Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
May 9, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for May 9, 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 through 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 5-9-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) says the water is stained and the level is normal. Bream are good and are around beds in 3 feet of water. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are fair. Fish for them around the cypress in 4-5 feet depth with minnows. Bass are good are various depths throughout the lake. Anglers were using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, buzzbaits, lizards, worms and frogs. Catfishing is good. Reports of some nice flatheads. Use nightcrawlers.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said bream are excellent. Anglers were fishing the piers and looking for the bite in 4-8 feet depth with redworms and crickets. Bass were fair. They’re active in the grass beds at a depth of 3-4 feet. Use a crankbait.
(updated 5-9-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the round-the-clock generation of one unit has been keeping up with the inflow to the lake and kept it from rising into the flood pool. This has been the purpose of the constant generation over the weekend. Now the lake is beginning to fall below this level and the Corps has informed Greg that the dam should be back to power demand only later this week. This means some low-water periods. Generation should go back to afternoon and evening periods. Check the SWPA Forecasts for this information. This is posted each day after 4 p.m. for the next day generation and on Friday evening for the weekend.
Greg says fishing was fair over the weekend with the higher water levels. The bite was steady but slow. This should improve as the river flow drops and the insects begin hatching again with the warmer weather. If we can avoid any large amounts of rain, all should be good by late this week. Watch for caddis and March Brown mayflies coming off with the lower water.
Greg notes that the Little Red had a boating accident on the river this weekend. Fortunately, no one was injured. Please remember to avoid the upstream side of docks or any other obstruction in the river during generation. The force of the current will capsize your watercraft. Even a 21-foot river boat can be overturned and swamped when pinned against a solid obstacle in the current. Please use extreme care and life jackets when canoeing or kayaking on the river during high water. “We have a beautiful river for all to enjoy but please respect it and use care especially in high water.”
(updated 5-9-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Greers Ferry Lake is close to seasonal pool level, which should allow for favorable water release over the next week. They continue to see good caddis and March Brown hatches occurring on the river. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends 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 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 4-25-2018) 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 462.91 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 5-9-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.91 feet msl. They are trying to keep it about normal pool of 462.04 feet while they continue to work on a generator, it is 0.87 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet. The overall catching is just like spring/late spring with any lake or anywhere in the country off and on with all species. The bass fishing is good shallow on all soft plastics. They are there one day gone the next on something different: small crankbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, flukes, wacky rigs, jerkbaits, etc., and all can be used for the little bit deeper fish as well. The deeper fish that have not moved up yet or the ones that have already moved back out deep are good on C-rigs, football heads with straight tail trailers, Texas-rigged worms. The crappie are still in all phases as well. From super shallow out to 18 feet, use jigs, jigs tipped with minnows, small crankbaits and beetle spins. The catfish are eating it up all over the lake on cut and live bait, just pick your poison or species to target. Lots of upper class 20 are being caught. The walleye are eating at times as well, when conditions are right for them, in 12-18 foot of water on crankbaits or drop-shots with a minnow or grub, and crawlers will come into play soon. The hybrids and white bass are getting back set up in the lake, the ones that traveled up creeks and rivers. They can be caught with live bait, inline spinners, swimbaits, spoons and grubs. The bream action is getting better with the warmer weather as well use small inline spinners, crankbaits, crickets and crawlers.
(updated 5-9-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water is clear and the level is normal. Surface water temperature is 65 degrees. B are good around the shoreline in 3 feet of water and are biting crickets. Crappie are fair. They’re also up around the shoreline and can be found in 3 feet depth. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good and are shallow. Fish for them at about 3-4 feet deep with lizards near the shoreline. Nothing to report on catfish.
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 5-2-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said that the water level is about 1 foot above normal and water temperature is 68 degrees on surface. Clarity is great. Crappie are doing well on minnows and jigs. Some are near the shoreline, some in 6ft of water and some in 11-16 feet of water. The bigger ones are in the deeper water males and females. Bass are in shallow water spawning. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline, blues, flathead and channels using perch, crawfish and shad. “Bream are slow but should start picking up any day now with this beautiful weather. Come out and see us at Overcup Bait Shop off Arkansas Highway 9,” Catfish says.
(updated 5-9-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water clarity is clear in the lake but murky in the creeks. Water level is high, and Wednesday’s surface water temperature was 76 degrees under a full sun. Crappie are good in 18 feet depth around brush piles. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good and are cruising in 6-12 feet depth. Fish around the brush or rocky points with a crankbait or plastic worm. Catfishing is good on minnows. No reports on bream or white bass.
(updated 5-9-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said the lake level is about 10 inches above the spillway, water temperature from the marina is 74 at dusk and about 76 on the north side by the evening time. Largemouth bass are excellent. With water temps in the 70s the black bass are moving out of spawn areas but they‘re mostly done. Some are in the grass or just outside of it. Try using Zoom 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. Todd and Jim Eskola took advantage of that dusk bite, hauling in 11.8 pounds of bass to win the Tuesday night tournament, edging Kevin Martin and Graves Hearnberger by a fraction. Keeton Blaylock and Kyle Wise found a Big Bass out there of 5.88 pounds. The Kentucky bass bite is good. The spots are in the grass and also about 8-12 feet deep. Rocky banks or points are best with a crank bait or jig. White bass are good but fewer reports are coming in, while some are saying the white bass are moving in. Use Rooster tails, CC Spoons, dee- diving Bandits, and Bombers. Crappie are good. More reports of crappie being found near brush piles and structures anywhere from 6-8 feet deep. Some are saying they’re striking with the bait rather than hitting. Try using shallow rigs and minnows early in the morning or later in the evening. Bream are good and are coming into shallow water off the rocky points and around brush piles. Try using crickets, worms or jigs anywhere from 3-12 feet depth. Catfish are very good. More reports his week of the channels starting to move out and the blues coming in. Try stink bait and bream around 8-10 feet depth and at 20 feet deep. Had a 44-pound catfish caught last week.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said crappie are reported biting fair. They’re in 5-10 feet depth and around brush piles. Minnows are working best.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said the crappie bite is fair around brush piles and rocky points. Fish minnows in about 5-10 feet depth for best results. Water level and current are normal.
(updated 5-9-2018) minnows. Bream are starting to bite fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie have been hitting pink minnows and No. 6 minnows right at daylight. Bass have been biting minnows, floating worms and topwater frogs early in the mornings.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 5-9-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream are hitting crickets and redworms. Catfish have been biting fair on chicken livers, bait shrimp and nightcrawlers. Crappie are biting on No. 6 minnows at Lake Charles and pink minnows seem to work better at Lake Norma. Bass like No. 12 minnows and red or purple plastic worms and lizards.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 5-9-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream have been biting great for customers using redworms and crickets. If you take enough bait you’ll probably lose count, but many of them will be small. Keep fishing and you’ll have a mess of keepers before it’s over. Catfish have been biting at night on minnows, goldfish, black salties, chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Trotlines, limblines or tight-lining with rod and reel in moving water just below shoals will catch a few good ones. Bass fishing has been good with big minnows, live crawfish, plastic worms and lizards, small spinnerbaits and crawfish-colored crank baits. Crappie have been biting fair on No. 6 and pink minnows in some deeper holes and backwaters. Walleye fishing has slowed and we’ve had no recent reports of any catches. Gar fishing is great fun and they are plentiful on the river. They love No. 12 minnows and are quite a challenge to catch. They’ll definitely bend your rod and give you a fight.
(updated 5-9-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said reports of some real nice bluegill are coming from customers using crickets. Repeated trips, smiles on their faces and excitement in their voices leads us to believe these fishing stories are true. They also mentioned a few redear have been mixed in their catches. According to other customers, catfish have been biting better at night. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers and minnows have been working well on tight lines in shallow water. Bass fishing has been good early in the mornings and at night. Green pumpkin, watermelon seed, watermelon red and black plastic worms and lizards have been catching them. Float them in shallow water and Texas-rig or Carolina-rig them in water deeper than about 6 feet. Crappie have been scattered and few but some decent-size fish were being caught a few days ago on No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. We can’t seem to get much more info than that from these crappie catchers.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing are excellent. Use nightcrawlers, chicken livers and chicken hearts. Water level is normal, no other conditions were reported.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says bream are excellent. Fish around the piers in 4-8 feet depth for the best bite, using worms or crickets. Bass are fair and are cruising in 3-4 feet of water on the north side of the lake in grass beds. Anglers report using buzzbaits, a shallow crankbait and Texas rigs.
(updated 5-9-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass fishing has been good with minnows, crankbaits and Carolina-rigged worms and lizards in about a green color. Catfish have been biting great for customers using crawfish and nightcrawlers. Crappie have been biting fair for a few customers, but the big keepers have been scattered and hard to find lately. Bream are cranking up and about to be on beds. Crickets and redworms are working pretty good for some nice-eating-size fish.
(updated 5-2-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the weather and the water temperatures are getting good. Black bass are coming shallow and the fishing is good. Water has risen and fallen at least twice a day. Fish the grass and secondary drops. Use green pumpkin. White bass are around Point Remove Creek, Petit Jean River and Coppers Gap. Use a shad-colored cranks. Reports have been fair. Catfish are moving to the jetties. Fish shad. Results have been fair. No reports on crappie. Bream are around the jetties and grass line. Use crickets. Anglers report fair reports. Charley also hears that in local ponds the fish are really going crazy.
(updated 5-9-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and with a normal level and current as of Monday. Crappie are good in 2-3 feet of water around the banks. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good in 3 feet of water and around the brush. Anglers were having best success with spinnerbaits. Catfish are good with worms and chicken livers. No reports on bream or white bass.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said the water level and current are normal. Crappie are fair in 5-10 feet depth around brush piles and rocky points. Use minnows.
(updated 5-9-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said reports were that the water is muddy and the surface temperature earlier this week was 60 degrees. Water level is high. Bream are good in the backwaters in 5-6 feet depth. They were biting brown Trout Magnets. Crappie are good in 6-8 feet depth and rocky points. Use jigs. Black bass are good and in the shallow backwater, hitting spinnerbaits in 2-3 feet depth. Catfishing is good below the damp with skipjack. White bass were fair.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said the water level and current are normal. Crappie are fair in 5-10 feet depth around brush piles and rocky points. Use minnows.
(updated 5-9-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river clarity is stained and the level and current are normal. Surface temperature is 68-73 degrees. Crappie are good around rocky points and jetties and are biting crappie tubes. Fish for them in 2-8 feet depth. Bass are shallow, about 1-4 feet, and are good. Anglers were using crankbaits, jigs, frogs and Texas-rigged worms and fishing around rocky points. When fishing the main channel, use the cranks, jigs and jays. When you’re in backwater go with the frogs and Texas-rigged worms for best success. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 5-9-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water is muddy and the surface temperature earlier this week was 60 degrees. Water level is high. Bream are good in the backwaters in 5-6 feet depth. They were biting brown Trout Magnets. Crappie are good in 6-8 feet depth and rocky points. Use white and chartreuse jigs. Black bass are good and in the shallow backwater where they’re spawning. They’ll hit spinnerbaits in 2-3 feet depth. Catfishing is good below the damp with skipjack. White bass were fair. Near the Terry Dam, stripers are biting white crappie jigs and Rooster Tails.
(updated 5-9-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is murky and the level is high was fast current. Bream are good in 2 feet depth. Crappie appear to be spawning all over and are biting at 3 feet depth. Reports have been good. Bass are good. Fish the banks in about 4-5 feet depth with a crankbait or plastic worm. Catfishing are good and biting shad.
(updated 5-9-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said that catfishing reports near the Terry Dam were fair by snagging or using skipjack. Water level is normal. At the other end of the pool, at Murray Dam, catfishing is excellent using skipjack. White bass are excellent. Use white twister tails and spoons.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 5-9-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is murky and the level is high with fast current. Bream are good in 2 feet depth in the backwater and around the shoreline. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are good in 3 feet depth and can be found in various spots. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good around the shoreline. Use crankbaits or plastic worms and look for bass to bite in 4-5 feet depth. Catfishing is good on shad.
(updated 5-2-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the water is stained and the surface temperature is 60 degrees. Water level is normal. Crappie are shallow and biting well in the timber. Try fishing at about 2 feet depth with minnows or jigs. Bass are also in the 2-feet range in brush and are hitting spinnerbaits. Catfishing is good on stinkbait. Nothing reported on bream.
(updated 5-9-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says that from Wildcat Shoals to the top of Buffalo Shoals, White River anglers have been rewarded with scores of fish every day this past week, fishing upstream or down from Cotter. The big winner this week was the blue and silver, ¼-ounce Buoyant Spoon, followed closely by the tri-olive Zig Jig – the 1/8-ounce jig has been more successful when the water level remains under the equivalent of two generators. Water releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been nearly the same each day for almost a week now, so we might be tempted to believe a pattern is developing: a smooth, steady flow of just under one generator, about 2,600 cfs all day until evening when an extra two generators are sent downstream for three or four hours. “We’ll enjoy the routine for as long as it is offered because the trout fishing has been phenomenal, the catches healthy and the cold water refreshing as the air temperatures begin to reach into the mid-80s. Come to the river and discover your little haven of serenity. We’ll help you find your way there.
(updated 5-9-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is good for fishing. The river is clear with a level ranging normal to low. There have been one to three generators running the past week. The trout bite is good. Anglers are using PowerBait and corn, as well as a river rig. Rainbows in the 12-14-inch range are being caught drift fishing with river rigs. The browns are slow, but some in the 16-18-inch range were being caught.
(updated 5-9-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Saturday that during the past week, they have had a rain event that produced about 2¼ inches, warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 2.1 feet to rest at 7.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 660.6 feet msl. This is 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 2.3 feet to rest at 1.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.1 feet to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had less generation and more 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 we can expect more generation in the near future.
The White has fished better. The hot spot has been the State Park. There are 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. 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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “A couple of weeks ago I had a guide trip with a father and son. The dad was a student in the fly-fishing class my wife, Lori, and I teach at ASU. His son was visiting from California and is an avid fly-fisher. The day we chose was pretty tough. The high was to be around 60 degrees (I don’t think it ever made it) with 15-20 mph winds, and it rained heavily all day long. Fortunately, they were running about one full generator, which has been a productive level. In addition, there had been some decent caddis hatches in the area.
“I got up early and watched the weather forecast. As a result, I chose my clothing for the day with great care. I started with polypropylene long underwear (top and bottom) I added a pair of quick-drying fishing pants, a tightly woven wool sweater and a fleece jacket. I put on heavy wool wading socks and my knee high muck boots. Over all of this I wore a pair of bib rain pants and a hooded rain jacket. A pair of fingerless wool gloves and a long-billed ball cap (to keep the rain off of my glasses) finished my ensemble.
“It was a cool start at about 40 degrees. There was no sun, but we had a stout wind and driving rain. I was comfortable and took a few minutes to rig their fly rods. On one, I used a prince nymph below a cerise San Juan worm (I always fish worms when it is raining). On the other rod I put a red fox squirrel and copper fly under a prince nymph. I always start with two different rigs and then wait and see which is working best.
“We began fishing and quickly learned that the red fox squirrel and copper was the hot fly. We were catching good trout on just about every drift. The rain was unrelenting. I spent most of my time netting trout and bailing the boat. Around 10:30 a.m., we motored over to the ramp to use the porta-potty. As I was getting back in the boat, I noticed the rain water in the boat was ankle deep, despite my near constant bailing. My boat net was floating and as I moved to the rear of the boat I tripped over it and fell into the river.
“This is the first time in 25 years of guiding that I have fallen out of the boat. I was lucky. I was near the bank and went into water that was about 2 feet deep and somehow managed to not hit any rocks. It took me a minute to get back on my feet. I was soaked to the skin.
“My clients rushed over and helped me get to the bank. They figured the day was over and asked if I wanted to quit and go home. I was a bit damp and uncomfortable but I thought that I could finish the day. They were amazed. I am tougher than I look. I wiped off my glasses, climbed back into the boat and started fishing again.
“We ate lunch in my Suburban to get out of the rain. I ran the heater and actually dried out a bit. I found a dry pair of fingerless gloves and switched out my wet ones. I had a Yeti tumbler filled with hot coffee that helped a lot. I was cold but by no means out of the game. My clothing choices had been right on. The polypropylene long underwear wicked moisture away from my body and the wool socks, gloves and sweater kept me warm, even though it was soaked.
“We fished until 4 and ended up with about 30 trout. It never quit raining and we never saw the sun. I had a mishap but I did not let it disturb my guide trip. Life is good!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 670.77 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-10-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Friday (May 4) the lake’s coming up; it’s at 668 feet msl. They got a bunch of rain Thursday. The water temp is coming up to about 60 degrees, 70 degrees in some of the back of the creeks if they get a little sun throughout the day. “And this week is the week the next week they’re gonna say you should have been here last week,” Del said. “Catching a lot of fish guys and the fish are out, they’re spawning.” Depending on what you want to do. Smallmouth, if you go from the main lake halfway back in the creeks you can still drag a Ned Rig on the outside of the bushes. Look for the gravelly points and pockets. Or you can drag a worm around. The smallmouth seem to like that clear water, so if you’re going to chase smallmouth around, stay toward the main lake. If you want to go chase largemouth about, he’s not saying that are not on the main Lake, but a majority of them are in those spawning pockets and the flats and the backs of the creeks. With the rain, they did get some color in the water, which definitely helped. You can throw a swimbait, like a little Keitech Flashy. “The biggest thing, guys, is the fish the conditions,” Del said. “If it’s laying flat and there’s bluebirds, you’re gonna have to downsize, grab the spinning rod, and do what you need to do. That’s not what everyone wants to hear but that’s just sometimes what you need to do.” Largemouth and smallmouth are spawning. The carp are spawning and, all at the same time, everything just kind of came to life this past week. Now you can throw a Senko in the bushes. Del says, “What I am looking for is, I’m looking for the flat gravel banks, and there seems to be fish into bushes or off the neck off the point leading into the spawning pocket. So points and pockets as your run in the lake is kind of what you want to key in on. Now if you’ve got wind you can throw a spinnerbait. Or if you’ve got wind and clouds you can throw a topwater, topwaters like crack, guys, I’m addicted to topwater as you can tell.” Del likes a Lucky Craft Gunfish, and he’s starting to pick up a few on buzzbaits. He also threw the Whopper Plopper around a little bit. He says that style is still coming, but you can catch some quality fish on it, though you won’t catch a lot of them now. If you’re going in the bushes or around the bushes, you can flip a Beaver, a Frightened Frog, whatever you’re comfortable with. If you guys want to drag a tube, that’s working. You can pretty much throw anything in the bushes, it doesn’t matter what it is right now. You just have to get it in there and get it out. Del also is throwing a jig on the last bit of deep water heading into the spawning pockets, a little heavy cover jig, natural colors are kind of what you want to stick with. And he’s also skipping around the docks, the front of the docks and underneath the catwalks, underneath the docks. Some of those fish are spawning around there, too. “So get out there, spend a little time on the water, and you’re gonna catch some fish. It’s that time of year where everything’s going.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 565.44 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake weather is starting to feel like summer and the striper fishing is turning on. The shad have not spawned yet but they are very close, though it may still be a few days. The topwater bite is very sporadic right now. As the shad move to the shore the topwater bite will turn on. Tom says his groups have caught limits the last five days and he expects it just to get better. They are fishing within 50 yards off the shore using long lines and planer boards. “We caught a 20-pound striper today on planer board using 5-inch gizzard shad. The striper was released for another person,” he said. The striper bite is now all over the lake. Find a point before light and use a swimbait until light, then try a topwater lure. If you have no hits within 15 minutes, move to the next point. Once the sun comes up the bite is over unless you’re using live bait, then you can catch fish up to 9 o’clock. Tom says he has been fishing mostly long lines with a small split shot. As it gets lighter and the sun comes up, he will let out over 100 feet of line on the two back poles and 75 feet on my side poles. This had been very effective catching stripers once the bite stops. If you’re interested in catching a striper, Tom says that both his son Sean and Tom have open dates the later part of this week. “We both expect some great action as the lake warms up,” Tom says. The last rain raised the lake 3 feet but the main lake is crystal clear and should stay that way. There is a mud line way up the creeks but it is clearing up as it moves to the main lake. May should be a great month for lots of action and limits of stripers.
(updated 5-9-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake’s spring fishing season is currently on fire. Topwater action has started for largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, striped bass and hybrid bass. Threadfin shad started to spawn several days ago and this got all the predator fish very energized. Fish are shallow inside of sunken buck brush in 3-20 feet of water. You cannot ask for a better time to fish Norfork Lake. It is very exciting. The striped and hybrid bass bite is improving daily. Fish are being caught by several different methods of fishing. Live bait has been productive by casting out a threadfin shad, gizzard shad or shiner with no weight or just a very small split shot. Topwater baits such as a Zara Spook are working very well during towwater activity as is casting a lure next to the buckbrush and calling the fish up. Soft plastics such as flukes or swimbaits are also catching some nice-size stripers. Among the best fishing times for striped bass areis from about one hour before daybreak through 8 to 9 a.m., if it’s a sunny day. It might last longer if the day is cloudy and/or rainy. During the afternoon and evening hours it appears the fish are out in deeper water. At times you can find a school that is feeding on shad on the surface, in the middle of the lake. Tuesday, fishing was good all over the lake. Lou said he knows of four different areas that were producing striped bass for many fishermen and/or women. Lake flats in 15-25 feet of water, main lake points with sunken brush on it, and toward the backs of creeks and large coves. Topwater action has been fun, but it does not necessarily mean that they will come up in the same area every day.
Lou says the largemouth and smallmouth bass bite has been excellent. Some of the bass have spawned and others are on the beds and still others are staging. It is a really fun time to fish for bass on Norfork Lake. Topwater baits are some of the favorite baits being used. The old stand-by soft plastic worked along the bottom in 8-20 feet of water is catching fish. With the higher-water level, creature type baits are working, being cast right in front of the sunken buckbrush. Let the bait sink and typically a bass will ambush the bait before it hits the bottom. Bass are being caught all over the lake with points in creeks and coves being some of the best spots. The white bass bite is still very good. There has been some great topwater action for the whites in the morning and evenings. Topwater baits, blade-type baits and spoons are catching some nice fish. Flats and back in the creeks are great areas to look. Walleye are being caught early and late in the day. They are located with most of the other predators, close to the sunken brush on the shore feeding on shad. The lake level is rising very slowly, maybe 1-2 inches per day. There has been power generation daily, but only for about 6 hours a day. The overall lake is very clear. “Today I was sitting in 20 feet of water watching fish swim by on the bottom. You may find some stained water in some of the creeks and coves, but not much. The surface water temperature is rising. Today it started out in the high 60s and rose to the low 70s during the day,” he said.
(updated 5-9-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 5.6 feet to rest at 11.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.3 feet msl and 13.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had less generation and more 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 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has cleared but it is fishing better. 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 5-9-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are stained. As the water warms, the smallmouths will be more active. My 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 Tuesday night, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,128.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is stained and the surface water temperature is in the mid-60s. The level remains high. Bream are good in 1-5 feet of water. They appear to be spawning throughout the lake and can be caught in various spots. Use crickets. Crappie are excellent. They’re being caught from the surface to 10 feet deep all around the lake. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good and are cruising in 3-4 feet of water and in other shallow spots. No baits were mentioned. Catfishing is good. Use nightcrawlers.
(updated 5-9-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says stripers continue on the move and are 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 making their way to 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 upper 60s. Check out these hot spots in the mid- and upper sections of Beaver Lake: Rocky Branch (check the back of Larue near the boat ramp), Ford and Cedar creeks (check backs of these and pay attention to where tree line intersects channel), Larue, Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow, Highway 12 bridge, Prairie Creek, Coose Hollow, Blackburn Creek, Beaver Shores, War Eagle/White River junction, White River and War Eagle River.
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 5-2-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been very good this week. Most trout are being caught between Spider Creek, Parker Bottoms 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 temperature in the area mentioned above has been between 45-50 degrees. 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. Jigging with live minnows has also produced some walleye. The white bass have been the wildcard. A few have been caught, but finding the schools has been a challenge. Crappie are biting, and catching them over structure has not been a problem. Fishing live minnows under a slip bobber has been the preferred method. The weather has been great this past week. More rain is in the forecast later in the week, so get out there and catch some fish.
(updated 5-10-2018) Beaver Dam Store Beaver Dam Store said the flood gates are now closed. There is one unit running, so the bills should be in there thick! The dam crossing is now closed and expect it to remain closed for three weeks. Get your snagging rods ready, the bills are on the way. 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 and midges are working well along with white or olive PJ jigs. 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 5-9-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is stained and at a normal level. Surface temperature earlier this week was 63 degrees. Crappie are good around the brush piles and biting about 4-6 feet of depth. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair around the shoreline. Use a spinnerbait and look for the bite in 2-6 feet depth. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 5-9-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports the clarity is murky and the surface temperature is 67 degrees. Water level is normal. The bream bite is good. The fish are shallow and biting worms. Crappie are good and can be found near the shoreline and are spawning. Fish in 4 feet depth with minnows or jigs. Bass are good around the shore shallow, in about 1-6 feet of water. Use spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Catfishing is good on chicken livers and shad.
(updated 5-9-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said the weather is great, and going fishing is in full swing. Crickets are in great demand now. They are catching a lot of bream in the area. Even though Lake Poinsett is in the middle of repairs, Ome says they are still selling a lot of live bait. That includes the redworms, nightcrawlers, minnows, rice slicks, Rosey Reds and goldfish. It will be a while before Lake Poinsett is back, but, they are still keeping the supplies you will need to catch plenty of fish in the neighboring lakes of northeast Arkansas.
(updated 5-9-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the “fish are biting, biting, biting!,” according to our reporter Lorene. The water is clear and the level and current are normal. Surface temperature is ranging 63-64 degrees. Crappie are excellent in the shallows and around their beds. Fish in 5-8 feet depth with minnows. Bass are good. Catfish are good and liking chicken livers. Bream are fair on crickets.
(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 5-9-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable but stained. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is coming and there are a 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 5-9-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water is muddy and they had no fishing report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 5-13-2018) Webb’s Sporting Goods (870-946-0186) in DeWitt said catfishing on the Arkansas River has been very good below Dam No. 2 near Dumas. Fish are being caught on catalpa worms, shad and stick baits. Flathead catfish are running and being caught on the river on live bait. We are selling a lot of minnows, crappie are biting in the Arkansas River on small oxbow areas out of the main river channel. Reservoir fishing is excellent right now, for bass, crappie, bream and catfish.
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 5-2-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said that with the weather warming up, bream are getting aggressive in Cane Creek. Multiple reports have come in of bream biting on both crickets and worms. Fish near stumps or submerged vegetation and wait for a bite. Bass are biting hollow frogs and topwaters during the hottest part of the day and cranks fished just under the surface during other parts of the day. Soft plastics Texas-rigged and drug across the bottom from the bank should wake up bass hiding in structure in the shallows. Catfish are biting aggressively on strong-smelling baits. Fish at about 10 foot at night with chicken liver or old bacon mixed with garlic.
(updated 5-9-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said the fish are biting at Lake Chicot! Crappie have been mainly been hungry for minnows. The catfish are going for waxworms. Bream have been biting on waxworms and redworms. Bass are biting shallow, with a report of shad crankbait being the best bet.
(updated 5-9-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello says now is the time to be fishing Lake Monticello. The clarity is fair, the water level is low and the surface water temperature is now in the low 70s. The fish are in post-spawn and several fish have been seen schooling and wanting topwater lures. Bass are shallow and the bite is excellent in 3-10 feet depth. Use jerkbaits, soft plastics and lizards. Some big fish in the 5-8-pound range are being caught. Crappie are excellent. Fish around the brush piles and expect a bite at about 12 feet depth. Use minnows or jigs. No other species reported.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.63 msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level continues falling, near normal, and remains about 6 inches above normal conservation pool and falling (as of Monday) at 259.7 feet msl; and the discharge was near 3,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater Monday was about 232 feet msl. Water temps continued improving over the past week. Surface temps Monday ranged near 65 degrees early to about 72 degrees later under full sun, depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for broken or floating timber. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on our website helpful links page, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Largemouth bass in most locations around Millwood Lake this week have the post-spawn blues. Very few largemouths remain finishing their spawn, a few stragglers can be found near Millwood State Park and Beard’s Bluff and Saratoga sections of the lake Largemouth bass have been excellent over the past few weeks, from around 3 pounds each up to around 11 pounds each. Many bass tournaments over the past few weeks here have given up numerous largemouths at weigh-ins from 7 pounds 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 randomly working. Black and June Bug soft plastic frogs are working in new lily pad stands. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Firetiger colors, thrown near flooded bushes, buckbrush and vegetation, have been working well over the past couple weeks for good bass in the 3-7 pound class. Most of these bass are now post-spawn and have pulled out to slightly deeper water off the flats, and are staging from 5-12 feet of depth, recovering from the spawn. Males can still be caught relatively shallow, and buzzbaits are beginning to draw good reactions from post-spawn largemouths. Also getting good reactions are Ken Pops, Pop-R’s, Spit ‘n’ Images and StutterSteps around vegetation and new lily pads.
Mike says deflecting and banging shallow-running squarebill crankbaits and Echo 1.75’s into and off stumps from 5-9 feet deep have been taking a few post-spawn bass around 15-19 inches in length. War Eagle Spinnerbaits were working near cypress trees, and stumps, new lily pad stands and vegetation from 6-10 feet deep seem to be holding more bass over the past week or so. In the clearer water of the oxbows, Spot Remover or Hot Mouse were the go-to colors. In the more stained areas, the white/chartreuse and Firetiger were drawing best reactions. Best color of cranks like the Echo 1.75 squarebills in the oxbows have been Bold Bluegill, Millwood Magic and Ghost. Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic and White Smoke continue to get random reactions from 15-18-inch bass over the past couple weeks in creek channels leading in and out of spawning flats. No reports this week on white bass. Whites are the nomads of the Lake, and no telling where they will turn up next, or when. Crappie are 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. A few of the crappie over the past week were found in standing timber vertical jigging minnows in 8-14 feet of depth. Catfish are fair to good on trotlines and yo-yos using most any cut bait like shad, buffalo or punch bait, chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts taking a few 3-5-pound channel cats in current along Little River from 12-18 feet of depth.
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. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 10-18 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 10-15 inches with heavy to moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity currently ranging 15-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain or thunderstorms.
(updated 5-2-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said they were getting good reports on bass, bream and crappie. Bass are being caught on buzzbaits early in the morning.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.08 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is about a foot below full pool of 548 feet msl. Water temps have made it to the 70s. Most of the fish have spawned but can still be caught shallow due to the higher water. Right now, a lot 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. Wacky-rigging a YUM Dinger in watermelon candy and green pumpkin in spawning pockets around cover is still working as well. Windy days are good for Booyah spinnerbaits or Smithwick Rogues in windy pockets and points. Super Spook Jr’s are starting to see some action on main lake points. Night fishing has been good around the full moon using Booyah spinnerbaits. Crappie are great and can be caught in 15-25 feet brush with Kalin’s Grubs or minnows.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.40 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said things are looking up at DeGray. Water temperatures are in the low 70s. The lake level is stabilizing at 407.40. Water color runs from slightly tinted upriver to clear mid-lake and lower lower. John says he did not get any significant reports on bream during the last full moon. Lots of beds showing on the electronics in Arlie Moore and Brushy areas. Bass fishing is showing a change with this warm weather. Black bass are finishing the spawn and moving to post-spawn. Floating worms (watermelon), Texas-rigged lizards and jighead worms are still producing. Topwaters are showing progress, also. Buzzbaits, Whopper Plopper and other topwaters. Some areas are producing better than others, but fish are ready throughout the lake. Trotlines are still strung across the mouth of coves throughout the lake, but no report on catches. Crappie fishing is mixed emotions. Some have been catching them shallow and some are catching them off brush piles. Minnows on slip bobbers for the buckbrush in 30 inches of water is a good starting point. In the early part of the year, I recommend fishing the upper part of the lake. From Arlie Moore to Point Cedar is a great area. Fish will be moving to brush piles so use your electronics to locate the brush piles and fish. Some schools of suspended fish have been reported in pockets and on points and drop-offs. Good fishing and be safe.
(updated 5-9-2018) Greeson Marine, dealer of the Arkansas born and bred, all-aluminum, all-welded Xpress fishing boat in Hot Springs, reports that Lake DeGray is on fire! Water temps are in the high 70s and 80 degrees in parts. Water clarity in the 3-4 foot range. Bass have moved off of the spawn and on to the post-spawn! Fish are hungry and actively taking almost anything you can throw at them! Swimbaits, jerkbaits, soft plastic worms, lizards and craws are producing well in the natural colors of summer. Green watermelon and black are the way to go. Main lake points humps and colder creek channels are holding most fish. Go get ’em!
(updated 5-9-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are off the beds and stacking up on the brush piles. Fish 5-8 feet deep with jigs or minnows. Darryl’s been catching some white bass and hybrids trolling crankbaits or Alabama rigs.
(updated 5-2-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the upper 60s and the lake is clear in the lower end and has some color above Point 14. Bass fishing is only fair with quite a few fish reported, but most are small. Look for fish in the secondary coves and up shallow. The spawn is almost over so most fish will be post-spawn. Best pattern has been either medium-running crankbaits or spinnerbaits worked from the shoreline brush out to about 10 feet deep. Look for some schooling action because the shad are starting to school with spawning approaching. During the heat of the day, throw a Texas-rigged worm or lizard across the secondary points. Red shad and green pumpkin are pretty much stand-by colors. Crappie fishing remains hit and miss with mostly miss. The fish are still scattered along the shoreline brush even though the spawn is winding down. May is usually a great month for these fish because they return to the attractors and are hungry from the rituals of spawning. Look for attractors at about 20 feet and drop a 2-inch Kalin’s Grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead to just above the thickest part of the brush. Try Tennessee Shad in clear water and black/chartreuse when the water is discolored. Look for attractors between Edgewood and Shouse Ford. Hybrid fishing is slow with very little schooling activity. In fact, hybrids have been slow most all winter and spring. Some are blaming the reduced stockings on the lower catch rate. In fact, the stockings have been cut in half from about six per acre to three. Quite a few white bass are showing between Shouse Ford and Point Cedar.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.35 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 537.54 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 5-9-2018) White Oak Lake State Park (870-685-2748) had no report.
(updated 5-2-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said water is still extremely high, and not many reports are coming in. A few bream being caught, they hear.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 5-9-2018) Greeson Marine of Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bread all-aluminum, all-welded Xpress fishing boats, reports that village lake bass fishing, like many other areas, is getting great results as the post-spawn fires up! Fish are hungry and actively attacking soft plastic worms, Senkos and lizards with the occasional frog bite in lakes with grass. Water temps are in the low 80s and visibility from 2-6 feet in most areas. Most fish are on main lake points and changes in elevation on the main lake. Some fish can still be found hiding out under docks in the shade.
(updated 5-9-2018) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the AGFC fertilized the lake on May 1 and when that occurs the fishing slows down drastically for a a couple of weeks or more. She had no reports this week. The fish have been thrown off their usual timing anyway this spring by the weather, she said. Usually after 2-3 weeks, the fishing picks back up, and she expects it will be back to normal by Memorial Day weekend. Lake Atkins has a popular bream tournament every Memorial Day.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 5-9-2018) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 5-9-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Ouachita is now out of flood pool and a minimum flow pattern has been scheduled below Carpenter Dam. Rainbow trout fishing is what Lake Catherine is known for and thousands of quality trout are present in the tailrace and are feeding consistently as conditions have returned to normal. Bank fishermen are catching 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 are recording 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 over but number of fish remain in the tailrace feeding on shad. 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 are finishing their spawning run and are still being caught on small jigs and live minnows around rock structure and sandbars close to the main river channel. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should be aware of the generation schedules and must always follow all boating and park regulations.
(updated 5-9-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperatures are getting in the 70s. Rivers are dirty with heavily stained backwater. Some creeks are clear on the upper end. Crappie have been good on jigs (red and white, or black and green) in 3-4 feet of water on stumps. Bass have been good on black and blue jigs around grass, grass mats and wood points. White jigs have been working well around areas with the shad spawning. White bass and stripers are still in the creeks with a topwater bite early, swimbaits and plastic jerkbaits in the afternoon. Catfish have been good on the mudflats with cut shad in 2-4 feet of water. Bream have been good around rocks with grass crickets and worms.
(updated 5-11-2018) Lane Dodd at Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports said on US97 radio that he had gotten a good report from an angler catching crappie. He said the angler was around the southern end of the lake, down around the Hulsey Hatchery and White Oak Basin. He was fishing the deepest concrete boat docks he could find. The crappie angler was using regular, No. 6 live minnows and said he probably caught 20 on Thursday.
(updated 5-2-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are finally moving in to spawn in greater numbers than before. Water temp is 65. Catch the staging females 8-10 feet deep on brush piles. Males are on the beds making and protecting the future catch. Spotted bass are roaming the coves and shoreline chasing threadfin shad like MS13 gang members. Casting jigs and inline spinners work great.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.59 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is clear and at a normal level, with a surface water temperature ranging 68-72 degrees. Bass are good around brush and rocky points in 5-7 feet depth. Use spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Crappie are good around the shoreline in about 3-5 feet depth. Chartreuse jigs are the way to go. Bream are biting around rocky points in 3-5 feet depth. Try redworms or crickets. Catfishing has been excellent on crickets.
(updated 5-9-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the water is muddy but clearing. The level is normal. Bream are biting well on jigs. Crappie are good on jigs. Bass also are good and hitting jigs. Catfish reports are good and they say they are biting jigs. The Boys would not reveal specific area where the fish were being caught or the depth.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.76 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are still good. Creature baits and worms are working well at this time and the top water bite is picking up. Try a Super Spook Jr. on main lake and secondary points. Walleye are fair to good. Try trolling a flicker shad or similar small crank bait for these fish. Stripers are very good on jigs 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 excellent and being caught on crickets and worms in 8-15 feet water near brush. Crappie are very good and being caught on minnows or jigs in 15-18 feet of water near structure. Catfish are still very good. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. Water temperature is ranging 66-70 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. The lake level earlier this week was 577.72 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.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednedsay, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 387.52 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-9-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Bear Creek Lake has seen an increase in activity over the past few days, especially early morning and mid to late afternoon. The bass have been appearing in coves over tree tops and biting on artificial jigs of bright colors. Crappie are biting at mid-range water levels on live bait, and catfish are hitting yo-yos using stink bait and other homemade baits. The boat ramp is still closed, but don’t forget that the State Park rents boats and motors for those who want to get out on the water. The State Park also sells a variety of bait including worms, crickets, shad and artificial baits.
(updated 5-9-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek Lake hasn’t seen a lot of activity. The bass seem to be biting more now than before, also on bright-colored artificial baits. However, all other species have low activity reported.
AGFC Commissioner Meeting Notice
Dec. 4, 2023
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails
Don't miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!