Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Dec. 13, 2017
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Dec. 13, 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.
(update 12-13-2017) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the water is clear and the surface water is cold. Level is normal. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie fishing has tailed off. The reports this week were poor. Try minnows or jigs for best results. No reports on bass. Catfishing is fair.
(update 12-13-2017) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Little Red continues to experience low water conditions most days due to the small amounts of water release from the Greers Ferry Dam. This pattern is creating good wading conditions. They are in the brown trout spawning season here on the Little Red River, so their browns are moving to their spawning areas on shoals. If you do wade in or pull a boat through the spawning areas, be careful where you walk and don’t walk or disturb the redds (spawning beds). Sowbugs, midges, soft hackles and Woolly 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 Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(update 12-13-2017) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said 1-2 hours of generation in the morning seems to be the rule since colder weather has arrived. There is also an occasional early evening generation for a couple of hours. The river remains clear, and the bite has been fair to good by staying ahead of the generation or behind the generation on the upper river after the morning flow has passed. The brown spawn is continuing and redds are on most of the shoals so please use care in wading as to not disturb the eggs. Greg says, “Watch in the upcoming weeks for information on the free fly-fishing class that I offers in Heber Springs. The class meets once a week in the evening for four weeks the last two weeks of February and first two weeks in March. Hope you can plan on attending. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 456.05feet 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).
(update 12-13-2017) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry on Tuesday was at 456.09 feet msl. That is 5.95 feet below normal pool of 462.04 for this time of year. As we move closer to the new year all species will be slipping into deeper water. The crappie fishing will continue to be good until it gets super-cold. Try a jig or minnow, or try slow-rolling a Road Runner in 15-25 feet of water over brush piles or in the standing pole timber. The walleye are moving toward spawning sites. The lake walleye are hanging around under hybrids and whites eating leftover and the rest of the lake fish are kind of roaming on the flats looking for easy prey. Try dragging around a minnow on a jighead or fishing around some deep docks for the lake fish, or slow-trolling big crankbaits for the moving fish. The black bass are all over the place eating shallow and deep. Topwater, spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, jigs, small crankbaits are good in shallow areas. Out deeper try C-rigs and football heads for the best bite out to 40 feet, as well as using a drop-shot. The hybrids and white bass are eating it up on structure and some schooling is going on at various places all around the lake. Use spoons, inline spinners, hair jigs and swimbaits out to 40-45 feet of water. No report on catfish. No report on bream.
(update 12-13-2017) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) had no report.
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.
(update 12-13-2017) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(update 12-13-2017) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake is about 4½ inches below normal. Water is clear and the surface temperature is 54 degrees. Crappie are fair. Try the brush piles with minnows. Bass are good on jigs. No other reports.
(update 11-29-2017) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said crappie are good. Crappie are deep, about 25 feet. They are around the main channel. Bass are good anywhere. You can catch them in 7 feet and some are 25 feet, depending on where you area. Anglers are using plastic worms, lizards, anything you can fish slow. White bass are fair. Bream are slow.
(update 12-13-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few catfish been hitting brooder minnows , bass minnows and chicken livers. A few fair-size crappie have been hitting on pink crappie minnows and also on Kalin’s 2-inch grubs in Tennessee Shad color around the bridge, early in the mornings or 30 minutes right before dark. Bass having been hitting topwater baits and brooder and bass minnows . A few bream have been caught on crickets.
Bishop Park Ponds
(update 12-13-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish were caught on nightcrawlers and Sony’s Sticky Dip Bait with blood added. A few small crappie were caught on pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows. Bream were biting red worms and crickets. Bass were caught on minnows and red shad plastic worms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(update 12-13-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said we really need some rain; the river is very low. But the catfish at the spillway are doing pretty well on brooder minnows on rod and reel. On out in Tull on the river, Lisa said she had an angler do pretty well on the walleye using brooder minnows on the rod and reel as well. Bass too have been doing well on brooder minnows and also 4-inch lizards in the green pumpkin and watermelon candy colors. A few crappie been caught on No. 6 crappie minnows. No reports on bream.
Lisa said some other hotspots were reported by a few of her customers brave enough to withstand the cold weather. Harris Brake has proved to do very well on big crappie with No. 4 crappie minnows . Lake Maumelle has also done well on big crappie off of the Bobby Garland 2-inch Slab Slayers in Mo Glo Ghost color. At Fourche Creek, crappie have been doing well on 2-inch blue/silver Kalin’s Grub on a 1/8-ounce jighead with weed guards. Crappie are loving those pink crappie minnows over at Lake Ouachita. And they just heard Sundaymorning that several anglers have been doing well on the walleye on Ouachita using CC Spoons.
(update 12-13-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said come crappie have been caught on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Catfish have been biting on nightcrawlers, chicken livers and cut bait. Bream were caught on crickets and redworms. Bass have been hitting on minnows and spinnerbaits and buzzbaits in white/chartreuse and pink shad .
(update 12-13-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) says
(update 12-13-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie are doing fair on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows , and Kalin’s 2-inch grubs in the blue/silver color. Catfish on bait shrimp and Sonny Sticky Dip Bait. Bass are biting on No. 12 bass minnows. No bream reports.
(update 11-29-2017) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said few fishermen are using the river. Changing weather conditions have kept fish from getting a good fishing pattern. Bass are active in the late afternoon. Fish the underwater jetties around 4 feet and 8 feet. Use crankbaits and spinners. Use worms early around wood. Reports have been fair. Catfish are moving to deep holes. Use skipjack fillets. Reports are fair. When you find shad schools in deeper water, use a CC Spoon vertical-jigging. This is good for white bass and Kentucky bass. Reports have been fair.
(update 12-13-2017) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the surface water temperature is 49 degrees. Water level and current are normal. Crappie are good on minnows on jigs. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
(update 12-13-2017) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie is doing really well in 5-6 feet of water of the main river off the riprap. White/chartreuse Slab Buster jigs are the way to go. They were catching a few stripers below the dams on yellow bucktail jigs. Bream are fair. Not much is happening on bass right now. Catfish are fair on skipjack below the dams.
(update 12-13-2017) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the clarity is clear and the water level is low. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie reports are poor. The fish that were caught were biting minnows or jigs. No reports on bream. Bass are fair. Use spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs and Rat-L-Traps. No reports on catfish.
(update 12-13-2017) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said water is clear and the water level is low. Crappie are good on minnows and jibs. Catfishing is good; they are biting on skipjack. No reports on bass. Bream reports were poor.
(update 12-13-2017) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is clear and the level and current are normal. Crappie reports were good. Crappie are in 5-6 feet of water and are biting jigs as well as Fin Spin jigheads and Slab curly jigs. Overall, fishing is slow but some catches are coming in. No reports on bream, bass, catfish or white bass.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(update 12-13-2017) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said water is low and clear. Crappie are good. Use minnows and jigs. Bream reports were poor. No reports on bass. Catfishing is good. Use skipjack.
Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) will be closed until February.
(update 12-6-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said that while many are turning their thoughts and energy toward Christmas (and rightly so) and hunkering down for the colder months, the folks there are still finding plenty of rainbows and browns willing to leave the comfort of their favorite hidey-holes to meet you where you’re at – but you have to be somewhere on the river. The water level below Bull Shoals Dam down past Cotter and beyond is very low, at minimum flow or below, so find some attractive bait to lure the trout out. Flashy gold Cleos should work well in this water, as well as the silver-blue hammered spoons. Fish for a sculpin to put on your hook for brown trout bait, although keep in mind it’s spawning season and many browns will be ignoring your bait unless it’s especially pesky. Kids will be looking for Christmas vacation adventures. PowerBait and shrimp are reliable baits to help them catch a few rainbows. The weatherman promises very mild daytime temperatures for the next week, so pick up your rod and reel, get outside, and come join us on the river.
(update 12-13-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said there was no activity to report on.
(update 12-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week, that had just a trace or rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 feet to rest at 5.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.5 feet to rest at 1.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.7 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had significant wadable water with little or no generation. The hot spot shifted to Buffalo 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 sizSiee 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John added, “This morning when I got up and began loading my river boat, I noticed that there was a really heavy frost on my windshield. It took several minutes to scrape it all off. It was well below freezing and my hands were frozen stiff before I finished. For my day of fishing, it was definitely a cold start. As I was drifting, I thought that this day would probably be better suited to tying flies rather than fishing. Don’t get me wrong: I love fishing in the winter, but sometimes it is very rewarding to be tying flies in front of a roaring fire.
“While we all need to restock our fly boxes after a long busy season, the Sowbug Roundup is coming up on March 22-24 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. This is a fly-tying show and the premier fly-fishing related show in the area. An integral part of the Sowbug Roundup is the fly-tying contest, and I am the chairman.
“I really enjoy doing it. I invite each of you to enter the contest. There are 10 categories: nymph, dry fly, wet fly, streamer, smallmouth bass, bass, warm water, salmon/steelhead, salt water and tenkara. In addition, there is a best in show. The winners of each category and the best in show will receive a plaque (the perfect thing to hang over your tying desk). The real prize is the bragging rights for winning.
“Rules have been kept to a minimum. The entrant must tie the fly submitted for judging. Each entry must include the name, address, phone number and email address along with two flies for each pattern submitted (they must be exactly the same size, color, etc.). You need to include the recipe for the fly, instructions on how to fish it and the category you wish to have it judged in. You may submit as many patterns for as many categories as you want. You can win a maximum of three categories (best in show is considered a category). All flies submitted will become the property of the contest and will not be returned. Any fly that contains insect parts (legs, wings, etc.) will be eliminated from competition. Commercially tied patterns will not be accepted. The decision of the judges is final. Committee members and judges are not eligible to participate in the contest.
To participate, all you have to do is send your flies, recipes and fishing instructions to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, AR 72626 by Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2018. The winners will be announced on Friday, March 23, 2018, at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig, which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church beginning at 6 p.m. This event has become the top fly-fishing social event of the year. I hope that all of the fly-tyers out there will enter the contest. In the past, we have had some great entries and we expect nothing less this year.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 550.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(update 12-13-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good, but different from prior fall seasons. Fish are located pretty much in the same areas as prior years, but they are much more scattered rather than schooled up in tight schools of feeding fish. Lou says that when he finds a school of fish, they are located at all depths and not bunched up. This is not a bad thing, but does make him change his fishing tactics a bit. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are being found in several different types of areas. They are located on the flats, and the striped bass are also scattered in deeper water back in the major creeks. Lou says he typically starts out in the morning at sunrise and starts checking out the flats near his resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. He first checks out the Mallard Point flat, he may go to the Cranfield Island flat, then head to the Highway 101 bridge flat and if needed he motors over to Big Sandy flat a little past 101 Boat Dock. He is looking at depths from 25 feet of water out to 45 feet of water. What he has found the last couple of days is that the fish are in 25-30 feet of water at sunrise and seem to stick around for an hour or two. As the morning wears on, they move out to deeper water and Monday at around 11 a.m. he says he found them in 42 feet of water. He has caught big hybrids and big whites on the flats, but the stripers that he has caught on the flats have been small. The bigger stripers will move to the flats very soon. The last couple of days Lou fished the 6B area and landed a really nice striped bass on live bait, but Monday he fished the same area and the bait and fish had disappeared. He says he believes the 53-degree water has gotten a little too cool for the shad so they are migrating out to deeper water, and the stripers are following. Lou marked lots of shad and many striped bass in front of Fout marina as he was heading back to the Big Sandy area. The stripers are scattered throughout the area making them tough to catch with a spoon. Trolling or casting A-Rigs or swimbaits may be the easiest method to pick up these scattered fish and, as always, live bait will work wonders, but you will need to keep moving around until you come across the fish that want to eat. The stripers that Lou has found in deeper water are still suspended from 15 feet of water down to 40 feet of water and typically near bait. You will run across that big school of fish, so when you do, vertical-jigging a spoon will work great. Lou has not been up to the Red Bank area, but he says he would think the fish that have been up in the Missouri waters are also migrating somewhat south to a slightly higher water temperature.
Largemouth bass fishing has been a little tough, but you can pick up some really nice fish in deeper water. For about the first hour as the sun is rising there are many bass up in shallow water. Many of the bass are small, but you will pick up the occasional nice-sized fish. Shallow diving crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwater baits are picking up a few fish. As the sun rises, the fish are going a little deeper. Start casting out a jig and pig in 15-25 feet of water along bluff line points and in areas where the channel is swinging in close to shore. Another good location is close to sunken brush. Lou says he was striper fishing with live bait the other morning and also jigging a spoon. Lou got into about 25 feet of water and started to pick up a few largemouth off of the bottom. On those windy days go to the wind-blown banks and try casting spinnerbaits. Windy days are always a great time to pick up some really nice fish.
Norfork Lake level is dropping slowly with some power generation going on and currently sits at 550.68 feet msl as of Tuesday. The lake surface water temperature is dropping slowly. It ranges from 55.5 degrees on the main lake to 53 degrees back in the major creeks. The water is clearing slightly on the main lake with maybe 5-6 feet of visibility to stained in the creeks and coves.
(update 12-13-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the striper bite on Norfork Lake is very good right now. The stripers are feeding on flats in the 30-40-foot range. There are large schools of shad roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. Tom pre-fished Friday on the flat near 6B using small shad and at one time had five stripers on the lines. He and his party managed to catch all of them and for the next hour we landed eight more. The wind was blowing hard, so he quit. Stripers are also being caught near Blue Lady. The best bait to catch stripers are shad, shiners and spoons. Find the bait and the stripers, hybrids and white bass will be feeding on them. As the weather turns colder in December the stripers will move to their winter feeding grounds. The best places to find them is Float Creek, 101 Area, Bidwell Point, the flat above the Highway 101 bridge, and the channel between the U.S. 62 and Highway 101 bridge. The bait will settle in depth ranges from 40-80 feet but most of the time the range will be about 40 feet. You should see large bait balls with stripers on top and inside the balls. Set your bait right above the shad since most of the fish are staying inside the bait balls and then coming up in big bunches to feed. Small shad works great but large shiners and spoons will also work now and through to spring.
(update 12-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 2.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw light generation and significant wadable water. The water remains stained, and it has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things changed during flooding earlier this year. There was 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 (#10). Dry Run Creek is stained but still fishing well. The brown trout have moved in for the spawn. The hot flies have been size 14 sowbugs, size 12 Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.
(update 12-13-2017) 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 cooler weather the smallmouths are less active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,117.10 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(update 12-13-2017) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake has a slight stain. The water is cold. Bream are fair. Crappie are good. Crappie are in 3-5 feet of water around brush piles. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair; use spinnerbaits. Catfishing is fair. Prepared baits are working beest.
(update 12-13-2017) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says the striper activity forecast for the week is good. Topwater action is good. Stripers are using backs of coves, creek arms and shallow gravel bars. Anglers have also been seeing a lot of fish surfacing so have your spoons, jigs or topwater plugs handy in order to capitalize on a quick rush when they pin bait to the surface. Fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 10 feet deep in order to ensure that you have a good spread, and you can 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, Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. Make sure you do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three stripers or hybrid or combination. Walleye must be 18 inches long with a limit of four. Fish location is greatly influenced by lake level and current flow. Current in the lake from generation will generally position fish on upstream or downstream edges of structure. Check the daily lake level and flow data link on Mike Bailey’s website linked above.Remember: Live bait is the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. Water surface temperatures are in the high 40s to low 50s. Check out these hot spots on the mid- and lower sections of the lake, and 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 and Shaddox Hollow. In the upper section, check out 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. Walleye are in their fall migration and can be found from 20-30 feet deep depending on areas you fish. Go with three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Also try 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 are getting responses.
(update 12-13-2017) Beaver Dam Store said fisherman in boats are catching their limits while drifting with PowerBait and waxworm combos. Nightcrawlers are working well for catching trout. Fish the Bertrand Access 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 in Pro Series Nos. 4 and 5 are also doing the job. Other good lures are gold and silver Colorado Spoons and red and gold Bouyant Spoons. Good PowerBait colors are white, red, orange, yellow, chartreuse and peach. When using flies, go with pheasant tails, midges in blue dunn, black, olive, hare’s ear, tungsten Copper Johns, WD 40s, Trout Magnets and San Juan Worms. Store hours for the winter are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
(update 12-6-2017) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has very good this week. Most trout are being caught between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons, as well as various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. If you can find the right hole you can catch very nice fish in nice numbers. The water temperatures in the area mentioned above have been between 45 and 50 degrees. Hybrids are being caught between Beaver town and Holiday Island pulling various Rapalas and Berkley hard baits in 6-10 feet of water. The weather has been great, but this cold front will make for some chilly mornings. So get out there and catch some fish.
War Eagle Creek
(update 12-13-2017) Loy Lewis of War Eagle Creek Outfitting (479-530-3262) said smallmouth bass fishing is good at times, usually according to weather. The sunny afternoons are a good time for sight fishing with spoons, and bluff holes have action with watermelon colored plastics.
(update 12-13-2017) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is clear and surface water temperature is 49 degrees. The level is normal. Crappie are fair on jigs. Bass are fair on crankbaits. No reports on bream. Nothing reported on catfish. Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock will be closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 14.
(update 12-6-2017) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported that the water was clear and the surface water temperature was 52 degrees. The lake is low by 2 inches. Anglers had a very slow week and there was almost no fishing going on. All species reported poor.
(update 11-29-2017) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park says most everyone knows by now that Lake Poinsett is completely drained due to a lot of repairs that need to be made by the AGFC. Please let others know that Lake Poinsett State Park is still selling bait. We stock live, frozen and artificial bait as well as a large variety of fishing supplies. It is too cold for crickets. We’ll start stocking crickets again in the spring.
(update 12-13-2017) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) had no report.
(update 12-13-2017) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 240 cfs and water clarity is clear. The river remains very low and clear. There are some really big trout moving around and they have been hitting the big white fly, Grandma’s Brownies and Y2Ks. On sunny days when the hatch is thick, a small nymph, pheasant tail, hare’s ear or Copper John can really be hot dropped below a Y2K. And a hot pink Trout Magnet is always hot on the Spring River. White and red Trout Magnets do well some days also. It has been cold, so layer up and stay dry.
(update 12-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the 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 size 10 olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash, size 10 cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and size 10 Y2Ks.
(update 12-13-2017) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water is 6 feet low. Surface water temperature is 52 degrees. Walleye provided the only reports. Walleye catches were fair.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(update 11-29-2017) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperatures are in the upper 50s, visibility is about 1 foot, water level is about normal. Black bass are biting fairly well on slow-rolled spinnerbaits and crankbaits in shad colors worked along steeper riprap banks. The quantity of bites isn’t as high as some parts of the year, but the quality is certainly above average this time of year.
(update 12-13-2017) Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said that with a rise in temperatures for the last week, crappie have been biting less during the day. However, the nights have been very cold recently, meaning the crappie bite is good early in the morning. Fewer bites will trade off with larger fish biting as December rolls on. The main baits are still minnows and electric chicken jigs. Catfish are biting on live baits as they prepare for the water to get colder. The current water temperature is just cold enough to make the fish bite more in the lake, before the dead of winter makes them sluggish. For bass, a square-billed crankbait dragged through cover and bounced off as many things as possible is the way to go. The fatter and clumsier the bait, the better the bite! The park will be holding a program in January on how to sink Christmas trees for fish cover. The public is welcome to drop off a tree and participate. Watch for the announcement on local media outlets, here in the Fishing Report and at arkansasstateparks.com.
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.
(update 12-13-2017) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had no report.
(update 12-13-2017) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 258.51 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(Update 12-13-2017) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said largemouth bass are transitioning to their typical drops and structure in winter temperature and pool conditions. The random schooling has all but disappeared in most areas. Largemouths and Kentuckies (spotted bass) were random-schooling on shad and surface-breaking over the past few weeks and it has been totally awesome, but that slowed this past week. These bass have been very good from 2-3 pounds on topwaters, Rat-L-Traps, Bass Assassin Shads, Stuttersteps and squarebill cranks during their typical fall schooling activity. Bass will still hit almost any crankbait shad pattern like the Millwood Magic, chrome/blue or Ghost Shad in the creek channels or where they dump in to the river, albeit much slower over the past week or 10 days. With the reduction of photoperiod and water temperatures, a slow, heavy-knocking crankbait will still get bit, but the bass have pulled to middle of deeper creeks and points where quick drops into Little River are much closer in proximity. Best colors for squarebills and crankbaits over the past couple weeks have been the shad imitations like Millwood Magic, Ghost Shad, Ghost Minnow, Citrus Shad and Tennessee Shad. The deep- and medium-diving crankbaits like the Bomber Fat Free Shads, Fat Free Fry or Fat Free Guppies are working, if worked slower and deeper, from 8-12 feet deep in creek channels and across primary points along Little River with the best reactions recently coming on Citrus Shad, White Pearl, Threadfin Shad and Citruse colors. The Rat-L-Trap 1.75 Echo squarebill crankbaits continue working in creek channel swings (outer bends and deflecting off stumps) as long as you maintain depth in creek channels, and where creek mouths and sloughs feed and dump into the oxbows. Best colors over the past few days have been the Ghost Minnow or Millwood Magic in the better water clarity away from remaining current. Real Deal Custom Tackle jigs continue to get a bite, with best colors over the past week being Texas Craw or black/blue/purple, in creek channels on stumps and cypress trees from 8-12 feet of depth using a Beaver Bug, in green pumpkin or black, for a trailer. Big, bulky 10-12-inch Berkley Power worms are still getting a reaction from largemouths in the 3-4-pound class, with a good bite in the same 8-10 foot deep areas of these creek channels and ditches that dump into Little River. Best reactions are with the blue fleck, black frape, and plum or purple colors.
Mike says that white bass and hybrid bass are pulling into their winter deep holes in Little River, and their schooling activities diminished over the past week or so as well. A splinter spoon or vertical-jigging a Kastmaster spoon will locate these nomads in 15-26 feet depth in Little River cut-outs in standing timber. Crappie continue improving and keep stacking up very nicely on planted brush piles. Good-size crappie are best near standing timber back in oxbows along Little River and planted brush piles in Little River. Best response is from 16-18 feet deep on vertical-jigging minnows and jigs. Catfish were good this past week on trotlines using Punchbait and chicken livers/gizzards/hearts.
As of Monday, lake level remained about 8 inches below conservation pool and was slowly rising at 258.5 feet msl. They just needs more rain to continue to raise the lake back to normal conservation pool after the pre-duck season drawdown. There is current of 190 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday was about 224.5 feet msl. Water temps dropped over the past week, with surface temperature Monday ranging near 41 degrees early to 48 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. 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 10-15 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 12-15 inches with moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity ranges 18-28 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms. Use caution when boating. To volunteer for one of the cleanup dates or ramp and USACE park information, contact Tony Porter at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office. To receive project updates, daily lake level information updates, gate release flows, tailwater information, park and campground information or volunteer, call the Army Corps of Engineers’ toll-free Millwood Project information line at 888-697-9830.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 535.55 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(update 12-13-2017) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said Lake Greeson continues to fall some and is about 11 feet below normal pool. Most of the lake has some color now after the rain last week. Water temperature is in the lower to mid-50s. Bass are biting well using a variety of techniques. Crankbaits, especially Bandit 200 and 300 in crawfish patterns, are working well in the 8-10-foot range around rocky points and drops. Some can also still be caught on flats chasing shad with chrome Booyah One Knockers. Some good numbers have been reported being caught on CC Spoons on flats near creek channels. Booyah Finance Jigs in natural colors are also catching fish on rocky breaks in 20 feet of water. Jason says he would also try a YUM Flash Mob Jr. in the clearer water at the lower end of the lake. 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 396.68 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(update 12-13-2017) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 50s and the lake is clear throughout. Bass fishing is fair with a few decent catches reported along with some nice-size fish. Look for fish in the creeks and the upper end of the lake. Try Big Hill, Yancey and Brushy creeks along with the main lake points between Shouse Ford and Cox Creek. Throw medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless, across points. Use natural shad in clear water and something with chartreuse when the water is dingy. Quite a few Kentucky bass showing up all along the bluff banks between Point 14 and Point Cedar. Try a Zoom 4-inch finesse worm Texas-rigged. Green pumpkin and red shad are hard to beat. No need to rush out in the early morning cold because the best fishing in cold water is during the warmer part of the day. Crappie fishing is fair and would be better if there were more deep (20-25 feet) attractors. Look for the brush cover in the upper end between Point 15 and Point Cedar. Drop a 2-inch Kalin’s Grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead right into the brush. Seems the fish are buried in the cover and near the bottom at 19-20 feet. Don’t get too attached to your jig because you will lose it and many more in the brush, but those are the pitfalls of winter low-water fishing. Black chartreuse is the going color for the plastic. Hybrid fishing is slow and slower. It seems the fish have disappeared because they are not even “marking” on the sonar. However, quite a few white bass are showing in the back of the creeks and the north side of Goat Island at Shouse Ford. Throw wmall spoons and inline spinners. Also try slow-trolling 3-inch white curly tail grubs on the small 5-arm umbrella.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 436.69 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 523.92 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(update 11-29-2017) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said a few bream being caught in the treetops at 6-9 feet. Crappie and bass are slow.
(update 11-29-2017) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) said reports of a few crappie being caught. No other reports.
(update 12-6-2017) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is clear and the surface water temperature is 58 degrees. The water is low by about 2 feet. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass reports were poor. Catfishing is poor.
(update 12-6-2017) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas bred and built Xpress aluminum fishing boat, reports water temperatures in the mid- to high 50s with crystal clear waters that will quickly change as the week progresses to stained and murky. With the dropping temperatures and the lakes becoming stained up, adaptation will be key here and in the Hot Springs Village lakes. Before this front came through, success was good with pumpkin-colored finesse jigs, pumpkin/speckled green shaky head jigs and craw-colored suspending jerkbaits. Using light line was key to feeling the soft bites. Now that we are seeing a cold front, look for the shallower water that is under sunlight most of the day to produce. Stained water heats up faster, so look for water coming into lakes (creeks) to produce more fish. Switch up the colors to chartreuse, blue/black or white in dirty water but still look to jigs, shaky heads and crank/ jerkbaits with a slow retrieve. Fishing should pick up if you can stand the cold. Crappie will be moving to the deeper range from 20-30 feet as the water temperature falls and approaches 50 degrees or less. You can’t go wrong with slip corks and minnows on a Snell hook setup. Good luck and keep warm!
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(update 12-13-2017) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is holding at 54 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 are now in the tailrace with sizes perfect for fishing and great tasting tablefare. Bank fishermen are catching limits of rainbows on PowerBait, waxworms and mealworms, and whole kernel corn all fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Boaters have trolled shallow-running crankbaits in the main channel with success during times of current flow. Patience is key as small numbers of trout have been stocked and these fish are widely scattered throughout the tailrace. December will bring thousands more trout as the stocking program intensifies. Currently, white and hybrid 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 game fish are present in the tailrace during the summer months. During times of generation, jerkbaits in a black/silver pattern are effective over sands bars 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, and quality angling will return this month to Lake Catherine. Anyone navigating the area must always wear a lifejacket and observe park and boating regulations.
(update 12-6-2017) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said river temperature is 54 degrees and dropping. River clarity is good with a few dingy places. Bass have been hit-and-miss with great possibilities of having your best day ever. A-rigs, Rat-L-Traps, squarebill crankbaits, jig and bamboozie, and jerkbaits all are working great over trees, rocks and shell beds. White bass and stripers have been good on Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and swimbaits off of river points and jetties. Crappie have been excellent on minnows, black churches, and black and pink jigs. Catfish have been fair on cut bait, shad and skipjack. Stick to the deep side of the drops and long steep rocky banks.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 341.41 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(update 12-13-2017) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is crystal clear. Surface water temperature was 58 degrees. The lake is low, 7 inches below normal level. It was a slow week for fishing, though the crappie bite was good. Crappie are in 3-5 feet of water and are biting minnows. Poor reports on bream. Poor reports also on bass. Some flathead catfish were caught netting.
(update 12-13-2017) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said there had been no anglers fishing in their area, but they know the crappie are biting.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 567.30 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(update 12-13-2017) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-bred-and-built Xpress All-Weld aluminum fishing boat in Hot Springs, says a couple of different tactics have been getting decent results over the past week and will likely continue due to our static weather we have had for a month or so. Spotted bass have been biting the shaky head jig on light leaders. Worms in shad colors or speckled pumpkin are producing on rocky points and ledges on the windy sides of the lake, which should almost always be the southwest sides. Water that is exposed to sunlight the longest will hold more fish. Another pattern that is producing is craw-colored crankbaits and jerkbaits. Working each of these baits to the bottom and banging them off the rocks, pausing periodically, will produce the best results. Jigs are getting hit in finesse sizes and darker colors like craw and black/blue but have not yet come into full swing. Expect this bait to take off when the water gets into the 40s. Largemouth bass have been spotted laying up in the very shallow (less than a foot) in the mornings and acting very lethargic. These fish are very hard to find mid-day as they have suspended. Search baits like squarebill cranks, spybaits and spinnerbaits can cover the most area with little finesse. Find one, find ten, but the bite is still slow. Crappie is slow on the lake in 15-25 feet of water. This long period of high pressure has not helped these low-pressure-loving fish. Look to minnows and slip corks over brush piles and let’s hope we get some rain or a cold snap to set them off again!
(update 12-13-2017) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are fair. Spots have slowed but are still fair on a drop-shot with a finesse worm. No reports on walleye. Stripers are still fair on live bait and picking up on Bama rigs. The western and central parts of the lake are the best areas for these fish. Bream are biting on warmer days and being caught on worms 20-25 feet deep. Crappie are fair and being caught on minnows in 20-30 feet of water near structure. No report on catfish. Surface water temperature is ranging 50-54 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.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 383.36 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
AGFC Commissioner Meeting Notice
Dec. 4, 2023
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
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