Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 21, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 21, 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
(updated 3-21-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) reported the clarity as clear and the level is normal. Crappie reports have been pair. Crappie are at about 5 feet depth around brush piles. Use minnows or white and chartreuse jigs. Bass are good on white spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Bream reports have been good. They’re also around the brush piles and near the shoreline and are biting worms and crickets. Catfishing is good using worms or crickets.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lowell Myers says that Sore Lip’em All Guide Service reported that the Little Red River is receiving two units of generation plus release from the spillway gates. This release pattern, or a combination of generators and spillway gates, is expected to continue through the weekend into early next week. At that time, we should see begin seeing a decrease of water release until the lake level reaches conservation pool. If you choose to fish these conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. Concentrate on pools along the banks away from the strong currents. Key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high-water conditions. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 3-21-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the Army Corps of Engineers has informed him that they plan on running two units plus the floodgates through Sunday if the rain forecast for the weekend allows this release downstream. After Sunday they plan to just use the two generators and start to reduce the flow slowly to allow the banks to stabilize and reduce the erosion that occurs after a high-water event. Hopefully by later next week the Little Red will see more normal releases due to power demand only. The flow is about 9,200 cfs at this time and this is a dangerous level to navigate the river. Please use extreme caution if you venture out while the floodgates are being used. Enjoy the river, but respect it!
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.36 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 3-21-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 465.42 feet msl and falling with generation and flood gates open. It is 3.38 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. They are trying to remove 1 more foot of water to keep it at 463.04 feet for the time being and it will be at that level Thursday, while rains next week should put it back on the rise again. The catching over all is good on all species, but the weather is going to have the full-blown bite off just a tad as the cool nights are going to keep things leveled off until it’s right for all species to spawn at different times to keep the specific species viable. The crappie fishing is good while the sun is out and pretty predictable, but if it’s cloudy they will be scattered more. They have been hanging around the ambush spots eating well as they are pulling this water. Try fishing from super shallow out to 10-12 feet of water on jigs and minnows. The bream are starting to show their faces some more shallow, and as the water warms with the sun, try crickets and small artificial baits from 1 foot out to 10 feet. No reports on catfish. Walleye are still being caught up the rivers and will continue to be for a while even after the spawn is over. And some lake walleye are now starting to show up on a more regular basis. For the river or lake fish use small minnows on a jighead or a drop-shot and also grubs, crankbaits are working well at times as well. They lake fish are hanging out from 6 inches out to 30 feet; various weather conditions will play a big role. The black bass are eating well and they too can be caught from real shallow out to 30 feet or so on spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, small and large crankbaits, Carolina rigs and football heads, and of course a drop-shot and a shaky head. The hybrid bass and white bass are in various stages of the cycle as well and can be caught real, real shallow and also as deep as 45 feet in some areas on Alabama rigs, grubs, swimbaits, spoons, and inline spinners, and live bait is working as well.
(updated 3-21-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the fishing overall is good right now. The male crappie are moving in making their beds, and they’re biting in shallow water on grubs. The bite is about 2 feet deep. There is also a deeper water bite going on that’s good. With the changing weather patterns, the crappie seem to be in and out. They come in and bite in the morning time, and then again in the afternoons about 3 p.m. Bass are spawning or in their pre-spawn and the bite is good. Catfish also are good. Bream are starting to show up a little bit.
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) reports that crappie is biting great in 4-6 feet of water Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Popsicle, Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone or chartreuse, Gumdrop, Penny Back Shad and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows, worms and frozen shad. Bass are biting great on buzzbaits and minnows, lizard plastic worms, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper. White bass are biting on Baby Shad in Popsicle, Slap Slanger, and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r, Cajun Spin and Silver Minnow. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said one of her customers reports Harris Brake is still doing great on big crappie using No. 4 crappie minnows around the docks between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
(updated 3-7-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is high by about 3 feet. Clarity is muddy but improving. Bass are doing well around brushtops and structure. Use topwater baits and plastic worms. Bream are slow but should start picking up. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and shad. Crappie are doing good on yo-yos at night with No. 4 and No. 6 minnows in 4-6 feet of water. Still a little early on the spawn, water temperatures are 53 to 55 degrees.
(updated 3-22-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake had been so high for a couple of weeks that there wasn’t any fishing going on. Things are settling back to normal now. Crappie are in the deep area. Crappie can be found in about 14-15 feet of water. Bass are being caught closer to the shoreline. The water temperature Thursday morning as 52 degrees, rising to 54 by midafternoon. Crappie are being caught on minnows and jigs. Bass are being caught with spinnerbaits and small crankbaits up close to the buckbrush. The action is just slow, however. Some anglers are catch 7-12 bass and some only 1-2. The wind has been blowing hard at times. However, the lake is getting back to its normal level. Larry says they just need some warmer nights, and in a week or so “it ought to be wide open.”
(updated 3-21-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said the lake is still dropping this week, and water temperature from the marina is 53 degrees and about 55 at the west end. Black bass remain slow. With water temps in the mid-50s and on the rise, some of the black bass are moving out of the pre-spawn areas. Try using crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs in 4-8 feet and 10-15 feet of water. A few can also be caught in shallow water on spinnerbaits or Chatterbaits. This week, the blacks were biting more during dusk and dawn. Kentucky bass are slow. Kentucky bass for the most part are still a little deeper than the largemouth. The main lake, rocky banks or points are best with a crankbait or jig. White bass are slow. Less reports coming in on the whites the past two weeks. Some are saying the whites are staging. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons, deep-diving Bandits, and Bombers. Crappie are slow. With the water level falling this past week it is making it a tough crappie bite. More reports coming in of them being found scattered in different depths anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. No reports have come in on bream and no reports on catfish.
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are biting well on Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Popsicle and Slab Slanger as well as on minnows and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r. White bass are biting Slab Slanger, Baby Shad in Cajun Spin, and Silver Minnow. Bass are biting worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
(updated 3-14-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said crappie are fair in 12-14 feet of water. Use pink and chartreuse jigs or minnows. No other reports.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the lake has been great since it was stocked last Tuesday (March 13) with catfish. They have been catching them on near about anything, from chicken livers, to nightcrawlers, to No. 12 bass minnows and stink bait. “I must say that I wished people would keep in mind that the limit is three per person,” Lisa says. “When kids go out there and don’t catch anything due to the fact of a lot of people are going way over their limits, then those kids lose interest in fishing. I am just saying, think of the kids before you take way over your limit.” Lisa says she had a customer show her a picture of a huge bass caught there, too; it was probably 10 pounds or better. He caught it on a white spinnerbait. Bass are to be released back in to the lake. He said after taking the picture right on the dock, he did release it back. Crappie have been doing well also around the dock and on the bridge going to the other side. No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows have been working well for some of her customers, she said.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some anglers have been catching crappie out of the back one they call Lake Charles using No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass and catfish also have been hitting on the No. 6 crappie minnows. Bream been doing fair on crickets and redworms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the walleye have been doing great for several of her customers using brooder minnows. Some have caught their limit of six going out on an evening of fishing. “While I won’t say exactly where they are fishing, I will say they have been fishing from the banks of Saline River,” Lisa said. While fishing for walleye, it is best to be fishing off the bank rather than to be in a boat motoring around and making all kinds of noises. You can catch them from the boat, but less movement and noise as possible is a key in getting perhaps your limit. Kentucky bass have also doing great on the brooder minnows; large numbers of them have been caught lately. Catfish have done well on lines using brooder minnows and cut bait. A few crappie reports have come in with anglers using No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin’s 2-inch Triple Threat grubs in the Tennessee Shad color.
Lisa adds that some of her customers report a variety of other hot spots in the region: Lake Ouachita has been doing great on some slab crappie for a couple of her customers using No. 6 crappie minnows. “While I know it’s a big lake, unfortunately I don’t know what part they been going to,” she said. Harris Brake is still doing great on big crappie using No. 4 crappie minnows around the docks between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., according to one of her customers.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the bass have been doing well on white spinnerbaits and No. 12 bass minnows. Nice-size crappie have been caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows, but not big in numbers. A few bream are being caught off of crickets fishing on the bottom. Catfish have been hitting nightcrawlers and bait shrimp and chicken livers.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said lots of bass have been being caught on the No. 6 crappie minnows. Crappie been doing fair on pink crappie minnows and No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish are biting nightcrawlers, bait shrimp and No. 12 bass minnows. No report on bream.
(updated 3-21-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
(updated 3-21-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the clarity is clear. Water level and current are normal. No temperature was available. Crappie are good in the shallows on minnows or jigs. Bass are good also in the shallows on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. No other reports.
(updated 3-21-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are fair around jetty points. Use white and chartreuse jigs. Bass are fair on chartreuse and black crankbaits and black buzz baits. No other reports.
(updated 3-7-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said it heard a fair report on catfish near the Murray Lock and Dam. They were using skipjack.
(updated 3-7-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the surface water temperature is on the rise, and so are the crappie. The crappie bite is excellent on minnows and jigs. No reports on any other species. The water level and current are normal, and the water is stained.
(updated 3-21-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water level and current are starting to come down. The water is still muddy. No surface water temperature was recorded. There were no reports this week on bream. Crappie are good on jigs and minnows and the fish are around stumps. Bass are good; use Senkos or jigs in the backwater areas for best results. No reports on catfish.
(updated 3-21-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie are good in the Terry Lock and Dam area. Crappie are biting minnows or chartreuse and white jigs. White bass are good on white Rooster Tails. No reports on bream, catfish or black bass. Water is stained and the level and current remain high.
(updated 3-21-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water level and current were high and there were no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-21-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is stained and the level and current are high. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows and black and green jigs. Bass reports are good, with anglers having success on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and with plastic worms. Nothing to report on catfish.
(updated 3-21-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the water is clear and the level is normal. No temperature was recorded. Crappie reports are good. Anglers were using both minnows and jigs. Catfishing is fair on minnows. No reports on bass. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-21-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says March is living up to its windy reputation, but each day is warmer than the day before as they greet spring break visitors to the White River in Cotter. Prepare for some breezy days; tie on a Rooster Tail or yellow Panther Martin as a change to your routine in the coming days. Be prepared also for some fluctuating water levels by carrying some red wrigglers to use during rising water and some bright chartreuse PowerBait for falling water. Here’s what has been successfully catching healthy, fighting rainbows this week: pink and rainbow-colored spinnerbaits with gold blades, 1/4 ounce to 1/8 ounce depending on water level (lightweight spinners just below the surface on low water, heavier Rooster Tails twitching at mid-depth or lower in high water). Try steeping your fluorescent yellow PowerBait with raw shrimp for a few minutes before you tie on a combo of the two and float it near the bottom to interest those trout.
(updated 3-21-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is stained and generators are running in the morning and shutting off in the afternoon. The trout fishing has been good on pretty anything but especially pink worms and shad.
(updated 3-21-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said over the weekend that during the past week, they had just a trace of rain in here Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.6 feet to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.9 feet to rest at 0.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 9.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. 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 above or near the top of power pool. With the higher lake levels we can expect more generation particularly on the White. On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There have been shad coming through the dam. There are also some caddis coming off in the afternoon. 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 or size18), 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 favorite is a pink worm with a size 14 prince nymph suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down. Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also says, “The 21st annual Sowbug Roundup will be held March 22-24 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. This is the premier fly-tying show in the South and one of the top fly-tying shows in the United States. The show is put on by North Arkansas Fly Fishers (a 501(c)(3), our local fly fishing club, which is affiliated with Fly Fishers International. The hours are 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. Admission is only $5 per person, with children under 12 years of age admitted free. This is great and inexpensive family entertainment. The show funds $10,000 in local scholarships in fishery or related conservation fields annually.
“The big draw is the fly-tyers. There will be over 100 from all over the United States. You are encouraged to watch and talk to them. They are all eager to show you how to tie their flies and also how to fish them. Whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned pro, you can learn from each tyer. If it sounds like something you would be interested in, there are free beginner-level classes every day. There are also featured tyers Leslie Wrixon, Paul Hoelscher, Fred Du Pre, Peggy Brenner, Son Tao and Reid Benton. These are all masters of their craft who create true works of art. There are vendors featuring anything linked to fly-fishing and a host of seminars delivered by knowledgeable professionals over several fly-fishing subjects.
“This year’s show features Tenkara, the traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing. It features a very long rod and no reel. The flies are quite special. There are several seminars about Tenkara as well as several fly-tyers that specialize in those flies. There are even Tenkara vendors who will be selling Tenkara gear. If you have ever considered learning more about it, this is your golden opportunity.
“This is my 18th Sowbug Roundup. I began as soon as I moved here. It was the first place where I did fly-tying presentations and I found out that I loved it. I have been involved ever since. Now I am a vendor, fly-tyer, program presenter, a member of the Sowbug committee and chairman of the fly-tying contest. Therefore I will be in the Berry Brothers Guide Service booth most of the time. Stop by and let me tie you a fly. My wife, Lori, is also involved. She will be teaching a few fly-casting classes. She is the best casting instructor in the Twin Lakes area and her classes at Sowbug are free. My sister, Ernestine, is flying in to help out. She has attended the last few years and loves it. I hope to see you there!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said on March 15 that the lake level was at 659 feet msl and that it had dropped a couple of feet to where it was back to normal. They’ve been generating quite a bit of water at the dam and the water temps are about 48 degrees as of late last week, up to 56 degrees if you get in the dirty water and back to some of the creeks, and that’s got the white bass moving up if you’re into that kind of thing. The white bass are going in the backs of the creek, all the way in the back where it gets skinny, he said. Largemouth bass fishing has been, well, you’re working for them this past week, Del said. Some days you do really well, and other days it’s tougher. They’re in transition, starting to come out of their winter haunts and moving out into the creeks headed toward spawning areas. Keep that in mind as you’re fishing, the bluffier, deeper 45-degree banks are still holding a lot of fish and they’ll just use those channels to go back into the creeks as they go toward those spawning areas. Some of them are starting to move just outside of the spawning areas, so a couple of different things Del is using: In the clear water he’s throwing a Fish Spin Head. That’s catching a few fish, slow-rolling it back on the steeper shoreline. The jerkbait over the brush piles and the points, that’s picking up a few fish. That bite is starting to wean on and off. The crankbait bite, if you have wind and you got dirty water, or if you just have a lot of wind (we’ve had a lot of wind last couple weeks), throw a Wiggle Wart or Rock Crawler. The Rock Crawler seems to be picking up a few more fish than the Wiggle Wart right now and the fish seem to be in that 8- to 10-foot zone. The jig bite has been one of the stronger bites for Del, he said. Fishing the jig, that water temperature is just right where those crawdads are starting to get a little active, so keep that in mind if you’re going out. If you’re going to the back and you’re looking for that dirty water, there’s fish in there. If we get the cold nights, though, those fish will move off because that’s the first place to warm up is also the first place to cool off. If you do get in the back and you find the warmer water, Del said he found it up to 56-57 degrees. This week it’s supposed to get warm, so you can start getting a few on a spinnerbait. It’s not a real strong bite but you do need a little wind and some dirty water to make that happen. If you’re going out toward the main lake and it clears up on you, he’s catching a few dragging a twin tail grub or shaky head. If it lays flat on you, opt for that or a jig. The deep bite’s pretty much has disappeared and Del doesn’t expect that back for a while. All these fish are looking to come up and spawn, and it’s going to get good here in the next couple of weeks as they start moving up toward the spawning areas. There is a bit of a walleye bite going on. If you get out, go out the last two or three hours of the day, throw a jerk bait around. Some guys are catching a few out of jerkbait and that’s going to continue here for the next couple months if you want to go catch walleye. I’d recommend that you wait until the last couple hours of the day and go throw a jerkbait around on the long bushy shallow points and gravel.
Del adds that they held the Big John’s Tournament two weeks ago and it drew a great turnout, and he appreciates everyone showing up. They’ve more tournaments scheduled for the first Saturday of each month over the next couple months, he said.
(updated 3-21-2018) K Dock Marina has reopened for the season but has no fishing reports. The marina will be hosting the 2018 Hollister Project Graduation Bass Tournament on Saturday, April 7, its first tournament of the year. The tourney helps raise money for the Hollister (Mo.) High seniors. This will be a 50/50 payout tournament taking off at 8 a.m. and weighing in at 4 p.m.; $50 entry fee per two-person boat with an optional Big Bass side pot for $10. Cash only. Early Sign Up will begin on Friday, April 6, at K Dock Marina. Tournament rules will be announced 15 minutes before takeoff. Breakfast items will be available for purchase.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said this week’s word on Norfork Lake is inconsistent. You can catch stripers one day and then the day next nothing or just a few. On Wednesday they went to Bennett’s Bayou to pre-fish for Tom’s next day’s trip. They had doubles and caught several limits in over an hour. The next day they had a debris line and the stripers had moved. They did catch one limit but it was very slow and it took all morning to do that. The next day Tom’s son went down to Big Creek and in a little over and hour he caught 15 stripers. Both Tom and his son went there Saturday thinking it would be a great day. They had heavy fog and lots of boat traffic. Tom says he only caught one keeper and he caught two total. Saturdays are hard on the fish. Everybody wants to get on the lake and fish, but the traffic really spooks the shallow-water fish and will move them off their spot, and then it’s hard to find them. Sunday Tom went back to Bennett’s and started up shallow with no bites, then moved out on the flat and again no bites. He said he saw one of his clients on the east side of the flat and told him to move over to this other flat where Tom was heading. Before he knew it his client had a double on and caught three fish before Tom had a bite. He was using shiners and Tom was using shad. “We then missed one and lost a good one after a short fight. We did end up catching an 8- and 11-pound striper before we quit. My client caught five and lost five more,” Tom said. The best method was a split-shot and a hook with about 50 feet of line out. It’s simple and very effective because the fish are relating to the bottom instead of high in the water column. Once the winds shift around to the south and they get some warmer nights, Norfork Lake will really turn on for all species, Tom says. Lots of largemouth bass are being caught on crankbaits and spinnerbaits, and the crappie are also biting. The walleye are spawning up near Udall and the bite is good. Everything will bite better with warmer water and weather. The best place to find fish is Bennett’s Bayou; there are lots of bait in the area much more than Big Creek. “As we say, find the bait and you will find the fish.”
(updated 3-21-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is still trying to get to a consistent spring fishing pattern. Not a lot has changed over the last week except for the ups and downs of the weather. Every day brings different weather. But on a positive note the crappie and bass bites are good and the striped bass bite is fair. Striped bass are still located back in the creeks heading toward the warmer water. In the late afternoon they tend to head out a short distance, but are still in the creeks. Most of the stripers that Lou has caught over the week have been on live bait, threadfin, gizzard shad and shiners. They have mainly been hitting free swimming baits (with no weights) or baits with just a small split-shot. If you’re fishing with no weight, do not move much, and let the bait swim free. They will go to the depth that the fish are looking for. If you use a small split-shot, move slowly with your trolling motor to keep the baits farther up in the water column. If you want to use down poles with a larger weight, set your depth at about 15 feet deep. Lou says he is doing both, but is getting most of his strikes on a small split-shot rig. The cold fronts do affect how the fish bite, but the fronts have not chased them out of the creeks. Artificial baits are working as well. If you like to troll, use an umbrella or Alabama rig. Your bait needs to be between 10-20 feet deep. The other day on his way back to the resort, Lou says he was checking out a few deep bluff lines back in the creeks and found big hybrids on the bottom in 25 feet of water. He was able to drop a spoon and vertical-jig and caught a really big hybrid. Early in the morning the fish can be in really shallow water, then as the day wears on they tend to move out to 30-40 feet deep water.
Lou says crappie fishing has picked up. They are still on the brush piles and have not moved onto the banks to spawn at this time. Lou said he believes they really want to, but the cooler weather is keeping them from proceeding. A few warm days and nights should get the crappie heading to shallow water. One of Lou’s guests found crappie on 25 feet deep brush piles. The fish were near the top of the brush 15-20 feet down. It seemed to him that if he went deeper he only caught smaller fish. Vertical-jigging a small quarter-ounce spoon was working great, but using a small grub with a 1/8- to quarter-ounce jighead will work as well. Of course, live minnows on a slip float will work wonders with the crappie, as it does with all species. When they move to the shoreline, cast out a small spinnerbait, such as a Road Runner, or a small crankbait or a small grub, to catch some of these shallow fish. The largemouth and spotted bass bite is still good. The pattern is basically the same as a week ago. Head about halfway back into coves and cast out a red crankbait. The red color is working best in the stained water, but if you are working in browner water, try a lighter color, such as white and chartreuse.
Norfork Lake level has risen slightly, about 4 inches, over the last week and currently sits at 553.51 feet msl. The surface water temperature has stayed about the same from a week ago and currently ranges 49-53 degrees, depending on your location. Parts of the main lake as well as some of the creeks are clear and others are stained. Lou has fished most areas of the lake from the mid-lake creeks to the Bennett’s area, and up to the Red Bank area. All species of fish are scattered throughout. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s annual fishing derby has commenced. Win large cash prize for the longest fish in three different species, along with a chance to win a free week stay. Give the resort a call at 870-492-5113 to reserve a cabin and to join the derby. Or visit the website for further details at www.hummingbird-hideaway.com.
(updated 3-21-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.5 feet to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had little generation and more wadable water. On the Norfork, the water is has cleared substantially but has still fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit since 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 but it is not fishing as well as usual. 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).
(updated 3-21-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are both navigable and clearing. As the water warms the smallmouths will be more active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,120.34 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said The runoff and debris have cleared nicely in the upper reaches of the White and War Eagle rivers. The walleye spawn is on and should continue through late March. The white bass run is beginning with the males showing upstream. Quantity and quality Beaver Lake stripers are being caught in the upper reaches of the rivers, but some striper are still scattered throughout the lake and are still using mouths of coves, backs of coves and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. You should also look for the “mud line,” which is a distinct break between stained and clear water and will also concentrate bait/fish. 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 Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in the 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. You should also try fishing jerkbaits by letting the bait remain motionless for an extended period time before the next erratic action. 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 4. 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 the go-to approach, as always, on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers.
Mike says that on the mid- and upper sections water surface temps are in the high 40s-low 50s, and anglers should check out these hot spots: Rambo Creek Arm, Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, Mont Ne, Hickory Creek, War Eagle/Whit River junction (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects), White River (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects all the way up to Nells Bluff) and the War Eagle River (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects all the way up to Sidewalk Hole). Walleye season has kicked off with walleye being caught in various stages of the spawn. Most walleye are being caught in 20 feet of water or less. 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. Also try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse. A variety of jigs in combination colors of white, orange and chartreuse are also producing walleye. You should try casting to structure or snap-jigging to cover water. Night fishing shallow water with jerkbaits like Rapala HJ14’s in Tennessee Shad, black back or blue back will produce some hogs in areas near the War Eagle mill and Twin Bridges/Richland Creek.
(updated 3-21-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is stained and the surface water temperature is in the 50 degree range. The level is normal.Worms or crickets will work. Crappie are good. They are deep in 10-15 feet of water. Use minnows or jigs. They are not spawning. Bass are good on crankbaits and plastic worms. Walleye are excellent; use minnows or Flicker Shad. No reports on catfish. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-21-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) wanted first to apologize for his recent and for the short hiatus from the Fishing Report, as he has been busy with his new role as a sheriff’s deputy. “As you all know or not know, that can be very time consuming,” he said. Meanwhile, as for fishing, Austin says the trout bite has been great. Water temperatures are in the mid-50s between Houseman Access and Spider Creek. There have been quite a bit of “slot fish” caught around the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. Fish are being caught with light terminal tackle and various PowerBaits. A quarter-ounce spoon, silver and gold or silver and red, has produced some nice numbers, too. Austin says he has not marked any white bass yet, but he says he’s sure they will be around in the next couple of weeks. Walleye have been caught between Holiday Island and Beaver town. The method has been jigging with live minnows, and trolling with bottom bouncers and various hard baits. Try to get in about 10-20 feet of water and use your graph to locate the schools. Fishing the inside bends on a windy, overcast day will help you land/boat one of these awesome fish.
(updated 3-21-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the Bertrand ramp area has been fishing well. Fish upstream from Parkers Bottom in the Trophy Management Area as well as Campground C, Riverview walk-in areas and the turnaround. Always be attentive to rising water conditions. Nymphs, Midges are working well along with olive micro jigs. Stocking occurred nearly two weeks ago and fly-fisherman report large numbers of fish being caught. Conventional fisherman are catching nice fish using PowerBait and waxworms. The walleye are still a no-show, but they’re catching them downstream and soon they will run closer to the dam, and the white bass are not too far behind them. 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 3-21-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is stained and the surface temperature is 55 degrees. Level is normal. Bream are beginning to show with anglers reporting fair results on worms or crickets. Crappie are good on minnows. Bass are good using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. No report on catfish.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the water is clear with a surface temperature of 60 degrees. Level is normal. Crappie reports are good with fish biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing is good using chicken livers. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-21-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “I think we will all be ready for warmer weather and maybe a little less rain.” Although there is no fishing here at Lake Poinsett, while the lake is undergoing repairs over the next two years, the State Park is selling a lot of bait, and there are nearby lakes such as Hogue that are worth checking out. The fishermen stopping in are giving “good” reports of the fish they are catching.
(updated 3-21-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is stained and the surface temperature was 51 degrees. The level and current are normal. Crappie are fair on minnows. Bass are fair on deep-diving crankbaits. No reports on catfish. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-14-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 350 cfs at the spring and water clarity has been clearing. Woolly Buggers and Y2Ks have been the hot flies all week. It takes a little extra effort to get the fly down. Hot pink and red Trout Magnets are hot on spinning equipment.
(updated 3-21-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. There have been 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 3-21-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water is clea and the level is high. The fishing was overall poor. Crappie reports were poor. Bream were poor. Anglers said they were having poor response with bass. Catfish and walleye were poor.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 3-21-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the upper 50s in the river and in Lake Langhofer. Some protected backwaters are reaching the low to mid-60s on warm sunny days. Water visibility is still down a bit from normal, only about 6 inches or less in most areas. The water level continues to fluctuate by several inches each day as pulses of water move through the river. Black bass are biting well on spinnerbaits, bladed swim jigs, shallow- to medium-running crankbaits and jigs worked along rock banks. Black bass also seem to be easier to catch during periods of rising or higher water, rather than dropping or lower water. Striped bass and white bass are congregating on the first sand drop-offs away from the banks where wind and baitfish are present. Groups of crappie have been located sitting over brush piles in 6-10 feet of water by sonar, although the team has not tried to catch them.
(updated 3-21-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said spring is off to a chilly but productive start at Cane Creek Lake. With lower temperatures keeping the water cool, big crappie are still biting. The only bait that seems to be working for them is minnows, though. Expect less overall quantity of fish compared to late last year, in exchange for larger, heavier fish. Water temps are causing bass to bite suspended and shallow in the middle of the lake. Crankbaits over structure will be the main way to go until the water temperatures warm up again. Crawfish are becoming extremely active in the creek beds that flow into the lake, so craw-colored baits should stir things up. Catfish are still active on strong smelling baits. Chicken or bacon soaked in Kool-Aid and garlic are recommended for trotlines this week. On again-off again wet weather is causing enough water to run into the lake to carry debris from further upstream. Find a place where water runs from the land into the lake, and fish on the bottom with strong-smelling baits for a great chance at good-sized catfish. Sparse reports of bream bites are beginning to come in from multiple sources. Cane Creek State Park just received its first shipment of crickets for the year, along with a restocking of nightcrawlers and red wigglers. It’s too early to tell which bait will be preferred during the start of bream season. Fish crickets or worms along the shoreline and shallows to catch small, hungry bream. Expect the quality and quantity to increase as the season progresses and temperatures rise. If you have any luck fishing, please contact park interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park, and let him know what worked for you to ensure more accurate and productive fishing reports in the future. Email: email@example.com; phone: 870-628-4714 (press 2 to speak with park staff, ask for Austin).
(updated 3-21-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) had a noreport.
(updated 3-14-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello reports the water is clear with a surface water temperature in the low 60s. The water remains low and will for a while because of the drawdown for repairs. Anglers can now access the Plantersville ramp. Crappie are fair on shiners. Largemouth bass are excellent. They are in 5-10 feet of water and hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastic worms. No other reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 260.10 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday the lake level is about 12 inches above normal conservation pool and falling at 260.2 feet msl, and there is current of about 17,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday is about 245 feet msl. Water temps have improved over the past week. Surface temps as of Monday ranged near 57 degrees early to around 65 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. 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. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on our website 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. USACE has completed clean up on some Millwood Lake Campgrounds, and a few are now open like White Cliffs and Cottonshed, Beard’s Bluff is still being worked on. Most all boat ramps, are now open, including Millwood State Park, after the 17-foot rise on the lake over the past few weeks. Be advised, there are at least two broken, missing or damaged boat lane markers on the north end of Little Gas Line to High Line Boat Lane from recent flood damage. Use extreme caution in the upper end of the boat lane from the High Line to the Little Gas Line cutoff and watch for missing or damaged telephone pole lane markers. No wake zones remain in effect at both northern and southern ends of White Cliffs Campground on the river and marked with river buoys. Be advised there is no tolerance of boat wakes within the marked area, and is being enforced by AGFC along the river.
Mike says largemouth bass activity continues improving over the past week with more stable lake levels and temperatures. Bass have been good over the past few days with the warmer ambient conditions, and best on sunny and warm days, from 3 pounds up to 8-9 pounds each. Chatterbaits, slow-moving swimbaits or suspending jerkbaits, dead-sticking Trick Worms and Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook are working for suspended bass. In or near creek channels, also try Smithwick Rouges, Cordell Redfins and other suspending hard jerkbaits, along with slow-rolling heavy spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Note the new lily pads in bloom lake-wide. In the creek channels or along sloping points dumping into the river, the heavy, large thumping, half-ounce and up to 3/4-ounce Rat-L-Traps in any of the Natural (brown/orange) Crawfish, Red Chrome, Red Shad, Toledo Gold or Rayburn Red Zombie colors, and slow-rolling heavy 3/4-ounce War Eagle spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Firetiger colors deep in the creeks, will pick up a few decent bass in the 3-7 pound class. A slow roll or stop-and-go-type retrieve was required to entice a bite for the past couple weeks on Millwood. 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. Further upriver and into the oxbows away from muddy Little River current there are signs of a spawn with the largemouth bass, and the water clarity continues to improve lake-wide since the recent 17-foot flood on Millwood. The back of the oxbows definitely have the best water clarity, still heavy stained. Deflecting Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75 crankbaits around and banging them into the standing timber on points in backs of the oxbows where feeder creeks dump into the oxbows, or off stumps from 8-12 feet depth were taking a few 14-17-inch bass away from the river where better water clarity was located without current. The heavy 3/4-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working well around cypress trees from 7-9 feet deep. Best colors drawing reactions over the past couple of weeks have been Spot Remover or White/Chartreuse and Firetiger. Best color of cranks in the oxbows, like the Echo 1.75 squarebills, over the past week or so have been the Sexy Chrome, Rayburn Red Craw and Pinch’n Peach. Oversized 3-4-inch tube jigs like Gitzits with internal rattles continue working most anywhere, 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. Black/blue tail, black neon or pumpkinseed/chartreuse tail were getting the best reactions over the past couple weeks. The darker colors seem to draw better reactions in the more stained water areas. Real Deal Kustom Tackle jigs with a heavy craw worm trailer are picking up random, solitary bass on cypress trees and knees in 8-11 feet depth. Black/blue/purple or Texas Craw continue to be the go-to colors, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer. Texas rigged, 10-inch Power Worms in black, blue fleck and black grape, slowly crawled by stumps and timber, and Brush Hogs continue finding a few 15-18-inch bass.
White bass and hybrid bass have been running in the Saline River above Cottonshed Campground, and limits can be had in as little as an hour. Chuck’nSpins, Little Georges, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads half-ounce Rat-L-Traps in shad patterns will get bit and reactions from the whites in short order. Crappie have improved in the oxbows, away from current on Little River. Live shiners were getting the best response over the past week from anglers vertical-jigging in standing timber and near cypress trees from 8-12 feet deep. Blue catfish and channel cats remain very good on trotlines using cut shad or gar, along with punch baits, in heavy current along Little River in 10-15 feet depth.
(updated 3-7-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said water level is about 8-10 inches above normal, clarity is very good at 1-3 feet based on location. Water temperatures are running in the 62-66 degree range under full sun. Bass are paring up, cruising very shallow in 1-2 feet of water, and preparing for spawn most lake-wide. Largemouth are fair to good up to 7 pounds each on Bass Assassin Shads, Senkos, Trick Worms, Beaver Bugs, jigs, spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, Squarebills and chatterbaits. We have not observed bass on the beds yet, but preparing them, running in and out of shallow pockets, in preparation, and cruising these areas in large numbers and in pairs. Best color of Bass Assassins are pumpkinseed, Silver Phantom and Grey Ghost. Senkos and Trick Worms are working in black, blue flake, watermelon-red, crystal ice and green pumpkin. Beavers and Craw bugs are working in green pumpkin-red or watermelon-red. Best color of jigs seem to be black/blue, black/purple, green pumpkin or Texas Craw. Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits in shad or bream colors are working. Rat-L-Traps are working best in slightly deeper water areas, 4-8 feet of depth near spawning flats in Sexy Chrome, Red Shad or Red Chrome.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 552.38 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake is now around 10 feet above normal pool and falling daily. It has fallen over 3 feet since last Thursday. There is color throughout the lake and temps range from 56-62 and warming steadily with the nice weather we have had the last few days. The bass are scattered and are trying to move up for the spawn with the warming temperatures and longer days. They are being caught using a variety of methods. Shaky head worms and small Booyah jigs are catching some bass. Carolina rigged Christie Craws and Christie Critters in Green Pumpkin are also catching some fish. Booyah spinnerbaits and Booyah Hard Knocker are working good on windy days shallow around brush. Crappie are trying to move up and can be caught on Kalin’s Grubs and minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 411.90 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well, I guess the water level is the big story here. Water receding daily. Water is murky at best.” The water temperatures are running in the mid-50s. The lake level is at 412.37 feet msl and dropping. White bass and some hybrids are being caught in the area around Cox Creek. Trolling shad-colored crankbaits, Alabama rigs and spoons will produce in certain areas. Use your electronics to locate schools of baitfish and predator fish. No black bass report this week. Crappie fishing is slow. The best report is around the Shouse Ford area. The fish are near the bank around cover, usually around 6 feet deep. The bite is slow but should improve soon. Jigs are the best. Bobby Garland Tennessee Shad and Baby Bass are good colors. Better water and weather are coming soon. Be read and stay safe on the water.
(updated 3-21-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the high 50s and the lake is muddy most everywhere. The lake is still above flood pool, so be careful when boating due to trash and logs in the water. Most ramps are now open or will be open by the weekend. Lots of fishermen on the lake this week, probably because of spring break, but very few reports. A few bass reported coming on spinnerbaits fished around flooded brush. The fish are really scattered and hard to locate with all the visible cover. Also, with the water being rapidly lowered they are not in feeding mood. Once the lake stabilizes, fishing should pick up. No reports on crappie, but like bass, this fishing will improve when the water stabilizes.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lane Dodd of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports said on US97 that people are back reporting catches here. The water has come down a little bit, you can actually get in to a couple of boat ramps now. Some people have catching fish on a Carolina rig. Lot of stuff in the buckbrush, people are pitching a creature bait around the trees. Crappie is doing real well. Had some people say they have caught white bass.
(updated 3-7-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said DeGray is flooded. Amity Landing, Point Cedar, Shouse Ford and Arlie Moore boat ramps are closed. Parking lots are underwater.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 459.67 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 551.30 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 3-21-2018) White Oak Lake State Park (870-685-2748) located on the lower lake, reports the water is now at its normal pool. Crappie are moving to deeper water, sending fishermen on the water, but some crappie are staying next to the shoreline. Silver minnows have been doing well, with gold minnows hitting ever-so-often. Bass are starting back up with chartreuse baits such as buzzbaits and spinners, and also hitting on dark worm or lizard lures. Bream are coming back with crickets as the weather heats up.
(updated 3-21-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said water is still 18 feet high. No reports.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 3-14-2018) Greeson Marine of Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bread all-welded Xpress fishing boats, reports that on the 944-acre Lake Balboa, bass have drawn back out to the mouths of pockets and points. The cold weather over the last few days has dropped the water temps back down into the 53-56 degree range and the fish have responded by moving into 10-22 feet of water and holding near or on as much cover as possible. Swimbaits, natural-colored tubes and worms are still producing on shoals and rocky boulder strewn ledges surrounded or adjacent to deep water. The submerged grass bite should pick up along with the temperatures in the next week.
(updated 3-21-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is clear and the level is high by about 2 feet. Surface water temperature is about 57-58 degrees. Bass reports are good with most success coming on Alabama rigs. Crappie are fair. Catfishing is good using trotlines and yo-yos. Bream
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said catfish are biting on minnows and worms. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 3-21-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Ouachita is almost out of flood pool and should fall out sometime this week. Heavy generation is still the norm in the Carpenter Dam tailrace until this process is complete. For over a month, open floodgates and very high flows have kept boaters and anglers alike off the water due to the treacherous conditions. As soon as Ouachita falls below flood pool, a much safer generation schedule will be implemented below Carpenter Dam. Rainbow trout fishing is what Lake Catherine is known for and thousands of quality trout are present in the tailrace and will be feeding consistently as conditions return to normal. Bank fishermen can catch limits of fish using PowerBaits, waxworms and mealworms, redworms and corn fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Spin fishermen casting small jigs, Super Dupers and Little Cleos in silver or white will record limits of trout during periods of current or slack water. Fly-fishermen can still access areas that hold good numbers of rainbow trout and can be successful presenting Trout Magnets in white or pink, micro-jigs in black, or San Juan worms in red or hot pink with a strike indicator. The walleye spawn is still underway with the majority of fish caught by trolling shallow-running stick baits that imitate small minnows or crawfish. Carolina rigs tipped with nightcrawlers have taken the largest fish at night. White bass are making a run toward the dam with numbers being taken from the bank by fishermen casting flukes and Rapala jerkbaits in a black/silver combination. Crappie will soon migrate into the tailrace with the smaller males arriving first to prepare the spawning beds. Live minnows and small jigs will give anglers the best chance to catch good numbers of fish in the next several weeks. As conditions improve and safe fishing returns to Carpenter Dam, more reports will be available to the public. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should be aware of the generation schedules and must always follow all boating and park regulations.
(updated 3-21-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 3-21-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the crappie are still on the brush piles but are moving shallow to spawn. Water temp is 58. White bass are sticking to the shallow bays.
(updated 3-21-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports said on US97 that Saturday was such a beautiful day just stunning, that he got put his boat in and the first thing he did was hit a couple of pockets. Lake Hamilton’s temperature was around 60 degrees, getting to 62-63 later in the day with sun. There were just not a lot of black bass in the pockets yet, he said. “We all want them to be on the beds but they’re not quite there yet.” He said he went all the way to the very back of the Little Mizarn, to the very last shoal you can get to, and caught a couple of whites there. There weren’t a lot, though, so he stopped on the way back to where it opens up into the first big flat on the left. He threw a Rat-L-Trap there and caught some whites doing that. “They’re not on the river all the way up to the shoal yet, they’re still staging and moving up those creeks and rivers into the Little Mazarn.” Phillip said he figured the Big Mazarn would be about the same, so he ran up Hot Springs Creek, which he said is a different scenario because there is deeper water close to the flats and shallows in back. About halfway in, he caught some whites in there on a Shad Rap on the rocks. But deeper end near the condos where the water gets about knee deep, there weren’t any fish, he said. Likely it was too shallow. But the fish are staging in the mouth of the creek and with a few more warm nights the fish are going to be up in there very shallow. Whenever it’s night and the lows are in the 50s, that’s when you’re going to see these white bass really make a run. Also a factor is the coming full moon phase. Pay attention to that.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 365.29 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the surface water temperature is in the 50s. The water at last report was 20 feet high and the clarity is stained. Crappie are good and can be found in about 15 feet depth. They’re hitting black and chartreuse jigs. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor. No reports on bass.
(updated 3-21-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the weather apparently was too cold and the lake too flooded for anglers to try their luck at last report. The clarity is stained and the level there is still high.
(updated 3-21-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) says crappie are biting well on Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Popsicle, Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone, Gumdrop, Penny Back Baby Shad Slab Slay’r and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows, worms and frozen shad. Bream are biting well on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.57 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are excellent. Pre-spawn and spawning lures are best now. Shallow running crank baits, spinnerbaits, Z-man Chatterbaits and green soft plastics are doing real well at this time. Secondary points and coves are the best areas for these fish. Walleye are moving back out of the river and major creek channels. Bright colored jigs and crank baits are working best for these fish. Stripers are very good on Bama rigs and big jigs. Major creek channels on the central and western part of the lake are still the best for these fish. Bream are good and being caught on crickets and worms in deeper water near brush. Crappie are good and being caught on minnows in 10-15 feet of water near structure. Catfish are excellent up the rivers. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. Surface water temperatures are ranging 60-65. Clarity is strained but clearing. Lake level as of Monday was 578.99 feet msl (in flood stage). Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
(updated 3-21-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that Lake Ouachita is further ahead in terms of the bass. There are quite a few white bass making a run in the river, he said. He heard one report of guys well up near the North Fork who caught whites in water shallower than what you’ll catch them in in Lake Hamilton now. He also heard a report of guys in the river up at the Highway 27 bridge who “got into a big patch of them.” As of Tuesday the lake was at full pool. The water is not clear but is also not the brown, dirty clarity of recently either. The water in the buckbrush looks good and Kastner says it’s great fun skipping a worm around that stuff during the spawn.
(updated 3-14-2018) Greeson Marine in Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boat, reports the lake being drawn down to more normalized levels very quickly. Water temperatures are between 53-59 degrees varying on what part of the lake you happen to be on. Water clarity is between 1-3 feet. Mixed reports on where fish have been caught but the consistent response is “scattered.” Spotted bass have been biting well when located in buckbrush on dark Texas rigged creature baits like tubes and worms. Largemouth and a good number of spotted bass have not yet moved into pre-spawn. The recent cold snap has moved fish back out to main lake points in 15-25 feet of water, but look for them to regroup over the next week and start moving toward the shallower secondary points adjacent to deep water.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.10 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-21-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said it looks like fishing is finally starting to pick up at Bear Creek and Storm Creek. They had a successful bass tournament Saturday, and have seen quite an influx in bass and crappie fishermen over the last week. The water temperature at Bear Creek seems to be stabilizing, and we’re hoping to continue to see an increase in the crappie count. Many anglers say they are waiting on the full moon to begin looking for bream on the beds, so after the first of April they hope to see lots of folks out fishing. Remember, Mississippi River State Park offers a wide variety of artificial and live bait for your fishing needs. “We are also now offering fishing boat rentals on Bear Creek Lake. Stop by the Visitor Center to see what we can do for you,” Natalie said.
(updated 3-21-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek activity has been a bit slower than at Bear Creek Lake. A few crappie fishermen have been having some luck from the fishing pier but nothing to write home about – yet. Remember, Mississippi River State Park offers a wide variety of artificial and live bait for your fishing needs, she said.
AGFC Commissioner Meeting Notice
Dec. 4, 2023
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
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