Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Feb. 14, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Feb. 14, 2018. 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 2-14-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the lake is stained. Water level is normal. Crappie are good and are being caught around the rocky points. Use minnows or jigs in white, orange or chartreuse. Bream are good, also around the rocky points. Redworms are working best. Bass are good and are hitting spinnerbaits in white and black and crankbaits. Catfishing reports are good. Use nightcrawlers.
(updated 2-7-2018) Gold Creek Landing (501-607-0590) reports crappie fishing is good on jigs or minnows. Crappie are in 2-6 feet depth. All other species slow.
(updated 2-14-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said February in Arkansas is staying true to form: cold one day and warm the next. The last two have been the cold variety and the forecast for later in the week being close to 70 midweek and then cold again for the weekend; a rain chance during this period. If you can choose a warm day, the insect activity is starting with midges and some caddis beginning to emerge. When the caddis are coming off, you might try a redass tied with florescent green thread. The river is clear and low with generation in the mornings when the temperature is low. This generation usually is from about 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. During warmer temperatures and on the weekends the generation decreases or stops. Trout are taking small sowbugs, midge pupa, size 10 Woolly Buggers and size 16 mayfly emergers. It would be best to check the generation schedule before planning your trip. Also if a large rain event should occur this time of the year, it may muddy the river due to runoff.
NOTE: Greg will again be offering the free fly-fishing class at First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs beginning THIS THURSDAY. The class lasts for four weeks (each Thursday night from 7-9 p.m.). Class 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 for this class, please contact Greg Seaton at 501-690-9166. If Greg doesn’t immediately answer, he will return voicemails or texts.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service reported that Greers Ferry Lake is below normal pool level for this time of year. Due to low lake level, expect limited generation/water release from the lake, creating low water conditions on the river. Power generation is occurring during times of cold air temperatures, so if we experience mild air temperatures expect extended days of very little water release. Sowbugs, midges, soft hackles and Woolly Buggers are working well for fly anglers. Pink and white-colored Trout Magnets are recommended for spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 455.27 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 2-14-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake on Tuesday was at 455.30 feet msl. That is 6.74 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and rising ever so slow but on the rise nonetheless. And all the rain expected in the forecast is for sure going to help the bite all around in the short term as well as the long term, on out until the spawn starts happening – walleye first, then the whites and crappie, and last but not least the bass and bream.
Crappie will be making a move after this warm rain and you will be able to catch them higher in the water column. Try 12-18 feet in the pole timber and brush piles using minnows or jigs in a spring craw color, and also try reeling a beetle spin through the timber. Walleye will be on the move, for sure, probably going a lot farther up the major river and all north creek arms. Of course, the smaller males will be first with the females coming behind them. Some will find their way on up to spawning sites and hang out until it’s time for them to lay eggs in the shallows at night and will feed at night and better during the day when it’s overcast. Try using crankbaits, live bait on catfish rigs and drop-shots, grubs, swimbaits, etc. for the best action. The hybrid and white bass bite may be off and on some as they do not like to deal with stained water. They will be able to be caught in water with good clarity using spoons, inline spinners, grubs, swimbaits and hair jigs in 25-45 feet of water. Find the shad and the warmest water for the best results. No report on bream. No report on catfish but the bite will be going real well after this rain on a variety of baits.
Tommy says the black bass will be on the move as well, but it will not happen overnight. Some will move shallower vertical and some will move horizontal to be shallow. Shallow fish will eat spinnerbaits, traps and jigs. The deeper fish will still eat a C-rig and a football head. And the in-between fish will eat jerkbaits and crankbaits. This should be a super great year catching on jerkbaits, as with all the cold we have had and water temps falling as low as they did. As it warms, some threadfin will die and that’s when the bite will be on. Probably mid- to late February and into March will be a great time to catch them on various jerkbaits.
(updated 2-7-2018) Cody S. Smith of FishGreersFerry.com (501-691-5701) said Greers Ferry is currently 6.5 feet below power pool and holding steady with limited generation and a bit of inflow from recent rain over the reservoir basin. Water temps are in the lower to mid-40s lakewide and water clarity is good for this time of year. Clear on the south end and slightly colored to the north. Crappie fishing is good and will continue to get even better as the month carries on. These fish are staging for their spring spawn and can be caught adjacent to spawning areas in primary and secondary creeks and rivers. The walleye bite is slow, to say the least. Look for that bite to turn on in a couple more weeks. Hybrids and white bass are on the move and staging as well. Feeding mainly in the early morning and once again late in the day. Look at depths of 18-35 feet at the mouths of our rivers and spawning bays. Spring dates are filling fast here, call email or text to book your next trip with Fish Greers Ferry Guide Service. Call or find them on the web @ fishgreersferry.com or on facebook @ Fish Greers Ferry Guide Service.
(updated 2-14-2018) 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 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.
(updated 2-14-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is clear and has a surface temperature of 46 degrees. The level is low by about 3.5 feet. Crappie have been fair. They’re being caught in 18-20 feet of water on jigs. You’ll find them by structure. Bass are fair on crankbaits and plastic worms. No reports on any other species.
(updated 2-14-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said black bass are good. Black bass are biting on shaky head jigs, crankbaits, drop-shot and jerkbaits. They can be found off steep rocky banks. They’re shallow during dusk and dawn. Drop 12-18 feet in deep water. Kentucky bass are good. Kentucky bass are being caught on hair and finesse jigs. They can be found near the edge of the creek channel. White bass fishing is great now. More reports coming in this week for catching limits of white bass. They can be found on the west end of the lake and under bridges. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep-diving Bandits and Bombers. Crappie are good. They are being caught on crappie minnows and soft plastic bodies with a weighted jig head. Try using chartreuse or lead as well as bladed jigs. They’re being caught in 8-14f feet depth and 28-34 feet deep. Fish in the channel or under water bridges. No reports on bream or catfish came in this week.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few small catfish been caught on fresh chicken livers and bait shrimp. Crappie are biting on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Bass have been hitting Zing Tails in bright colors and No. 12 bass minnows.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows are what the catfish and the bass were biting on over at the back pond Saturday Unfortunately, no recent reports of crappie. However, the week before crappie were reported caught close to the bank with No. 6 crappie minnows.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the walleye are still doing very well. Anglers are using brooder minnows on a No. 2 Eagle Claw 84A plain shank hook, 8-pound Trilene XL clear line along with a BB-size split shot. Hooking the brooder up through the bottom of its mouth and letting it come out of one of its nose holes is usually best. They live and swim a lot better hooked that way. A lot of times, hooking through the back usually makes them either sling off during casting or makes it difficult for them to live long on the hook. Among the places on the river that have been hot are the spillway, Peeler Bend and some of the forks to the Saline. Good reports have been coming down Shaw and Tull way, as well. Nice smallmouth as well as an abundant amount of Kentucky bass have also been biting well on brooders. A few crappie have been reported being caught off No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin’s 2-inch Triple Threat Grubs in Tennessee Shad color. Some decent-size catfish have been caught off of fresh chicken livers on rod-and-reel.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said lots of small bass being caught on No. 6 crappie minnows. No report of crappie being caught, but they’re being seen on fish finders. They must have lockjaw. There are known to be some very nice ones in there when caught, though. Some of Lisa’s regulars that catch them and know where to go out there catch them on No. 6 crappie minnows or pink crappie minnows and also off of Kalin’s 2-inch Triple Threat Grubs in Bleeding Tennessee Shad color. Again I will mention that when it gets bream season, that’s the place to go for huge redears, using crickets fishing on bottom. Catfish do well on nightcrawlers and black salties.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said no crappie reports came from there from this past weekend. But, Lisa says, “could be someone is holding out on me.” That lake has hardly got any pressure on it, due to the rough long gravel road. Catfish are doing well on bait shrimp and nightcrawlers. Bass are very abundant there, and anglers can catch tons of small ones using No. 6 crappie minnows. The crappie Lisa has seen come from there over the years are nice as well. Lisa says she used to have a guy that lived not far from there that would only take brooder minnows when he crappie-fished there. He said the bigger the minnow, the better the bigger size crappie he would catch.
(updated 2-7-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the recent weather has kept people off the river. He said catfish are in deep holes. Use shad with nightcrawlers. Bass are around jetties; use worms. Crappie are in the Petit Jean River. Float jigs in 8-14 feet of water. Sauger are biting below No. 9 on spook rigs.
(updated 2-14-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is stained and has a surface temperature in the 40s. Water level and current are normal. Crappie are fair. The fish are in 4-6 feet depth. Use minnows or black and green jigs. Bass are fair and are biting crankbaits and plastic worms.
(updated 2-14-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river is clear and the surface water temperature Monday was in the 40s. The level is low by 2 feet. Crappie are good and can be found around rocky points. They are about 10-12 feet deep and are hitting tubes. Bream are poor but there are some reports of them around rocky points. Use a jerkbait. No bass reports. Nothing reported on catfish.
(updated 2-14-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the reports on crappie have been good. Crappie are in 5-6 feet of water. Use white and chartreuse jigs. No other reports.
(updated 2-14-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said crappie are poor, with only jigs getting reactions. No other catches were reported.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-14-2018 McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the crappie were biting fair on minnows and jigs. Nothing else was caught.
(updated 2-7-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reopened on Feb. 5, so Donna had no reports to give. The water is stained. Surface water temperature is in the 40s. The level is low.
(updated 2-14-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “A Valentine’s Day gift that everybody would enjoy? A day on the river catching trout! What are we catching them on? Jigs, 1/8-ounce black, black and green, and white. Sculpins, and for the discerning browns, try a minnow for a few minutes. If there’s no interest, switch back to sculpins.” They report seeing large fluctuations in the water level during this last cold snap: heavy releases early in the day, then returning to minimum flow. Get to the river early and catch the rise, cast toward the banks reeling back at mid-depth. That should fill your creel if you’re planning a trout dinner or will bring some near for pictures and release. This is the best time of year to catch a really nice German brown. Hope to see you on the river.
(updated 2-7-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level was normal. The trout bite is good. A lot of rainbows were caught on worms. Some browns were biting jigs.
(updated 2-14-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they have had a freezing rain incident (just a trace in Cotter), colder temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 feet to rest at 6.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 6.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 22.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 7.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had more wadable water with less generation. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of power pool. With the brutally cold water we should expect more generation to provide for increased energy demand. On the White, the hot spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. 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 shared a story this week: “I do a lot of wade fishing and therefore spend a lot of time in my wading boots. Over the years I have purchased several pairs of new boots. When something new comes out I am always interested in checking them out. At the same time, I am dubious of anything that seems over-engineered or too complicated. I am a less-is-more kind of guy.
“Several years ago one of the major manufacturers introduced wading boots with a BOA boot-closure system. Originally developed for ski boots, the BOA is a closure system that uses a ratchet system and 49 strand stainless steel cables to secure the boots. When I first saw them, I thought that this was a bunch of hooey. I can tie my own boots, thank you.
“A few years later, I was in a dilemma. They outlawed felt boots in Missouri. I needed studded rubber soled boots to wade on the North Fork of the White, studded felt soled boots to wade the White and Norfork, and unstudded boots (with felt or rubber soles) to wear in my boat. Wearing studded boots in a boat is like wearing roller skates. Never mind the damage to the boat’s deck.
“Rather than keeping up with three different sets of boots, I opted for a pair of Korker wading boots. They have interchangeable soles and I could easily change between studded felt, studded rubber and unstudded soles. The problem was that they came with BOA closures. I bought them for my wife, Lori, and myself.
“I quickly came to love the BOA system. They were easy and quick to put on or take off even on cold days when my fingers were stiff. If I needed to tighten them up during the day, I just turned the ratchet a few times to adjust them perfectly.
“A few weeks ago I was wading on the Norfork when tragedy struck. My boots were loose and I went to tighten them, only to realize that the stainless steel cable was broken. With regular boot laces, you just tie the two pieces together and finish the day. Steel cables are a bit different. To finish the day, I pulled an old leader out of my fishing vest and tied it around the top of my boot. That and the hook on my gravel guard was enough to keep on my boots for the rest of the day.
“When I went to repair them, I was able to find replacement steel cables for a few dollars. There was even a video on how to install them on the internet. I bought a couple of them so I could replace them on both boots. The cables came with the screw driver necessary install them. It was fairly easy and only took a few minutes. I now carry an extra cable and the little screw driver necessary to fix them.
“If you have been thinking about trying the BOA system for your boots, I recommend that you do it!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last Wednesday (2/7/2018) that they survived the ice apocalypse, and the water temps now are about 45 degrees depending on where you’re at; you can find a little bit warmer water at the end of the day. It’s that time of the year you don’t have to rush out first thing in the morning to get bit, he says. A couple of different patterns are working for Del, though he adds that with sports shows lately in the Chicago area he hasn’t spent a lot of time on the water. With the deep bite Del says he’s either throwing a spoon or a drop-shot. Those have been the two most consistent. And those fish seem to be keyed in on shad. With it getting so cold there is a bit of a shad kill that’s happening and that’s more what Del describes as “video game fishing.” That seems to be working pretty good in anywhere from 30-50 feet of water. If you’re generating you’ll be able to pick them up on the graph. There is a jerkbait bite going on over the brush piles around rocks. That’s working pretty well, too. There is also a crankbait bite. With the crankbait bite, Del says he’s parallel to the bank, keeping the boat at 8-10 feet, and throwing either Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart. All depends on what you like and how deep the fish are staging on that bank. That bite should really start going with the coming warming trend. There are a couple of keys you’re locking for that will clue you in on where to go. If you’re graphing, take the time to go and look for the birds. You can actually pick the shad ball up on the graph. That’s what you want to look for. A lot of those deep fish are really keyed in on that shad bite. Now, as that water temperature warms up, those crawdads will start getting active and Del then is throwing a jig in anywhere from 6-20 feet of water. For the deeper jig bite, and I’m also throwing a shaky head. He’s talked to some anglers who are also throwing the Ned Rig again. If it’s not windy, if you don’t have clouds, if it’s a bluebird day and you don’t want to video game fish, you can pick up a Ned Rig or a jig and fish the steeper banks, the bluffier-style banks, and that will help you push a couple of fish in the boat. He also said a couple of anglers were doing pretty well throwing the A-rig, though that’s something you have got to commit to. They’re fishing it in the 10-20 foot range, keeping the boat out to 30 feet. Del concludes, “When the weather gets warmer it’s going to be like Donkey Kong here, guys.”
K Dock Marina will reopen for the season in March.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 545.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said he missed the last week’s fishing report due to our trip to the Chicago Sports Show. But he’s back this week and then we will go to the Jonesboro Sport Show Feb, 9. If you are around the Jonesboro area, stop by Tom’s booth and you can spend some talking fishing. Right now the Norfork Lake water temperature is in the low 40s and will stay that way for the next several weeks. Once they start getting some consistent south winds they should see a quick warmup. The lake is experiencing the normal winter shad kill. They are seeing thousands of small 1- inch threadfin shad dying along the shoreline. Small threadfin shad cannot tolerate water temperatures in the low 40s very long. The good news is the shad kill generates tremendous opportunity for catching trout on the White and Norfork rivers. Throw a small silver spoon and you will have lots of action. The stripers have gone into their February hiding routine; they seem to disappear every February, so if you want to catch one, try going up a creek with a good water flow. This time of year on the lakes and rivers in Tennessee they catch stripers in 30 feet of water or less. Here, Tom would look at Bennett’s Bayou or up pass the state line. Historically the largest winter stripers are caught at the 160 bridge at night throwing bucktail jigs. Tom says he plans on spending his February chasing walleye and crappie. Right now they are catching both off brush piles using small jigs and spoons. Tom will be fishing up near Udall using live bait for walleye and long line trolling for crappie in the creeks off the main lake like Bennett’s, Pigeon Creek and Big Creek. Lots of big crappie are caught trolling small jigs and minnows.
(updated 2-14-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at 8.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 34.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. The water is 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 size 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 No. 14 sowbugs, No. 12 Y2Ks 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.
(updated 2-14-2018) 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,112.89 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is clear and on Monday the surface water temperature ranged from 38 degrees to areas that are still frozen. Water level is low. Anglers had good reports on crappie. They are fishing the rocky points and the river arms with minnows for good results. Bass are fair. Jerkbaits are working best. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 2-14-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says water surface temperatures are in the high 30s-low 40s. Striper are using the mouths of coves, creek arms and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. You should look for warmer water temperatures that are concentrating bait as only a degree or two can attract baitfish. Use these intersections of warm water/structure to your advantage as it will often concentrate schools of bait and Beaver Lake stripers. For you diehard live baiters, fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 40 feet deep should get you some stripers. For the artificial baits you can 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. You should also try dead-sticking with 1- to 2-ounce jigheads and a fluke or soft jerk of your choice. Dead-sticking is the act of presenting a soft plastic lure by a vertical drop and allowing the bait to remain motionless for an extended period time before retrieval. Make sure that when deadsticking you present the lure above or in the top of the schools of bait. Remember: Do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three striper or hybrid or combination, while 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 in the mid and upper sections: 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, War Eagle/White River junction.
Mike says walleye will start moving up toward spawning grounds in the next few weeks. Right now walleye can be found from 20-30 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.
(updated 2-14-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has very good this week. Most trout are being caught between Spider Creek, Parker Bottoms and Arkansas Highway 62 bridge. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The water temperature in the area mentioned above has been between 45 and 50 degrees. The big issue is lack of water. The river is extremely low right now, so the use of a boat may not be practical. The spots mentioned above were accessed by the bank. If you do not mind a bit of walking, the effort is likely to pay off.
(updated 2-14-2018) 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.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported the clarity as clear with a surface temperature of 40 degrees. Water level is low. Crappie are fair on jigs. A 12-pound catfish was caught on a jig. No reports on bream. No reports on bass.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water level is normal and the surface temperature is 40 degrees as of Monday. Clarity is clear. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass are fair on a jig. Catfish are reacting fair to chicken livers. Nothing to report on bream.
(updated 2-14-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park says that while the lake is in total drawdown and being repaired for the next couple of years, the good news is that the bait shop are still selling bait as well as other fishing supplies, and there are other lakes in the vicinity worth checking out.
(updated 2-14-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said there continues to be little action. The surface water temperature was 41 degrees on Monday, which was an improvement. The water is clear and the level is low by 2 feet. No reports on any catches.
(updated 2-14-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 230 cfs (350 is normal) and water clarity has been clear. The river is low and clear, making for easy wading. With low water conditions, it has made the fishing more difficult. On sunny days a Y2K with a dropper like a small nymph or midge can work great. Lately bigger fish have been hitting Woolly Buggers in olive, yellow and brown. The big white fly called White Lightning has been very good on bass, browns and rainbows. Hatches on bright days have been midges and caddis. Any of these imitations can work well during a hatch. Mark adds that he can never say enough about how well hot pink Trout Magnets work on the Spring River. Fish are always hooked in the top of the mouth and it is a great catch-and-release tool. Works great on a fly rod for trout and smallmouth. Just superglue some bodies on the hook the night before so the bodies don’t slide down on the hook. Works great below a float and on smaller creeks in the area it is Mark’s go-to on the fly rod for panfish and smallmouth. Wade down the middle of the creek and cast to the shore with short fast strips back. So much fun!
(updated 2-14-2018) 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. There are few boats on the river. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 2-14-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report.
(updated 2-14-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park had no report.
(updated 2-14-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had no report.
(updated 2-7-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello reports that the lake is being maintained at a lower level until the end of the summer for the replanting of vegetation. Current clarity is good and the surface water temperature is 40 degrees. Crappie are biting fair on jigs. Bass are fair where you find deeper water. No other reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.67 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service the lake level Monday was about 6 inches above normal conservation pool and steady at 259.7 feet msl; and there is current of about 2,800 cfs in Little River according to the USACE. The tailwater as of Monday was about 229.8 feet msl. Water temps have improved over the past week. Check lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website, 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 temps as of Monday were ranging near 40 degrees early to the 45-degree range 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 current 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 currently ranges 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.
Largemouth bass activity continues to be typical, and mostly routine slow cold water, winter patterns. Bass remain slow, but better and fair on full sun/warm days, from 2-3 pounds each, up to 6 pounds. They’re best during the heat of the day using Carolina rigs, slow-moving swimbaits or suspending jerkbaits, dead-sticking Senkos and 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 pad stems remain, are taking a few stragglers. , In the creek channels or along points where feeder creeks dump in to the river, heavy, large, 3/4- or 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Bomber Fat Free Shads crankbaits, or slow rolling heavy 3/4-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits deep in the creeks have over the past few weeks picked up a random contender in the 4- to 6-pound class using any pumpkinseed, brown/orange craw, or tan and red crawfish pattern for cranks, and spot remover or white/chartreuse for the spinnerbaits. You have to use a really slow roll or stop-and-go-type retrieve to entice a bite. Big, slow-moving swimbaits, stop-and-go retrieved, are randomly picking up a few nice contenders in the 4-5 pound class in deeper creeks and ditches. Areas further upriver and into the oxbows away from muddy Little River current seemed to hold a few 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. The big and heavy 3/4- or 1-ounce Knock-N Rat-L-Traps in Natural Craw, Creole Craw, Red Chrome or Rayburn Red Zombie colors with a super slow retrieve, used near standing timber on points in backs of the oxbows and deflecting off stumps and standing timber from 8-12 feet deep, were sporadically taking a few 14-17-inch bass away from the river, where better water clarity was located without current. Also, heavy 3/4-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.
Mike adds that Magnum fat, tube jigs like Gitzits with internal rattles, continue working most anywhere. They work in clear or the heavy stain water areas where stumps, timber and any vegetation remains. 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; the darker colors seem to draw better reactions in the more stained water areas. Also, 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. Texas rigged, Berkley 10-inch Power Worms in black, blue fleck and black grape, slowly crawled by stumps and timber, are catching a few 15-18-inch bass. Mike still has gotten no recent reports on white bass and hybrid bass, which both disappeared a few weeks ago. Crappie still remain slow, almost completely shut off with the increase of muddy water and current upriver, with no reported improvement this week. No reports on catfish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 540.38 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is 540.34 feet msl as Wednesday and up some from last week, which is still well under normal pool. Water temperature is 44-49 degrees with some color throughout the lake with more in the upper lake due to the recent rains. 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 400.77 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Local angler George Graves said Surface water temperature is in the low 40s and the lake is clear up to Point 14 and is slightly dis-colored farther up. Only the diehards are fishing in this inclement weather and reports are hard to come by. A few bass are being caught in the upper end from Alpine Ridge to Point Cedar. Best pattern has been working crankbaits across main lake points and fishing a Texas rigged worm deeper on the same points. Best colors for the cranks has been natural shad with some chartreuse and green pumpkin or red shad for the worms. Remember, whatever you use, fish slow and near deep water. Crappie fishing is fair with some nice fish showing on the deep attractors in the Shouse Ford area. Look for cover at 20-25 feet and drop a 2-inch tube on a 1/16-ounce jighead into the densest part of the brush. Best color has been black/chartreuse. Fish the lure very slowly and pay attention to the slightest bite. Most times a bite won’t be felt, so just slowly lift your rod a few inches every few seconds and if weight is felt, it’s probably a fish. Don’t forget the crappie nibble; one will do. A few hybrids now showing on the west side of Goat Island but very few are being caught due to the cold water. Slowly troll the small umbrella loaded with 4-inch curly tail grubs in either white or pink/white. The active fish will be suspended at about 15 feet down, so be sure to have the lure running just above the fish. Afternoons are the best time.
(updated 2-7-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said trolling shad-colored crankbaits have produced the most white bass and hybrid striper. Most of the time they are in or near the channel but avoid the flats.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lane Dodd of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports said last week on US97, said that he’d had a few good reports from here. Some anglers are getting halfway back on the creeks with a Bomber Flat A crankbait, tearing them up in the 4-6 feet range of water.
De Queen Lake
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.42 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.31 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
NOTE: On Thursday, Feb. 22, AGFC biologists will hold a public input meeting regarding fisheries management on Upper White Oak Lake. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the AGFC Camden Regional Office, 500, Ben Lane in Camden. The AGFC is developing a Fishery Management Plan for Upper White Oak Lake and want to include ideas from local anglers in the process. The plan will deal with regulations, stocking, habitat and any other concerns directly related to fishing on Upper White Oak Lake. The event will cinclude a short presentation of the current status of the fishery followed by a structured public input concerning the fishery going forward. A follow-up meeting will be held at the same time and place on Thursday, March 1, to present the completed plan and solicit final public input. Call the regional office toll free at 1-877-836-4612 for more information.
(updated 2-7-2018) 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 2-14-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said fishing has been slow in the river bottoms, there are a few reports starting to trickle in. A few bass are being caught in current. A few crappie are being caught in the lakes but overall still slow. No report on catfish yet.
(updated 2-14-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) said they had seen a few good bass caught the last couple weeks, Also, some crappie are being caught on the brush tops.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 2-7-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas bred-and-built all-weld Xpress fishing boats, reports lake temperatures are varying in temperatures from the mid-40s to the high 40s with water clarity up to 20 feet. Needless to say the bass fishing has been poor. Jerkbaits have lost their appeal except for up creek channels and ditches where some stained water can be found in the 10-15 foot range. The best bet at the moment is to A) fish very deep over suspended bait (which is difficult to find) or B) fishing secondary point of rock near creek channels and working a shaky head or football head in green pumpkin very slowly down. Downsize your lines and rely on the spinning setups. Crappie report is average. Most fish are close to cover in 20-40 feet of water. Minnows and ice cream-colored jigs on the vertical are the way to go. The fisherman have been hard at work sinking Christmas trees and, with the aid of side scan imaging, they can’t hide!
(updated 2-14-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said fishing has been slow of late. The water is clear and the level is high. Monday’s surface water temperature was 38 degrees. Crappie reports are poor. They will bite on jigs, though. Bass are fair on plastic worms. No other species reported.
(updated 2-14-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-bred-and-built Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 2-14-2018) 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 with recent large stockings of trout in the tailrace, and February is the next big month for trout stocking with 12,000 fish scheduled to be released. 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 recently. 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 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 has begun with fish located from the bridge to the dam. Small males from 1 to 2 pounds entered the tailrace early this year to prepare the beds for the larger females. These fish normal run from 3 to 5 pounds and will be present until late April. Trolling shallow running crankbaits that imitate small shad or crawfish have accounted for the most fish caught in the last week. The main channels hold the biggest numbers of walleye and trolling against the current is key as these fish are bedding close to the banks. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows are working well in periods of no generation.
Shane adds that 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.
(updated 2-14-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature as of Tuesday was 43 degrees. Clarity in the river is poor with clear backwater and creeks. Bass fishing has been good using A-rigs, jerkbaits crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Jigs are working in the shallower water on the warmer days. There is still plenty of fish deep, with some fish moving shallow. Stripers are good; try swimbaits, hair jigs, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. White bass are fair small Rat-L-Traps, spoons and inline spinners. Crappie fishing has been hit-and-miss but when they are biting you can get your limit. Stay deep with minnows or jigs (black/chartreuse or chartreuse/pink has been good). Catfish are improving around bluffs and old road beds; use cut shad or skipjack.
(updated 2-14-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton said, customers report using No. 6 crappie minnows and the lake has been producing some nice crappie. Lisa also says, “Years ago I had a crappie guide that would come here and buy No. 12 bass minnows to take his clients out to crappie fish. He always said that was the key to catch those slab crappie there.” Big bream are said to be hitting there, as well. One guy said they were hitting the minnows as well so he decided to take crickets back with him to see if he could get into lots more of them. Lisa says she appreciates her customers passing along the hot spots for her to pass along to Fishing Report readers.
(updated 2-7-2018) Greeson Marine in Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas bred-and-built all-weld Xpress fishing boats, reported water temperatures in the mid- to high 40s as you move up the lake. Water clarity is 1-4 feet depending which end of the lake you are on. Bass have been very slow. Many anglers have thrown everything from an Alabama rig to a crankbait at the fish for a full day without a single bite. They also report they will be moving locations over the next week to inspect pre-spawn locations. Good Luck and be careful out there. Wear your life jackets at all times.
(updated 2-7-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that cold weather crappie fishing is the deal right now. This is when all the old-timers would all go out and fill their deep freezers full. That’s what’s going on, on Lake Hamilton on brush piles; 10-12 feet seems to be the number. That means you have to have 15-20 feet deep brush. That’s the trick, Phillip says he likes 18-20 feet of water with “a big, big tall pile of brush on it.” That way you’re fishing 10-12 feet around the edge of it where it comes up. Find a situation like that, that’s where you’re going to catch a bunch of good crappie right now. The water is very clear, so you’re not using as many bright colors as you are black, silver, white, gray – colors that mimic a shad this time of year.
(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.
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.64 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is clear and the surface water temperature is 45 degrees. Water level is normal at 342.6 feet msl as of Monday. Crappie reports are good. The fish are reported in 10-16 feet depth. Red jigs are working best. Also use nibblers. Bass are fair on minnows. Catfishing is good, with catches in 6-8 feet depth. Use shad. No reports on bream or white bass.
(updated 2-14-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said they’re hearing good reports on crappie. Spinnerbaits are working best to catch them. Nothing else has been reported.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 568.13 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-15-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are still good. Jigs and Alabama rigs are producing some quality fish. Traps and jerk baits are starting to pick up as well. Walleye should be staging for a spawning run and will start to move up the river and major creek channels with any warmer rain the next two weeks. Stripers are fair on Bama rigs. Major creek channels on the central and western part of the lake are still the best for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are still fair and being caught on minnows in 30-40 feet of water near structure. No report on catfish. Surface water temperature is ranging 44-48 degrees and the clarity is clear. 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 384.40 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-14-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said no major fishing action at Bear Creek this past week. Forecast calls for rain through the weekend, so they’re not anticipating much action but would love to see some anglers out if the weather permits. The Bear Creek Lake boat ramp is still closed due to low lake levels – if folks have questions about reopening, they’re invited to call the park.
(updated 2-14-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said there has been little major fishing action of note lately.
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