Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Feb. 17, 2022
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Feb. 17, 2022. 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 for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 11 a.m. the day of publication (Feb. 17).
****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://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: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
TOP AND LEFT: The bass bite has been excellent on Norfork Lake, as Lou Gabric reports out of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. Wayne Walker (left) from Springfield, Missouri and Ray Carter from Harrisonville, Missouri, enjoyed the bass action on Norfork. Lou says striped bass, black bass and crappie are the major targets now at Norfork. Read more of his report below.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 2-17-2022) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake level is teetering between normal and low. It has the normal Lake Conway stain, and no temperature was reported. Bream are good on redworms, crickets and hair jigs. Crappie bounced back with good reports as the weather warmed. Try minnows or 1- to 3-inch jigs. Bass fishing is good again. Football jigs were working as well as worms, white swimbaits and Chatterbaits. Catfishing is good. Best baits are stink bait, nightcrawlers, trotline minnows, shad and dough bait.
Little Red River
(updated 2-17-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout are good on Rooster Tails and Marabou Jigs.
(updated 2-10-2022) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Army Corps of Engineers has both generators back up and operating at the Greers Ferry Dam. Current generation pattern includes several hours in the morning and additional hours late afternoon. San Juan worms, pheasant tails, hare’s ear and Woolly Buggers will work for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing, pink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads are recommended. 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 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.
(updated 1-27-2022) Mike Winkler, who operates Little Red River Guide Service (501-690-9166, 501-507-3688), said that for over a week on the Little Red River the Army Corps of Engineers has been running water over the floodgates equal to one unit of generation.
Fishing from a boat has been good nymphing San Juan worms in pink. Egg patterns have also been working well. Streamer fishing has been productive throwing articulated streamer patterns.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.56 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is staying about the same with generation. It is at 461.42 feet msl, or 0.62 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. “But I am sure this will change as we are looking at 10 days of rain now. The warm nights will trigger a lot of fish into making moves from the winter doldrums. Crappie will move in the water column and even move horizontal as well. Rain should be warm to start; all that make for better bite. Target 10-40 feet of water with crankbaits, jigs and minnows. Walleye are sure to eat more as water clears after rains; the influx of water is what usually fires them up. Use crankbaits, jighead worms, grubs, swimbaits, live bait — the worse weather the better the bite. No report on bream other than if you get a cricket in front of one they will bite; try 12-40 feet. Black bass are all over water column and eating a variety of baits; now is best time to catch larger fish. Fish are super shallow out to 60 feet, use whatever baits will work best in those type of situations. Hybrid and white bass are eating, and on the move as well. A spoon is working best along with Alabama rigs, swimbaits, grubs, hair jigs, inline spinners. Try looking 25-80 feet for best results.
(updated 2-10-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said water is clear and at a normal level. Bass are pretty good really shallow. Try crankbaits, Wiggle Wart, Rock Crawlers, Rat-L-Traps and Alabama rigs in 15-20 feet of water.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-17-2022) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water is muddy and is low (a lot of stumps remain visible). Anglers are catching stripers in good numbers out of boats. Bream are fair and biting minnows. Crappie are fair around the shoreline on minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair around the shoreline, but no baits have been suggested. Jerkbaits and Rat-L-Traps should work these days, though, or a worm. Still no reports on catfish.
(updated 2-17-2022) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is normal and clarity is good. Surface temperature is around 52 degrees. Anglers are catching a few bream on worms. Bass are being caught with a white spinnerbait and black plastic worms.
Crappie are slow but anglers are catching some good size – 2.92-, 2.75- and 2.62-pounders in 10-12 feet of water. Catfish are slow but it should pick up with warmer weather. “There hasn’t been a lot of fishing going on. Come see me, Johnny Banks, at Overcup Bait Shop off Arkansas Highway 9.”
(update 1-27-2022) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210). a 24/7 self-serve shot, had no new report.
(updated 2-17-2022) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported that water temperatures are in the low 50s. The lake is still low by about 2-3 feet, so be cautious. Largemouth bass are fair. Some reports of the bass being found inside the grass 4-12 feet early in the morning and going deep after the sun comes out (scattered at all depths). Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits or drop-shots. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are fair. Some reports of them being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks and other reports of them being found on brushpiles. Try using Texas rig on brush or jigs. White bass are slow. No reports this week. Try using swimbaits. Crappie are good. Reports this week of the crappie being found suspended 25-30 feet deep on the move. They stacked up once this week but went back to suspended. They’re chasing shad, so if you find the shad they’re there. Try using jigs or minnows. Bream are slow, no reports. Try using rooms. Catfish are slow, no reports. Try using chicken liver, worms or crayfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 14,282 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 19,170 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-17-2022) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal level. No temperature was reported. Bream are good. Fish with redworms or crickets. They are being caught on the bottom, 8-10 feet deep, on worms. Crappie are good and being caught in 8-10 feet deep. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good, and like the bream and crappie they are in 8-10 feet depth; crankbaits are the way to go. Still no reports on catfish.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 14,999 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 12,300 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 16,209 cfs.
(updated 2-17-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said bass are good on shaky head and green pumpkin Trick Worms and mid-diving crankbaits.
(updated 2-17-2022) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said sauger are being caught in good numbers down at the Murray Lock and Dam on black and hot pink tube jigs. White bass are starting to move below the dam on white shad bait and grubs, as well as chartreuse Lil’ Fishies. Crappie are still out deep on the jetties and are biting the new ATX lure Wicked Shad. Catfish are fair below the Terry Lock and dam and up by the Murray hydroelectric plant. Use shad for bait.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-17-2022) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said that anglers have gotten back out on Clear Lake, with crappie the target. Minnows are working. They’re catching good-sized crappie.
(update 2-17-2022) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said that scheduled maintenance is underway on the spillway. The water is a little dingy and the level is low (a few stumps are showing). The only fishing reports to come her way were for crappie. Results were good on minnows and jigs.
(updated 2-17-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said there’s nothing average about the weather we’ve been experiencing this February, and there are no average days on the White River: all are spectacular! Whether you’re busy counting rainbows, watching for a colorful cutthroat or taking time to hook into a sensational brown trout, there are no ordinary days on the river. Water levels have been a little erratic, starting out low, rising in early afternoon, then dropping a couple of hours later. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been variable, going from around one unit (3,000 cfs) to around three units (9,000 cfs) pretty regularly over the last week. The lake is 2 feet below its normal power pool of 659 feet mls. Expect cold (to very cold) early mornings and a decent rise in the temperature – we’re getting into the 50s pretty regularly already.
The brown bite has alternated between sculpins and minnows with minnows closing in as a close second for the best bait this week. Nightcrawlers proved their worth for bank fishermen, and dragging a scented pink or pink and white worm worked well angling from the johnboats in medium or higher water levels. Be especially cautious if you are casting from the bank or if, during the periods of low water, you are able to wade into the main channel. The water level can change very quickly – don’t be caught unawares. Regardless of water level, remember: Big fish like big bait. March will be blowing in before we know it, so don’t be surprised by some gusty days, just carry more weight on your line and keep on anglin’.
(updated 2-17-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the warmer weather this last week has made for nice days on the river. The river has stayed between 4.5 feet and 6.5 feet depth. The water has been clear. The go-to bait continues to be Power Eggs with shrimp. “I recommend taking a few different colors of Power Eggs and if one color isn’t working, try another. Talking to the fisherman on the river, using lures said spoons continue to work well when the river is at the lower levels, and when the water is higher bouncing dark-color jigs off the bottom as well as throwing Rapala Countdowns and Shad Raps.
“I expect with the rain Wednesday night and into Thursday, the river color will get pretty dingy for a couple of days and clear up by the weekend. Watch the weather and river conditions next week as we expect more rain next Monday through Thursday.”
(updated 2-17-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they have had no precipitation; frigid, then warmer temperatures; and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.2 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 1 foot below power pool and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 1 foot below power pool or 10.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water every day.
“Streamer season fishing is upon us,” he said. “Now that the brown trout spawn is over, they are moving back to their regular locations. Now is a good time to target them. Fishing is best with heavy generation. Bang the bank with big streamers on sink tip lines. White is my current favorite color.”
On the White, the hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. After opening day, there have been some big browns caught. The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try an orange egg with a size 18 purple zebra midge.
Remember that the White and the North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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 soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
With the fly-fishing season about to get cranking, John mentions his fly-fishing class resuming at Mountain Home, “Things are beginning to get back to normal. My wife, Lori Sloas, and I are going to resume teaching fly-fishing at Arkansas State University Mountain Home after a two-year break due to the coronavirus. Lori and I have been teaching this class twice a year since 2011 and have taught hundreds of people to fly-fish. We have really missed teaching the class for the last two years and look forward to doing it again.
“The class will be held on the Arkansas State University campus on Thursday nights beginning April 14 and running for four weeks (on Thursday nights). Classes begin at 6 p.m. and end at 8 p.m… The first hour is fly-casting instruction and it is held outside (during inclement weather, it will be inside). The second hour is classroom and is held inside on the first floor of Dyer Hall in room D106. There is plenty of parking nearby.
“The casting instruction will be led by Lori. She has been teaching fly-casting for over 20 years and many consider her the best fly-casting instructor in the area. I will assist her. I have been teaching fly-casting for over 30 years. She is a better casting instructor than I am. The goal is to teach every student to cast a fly rod comfortably.
“I will lead the fly-fishing classroom instruction. I have been doing this for over 30 years. Lori will assist. The classes will be casual and questions will be welcome. I consider myself to be the better classroom instructor of the two of us.
“The classroom covers a variety of topics. First up is water safety. We cover how to wade and boat safely in the trout streams in our area. Next is equipment. We discuss all of the equipment you will need to fly-fish and what you do not need. We recommend that you not buy any gear until you attend the first class. We will furnish a rod and reel for the casting class if needed. If you have your own rod and reel, you are welcome to bring and use it.
“We move on to knots. To keep things simple we only teach two of them, which are all you need to fish effectively. We then teach you to use those knots to rig and fish with four different techniques. We also cover entomology (the study of insects) and fly selection to imitate food forms available on our local streams. We also teach reading water and stream strategies.
“If this sounds like something you would be interested in, go online to https://asumh.coursestorm.com and sign up. There is a modest fee. Lori and I hope to see you there.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.12 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is 657 feet msl and the temperature is 47, give or take. Bass fishing has been fair with cooler temps pushing big balls of shad over 120 feet into the guts of the creeks. Graph to look for shad and look for loons. Active diving loons will trigger feeding. The shad have moved even deeper as of lately, 50-80 feet deep. Some of the predator fish have left the shad, so power fishermen can grind it out. Key in on wind ledges, transitions, channel swing banks, points with chunk rock. Jerkbait has started catching a few under a little wind, and the Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart works on windy transitions in cover water. You can always catch them on a jig.
See Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort says the lake level is 552.70 feet msl and is rising slowly but steadily with very little generation. The Army Corps of Engineers is holding the White River at Newport to about 9 feet. The surface water temperature is about 46 degrees and fluctuates a couple of degrees from the afternoon to morning with the recent warm sunshine. “It is cloudy (Wednesday) and it has been very windy, making fishing difficult and a cold front is moving through tomorrow. We have been getting at least one cold front a week and it really slows fishing. Fishing overall has just been fair this last week but the lake is in excellent condition for fishing and is at a good level and color. The bite gets good just before the next front and then the cycle starts over again. The full moon has not helped anything either, except for the striper bite, which has been pretty good for fish in the 5- to 8-pound range in open water on shad.
“I have been bass and crappie fishing and have caught some fish every day, but not a lot. The new brushpiles that we have been putting in are holding fish already. We are past the middle of February and it looks like no shad kill this year, but it did get very cold at this time last year resulting in a big kill. The best bite is in the evening from just before sunset until dark. The best lures are jigs for crappie and bass in brush with the bass being right on the bottom and crappie being suspended right in it. At sunset they move towards the bank out of the brush near the shore and can be caught on a grub on a jighead right at the first drop-off.”
Steve says Tom Wilson from Norfork caught some good ones this week on the Bink’s Spoon fishing Blackburn’s new brushpiles in 25 feet of water.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.
(updated 2-17-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said there are currently three good bites on the lake, making fishing Norfork Lake fun for everyone. Striped bass, black bass (largemouth and spotted bass) and crappie are the three best bites on the lake at this time.
You can find largemouth bass in several different types of areas. Bluff walls have been very productive. The fish can be up tight to the rocks or suspended out from the bluff. Most of these fish are 10-20 feet down either on the bottom, or suspended over deep water. Alabama rigs are working great with white swimbaits. You can judge how heavy of a jighead you need depending on the depth you want to get the bait to. Typical quarter-ounce works great. If you are using an A-rig that already has added weight to the center piece, you may only want a hook with no weight. Crankbaits, jigs and spinners are also producing some nice fish. There are still some nice fish hugging the bottom off of long rocky points from 30-40 feet down. “My best way to catch these deep fish is to vertical-jig a spoon slowly right on the bottom.”
Striped bass are still in their winter pattern. Basically, this is saying that the bait has moved out to the deep-water river channels or very close to the channel. You will find streams of bait 10-30 feet thick and the stripers will be very close by. “I find the striped bass on top of the bait, at the bottom of the bait or some are even buried inside the bait. If there is a deep flat next to the channel you may find large schools of stripers cruising through the flat, but they always stay close to the large streams of bait. The bait is typically suspended 30 to 60 feet down. This depth will vary and the thickness of the bait will vary. The fish will be found suspended at the same depths as the bait. There are various methods to fish for this species. Live bait is a tried-and-true method, vertical jigging a one-ounce spoon, vertical jigging a 3-inch swim bait with a 3/8-ounce jig head or trolling swimbaits, umbrella rigs, or hard crank baits. The key is to get your bait at the same depth as the fish. This pattern will stick around until the water temperature starts to warm, which should be in the next couple of weeks. With the warmer water the bait tends to start to move back in the creeks or farther up river. When the bait moves the stripers will be chasing.
Crappie are on brush. Find brush in 20-40 feet of water. The fish will be at all depths depending on the time of day. Early and late in the day they are typically suspended on top of the brush and on occasion only 5-10 feet down. Midday they tend to drop a little deeper. Of course, the weather plays a big role on how the bait acts in the brush, and just like all fish species they tend to follow their food source. “(Wednesday) morning I hit a couple of brushpiles. It was a very cloudy, windy day and the fish seemed to be deeper and buried inside of the brush. Live bait, small twister tail grubs with a one-sixteenth-ounce jighead and a small one-eighth- to quarter-ounce spoon are all working great.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is holding in the 45-46 degree range, but may start to rise slowly with the spring type weather we are having. The lake level has been rising slowly with minimal power generation and currently sits at 552.75 feet msl. The lake is trying to clear but still remains slightly stained.
“I post almost daily on Facebook. If you want more frequent information please visit and Like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
(updated 2-17-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water every day.
There has been some wadable water on the Norfork and it fished well some days and poorly on others. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished particularly well. School is back in session and now is a great time to fish it, particularly during the week. Weekends can get a bit crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White and the North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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 soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-17-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are still navigable. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are not active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,119.57 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is holding steady around 3 feet below normal levels. Water temps are in and around low 40s. Fishing is fair. Crappie are the best bite going. Fish are schooled up on brush, as typical for cold water. Look for brush in and near main points on the river channels. Jigs and minnows are working well. Stripers are fair at best with fish moving daily. Look from Horseshoe Bend all the way up river arms. Bass fishing has been picking up on Alabama rigs and jerkbaits, which is on par for this time of the year. |I have caught a few walleye last week up in the river arms and on flat at Point 12. Everything will really start an uptick in next few weeks. Need a warm rain or two. Good luck and stay safe!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 2-10-2022) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported that the walleye bite is fair. Anglers are catching a few in the river arms. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. They’re best around cover along the creek edges. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair. No reports on crappie. Beaver Lake is clear and at a normal level.
(updated 2-17-2022) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said this past week’s bite has been great, even though the river level is a little low. Most trout are being caught with light terminal tackle, fished with various PowerBaits. Spoons in the quarter-ounce range, coated with Fire Gel, are still pulling some nice numbers. This week’s hot spot has been between the U.S. Highway 62 Bridge and Spider Creek. Remember, hitting those deeper holes, will put you on the bite a little quicker. As the water starts to warm, you can expect some of the other species of fish to start making their run up the river. If I were a betting man, I would say if you were to go down towards Holiday Island, you may even find them hanging out in the deeper water. Deep-diving crank baits would be the method of choice. Try to fish drop-offs and ledges, when looking for these fish. Things are about to start getting hot in the tailwater, and you do not want to miss it.
Visit Austin’s fishing Facebook Page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for fishing videos and tips on the tailwater.
(updated 2-17-2022) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said anglers are back on the lake and enjoying good results after the last cold spell. The clarity is a little murky but the level is normal. Crappie are biting well on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good using crankbaits or a plastic worm. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 2-17-2022) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the lake is clear and low by about 1 foot. Bream have appeared this week with fair catches on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. The best fishing continues to be off the old bridge. Black bass really picked up this week with good reports. They were mostly cost up toward the mouth of the river. Best bait seems to be
(updated 2-17-2022) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the anglers haven’t returned to Lake Charles lately, so she had no reports from any species. She expects fishing to pick up soon, though, and she notes that the best fishing days based on moon times should be March 1-7 and March 29-31. Good days should fall on March 15-21. April’s best days, when the crappie should really be biting there, will be April 1-4. “The water is warming up,” she said. Surface temperature Monday afternoon was 48.2 degrees. The clarity is the usual murky and the water is high.
(updated 2-17-2022) Lake Poinsett is in the process of refilling, but is rainfall dependent and the region hasn’t had a lot of rainfall lately. The fishing now is predominantly catch-and-release for bream. They seem to be biting on crickets and worms. Small boats, kayaks or canoes are the only watercraft that can launch at this time.
The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed a year ago, following the completion of a three-year renovation projection, and the lake began to refilling. The lake has been undergoing an extensive renovation with a new water control structure, more than 10,000 linear feet of shoreline work, more than 100 habitat structures placed on the lakebed, and nearly 100 trees anchored for fish habitat.
Other forage species that were stocked this spring include fathead minnows, golden shiners and threadfin shad have been added in huge numbers to the lake to build up the food supply for the predators, which will be stocked this year.
(updated 2-17-2022) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has been closed for the season but is looking to open soon.
(updated 2-10-2022) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been just below average, at 340 cfs this week. Water clarity is perfect. The water has just a slight green tint to it; just enough rain and snow lately to keep the river from getting too low.
“The caddis have been hatching heavy and caddis dries have been working. Nymphs in sizes 6-14 bead heads have been very productive. And, yes, I said a size 6 nymph. I tie a bead chain eye pheasant tail/bobcat nymph that is very hot. Lots of big nymphs in the spring, hexagenia and hellgrammites are huge bugs.
“The smallies are biting but they have been down deep in the deeper pools. Gotta work the bottom slow with a sink tip or heavy fly. Gonna hang up a lot, so bring plenty of flies. The winter time can be the best time to catch a big smallie.”
Crankbaits have been hot lately for spin-fishing. Trout cranks and Berkley Flicker Shad have been working great. They’re perfect for getting down deep and float up after snagging on bottom. Hot pink Trout Magnets remain the go-to for catching the rainbows with a float. Use a split shot and get it to the bottom. The Trout Magnet should tick off the bottom occasionally.
Check out Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com/blog. “We still having some cold days out there so be safe, if you fall in and get wet, find a warm place fast. The Spring River is very slick!”
(updated 2-17-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is over and the canoes are mostly gone. Fish the upper river at the Lassiter Access to avoid them or fish Dam 3 late in the afternoon, after they have left the area. 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, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 7.86 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 9.21 feet, down almost 17 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta has dropped to 21.45 feet which is more than 4.5 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 2-10-2022) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville reported that anglers have returned to this area on the White. Anglers are catching a few walleye on crankbaits, jigs and minnows. The river is clear and at a normal level.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam at Pine Bluff was 4,068 cfs. Further upriver at the Maynard Lock and Dam near Redfield, the flow was 8,152 cfs.
(updated 2-17-2022) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperatures are in the mid- to upper 40s with shallow protected areas in the low 50s. Water visibility is about 12 inches overall. Expect temperatures to warm some this week, especially in shallow protected areas. The main channel and Lake Langhofer typically warm very slowly. Black bass are slow but can be caught along steeper rock banks using shad-colored crankbaits and dark-colored jigs crawled very slowly along the bottom.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 2-17-2022) Jeff Shell, the superintendent at Cane Creek State Park, said Cane Creek Lake water temperatures are running in the 50s; however, with February’s ever-changing weather this can change day to day. Water clarity is about a half-foot.
Crappie are starting to get in a prespawn pattern. “We have received reports that Electric Chicken pattern jigs are producing results.” Bass are in a winter pattern and your best chance is fishing suspended structure. On warm afternoons, windblown coves may yield fish at shallow depths chasing baitfish. No reports on catfish. Historically for this time of year they can be found in the lake’s deeper areas on trotlines.
(updated 2-17-2022) Dam repair work has been completed by the city of Monticello’s contractor, while the AGFC has been rebuilding the lake bottom and areas near where the shoreline will be for fish habitat when the lake is refilled, which will mostly be done by rainfall collection. The gates on the dam are now closed and the lake refilling is underway. Many artificial fish habitat structures have been created and put in place, and the AGFC has pumped several of the small ponds and has added rotenone to those areas for the elimination of unwanted species (i.e. grass carp, yellow bass), before the refilling of the lake began.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.51 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was 3 inches above normal pool at 259.4 feet msl and falling, and clarity is good to fair stain in a few areas. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 227 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 1,500 cfs n Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Watch for random floaters and broken timber during any navigation on Little River and Millwood Lake.
Surface temps are stable this week, ranging in 45-48 degrees, depending on location and the day. Lots of Little River buoy markers along the main lake channel MAY HAVE MOVED with recent gate changes at the Millwood Dam and high wind. Use caution in navigation on main lake river channels where river buoys may be out of channel from recent high winds.
Current along Little River improved this week with discharge release at the dam, and river clarity ranging 5-10 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows is 10-20 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain, or thunderstorms.
As for fishing details:
* Not much change over the past several weeks, with the largemouth bass being hit or miss depending on daily conditions. The largemouth activities slowed with the colder water temperatures; best feeding cycles shifted to midday and afternoon. The bass have been suspended as of late and in deeper depths of creek channels or drop-off structures. Their feeding cycles seemed to fluctuate wildly over the past several weeks. Rat-L-Traps in red chrome, burnt orange Crawdad, Toledo Gold and Red Shad in the three-quarter-ounce flavors continue to be the go-to colors.
Warmer days with blue skies have been best near vertical structure and deeper drops with 6-9 feet deep flats in close range. Over the past couple weeks, bass were fair on swim jigs with thumper-tail trailers, Chatterbaits, jigs and heavy thumping 1-Knocker Rat-L-Traps. Most bass we are finding continue randomly roaming shallow on full sun and bright skies into the 6-10 foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 9-15 feet depth ranges. The largemouths continue randomly turning on during the heat of the day – better on bright, sunny, clear days when water temps will rise a few degrees in midday. Square-bill crankbaits, Chatterbaits and spinnerbaits will randomly connect with the shallow roaming bass. MR-6, Echo 1.75 and Little John Cranks will draw a few random reactions from the bass. Wherever a creek channel runs into the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, some decent-sized bass have been holding over the past week. The best bite continues during heat of the day from noon-3 p.m.
Cordell or Kastmaster Spoons are finding vertical suspended bass from 10-15 feet on ledges or deep creek, outside bends with stumps present.
When fishing the points dumping into Little River, the Rat-L-Trap 1-Knockers in three-quarter size will get down deeper on the points with stumps present, and drop off into the river with a different vibration and presentation than the smaller Rat-L-Traps, and connect with larger schools. One point may hold all largemouths, the next point may hold all white bass. Both species are following any remaining shad all along Little River and they are staging on the points, with some of the bass pulling into the creek channels where deep access to the river, stumps and points are attracting the shad.
Bill Lewis Lures MR-6 or SB-57 medium-diving cranks and heavy three-quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, Toledo Gold or red chrome and Craw colors continue getting best reactions, and anglers should be patient this time of year. McGuire Lake and Horseshoe Lake oxbows up Little River have the clearest water conditions. Majority of these roaming, midday bass are suspending near vertical structure for many hours of the day, and turn on like a light switch for a few hours under the warmest 2-3 hours of daylight, from 5-9 feet depth with 12-18 feet of depth nearby.Southern Pro Flipping Tubes or Tournament Tubes in black/blue tail, Smoke/black/red flake with chartreuse dipped tail, and Smoke Purple flake with chartreuse dip tail have been taking 2- to 4-pound bass over the past several weeks near dead pad stems, on stumps from 8-10 feet deep in Little River’s oxbow lakes upriver, near creek junctions and on tapering points where shad have moved deeper into the creek channels. Ten- to 12-inch Berkley Power Worms caught a couple of decent bass last week with black, blue Fleck, or Black Grape being the best colors for a reaction bite.
Real Deal Custom Jigs caught a few largemouth up Little River in McGuire Oxbow last week around 2-3 pounds. Best colors were Texas Craw, black/blue/purple or pumpkinseed/chartreuse with a Gene Larew Hog Craw as a trailer.
* The white bass continue roaming all along Little River, and have been heavily schooled up all along Little River for several weeks now. They’ve been found from White Cliffs campground all the way up to U.S. Highway 71 bridge, and where the Cossatot River intersects and dumps into Little River. Hammered Cordell Chrome Spoons with a red bucktail, Rocket Shads, Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad, half-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Bill Lewis MR-6 Crankbaits and Spin Traps in chrome/blue, Millwood Magic, Tennessee Shad and Threadfin Shad colors all have been working catching whites, over the past several weeks.
“One day we are catching them along Little River, roaming and slamming those crankbaits; next day they are hugging the bottom of the river just underneath the shad schools fighting over a dropped and vertical-jigging Cordell Spoon into the school. Watch your electronics for the mass of shad and whites from 12-22 feet of depth between White Cliffs Campground and Cemetery Slough along the river.”
* Crappie has been slow for us and everyone else we spoke with on the lake over the past couple weeks. Nothing to update.
* Catfish improved on limblines over the past week set from 8-12 feet deep, biting good with redworms, cut buffalo, chicken hearts and livers. Trotlines slowed over the past week, but yo-yos and limblines seem to have the best responses and have been catching cats from 4-8 pounds over the past few weeks.
(updated 2-17-2022) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reports that the lake is “pretty clear” and is low by 6 feet. Crappie are fair. They’ve slowed down a little and are moving to shallower water. Use minnows, jigs and hand-tied jigs. Catfish continue to be excellent on any kind of bait. You’ll find channels, flatheads and blues in Erling.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 536.91 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 399.33 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.45 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.12 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 2-10-2022) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) said the water is clear and the level is low. Crappie are biting fair on minnows and jigs.
(updated 2-17-2022) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said that the lake is clear and the level is normal. No temperature was recorded. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs (recently it’s been Bobby Garland Jigs in a chartreuse color). Bass are fair on jerkbaits. No reports on bream or catfish.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 2-17-2022) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 46 degrees with slightly stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Feb. 18 that extends through Thursday, Feb. 24. Anyone planning on navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to view these flow releases and plan accordingly. This schedule is posted weekly on the Entergy website for public viewing normally on Wednesday evening. The 5-foot winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine will continue until March 1. The Carpenter Dam tailrace is very dangerous to navigate at present with numerous underway obstructions now exposed. Wade fisherman and boaters alike must use extreme caution when attempting to use the area. Flow from the dam hides many of the shallow water dangers, so boating becomes increasingly more treacherous as anglers approach the dam. Extremely slick rock structure all of over the tailrace further complicates matters.
Rainbow trout are everywhere in the Carpenter Dam tailrace and thriving in the nutrient-rich waters of Lake Catherine. It is important to remember that while trout numbers are in the many thousands, the bite can be unpredictable and always subject to rapid change due to weather and lake conditions. A very good bite pattern can disappear in a matter of hours, so anglers should be aware of this potential problem and have an alternative plan of action. Bank fishermen should stick to basic patterns of live bait such as waxworms or mealworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Nightcrawlers will also work when cut into 2-inch sections presented in the same manner. PowerBait can save a fishing trip due to the fact that these presentations are designed to capitalize on a trout’s inborn instinct to feed on fish eggs. Fly-fishermen casting egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator have caught and released scores of rainbow trout in the tailrace where current is present. Micro-jigs and Woolly Buggers have taken trout over 15 inches this week, although there has been a huge influx of smaller trout. The San Juan worm in hot pink has accounted for nice catches of trout, especially when the fish are in a slower bite pattern.
White bass have been observed breaking in the early morning hours chasing threadfin shad below the bridge. Casting spinnerbaits and jigs in one-eighth-ounce weights has been the best presentation to catch these fish. Hybrid bass often school alongside white bass and can be caught on the same techniques. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current has been productive catching white bass and hybrids, as well as walleye in the 2-pound class. Walleye thrive in the tailrace as these fish prefer colder water temperatures than other area game fish.
The walleye spawn below Carpenter Dam is now underway with smaller males being caught in the 1½-pound range. Some larger females have also been taken in the 3- to 4-pound class. The best action has taken place during times of generation.
Heavy rain is expected in our area late Wednesday night through most of Thursday morning. Entergy will be generating below all area dams to control the lake levels. So caution on waterways must be used during this time.
Finally, it cannot be stressed enough that anglers will experience dramatic changes in bite patterns as cold fronts move in and out of our area. Temperatures can change as much as 30 degrees or more in less than a day. Rapid temperature change shuts down many fish species until consistent weather resumes.
The arrival of rainbow trout to Lake Catherine in November. December and January has brought life to the Carpenter Dam tailrace and kicks off the trout fishing season. Quality fishing for rainbow trout is happening and anglers need to take advantage while the bite is solid. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations. The daily possession limit for rainbow trout is five fish per person. Don’t make the mistake of attempting to keep more than the legal limit of any fish species from Arkansas waters. Always have your fishing license up-to-date and be ready to cooperate with our game officials when asked.
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 19,170 cfs. Elevation was 338.01 feet msl at noon Thursday, with the tailwater at 286.10 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.)
(updated 2-17-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood ventured over to Garland County to check out Lake Hamilton and reported that bass are good on half-ounce Rat-L-Traps.
(updated 2-10-2022) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water temps in the mid-40s throughout the lake at the surface. Water clarity is slightly off-color and hazy. Bass, especially largemouth, have been caught well deep using a white jigging spoon and fished vertically in depths of 42-55 feet. With the onset of stable cold temperatures, the fishing has normalized, and bass are back to feeding during the first part of the day, and early afternoon. When 4 p.m. rolls around its time to go home as the fish in all species simply turn off.
Bass are going to transition to crawfish imitations due to the decline in baitfish present at the depths they typically hold. Craw Drop shot patterns and craw crankbait and jigs are going to become more the staple, so keep that in mind and fish some rocky, shallower points as a fallback plan.
Crappie have been caught over brush piles in 40-55 feet and several have been caught accidentally roaming under vertical-jigging bass anglers. Many fish are roaming around looking for baitfish that are no longer present in the areas that they have been and the predators attack anything dropped in their general area for this reason. Walleye have still been very good in deep drop-off areas where they can transition from 30-60 feet quickly to intercept bait balls of skip jack. There are few areas that meet these criteria from the Highway 7 South bridge north, so if its walleye you are after, then fish the bottom end of the lake.
“Wear those life jackets, folks! The water temps can kill, and we all think we are good swimmers until we aren’t. Good luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 2-10-2022) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) has been fishing Hamilton and Lake Ouachita, and said crappie are biting well on deep structure in the channels 35-45 feet deep. Watch though, at different times of the day they may rise up and suspended 15-18 feet deep over the same deep channel structure.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.42 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Thursday morning that the lake is clear and at a normal level. Surface water temperature was a cool 42 degrees. Crappie fishing remains good, with minnows and jigs working. Black bass are active in 5-6 feet of water. The bite is good; try worms or black/blue jigs. Catfishing is fair on cut shad. Bream have not started up yet.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 570.66 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-17-2022) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are getting better. Try an Alabama rig or a PB&J jig for these fish. Walleye have started to move up the river channels to spawn. A swim jig or Shad Rap should work to find and catch these fish. Stripers are fair and should be staging to make their runs up the river channels. Live bait or trolling an Alabama rig should be the best options for catching these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are good on small jigs or minnows. Try brushpiles in the 20-40 foot depth range. No report on catfish. Ouachita’s water clarity is stained and the surface water temperature is 46-50 degrees. The lake level is 570.81 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 2-10-2022) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said crappie are biting well on deep structure in the channels 35-45 feet deep. Watch though, at different times of the day they may rise up and suspended 15-18 feet deep over the same deep channel structure.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.50 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge was slightly up from last week to 19.70 feet, more than 6 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 2-17-2022) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said crappie were found between 14-16 feet deep but were not cooperating with jigs. Minnows might fare better. With the weather pattern we are in, it is tough most days to fish the deeper water due to the wind. Water temp was 42.7 degrees. Look for that water temperature to rise with some more warm days. No report on bass, bream or catfish.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 2-17-2022) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no new reports.
(updated 2-17-2022) The lake at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) is closed November through February to serve as a waterfowl rest area, and will reopen in the spring when the water levels permit.
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