Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
April 25, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for April 25, 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
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Conway will be in effect starting April 23, 2018, and ending March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Conway for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 4-25-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) says the water is stained and has a surface temperature of 61 degrees as of earlier this week. Water level and current are normal. Bream are good and biting just a foot below the surface around the shoreline. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are fair. The fish will bite in about 6-8 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Make sure and focus around the cypress trees. Bass reports are EXCELLENT. The bass are hitting about 4 feet below the surface and around lily pads. Anglers report using spinnerbaits and plastic lizards. Catfishing is excellent on yo-yos baited with minnows or goldfish.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said the best results it heard were on white bass, with fair catches. Anglers were using white twister tails. Catfishing is fair on cut bait. The water level is normal and the lake is stained.
(updated 4-25-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said it looks like the cold weather has given up its hold on the South. Milder weather is forecast for the next two weeks. The river is clear with one-unit generation around the clock. The Army Corps of Engineers has requested a 3,000 cfs daily release. Since one generator is down for maintenance until May 20, it requires the other generator to be run 24/7 to accommodate this amount of release. This will be done until the lake is at normal pool. Without any heavy rain, this should be about a week. No wade fishing is available with this generation. Drift-fishing is still an option and should be good on this generation. With the warmer weather, insect activity should increase with caddis and March Brown hatches occurring daily. Nymphs and pupa flies will be the best choice due to the depth of the water.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said currently the Little Red River is receiving one unit of generation 24 hours daily. Expect this generation pattern to continue until the second generator is back online or the Greers Ferry Lake drops to seasonal pool level. This pattern will create challenging wading conditions, but provides favorable drift-fishing in all sections of the river. Lowell says they are seeing good caddis and March Brown hatches occurring on the lower sections of the river. For fly-fishing, we recommend soft hackles, hare’s ear, caddis pupa, pheasant tails, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and cotton-candy-colored bodies on gold heads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the 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 4-18-2018) James Dillard of Tailwater Fishing Co. in Searcy says the fishing on the Little Red has been excellent. The Army Corps of Engineers has been running two units of water each day for 14-16 hours each day, providing good fishing when the turbines are turned off. The best fishing has been in the falling/lower water levels. Lots of caddis can be seen hatching on sunny days and the fish have been very actively feeding. Hot flies have been soft hackles and sowbugs. Trout Magnets in pink, white and chartreuse have been working very well, also.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.57 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 4-25-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is hanging around pretty close to normal, as that is where they are trying to keep it. It was a little more than half-a-foot above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl on Tuesday. This has been a real crazy spring all around the country, and we are no exception. Fish are in all phases of their winter, early and late spring patterns. The black bass are scattered from super shallow out to 45 feet. Any number of things will work, just pick your strengths and run with it. Crappie catching is good from shallow out to about 20 feet. Minnows and jigs are working shallow and beetle spins working better deeper. The walleye are also everywhere – drop-shots, crankbaits and jigheads with live bait are working at various places around the lake. Bream have been a little slow, but more and more are moving shallower. Crickets and small crankbaits are working. The catfish are the same as well – scattered and biting all over the lake. The hybrids and white bass are no different; with the spawn in mind, shad is the key to catching these fish at present. Horizontal and vertical presentations both are still working all over the lake and rivers.
(updated 4-25-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the clarity is clear and the surface temperature is 60 degrees. Water level remains high as of earlier this week. Crappie are good and are shallow, being caught in about 2-3 feet of water on minnows or jigs. Bass are shallow as well, and the bite is good. Fish around the shoreline with minnows or plastic worms in 2-3 feet of water. No reports on bream. Nothing on catfish.
(updated 4-25-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) reports that the crappie bite is “warm” in about 4-6 feet of water. They are biting on Bobby Garland Popsicle, Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone/chartreuse, Gumdrop and Penny Back Shad, as well as 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r baits and minnows. Catfish is also warm on minnows and worms and frozen shad. The bass bite is hot on buzzbaits and minnows, along with worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper. White bass are biting on Popsicle, Slab Slanger, Baby Shad and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r, Cajun Spin and Silver Minnow. The bream bit is sizzling, Ken says, with crickets, worms and Rock Hopper working best.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup will be in effect starting April 23, 2018, and ending March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Overcup for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 4-18-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. Surface temperature is around 60 degrees. Bass are doing well around brush tops and structure around the shoreline. Crappie are doing well on minnows around brush and grass around the shore, and anglers are picking up some good 2-pounders and up. Bream are slow but should start picking up any day now. Catfish are being caught on jugs and yo-yos with bass minnows and shad.
(updated 4-25-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water was dingy and the temperature was at 58 degrees earlier this week. The level is normal. Poor reports came in on bream this week. Crappie, however, were good, with best results around brush piles in 4-6 feet of water. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass also are good in the creekbeds and coves in about 4-6 feet of water. Use crankbaits or plastic worms. No other reports.
(updated 4-25-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said the lake level is up and down a lot this year, effecting fishing, but is now about 10 inches above the spillway, water temperature from the marina is 63 degrees and about 65 degrees on the north side. Black bass are very good. With water temps in the 60s the largemouth bass are moving to spawn areas. Try using Trick Worms, crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs in 4-8 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. Tuesday night, Keeton Blaylock and Kyle Wise teamed to pull in a 12.1-pound stringer to easily win the weekly bass tournament. Jacob and Misty Schmitt found a 5.64-pound bass for Big Bass. So there are so nice-size bass looked to bite. Kentucky bass are good and are still a little deeper than the largemouth bass. Look around the main lake, rocky banks or points with a crankbait or jig for best results. White bass are good. Fewer reports are coming in on the whites recently. We’ve heard also that they were staging, though the run normally is over by early April. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons, deep-diving Bandits, and Bombers for the whites. Crappie have been good the past week. More reports coming in of them being found near brush piles from 6-8 feet deep. Some are saying they’re taking off with the bait rather than hitting. More males are being caught this week. Bream are slow. They are coming into shallow water off the rocky points and around brush piles. Try using crickets or jigs anywhere from 3-12 feet. Catfish are very good. More reports this week of the channels starting to move out and the blues coming in. Try stink bait and worms around 20 feet deep.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said catfish are reacting to cut bait. Good reports still on white bass hitting twister tails.
(updated 4-25-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are good on Bobby Garland Popsicle and Slab Slanger, as well as minnows and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r. White bass are biting on Slab Slanger, Baby Shad, Cajun Spin and Silver Minnow. Bass are biting on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper. Bream are excellent on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said the water level and current are normal. The clarity is muddy. The only reports received were about catfish. They were fair on cut bait.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said this is an AGFC Family and Community Fishing Program destination lake. Regulations are found on Page 69 of the 2018 Fishing Guidebook. Please abide by them in order to let others, especially kids, to also be able to catch some fish. It’s stocked every once in a while with catfish. But it also has bream, crappie and bass. Bass are the only fish you have to return to the water immediately. The lake is located off the service road past the Saline County Fairgrounds, off Fairfield Road. Catfish will bite on chicken livers, bait shrimp, nightcrawlers and even minnows. especially right after being stocked. March 13 was the last time it was stocked. You can Google when it and others were stocked by typing in “stocked ponds – AGFC,” then click on the link and scroll down to see the chart. At the top of the list will be Benton – Sunset Lake and the dates and how many catfish were stocked. Lisa says she has seen some very nice crappie come out of there as well. They do well on No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Some catch them around the pier; others go over on the bridge going to the other side. Bass do well on topwater frogs and brooder minnows. Bream do fair on crickets and redworms. It’s a good place to take kids; there is a paved walking trail all the way around the lake
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 4-25-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said this is located over off Boone Road in Bryant at Bishop Park. While these aren’t AGFC lakes, they are owned by the city of Bryant. They are not listed in the AGFC’s Fishing Guidebook, so you go by the state regulations on Page 8. As you are facing Bishop Park, you will see the front one on the left-hand side by the road over by itself. That is Lake Norma; back behind it, Hurricane Creek runs as well as it runs up behind Lake Charles. Lake Charles is the back one; you go through the entrance of the park where the buildings are on the right-hand side as you are facing the park. You just pass by the buildings and the ballfield and at the end of the road you will see it. The only time these are stocked, to Lisa’s knowledge, are in September once for the Bryant Fall Fest. But when Hurricane Creek floods, it floods into both of the lakes and that’s where a lot of the fish come from. Lisa says she has had some good reports from Lake Norma, especially on bass with plastic worms. But she gets better reports from the back one, Lake Charles. Catfish do well on chicken livers, nightcrawlers and occasionally on No. 12 bass minnows. Crappie have been caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Some are small but I have seen some big ones, too, that were caught off the dock. Bass like the Zoom Red Shad plastic worms and brooder minnows. Bream hit good on the crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 4-25-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “Behold, some of the best fishing around here in Saline County.” There are three boat ramps where you can put in a canoe or a flat-bottom. One is past Sunset Lake off I-30 down Fairfield Road. Another is out off of Peeler Bend Road off I-30 past the Bruno’s Italian Villa that sits back off the service road. Then you will go over the old Ed Dodson Bridge that crosses the Saline River; if you look up the river to your right you will see the spillway. The road next past the bridge on your right will be Peeler Bend Road. Another access to put in is at Lyle Park – once you see Waffle House off the service road, turn like you’re going to it. Once you pass it, go to the red light and turn right. You will see a sign saying Lyle Park. Turn left onto Lyledale Road and it will take you straight to it. The river provides lots of good fish: walleye, smallmouth, Kentucky and largemouth bass, bream and catfish. Usually prime time for the walleye is October-February. They like brooder minnows and stick baits. The bass also will go for the brooders pretty good and 4-inch Zoom green pumpkin lizards seem to be a favorite of theirs. Catfish can be caught on brooders, goldfish and black salties and nightcrawlers. Crickets and redworms, and super mealworms can catch you a mess of bream when it gets a little hotter. Crappie will go after No. 6 crappie minnows as well as the pink crappie minnows. You can also catch them on Kalin’s Jigs and Zing Tails. In a canoe you can get around pretty good on the Saline. The spillway is a very popular place to get some good fish. But it can get pretty packed, too!
(updated 4-25-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said it is located in Alexander, out Congo /Ferndale Road 13 miles from Lisa’s bait shop, and 40 minutes from Little Rock. It’s a 280-acre lake owned by the city of Benton. Some of the biggest redear bream Lisa says she has ever seen have come from there. In about another week or so, using a cricket fishing on bottom will provide you will a good stringer of nice redears. There are crappie in there, too, but they are not big in abundance, but some are slabs when caught. Usually No. 6 crappie minnows or 2-inch Kalin’s Tennessee Shad colored jigs may get you a few. Bass are in there – No. 12 bass minnows or brooder minnows do well on them, as well as spinnerbaits or a Rat-L-Trap. Catfish will go after the chicken livers and nightcrawlers. They also like the black salties, especially on trotlines. Since this lake is not listed in the AGFC Fishing Guidebook, you got by the state regulations listed on Page 8 of the book.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) says catfish are fair on cut bait. The water level is normal and the clarity is muddy.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says the clarity is muddy and the lake level is normal. Catfish are fair on cut bait. No other reports.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says the clarity is muddy and the lake level is normal. Catfish are fair on cut bait. No other reports.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said this lake is 35 miles west of Little Rock in the Ouachita National Forest. It has a surface of 1,240 acres and has a watershed at 43 square miles. It’s about 51 minutes from Lisa’s bait shop. There are bass, crappie, catfish, bream and walleye in there. Back in 2009 the AGFC stocked it with several thousand walleye. Lisa says she doesn’t know if it has been stocked with any more. One of her customers had a neighbor last year that caught some using a spinnerbait. Catfish do great on chicken livers and also live crawfish. Crappie do well on No. 6 crappie minnows. Bream are good off of crickets. Lisa says that from what she hears you can also catch lots of bass off of minnows. “This lake doesn’t get a lot of pressure for I have been told it’s a good 7 miles off of pavement on a gravel road. You wouldn’t want to take a nice truck or boat there, from what my regulars tell me.” Check out the regulations on Page 71 of the Fishing Guidebook, especially on the required boat lengths.
Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
(updated 4-25-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the level and current are normal. No temperature was recorded. The crappie bite has been fair with the fish about 1.5 feet below the surface around brush piles. Minnows and jigs are working. Bass are shallow and the bite has been fair. Work spinnerbaits or plastic worms around the brush. Catfishing is fair on minnows. No reports on bream or white bass.
(updated 4-25-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is dingy and surface temperature was recorded at 62 degrees. The level and current are normal. Crappie are excellent in 4-8 feet of water. They are found around rocky points, with jigs working best. Black bass are good in 2-4 feet of water in the backwaters. Anglers were having best success using black buzzbaits, jigs and a black and blue speed crawl. White bass are excellent on chartreuse and yellow grubs.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass have been fair the past week on white twister tails. Catfish seem to be going for cut bait this week, with fair results. Level and current are normal, the clarity is muddy.
(updated 4-25-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is dingy and surface temperature was recorded at 62 degrees. The level and current are normal. Crappie are excellent in 4-8 feet of water. They are found around rocky points, with jigs working best. Black bass are good in 2-4 feet of water in the backwaters. Anglers were having best success using black buzzbaits, jigs and a black and blue speed crawl. White bass are excellent on chartreuse and yellow grubs.
(updated 4-25-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said that near the Murray Lock and Dam the water is stained and the surface temperature recorded earlier in the week was 58 degrees. Level and current are normal. Catfishing is fair using shad and slicks. White bass reports were excellent, with anglers using white twister tails and minnows.
(updated 4-25-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river is muddy. Surface water temperature has been in the high 50s, and the level and current are now normal/stable. Black bass reports have been good. The fish are in 1-5 feet of water and around brush. Use a plastic worm. Crappie are good, also in 1-5 feet of water, and are around brush piles and stumps. Use jigs. Catfish reports have been poor, as have bream reports.
(updated 4-25-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water and current are normal near the Terry Lock and Dam, with a temperature reading of 58 degrees, ranging up to 62 degrees depending on areas fished. The water is dingy. Crappie are excellent in 4-8 feet of water around rocky points. Use jigs. Othewise in the rest of the pool, crappie were being found in 4 feet depth. Black bass are good around rocky points in about 2-4 feet depth, and also in the backwaters at that depth. Use jigs or black buzzbaits. White bass reports were excellent using chartreuse and yellow grubs. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 4-18-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is high in the area of Terry Lock and Dam and the clarity is muddy. Crappie are poor but will respond to minnows and jigs. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-18-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water clarity is muddy. No surface temperature was available. Crappie reports were poor, but some were biting on minnows and jigs. No other species were reported.
(updated 4-25-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported that the lake clarity is dingy but the water is at normal level. Crappie are very shallow this week. Anglers were catching them just below the surface, maybe at 1 foot, around brush piles with jigs. Go with a brown/chartreuse color. Black bass are fair in 1-2 feet depth on crankbaits. They’re also around the brush. Catfishing has been fair using stink bait and minnows. Nothing to report on bream.
(updated 4-25-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says trout fishing the White River below Bull Shoals Dam has been spectacular this week. Best kept secret: Rooster Tails, Panther Martins and spinners. Black bodies, gold blades, black and yellow skirts. Ginger and tri-olive Zig Jigs are making a comeback, too, but success relies on selecting the right color for the conditions. Use all mentioned baits in water 8,000 cfs (less than three generators issuing from the dam) and keep them bobbing nearer the bottom than mid-depth. A very nice 22-inch cutthroat was netted and pictured for a replica using a sculpin. Sculpins and minnows remain the most popular baits to attract browns. Our fly-fishers found luck with Copper Johns tied on a mid-size hook. Lots of topwater action on the sunny days. “Come on over and experience trout catching at Cotter on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks. The dogwoods are popping and we’re in the middle of one of the most beautiful times of the year.”
(updated 4-25-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is a murky green to clear, depending on how much water is running at the time. The River level is high, and they are running half of one generator giving minimum flows. Trout fishing has been good. Anglers were using worms, corn and PowerBaits, as well as stick baits and jigs. Anglers are also catching more bream along with rainbows while drift fishing.
(updated 4-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Saturday that during the previous week, they had no rain, warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.5 feet to rest at 6.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 feet to rest at seasonal power pool and 16 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 7 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had less generation and some 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 the top of power pool. With the quick rise in the lakes due to our recent heavy rains anglers can expect heavy generation in the near future. The White has fished better. There are 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 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 pink worm with a size 14 prince nymph suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John adds about landing a big fish, “You are out there and everything is going great. You have landed several good trout and all of a sudden a big brown hits your fly. You deftly set the hook and the fight is on. All you need to do is bring it to the net. It is not easily done. If you make one tiny error it’s all over.
“The key here is line control. You have to bring it in. Big fish are reluctant to accommodate you. For me the key is to fight them on the reel. Most of my clients prefer to fight fish by stripping in the line. This is my pet peeve.
“It drives me crazy to have a client get in my boat with a high-dollar rod and an $800 Abel reel only to try and land a big fish by stripping in the line. I had a client struggle with a twenty seven inch brown only to lose it because he was standing on the line. I make it a habit to land all of my fish on the reel no matter how small it is. That way, when I hook up a big trout, I am familiar with landing fish on a reel and it feels comfortable to me.
“There will be situations where you will have to put the fish on the reel. If you are fishing a Woolly Bugger or other streamer and you hit a good fish on the retrieve, how do you get all of the slack line in? The best way is to let the trout do the work. If it takes a run, carefully let the line run through your fingers until it is on the reel. If it is not cooperative, you will have to crank in the excess. Take your pinkie and put pressure on the extra line as you wind it on the reel. If the line is wound in loosely, it can tangle and cause you to lock up the reel and lose the fish.
“Another mistake is to not have the drag on your reel properly set. It should be adjusted to accommodate the tippet you are using. When I am guiding on Dry Run Creek I use 4X fluorocarbon tippet to help in getting kids to land big trout and therefore really tighten up on the drag. If I am fishing dainty emergers on the Norfork on 6X tippet, I have the drag set much lighter so that the line can easily go out without breaking my tippet. If you are not sure, you can set the drag by tying the tippet to your bumper and apply pressure to it with your rod. The idea is for the line to smoothly come off the reel and still apply as much pressure as possible without breaking.
“When your trout makes a run, don’t try to keep it from moving. Don’t lock down the line by squeezing the line against the rod or holding the reel handle tightly. If a fish cannot run, it can break your tippet. I try to not touch the reel handle unless I am cranking line.
“Remember that only one of you can do something at a time. If the trout is struggling don’t try to crank it in. However, if the trout is running toward you, crank in line to keep the ling snug.
“Always keep the rod bent. Your rod is your pressure gauge. If the line is bent there is pressure on the fish. More bend equals more pressure. If the rod is not bent, that means that there is slack in the line and the trout can spit the hook. Do not try to horse in the trout. If you put too much pressure on the trout, you can break it off.
“When you are bringing in a trout, always leave a few inches of line out of the rod. If you crank the end of the line up into the rod the knot attaching the leader to the line could get caught in one of the snake guides and not allow the fish to pull line, if it makes a last minute run. This could allow it to break off.
“Carefully tie your knot when rigging. If the knot is not properly tied it can slip and you can lose the fish. If you lose a trout because you lost the fly, look at the end of your tippet. If the end is curled in a tight pig tail, your knot failed. Check your hook often. If it is dull or bent, it can easily come out.
“To land a big fish you need a net. A small one will not do in this situation. I always carry a big net in the boat or when wading. Don’t try to net the trout too soon. Wait until it is on the surface of the water so you can easily scoop it. Patience is the key here. If you can remember these tips, you can prevent many of the small errors that can lose big fish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-27-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Friday (April 27) that lake level is at 666 feet msl and the water temperature in the mornings been around the 50-degree range, up to 60 degrees by the end of the day. If you get back in the creeks you can find some upper-60-degree water on a nice warm day. The lake is 7 feet above pool so there is water in the bushes and there’s a lot going on. The fish are starting to move up; some of the fish have moved up. The smallmouth are the first to spawn so they’re the ones that are up right now. Anglers are catching a lot of smallmouth. At Del’s end of the lake the water from the rain they had has pretty much cleared up. You can catch some fish right now dragging a Ned Head with either green pumpkin or in natural colors. If you’re in the clear water go halfway back in the creek or right outside a spawning pocket, put the trolling motor down and you’re going to run into them somewhere, anywhere around the bushes. Senkos are working, or flukes, depending on what you prefer. If you like to flip the bushes, Del says he’s throwing a beaver, keeping the boat at 20 feet and just going through and casting it up in between right around the bushes and dragging it back real slow, the slower the better. Some days are better than others depending on the weather. If you do get some dirty water, if you want to go back into the creek, it seems like the largemouth are just starting to stage up. Some of them are up in there roaming around. The bucks have move again. You can catch a bunch of them on that Senko or shaky head. Del’s been using a shaky head and catching a lot of fish on either green pumpkin, if the water’s dirty, or watermelon red or all that natural stuff. If the sun’s out, Del says, he likes the watermelon red. If it’s a little dirty you throw the green pumpkin. If you get into dirty water and you’ve got a ton of wind you can throw a spinnerbait and pick up a few. That’s been kind of hit or miss. The shad that moved up, Del says, pretty much got eaten up pretty quick. So the shad that are in the backs are kind of sporadic, but if you do get in real skinny water you can find some of those starting to pick a few fish off docks with either a jig or rolling the swimbait in front of it. You also have the Keitech. You can slow-roll this Keitech on the outside of the bushes, or inside of the bushes, however you want to do that. If the water is a little clearer you can pull some fish on that. And finally, he notes, anglers are starting to catch a few on a topwater or any of the little walk-the-dog-style baits. That’s not full-fledged on yet but that’s getting close. When you get into these areas, there are little flurries of activity here and there if you get the bait in there, so you can get one that way. As these temps come up, fishing will start to get a little easier. A couple of these days they got 20-fish, 50-fish, 40-fish days. It’s that time of the year to get out. Remember, the dock will hold its last regular tournament of the spring season May 5, the Big John Tournament. Call the number on the website linked above for more information. Anglers need to fish two tournaments to fish in the championship.
(updated 4-25-2018) K Dock Marina said the surface temperature was finally coming up over 48 degrees and was reading 56 degrees (April 25) at the marina. Warmer down the lake and in the coves. Should be freat fishing this weekend. All species starting to turn on. If they can hit 60 degrees or higher, the crappie and bass should be up to the shoreline. Still dealing with lots of cold rain, but should be OK with the forecast of nothing but sun for the next five days. More and more crappie have been coming in off of brush piles in the coves from Beaver Creek to Bear Creek on the Arkansas line. Walleye will be moving up out of the deep water by this weekend. Hope to get to post some good reports by Friday. Let’s just hope that the Corps starts letting some water out this spring so we can use the boat launch again. Water level April 25 was 665.6 feet and rising (6.6 above normal). Water temperature now ranging 56-58 degrees. Water is clear to stained with little or no debris.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 561.90 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Another crazy week of weather on Norfork Lake. We had some warm days but the wind was from the east for four days and it blew out all the bait and dirty water from the creeks. So as fishing got better the latter part of the week, catching bait became harder. The first part of the week fishing was slow but by week’s end the stripers and hybrids were more active. We are still fishing the Big Creek area but we are now catching stripers on the main lake points later in the morning after the wind picks up. I caught three days of limits for my clients with the biggest striper being 22 pounds which was released after some nice photos. We are still using long lines with just a small split shot and planner boards with short leaders. The planner board baits are usually 8” to 10” gizzard shad that is kept right at the surface. The more wind you have the better chance you have of catching a big fish. Each day we have multiple strikes on these baits but few hookups since it takes a lot of time and skill to set the hook and play the fish. The best baits have been 3” to 5” gizzard shad. We use these baits since they last a long time on the hook and can take repeated hits and still stay alive compared to a threadfin shad that will die on the first hit. Stripers are also being caught up near Twin Coves and around the Crystal Cove. The topwater bite has yet to begin but if the weather continues to keep warming the lake it will not be long. The night bite should also pick up as the nights are staying warmer which keeps the water warmer.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Spring is coming, I promise! The weather is still playing games with us, and the fishing seems to be effected for a day or so after each frontal system. In between systems the fishing gets good and people catch all species for a couple of days. Then the cycle begins again. Over the last week many fish were caught including striped bass, hybrid bass, white bass, walleye, crappie, spotted bass and largemouth bass.”
Lou says it appears that over the last couple of days, largemouth and spotted bass fishing has gotten really good. Baitfish have moved into the sunken buck brush and the bass have followed suit. Plastics and hard baits are both working. Unweighted flukes or bass assassins cast into the brush with slight twitches have made the bass go crazy. They are right inside of the brush so once you get hammered you will have a fun time getting the fish out. Lots of 14 – 17 inch fish have been caught and released with lots of smiles on the fisherman’s face. Try out a jerk bait doing the similar routine. Find an opening in the brush and cast in a Zara spook and walk the dog out of the brush and watch the bass erupt on your bait. It will not be long until the smallies start to get real active.
Walleye fishing has also been good. They are inside of the brush, same as the bass, or right at the outside edge of the brush. A 5-inch swim bait has been working well with a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jighead. Cast the swimbait to the edge of the brush and let it sink a little, then retrieve the bait slowly back to the boat. Early morning and right before sunset are two great times to catch walleye close to shore. Casting out a suspending jerkbait at sunset to a little after dark will also produce some nice fish. Make sure when you are retrieving the jerk bait you do it slowly with barely making a wiggle with bait. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing has had its ups and downs over the last week. The fish are chasing the shad and the shad are continuing to move. One day you find them in the backs of coves in 15-20 feet of water and the next day they are on main lake points or large flats in 20-35 feet of water. Vertical-jigging or casting out a spoon has been the best method of catching many fish. The hardest part is finding their current feeding location. Lou says he has a 4-mile stretch that his guests have been fishing over the last week with some great results and other times a very tough time. They have typically been found on the shallow side of the cove or lake, not the bluff line side. Casting out a 5-inch swimbait has also been picking up some nice stripers. There are a few stripers that are feeding in close to the sunken buckbrush. If things happen as in past years, we will soon see schools of stripers up close to the brush feeding early and late in the day. “This is what I am hoping will happen, the sooner the better.”
The lake is currently on the rise after a slight rain a few days ago. We are currently sitting at 561.70 feet msl with sporadic power generation though out the day. The surface water temperature is around 58 degrees on the main lake and close to 60 degrees back in the creeks and coves. The main lake is clearing nicely, but still slightly stained. You can see your bait at least 8-10 feet down. Some of the creeks and coves are stained, but are clearing.
(updated 4-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.3 feet to rest at 5.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had less generation and some wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially and has fished much better. There have been some nice caddis hatches that have fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent 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 28 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 4-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and less stained. 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 1,127.52 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is stained and the surface temperature is in the mid-50s. The water is still 7-8 feet high. Crappie are in about 5-6 feet depth and the bite is good. Work your bait around the shoreline. Lil’ Fishies are working best. Bass are good at various depths. Use a crankbait as well as minnows or jigs. Bass appear to be spawning. Nothing else was reported.
(updated 4-25-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) reports that stripers are on the move and feeding intermittently throughout the day. Covering lots of water will be the key to success. The white bass run is finishing up and they are showing back on the main lake. Some quality stripers are still being caught in the upper reaches of the rivers, but a good portion are making their way north and are scattered throughout the lake. They are still using mouths of coves, backs of coves and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. For you diehard live baiters, fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 20 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, and Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. Soft plastic swimbaits and jerkbaits like flukes have been very effective as well and are a good choice when your fish are located near a point or other structure that has timber, rock piles or other snags that necessitate the need for a more precise presentation. Keep your eyes on the lookout for surfacing fish as they are taking topwater plugs like redfins as well. 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 website linked above. Live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers.
Mike Bailey says the water surface temps are in the mid- to high 50s. Check out these hot spots in the mid- and upper sections of Beaver Lake: Rocky Branch (stripers still being caught here), Ford and Cedar creeks (check backs of these and pay attention to where tree line intersects channel), Larue, Coppermine and Ventris.
The walleye spawn has ended and a large portion of the walleye are making their way back to the main lake and a good portion of them can be found suspended 10 feet down over 20-plus feet of water near structure. The post-spawn negative feeding mood is wearing off and they are beginning to get back on the feed. 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.
(updated 4-18-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been very good this week. Most trout are being caught between Spider creek, Parkers Bottom and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The water temperatures in the area mentioned above have been in the mid- to high 50s. A few walleye are being caught between Beaver town and Holiday Island pulling various Rapalas and Berkley hard baits in 6-10 feet of water. The weather has been cold this past week during the morning hours. The hot spot for trout has been the Spider Creek area.
(updated 4-25-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the Bertrand ramp area has been fishing well. Fish upstream from Parker Bottoms in the Trophy Management Area as well as Campground C, Riverview walk-in areas as well as the turnaround. Always be attentive to rising water conditions. Nymphs, midges are working well along with olive micro jigs. Stocking occurred last week and fly-fisherman are report numbers of fish being caught. The male walleyes are starting to make their move upstream! A couple of 21-inch fish were caught earlier in the week right below the dam off the gravel bar using jerkbaits and 1/8-ounce white P.J. jigs with a pink head. This rain has clouded up the water below the dam somewhat, but areas closer to the dam are fishable. Baitfish are present right below the dam and we suspect that feeding fish are feeding on them as well. 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.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is stained and the surface water temperature is 59 degrees. The water level is normal. Bream are good. Anglers are using worms and fishing the rocky points and brush piles. Crappie are good and are active at different depths depending on the day. Some crappie have even been going after crankbaits, but minnows and jigs are the best bet. Fish the rocky points. Black bass are good and are various depths. Anglers are using crankbaits and plastic worms and working the rocky points. Bluegill have been active, biting worms and crickets. No report on catfish.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water clarity is dingy and the surface temperature is about 60 degrees. The level is normal. Crappie are biting well in 4 feet depth. They’re all over the lake and biting minnows or jigs. Black bass are good and are shallow, most around rocky points. Fish a spinnerbait 2-4 feet below the surface. Catfishing is good on chicken livers. They are deep. No reports on bream.
(updated 4-25-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said it is great that Lake Poinsett State Park sells a large variety of fishing supplies as well as live and frozen bait. If fact, Ome says, they are told that “we are the only ‘bait shop’ in Poinsett County. Most of the fishermen are anxiously awaiting the time they can again fish in Lake Poinsett. Until then we are here to make available you fishing supply needs.” Lake Poinsett is currently in drawdown for major repairs on the lake and is expected to be refilled for fishing in 2020. Meanwhile, there are several nearby lakes providing plenty of fishing opportunity, including Lake Hogue and Lake Charles.
(updated 4-18-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water was stained, while the level and current are normal. Surface water temperature was 56 degrees. Crappie are good and the fish are in 15-20 feet depth around brush piles and stumps. Minnows and jigs are both working. Bass fishing is good, but no other details were available. A good bass bite should work nicely for the upcoming weekend bass tournament. No report on bream. Nothing on catfish.
(updated 4-25-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 430 cfs and water clarity has been green tinted. Luckily the area missed heavy rains last Sunday. The river looks great. It has been harder to get the fly down. A sink tip or split shot will get the fly down to the bottom. Olive and black Woollies have been hot with some nice hatches coming off lately. During the hatches a size 10 nymph works great, prince or hare’s ear. As always a hot pink or chartreuse Trout Magnet works great. Be careful wading.
(updated 4-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable and less stained. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. 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 4-25-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said that the water is clear and the surface temperature is ranging 48-50 degrees. The water level is about 7-7.5 feet high. Fishing has been tough. Crappie are poor but some are reacting to both minnows and jigs. Bass are poor but those that were caught were biting jigs. Catfish are poor but biting minnows. Bream reports also were poor, as were white bass reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 4-25-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the low 60s on the main channel and upper 60s in protected backwaters. Water clarity is down a bit from the recent rains, with the protected backwaters holding some cleaner water. The water level was up a few inches with light flow in the river. Black bass were biting well on spinnerbaits, squarebill crankbaits and even a few bit topwater plugs and buzzbaits. Many fish have already spawned in backwaters where temperatures have been suitable for a couple weeks but there are still pre-spawn fish in areas. Focus on backwater areas with flooded vegetation, rocky or woody cover with flashy vibrating moving baits for now. The shad spawn should attract black bass along the deeper rock banks in the next few weeks.
(updated 4-25-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said it seems that spring may finally be off to a true start at Cane Creek. Some fish are biting way later than they should, and some fish are biting quite a bit earlier than expected. High water levels paired with cool sunny days have caused most sportfish to wander into the shallows. Bass are biting on live minnows, shad and craw-colored crankbaits, as well as spinnerbaits. They must be realizing that it’s starting to warm up because on April 23, around 3 p.m., an 8.75-pound largemouth was brought to the boat ramp to be weighed and have its fin clipped for genetic testing. It was caught on a black hollow frog pulled across pre-emergent lily pads. Austin says he released this particular fish personally, so he can confidently say that “it is back in the lake!” Catfish such as channel and blue are still hitting hard on liver and liver- and blood-flavored baits fished at about 10 feet. Flatheads are biting live bait of all kinds, whether it be big shiners, shad or small bream. Fish a trotline closer to the bank to draw in the big flatheads. All catfish are doing better when fished for at night. Crappie are pretty much out, although a few reports are coming in of large crappie caught deep on structure using a minnow as bait. Crappie fisherman need to expect drastically lower yields, but considerably higher quality overall on what fish are caught. Bream have done nothing but become more aggressive. As the temperatures continue to rise while we slowly crawl our way toward summer, bream will continue to bite on crickets and worms. Crickets are still the No. 1 bream bait, but worms are rising in popularity. Fish near stumps and trees, where fish will congregate to prepare for the spawning season. A couple of other types of fish has entered the fishing scene at Cane Creek Lake as of late. Grinnell and buffalo have both started biting near the spillway. Many reports are coming in saying they are biting on grub-colored jigs. For best results use dough baits or PowerBaits fished floating slightly above or on the bottom. The only grinnell weighed so far weighed in at 9 pounds, and many buffalo are being reported in at 30-40 pounds. Cane Creek is getting hotter right along with the weather. Come out and catch a big one, and make sure to let the park personnel know about it!
(updated 4-18-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said that nothing much has changed at Chicot except the crappie have slowed down. Recently, people were having good luck with jigs at a depth of around 6 feet. Catfish were slow at the beginning of last week, but picked up as the temperature rose. Most anglers had better luck with shad than worms. Many anglers reported luck catching bream with nightcrawlers.
(updated 4-18-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello said the clarity is fair and the water temperature is ranged from low to mid-60s. The level is normal. The bass bite is excellent. The fish can be found from shallow water into the deeper areas. Chris says to look around brush and use a topwater or plastic worm for best results. Crappie are good and are in 3-4 feet depth. Catfishing has been good on worms. Bream reports were poor. White bass were poor.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.73 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level has almost returned to normal, and on Monday was about 5 inches above normal conservation pool and falling at 259.6 feet msl. There is current of about 5,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday is about 232 feet msl. Water temps continued improving over the past week, ranging Monday 58-65 degrees. 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 most Millwood Lake Campgrounds, and a most all are now open. Most all boat ramps, are now open including Millwood State Park. Clarity and visibility are improved over the past week, but remain stained in places, especially upriver. The main lake and lower sections of Little River continue to improve, are not quite as stained or muddy as the upper regions of Little River and Saline River. Largemouth bass continue in varying degrees of the spawn in most areas of Millwood this week. Upriver, largemouths continue to finish their spawn rituals and areas along the main lake remain pre-spawn. Most largemouth bass have been excellent over the past few weeks with the continually warming ambient conditions, from 3 pounds each, up to around 9 pounds each. Tournaments over the past few week on Millwood Lake have given up numerous largemouths at weigh-ins from 6 to over 11 pounds each. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Sweet Beavers, Trick Worms and Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook, and Rat-L-Traps all continue working well. Black and June Bug soft plastic frogs are working in new lily pad stands. War Eagle spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Firetiger colors, near flooded bushes, buck brush, and vegetation, continue working well for good bass in the 3-7 pound class. Most of these bass continue roaming in and out of bedding areas, cruising in 4-9 feet of depth. Shallow-running squarebill crankbaits and Echo 1.75s, deflecting and banging them into and off stumps from 3-5 feet deep, were taking a few fat bass around 15-19 inches in length. War Eagle Spinnerbaits continue working near cypress trees, stumps, new lily pad stands and vegetation, all from 2-6 feet deep, with best colors drawing reactions over the past couple weeks being Spot Remover or White/Chartreuse and Firetiger. Best color of cranks in the oxbows, like the Echo 1.75 squarebills, have been the Rayburn Red Craw, Bold Bluegill and Ghost. Rat-L-Traps in Toledo Gold and Millwood Magic will get reactions from 15-18-inch bass over the past couple weeks. Soft plastic Lizards, Brush Hogs and Beaver Bugs are all working very well near bedding flats, close proximity to creek channel depths, around stumps and flooded buckbrush, and continue picking up nice largemouths from 3-7 pounds this week. Best lizard colors for the past couple weeks are South African Special, PB&J, Watermelon Candy, black/blue and June Bug. Real Deal Kustom Tackle jigs with a heavy craw worm trailer continue working on pre-spawn fish near cypress trees from 4-9 feet deep. Best colors drawing good reactions from spawning bass are black/purple, Candy Bug or Texas Craw, all with a black or green pumpkin craw trailer, with the current water clarity.
Whites and hybrids were running in the Saline River above Cottonshed Campground, for the past few weeks. Chuck ‘n Spins, Little Georges, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads, and half-ounce Rat-L-Traps in shad patterns were getting really good reactions from the whites, and limits caught in under an hour in the Saline River. Whites have almost finished their spawning runs now, up Little River headwaters, and are wrapping up in the Saline River as well, and slowed this week in those areas. Crappie continue to be caught and biting well in the oxbows, up Little River away from current, on cypress trees. Crappie were reacting very aggressively hitting on jigs and minnows both, over the past few weeks near base of cypress trees from 1-3 feet deep. The Catfish remain very good on trotlines using almost any cut bait like shad, buffalo or trash fish in current along Little River from 8-15 feet of depth.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.80 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level has risen some and is now just over full pool. Water temps are in the mid 60’s with a little color throughout the lake. Jason says a lot of the fish have spawned but can still be caught shallow due to the high water. The secondary spawn should take be taking place with the full moon on April 29. Right now, most of the bass are on secondary points leading into and out of spawning pockets. They can be caught using Carolina rigged lizards, YUM Christie Critters, or YUM Christie Craws in any of the natural colors like green pumpkin or watermelon magic. Shaky head worms in the same colors are working well also. We have caught several lately wacky rigging a YUM Dinger in watermelon candy and green pumpkin in spawning pockets around cover. Windy days are good for Booyah spinnerbaits or Smithwick Rogues in windy pockets and points. The crappie are good and can be caught in 10-15 foot brush with Kalin’s Grubs or minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 408.02 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the spawn is on. Water temps are in the 60s and bass and crappie can be caught on brush piles and banks and between.
(updated 4-25-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said it appears that spring is starting to settle in. Finally. The water level is 408.08 (as of Tuesday) with a slight fall. The water temperature runs 61-66 degrees depending on what part of the lake you are on. Lots of trotlines across cove mouths in the upper part of the lake. No reports on catches, though. These cold snaps have the fish confused and moving. Some crappie were being caught early this week on minnows in 2 feet of water around Point Cedar. Electronics are showing lots of fish and baitfish in the secondary coves. Lots of boats trolling from Shouse Ford to Point Cedar. Either long-line troll or crankbait pulling is a good idea with lots of fish showing suspended. Go with Shad Raps, Hot Spots and baits that are shad-colored and ones that you can keep in the strike zone determined from your electronics. Crankbaits will produce whites and hybrids in the upper areas of the lake. Use your electronics and look for suspended fish from the river channel back to secondary creeks.
(updated 4-18-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 60s and the lake is mostly clear with some color in the upper end. For those not familiar with DeGray, don’t trust the reef/shoal buoys to be in the right spot. The extremely high water caused the buoys weights to come off the bottom and they drifted until the weight hit bottom, which could be far from the reef. Don’t know when the Corps of Engineers will reset the markers. Bass fishing is good with quite a few nice catches reported. The fish are mostly in the coves in the larger creeks. Go to the back of the creek and throw a spinnerbait or jig with a critter trailer. Also try medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless. Use natural shad patterns in clear water, add some chartreuse or orange in colored water. Quite a few nice Kentuckies are showing along the rock bluffs at points 14 and 15. Work a 4-inch Texas rigged finesse worm down the rock ledges. Try green pumpkin or red shad. Crappie fishing is good for those who know how to fish the shoreline brush. These are spawning fish, so when one is located, chances are more will be present. Try coves from Edgewood to Shouse Ford. Use a 2-inch Kalin’s Grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead. Black/chartreuse is hard to beat. Also try crappie minnows under a float. The only fish on the attractors are small; the larger fish are still up shallow. Hybrids are now starting to show with their migration down lake from their river “false” spawn. Look for fish in the creeks and coves following the shad schools. Try Woodall Cove, Big Hill Creek, Lenox Marcus and Yancey Creek. When fish are spotted “breaking,” most any surface lure will work. When they are deeper, try a lipless crankbait or inline spinner. Also be on the lookout for schools at Point 15 late in the evening.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 438.21 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.71 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
White Oak Lake State Park (870-685-2748) had no report.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 4-18-2018) Greeson Marine of Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bread all-welded Xpress fishing boats, reports that the village lakes are still hanging around that 60-degree mark with lakes slightly off-color due to the recent heavy rains. Water clarity in most areas is less than 1 foot. Most anglers are having some success fishing chatterbaits in bright colors such as white or chartreuse in shorelines with grass or brush. Most fish are being caught in 2 feet of water or less. Other anglers are having success with craw, shad and chartreuse crankbaits and swimbaits off main lake points and shoals. Winds have been high, as expected this time of year. Expect heavy chop on most lakes.
(updated 4-25-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the clarity is clear and the surface temperature earlier this week was 65 degrees. The water level is normal. Bream reports were good. Bream are around the brush piles and are biting worms. Crappie remained poor like last week. Largemouth bass are good and are hitting around the cypress. Use plastic worms or Brush Hogs. Catfishing turned good this week, biting the trotlines. Nothing to report on white bass.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 4-25-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said catfish are fair on minnows and worms. Bream are good on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass are excellent on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
(updated 4-18-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress aluminum all-weld fishing boat, reports that the lake is slowly warming, with some areas reaching around 63 degrees in shallower water. Water is slightly murky in the main lake and less than 2 feet of clarity in most pockets. Fish are starting to use their summertime patterns heading out to the main lake points and hard-to-reach structures along shorelines and docks. Many fish are still in their spawning patterns but most should be in the post-spawn. Texas rigged worms, tubes and crawfish patterns have produced well in black and blue and green pumpkin off points. Jigs in olive and brown have been doing well on the spawning fish. With the days getting warmer and the light staying around longer, look for fish to move to heavy cover and become very hard to reach. Try skipping baits up into and under cover. Game and Fish is wrapping up shocking for walleye. Walleye should pick up very soon
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 4-25-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Ouachita is now out of flood pool. Heavy generation has been the norm in the Carpenter Dam tailrace and a more stabilized flow has been scheduled and fishing and boating can get back to a more normal pattern. For the last several weeks very high flows have kept boaters and anglers alike off the water due to the treacherous conditions. 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 sliver 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 4-18-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water clarity in the river is dirty with some creeks starting to clear. Water temperature is warming to 66. Bass fishing is excellent throughout the river system. In the heavily fished areas, stick to fishing a weightless chiseler. Jigs and Bamboozie are working well in the river around structure, scam shad and frogs are working great around the coon tail weightless. Crappie have been good around grass and structure using minnows and jigs (chartreuse, black chartreuse, black and pink). White bass and stripers are in the creeks with good topwater bite early. Bucktail jigs and swimbaits working well. Bream are good in the creeks around stumps; use crickets, worms and small flies. Catfish are good on cut shad and skipjack just inside the pocket. Don’t go in too deep; stay in the current.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 348.03 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water was clear and the surface water temperature was 60 degrees. The level remains high. Bream are poor, but there are bream at 5 feet depth. Crappie are biting fair with the fish at 12 feet depth around brush piles. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are poor, but anglers report some catches with spinnerbaits in 2.5 feet around brush. Catfishing is good using minnows. The catfish are biting 1-3 feet below the surface.
(updated 4-25-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the water level is high and the clarity is dingy. Not a lot to report this week. Catfishing was fair near the cypress trees using stink bait. The rest were poor reports on other species.
(updated 4-25-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) says anglers report crappie good on Bobby Garland Popsicle, Shiney Hiney, Glimmer Blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice, Shimmer, Monkey Milk, crystal, bone, Gumdrop, Penny Back Shad, Slab Slay’r and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r and minnows. Catfishing has been good on minnows, worms and frozen shad. Bream are hot now on crickets, worms and Rock Hopper. Bass as hot as well on worms, lizards, Brush Hogs and Whopper Plopper.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.66 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-25-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are very good. Brush Hogs, Trick Worms and lizards are best at this time. Secondary points and coves are still the best areas for these fish. Walleye are still good. Bright-colored jigs and crankbaits are still working best for these fish. Stripers are very good on topwater C-10 redfins and live bait. Major creek and river channels on the western and central part of the lake are still the best for these fish. Bream are fair 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 very good up the rivers. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. The water temperature is ranging 64-68 degrees. The clarity appears to be clearing. Lake level on Tuesday was 577.88 feet msl. 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 4-18-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton (501-778-6944) said Lake Ouachita has still been doing great on crappie for a couple of my good customers using No. 6 crappie minnows. They have been hit or miss –some out deeper in the lake, while other 3 feet from the shoreline. The crappie they been showing were slabs!
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 396.56 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-18-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Bear Creek Lake had some serious crappie activity last week. Anglers on the bank and in the water were catching crappie on artificial jigs. Bass fishermen reported activity in coves with live bait. The Bear Creek Lake boat ramp is undergoing construction and is currently CLOSED – however, folks are still welcome to come out and fish from the bank in the day-use areas.
(updated 4-18-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek Lake still has limited activity. No major bites that they’ve seen as of yet. Hopefully the onset of this stable weather will help clear the water and bring the fish back out.
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