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Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report

BY Jim Harris

ON 01-31-2018


Jan. 31, 2018

Jim Harris

Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine

Weekly Fishing Report

This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 31, 2018. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email 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.

Central Arkansas

North Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas

Northeast Arkansas

Southeast Arkansas

Southwest Arkansas

South-Central Arkansas

West-Central Arkansas

East Arkansas

Arkansas River and White River levels are available at:

For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit:

For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit:


Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir

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 1-31-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the water is clear but it’s cold. Water level is normal. Crappie are good. The crappie can be found in 9 feet depth of water and they’ll bite minnows or jigs. Bream are good on redworms. Catfish reports have been good. They’re biting redworms and minnows. Nothing to report on bass.

(updated 1-17-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said there were no reports and no fishing to speak of due to low temperatures and snow.

Little Red River

(updated 1-31-2018) Greg Seaton of (501-690-9166) said the river remains low with the upper section of the river clear, middle section cloudy and the lower section dingy. This is due to the rain last week and no generation. The river is slow to clear after runoff from rain over the watershed. It will take 3-4 hours of two-unit generation to clear the lower river. Fishing has been fair to good on the upper half of the river and slow on the lower section. Small flies are producing most of the fish in the clear water and streamers and larger flies in the colored water. The lake remains about 7 feet low and this, along with the mild temperatures, has been the cause of low generation the past two weeks. With colder weather on tap for the weekend and first part of next week, an increase in generation should help. The low water is making it difficult to run boats on the river. Be aware that outboards are easily damaged by the rocks during this low water event. Wade fishing is a much better option.
NOTE: Greg will again be offering the free fly fishing class at First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs beginning Thursday evening, Feb. 15. The class lasts for four weeks (each Thursday night from 7-9 p.m.). These dates are Feb. 15, Feb. 22, March 1 and March 8. It would be best to attend all classes, but if this not possible, come when you can. To register, please contact Greg at 501-690-9166. If he can’t to answer at that time, he will return voicemails or texts.

(updated 1-31-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service reported the Little Red continues to experience extremely low water conditions most days from lack of water release from the Greers Ferry Dam due to the low lake level. Power generation is occurring only during times of cold air temperatures, so expect extended days of very little water release during mild winter temperatures. Sowbugs, midges, soft hackles and Woolly Buggers are working well for fly anglers. Pink and white 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 ( for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website ( to see forecasted generation schedule.

Greers Ferry Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 455.39 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 1-24-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 455.07 feet msl, 6.97 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and trying to rise since the generation has been cut back after warming weather. The water temperature is 44 degrees, pretty much overall. The warmup and some much needed sunshine will help the bite take off as we enter all prespawn phases with all species. Many of the black bass will move shallow, either vertical or shallow to sun, and can be caught with a jerkbait or spinnerbait. Some of the deeper fish are using 50-60 feet of water and can be caught with drop-shots, dragging football head jigs or C-rigs. Just find the shad on the ends of long points or swings with deep drops and fish will be close.
Tommy had reports on bream. He says crappie are suspended, of course, either in open water in the mouths of cuts or in the pole timber or around brush piles, using the water column in 28-40 feet. Try using jigs or minnows fished vertically. No reports on catfish. The river walleye are getting staged or moving to stage in the mouths or close to the mouths of the rivers or right inside river mouths hanging out waiting on conditions to get right before moving on closer to spawning grounds. They can be caught with live bait or different artificial baits. The lake walleye are hanging out in 40-45 feet of water close to flats, and a minnow fished vertically is the best bet on a jighead or drop-shot. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating on and off throughout the day with some traveling toward upriver areas as well. Look in the lake and rivers on flats next to deep water. Some can be caught in 40-45 feet, while others are as deep as 70-80 feet of water suspended. Use spoons, hair jigs, Alabama rigs and inline spinners. For the best catches, stay around the shad.

Harris Brake Lake

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said her customers report the crappie have been hot at Harris Brake using the No. 4 crappie minnows, especially around the docks.

(updated 1-31-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) had no report.

Lake Overcup

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 1-31-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is normal and clarity is good. Bass fishing has been picking up a little. Bream are slow but still catching some smaller ones on redworms around the docks and piers. Catfish are slow but still catching some good ones on trotlines and yo-yos. Crappie have slowed down some during the day but have been doing well early morning and after dark on yo-yos in 4-6 feet of water with minnows. Cold weather has slowed people from coming out, but the fishing continues.

Brewer Lake

(updated 1-31-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) had no report.

Lake Maumelle

(updated 1-24-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said black bass are slow. Black bass are biting on shaky head jigs, warm-colored crankbaits, drops-shot and jerkbaits. Blacks are off steep rocky banks. They’re shallow during dusk and dawn. Drop 12-18 feet in deep water. Kentucky bass are slow. The spots are being caught on hair and finesse jigs. They can be found near the edge of the creek channel. White bass are slow. They are running in 20-25 feet of water in the channels. Reports are coming in of them being on the east end furthest north side of the lake. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep-diving Bandits and Bombers. They are mixed in with the crappie. The crappie also is slow. They are being caught on crappie minnows and soft plastic bodies with a weighted jighead. Try using chartreuse or lead. Also try Cotton Cordell bladed jigs. They’re being caught 28-34 feet deep. Fish in the channel or under water bridges. No reports have come in this past week on any bream or catfish.

Sunset Lake

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few people have been catching crappie on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows off of the dock and off the bridge going to the other side. Some catfish are being caught off of bait shrimp and nightcrawlers. And bass are biting on No. 12 bass minnows. This is a great little Game and Fish lake that’s good for taking the kids. There is a paved walking trail all the way around the lake. With this being an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Community Lake, they stock it with catfish only. It has other fish in there as well, but there are very strict regulations for the lake. The limits are three catfish per person, 25 bream and 30 crappie, while the bass have to be released immediately back into the lake. Public restrooms are available here

Bishop Park Ponds

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said one of their customers came in Sunday going to the back one which they call Lake Charles. He came back in Monday got more No. 6 crappie minnows and was going back. He caught 20 Sunday, some being up to a pound. He said they were biting pretty steady and they were close to the bank.

Saline River Access in Benton

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a week ago Sunday her husband went down on the river and did pretty good. He caught four walleye, four Kentucky bass and two smallmouth. The only thing he brought home were the walleye. He was using brooder minnows on 8-poundTrilene XL clear line, with a small split shot and a No. 2 Eagle Claw 84A plain shank hook. He said he missed several other walleye or he would have brought home his limit, which he was two away from doing so. Lots of people don’t realize the Saline River has walleye, which is the top of all fish in eating; crappie comes second, in our opinion. He got to the river before daylight. He usually does best either before daylight or right at dark. He said the river was just the right color and level. He goes in his canoe and goes to certain places on the bank to fish. With walleye you have to be quiet, for they spook easily. And another thing: They have teeth, so be sure not to try to lip them. Lisa says she’s had customers catch them but didn’t know what they were so they released them.
Lisa also says that she has heard some good reports from other places around the region. The crappie have been hot at Harris Brake using the No. 4 crappie minnows, especially around the docks. Lake Hamilton has also been doing great on some very nice crappie. No. 6 crappie minnows as well as No. 12 bass minnows have been used to catch the crappie. Lisa encourages all her customers to try to help her by giving a report from their fishing trips. That way the bait shop can help out other folks to let them know what and where the fishing has been good. “Even if it’s not local, let me know. We greatly appreciate it. This way we can help keep the people informed.”

Lake Norrell

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said they had a customer come in over the weekend getting size 6 crappie minnows in hopes of catching some crappie. He was back Monday and planning on going back. He said he didn’t get into the crappie, although he saw lots of fish on his fish finder. He did say he caught lots of bass and was having fun just catching them. So he was going back because it was so close; it is exactly 13 miles from the bait shop going out Congo Road. With all the winding roads it seems farther. But it’s a great redear lake when it gets to be bream season. And they are huge redears, usually caught on crickets fishing on the bottom.

Lake Winona

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says she has had a couple of people going here crappie fishing “but to be honest I haven’t heard back any reports from there. But I also have a lot of people that don’t want to tell of their catches in fear that others would go there.” She says it’s not a lake that gets much pressure at all being way out in Paron and the road to the lake, which is gravel, is a rough ride. That’s why lots of people like it, for they know some will go once and usually won’t go back, she said. “But I have seen some dandy crappie from there. It also has bream, bass, catfish and walleye. Yes, walleye!”

Arkansas River at Morrilton

(updated 1-31-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.

Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)

(updated 1-31-2018) Professional angler Cody Kelley with Best in Bass Guide Service (501-733-5282) had no report.

Little Maumelle River

(updated 1-24-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said water is clear and is at a normal level and current. Crappie reports were excellent. Crappie are in 6-7 feet of water and being caught on minnows or jigs. Bass are biting fair. They appear to be about 8 feet depth of water and are hitting crankbaits. No reports on bream or on catfish.

Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)

(updated 1-31-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water clarity has a light stain. The level is 1-2 feet low. Bream are good and can be found in 8-10 feet of water. They are biting crickets. Crappie reports are good. The fish are in 8-12 feet depth. Anglers are catching them on tubes. Bass are good. Try using jerkbaits. You’ll find the bass arounds the main river jetties. No reports on catfish.

(updated 1-31-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass reports were poor, but anglers were getting a little response with spinnerbaits. No reports on catfish and no reports on bream.

(updated 1-24-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is clear and the level and current are normal. Fair reports on crappie fishing. Crappie are about 6 feet deep and found around the rocky points. Use minnows. No other species were reported caught.

Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)

(updated 1-31-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass are poor but are at least biting. Use a spinnerbait for best results. No reports on catfish and no reports on bream. Clarity, temperature and water level were unavailable Wednesday.

Peckerwood Lake

Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) will reopen for fishing Feb. 5.


White River

(updated 1-31-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) reports that January visitors to the Arkansas Ozarks were blessed with a variety of weather styles and challenges to angling skills. Find a day where the weather suits your style and come to the White River; fishing in January and February offers lots of quiet and solitude because fewer anglers will brave the elements. The cold weather doesn’t stop trout from biting on something they find interesting. Sculpins remain the best bet for a bigger brown; minnows have been unreliable so far this year, but the bite on redfins will pick up in a month or two. This is also the time of year to reel in some browns with shad and shad-imitators. We’re betting this is the year the cutthroat bite will be more fun than the browns –they’re aggressive and smart. Gold and red Cleos have been proving successful for wade and bank fishers, and you’ll fill your creel with legal rainbows using white egg patterns. See you at the river!

(updated 1-31-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they had two rain incidents that combined for about an inch in Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.1 feet to rest at 5.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.3 feet to rest at 6 feet below seasonal power pool and 22 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.5 feet to rest at 6.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, there was little wadable water with less generation. The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam has been closed since late November to accommodate the brown trout spawn but will reopen Thursday, Feb. 1. Until Thursday, the State Park is also seasonal catch and release for the same period, and all brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited until Feb. 1.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead size 16, size 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.

(updated 1-24-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is stained. There have been two generators running of late. No fishing reports were available.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level last week was at 653 feet msl (about 6 feet below normal pool). The surface water temperature is 45-49 degrees depending on where you’re fishing. The fishing has been pretty good but it’s hit or miss depending on the day and weather. Depending on where you’re at on the lake there are a couple of different things going on and a lot of it has to do with the shad. When the temperature was real cold and then it got hot, Del says, he believes some of the shad are starting to die off. The big sea dragons that you’ll see throughout the lake on the creek arms, there’s some there and in the turns in the main channel swings, so you want to graph on them and see if there’s fish in them. For the deep bite the spoons are working. Use a half-ounce to a quarter-ounce spoon depending on how deep they are. Del is fishing it anywhere from 20 feet out to 35-45 feet. The drop-shot stop is still working and the drop-shot fish seem to be on the channel swing banks or the bluffs or the bluff ends. The jerkbait bite, if there’s some sun and a little bit of wind, the jerkbait will pull some fish off the docks and brush piles. Keep the boat in 30-35 feet of water. The deeper docks are holding some fish. He’s also catching a few fish on the Fish Spin. And if you have wind and clouds, you definitely want to throw either a Rock Crawler or a Wiggle Wart, using whatever color works for you. The water is gin-clear and there’s some moss. So it’s one of those things where you’re just going to have to fight it, Del says. It’s not real bad, he adds, but you know if you’re throwing a Rock Crawler or a Wiggle Wart you’re going to be peeling it off a little bit.
Del says another bite that’s working is a jig. There’s a deep jig bite and a dock bite for the jigs. The action seems to be around the deeper docks and the brush piles around the deeper docks.
“Speaking of brush piles, Game and Fish put out a ton of brush piles. If you get a chance you’re going to have to go out and mark them,” he says. “What an amazing job. I’m already catching fish off some of them. Jerkbait fish will be over some of them brush piles. Most of them seem to be in that 25-30 feet but as you’re out in the lake one thing you want to look for is the loons and the gulls. They’re out there eating the shad and as the water temperature comes up, some of these shad are dying off. When you see the seagulls, go check it out. Those big sea dragons that you’ll see on the graph, that’s where the fish are going to be around.”

(updated 1-31-2018) K Dock Marina will reopen for the season in March.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 546.31 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-24-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the cold and snow last week sure changed Norfork Lake. The water temperature dropped almost 4 degrees and moved the stripers. Tom pre-fished Thursday morning and started where they caught all the fish the previous week. Tom found plenty of shad and that usually brings the stripers. His group fished all morning and only had one bite. Friday Tom took his clients to where the bait was and fished for another 7 hours moving all around the Blue Lady and 101 flats. Tom was always on shad and had two stripers hooked but never boated them. Sometimes in life you look at all the wrong places to find what’s right in front of you. The assumption is in winter: Find the shad and you will find the stripers. When the water turns cold the shad will always move deeper and the stripers will follow. Tom says he has followed that logic all the time in the winter with great success. The next day he started looking in Float Creek since there was bait and a few fish caught there the day before. Tom’s son, Sean, was out looking around and texted Tom an image of a massive amount of stripers and hybrids in 28 feet of water with no bait around. Tom’s group immediate went to Duck Blind Point and hooked up and landed three stripers. They stayed on the fish but they quit biting when the sun went behind the clouds and the wind turned east. Sean also found stripers shallow in Float Creek near the boat docks. The moral of the story is quit doing the same thing over and over and don’t be afraid to change up your pattern. You just may find the motherlode of stripers.

(updated 1-24-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said January has brought normal significant weather pattern changes. About 12 days ago they went from the 50s to single digits for about six days and even had several inches of snow. Over the last several days they were back in the mid-60s, but here it goes again with a slight cool down. All of these changes in the weather affect what the bait and fish do. On Jan. 10, large schools of fish were feeding in about 60 feet of water, but after the cold snap the hybrids and stripers disappeared, even though the bait was still hanging around. Normal wintertime striped bass fishing would have the fish out in the deep water channels feeding on suspended bait in 40-60 feet down. The bait is there, but only scattered fish are showing up. With the cold weather and snow, the water temperature dropped about 3-4 degrees, but over the last several days the surface water temperature has risen 2-3 degrees. “All of the changes confuse the fish as well as the fishermen, including me,” Lou said.
Lou said they had several fishermen staying with them over the weekend all fishing for stripers – a few were caught but it was tough going. The areas where Lou found fish were in the Henderson area close to the bluffs. Big balls of shad were being pushed into the bluffs by the west wind and there were a few stripers hanging around 30 feet down. Both spoons and live shiners caught fish. Monday, Lou said, he was out fishing from the U.S. Highway 62 bridge area all the way down to Fout Boat Dock and only marked a few lone fish. He said he did more looking than fishing. Lou heard from a friend that he found stripers in very shallow water a few days ago, so Lou’s guess is he’s going to need to think outside the box and look at areas that he would typically avoid this time of year. The last two days the wind was howling so he elected to stay at the resort Tuesday instead of fish, with plans to be back at it in the morning and start the hunt again.
Lou added, “I ended my fishing excursion yesterday by doing a little bass fishing. I headed into a cove that the wind was blowing very strongly into. I stopped on a secondary point and found large balls of shad next to the shore and a few shad floating on the surface. I tied on a Rogue (a shallow-running suspending jerkbait) and started casting to the shore. I gave the bait a couple of hard jerks to get it down, then let it rest for a few seconds, then start twitching the bait softly, then stopped. I did this back to the boat. On the second cast the bass started to get active and I landed three largemouth bass in a very short period of time. No monsters, but fun. The wind was blowing so hard that the waves were starting to splash over the boat, so I called it a day. The other location where my guests were finding bass was along deep bluff lines. The fish were about 30 feet deep. Live bait was catching these suspended largemouth and spotted bass.
“A few small shad are starting to die from the cold water, which is very normal for this time of year. If you can find a school of shad that are distressed, on the surface and close to the shoreline, there will more than likely be bass in the area feeding away. I started to see a little of this yesterday, but I really could not tell if the shad were distressed or just being blown into shore from the strong wind.”

Norfork Lake is currently stable and sits at 546.46 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Monday was around 45 degree (+/- one degree). The main lake is finally starting to show some sign of clearing, as well as the creeks and coves. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is to be around normal, 40s to 50s in the days and high 20s to low 30s at night.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 1-31-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 7.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 33.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. Also, the Norfork has cleared substantially but has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during last year’s flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise #10). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s favorite rig has been a Y2K with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has cleared some and still fishing well. The brown trout have moved in for the spawn. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). It is cold out there. Take frequent breaks, bring cocoa and dress your children warmly.
John added, “It has been a while since I have waded the Norfork. My last visit, over two months ago, had been a bust. The water was highly stained. My wife, Lori, and I had trouble wading because we could not see the bottom. The river had changed a lot during the last flood. Places that used to be shallow gravel are now deep bedrock channels and deep channels were now shallow gravel. With the off-color water, you could not see whether you were stepping in a hole or not. You had to move slowly and carefully probe with your wading staff.
“I had heard through the grapevine that the water had cleared up some. I was excited with the prospect of wade-fishing it again. I was disappointed due to the weather. It took a turn for the worse. We had sub-zero temperatures, heavy winds and a dusting of snow. As a result of the weather, electricity use in the area hit an all-time high and Southwestern Power was running the generators round-the-clock, resulting in high water on the White and Norfork rivers.
“I waited patiently for just the right conditions. The area warmed up and they began turning off the generators on the Norfork. Last Saturday (Jan. 20), I got my chance. The water was scheduled to be off all day and the forecast high was around 60 degrees.
“The night before, I carefully gathered my gear. That morning I woke at 5 a.m. and showered. I then made a pot of coffee and ate a solid breakfast. I dressed in polypropylene long underwear (top and bottom), a pair of heavy pile pants, a tightly knit wool sweater, a down sweater, heavy wool socks, wool fingerless gloves and my Elmer Fudd hat.
“When I arrived at the Ackerman Access on the Norfork it was around 30 degrees at 7: a.m. I was the first one there, the water was on the bottom and it was much clearer than when I was last there. It wasn’t gin clear but it was clear enough for me to wade comfortably. I walked way upstream into the catch-and-release section. I began fishing with the same rig I had used on my last trip. I cast my grasshopper with a ruby midge dropper into a likely spot, I got a bump on the first cast, and I landed a nice rainbow on the ruby midge with the second cast. I fished that spot for a while longer but it was a one-hit wonder.
“I moved on and decided to try a new spot, but I felt like it was time to re-rig. I tied on a two-fly nymph rig (a Y2K with a root beer midge dropper). It was still cold and I had trouble tying the knots with frozen hands, but I finally got it. It soon produced a nice trout on the root beer dropper, but no more.
There was no one fishing near me. I had almost all the river to myself. I moved on and tried another spot with the same results, one fish on yet another fly, the Y2K. I had caught three trout on three flies. It was noon by now and time to head home. I would usually consider this a tough day, but it was so nice to be wading the Norfork again with clean water I thought better of it. Life is good!
“It is time to give the Norfork another chance.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 1-31-2018) 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 cold 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.


Beaver Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,113.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water has a slight stain to clear clarity. Surface temperature is in the low 40s. The lake level is low about 5 feet. Crappie are good and are biting soft plastic tails and minnows. Decent reports have come in on bass, ranging fair to good over the week. Bass are biting the crankbaits and jerkbaits. No reports on other species.

(updated 1-31-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says water surface temperature is in the low to mid-40s. Striper activity forecast for the week is good. Beaver Lake stripers are using the mouths of coves, creek arms and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. They are still seeing some striper 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. Fish free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 40 feet deep in order to ensure that you have a good spread. 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, or 5-6-inch Smithwick Rogues in similar colors on planer boards to stagger your presentation. Make sure you do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three striper 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. Live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. Mike says these areas are hot spots: Rambo Creek Arm (check the back near War Eagle Cavern), Rocky Branch (check the back of Larue near boat ramp), Ford and Cedar creeks (check backs of these and pay attention to where tree line intersects channel), Larue (note the main channel bends and cuts), Coppermine, Ventris and Shaddox Hollow. In the upper section of the lake, hot areas are: Highway 12 bridge (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects), Prairie Creek (check back of this and Avoca), Coose Hollow, Blackburn Creek, Beaver shores, Escapalia Hollow/Falls Hollow, Horseshoe Bend, Mont Ne, Hickory Creek, War Eagle.
Mike says walleye are in their winter mode and can be found from 20-50 feet deep, depending on areas you fish. Use three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Try Rapala Tail Dancers, Bagley Rumble B’s, Flicker Shad, Bandit 300 Series and Arkie 350s in colors that include orange and chartreuse. Try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse. Bink Pro Scale 1-ounce jigging spoons in white or white/chartreuse combo, a variety of jigs and blade baits are producing walleye. Try snap jigging and jigging blade baits.

Beaver Tailwaters

(updated 1-31-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been good this week. Most trout are being caught between Houseman Access and U.S. Highway 62 bridge. The river is quite low, but the deep holes are holding some very nice fish. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The water temperatures in the area mentioned above have ranged between 45-50 degrees. If fishing from the bank, try to locate the deeper areas and you should have your limit in no time. The weather has been cold this week and the much needed rain has seemed to perk the fish up a bit more. So get out there and catch some fish.

(updated 1-31-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the river remains low. Nightcrawlers are working well for catching trout. Fish the Bertrand and the launching ramp just below the dam using PowerBait. Also, try fishing the Parker Bottoms area. When water is flowing, throw quarter-ounce spoons. Flicker shad are also doing the job. Typical good lures here are gold and silver Colorado Spoons, red and gold Bouyant Spoons, and Flicker Shad in Pro Series Nos. 4 and 5. Good PowerBait colors are white, red, orange, yellow, chartreuse and peach. Good flies are pheasant tails, midges in blue dun, black, olive, hare’s ear, tungsten Copper Johns, WD 40s, Trout Magnets and San Juan worms. Winter store hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Lake Fayetteville

(updated 1-31-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported the lake is clear with a surface water temperature of 43 degrees. The lake level is low. Bream are fair and are biting worms and crickets. Crappie are poor. Most being caught were small. Minnows or jigs will get some response. Bass are fair. Try using spinnerbaits or crankbaits. No reports on catfish.

Lake Sequoyah

(updated 1-31-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the lake clarity as clear with a surface water temperature of 40 degrees. Water level is normal. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair; use chicken livers. No reports on bass or bream.


Lake Poinsett

The lake is currently drawn down for repairs.

Crown Lake

(updated 1-31-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the lake is low about a foot. Water is clear. Anglers report fair results on bass. They’re deep, about 30 feet down. They’re hitting crankbaits and shaky heads. No other reports came in during the past week.

Spring River

(updated 1-31-2018) Mark Crawford with (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 230 cfs and water clarity has been clear. Low, clear water has made for more technical fishing. On good days olive Woollies and White Lightnings are hot with a downward cast with short fast strips back upstream. On tough days when the bite is hard to get, a Y2K with a small dropper like a red midge or micro nymph is the way to go. Over the last month some really big fish have been caught. But working for them has been the key. Hot pink and white Trout Magnets always catch fish on the Spring River.


(updated 1-31-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is low and fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is over and there are few boats on the river. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).

White River

(updated 1-17-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the surface temperature Wednesday was 40 degrees and the clarity was clear. The water level is low. No fishing is going on, they report.


Cane Creek Lake

(updated 1-24-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said that with temperatures rising to more tolerable levels the fishing at Cane Creek has made a slight comeback. Crappie are still biting. Minnows are doing better than jigs. Bass fishing has also picked up considerably with the change in weather. The best baits to use are still clumsy squarebills in any kind of shad color, but a few reports of chartreuse-colored baits catching bass have also come in. If the weather stays stable, bream may even begin to bite again. If anyone catches anything on Cane Creek Lake, please email Interpreter Davidson at to help him form a more comprehensive fishing report for this slower time of year.


Millwood Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday the lake level is about 5 inches above normal conservation pool and slowly falling at 259.6 feet msl; there is current of 3,572 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater on Monday was about 231.3 feet msl. Water temps have improved over the past week. Most ice has melted over the past few days on northern bank outcroppings, points, and numerous coves and shoreline areas. Check lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website on its helpful links page, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Surface temperatures as of Monday ranged near 40 degrees early to 45 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for broken or floating timber. Clarity and visibility are mostly stained heavy in places, especially muddy and rolling, upriver. The main lake and lower sections of Little River are not quite as stained or muddy as the northern sectors. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 3-5 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 2-5 inches with heavy to moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity ranges about 8-12 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 largemouth bass activity continue to be subdued, and mostly slow, normal winter patterns. Bass remain slow from 2-3 pounds, best during the heat of the day, using squarebill and medium-diving crankbaits, or dead-sticking Senkos and Zoom Trick Worms on a light wire hook for suspended bass. Smithwick Rouges and other suspending hard jerkbaits and slow-rolling heavy spinnerbaits in and near creek channels, where any vegetation and lily pads stems remain, are taking a few stragglers. Heavy, large, ¾- or 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Bomber Fat Free Shads crankbaits or slow rolling heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits deep in the creeks, have over the past couple of weeks picked up a random contender in the 3-5 pound class. Use any pumpkin seed, brown/orange craw or crawfish pattern for cranks, and spot remover or white/chartreuse for the spinnerbaits, in the creek channels or along points where feeder creeks dump in to the river. It has to be a really slow roll or stop-and-go-type retrieve to entice a bite. Areas farther upriver and into the oxbows away from muddy Little River current seemed to hold the most reactive bass, and the clearer water near standing timber is several degrees cooler than the dirty/stained water sections closer to the river. The back of the oxbows definitely have the best water clarity yet the most lethargic bass. A super slow retrieve with the big and heavy ¾- or 1-ounce Knock-N Rat-L-Traps in Red Shad, Toledo Gold or Goldfire Craw was working near standing timber on points in backs of the oxbows and deflecting off stumps with a few 13-15-inch bass away from the river, where there was better water clarity was without current. Also, heavy ¾-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working cypress trees from 9-12 feet deep; best colors drawing reactions over the past couple weeks were Spot Remover, or white/chartreuse and FireTiger. Magnum fat, tube jigs like Gitzits with internal rattles are working most anywhere, clear or the heavy stain water areas, where stumps, timber and any vegetation remain. Internal glass or brass, heavy-knocking rattles are helping the bass locate the lure in the stained water clarity. Bluegill, purple smoke, black neon or pumpkinseed/chartreuse were getting the best reactions over the past 3-4 weeks. Real Deal Kustom Tackle jigs with a heavy craw worm trailer are picking up random, solitary bass on cypress trees and knees from 8-11 feet deep. Black/blue/purple, black/red or Texas Craw were the go-to colors, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer. Berkley 10-inch Power Worms in black, blue fleck, and black frape are picking up random solitary bass in the 14-16-inch class.
No reports on white bass or hybrids. Crappie have almost completely shut off with the increased muddy water and current upriver. No reports on catfish; Mike said he didn’t run into many catfish anglers on the lake.

Lake Greeson Tailwater (Little Missouri River)
Visit for a daily update on fishing conditions.

Lake Greeson

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 539.37 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-24-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said lake level is 538.33 feet msl as of Jan. 10 and up some from last week, which is still 10 feet under normal pool. Water temperature is 44-49 degrees with some color throughout the lake. Although bass are biting fair to good using a variety of methods, quality bites are hard to come by. Booyah jigs in brown or green pumpkin colors are working well around brush and rocks from 10 feet to as deep as 30 feet. Bandit crankbaits in crawfish colors are catching several fish on rocky and windblown banks. Smithwick Rogue jerkbaits are also working well around windy main lake points. Crappie are fair to good around deeper brush using minnows or Kalin’s Grubs.

DeGray Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 399.62 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the mid-40s and the lake is clear throughout. Fishing is starting to pick up with the weather becoming more stable and the “ice age” receding to the north. Bass fishing is fair between Arlie Moore and Point Cedar with the upper end being best. Look for fish on main lake points close to deep water. Throw medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless, across major points and parallel to the bluff banks. Also try Texas rigged worms worked slowly in the same areas. Green pumpkin and red shad are good starting colors. Crappie fishing is improving with some good catches reported coming from the deeper (20-25 feet) attractors on the main lake. Drop a 2-inch black/chartreuse tube on a 1/16-ounce jighead into the thickest part of the brush at about 15 feet down. Move slowly around the attractor until fish are found. It seems that the fish will be concentrated at a certain spot in the brush, so be sure to cover the entire area. Bites are very subtle in the cold water, so pay close attention to your line. Also don’t forget the crappie nibble. Hybrids are beginning to show on the west side of Goat Island. Trollers are picking up a few on deep-running crankbaits and the small 5-arm umbrella loaded with 4-inch curly tail grubs. Natural shad with some chartreuse is best for the cranks and white, chartreuse or pink on the grubs. Late afternoon is the best time.

(updated 1-31-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said trolling crankbaits and Alabama rigs in the main channels have produced white bass and hybrid striper.

De Queen Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.53 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).

No reports.

Dierks Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.42 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).

No reports.


White Oak Lake

(updated 1-31-2018) Andy Yung, AGFC district supervisor, says that the crappie bite has been excellent since the start of the new year. Lower White Oak Lake was renovated in 2012-13, and catch-and-release rules were in effect for crappie until Jan. 1. Now, anglers are taking out limits (30) of crappie in good sizes, Yung said. Bass and redear are also biting well, he said.


(updated 1-24-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said fishing is still a little slow, not many reports coming in.

Lake Columbia

(updated 1-31-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) had no reports.


Hot Springs Village Area Lakes

(updated 1-24-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born and bred all-weld Aluminum Xpress fishing boats, reports lake temperatures across the area lakes are in the low 40s with warmer water entering through the feeder creeks at the tops of the lakes. There has been as much as a 4-degree difference in temperature and it shows in the aggressiveness of the fish. Bass have been blistering suspending jerkbaits ripped free from submerged grass and worked agonizingly slow with 10-second pauses in 10-15 feet of water in craw or shad colors depending on water clarity. Other lakes in our area are doing well going vertical in up to 45 feet of water using a drop-shot, spoon or hair jig in finesse styles. Electronics are so important this time of year so use that sonar and side imaging to find baitfish off main lake points. Water temperatures should rise this week and hopefully we can get that water up to 50 degrees and get those fish ramped up for prespawn! Good luck be safe and wear those life jackets at least until the water warms.

Lake Atkins

(updated 1-31-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) had no report.

Lake Catherine
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit

(updated 1-31-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-bred-and-built Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, had nor report.

Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)

For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit

(updated 1-31-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Entergy is only releasing water for a few hours every few days to maintain lake levels. Lake Catherine is now at a 3-foot drawdown until March 1, when refilling of both lakes Hamilton and Catherine will begin. Each lake will be brought back to normal summertime levels by March 15. Currently, rainbow trout are the main attraction below Carpenter Dam. More fishing has taken place this past week with the frigid temperatures moving on, and anglers have caught quality limits of trout. From the dam to the bridge, rainbows are present and thriving as January is the first month for large stockings of trout in the tailrace. Periods of no generation are best for bank fishermen as these anglers are recording limits of fish using corn or waxworms with a marshmallow floater. Redworms and nightcrawlers used in the same manner have also produced nice catches. PowerBaits presented just on the bottom or under a bobber are also working well from the bank or boat. Spin fishermen casting small jigs across the current around exposed rock structure have taken the largest trout this past week. Jigs imitate the small threadfin shad that are drawn through the turbines during periods of generation. Opportunistic trout feed heavily on these injured baitfish and grow strong from this protein source. Rooster Tails in white or brown are also effective fished in the current or slack water. Super Dupers and Little Cleos are proven artificial lures and should never be forgotten when targeting trout chasing shad. Trolling the main channel with shallow-running crankbaits is effective and far easier this year with only a 3-foot instead of a 5-foot drawdown. Crawfish or minnow imitations that run 3-5 feet deep will draw consistent strikes from rainbows looking to feed on injured shad. Fly-fisherman are able to wade to areas that hold good numbers of fish and are having success casting egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. Egg imitators are highly effective as all rainbow trout are born egg eaters. This technique will often catch fish when no other pattern will produce. Micro-jigs in white or black have quickly taken numbers of trout in the 12- to 15-inch class. San Juan worms in red or hot pink give fishermen a nice change in approach. Trout Magnets fished 3-7 feet deep have really racked up fish numbers. It seems that all colors are working, with a slight edge in white being noticed. Overall, trout fishing is very good and will become even better we move into February. While white and hybrid bass have been caught the last several weeks, none have been seen feeding this week. Striper activity is very slow with no reports of fish feeding or being hooked recently. The walleye spawn will begin around the second week of February as the water temperatures climb into the 50-degree range. Crappie will begin migrating into the tailrace in mid-March to spawn and will remain until the first part of May. Rainbow trout are king below Carpenter Dam and anyone wanting to enjoy some very good fishing and better tablefare should try their luck in beautiful Lake Catherine. Anyone navigating the tailrace must always wear a lifejacket and be aware of the generation schedules. Observing all park and boating regulations can ensure a safe and memorable outing.

Lake Dardanelle

(updated 1-31-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.

Lake Hamilton

(updated 1-31-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie and bream are scattered and light-biting. Darryl says he’s caught them as shallow as 8 feet and as deep as 45 feet.

(updated 1-31-2018) Lisa at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said her customers report that the lake has been producing some very nice crappie. No. 6 crappie minnows as well as No. 12 bass minnows have been used to catch the crappie.

Lake Nimrod

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.63 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is clear and surface water temperature Wednesday was 46 degrees. The lake is low. The crappie bite is good. Anglers are using black and green jigs or minnows. Bass are fair on artificial bait. No report on bream. No report on catfish.

(updated 1-31-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the water level is low, and water clarity is clear. The surface water temperature is ranging 46-48 degrees. Crappie are fair. Reports on catfish are good. No reports on bream. No reports on bass.

Lake Ouachita

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 567.84 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are good. Jigs and Bama rigs are producing some quality fish. Traps are starting to pick up as well. No report on walleye. Stripers are good on Bama rigs. Major creek channels and the western part of the lake have been the best for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are fair and being caught on minnows in 20-30 feet of water near structure. No report on catfish. The surface water temperature is ranging 44-48 degrees. Water clarity is clear. The lake is more than 10 feet below full pool. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing 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 384.64 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).

No reports.


Bear Creek Lake

(updated 1-24-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said the water level is being lowered Bear Creek Lake by about 4 feet so that some shoreline projects can be completed. However, she said, they’re hoping that it won’t impact the fishing forecast in too big of a way. Call the park anytime to check on water levels, boat launch accessibility, etc. Of late, the cold weather seems to have steered way the fishermen, but it’s warming this week.


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