuation in water level based on releases from the dam while the Corps (of Engineers) works to stabilize lake levels across Arkansas.
“Clear, cold water is great for trout fishing, so join us on the river with your arsenal of spinners and Rooster Tails. Under the predicted overcast skies, you’ll do well casting bait with yellow bodies, gold or silver blades and black skirts. A bright, shiny hammered spoon (blue/silver) will attract the rainbows, and the rainbow–colored Buoyants and Cleos will be worth their weight in trout. The brown trout spawn is beginning to thin out, so we’re seeing them move downriver to their own neighborhoods, looking for sculpins and minnows. Stay stocked, keep catching, and enjoy the great outdoors in The Natural State.”
(updated 1-15-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity as of Tuesday morning is “a little cloudy” and no one is fishing. The generators at the dam are shut off, they say. River level has been normal.
(updated 1-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had a significant rain event (3 inches here in Cotter), cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.6 feet to rest at 4.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 30.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 3.9 feet to rest at 4.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.9 feet to rest at 4.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had moderate generation. There was some limited wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 4.9 feet to rest at 4.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and some wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to significant rainfall last week, there area is now weeks from wadable water.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park is 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 (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead size 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.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said surface temperature of the water is 49 degrees and Bull Shoals is again high after the weekend rainfall. As if Tuesday morning, the lake had risen 6 feet in two days. Crappie fishing has been good. They’re found in 15-25 depth and are biting shad as well as minnows and jigs. Target the brushpiles. Black bass are good. There is a deep bite going on at 20-25 feet. Look around brushy areas. White bass are good, also in the 20-25 feet depth range. Use shad. No reports on catfish or bream. Also, note that Del provides a video regularly on Youtube (Del Colvin/Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) in which he talks about various and timely methods to fish the lake, which baits are working best and areas to target.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 559.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is in its wintertime pattern, but with some twists due to all the drastic weather changes. “I guess this is normal, but when you go from 20 degrees to 60 degrees and then the water level changes 5.8 feet in a day, it tends to confuse the fish, or at least it confuses me.”
He adds, “Fishing would not be any fun if it was the same day in day out. With all the changes, it makes for a lot of searching different types of areas to see what the fish have decided to do. I guess it really is not the fish, but what the weather changes have done to the fish’s food source. Typically, as the water gets cold, large schools of shad tend to migrate out to deep water in the main lake river channel. This was what was happening over the last couple of weeks. With the rain last weekend, what is typical has changed. The bait has moved out of the main lake deep water. As of this (Tuesday) morning, I found lots of bait half way back in creeks, but still in deeper water.”
Lou says the movement of huge schools of shad affects the locations of striped bass. “Over the last couple of weeks, I was finding and catching striped bass between the two main bridges on the lake. The fish were in 80-120 feet of water and suspended anywhere from 20-50 feet down. Today I couldn’t find any there in the main lake. I finally found that the shad had moved halfway back into the creeks. And when I found the bait, I started marking big arcs scattered though out the bait. I set out three rods with live bait at 30, 35 and 40 feet deep. I was also jigging a white ¾-ounce spoon.
“About 20 minutes after I had set out the bait, a huge school of fish came under the boat. The fish were from surface to the bottom. All of a sudden each of the live bait rods got buried and I hooked into one with my spoon, but it came off immediately. I landed the first fish (a hybrid), then went to the second rod and the fish swam under the big motor and broke off, the last fish just stole the bait off of the third rod. After all was said and done, I got to land one of the fish and the big school had vanished. It was very hectic while it lasted. I kept moving around in this 75-85 feet of water. I had my spoon down to about 40 feet and I noticed a smaller school of fish at 55-60 feet down. I started dropping my spoon and the line went slack and the fight was on. The fish inhaled the spoon on the fall. I ended up landing a nice striped bass. After this I was still marking fish, but they were really scattered out.”
Bass and crappie are also affected by the weather and water level changes. They may not travel for miles (like striped bass) following the massive schools of shad, but they may change what depth they like to feed at, in the same general area. What the crappie were doing before the 6-foot rise in water level was feeding at the top of the brush on 25-35 feet deep brush. They were typically suspended down 12-20 feet deep. Small jigs or spoons have both been working well. Bass were also feeding in these same brush piles, but typically down toward the bottom of the brush. Bass were also on the shoreline 8-20 feet down and crankbaits were working great. “A couple of days ago I was back in a creek and found some nice schooling bass in 80 feet of water, suspended 30 feet down. I will be out doing a little crappie and bass fishing over the next week, so hopefully I will be able to figure out what this recent change to the lake has done to these species.” Norfork Lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 48-49 degrees. The lake level has risen a little less than 6 feet since last weekend and currently sits at 559.27 feet msl. Most creeks and coves are stained, but the brown water from the heavy runoff is falling out. The main-lake is somewhat clear. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 1-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 4.9 feet to rest at 4.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and some wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to significant rainfall last week, there area is now weeks from wadable water. The Norfork tailwater is fishing much 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 flooding over 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. 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.
John also says, “As I have written about recently, I have had an intense desire to wade the Norfork tailwater but have been beset with one obstacle after another. First it was my own laziness. Then it was the Corps of Engineers beginning generation before it was scheduled. Finally the Corps of Engineers did not turn off the generators when it was scheduled.
“Despite these setbacks, I checked my home computer daily looking for the right conditions for me to wade the Norfork. Finally last Friday it happened. The Corps of Engineers scheduled the water generation to be shut down from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. That is a seven-hour window and plenty of time to get in and do some fishing.
“I left home about 11:30 and arrived at the Ackerman Access around noon. The river had dropped quite a bit and was still dropping. I took a few minutes to wader up and rig my rod. I chose a 9-foot 5-weight rod with a medium-fast action (Sage ZXL) and an Orvis CFO reel. I attached a fresh 7.5-foot 4X leader. I attached a 5X tippet and a pheasant tail nymph and then attached another tippet to the bend in the hook with a ruby midge tied to it. I added a bit of lead to the leader and attached a strike indicator.
“I pulled out my wading staff and began wading upstream. The going was slow because the water had not completely dropped out. I was pleased to see that I was the only one there and relished having it all to myself.
“I made it to the top of the island and decided to fish my way out. I tried my first spot and picked up three nice trout. I moved to another spot nearby and picked up another. I thought that it was time to move on. I waded out of the stream and worked my way downstream to my next spot. This was a place where I have had a lot of success in previous years.
“Another angler was in it. I sat and waited for a few minutes as he waded through it. It gave me time to check my gear. I replaced my flies (they were a little beat up) with new ones. I used the same patterns. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Once the other angler had moved out, I carefully waded over to the run. I caught a nice trout on the first drift. I stayed in the same spot and caught over a dozen.
“I came out of that spot and continued my trip downstream. I tried another spot and pulled out a few more trout. By now it was about 4 p.m. I wanted to be off the river before they began generating again. I walked to the access, stowed my gear and headed back to Cotter.
“I had finally gotten back on the Norfork and even caught over 20 trout in the process. There were no big fish but it was nice to be back.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. 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 1,125.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says, “Well, I do not know what to say! We have been fighting high water and debris all year, it seems. Last week the lake was drawn down to near normal as the Army Corps (of Engineers) opened flood gates dropping lake 7 feet in 13 days. That made fish lock up a bit, but you still could get some bites. Last Friday was a wicked weather day up here as we had 4.5 inches of rain in a little more than 24 hours. As you guess, that amount of water made the lake rise, and rise fast! Up almost 4 feet in 2 days.
“The upper lake is chocolate milk and choked full of debris. Fisherman, as in our nature, are always optimistic. Good news is the water coming into the lake was 12 degrees warmer than the main lake. Translation is: Major influx of warmer water should push fish up into river arms and may start an earlier than normal spring pattern.
“I know it will get cold and probably snow, but I can tell you in living here 25 years I have not seen this setup and this strong of a setup before. I believe fish will push up and stick in river arms. The lake is 15 feet above usual and I think we are in for some good fishing in February.
“As for fishing, crappie and stripers were really good before rains. It is back to locating the fish on this lake. Be safe; there is lots of hazardous debris.”
(updated 1-15-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake clarity is muddy. The surface temperature is in the high 40s. Water level is high, and the level is 4.5 feet up all the way to Prairie Creek as of Tuesday morning. Crappie fishing is fair. Crappie are at 10-12 feet depth and found around the brushpiles. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good on crankbaits, jerkbaits and Alabama rigs. Walleye have moved into deeper holes up the river. Stripers are actively seeking brood minnows. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 1-15-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (470-244-0039) said fishing has been good this past week in the tailwater. Trout have been biting on various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. They have also responded well to quarter-ounce spoons and jigs. This week’s hotspot has been between Bertrand Access and Parker Bottoms. A few walleye have been caught as well – “a lot of them are shorts, but a few over 18 inches here and there. Crawler rigs, various hard baits and jigging with minnows have done the trick. I was only able to get out two days this week, so this report is kind of short. The water conditions are better, no more releases from the flood gates. Everything seems to be settling down for the moment. Hope you’re able to get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 1-15-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) has been closed for its regular winter break.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 1-15-2020) Ralph Donnangelo, superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-15-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) had no report.
(updated 1-15-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said clarity is clear and the surface temperature is 48 degrees. Water level is high by about 1-1.5 feet. Some bass anglers are starting to fish, and they’ve had fair results in the past week. They’re using jigs. No other reports.
(updated 1-15-2020) 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 1-15-2020) Lake Poinsett is closed until later this 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.
(updated 1-15-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are up this week. There was a lot of rain last week. The spring is flowing at 430 cfs; it was at 320 cfs last week. Water clarity is cloudy with a green tint. Y2Ks and white flies have been hot. “Gotta work a little more to get the fly down,” he says.
“Hot pink and bright orange Trout Magnets have been working well just off the bottom. It’s like candy to trout.
“Extra care should be used wading. The main river is above average flow. Wading staffs really help when wading the Spring River. It is very slick.
Mark reminds anglers to check his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.
(updated 1-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is high and off-color. 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 1-15-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 1-15-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-15-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 1-15-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-15-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no new reports.
(updated 1-15-2020) 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 262.72 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that Monday the lake was about 3 feet above normal conservation pool, rising rapidly from recent thunderstorms, and was about 262.5 feet msl; the discharge was around 16,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 245 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, especially during high flow river conditions. Use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and debris fields are present in the high river flow current conditions this week. Also, the Corps recently replaced 19 missing buoy markers on Little River from Yarborough Point to Paraloma Trail. USE CAUTION where river buoys are still missing. Twenty-five more river buoys are now being installed to complete marking Little River from mile marker 2 through mile 9.
Surface temps as of Monday ranged 47-52 degrees. What a difference a week and thunderstorms make on Millwood. Recent thunderstorms and high wind have muddied up the main lake and Little River, and with the 3-foot rise in 2-3 days, the bass are scattered. Last week, square-bill crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits were working, mainly on shallow roaming Bass. Rat-L-Traps, MR-6, Echo 1.75 and Little John cranks were 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-sized bass over the past several weeks. Seemed like the feeding mechanism turned on like a light switch, and shut off almost as quickly during the heat of the afternoon, best from noon-3 p.m. “With the recent 3- to 4-foot rapid rise from thunderstorms, those bass have scattered and picked up a case of lockjaw for a couple days. They were playing hard to get with us over the past week compared to the week before,” Mike said.
Cordell or Kastmaster Spoons were connecting with vertical suspended bass from 10-15 feet, when the water clarity was much better last week. White bass were roaming the oxbows of Little River, at creek dumps into the oxbows or connecting with the river. Rat-L-Trap Tail Spinners in Millwood Magic or Splatterback colors, and Bomber Fat Free Guppy cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, were catching a mixed bag of bass following schools of shad along both sides of points extending into the oxbows where stumps present and near vertical structure. Best Little John crankbait colors were the Millwood Magic, Splatterback and Louisiana Shad colors. Some mouths of creek dumps held very large schools of whites and Kentucky bass over the past several weeks. A few whites were biting in Horseshoe this week, where the water clarity was much better farther from Little River muddy current.
The crappie were holding near standing timber in the oxbows when clarity had improved. But with the Little River on a muddy rise, and the unseasonably warm weather, the crappie have scattered. Two weeks ago, the oxbows were giving up nice 2- to 2.5-pound crappie where they were biting jigs and minnows near standing timber. Now, they have seemed to spread horizontally. Chartreuse jigs were working initially, but as the clarity has improved a smoke-colored Cordell Grub on a jig was markedly better a few weeks ago, and minnows were working by vertical-jigging near standing timber in Horseshoe. Catfish are improved on trotlines in Little River with the increased current. “Two guys we spoke to earlier were catching good 3-4 pound channel cats and high-fin blues on trotlines from 8-12 feet deep using chicken livers, gizzards and cottonseed mill cake.”
(updated 1-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) says they’ve heard anglers were catching crappie and bass around the bridge.
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 539.96 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.07 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass and crappie are biting well. Bass are being caught on crankbaits, jigs and soft plastics. Crappie are biting shiners or jigs; popsicle has been a good color lately.
(updated 1-15-2020) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says fishing is very slow, with few anglers this past week. No reports.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-15-2020) 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 1-15-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature is 46 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. The rainbow trout bite has been on and off. Last weekend’s storm really hurt the bite, and heavy generation below the dam has kept many off the water. Cold fronts often slow down the trout feeding cycles just the same as with black bass. PowerBaits in white or yellow presented under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are an excellent way to catch trout early in the season and are often the go-to method of success when the bite is slow. 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. January trout stocking will be 9,300 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 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. The walleye spawn will begin in early February, with the smaller males moving up first to prepare the beds. 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 1-8-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said they had mostly clear skies and mild temperatures this past week. A system brought overcast skies and light rain this past Thursday and Friday. The forecast leading into the weekend is more complex. Currently, a low-pressure system is expected to bring rain, heavy at times, and gusty winds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Potentially severe storms are possible overnight on Friday. The system will exit the area throughout the day Saturday with a potential for winter precipitation. As usual, this forecast is very likely to change as we approach the weekend.
Visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 44 degrees. As of Tuesday (Jan. 7) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has held consistent at a little over 341 feet msl. Ozark tailwater release has gradually risen since last week from about 26,000 cfs to 43,000 cfs. There has been no power generation at Ozark. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has not fluctuated and has been holding near 338 feet msl. The Dardanelle tailwater has held around 8 feet; only fluctuating about 1 foot. Tailwater release has risen from about 33,000 cfs last week up to 50,000 cfs on Saturday. It is currently slowed to about 40,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day.
Dredging operations at river mile 222 near Cabin Creek are complete. However, the Corps of Engineers continues to issue 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 more information.
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 will begin soon. We are hosting a crappie tournament scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 11. There are no new reports from anglers. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 1-15-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 1-15-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are good on brushpiles where deep water channels are very nearby. Fish 10-15ft. deep with minnows under corks. Prepare to observe a light, easy bite.
(updated 1-15-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still down about 3-4 feet for the winter drop and lake temps around 47 degrees throughout. Bass fishing has been dismal the last few days after the large amount of rain, wind and cold that the lake received. “I would love to tell you they are on fire out there but until conditions stabilize (which should happen over the next 3-5 days) all we can tell you is good luck and keep grinding!” Fishing the vertical has been tough due to the windy conditions but Damiki rigs in shad colors and lipless crankbaits in crawfish colors should become factors shortly. Throw the lipless cranks down riprap and seawalls and the Damiki rigs in the guts of pockets. Any structure that is visible can be worked over with a watermelon three-quarter-ounce football jig. Crappie has been fair because they love the barometric pressure and wind the way it has been. Tipped chartreuse jigs with minnows fished over brushpiles in 20-30 feet should produce something. No reports on other species. “Be safe and wear those life jackets at all times! Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 356.30 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the water is muddy and the level is 14 feet above normal. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. They hear reports of bream biting fair in Ola dell (smaller lakes) and strip pits in the Dardanelle area. Use worms or crickets. No other reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.99 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still fair to good. Alabama rigs in major creeks or fishing a Pig-n-Jig near brush have been productive. No report on walleye. Stripers are fair. They’re being caught on live bait or big hair jigs. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair to good. Try a small jig near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No reports on catfish. The water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees and the clarity is poor. Lake level earlier this week is up to 578.10 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.69 feet msl (normal pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-15-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said Tuesday that crappie are doing “extremely, extremely well” at Horseshoe. Trolling and vertical-jigging are the best ways to catch them now. Last week, before the front passed through over the weekend, Ronnie reports that he and a customer caught 150 crappie in a half-day, keeping 60 between them. Also, catfish are going well. “You can get your limit in a short amount of time,” he said. Use shad or stink bait. Fishing just outside the docks got some anglers 15-20 cats, he said. “The catfish are on fire,” he added. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for bass right now. Ronnie says only a few lake regulars have been fishing for them, and no one else, therefore there have been no good reports. The bream, however, has been up thanks to the recent full moon, he said. They’ve been in the 2-3 foot range. “Today they slowed because we’ve moved on from the full moon,” he said. But anglers should note: “I look for a great time right now at Horseshoe Lake,” he says. Check Ronnie’s Facebook page for his latest posts and photos.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 1-15-2020) Bear Creek Lake is undergoing an emergency lake drawdown on the St. Francis National Forest/Mississippi River State Park in response to a damaged spillway. After damage was noted at the Bear Creek Lake spillway, the USDA Forest Service began procedures to lower the lake water levels to improve capacity and hope to prevent an overflow, which could further damage the spillway. The water level as of Jan. 8 is down 4-5 feet, with a goal of lowering the lake level about 10 feet. Therefore, the boat ramp is not safe and is being closed immediately until the lake spillway repairs can be made, the Forest Service said. The Forest Service personnel will work in conjunction with the State Park and the AGFC to monitor lake levels. The plan forward is to consult with a geotechnical engineers to assess the damage and make recommendations on repairs. For more information, contact the St. Francis Ranger District at 870-295-5278 or Mississippi River State Park at 870-295-3382.
(updated 1-15-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the fishing season Cook’s Lake will resume in the spring. For now, it’s closed so the lake can serve as a waterfowl rest area. Check back in late February for the spring plans and reopening for anglers. For more information, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.
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