Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Oct. 17, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Oct. 17, 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 10-17-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the clarity is clear and the lake level is high. No water temperature was recorded. Bream are poor. Crappie are good and are biting small and medium jigs as well as minnows. Bass are good on plastic worms and bass minnows. Catfishing is good using redworms, crickets and nightcrawlers.
(updated 10-17-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said, “We finally received some fall-like temperatures here on the Little Red River. With the cooler temperatures, our generation pattern has changed some to accommodate power demand from the Greers Ferry Dam. For the first part of the week the Little Red has received morning and afternoon generation. Time will tell if this will be the pattern for the foreseeable future.” For fly-fishing, Lowell recommend midges, soft hackles, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink, chartreuse and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. 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 10-10-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river continues to be clear and cool with afternoon generation. This should be scaled down with the coming cooler weather. The rain that was due Tuesday evening and into Wednesday may dingy the water Wednesday, but the Army Corps of Engineers are scheduled to run about five hours of generation Wednesday afternoon and this should help clear the river. The bite has been good the last few days with a few browns in the catch. It’s about the time of year for the browns to start getting active and feeding before the spawn in November. All fish are in good shape and seem to be putting on weight this fall. Small flies are still producing for him, Greg says, and will probably be the best choice as long as the water is low and clear. Remember, the app for your phone is USACE Little Rock for information on generation and SWPA forecasts. 866-494-1993 is the phone number for proposed generation. 501-362-5150 is the number for current generation (enter 3 for Greers Ferry Dam).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 459.80 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 10-17-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 459.78 feet msl, or 2.26 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. “The lake is staying pretty steady with the rain we have gotten even though they are generating some water. The lake is very healthy among the fishery as we have a lot of shad for the fish to winter over on and our overall population of game fish are abundant the catch rates are very good, with it poised to be even better after this week of cooler weather,” Tommy says. The crappie are good in rivers and creeks in and around any timber on jigs and minnows fished 12-30 feet of water. Fish according to the day as they are moving up and down in the water column. Walleye are deeper with the thermocline pushing them deeper. Some have moved shallower but more are to come. Try dragging a crawler in 2-12 feet to 60 feet of water or jig and spoon. Bream are on the bank out to 15-18 feet of water eating crickets and crawlers; small crankbaits working as well. Catfishing is good all over the lake on a variety of baits from soap to hot dogs at various depths on various rigs. Black bass are scattered from the bank out to 60 feet and being caught with a variety of baits from the top on down; just stay around the shad. Hybrid and white bass are eating very, very well on most days. After this weather it will be an all-day affair. Use spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and topwater baits. Again, stay around the shad in 25-60 feet of water.
(updated 10-17-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water is dingy and the surface temperature of the water was 72 degrees. The lake is high. Bass are biting well at night, they report. Anglers report good catches, but no other information was forthcoming. Catfishing is good, but again, no baits were mentioned. Nothing to report on bream or crappie this week.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup 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 Overcup for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 10-17-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 3 feet. Clarity is good and surface temperature is around 70 degrees. Bass are doing well as always. Bream are slow. Catfish are being caught around buckbrush were the creeks are flowing in. Crappie are starting to pick up using minnows and jigs in 5-6 feet of water. “I caught 62 yesterday morning between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., but kept 19 that were 10-13 inches,” Johnny said.
(updated 10-10-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said he would rate the past week at Brewer Lake as a 7 or an 8 out of 10 for the fishing. Clarity is clear and the level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are fair. You’ll find them around brush piles and they’ll bite minnows and Twister Tail jigs. Focus on a depth of 10-12 feet. Bass are fair on crankbaits and worms. Catfish are good and are hitting minnows as well as chicken liver. Bass reports were poor.
(updated 10-10-2018) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598), formerly Jolly Roger’s Marina, says black bass are excellent. With the water temperatures in the upper 60s to lower 70s, the largemouth bass are hitting the shallow-running baits. Try using spinnerbaits or topwater lures, and there are also reports coming in of some anglers catching them on jigs. The marina had a good turnout last Friday for the Tournament Fish-Off, with Keeton Blaylock and Kyle Wise winning with an 18.57-pound stringer. Matt and Mark Hedrick caught the Big Bass of 3.26 pounds, and they had more than 16 pounds on their stringer. Kentucky bass are good. They are mixed in with the black bass and some can be found in 8-12 feet of water. Try fishing shallow with running baits and off structures with jigs. White bass have been fair lately, but there were no reports this week. Crappie are good. More reports of them being found on brush about 14-18 feet of water. Try using chartreuse jigs and minnows. Bream are good though there are less reports coming in this week. Some are still catching bream on redworms. Catfish are good. Reports of catfish being caught on artificial worms as well as minnows.
(updated 10-10-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish are still doing well since the stocking back in September. Chicken livers and nightcrawlers been doing well for some on the cats. Crappie are slow, but best on No. 4 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. Bream are fair on crickets. Bass are doing well on brooder minnows and No. 12 bass minnows.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 10-10-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that, like Benton’s Sunset Lake, the ponds also were stocked with catfish back in the last week of September. One of Lisa’s regular customers who goes there said that while he was trying to fish for crappie with No. 6 crappie minnows, he kept catching catfish. He did also catch one crappie and several nice bass, she added. That’s really about all she has heard from Bishop Park.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 10-10-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass have been good on brooder minnows. Also on plastics, especially on green pumpkins and watermelon red colors. Crappie are OK on No. 6 crappie minnows. Bream are good on crickets and redworms. Catfish are good on black salties, especially on trotlines.
(updated 10-10-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been slow, but try No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish have been hitting bass minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass have been doing fair on No. 12 bass minnows. Bream have been good on crickets.
(updated 10-17-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are fair on minnows and black/chartreuse jigs.
(updated 10-17-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 10-17-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says bream are fair around the piers. Use redworms or crickets. Bass are fair on topwater poppers and buzzbaits. No other reports.
(updated 10-10-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “Now, this lake has been crazy when it comes to catching the crappie. I have actually had reports of crappie being caught off of three different minnows: No. 4 and No. 6 crappie minnows and No. 12 bass minnows.” Catfish and bass also have been caught off No. 12 bass minnows. You’ll catch some bream off crickets.
(updated 10-17-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
(updated 10-10-2018) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says the water clarity remains clear and the water level is normal, much like what it has been the past couple of weeks. And with that the fishing also has been much the same, Ray says. Crappie are fair. Bass are fair. No reports on bream and no reports on catfish or white bass.
(updated 10-17-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass are good near the Murray Lock and Dam. Use white Twister Tails and spoons.
(updated 10-17-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the reports from the Maumelle pool mirror what they’re hearing from the Little Rock pool again this week. The river is at normal height and the clarity is a little cloudy. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair on crickets; fish for them in 5-6 feet of water. Crappie are fair and are at 5-6 feet depth. Pink minnows and mermaid-colored Crappie Magnets are working. Bass fishing is excellent. Fish around rocky points with small shad-colored swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps and green pumpkin Brush Hogs. Catfishing is fair below the dam with skipjack. The white bass bite has been excellent, too. Also, anglers report catching stripers on chartreuse Bucktail 1-ounce jigs.
(updated 10-17-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river clarity is stained or muddy, depending on location. The river level and current are high. No temperature was recorded. Bream are poor. Crappie are poor. Bass remain good, though. Anglers report success around brush and are using crankbaits and topwater plugs. Also, fish around the jetties. Other good baits to use are black/blue jigs and Bandit crankbaits. Catfishing is poor.
(updated 10-17-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water clarity is still fairly clear near the Terry Lock and Dam, with a normal level and current. Bream reports remain poor. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs; fish the backwaters for crappie. Bass are good with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and worms. Catfishing is good.
(updated 10-17-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said that below Murray Lock and Dam, catfishing is fair using skipjack or shad.
(updated 10-17-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the river remains at normal height and the clarity is a little cloudy. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair on crickets; fish for them in 5-6 feet of water. Crappie are fair and are at 5-6 feet depth. Pink minnows and mermaid-colored Crappie Magnets are working. Bass fishing is excellent. Fish around rocky points with small shad-colored swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps and green pumpkin Brush Hogs. Catfishing is fair below the dam with skipjack. The white bass bite has been excellent, too. Also, anglers report catching stripers on chartreuse Bucktail 1-ounce jigs
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 10-17-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is clear and the level is high. No temperature was recorded. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Bass reports were good, with anglers still using spinnerbaits, crankbaits or worms. Bream reports were poor, as were the reports on catfish.
(updated 10-17-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the water clarity is very dingy and the water level is high with no stumps showing. Crappie fishing is good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good on most any lure, Donna says. Catfishing is good with hot dogs, stink bait and various other catfish lures. Still no reports on bream.
(updated 10-17-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says cold weather is here, but the fishing is still hot. It seems we’ve skipped fall and moved straight to winter, so right now is the time to catch some big brown trout before they go into their spawning period. Sculpin are the favorite bait for the browns right now as they look to put on some extra winter weight. The rainbow catch has been great, with many excellent-size rainbows being pulled in and the occasional cutthroat being spotted. Lures with silver flash like the 3/16-ounce Blue Fox have been popular and the favorite PowerBait color is slowly switching from yellow to orange as we move further into the spawn. Dress in layers and enjoy the misty, cold mornings on the river reeling in great trout.
(updated 10-17-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity remains clear and the river level there has been high. The level starts out low in the morning and rises in the afternoon. The rain and cold limited a lot of the fishing, but when anglers got out, it was similar results to previous weeks. Rainbow trout fishing remains excellent. Browns are not being caught at all, they report. Anglers can see them in the water but they are not eating.
(updated 10-17-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had a few rain events that accounted for more than 1½ inches of rain, cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 feet to rest at 3.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 4.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 3.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 2.6 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28.8. feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had little generation and wadable water every day. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of power pool. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. They are still hitting grasshoppers for some nice topwater action. 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 (my current favorite combination is a size 14 Copper John with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
John also says, “David Knowles is a retired engineering professor who lives in Fayetteville and is a commercial fly-tyer. Over the years, he has developed several fly patterns that have become game-changers. These are flies that have become go-to local patterns. When guides ask each other what is working, these flies are always mentioned. He developed the Y2K, the root beer midge and the ruby midge. The ruby midge has been my No. 1 producer for several years. When I managed Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, we could not keep the bins full enough of this fly or the Y2K and the root beer midge.
“The Y2K is a colorful conical beadhead fly that I usually substitute for an egg pattern. How can any fly that looks like PowerBait be bad. I had a 12-year-old client land a 16-pound brown on Dry Run Creek using one. I am a believer. I use the root beer midge when the ruby midge is not working. No single fly works 100 percent of the time.
“Over the years, David and I have become friends. Recently he told me that he wanted me to field-test some new patterns. I was of course honored. I have one of the top commercial fly-tyers in the United States sending me flies to test. Life is good!
“Because David is an engineer, I knew I had to perform my field test in a logical matter. The first fly I chose to test is a prismatic midge. This is a variation on the ruby midge. I tested it by taking my wife, Lori, fishing.
“I rigged our rods exactly the same except for the dropper fly. I used the same rod, reel, line, leader, tippet, split shot and lead fly (a Copper John No. 14). On Lori’s rod I put a ruby midge on as the dropper. On my rod I put on a prismatic midge as the dropper. We fished together on the same water from my White River jon boat.
“I was into a fish almost immediately. I caught several. Lori was catching fish but not as many as I was. I was probably out-fishing her two to one. She asked why I was doing so well. I told her that I was doing some field testing and showed her the fly. She was impressed with the fly and asked if she could have one to try out. I quickly agreed and tied one on for her. The results were as expected. She began catching more fish. This fly looks like a game-changer to me.
“I have several other patterns to test. Lori and I are both doing a lot of guiding right now so it may be a while before we get the opportunity to give them a proper test. We both look forward to the opportunity.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 655.21 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said they’ve had some big weather come in. This cold front will hopefully get those fish moving a little more. It’s been kind of stagnant. The Army Corps of Engineers are running a little water at the dam (dropping the lake about 4 feet) and the days are getting shorter. These fish are starting the move up. As the temperature cools off these fish are starting to get a little more comfortable coming up shallow, so day in and day out don’t forget to check the shallow part. The fish for me have been following into the creeks arms, the bigger creek arms, following the channels going in those bass seem to be keyed in on the shad. If you’re around the shad you’re going to be around the fish. But the key is just keep moving, chucking and winding. It’s power fishing time of year; so, if you put in the work, it’ll pay off. Just don’t be afraid to move. In the morning starting off, there’s a topwater bite. Either throwing a Lucky Craft or Sammy, a buzzbait if there’s some wind. If there’s a little more wind you can throw the Whopper Plopper. That morning bite, if it’s windy and cloudy all day you can stay and throw topwater all day. If it lays flat on you, you’re going to have to mix it up, obviously. Going into the creeks and following the channel swing banks, sides of points with wind on them, the big key is to stay in the wind. If you’re in the wind you’re going to get bit. The square bill is catching some fish. Obviously those fish are a little bit shallower. The jig bite is producing. Green pumpkin or green pumpkin orange, some shad or crawdads. If it does lay flat and if you get some sun, you can still catch them drop-shotting deep up around the docks, hot on the points. The fish seem to be still in that 26-28 feet range. Those are mostly Kentucky bass with some smallmouth bass mixed in. We have been catching quite a few smallmouth even up shallow. If it’s super windy, throw a spinnerbait. The spinnerbaits are starting the work, but you need to have a lot of wind for that the work.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 551.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake’s striper bite is heating up. He says they are catching stripers up past the state line and in the south end in the Big Creek area. Again, live bait is the best bait for both morning and afternoon fishing. This past week, Tom says, he fished the Big Creek area and caught limits using small and medium-size gizzard shad. There was also a lot of topwater action when the wind was not blowing. “The stripers are schooling up and we were getting multiple bites as we pass over a school,” he said. “I have not started fishing until I can find the fish. Once I find them, the bite will last up to 9 a.m., then it dies off.” Up north the bite is strong from the state line to the above the Udall boat ramp. Be very careful in this area because of shallow spots in the lake. The water temperature has dropped to the low 60s, and the stripers are exploding on the baits. The stripers are very active and can be released to fight another day. The lake temperature continues to drop and will be in the 60s all over the lake by the end of this week.
The crappie bite is very strong on the deep brush piles. Limits are being caught using a small spoon or minnows. The bass bite is also very strong all over the lake. As the water continues to cool the shad are schooling up and have moved to shallower water in the mouths of the creeks. Check Big Creek if you’re on the lower end of the lake and Robinson Point, Float and Panther Creeks in the mid-lake area. The Fouts area will begin holding fish along with areas from Red Bank to the Highway 160 bridge. Find the bait and you will find the stripers. They will be hungry and begin their fall feeding pattern. Tom and his son Sean Reynolds guide out of Tracy Ferry Marina. Tracy Ferry Marina is the only marina on Norfork Lake that has 24/7 access to fuel. You can get gas anytime using your credit card. Reach them at www.stroutfitters.com, Facebook.com/stroutfitters or 870-421-1541.
(updated 10-10-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said October sure is an exciting month to fish Norfork Lake. The bite for most species is good to very good. The lake has remained fairly stable over the last week, which helped the bite improve. Of course, don’t forget about November and December as great fish periods for all species. Plan your Norfork Lake fishing vacation by calling Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. The crappie have moved back into the brush. Find brush in 25 – 35 feet of water and it will be holding fish. You may need to bounce from one brush pile to another, as the bite will slow after you catch several fish. The crappie are suspended to or buried inside the brush 20-25 feet down. Small jigs will work, as well as, small 1/8 to 1/4 ounce spoons. Live bait on a small grub or live bait on a hook with a slip float is always a great choice. The walleye bite continues to be good in the dam area. The walleye that I have found are in 80 – 90 feet of water on the bottom. A few of them are starting to move up and are being caught in 65 feet of water in the same general area. Live nightcrawlers are catching fish, as well as, 1 ounce spoons vertically jigged. You can also bait a jig head with a plastic worm or crawdad and bounce it along the bottom in the 80 foot range. The second location for walleye is in 30 – 40 feet of water along a gradually sloping shoreline. Trolling a crawler harness or bouncing a spoon along the bottom will also work. A third place to find walleye is inside of or close to brush piles. The bass bite has been very good over the last week. The larger fish have continued to move out of their deep water summer home into very shallow water to feed. Shallow shorelines that are holding bait will be holding feeding bass. If you find some sunken timber sticking up, there will be some bass hanging out. Your favorite plastics, such as worms, crawdads, or June bugs will work great. Work your bait along the bottom back to your boat and hang on. Good locations to fish for bass are back into the major creeks and larger coves where the bait has moved back to the area. They are biting great in 2 feet of water.
The majority of the striped bass and many of the hybrids have moved out of the dam area and have dispersed lake wide. I have found some smaller stripers back in major creeks along with the bigger hybrids, but no large schools at this time. With our upcoming cold front moving in, the lake will start to cool down fairly rapidly. The cooler water will get the stripers energized and they will start to school and feed heavily. This time of year there is typically a good striper bite up river in the cooler oxygenated water on the Missouri side of the lake. I have been finding some large hybrids back in major creeks feeding on shad. They have been mixed in with big schools of white bass.
The white bass bite has been really good back in the major creeks and on the large flats. Large schools of fish are feeding and vertically jigging a spoon will catch you plenty of fish. Keep your eyes open for top water action for whites and largemouth bass early in the morning. Have your top water bait or a Kastmaster handy to have loads of fun. Norfork Lake water level has fallen slightly (5.4 inches from last report) and currently sits at 551.15 feet. The lake surface water temperature has remained fairly stable over last week and was at 78.5 degrees this morning but will increase slightly during the day. The main lake clarity is getting deeper and the visibility appears to be around 7 – 10 feet down. The coves are also starting to clear. The current thermocline appears to still be roughly 40 feet down. Norfork Lake water level has fallen slightly (5.4 inches from last report) and currently sits at 551.15 feet. The lake surface water temperature has remained fairly stable over last week and was at 78.5 degrees this morning but will increase slightly during the day. The main lake clarity is getting deeper and the visibility appears to be around 7 – 10 feet down. The coves are also starting to clear. The current thermocline appears to still be roughly 40 feet down. Fishing is getting exciting and will continue to get better and better as the cooler weather cools off the lake water temperature. If you are looking for a daily update of what is happening fishing wise on Norfork Lake, follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s facebook page for daily activity updates.
(updated 10-17-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous Norfork Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 2.6 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28.8. feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had little generation and wadable water every day. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of power pool. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some limited topwater action. Navigate this stream with caution. 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 is fishing much better. The browns have moved up into the creek. The hot flies have been size 14 sowbugs, size 12 Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).
(updated 10-17-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are 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 1,117.25 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said that the water level is high and the clarity is stained. No temperature was reported. Bream are not biting this week; no reports. Crappie are fair. Look for them in 6-8 feet of water and around brush piles. Use minnows or jigs. Bass has been fair now for a while. In the mornings, go with a topwater plug. A spinnerbait or jig will work at other times. Catfish are fair on prepared bait. Overall, they said the fishing has been slow the past week.
(updated 10-17-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) striper activity for this week rates as good. Beaver Lake stripers are in fall transition mode and are heading into their fall locations. They are on the move, and being mobile/flexible will be key to finding them. Mike Bailey says they are seeing some topwater action, so get those binoculars out and be on the lookout! For you diehard live baiters, fishing using weighted lines, balloons and downlines between about 20-40 feet deep during daylight hours 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, as well as Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5- to 6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. You should also try casting rattle traps on points and bars at night. Make sure you do not keep striper under 20 inches and not more than three striper/hybrid or combination. Walleye must be 18 inches long with a limit of four. Fish location is greatly influenced by lake level and current flow. Current in Beaver Lake from generation will generally position fish on upstream or downstream edges of structure; check the daily lake level and flow data link on Bailey’s website. Mike also says live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. This week, water surface temperatures remain in the mid-70s. Mike suggests checking out these hot spots on the mid- and upper sections of the lake, where stripers are on the prowl throughout and there is topwater activity noted: Point 1 (lots of topwater activity around the campground island and the area between there and Honey Creek), Big Clifty, points 5 and 6, Rambo Creek Arm (check the main lake points and humps and also look in back near the tree line), Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks (pay attention to where tree line intersects channel), Larue (check the main channel bends and cuts), Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow, the Highway 12 bridge (lot of fish coming out of the river late due to high water) and Prairie Creek, plus new hot spots Blackburn Creek and Beaver Shores.
Mike says walleye are in fall migration mode and can be found on main lake structures like points and gravel bars. Three-way rigging, down-rigging or using snap weights with Rapalas in natural colors for clear water, or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water, are effective – but hang on tight because the walleye and striper territories overlap some and you my hook more than you bargained for. 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 on long points and humps near the channel rigged in orange/chartreuse.
(updated 10-17-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) wonders, “Is it winter or fall?” He says the trout have been pretty consistent this past week. The preferred method has been light terminal tackle with various PowerBaits. They have also been biting on nightcrawlers and Rooster Tails of various colors. The hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. Not much to report on bass fishing, as the bite has been very slow since last week. “We are still pretty shallow in the tailwaters,” Austin said. “Hopefully the generators will be back online and we can get some rain. Hope you all stay warm and safe.”
(updated 10-10-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the lake clarity is stained. Surface water temperature was 74 degrees, and the level is normal. Crappie remain fair on jigs and crankbaits. Bass improved this week to fair, with spinnerbaits and crankbaits both working. Catfishing reports were fair on worms and catfish bait. No reports came in on bream.
(updated 10-17-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water clarity is clear, and the level is normal. No surface water temperature was reported, but before all the rain and colder temps, it has ranges in the 70s. Bream are fair on redworms. Look for the bream from 1-4 feet depth. Crappie are good on minnows; 10 feet has been the target depth of late. Bass are good on all lures, anglers say. Catfishing is good on chicken livers, shad and minnows.
(updated 10-17-2018) Seth Boone at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “Lake Poinsett has tons of life jumping out of it! Crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, deer and just about any other creature except our lovely fish. That being said, Lake Poinsett State Park is remaining open for anglers for bait sales and camping. I hear Lake Hogue did really well this past week ahead of the storms for crappie on live minnows.” While Lake Poinsett is closed to anglers until 2020 for extensive repairs, there are other lakes in the immediate area to check out, including Lake Charles and, as Seth mentioned, Lake Hogue. Also, the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program is stocking the pond at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
(updated 10-17-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is clear and is at normal level. The surface temperature wasn’t reported. Fishing was a little off this week, with only crappie catches being report. Anglers report using minnows. They were also selling a lot of crickets at the marina this week. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
(updated 10-17-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said Water levels are running at 250 cfs and water clarity is clear. The river has been very low. Casts downstream with a slow strip back have been very productive with Woollies or big nymphs. On the tough days a Y2K fished below an indicator with a small nymph dropper is the ticket. Hot pink Trout Magnets and a silver Little Cleo are working great with spinning gear. Fish the Trout Magnet just off the bottom of the river. And cast downstream with the Cleo and work slow retrieve back upstream.
(updated 10-17-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is almost over. 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 10-17-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 9-26-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 10-3-2018) Park Interpreter Houston Wynn at Cane Creek Lake State Park says fishing at cane Creek is alive and well, and all of the main fish species are biting! Bass fishing is in high gear, and though fish are biting in numbers and with size, they can be found schooling at about 2- to 4-four pounds. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits seem to be landing in the best catches – anything that resembles the schooling shad should work. With the air temperatures the way that they are, mornings and evening are the best time to find these fish. Bream fishing is still in its summer-mode. With these fish still sitting on beds in shallow water, they can be caught in an abundance. You can find these fish at all times of the day in anywhere from 2-5 feet of water, with your larger fish hanging in the deeper water. Just about any bait will work, but the best reports have been coming from crickets. Catfish are still in summer mode, and they can be caught many different ways. Try the deeper channels of the lake during the daytime to find larger fish, while smaller or “eating size” fish will hang closer to the shore. At night the catfish will be following the shad up and down the shoreline, so fish anywhere that there is a bay or bait activity. Crappie are starting to be found more and more frequently. They’re starting to go in to their fall pattern and head into shallower waters around structure. Jigs are working at all times of the day. Minnows always seem to be effective as well.
(updated 10-17-2018) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet and while the AGFC completes vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through September. The lake will rise with rainfall over the next several weeks and will cover the new anchoring of cut gum trees on the shallow shoreline areas. There was little fishing going on during the hot days of September. During the drawdown, tree stumps are showing in the coves toward the east and northeast of the lake; those are good areas to fish for the bass as the temperature cools down this month.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 260.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday the lake continues a slow, steady rise with all the recent thunderstorms. It’s about 1 foot above normal conservation pool at 260.2 feet msl; and the discharge was around 3,850 cfs for Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam is pushed back up to the headwaters of Little River from recent Red River rising levels, and was about 236 feet msl with gates release. Water temps have dropped over the past week, ranging near 63-68 degrees Monday. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Mike says, “We expect another gate change midweek from the USACE to begin reducing surface pool, which is presently 12 inches above normal and rising. Watch for sudden gate changes and debris, which will increase current in Little River. For more information on Millwood Lake levels, contract work and maintenance, contact the Millwood Project Office at 870-898-3343. No-wake zones are in effect at the White Cliffs Campground on Little River and marked with no-wake buoys. Mike says the recent cold frontal passages, cool rain and cloud cover continue dropping the surface temps, and recent thunderstorms stained up the lake more this week. Runoff from mud flats and creek channels have contributed to most stain along the river over the past couple weeks. Current is increased with the dam gate changes in the river, and surface is cloudy to heavy stain in places from runoff. Over the past few weeks, anglers found bass surface-feeding in Little River, running shad to the surface, and in adjacent shallow flats to deeper ditches, creek channels and points along the river. The surface-breaking activity of largemouth bass, Kentucky bass and a few white bass has tapered off over the past few days with the cooler surface temperatures along Little River and the oxbows. Large schools of largemouths, Kentuckies (spots) and white bass continue roaming and following the huge shad schools along Little River. Best locations over the past few days have been at the mouths of creeks dumping into Little River on points, ranging from 5-10 feet deep with vegetation and pads. Shad are beginning to migrate into the creeks with the reduction in surface temperatures. Bass have begun following these shad schools into numerous creek channels and ditches. Feeding activity diminished at the surface, but they’re randomly feeding in the creeks from 8-12 feet of depth. Best baits drawing reactions continue to be Bass Assassin Shads, H&H Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75 and 2.5 crankbaits in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Sexy Bone Nova, Blueback Herring or Liv-N Chrome in or near pads and creek channels with vegetation. Black/white and white/chartreuse or black/white/yellow H&H Spinners or Rocket Shads are drawing reactions from Kentucky bass and white bass along points extending into Little River. The Bass Assassin Shads continue working near the vegetation and in between lily pads. The surface breaking fish can be randomly seen and found near midday. Chrome Johnson Silver Minnow Spoons with a white grub trailer, run over tops of the lily pads, will still find a random 4-pounder blowing up on shad in the pads. Rocket Shads, Hammered Cordell spoons, Rooster Tails and H&H Spinnerbaits retrieved quickly, and occasionally breaking the surface, will draw a reaction when you see the surface breaking. Majority of these surface breakers are the younger buck bass, adolescents and juveniles from 1.5-2.5 pounds in size. Vertical jigging spoons are still working with Kentucky bass and schools of largemouths in Little River behind points and washouts. Schools of Kentuckies and largemouths, feeding on river shad, will hit vertical-jigged spoons with abandon once the topwater bite subsides late in the morning. We have been using Cotton Cordell Hammered Spoons with added bucktails. Fair to large-size schools of white bass continue roaming Little River following the shad schools, and continue hitting hard on Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails and Rocket Shads. Crappie had improved a week ago in standing timber, by vertically-jigging crappie tubes or Cordell Paddle Tail Grubs in smoke colors. Cold rain and river current along Little River over the past few days have scattered the crappie. No reports in the past week on catfish.
Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) reports that a few bass being caught.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 541.29 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
pdated 10-17-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says crappie continue to stack up in great numbers on brush piles in 18-24 feet of water fished with live bait 12-15 feet deep. More stable weather the next 10 days or so will be even more helpful.
(updated 10-10-2018) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) says the lake level is 9.5 feet below full pool of 548 feet msl and has risen some in the last week. Water temps have made it to the mid- to upper 70s. The bass are moving into their fall patterns and will only get better as the water cools. Super Spook Jr’s, Zara Puppies, Booyah Hard Knockers and small swimbaits are seeing some action on main lake points with some schooling action taking place throughout the day, especially early and late. Shaky head-rigged Yum Finesse Worms and drop-shots rigged with Yum Kill Shots or Sharpshooters are working OK on main lake points around brush as well. The crankbait bite is picking up as well using shad colored Bandit crankbaits. Crappie are really coming on. They can be caught in 15-30 foot brush with minnows or Kalin’s Grubs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 399.73 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said, “Everything is the same here. More stable weather the next 10 days or so will be even more helpful.” He says crappie have stacked up on brush piles in 18-24 feet of water fished with live bait 8-15 feet deep. White bass and hybrids are still schooling. Watch for the large groups of boats. Everything from vertical-jigging spoons to topwater baits are producing.
(updated 10-17-2018) Local angler George Graves had no report.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 441.59 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 529.90 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 10-17-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) reported the lake is dingy and it is high, about 2 feet above normal level. No temperature was recorded, but last week the lake had been reading 76-79 degrees. Bream reports have been poor. Crappie also have been poor, but there is a little response to minnows or jigs. Bass are fair; you can try a variety of lures. Catfishing is poor.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 10-17-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Entergy is currently running a minimum-flow pattern of generation below Carpenter Dam. The lake is at a normal pool and will remain at this level until November when the winter drawdown is scheduled to begin. Rainbow trout fishing has been over for months as the last productive fishing ended in early July. Very few trout remain in the tailrace and no quality fishing will occur until the week of Thanksgiving when the stocking schedule begins again. Water temperature ranges from 67 degrees below the dam to 74 degrees below the bridge. Clarity is good and the overall look of the tailrace is healthy. In the absence of a healthy rainbow trout population, white bass and striper activity are the main sources of gamefish in the early fall. These fish feed heavily on the threadfin and gizzard shad population around the dam. Fall temperatures can bring about some topwater activity as these predator fish chase shad to the surface. Zara Spooks in white or shad colors work well along with Super Spooks in rainbow trout colors as feeding times are fast and short-lived. Stripers move in and out of the tailrace weekly and feed alongside white bass. Large fish over 20 pounds are often seen breaking water below the bridge. Live bait presentations are the best bet for hooking striped bass as artificial lures are often ignored by these wary bass. Gizzard shad presented under a balloon rig will work in slack or current and give anglers the best chance for a hook-up. Watching for breaking fish is crucial for success in the tailrace as schools of bass move quickly and feeding times are short. Walleye are being caught below the dam in deep water on jigging spoons in silver and gold colors. Numbers are few, but fish in the 5-pound class are present. Bream tend to congregate around the dam in the fall and can be caught on crickets and nightcrawlers fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Overall, fishing is slow for all game species in the Carpenter Dam tailrace but will improve greatly in the month of November when the rainbow trout stocking commences for the fall. Anyone navigating the area should be aware of the generation schedules and must always obey all lake and park rules.
(updated 10-17-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, all-welded Xpress aluminum fishing boat in Hot Springs, reports that as of Tuesday the lake levels are up, the water is off-color and stained, and the water temperatures are continuing to fall. Current lake temperature is 70 degrees. “Well, all right, we’ll just skip fall this year! Even though it seems to us humans that we are headed straight to winter, the fish know better! The fall Slay-O-Thon is in full swing. Massive numbers of fish are being caught using shad patterns. Crankbaits are smashing the daylights out of bass on main and secondary points in 10-20 feet of water with the bonus of breaking fish just to keep a smile on your face. Medium crank =baits in chrome, shad and (if the water’s dirty) chartreuse are working well, and they are excellent locator baits that can be fished fast and cover ground. Once they stop getting the strikes slow down a little and start working over the schools with suspending jerk baits, spoons and anything white or silver, including frogs and worms. Bass are going to eat whatever and whenever they can to put that winter weight on,” they say. No crappie to report, “but that will change come 60-degree water. In the meantime, hammer some bass. Good luck and go Greeson.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.62 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is a little dingy. No surface water temperature was recorded. Water level is high. Crappie are good with a number of anglers getting their limit. Catfish are fair. No baits or areas were mentioned. No reports on bream and no reports on bass.
(updated 10-17-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the water is high, the clarity is muddy, and the past week has been too rainy for any anglers. No reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 572.59 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are still good. Live crawfish are best at this time for spots (Kentucky bass), and some topwater action on flukes or spooks has been good on the west end of the lake. Walleye are good. Try using a CC Spoon near brush for these fish. Stripers are still fair on live bait. Major creek mouths and main lake points on the eastern and central parts of the lake are the best for these fish. Bream have slowed, but are still being caught on crickets and worms in 15-25 feet of water near brush. Crappie are still fair and being caught with jigs or minnows in 15-20 feet of water near brush. Catfish are good. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. Lake conditions are good with the clarity clearing and the water temperature 74-78 degrees. 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 10-3-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said her customers tell her nice crappie are still being caught off of size 4 crappie minnows hitting those brush tops.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 389.00 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-17-2018) The Cook’s Lake fishing season for youth under age 16 and for mobility-impaired anglers has ended. It will resume the first weekend of March 2019. Cook’s Lake is a 2.5 mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species.
(updated 9-26-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
(updated 9-26-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
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