Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Nov. 15, 2017
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Nov. 15, 2017. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email AGFCfishingreport@outlook.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news.
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
The AGFC is treating alligator weed in Lake Conway using EPA-registered herbicides approved for use in aquatic systems. The AGFC strongly recommends that adjacent landowners not use lake water for irrigation of lawns or gardens through March 1, 2018. For more information please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877)-470-3309.
(updated 11-15-2017) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) had no report.
(updated 11-15-2017) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red is experiencing very low water conditions most days due to the small amounts of sporadic water release from the Greers Ferry Dam. This pattern is creating good wading conditions, but challenging boating on most sections of the river. We are in the brown trout spawning season here on the Little Red River, so our browns are moving to their spawning areas on shoals. Lowell encourages anglers not to fish for them while they are spawning and let them do their thing. If do wade in or around spawning areas, be careful where you walk and don’t walk or disturb their redds (spawning beds). Sowbugs, midges, soft hackles and wooly buggers are working well for fly anglers. Pink and white colored Trout Magnets are recommended for spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the 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 11-8-2017) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains low and clear with very little generation. These conditions make boating difficult. Small mayflies (blue-wing olives) are still hatching and this seems to be on which the trout are mainly choosing to feed. The hatch seems to be best during late morning and early afternoon. Emerger flies are doing well in the shallow water during the hatch.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 457.09 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl Oct. 1-April 30; 463.04 feet msl May 1-June 1; 462.54 feet msl June 1-Sept. 30).
(updated 11-15-2017) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level continues to fall and is 4.93 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The crappie fishing is going well in the pole timber and in and around brush piles in 15-20 feet of water on minnows and jigs as well as Road Runners fished slow. Catfishing is a steady go with the fish biting all over the lake on a lot of different baits, with a lot of blues coming in. No report on walleye. The black bass are eating off and on all day, from real shallow to 40 feet of water power fishing to finesse stuff – whatever is your choice of baits, it is working at different times at different depths. The hybrid and white bass are eating down well and are up at times a lot of people are searching and keeping them down a lot, use spoons, inline spinners, grubs, hair jigs and topwater baits, Stay around the shad.
(updated 11-8-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are starting to pick up, biting on Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone/chartreuse, gumdrop, Penny Back Shad and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish biting on minnows and worms and frozen shad. Bass are biting on buzzbait and minnows, worms, lizards, Brush Hog, Whopper Ploppler. White bass are biting on Slab Slanger, Baby Shad and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r, Cajun Spin and Silver Minnow. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper.
The AGFC is treating alligator weed in Lake Overcup using EPA-registered herbicides approved for use in aquatic systems. The AGFC strongly recommends that adjacent landowners not use lake water for irrigation of lawns or gardens through March 1, 2018. For more information please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877)-470-3309.
(updated 11-8-2017) 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 68 degrees. Bass are doing well around brush and grass with black worms and purple flukes. Bream are slow but still catching a few. Catfish are doing good on jugs, yoyos and trotlines using size 12 bass minnows and size 20 trotline minnows. Had a 40-pound flathead brought in last Friday. Crappie are doing well around docks, walkways and other structures even out in the channels, using minnows and jigs. There has been a bunch of limits come out in the last week or so.
(updated 11-15-2017) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) had no report.
(updated 11-8-2017) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said black bass are biting on shaky head jigs, warm-colored crankbaits, drop-shot, buzzbaits, wacky rig worms and spinnerbaits. Blacks are in the weeds and off the edge line. They’re shallow during dusk and dawn. Drop 12-18 feet in deep water and just below fast-moving schools of shad. Kentucky bass are good and are being caught on hair and finesse worm jigs, spoons and minnows. They can found mixed in with the black bass. White bass reports are poor. They are running in 14-20 feet of water off the channels. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep-diving Bandits and Bombers. Crappie are good. They are being caught on crappie minnows and soft plastic bodies with a weighted jighead. Lots of 11-15-inch crappie are being caught 7-12 feet and 18-22 feet depths. Fish off channel or under water bridges. Bream are slow. Bream can be found near the brush piles but moving quickly. They are being caught on crickets and live worms. Catfish are good. The catfish are being caught in 15-25 feet of water but are moving into shallower wate; use stink bait, small bream, worms and chicken livers. Reports of cats near rocks on shoreline by the weeds.
(updated 11-8-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are biting on Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Slab Slanger and minnows and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r. White bass are biting Slab Slanger, Baby Shad, Cajun Spin and Silver Minnow. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
(updated 11-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) a few reports of bream being caught off of crickets over by the bridge that goes to the other side. Some crappie being caught early in the morning off of size 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Catfish have been slow off of bait shrimp, chicken livers and bass minnows. Bass have really been hitting the top of the water over there. One customer said he threw lots of different artificial baits but nothing was working. He got some No. 12 bass minnows going back but haven’t heard back yet on his results .
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 11-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) A few small crappie have been hitting the pink crappie minnows. Catfish have been hitting on Sonny’s Super Sticky dip bait, and nightcrawlers. Bream have been hitting redworms and crickets. Bass have been hitting pink plastic worms and red shad-colored ones.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 11-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that, well, it’s that time for the walleye! Lisa says her husband caught three Sunday using brooders on a No. 2 bronze plain shank hook with a very small split shot. He said the river was still way down and, while the walleye weren’t doing as good as they usually do for him, the catfish were really biting. He also caught a smallmouth and some spotted bass. Only the walleye came home with him. One of Lisa’s customers reported doing well on catfish as well using chicken livers. A few reports of some crappie being caught off No. 6 crappie minnows.
(updated 11-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) Bass have been hitting brooder minnows. A few crappie are being caught on No. 6 crappie minnows, and Kalin’s Tennessee Shad-colored 2-inch grubs. Catfish have been doing fair on nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bream reported being caught off crickets.
(updated 11-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie have been hitting No. 6 crappie minnows as well as the No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and chicken livers. Bass are biting minnows as well. No report on bream.
Two area lakes that have been very hot for some of Lisa’s customers lately are Harris Brake Lake – very nice crappie being caught off of the No. 6 crappie minnows. And Lake Atkins – crappie and bass as well as bream being caught off of the Bobby Garland scent wigglers in the color sunrise .
(updated 11-8-2017) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said few people have been fishing the river. Most people Charley has seen out on the river are checking for ducks and scouting their duck hunting spots. Monday and Tuesday of this week, lots of geese were flying over. Catfish are going up and down the water depth. Best time for catfishing seems to be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the jetties. Use skipjack. Reports have been fair. Bass are best from noon to 5 p.m. on the jetties. Use crankbaits or slow roll a spinnerbait. The bass action has been slow. White bass are around the shad schools. Watch for shad schools going crazy. They’re also on the jetty tips. Use a CC Spoon. Reports have been fair. No reports on crappie, bream or stripers.
(updated 11-8-2017) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and surface temperature is 63 degrees as of Tuesday. Water level and current are normal. The fishing is slow. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and Zara Spooks. Anglers catching catfish were having best success from boats, and reports were fair to good.
(updated 11-8-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said bass reports have been good in the area near Murray Lock and Dam. Try using a Keitech swimbait with a ¾-ounce jighead.
(updated 11-8-2017) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said water level and current are normal. No clarity or surface water temperature was recorded. Crappie are good. Anglers report the crappie in 5-6 feet depth. They are biting jigs. Bass are fair. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms and topwater lures all were working at various times of the day. No reports on catfish, bream or white bass.
(updated 11-15-2017) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie were good on minnows and jigs. Bass ranged from poor to fair and were biting plastic worms. Catfishing was poor to fair; use worms and chicken livers. Crickets were the best bait for any bream action, but reports were poor.
(updated 11-8-2017) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said crappie are good on 10-12 feet depth. Use minnows or blue jigs. Bass are good, with best results using jerkbait. No reports on catfish. No reports on bream.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 11-15-2017) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is shallow. No surface temperature was recorded. Outside of crappie and a few bass reports, most of the fishing was poor. Crappie were good, however, biting on minnows and jigs. Bass ranged from poor to fair. Try using a plastic worm for best results. Catfishing was poor to fair, with worms and chicken livers working best. Bream reports were poor. Crickets were the best bait.
Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) will be closed until February.
(updated 11-15-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said rainbow fishing has been excellent the past week, lots of action from a few miles upriver of Cotter down to Crooked Creek. Florescent orange or bright yellow baits, especially under overcast skies, worked well. Shrimp and crawdad tails added to the size of the rainbows; otherwise the trout were average size or smaller. Standard zebra midges attracted some attention and flashy brown Woolly Bugger called several rainbows to the boat. Leave your streamers at home. Keep angling and we’ll see you on the river.
(updated 11-8-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level is normal, with two generators running. Fishing was good. Rainbows were biting PowerBait, Rooster Tails and pink worms.
(updated 11-15-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they had just a trace of rain in Cotter, cool temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.8 feet to rest at 5.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water with light generation. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite is a size 10 Y2K with a size 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-8-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says said last weekend that the lake was at 655 feet msl, the water temperatures were about 64 degrees. By afternoon you can still find 68 degrees depending on where you’re at in the lake. It appears like the lake is through turning over. Del talked with some scuba divers who said that everything has evened out. The shad are moving, most of the bait has moved into the creeks. If you’re fishing the main lake, guys are still bottom-bouncing for walleyes, trolling a little bit, and chasing the perch in the main lake points and secondary points, 28-34 feet is what he has been told. As far as bass fishing, they had a major cold front come through last week and Frirday it was back to 80 degrees. Del had a fishing trip Friday morning and caught a lot of fish, he said. It was windy, you get in the wind and just keep the trolling motor down and keep moving. If it’s windy like Friday, you wanted to be in the wind. If you got out of the wind, the bite was gone. So wind is really key this time of year. As far as the baits that have been working, Del says he’s covering a lot of water and starting to pick up a few fish on the wiggle wart. The spinnerbait is working. With the spinnerbait, you want to have a little bit of muddy water and wind. Also, the squarebill has worked. Del has been fishing relatively shallow, the deepest he’s been fishing is 10 feet, he said. There is a little bit of deep bite setting up that seems to be on the secondary points, in the creeks that have the long points that go way out. Those points that have brush on them and 28-32 feet of water, you’re going to see fish and you’ll catch them. You can use a shad-style bait, a Roboworm, things like that. They secondary pattern Del is running, he said, is he’s going into these creeks and is fishing the channel swings, the deeper, 45-degree banks with the big, nasty rocks. Not so much the bluffs straight up and down, but those bigger-than-football-size rocks. Those areas seem to be holding fish. If you fish that pattern in the main lake or close to the main lake, you will pick up some smallmouth bass. As you move into the creeks, it will be more largemouth. As the day warms up, you can get in the back of the flats and throw a squarebill around. Keep the topwater baits tied on. The Whopper Plopper bite has slowed down. That’s been sporadic. Del said he expects that to come back a little bit, especially if the lake gets back into having 70 degree air temperatures this week. If you do get in the back and hit the channels swings, you can catch fish on a beaver-style bait or a jig. Del said he prefers the skirted jig if the water is dirtier. It’s a bigger profile bait and will get you a little bigger fish. Del believes the fish up the lake are in a little better pattern than they are on the south end. The biggest thing this time of year, he said, is just to keep moving, keep the trolling motor down and don’t be afraid to turn your hat around.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.58 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-15-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says stripers on Norfork Lake are now feeding during the day on flats in the 30-foot range. There are large schools of shad roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. Tom pre-fished Thursday and Friday near Reynolds Island in Big Creek and found stripers feeding mid-morning. The first day he fished in waters that were 40-50 feet deep and caught multiple stripers and hybrids. The next day he went back and could not find any fish there. He fished the area until 10:30 and then decided to move up on the flat near 1C and found lots of bait. His group started catching stripers after 11 a.m. and had two limits in 45 minutes. Tom said he thought he had it figured out, so on Saturday he started out at 7 a.m. on the flat and did not have a bite until noon and then they only caught 3 stripers by 1:30 p.m. What he learned, Tom said, was the stripers were feeding later in the day and each day the bite started about a hour later. Saturday his group started fishing at 10 a.m. and broke off one right away, then had to wait until almost noon to catch another. The bite picked up and they caught our limit by 2 p.m. and broke off another and loss one at the boat. The 1C area in Big Creek is good, but wait until the sun is up and start fishing there after lunch. The other hot spots are Cranfield Island flat, the flat by Blue Lady and the Fouts area. In those areas the bite is during the morning. Stripers. whites and a few walleye are being caught on spoons and shad. Two other areas to look are the Twin Coves and Red Bank flats.
Modern gun deer season is now open. This coming Saturday, duck season opens. So November is the best month for the Arkansas sports person. If you do not have a place to deer or duck hunt give STR Outfitters a call. They offer guided deer, duck and pheasant hunting trips.
(updated 11-8-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been fun for many of their guests over the last week. Whether fish are big or small, it is always fun to be out on the lake and reel in a fish. Fall has arrived with its varying weather patterns, which seem to change daily, 80s one day and the next in the 40s and 60s. It seems that the cooler the weather, the better the fish bite. Over the last week Lou says he has seen a big change in the location and the size of the fish. The bigger fish are starting to move in. Striped bass fishing has been mediocre for the last several days, but Tuesday most of the resort guests caught a few hybrids and/or stripers. This may be the sign that the stripers are finally coming out of their deeper habitat and are wanting to feed. At the beginning of last week Lou saw the bait migrate back into the creeks. Lou found large schools of striped bass and hybrid bass back in Float Creek as well as back in Bennetts Bayou. The massive amount of bait has since moved out of Float and are back on the flats. The main lake flats are typical locations for stripers at this time of year. If you are looking on one of the flats, concentrate your efforts in 30-50 feet of water. This is not to say the striped bass will not be up in 20 feet or less of water feeding at night or very early in the morning. The bite for Lou’s group of guests has started after sunrise and starts to slow by late morning. Vertical-jigging a spoon has been the bait of choice for most. Once the fish are found, a blade-type bait such as a Kastmaster has been working well. Swimbaits with at least a 1/2-ounce jighead on it to help it sink should also produce some nice fish. Casting out an Alabama rig produced some nice hybrids and white bass for one of Lou’s guests last weekend.
Lou says white bass have been really plentiful this year. There are mixed sizes of fish in the schools, from 8 inches long up to the monster 14-plus-inch fish. This species can be found on the same flats as the stripers. You will find school after school of whites, then all of a sudden the stripers and hybrids will show up. Over the last week it has been possible to catch 50-60 fish of all sizes in a very short period of time which is a blast. I have been vertical jigging a 3/4-ounce spoon for all species. Also, crappie fishing is still good. They are on the top of and inside of brush piles in 25-40 feet of water. Artificial baits are working well, but live minnows are working the best for the biggest numbers of fish. Catfish are being caught on jugs using nightcrawlers and live threadfin shad. Some good sized fish are being caught. Walleye can be found on the same flats as the stripers and the whites; in fact, you have a great chance of catching all species in the lake fishing the flats once you find the bait and energetic and hungry fish. Lou had a guest walleye fishing over the weekend and he had good success casting a Flicker Shad to the shoreline on the shallower banks. Most of his fish bit when his bait was to about 15-20 feet deep. He also caught a few on jerkbaits close to shore in the late afternoon. This may be the start of the night bite for walleye and possibly striped bass.
Lou adds that bass fishing has been good and they are being found in all the different types of locations. Lou has found large schools of largemouth bass and spots feeding on the flats in 28-33 feet of water. They are also being caught along the deep bluff lines hugging the rocks in 15-25 feet of water. Head back into the backs of creeks in the shallow water – as long as the bait is in the area, the bass will be feeding. A few afternoons ago one of the resort’s bass fishing guests got into some nice topwater action for big largemouth bass. They had a blast for about 45 minutes casting topwater baits. For the afternoon bass fisherman, check out the shadow side of docks; there has been some really nice sized fish caught under Lou’s dock, he said. The lake level is holding fairly stable with minimal power generation and currently sits at 552.96 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature has been fairly constant for the last couple of days at around 65 degrees. Lou expects to see this water temperature drop over the next couple of day with the cool nights in the forecast. The overall lake is starting to clear, but you will still see a slight stain in the creeks, as well as parts of the main lake.
The Bassmaster Team Championship will be held on Norfork Lake the beginning of December. It will be exciting to see how these expert fishermen attack the late fall/early winter bass fishery. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort still has some cabins available for the tournament, so give them a call at 870-492-5113.
(updated 11-15-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had light generation and significant wadable water. The water is stained and the lake is turning over resulting in low dissolved oxygen. It has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during spring flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small 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 size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worm with a pheasant tail dropper (size 10).
Dry Run Creek is stained but still fishing well. The brown trout have moved in for the spawn. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).
John adds, “When I say Norfork, I am referring to the Norfork Dam tailwater. Technically it is the North Fork of the White River. The 4 1/2 miles of river from Norfork Dam to its confluence with the White River (the tailwater of Bull Shoals Dam) is the Norfork tailwater. It is our true blue ribbon trout stream. Let us not forget that it produced a world-record brown trout several years ago (38 pounds, 7 ounces).
“It is my absolute favorite stream. I first fished it about 35 years ago and it was love at first sight. I generally fish it as often as I can. While I say that I fish the White River to catch large numbers of trout, I fish the Norfork to catch larger trout. Every time I fish the Norfork I expect to land a trophy. Early this year it was fishing very well. Then a catastrophe occurred. This April, we had a 100-year rain on the North Fork of the White. The stream was ravaged. The flooding and the damage were intense. Tons of sediment and organic matter were washed into Norfork Lake. The debris field on the lake was huge and took months to clear. The high lake levels required all of the flood gates at Norfork to be opened, resulting in severe flooding on the Norfork tailwater. Several docks were washed away and the river was scoured.
“The Norfork was greatly changed. There was heavy gravel recruitment where there had been deep bedrock runs. There are now deep bedrock runs where there used to be a gravel bottom. There was severe erosion at numerous locations along the river. Several spots that were famous fishing locations were unrecognizable. The standard joke was, why should you hire a guide, they don’t know any more than you do.
“Now over seven months after the flood the water is still severely stained from all of the silt that was washed into the river. This is worse than when we had the debacle of Norfork Overlook Estates, where a developer scalped the side of a mountain allowing the siltation of the Norfork on a monumental level. Just like that incident, this will be around for a long time.
“To make matters worse, all of the organic matter that was washed into the lake has been breaking down and consuming oxygen in the process. This is commonly referred to as a lake turnover. As a result, you can detect a strong smell of sulfur on the upper river near the dam. It also caused low levels of dissolved oxygen, which has a disastrous effect on the trout.
“My wife, Lori, and I have fished it a few times here of late with poor results. First of all we had a lot of trouble wading. The river was so stained that we could not see the bottom and therefore we were not sure of our footing. This was made worse by the fact that the streambed was so changed from what we had become accustomed to. We hardly recognized it. Then with the low oxygen the bite was slow. We caught very few trout and we both considered the day a total bust. We were both glad that we were not guiding.
“There is not much we can do about the situation. Mother Nature is a powerful adversary, and this situation will not clear up until we have some major rain to flush the lake and river to remove the sediment and clear everything up.”
(updated 11-15-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the warmer weather the smallmouths are more active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,118.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 11-8-2017) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water clarity is dirty. The level is normal for November. No temperature was reported. Crappie are fair, with the fish around brush piles. Use jigs. Bass are fair. The fish are shallow with a few scattering deep. Spinnerbaits and topwater lures are getting the best reactions. Catfish reports were poor. No reports on bream.
(updated 11-15-2017) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says that water surface temperature is in the high 50s to lower 60s. Check out th ese hot spots on Beaver Lake from the past week, and make sure to check the main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects: Big Clifty, Point 5, Point 6, Rambo Creek Arm, Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow and, in the upper section, the Highway 12 bridge, Prairie Creek, Coose Hollow, Blackburn Creek, Beaver Shores, Escapalia Hollow/Falls Hollow, Horseshoe Bend, Mont Ne, Hickory Creek, War Eagle and the War Eagle/White River Junction.
Mike Bailey says that it’s still topwater time, as was mentioned in last week’s report. Stripers are on the feed and most fish are on the move toward fall areas, and your best bet is to cover lots of water, paying close attention to what Mike terms “high percentage spots.” These are typically points, humps, pockets or tree lines where stripers can corner bait. Some stripers can be caught fishing the open water or channcel areas near high percentage spots as well. Mike says they also have been seeing some fish surfacing, so have your spoons, jigs or topwater plugs handing in order to capitalize on a quick rush when they pin bait to the surface. Fish free lines, balloons and downlines between 10 feet deep to about 40 feet deep in order to ensure you have a good spread. Also, try trolling umbrella rigs with white or chartreuse jigs/grubs or plugs like Rapala No. 14 husky jerks in black back or purple back colors, as well as 5- or 6-inch Smithwich Rogues in similar colors on downriggers or snap weights and planer boards to get some depth and stagger your presentation. Make sure you do not keep stripers under 20 inches and not more than three stripers or hybrids or combination of the two. Walleye must be 18 inches long with a limit of four. Fish location is greatly influenced by lake level and current flow. Current on the lake from generation will generally position fish on the upstream or downstream edges of structure, so check the daily lake level and flow data link on Bailey’s website linked above. Remember: Use live bait on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers.
Walleye remain in their fall migration and can be found in 20-30 feet depth of w ater depending on areas fished. Use three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Also give a try to Rapala Tail Dancers, Bagley Rumble B’s, Flicker Shad, Bandit 300 Series and Arkie 350s in colors that include orange and chartreuse. Slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse also regularly work here. Bink Pro Scale 1-ounce jigging spoons in white or white/chartreuse combination and a variety of jigs are also producing walleye.
(updated 11-15-2017) Beaver Dam Store said the water was on for four hours below Beaver Dam Friday morning. Fish were stocked Wednesday. Looked like they stocked some nice ones this time. Fly-fisherman are reporting numbers of fish being caught. Anglers in boats are catching their limits while drifting with PowerBait and waxworm combos. There have been some walleye caught using nightcrawlers. Nightcrawlers are also working well for catching trout. Fish the Bertrand and the launching ramp just below the dam using PowerBait. Also, try fishing the Parker Bottoms area. When water is flowing, throw quarter-ounce spoons. Flicker Shad are also doing the job.
(updated 11-8-2017) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says the trout bite has been really good this week. The preferred method is light terminal tackle with various power baits. Quarter-ounce spoons have also done the trick as well. Most bites have been between U.S. Highway 62 bridge and Spider Creek. A few walleye have been caught between Beaver Town and Holiday Island using a bottom-bouncing rig with various hard and soft baits. With the overcast days, a few browns should be able to be caught. Austin suggests throwing throwing spoons and blue fox “and that should be a good start.”
War Eagle Creek
(updated 11-1-2017) Loy Lewis of War Eagle Creek Outfitting (479-530-3262) said smallmouth bass fishing is going well between Smallmouth Rapids Access and War Eagle Mills area. Floating past rapid stretches and wade-fishing back upstream will offer some good fishing. Also, the beginning and end side of pools have smallmouth bass actively chasing minnows. Good baits are live minnows and crawdads as well as crankbaits, spoons and watermelon-colored soft plastics.
(updated 11-8-2017) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is clear but it is low about 10 inches below normal level. Surface water temperature earlier this week was 55 degrees. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Bass are good, with best response on plastic worms. Catfishing is good. Use live bait or chicken livers. No report on bream.
(updated 11-8-2017) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the water is clear, and Tuesday’s surface temperature was 56 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream activity ranged from poor to fair. Crappie reacted similarly, with anglers reporting poor to fair results. No reports on bass. No reports on catfish.
(updated 11-8-2017) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water clarity is clear and the surface water temperature is 59-60 degrees. Bass are excellent on flukes. Crappie are good on minnows. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 11-8-2017) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 266 cfs at the spring (350 avg.) and water clarity has been clear. The river has been very low and clear. With the river being lower the trout have been going after a little more technical flies. Mark is using smaller nymphs and droppers. Fishing a Y2K below an indicator with a small nymph below will produce trout on the tough days. On an overcast day, stripping Woollies and big nymphs can work great. No sink tip needed. Hot pink trout magnets continue to produce when the trout don’t bite. Get them down to the bottom and be ready for a strike.
(updated 11-15-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is over and there are few boats on the river. 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 11-8-2017) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water is clear and at a normal level. Anglers had a slow, poor week for all species.
(updated 11-15-2017) Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said crappie peak is still in full swing at Cane Creek State Park. Small sized rosy red minnows are the most popular bait at the moment. These are follows by shiners and Electric Chicken colored jigs. Bass are still reacting to anything that resembles a shad or other small bait fish. Both are in shallower water near structure, although bass will move into open water following schools of shad. The best fishing seems to be going on early in the morning, before noon.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will open a special commercial fishing season on Lake Chicot to target Asian carp from Nov. 1-Dec. 31. Chicot normally is off limits to commercial harvest. Commercial anglers will be allowed to keep any commercial fish other than alligator gar during the season, and all Asian carp caught must be removed from the lake. The 16-inch minimum length regulation on buffalo is removed during the season as well. Commercial anglers should contact the Monticello Regional Office at 877-367-3559 to obtain a free permit to participate in the special season.
(updated 11-8-2017) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said most anglers have reported fair luck with catfish, especially on limblines and noodles. The crappie haven’t been biting too well. A group that was bowfishing last weekend said they had great luck.
(updated 11-1-2017) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello said the lake’s clarity is fair and surface temperature Monday was the mid- to low 60s. Water level is low. The lake has been in a partial drawdown for the last several weeks. Nice-size crappie are being caught, and reports are good from the deepest areas of the lake. Use jigs. You can find fish about 20-30 feet deep. Bass reports have been poor. Anglers are using spinnerbaits or plastic worms for any success. No reports on bream. No reports on catfish. No reports on white bass.
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 258.13 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 11-15-2017) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level Monday was 12 inches below conservation pool and s drlowly rising at 258.1 feet msl; drawdown has ended and lake pool is slowly coming back to normal conservation pool. There is current of 175 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday is about 224.7 feet msl. Water temps dropped over the past week, and on Monday the surface temps ranged near 58 degrees early to 64 later under full sun. Clarity and visibility continues improving, depending on location, for the main lake and Little River. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 8-10 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 8-12 inches with moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity currently ranges 12-18 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can changeamatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms.
Mike says the largemouth’s appetite continues to be excellent on Millwood! Fish are schooling lakewide in almost any area you choose. Catches of 30-50 per day of largemouths and Kentuckies (spotted bass) have been common over the past few weeks. The bass are schooling on flats in the lily pads and in Little River chasing huge shad schools. These bass remain excellent almost all day from 2-3 pounds on topwaters, Rat-L-Traps, Bass Assassin Shads, Stuttersteps and squarebill cranks near creek channels, flats, with vegetation and lily pads. Best color of Rat-L-Traps and squarebill crankbaits are almost any shad pattern or Millwood Magic, chrome/black or Ghost Shad, in the creek channels or where they dump in to the river. Bass Assassin Shads continue working well and best reaction Mike and crew have had remain on the Grey Ghost, and Salt and Pepper Silver Phantom colors. After the topwater excitement slows, a shallow squarebill and Rat-L-Trap will get bit in cuts, ditches, and around the schooling fish in creek channels and lily pad stands. Best colors for squarebills and Rat-L-Traps over the past couple weeks are the shad imitations like Millwood Magic, Ghost Shad, Pro Gold (cloudy days) and Ghost Minnow (clear water/sunny days). The deep- and medium-diving crankbaits like the Bomber Fat Free Shads, Fat Free Fry or Fat Free Guppies are still working from 5-10 feet deep in creek channels and across primary points along Little River with the best colors over the past couple weeks drawing best reactions are the Citrus Shad, White Pearl, Threadfin Shad and Citruse. The Rat-L-Trap 1.75 Echo squarebill crankbaits continue working in creek channel swings (outer bends and deflecting off stumps) and where creek mouths and sloughs feed and dump into the oxbows, and the best colors over the past few days have been the Ghost Minnow or Millwood Magic in the better water clarity away from remaining current. War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working in and around vegetation and cypress trees, best on windy mornings and colors drawing best reactions over the past week being Mouse or Hot Mouse, Spot Remover, or Chartreuse and Firecracker/chartreuse.
Mike adds that white bass and hybrids are continuing their schooling activities with the largemouth and Kentucky bass as well. Clear Baby Torpedoes, Cordell Crazy Shads in chrome/black, Stuttersteps, Little Georges, Rocket Shads, Rooster Tails and Rat-L-Traps in black-chrome or Millwood Magic are still working. Crappie continue improving and are best near standing timber out of any remaining current, and backs of the oxbows from 6-12 feet deep on vertical-jigging Cordell smoke-colored paddle tail grubs, and minnows. Cats continue biting well on trotlines set along Little River from 12-14 feet deep using Punchbait or chicken livers. Yo-yos using shiners and cut bait are catching some nice cats in the oxbows underneath cypress tree limbs from 8-10 feet deep.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 536.29 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-15-2017) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said lake level was steady and is about 11 feet below normal pool. Water is clear in most parts of the lake with the upper part of the lake having some color. Water temperature is 62-65 degrees. Bass are biting well using a variety of techniques. Crankbaits are working well in the 8-10 feet range around rocky points and drops. Some can also be caught on flats chasing shad. Schooling activity has slowed down but some bass can still be caught using Super Spook Jrs., Booyah One Knockers, Cotton Cordell Spots, and smaller swimbaits around main lake points. Several fish can be caught using a shakey head or drop-shot on points as well in green pumpkin or watermelon colors. Crappie are good and can be caught in and around brush in the 15-20 foot depth range using Kalin’s Grubs or minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 397.17 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-15-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the crappie are still biting 8-12 feet deep. However, because the water temperature is still in the mid-60s, don’t avoid crappie stalking in the shallow water.
(updated 11-15-2017) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 60s and the lake is clear throughout. Once again, not many people are fishing, it looks like most everyone is chasing deer, consequently not many reports. Bass fishing is fair with only a few fish reported, most coming from the upper end between Caddo Drive and Cox Creek. Best pattern is to cover lots of water because the fish are scattered. Try medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless, fished across main lake points. Use natural shad in clear water and something with chartreuse in stained water. Also try Texas rigged 6-inch worms in the same spots. Use green pumpkin or red shad. Quite a few Kentucky bass in the Shouse Ford/Point Cedar areas. Try Texas rigged finesse worms along the bluff banks. Crappie fishing is fair and would be better if the water were higher. Most of the best attractors are now too shallow to attract cold water fish. Try to find an attractor in 18-20 feet and drop a 2-inch Kalin’s Grub in Tennessee Shad or black chartreuse on a 1/16-ounce jighead to about 15 feet or to the top of the cover. If the attractor is shallower, throw the lure over the brush and slow-roll it back with a steady retrieve. Look for fish in the upper end between Point 15 and Point Cedar. Hybrid fishing is slow with very little schooling activity. Best bet is to troll the small umbrella loaded with 4-inch swimbaits to cover a lot of water. Try the area between Edgewood and Alpine Ridge. Early morning is the best time, until winter when the best fishing is during the warmest part of the day.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 436.87 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 524.45 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-8-2017) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass are still biting. Crappie are starting to bite in the back lakes. No report on bream or catfish. Water level is back to normal at 65 feet.
(updated 11-8-2017) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) said some good crappie are being caught. No report on bass, catfish or bream.
(updated 11-1-2017) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is clear and surface water temperature is 60 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are fair on worms and stink bait. No report on white bass.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 11-8-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said catfish are biting on minnows and worms. Bream are biting well on crickets and worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 11-15-2017) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports water temperature below the dam is holding at 56 degrees due to the cold nights of the last week. Entergy has completed the winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine at 3 feet. These levels will remain in place until early March when the refill is scheduled to begin. Much safer conditions will exist in the Carpenter Dam tailrace this year with a 3-foot drawdown as opposed to the 5-foot draw of the past two years. This area is shallow at normal summertime pool and becomes treacherous when the current is running over exposed rock and sandbars. November marks the beginning of the fall rainbow trout stocking. Trout will be in the tailrace the week of Thanksgiving with sizes perfect for fishing and great tasting tablefare. Presently, white bass continue to be caught by the bridge and close to the dam on live minnows tight-lined over deep water. These fish roam in and out of the area chasing shad and are caught year round when few gamefish are present in the tailrace during the summer months. During times of generation, jerkbaits in a black/silver pattern are effective over sandsbars and exposed rock structure. Some striper activity has been observed in the early morning and late evening below the bridge. Little fishing has taken place in the last week; however, these fish can be caught on live shad presented under a balloon. C-10 Redfins and Super Spooks in white will draw vicious strikes from feeding stripers. A few walleye have been taken by anglers trolling shallow running crankbaits close to shore in the morning before daylight. Sizes range from 1½ pounds all the way to 5 pounds. Numbers are few, but will increase as the new year begins. Good fishing is on the horizon with the coming of rainbow trout. Trout bring the tailrace to life. Anyone navigating the area must always wear a lifejacket and observe all park and boating regulations.
(updated 11-15-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the crappie are still biting 8-12 feet deep. However, because the water temperature is still in the mid-60s, don’t avoid crappie stalking in the shallow water.
(updated 11-15-2017) Greeson Marine in Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas bred and built, all-weld Xpress fishing boats, reported that lake pool level has dropped for the yearly dock maintenance, exposing areas that haven’t been seen in a year (including the sunken crappie pile tops). Bass are biting fair to good on crawdad and pumpkinseed-colored jigs and finesse worms in 15-25 feet of water, for the most part. Look for rocky buildups of main lake points and secondary drop-offs. Crawfish expose themselves in low light conditions, so look for the most aggressive times in the morning or evening. Spoons and lipless crankbaits in chrome and shad are also producing large numbers of spotted bass when vertical-jigged over the tops of structure and brush piles off the main channels. Pitching pumpkinseed, shad colored and watermelon tubes this time of year have also been known to produce and they are one of our favorite setups because the versatility of the ways water can be covered all with in this one bait, plus the ability to pitch under docks adjacent to deeper water. Dance to your own tune out there and always remember to work whatever is comfortable to you, especially in the cold days ahead.
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 341.63 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-8-2017) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said most of the anglers seemed to be hunting these days. The clarity of the lake is good and the surface water temperature ranged 58-60 degrees earlier in the week. Water level is normal. Crappie are good. Bass are fair. Bass are fair. Anglers were using topwater baits and plastic worms. Catfish reports were poor. No reports on bream.
(updated 11-8-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) says crappie are starting to pick up on Bobby Garland Baby Shad in such colors as Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone, Gumdrop, Penny Back Baby Shad Slab Slay’r and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows, worms and frozen shad. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 567.75 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-8-2017) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are still good! Try a drop-shot with a finesse worm for a mess of Kentucky bass. Walleye are still fair and being caught on spoons near main lake humps and points near brush. Stripers are fair on live bait. The central part of the lake is still the best area for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are good and being caught on minnows in 20-30 feet of water near structure. Catfish are still fair on live bait and stink bait with trotlines or jugs. Try depths of 20-30 feet. Water temperature is ranging 60-66 degrees. The clarity is clear. Call the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm (501-622-7717), Chris Darby (870-867-7822) or Jerry Bean (501-282-6104) – for more information.
(updated 11-8-2017) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that the lake needs some rain, not the heavy mist of late. Ouachita needs something that will saturate the ground and run off into the water. This is the reason why: Shad migrate during the fall. They are looking for freshwater intake. If you go into a dead creek with no water coming in, those shad are not going to use that back end of that creek as much as they would if fresh water was coming in. The second thing is, these lakes (Ouachita, DeGray, Greeson) are gin clear. You can literally drop a quarter and in 15 feet call heads or tails. That’s not conducive to catching a bunch of fish in a creek. They’re just too spooky. They see you before you can get close enough to throw into the back of a creek. A little color in the water definitely will help. You can catch some fish cranking in the timber, and the reason why is that the back of those creeks is dead. You’ve got to be out from the very tail of the creek to more the middle of the creek to the mouth to catch better quality fish. Heard some decent crappie reports, but they are deep. We’re talking fish that are 15 feet deep and everybody’s wanting it to be more shallow. That’s why we need fresh water.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 383.46 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
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