Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Nov. 7, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Nov. 7, 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 11-7-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the clarity is stained and the lake level as of Tuesday was normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and large bass minnows. Catfishing is good with chicken liver, nightcrawlers and dough bait.
(updated 11-7-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said Tuesday that after almost 6 inches of rain over the previous five days, the lake level was 464.87 feet msl. This means that it is in the flood pool and generation will increase to lower the lake level to 462.04 feet msl, the normal pool. Generation will be on a 12-hour-with-two-unit basis. This can vary on the stop and start times due to power demand. It can be a split pattern with early morning and afternoon periods of generation. This will continue for the rest of the week. The water levels in the lower river and White River at Georgetown will dictate the flow after that, with a possible increase when the lower river will accommodate it. Check each day for the proposed generation schedule. Greg says that before the rain, they had been in a low water period with little generation, “so please take note of the change and fish accordingly. Please be aware of the generation when planning to fish the river and know when the rising water will reach your area. The increased flow makes navigating the river a different ball game. All boaters should be aware of the danger of floating into the upstream side of docks and trees in the river. The current will capsize your boat and sweep you under. Be aware and know your ability with your watercraft. If you are launching in the upper section of the river, the water level may be low early in the morning but will rise during the morning hours so be aware that the rise is coming. The river should be clearing with the generation. Enjoy the river but be safe and respect the water levels.”
(updated 10-31-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said most days the Little Red is experiencing low water conditions due to sporadic water release patterns based on power needs from the Greers Ferry Dam. Sowbugs, midges, soft hackles and Woolly Buggers are working well for fly anglers. Pink and cotton candy Trout Magnets are recommended for spin fishing. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 464.98 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 11-7-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is 464.96 feet msl and it’s steadily trying to come up even with 12 hours of generation a day. It’s 2.92 feet above normal pool and has risen a little over 4 feet or so with more rain in the forecast. Also, the overall bite is going to be great until it gets super cold in January with very few people on the water at all. The overall bite is good but with the generation and extra surface acres, they are at random roaming feeding – most of game fish, at least. The crappie bite is still going well up all rivers and creeks around the pole timber and man-made brush piles in about 12 feet of water on jigs and minnows. No reports on walleye. Bream are still eating, but most have moved a little deeper or to 18-20 feet; use crawlers and crickets on a drop-shot. Black bass are scattered from the bank out to 60 feet. Just about any lure of choice is working, with some schooling fish as well. No report on catfish. The hybrid and white bass bite is going well all day at different times with a heavy feed going on, and some topwater action as well. They are moving from 25-60 feet. It’s kind of hard to stay with them. Just stay with shad and use spoons, inline spinners and topwater baits.
(updated 11-7-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water has cleared in some places, but in others it’s cloudy from the runoff from rain. The level is getting back to normal but on Tuesday it wasn’t quite there yet. Crappie are good on minnows. One 3-pound crappie was hauled in at 5:30 a.m. this week, and another angler pulled in a 50-pound, 2-ounce catfish. Catfish are good overall, with big shad working as the best bait.
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 10-31-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. Surface temperature is around 65 degrees. Crappie have slowed down a little from the warmer days but anglers are still catching some good ones in 6-12 feet of water fishing 4-8 feet deep. Bream are doing well on crickets and redworms. Bass are still chasing shad. Catfish are being caught on trotlines with bream and minnows, and also on rod-and-reels using chicken livers around the cypress trees. “I caught a 31-pound blue, and another gentleman had his limit three times on rod-and-reels,” Johnny says.
(updated 11-7-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said that anglers aren’t doing too well there right now because the water is 3 feet high and needs to come down. Clarity is muddy. Bass reports were poor and nothing else was reported in the past few days. This was coming off a couple of weeks where Larry said he noted a lot of hungry fish in the lake. Before all the water, crappie and bass had both been good, as well as good reports on catfish.
(updated 11-7-2018) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598), formerly Jolly Roger’s Marina, says water temperatures remain in the low 60s – 62-64 degrees depending on where you go. Largemouth bass activity is good. With the water temperatures in the low 60s some bass are being caught in 8-12 feet, as well as some being found suspended off creek channels in 18-20 feet, but it’s a slow hit. Try using crankbaits, spoons and swim jigs. Kentucky bass are good. They are mixed in with the largemouth bass, but most can be found in 8-12 feet of water. Try fishing shallow with running baits and off structures with swim jigs. White bass reports are poor. Some are saying the white bass are in schools, but it’s tough getting a bite. Crappie are good. Crappie are trying to stabilize in their regular fall pattern. Reports of them being found on top of deeper brush suspended about 18-22 feet of water. They are biting fair on minnows. Search for sharper ledges and deeper brush. The bream bite is poor. Fewer reports coming in this week. Some are still catching bream on redworms. No reports on catfish this week.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass have been hitting minnows and topwater baits a little. Crappie have been good on No. 4 crappie minnows. Catfish are slow but will bite nightcrawlers and No. 12 bass minnows. No report on bream.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 11-7-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some crappie have been caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass have been doing well off of brooder minnows. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and bait shrimp.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 11-7-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that before all the rain, a little bit of everything was doing well. Now it’s not so clear and running pretty fast. Let it go back down and get clear and the weather get colder. Then the walleye and the crappie will be doing great.
Lisa says her customers traveling outside of the immediate fishing spots tell her that Lake Ouachita still doing great on No. 4 crappie minnows hitting the brushtops. Lake Conway is also still doing great on crappie with No. 4 crappie minnows. She says it seems like the little No. 4 crappie minnows have been doing well in a lot of places – “at Harris Brake one of my regulars also said he caught some slab crappie off of them. He hadn’t been doing to good till just recently,” Lisa said.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are doing good on No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and No. 12 bass minnows. Bass are good on brooder minnows and white spinnerbaits.
(updated 11-7-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are fair on minnows and red/chartreuse jigs. Fish the east end of the lake for best success.
(updated 10-31-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair around the gazebo. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 10-31-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says bass are good around the spillway. Anglers are using Texas Ridge creature baits or deep-diving crankbaits. Catfishing is fair around the launch ramp. Try using minnows or nighcrawlers.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are good on No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish have been caught off of nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bass are being caught with No. 6 crappie minnows.
(updated 10-24-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the high flows and bad weather have kept most anglers off the river. The migration of birds is great, with Grand pelicans, egrets, herons and puddle ducks is worth the cold and wet to see by boat. The Corps of Engineers has been doing a yeomen’s job on controlling the water. This Tuesday (Oct. 23) the flow has dropped to 102,000 cfs. The coves and backwater are full of shad. For bass fishing, use shallow-billed crankbaits. Also use spinners slow-rolled. For white bass, do the same. Crappie will require jigs in chartreuse with a red head. For catfish, use whole shad. If you’re looking for stripers, go below Lock 9 and throw a wobble spoon with chartreuse and pork rind.
(updated 11-7-2018) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says the water clarity is still stained, while the level and current are normal. Fishing is slow, he said. Crappie success has ranged fair to good over recent days. The bite is at 5-6 feet depth. Minnows or jigs will work. Black bass reports have been poor to good. Spinnerbaits or crankbaits are the best bets. Bream are fair on worms. Nothing was reported on catfish or white bass.
(updated 11-7-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are excellent. Fish for the crappie at a depth of 10-12 feet. Pink minnows and white/chartreuse jigs will work best. Catfishing is fair. Use slicks or shad.
(updated 11-7-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie are good. Jigs in black/chartreuse are working best. Expect a bite in 6-8 feet depth. Bass are good below the dam. Fish with blue/chartreuse Super Flukes. No other reports.
(updated 10-31-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are fair near the Murray Lock and Dam. They’re biting skipjack and slicks. White bass are good. Use chartreuse split tail jigs.
(updated 11-7-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says anglers were staying off of the river lately because it was very high, but on Tuesday the water level and current were back to normal. Bream reports have been poor. Crappie are good and are being found in 10-15 feet depth and in the river backwaters. Red/chartreuse and blue/chartreuse crappie jigs are best bets. White bass, stripers and largemouth are all biting around the jetties. Use spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Catfish reports have been poor.
(updated 11-7-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the bass bite is good in the river. Anglers were having best success with big minnows or cut shad. Farther down the pool near the Terry Lock and Dam and below that, bass are biting well there too. Use the big minnows or cut shad.
(updated 10-31-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are fair near the Murray Lock and Dam. They’re biting skipjack and slicks. White bass are good. Use chartreuse split tail jigs.
(updated 10-24-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water clarity is muddy near Terry Lock and Dam, with a normal level and current. The only reports to come in from here were for crappie, with good catches reported. Crappie are really hitting the minnows now. Nothing on bream, bass or catfish.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 10-31-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is muddy to murky and the level is high. The only reports of success came with crappie. Fishing for crappie is good now; use crappie minnows. Nothing to report on bream, bass or catfish.
(updated 11-7-2018) The lake has closed for the season and will reopen Feb. 2, 2019.
(updated 11-7-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says autumn is here in full force in the Arkansas Ozarks and the colors are spectacular this year. The cold mornings and warmer afternoons have been calling anglers to the river. The rain put a damper on a day this past week but succeeded in bringing Bull Shoals Lake level up a little and made live worms and worm imitators very popular baits for hooking the rainbow trout. The browns have continued to move into spawning areas as their season really gets underway, but quite a few still remain in their favorite spots on the gravel bars downriver. If you fish artificial, the rainbow trout lookalikes have been helpful in getting a good bite from the browns this week as well as live sculpin. The mornings are beautiful and chilly; bundle up and head on over to the White River for some great fishing.
(updated 11-7-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity continues to run clear, while the level is low with minimum flow. That’s good for rainbows, but bad for browns. Hence, results were good with rainbow catching but few reports on browns. When there are seagulls before January/February there typically are no browns biting.
(updated 11-7-2018) 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 (2¼ inches in Cotter), cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 feet to rest at 4.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 feet to rest at 4.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 feet to rest at 2.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.6 feet to rest at 1.8 below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork River 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 well 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 (John’s current favorite combination is a size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is at 654 feet msl water temps around 64 degrees and fall has definitely showed up. The bite’s been hit or miss. It’s kind of power fishing, junk fishing 101. There’s not one set thing that’s working. Go out and try and find the shad, cover water. There hasn’t been any specific pattern that’s been working for him, Del said. “The biggest thing I can tell you is fish the conditions, look for birds, you find the birds you’ll see the shad. If it’s laying flat you’ll see a ton of shad up. I think the backs of these are starting to flip on us so it’s gonna be hit or miss for us a little bit here.” Del said he expects things to pick up as the water temperature cools off a little bit. If the weather is windy, stormy or rainy, you can catch them on a spinnerbait bite now. If it’s real windy and with dirty water the white spinnerbait is working. War Eagle Spinnerbait, if you’re getting into clear water, is working a little bit. Picking up a few fish on the Rock Crawler, so that bite should start getting a little better as the water cools off. Del said he likes to cover a lot of water and is throwing a square bill. Any shad or threadfin shad pattern seems to be working well, as is a Whopper Plopper. “We haven’t gotten that chaotic fall bite as of yet,” he said, “but it’s coming.” If the water is laying flat and you can see fish breaking, get in there early in the morning, there’s a good little topwater bite. If you know where there at you can get on them right away. Also, spoons that look like the bait fish – white, silver, anything that looks like the shad. Also, the jig. Del’s catching fish anywhere from 2 foot of water on gravel to 30 feet off the bluffs. There is definitely shad in the creeks, so that’s a good place to start. He also says he’s been catching a few walleye purely by accident on a spoon under the big schools of shad in the creeks, about 26-30 feet deep. “I can tell you that with all the 16- to 17-inch fish, next year should be stellar!” The lake is beautiful, you can come out and have the lake to yourself. There is lots of color.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake’s striper bite continues to change weekly. “Every time I think an area of the lake is done until spring, the stripers surprise me and move back into that area and bite anything you put in the lake. This past week I was busy guiding pheasant hunters, but my son fished and found lots of topwater action near Fouts marina. The largemouth were hitting topwater plugs for over an hour but the stripers were not biting anywhere around the area. The fish are there, but I think the bite is in the afternoon rather than morning. Sean then went back to Calamity Beach on the flats but did not have bite until after 10 a.m. Then striper schools began to show up in 30 feet of water and they caught and released stripers for over three hours. Sean asked his clients how many fish they had caught and they said they had no idea since the action was nonstop.” This is typical for this time of year, Tom says. Last year, he says, he was fishing Big Creek by Highway 1C early but could not get a bite. He stayed up later in the morning and started catching stripers. He then started his trips at 10 a.m. and caught stripers the whole midday during November. “When you find the stripers they are in their fall feeding pattern, so hold on and enjoy the day.” Tom says the crappie bite is very strong on the deep brush piles, and 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 bait is schooling up and has moved 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.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fall fishing sure can be a lot of fun. I will admit that if you want striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass you will spend some time looking for them, but once you find them it is well worth the time.” He says large schools of white bass are currently roaming the flats in the morning hours and during the day. They tend to move into deeper water late in the day and start to relate to points in the mouths of coves. Lou says he tends to fish many different areas of the lake looking for fish in order to try to help his fishing guests find and catch fish. “I tell my wife that this is part of my job as a resort owner that is why I need to be on the lake so much.” White bass fishing, largemouth bass fishing and crappie fishing are the better bites on the lake as of Tuesday. Lou says he expects the striped bass bite to improve very shortly, if what he saw this morning is any indication. He found schooling and feeding fish in 22 feet of water, and at around 7 a.m. the striped bass were all high up in the water column. Casting out a quarter-ounce silver Kastmaster landed a nice striper. Then the whites showed up at all depths. Vertical-jigging a spoon or Kastmaster was giving Lou many hookups. As the sun came up, the fish continued to move deeper on the same flat. Lou says he finally lost the fish in about 35 feet of water. Topwater action for white bass and hybrids is sporadic. He says he has not been fortunate enough to find this action, but several of his resort guests have gotten into some nice topwater action over the last week. “Topwater action is happening somewhere on the lake, but you need to be in the right place at the right time! This will become more frequent based on past years’ experience.”
Lou says the largemouth bite has been very good for him over the week. In the mid-to-late mornings he has found schooling bass in 30-40 feet of water on large flats. Vertical-jigging for the bass has worked great, he adds. The schools of fish have stuck around for well over 45 minutes, so anglers can catch a limit very quickly. In the late afternoon, he says, he has changed tactics a little and moved into the secondary creeks. He has located large schools of bass as far back in the creeks as you can go, but still being in 27-30 feet of water. Secondary points in the small creeks have been productive locations, especially if the creek channel swings in close to the deeper shoreline. Jigging for these fish is working. He has also located some nice bass on the bluff lines where the bluff starts to transition to chunk rock. Crankbaits on calm days and spinnerbaits on windy days are good baits to try. Jig-and-pigs are also working very well. Crappie fishing has been good. Look for brush in 30-40 feet of water and the fish will be somewhere around the brush. At times they are buried inside of the brush and other times they will be suspended on top of the brush. Live bait is working great, but small spinners, jigs and crankbaits are also producing some nice fish. Norfork Lake’s level is slowing rising with very little power generation coupled with rain for several days in a row. The lake level currently sits at 552.37 (basically normal pool). The main lake is fairly clear and most creeks and coves are somewhat stained. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 62.5-63.5 degrees.
(updated 11-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.6 feet to rest at 1.8 below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork River 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 well 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 as things have changed a bit in the past year. 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 sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).
(updated 11-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are still active, although the water is cooling. 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 1,118.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) striper activity forecast for this week is good. Beaver Lake stripers are in fall transition mode and are heading into their winter locations. They are on the move, and being mobile/flexible will be key to finding them. Mike Bailey says they continue 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 the surface and 25-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. Down-rigging those baits will be effective as well, especially at night. You should also try casting Rat-L-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- to low 60s. Mike suggests checking out these hot spots on the mid- and upper sections of the lake: Point 5 (stripers are still being found over deep open water and near the tree/bluff lines between points 5 and 6), Rocky Branch (same as Point 5, expect to find stripers over deep open water and near tree/bluff lines), Larue (check the main channel bends and cuts as stripers move through on their way upstream), Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow, the Highway 12 bridge (lot of fish coming out of the river late due to high water), Prairie Creek (pay attention to areas around the islands and Point 10, as lots of fish are coming out of the high river) and Blackburn Creek.
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 11-7-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said that the water level is normal and clarity is clear. The surface water temperature is in the upper 60s as of earlier this week. Crappie are good. Anglers were trolling around the brush piles with minnows and jigs. Bass are fair. Anglers reported success on Alabama rigs and were also using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and even some topwater lures. Catfishing is fair. No reports came in on bream.
(updated 10-31-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, if we do not get a lot of rain soon, you will be able to walk to Spider Creek from Houseman Access. OK, it is not that bad, but it is close. Trout have not seemed to be too bothered by the lack of water, but the bite has slowed. However, the preferred method has been light terminal tackle, fished with various PowerBaits.” Austin says the hot spot this week has been between Spider Creek and Bertrand Access. However, you will not be able to get there by boat, you will have to hoof it. quarter-ounce spoons have also done the job at catching this past week. In the deeper water, the trout have been hitting on nightcrawlers fished on bottom. “That is all I have to report for this week. Get out and enjoy the awesome fall colors and the cool weather. It will be really cold soon enough. Have fun, stay safe and catch some fish,” he said.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the lake clarity remained stained over the past week. Surface water temperature was in the 60s, while the lake level is normal. Crappie fishing continued to rate good with anglers. Minnows or jigs were working. Bass were fair on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. No reports on bream. Catfish began biting, with good reports over the past week. Use worms or chicken livers.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water clarity is clear and the water level is normal. Surface water temperature is 60 degrees as of Monday. Bream reports are ranging fair to good. Bream are being caught in 1-5 feet of water on redworms. Crappie are deep and the bite has been fair. Use minnows. Bass are fair on plastic worms. Catfishing is good on cut bait.
(updated 10-31-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “We’ve got beautiful fall colors. It’s a great time to go fishing. Don’t forget you can get your bait and fishing supplies here at Lake Poinsett State Park. We will be letting you know when Lake Poinsett is back. ” 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 Lake Hogue. Also, the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program is stocking the pond at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
(updated 11-7-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the clarity has become “very clear” with a normal level and a surface water temperature of 60 degrees. Crappie are good on minnows. Bass are good on crankbaits. Bream reports have been poor. Catfishing of late has been poor.
(updated 11-7-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 310 cfs and water clarity is clear. There has been plenty of rain lately. Last week the Spring was pushing 250 cfs and now it is at 310 cfs. That’s about a 6-inch rise in river level. It was very low and is still below average of 350 cfs. The river remained clear all week. The trout have been hitting hard. Somedays olive, brown or black Woollies; somedays Y2Ks; somedays a good hatch comes up and large nymphs work great. Most of the brown trout being caught are on olive or brown Woollies on a slow strip upstream. You’ve got to make them work for it. Cold weather moving in this weekend will help to get the big trout feeding. Layer up, stay warm, and stay dry. The Spring River has a very slick river bottom. Use a wading staff and go slowly.
(updated 11-7-2018) 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 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 11-7-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said that after being nearly 6 feet low last week, the rainfall over the past week pushed the level high by 6 feet and there was no fishing to report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 10-31-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 11-7-2018) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, said that with wet and cold weather dominating the forecast, fishing is a little slow at Cane Creek Lake. Once the weather clears and cooler temperatures set in, though, fishing is expected to explode. With cooler temps on the way the crappie will begin to get more active. Shad will start to school near the surface even more, and the feeding frenzy will begin. Crappie will be the main goal for most anglers. Fish shallow with an “electric chicken” colored jig or a live minnow. The best place to be will be the courtesy dock down below the campground. Just remember that if you’re not camping at Cane Creek State Park, you need to park your vehicle at the bathhouse and walk down. Do not park at a campsite. Bass will also be biting shiners and any baits that look like shiners. As usual, cooler water means fishing with a shallow-running square-billed bait, painted in some shad-like color, and bounced off as much structure as possible. The bigger and clumsier the bait, the better. Catfish will be moving into the shallows as well to eat all of the foodstuffs washed into the water by the recent rains. They will also be eating what shad they can catch. Fish in 10 feet of water or less with shiners drug across the bottom. Cut bait will also work well during this time.
(updated 11-7-2018) 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 early days of fall. During the drawdown, tree stumps were 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 and the lake begins to rise this month and next.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 260.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service urges anglers to use extreme caution navigating Little River this week due to recent thunderstorms, 2-food muddy rise, and broken timber along the river. Wide debris fields are making navigation hazardous in some areas along Little River. “Be vigilant, wear your life jackets and kill switch is navigation is attempted during current discharge and high release rates at the dam,” he warns. He says that as of Monday, Millwood is on a slow, steady pool reduction and falling after a recent and rapid 2-foot muddy rise with the recent rain and gate changes at the dam by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake is about 16 inches above normal conservation pool at 260.6 feet msl, with a discharge of 17,600 cfs for Little River, according to the Corps. The tailwater below the dam was rising Monday, at about 245.9 feet msl. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Surface water temps have stabilized and on Monday were ranging 58 degrees early to 65 degrees. Clarity and visibility have drastically worsened over the past week with the river current and lake pool. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was moderate stain, ranging about 1-3 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 2-3 inches with heavy stain to muddy conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity currently ranges 12-20 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.
As for the fish, Mike says, the worsening conditions meant that the bite for bass all but turned off for a few days and will until the lake stabilizes. Before the changes, he and his anglers were finding bass randomly-surface feeding in Little River and its oxbows, 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 white bass increased over the past couple weeks with the cooler surface temperatures along Little River and the oxbows. Large schools of largemouths, spots and white bass were roaming and following the huge shad schools along Little River. Best locations over the past few weeks were at mouths of creeks dumping into Little River on points ranging from 5-10 feet deep with vegetation and pads. Shad were beginning to migrate into the creeks with the reduction in surface temperatures. Bass were following these shad schools into numerous creek channels and ditches, and randomly feeding in the creeks over 8-15 feet of depth. Catches of 50-75 Bass per day were common prior to recent muddy conditions. Best baits drawing reactions were Bomber Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad, Bass Assassin Shads, H&H Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Rat-L-Traps and SpinTraps in chrome/blue and shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Sexy Bone Nova, Blueback Herring or Liv-N Chrome in, or near, pads and creek channels with vegetation. H&H Spinners or Rocket Shads are drawing reactions from Kentucky bass and white bass along points extending into Little River and the oxbows. Large size schools of white bass were also schooling and surface-breaking on shad in the oxbows and roaming Little River before the recent muddy deluge of rain and thunderstorms. These aggressive white bass were following the same schools of shad along Little River and the oxbows as the largemouth, and were hitting hard on Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cotton Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails, and Rocket Shads. An afternoon in these schools was giving up 30-60 fish per day before the recent change in lake conditions. We expect that bite to also return later this week or next, as soon as the Corps is able to return lake pool to normal conditions. No reports on crappie after the recent muddy rise. Catfish were biting well on yo-yos and trotlines in Mud Lake, Horseshoe Lake and McGuire Lake up Little River. Chicken hearts, livers, gizzards and cut shad continue working well over the weekend and late last week.
(updated 11-7-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) says some nice crappie being caught. No reports on bass.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 549.65 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) says the lake level is 1.6 feet above full pool of 548 feet msl and has risen almost 10 feet in the last two weeks with the rains. Water temps have made it to the mid-60s. 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 and chrome Booyah Hard Knocker or One Knocker. A lot of the fish have moved shallow with the rise in the water and can be caught with War Eagle Spinnerbaits or Booyah Finance Jigs. Cotton Cordell or War Eagle Spoons are working well on flats adjacent to creek channels 20-30 feet deep but have slowed with the new water. 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 406.97 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-31-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are biting great on minnows and jigs 10-15 feet deep on submerged brush where there is deep water close by. The white bass and hybrids are starting their migration toward the river. Water temp is 64 degrees.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 443.16 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 534.70 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado says a few bream are being caught on worms. Bass are biting well on crankbaits and soft plastics. Crappie are starting to bite on the upper side. Use jigs or shiners. No reports on catfish.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) reported that clarity is “pretty clear,” and the lake is up about 2.5 feet above normal. Surface water temperature is 56 degrees. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bream are poor. Bass reports were poor. Catfishing has been poor.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 11-7-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Entergy is currently lowering Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine to their winter drawdown levels. This process began Nov. 1 with each lake being dropped 6 inches per day until it reaches 5 feet, and winter level will be in place until March 1, 2019. 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 60 degrees below the dam to 65 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 stripers are the main sources of game fish now. 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 11-7-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature has dropped to 58 degrees, warming to 64. River clarity is poor. Some creeks are starting to clear, some remain dirty. Bass fishing has been tough with a dirty water in cold temperatures. If you can find some clear water, which there is not much, slow-roll a spinnerbait or jerkbait in the dirtier water. Stick to a small jig with orange, with a Bamboozie. Also use weightless scam shad and plastic jerkbaits in the lily pad stems. Stripers and white bass has slowed as well due to the dirty water. As the creeks start to clear, Rat-L-Traps and plastic jerkbaits and swimbaits have been working well. Crappie are starting to bite in the creeks. Some being caught in the 5-foot range and some are being caught in the 10-foot range; use minnows or jigs in Electric Chicken, black chartreuse, Blue Shad and Shimmering Pink. With the high water, catfish have been on fire. Worms have been working well in the river around the mouth of the creeks and flooded timber. Cut bait and blood bait have also been working well for catfish in the creeks. Bream have been good on crickets and small jigs in treetops and brush piles. There’s still a few in the lily pad flats as well.
(updated 11-7-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, all-welded Xpress aluminum fishing boat in Hot Springs, reports lake levels slightly up with semi-stained water throughout. Lake temperatures are hovering around 60 degrees. Mixed reports over the last week put fish in a couple of different and almost random patterns. One thing is clear: Fish are moving away from shallow water. Bass have taken up positions on the edges of creek channels in the 10- to 15-foot range and suspending to about food (baitfish) as it comes down the channels. The bass are using the current in their favor and waiting for a push of bait to come through. Some really high-flying feeding action at the surface is going on at times! Most of these breaking fish will be spots (Kentucky bass), as the largemouth have already started to settle in their wintertime haunts. Deeper water in the 20-foot range on rocky high spots, submerged grassy areas and dams are good areas to target with a football head jig or weighted tube. Crappie are back in action on minnows and jigs in 20 feet or more of water over brush piles or laydowns. The water is getting colder, so please wear those life jackets and use caution out there. Fog is a huge safety issue lately, so slow down when running the big motor. “Good luck and go Greeson!”
(updated 11-7-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are biting on jigs and minnows fished 8-15 feet deep on brush piles. Multispecies are being caught jigging spoons 40-plus feet of water just off the bottom.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 354.69 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water remains murky. No surface water temperature was recorded. Water level is normal. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish are good with worms and blood bait. No reports on bream.
(updated 11-7-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said too much water chased away the anglers the past week.
As of Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.82 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-7-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are very good. Live brood minnows and a drop-shot finesse worm are best at this time. Walleye are good. Try using a C.C. Spoon near brush for these fish. Stripers are excellent on brood minnows. Major creek mouths and main lake points on the western and central parts of the lake are the best for these fish. No reports on bream. Crappie are good and being caught with jigs or minnows in 15-20 feet of water near brush. Catfish are fair. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. Water temperature has ranged 62-68 degrees this week. The clarity has a light stain. Lake level earlier this week was at 577.44 feet msl. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
(updated 11-7-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said her customers report still doing great on No. 4 crappie minnows hitting the brushtops.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 396.54 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-24-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said she’s heard some good reports from Bear Creek, depending on what you’re fishing for. Folks have been catching some good-size catfish using stink bait and homemade bait. “We have also had some fall bass fishermen out and about this week who have had some luck with various artificial lures, but nothing of notable size. Same bass report for Storm Creek Lake down in Phillips County,” she said.
(updated 10-24-2018) See above.
(updated 11-7-2018) 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.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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