Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Dec. 20, 2017
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Dec. 20, 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 12-20-2017) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the the water is clear. Before Tuesday’s rain, the water was low, about 1 foot below normal level. Bream are biting well on redworms. Crappie are good on minnows and can be found around brush piles. Catfish reports were good, with minnows and nightcrawlers working well. No reports on bass.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service “fishes” everyone a Merry Christmas and river time in the coming new year. The Little Red continues to experience low water conditions most days from sporadic amounts of water release from the Greers Ferry Dam. They are in the brown trout spawning season on the Little Red River, so the 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 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 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.
(updated 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 456.83 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 12-20-2017) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 455.78 feet msl as of Tuesday and is falling. It’s now 6.26 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The black bass are out in about 40 feet, with some shallow as always. Try spinnerbaits and jigs for the shallow fish. The deeper fish can be caught on spoons, C-rigs, football heads and drop-shot rigs, with a few busting fish as well. Some of the crappie are shallow, suspended in 8-10 feet, and the rest suspended in 18-30 feet of water. Fish pole timber or brush pile in and around both with minnows or jigs. No report on walleye. Catfish are eating as they do in winter mode with the blues doing the best on a variety of baits. No report on bream. The hybrid and white bass are still chomping pretty well all over the lake with a few busting time to time, most consistent in about 40-45 feet on spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and, of course, hair jigs.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton says some of their customers report nice stringers of good-sized crappie being caught on size 6, size 12 and pink minnows fished 18-24 inches deep in 3-4 feet of water.
(updated 12-20-2017) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is clear and surface water temperature is 54 degrees. The lake is low about 5 feet. Crappie reports were fair, with anglers using jigs. Jigs were also used for a fair response from bass. Nothing reported on catfish, white bass or bream.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some customers have been catching a few crappie on No. 4 minnows, No. 6 minnows and pink minnows. Bass have been biting fair on No. 12 minnows. Catfish are biting slow on minnows, nightcrawlers and stink baits with blood added. No recent reports of bream being caught.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 12-20-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting fair. No. 6 minnows have been catching a few small ones and they have been scattered. Bass fishing has been very similar to the crappie fishing in the ponds. Minnows have been working for the ones that are biting but they’ve been few and scattered. Catfish have been fairly slow as well. Minnows and nightcrawlers have caught a couple recently but no reports of good catches have been coming in. Some bream have been caught on nightcrawlers while fishing on the bottom for catfish.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 12-20-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said lack of rain has the river low, clear and with virtually no flow and fishing has been tough. Maybe that will change after Tuesday’s rainfall. Low light times such as early mornings, just before dark and cloudy days are best, and stealth is important when the river is in this condition. Minnows, small plastics such as worms, lizards and crawdads, small crankbaits or curly tail grubs fished on light clear line have been catching a few bass. Catfish have been biting fairly well on minnows and nightcrawlers. Crappie are scattered and slow, but a few have been caught recently on No. 6 minnows. Walleye fishing has gotten off to a slow start this fall. The few reported have been caught on brooder and No. 12 minnows. Bream will still bite a cricket or worm around almost any log, brush or big rock in the river.
Lisa says that customers fishing in other areas have brought her good reports: From Lake Overcup, nice stringers of good-sized crappie being caught on size 6, size 12 and pink minnows fished 18-24 inches deep in 3-4 feet of water. From the Ouachita River, walleye and catfish are biting brooder minnows and nightcrawlers. Also, crappie have been biting well on size 6, size 12 and pink minnows in several small lakes and ponds in the area.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said they had not heard many reports from Norrell lately. Catfish have been biting minnows and nightcrawlers for one customer fishing around some docks. That’s about it.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie have been biting well on No. 6 and No. 12 minnows for a few customers that frequent the lake and know where to find them. Repeated attempts to persuade them to mark a map have failed. They ain’t tellin’. They do say that the bass are hitting their minnows, too. Catfish are biting fair from just before dark until an hour or so after. One customer reports catching them from the banks on minnows, nightcrawlers and chicken livers. No reports on bream fishing lately.
(updated 12-20-2017) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said black bass are best in the late afternoon around rock. Use a squarebill crankbait in shad color fished 3-5 feet deep. Also Rogues are good lures for the bass, too. Catfish are moving to deeper holes. Use skipjack. Arkansas Tech is doing sauger and catfish studies on the river. They are putting tags on the sauger and need anglers’ help. These are worth $10 to $50. Please call the AGFC at 1-877-967-7577.
(updated 12-20-2017) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said clarity is clear and the level and current are normal. Crappie are good on jigs. Bass were good using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and fishing with minnows. Catfish are fair; use chicken lives or hot dogs. Bream were poor. No reports on white bass.
(updated 12-6-2017) 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water level and current are normal. The water is clear. No temperature was recorded. Crappie are fair. They’re mostly in 10 feet of water. Use blue jigs. Bass are fair. Anglers were having best success with jerkbaits and swimbaits. No reports on catfish. No reports on bream.
(updated 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.
(updated 12-6-2017) 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)
(updated 12-20-2017) 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no report.
(updated 12-20-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week, they have had no rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 feet to rest at 5.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.9 feet to rest at 2.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.7 feet to rest at 3.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had significant wadable water with some generation. On the White, the hot spot became Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead 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. John adds, “Last week I attended the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (NAFF) annual Christmas party. While I was there, I remembered that a couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about suggested Christmas gifts, for the fly fisher. One of the items that I was going to suggest was a membership in the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, our local fly fishing club. Unfortunately I did not have enough space to describe the many benefits of club memberships. I know a thing or two about fly-fishing clubs.
“When I lived in Memphis I was on the board of directors of the Mid South Fly Fishers, the local fly fishing club there for over 15 years and served as the president of the club for two terms. Our club interacted with NAFF on several occasions and I came to highly respect them. The first thing I did when I moved to Cotter 17 years ago was to join the North Arkansas Fly Fishers and I have never regretted it.
“The best thing that NAFF does is to put on the Sowbug Roundup, the premier fly-tying show in the South, and arguably one of the best fly-tying shows in the United States. This is a show that draws over 100 fly-tyers from all over the United States and several foreign countries. It draws an audience of over a thousand attendees from all over for the three-day event. A significant portion of the proceeds from this show, are used to fund $10,000 in local scholarships annually for students majoring in fisheries or related fields.
“The NAFF has also stepped up to the plate to fund several projects locally. They have made substantial contributions to important conservation projects such as the enhancement of Dry Run Creek to make it more accessible to children under 16 and the mobility-challenged. They helped fund the addition of diffusers to the Norfork National Fish Hatchery to help oxygenate the water in the hatchery raceways. They also built a set of steps at Round House Shoals to help anglers access the water and a pavilion at McCabe Park in Mountain Home.
“They have a monthly meeting every month that features a speaker on subjects of interest to all fly-fishers. This is a great place to meet other fly fishers in the area. I have met a lot of people through the club and have become friends. Many fishing trips are generated by attending a meeting. The club schedules several outings including a couple of picnics and a Christmas party every year. They sponsor two-day seminars featuring known fly-fishing personalities that are open to the public. They also teach fly-fishing and fly-tying classes as well as teaching fly-fishing to youth groups. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Van Matre Senior Center in Mountain Home and are open to the public. The May, September and December meetings are limited to club members. If this sounds like something that would interest you, please attend the next meeting. I think you will be glad you did.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.
K Dock Marina has closed for the season. It will reopen in March.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 549.78 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are still in their fall pattern, but you can see signs of the bait and fish starting to transition to their normal winter patterns and locations. As the water cools, the bait tends to move out to deeper water and gets to a depth typically 40-60 feet deep. As you can guess, the big predators move with the bait. Over the last week Lou has concentrated on finding and trying to catch the trophy fish in Norfork Lake: striped bass. Normally this time of year Lou will fish large flats in the lake in 35-50 feet of water. Cranfield Island flat, Mallard Point flat, Highway 101 bridge flat, and Big Sandy Flat east of the 101 Boat Dock are Lou’s typical fishing holes, he says. This year it has been a little different from prior years. Lou and his guests have found large schools of striped and hybrid bass on these flats, but it has been hit or miss. If the bigger fish are not there, you can just about be guaranteed that white bass will be on the flats. Some of the whites he has caught were in the 2- to 3-pound range. Lou says he moved around the last week and started fishing way up creek near 6B in Bennetts Bayou and found stripers but they started to move out toward the main lake during the week. Large schools of stripers moved a couple of miles out of the creek to slightly warmer water and are located south and east of the 6A marker, in 35-50 feet of water. He said he decided Tuesday to check out a creek in the mid-lake area. The water gets a little warmer as you head south. He started fishing a little before sunrise and saw shad flipping. When he got closer to the bait a large school of fish showed up. He had two live bait poles out with threadfin shad and was vertical-jigging with a spoon. He hooked up on all three rods at the same time.
“What a fun dilemma! My fish on the spoon came unhooked and one of the live bait poles broke off, but I did manage to land a really big hybrid. I could see the bait starting to move out of the cove so I followed. I ran into the school again and landed a couple more hybrids and a couple of whites. The fish continued to move out and I found them one more time. It was a lot of fun for an hour or so,” he said.
Lou then moved out to the main part of Float Creek and marked bait with scattered bigger fish and got plenty of bites on live bait, but they would only take the back half of his baits, so no hookups after the early morning schools of feeding fish. A friend was trolling in the same area and the fish were loving it. He had one hookup after another; it was fun watching, Lou said. The scattered fish were suspended about 10-20 feet down, but as the morning wore on Lou was marking them close to the bottom around 35-40 feet deep.
Norfork Lake water level is falling slowing with sporadic power generation and currently sits at 549.84 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature ranges from 52.5 degrees to 54.5 degrees depending what part of the lake. The water is still stained with the main lake having about a 5-6 feet visibility. Great fishing conditions on Norfork Lake at this time.
Lou adds that Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s annual fishing derby has come to a close with a lot of fun for our guests during the year. The winners of each species won $350. The winner of the big striped bass was John James of Illinois, big crappie winner was Joe Cebula of Kansas, and the big smallmouth bass was won by Debbie Biesboer of Illinois. The winner of the free week stay drawing was Karen and Dan Solverson of Wisconsin. Congratulations to all. Details about their 2018 Derby will be coming in the new year.
(updated 12-20-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the Norfork Lake striper fishing is hot right now. The stripers are feeding on flats in the 30-40 foot range around Crystal Cove and then up to Fouts. Large schools of shad are roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. Tom says he fished Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the flat in front of Fout Boat Dock using small shad and caught stripers the whole time he fished. Since it was only for fun with friends, they stopped each day after that had enough to eat. Right now the bite is lasting all day. You may not see many fish for a time, then a large school will swim by and everything goes crazy. Stripers are also being caught near Blue Lady. The best bait to catch stripers are shad, shiners and spoons. Trollers using umbrella rigs are having great success. They are running the baits at 30 feet at 3 mph. Find the bait and the stripers, hybrids and white bass will be feeding on them.
Tom adds that Christmas week is usually the best winter striper fishing. This year looks like a major cold snap is coming, so Tom expects to see the bait move out of the shallow waters and 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 40 feet. You should see large bait balls with stripers on top and inside the ball. Set your bait right above the shad since most of the fish are staying inside the bait balls, 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 feet to rest at 3.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 29.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfok had light generation and significant wadable water last week. 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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 colder 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 1,116.47 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water clarity is clear and the surface water temperature was in the 50s. Water level is normal for December. Crappie reports are good. Anglers are using minnows and jigs. Bass were reported fair, with most of the fish caught in shallow water. Use spinnerbaits, crankbaits or jigs. No reports on catfish. No report on bream.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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 mid-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.
(updated 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.
(updated 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
(updated 12-13-2017) Loy Lewis of War Eagle Creek Outfitting (479-530-3262) said smallmouth bass fishing good at times usually according to weather, the sunny afternoons be good time for sight fishing w spoons, and bluff holes have action w watermelon colored plastics….on the waterfowl report, the ducks are flying up river in the mornings regularly and with decoys they will land fast.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is clear and surface water temperature is 45 degrees. The level is normal. Crappie are good on jigs. Bass are good on jigs as well. No reports on bream. Nothing was reported on catfish. NOTE: Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock will be closed Saturday, Dec. 23, through through Sunday, Jan. 14.
(updated 12-20-2017) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the water is clear and the surface water temperature was 41 degrees. The lake is low about 3 inches. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good; use a jig-and-pig. Catfish reports were good. Chicken livers were working best. No report on bream. NOTE: Lake Sequoyah will be closed Saturday, Dec. 23, through Monday, Jan. 15.
(updated 12-20-2017) Seth Boone at Lake Poinsett State Park says that even though the lake is in drawdown conditions for repairs by the AGFC, Lake Poinsett State Park continues to sell bait for the surrounding areas.
(updated 12-20-2017) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is really clear, and on Monday it was low about 1 foot. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are fair on jigs. Bass reports also were fair, with spinnerbaits and crankbaits working. No reports on catfish. No reports on bream.
(updated 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report this week. Last week, they reported 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)
(updated 12-6-2017) 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said the crappie bite is still on at Cane Creek Lake. The electric chicken jigs and minnows have held fast as the best bait to catch good-sized crappie. The number of bites per day has decreased significantly, but the size of the fish has increased. A full stringer of fish is still a possibility. The cold water bass fishing season is off to a decent start, with loud, slow-moving cranks doing the job. A large, clumsy, squarebill crankbait is still the best for tempting largemouth and spotted bass alike to bite. Fish near structure and bounce the bait off as many things as you can. A deep rattling sound seems to also help. Saturday, Jan. 13, has been chosen as the day for the Christmas Tree Fish Habitat Workshop. Look to the Lincoln (County) Ledger, Facebook and the Arkansas State Parks online calendar of events for more information. You can also gather information and sign up by calling Cane Creek State Park at 870-628-4714 or emailing Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 12-20-2017) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had no report.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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 258.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said lake level Monday was about 5 inches below conservation pool and slowly rising at 258.7 feet msl. There is current of 199 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. Surface temps as of Monday were near 44 degrees early to the 50-degree range later under full sun, depending on location. Check lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website or at the Army Corps of Engineers website for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels for current conditions. Clarity and visibility continues improving, depending on location for main lake and Little River. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was moderate stain, ranging 5-8 inches. Little River’s visibility ranged 5-6 inches with moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity was ranging 12-18 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.
Mike says the largemouth bass schooling activity has subsided pretty much lakewide. Bass remain fair to good from 2-3 pounds using squarebill and medium-diving crankbaits in and near creek channels, flats with any remaining vegetation and lily pads. Best color of Rat-L-Traps and squarebill crankbaits over the past couple weeks include almost any shad pattern or Millwood Magic, chrome/black, Ghost Shad and brown/red/tan crawfish patterns. Use those colors in the creek channels or where they dump in to the river. Most any shallow squarebill and medium-running depth cranks and Rat-L-Trap will get bit in cuts, ditches and around the middle of deeper creek channels with stumps and standing timber. 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 being 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. White bass and hybrid bass schooling activities have subsided as well. Vertical-jigging Kastmaster spoons and Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads and Chuck-N-Spins will pull up a few whites from the school. Jigging tail-spinner Rat-L-Traps in black-chrome or chrome/blue back will also snatch a few whites. Schools are holding in the backwashes of the river, out of any remaining current, and schools are holding from 10-15 feet in depth of washouts behind primary and secondary points along Little River. Crappie continue to bite well and are best out of any remaining current from 12-18 feet deep on vertical-jigging Cordell smoke-colored paddle tail grubs, jigs and minnows. Catfish continue biting well on trotlines set along Little River from 14-20 feet deep using Punchbait, cut bait like shad, buffalo or cut drum, and chicken livers.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 535.63 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said Lake Greeson water level is level from last week and rising because of the rain. Greeson remains over 10 feet below normal pool. Most of the lake has some color now after the rain last week and continued rain this week. Water temperature is in the lower to mid-50s. Bass have definitely moved into their wintertime patterns. Crankbaits, especially Bandit 200 and 300 in crawfish patterns, are working well in the 8-10-foot range around rocky points and drops. Booyah Finance Jigs in natural colors are also catching fish on rocky breaks and brush around 15-20 feet of water. I would also try a YUM Flash Mob Jr. rigged with 2.8-inch Keitech swimbaits on 1/8-ounce jigheads in the clearer water at the lower end of the lake. Crappie remain good and can be caught in and around brush in the 15-25-foot-depth range using Kalin’s Grubs or minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 396.84 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 50s and the lake is mostly clear. Bass fishing is just fair with only a few decent catches reported. Most of the action is occurring in the upper end between Yancey Creek and Point Cedar with the Shouse Ford area being best. However, with this rain and the water getting muddy you may have to fish farther down lake. Best pattern remains crankbaits fished on main lake points and the pockets along the north shore. Best colors are natural shad in clear water and something with chartreuse or orange when the water is dingy. Lots of small Kentuckies still showing along the bluff banks in the same area. Fish a Texas rigged 4-inch Zoom Finesse Worm in green pumpkin or red shad. Crappie fishing is only fair and will improve if this rain raises the lake level because then the brush attractors will be at a better depth. Look for attractors at 20-25 feet on the main lake between Point 15 and Point Cedar. Drop a 2-inch Kalin’s Grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead deep into the attractor because the fish are buried in the brush. Be sure to have plenty of jigs and grubs because those brush piles love to eat lures. Quite a few white bass showing in the Shouse Ford area, but the hybrids are still a no show. Use small crankbaits, small spoons or 3-inch grubs for the whites. Try trolling the 5-arm umbrella loaded with 4-inch swimbaits, and who knows, you might catch a hybrid. Have a Merry Christmas and a safe Happy New Year.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 436.90 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 524.01 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(updated 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.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 12-20-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) had no report.
(updated 12-20-2017) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-bred-and-built Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, reports that Lake Catherine and the Hot Springs Village lakes are off-color just slightly with clarity in the 6-8 foot range. For bass, crawfish- and shad-colored baits have produced all this last week where fish have been present. By present, we mean on, under or around rocks and boulder fields in the 15-30-foot depth of water adjacent to the main channels or creeks (sounds oddly like a dam). With that being said, you are going to want to toss those color choices out of the boat because we are about to get some dirty water folks! Woo hoo! Water! Chartreuse, bright pink, Firetiger and white colors are going to be in over the next week until we get our clarity back. Fish will be up on the edge of channels in cover just like where they have been for a month or so, but some fish will also move slightly into shallower, muddy flats with gravel bottoms heated by the sun. The water is in the low 50s so fish aren’t going to migrate miles just because the water changes a little. Change your crankbaits to these bright colors and add some wobble on them to get some attention brought to them. Shaky head jigs and drop-shot rigs with white Zoom trick worms and the go-to money lure, a White football head Jig, worked over rocks slowly. Good Luck, be patient and have fun. “Merry Christmas to All and to all a good bite!”
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 12-20-2017) 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.
(updated 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.
(updated 12-20-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said fish the brush piles close to the main channel.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 341.57 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-20-2017) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is clear and the surface water temperature is 55 degrees. As of Monday the lake level was low 7-8 inches. Crappie are biting fair. Bass are fair with best response around the shoreline. Use spinnerbaits. Catfish reports were poor, but flatheads were being caught in nets. No reports on bream.
(updated 12-20-2017) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) had no reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 567.46 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 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!
(updated 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 383.48 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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