Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Nov. 28, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Nov. 28, 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 11-28-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the clarity is remained stained and the lake level is low. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are excellent on minnows or white/chartreuse jigs, and Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Monkey Milk and Cajun Crickets. Bream are fair. Bass are good on cut bait. Catfishing is poor.
(updated 11-14-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said that at the Gold Creek area of Lake Conway, No. 4 crappie minnows have been providing several of her customers with some very nice crappie. “I heard it has been pretty packed,” she said. “Another one of my customers also on the No. 4 crappie minnows has done well on Lake Ouachita over the brushtops.”
(updated 11-28-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the good news is the river is clear and the lake is back to normal level. The generation is scheduled to be only 2 hours on Wednesday and with moderate temperatures forecasted, this should mean lower generation the next few days. The only downside to this report is the possibility for heavy rain Thursday night and Friday. This could put the lake back in the flood pool and increase generation for the weekend. It’s best to check the Southwestern Power Administration forecast (swpa.gov) each day to plan your trip. The brown trout are spawning but the generation has made fishing for them a bit dicey. Small windows of opportunity are available to wade, so drift-fishing is best by fishing the lower water areas either ahead or behind the generation. Egg patterns are a good fly choice.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said Greers Ferry Lake is now at normal seasonal pool, so water release is now scheduled to accommodate power demand. Currently the Little Red is seeing a couple of hours of water release early mornings from the dam. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.78 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 11-28-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 461.86 feet msl, 0.18 feet below normal pool and falling with generation. Crappie are eating jigs and minnows up rivers. No report on lake fish other than not many fishing and most that are, are not catching much. The river fish are around pole timber in 12-25 feet of water. Catfish are eating and active; try your favorite baits from 10 feet on down next to channels. No report on bream. Some walleye are being picked up with the hybrid and white bass; try dragging a minnow on steep banks around dock or deeper flats. Black bass are eating a variety of baits from topwater, grubs and spinnerbaits on down from right on the bank out to 60 feet. Hybrid and white bass are eating all over the lake. Stay around the shad in 25-60 feet and use spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and topwater lures.
(updated 11-28-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water is clear and the level is normal. The wind has been at 10-12 mph on average the past few days and the water is a little choppy. Crappie are good on minnows and redworms. They are legal length down to half- or three-quarter pounds. No report on bream, black bass or catfish.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said a few of her customers have been traveling to Harris Brake and are catching some nice crappie off of No. 4 crappie minnows. They’re also using Bobby Garland 2-inch Slab Slayers in the color bone white/chartreuse with success.
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 11-28-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said little has changed from last week. Water level is high by about 2 feet and clarity is good. Surface temperature is around 54 degrees. Bass are doing well. Bream are slow but anglers are still catching some on redworms. Haven’t heard anything about the catfish. Crappie are doing fair, but it changes from day to day. Some are using jigs and others are using No. 4 and No. 6 minnows. Johnny says, “Happy Holidays to you and your family from us at Overcup Bait Shop off Highway 9.”
(updated 11-21-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is clear and the lake as of Tuesday was at a normal level. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream were poor. Crappie are good. Fish around the brush piles and you’ll find the crappie at 3-5 feet depth. Use minnows or chartreuse twister tail jigs for best results. Bass are fair on crankbaits, worms and Rat-L-Traps. The catfish bite is good on catfish bait and minnows. Catfish are biting at 8-10 feet depth.
(updated 11-28-2018) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598 said the surface water temperature is in the mid-50s. The largemouth bass bite is excellent. With the water temperatures in the mid-50s, some bass are being caught in 10-15 feet as well as some being found suspended off creek channels at 20-25 feet. Try using crankbaits, spoons and swimjigs. Kentucky bass are excellent. They are mixed in with the largemouths, but most can be found in 10-15 feet of water. Trying fishing off drops and brush. White bass reports are poor. Some whites are being caught on brush piles with the crappie in 20-30 feet of water. Crappie are excellent. Crappie are staging in their fall pattern. There are reports of them being found on top of deeper brush suspended in about 20-30 feet of water. Try using jigs and minnows. Search for sharper ledges and deeper brush. Bream are poor. Less reports coming in this week. Some are still catching bream on redworms. No reports on catfish.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been hitting No. 4 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows, especially around the bridge and off of the dock. A few catfish were reported caught off of Wild Cat Blood and brooder minnows. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits in pink and also chartreuse-colored.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some very nice crappie have been caught at the dock at Lake Charles with pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows. A few big catfish have been caught off of No. 12 bass minnows and also nightcrawlers.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Lyle Park Access crappie have been doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows. The walleye there too have done well on brooder minnows. Down at the spillway of the Saline the walleye have been very good on brooder minnows. Also at the boat ramp down past Sunset Lake the walleye have done fair off of brooder minnows. Catfish are fair off of goldfish and nightcrawlers.
Lisa hears from her customers that a couple of hot spots continue to be Lake Atkins near Russellville and Harris Brake Lake in Perry County. At Lake Atkins, she’s told, the crappie are still doing great off of pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows. At Harris Brake some nice crappie are being caught off of No. 4 crappie minnows and also Bobby Garland 2-inch Slab Slayers in the color bone white/chartreuse.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been fair off of pink crappie minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass have been caught around the docks with the brooder minnows. Catfish are being caught on nightcrawlers and small bream.
(updated 11-28-2018) 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 11-28-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair around the gazebo. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 11-28-2018) 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 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass have been hitting No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Crappie are being caught off of No. 12 bass minnows.
(updated 11-28-2018) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said fishing is better. The clarity is clear and the level and current are normal. No surface water temperature was reported. Redear bream are good, but you have to fish deep. Use worms. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good, but no one reported what baits were used. No reports on catfish.
(updated 11-28-2018) 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 11-28-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said the crappie in the Maumelle river are excellent. They are biting pink minnows and jigs.
(updated 11-21-2018) 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 11-28-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the clarity is muddy and the level and current are normal. The surface temperature is running mid- to low 60s. Crappie are good. They’re in 10 feet depth and biting jigs, mostly blue/chartreuse or black/chartreuse crappie jigs. Bass are fair. Fish with a red crankbait, red Rat-L-Traps, swimbaits and Alabama rigs to attract the bass. No reports on catfish. Nothing on bream.
(updated 11-28-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is a little murky and the level and current are running a little high. Bass reports continue to come in good, with action on crankbaits, plastic worms and live worms. Catfishing is good behind the dam. Bream activity has been poor. Crappie reports are fair.
(updated 11-28-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said fishing, at least for crappie, is better this week in the pool. Crappie are excellent and can be found in 6-8 feet of water. Minnows and jigs were working. Black/chartreuse jigs are the best way to go. Focus on the Burns Park area and White Oak Bayou for best crappie chances. Moving down toward the Terry Lock and Dam and below that dam, crappie are excellent and can be found in 10-12 feet depth. Focus on rocky points. Catfish are fair below the damn. Fish with cut shad. Also, stripers are active and are going after pearl Super Flukes.
(updated 11-28-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass have been fair near the David D. Terry Lock and Damn. Use white and chartreuse twister tails.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 11-28-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water level is high while the clarity remains clear. The crappie bite continues to be good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and live worms as well as plastic worms. Catfishing is poor. The bream bite is poor.
The lake has closed for the season and will reopen Feb. 2, 2019.
(updated 11-28-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Some folks have been heard to say they’re tired of catching so many rainbows. Imagine that! Where else can you catch so many trout in a single day that hardcore fishers say they’re casting arms are sore? But that’s been the case this past couple of weeks here on the White River in the serene, beautiful Arkansas Ozarks, just down a block or two from city hall in Cotter.” They say that most days the catch has been completed using live worms or a small amount of PowerBait and shrimp. For a little more challenge – but still bringing a lot of trout to the boat – anglers have cast some spinners (try a Rooster Tail with a gold blade, pink body or a Blue Fox with a rainbow blade, gold bell under an overcast sky) and are still having good luck with the No. 5 countdowns. But when the sun comes out, put the artificial baits away and return to the scented or live baits. The water level has been at minimum flow for several weeks until just yesterday with new releases equal to one unit of generation (3,300-3,500 cfs). Nightcrawlers and redworms should work, especially well for the next couple of days. The brown bite remains fickle; your best bet is to get your hands on varying sizes of sculpins and work them near the bottom. “Good luck. Stay warm. Stop in and say ‘Hey’.”
(updated 11-28-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear and the level is now low. Rainbow trout fishing is excellent. Anglers can use just about anything to catch them, but PowerBait and small lures have been working best. Brown trout are still gone, in terms of catching. When the wind is blowing, you can see them, but they aren’t biting anything.
(updated 11-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week that they had a couple of rain events (less than a quarter inch in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 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 fell 0.7 feet to rest at 5.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had wadable water every day. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. 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 Wildcat Shoals. They have been some blue-wing olive and some midge hatches (try a size 20 Parachute Adams). 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 beadhead pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.84 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 552.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-28-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake’s striper bite continues to stay strong. The stripers, hybrids, largemouth, and white bass are feeding heavily right now. Greg at Hand Cove Resort tells me that the crappie bite near and over the brush piles is heating up. Speaking of brush piles, Greg also told me that many of the Norfork Lake brush piles are getting a “makeover” beginning the first of the month. Watch for more details to come. I fished three days this past week and caught all the species in every area I fished. Right now I have been starting on the flat pass Fouts marina early and then later in the morning I move close to the channel alongside Fouts marina. Early the fish are in the 30′ range and as the morning evolves they move into deeper water. Most of fish I have been catching are from 20 feet to the bottom. If you’re lucky you run into a massive school of stripers and hybrids. That’s when the fun begins. All the rods will get hit at once and if you’re quick enough you can put 2 or 3 in your boat. They are hitting shad, shiners, and spoons plus some people are trolling umbrella rigs with swim baits and catching some. The fish are still in the channel from the turn past Fout Marina to 6B however they are also being caught on the flats up near Cranfield Island, Howard Cove past Blue Lady, and the Fout area. Float Creek will begin to hold fish as the water turns colder. Stripers tend to congregate near and in the four corners area of 5A. We are using shad but shiners will be an effective substitute to shad. The best method is downlines set off the bottom about 2 feet. I also had one rod set about 20 feet down to catch the roving hybrids that are in the higher water column. Float and Panther Creeks should also hold stripers plus Big Creek. Follow the same pattern, find the shad and the stripers are nearby.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake’s fall fishing pattern is slowly moving toward the winter pattern. As the water continues to cool the fish go deeper following the bait. Over the last week I have noticed the bait moving from around 28 feet of water to anywhere from 35-50 feet of water. The bite over the last week has been good for most species. There have been continuous cold fronts, then warm air then back to cold fronts. Each time a system moves through the area the bite is affected. The best bite on the lake, in my opinion, is as follows: white bass, largemouth and spotted bass, crappie, but the hybrid bass and striped bass bite are starting to pick up. Walleye and catfish have both been sporadic, but I have seen good signs that both are ready to improve. I have been having a lot of fun over the holiday week fishing with family members. Our resort was partially filled with my wife’s side of the family and the remainder of the resort was filled with guests fishing for all types of species. I was really impressed that the cold weather didn’t stop many of our Texas, Florida and South Carolina family members and they all were able to catch a fish. White bass have schooled and are located on flats in 35-50 feet of water depending on time of day. Early in the morning they are typically in the shallowest. As the day wears on they move to deeper water on the bottom and also have been found in very deep water, but suspended in the same 35-50 foot range. In the afternoons, look in the mouths of deep coves for this species. Within these schools of whites are hybrid bass and striped bass. Most of the stripers and hybrids are still suspended from 15-35 feet down. I have been fishing flats and mouths of coves from our resort up towards the Red Bank area, as well as, from the 101 bridge flat up to Bennetts Bayou area. The best striped bass bite has been up in the Bennetts area, but stripers have been caught in Pigeon Creek, Cranfield area and the mid lake major creeks, Float, Fall and Panther. Vertical jigging a spoon, casting out Kastmasters and live shiners have been the best baits for whites, hybrids and stripers. Largemouth and spotted bass are being caught in many different types of areas and structures and are being caught on different types of baits. I have a lot of fun looking for schools of bass on the flats and they are currently being found in 35 to 48 feet of water. If you can find a slight drop off out on the flat it will be holding fish. When I find these schools I vertical jig with a spoon and at times will catch one after another. They are also located on the bluffs and close to the transition areas from bluff to chuck rock. Most will be suspended on the bluff, so casting rattle traps, spinner baits and crank baits will catch you some nice fish. They will also be on the drop offs along the bluffs so throw a jig & pig, Texas rigged worm or a crawdad, all will pick up some nice fish. Work the bottom along the bluffs 20-30 feet deep. The bite has been very light, so if you see your line start to move set the hook, or if you feel a slight heaviness set the hook. Walleye are starting to show up on the flats in about 40 feet of water, with the other species and some really nice fish are being caught jigging a spoon. The crappie bite has been very good. Look at brush in 30-40 feet of water, on the main lake, as well as, part way back into the creeks. Early in the morning and midday the fish have typically been buried inside of the brush. Late in the afternoon after the water has warmed a bit, they have a tendency to move up in the water column above the brush. Live bait is the best, but jigging small spoons or paddle tail grub are picking up some nice 13 – 14 inch slabs. Norfork Lake level is currently fairly stable with a slight fall one day then a slight rise the next and currently sits at 552.65 feet above sea level. The lake surface water temperature is falling slowly and currently is 53-55 degrees. The main lake is fairly clear.
(updated 11-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. 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 top water action. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding in the past year or more. 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 beadheaded 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 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). 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.
(updated 11-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and clear. The smallmouths are less active with the water 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 1,118.12 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 11-28-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is clear. Water level is normal. No temperature was reported. Crappie are fair. Anglers are finding them in shallow water around brush piles and are using minnows or jigs. They are also having success trolling with crankbaits. Bass are good. Use spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs. Catfishing is fair on prepared bait and live bait. Stripers are hitting topwater baits. No reports on bream. Overall, the fishing has picked up here, they say.
(updated 11-28-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) striper activity forecast for this week is good. 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 low 50s. 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, Larue (check the main channel bends and cuts as stripers move through on their way upstream), Coppermine, Ventris, Shaddox Hollow (check mouth of this arm), Highway 12 bridge (check mouth of the river and main lake structures, striper heading upriver), Prairie Creek (pay attention to areas around the islands and point 10; stripers still found over deep open water and near the tree/bluff lines during daylight hours, at night fish the shallows with jerkbaits and Rat-L-Traps) Blackburn Creek, Hickory Creek (check channel bends and gravel bars, watch for surfacing fish), War Eagle/White River junction, White River and War Eagle River.
(updated 11-21-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “If you have been able to stand the cold temperatures, fishing has been going quite well in the tailwaters. We still have the lack of water problem, but if you can find the deeper holes, you can catch some nice fish.” The fishing method this week has been light terminal tackle, fished with various PowerBait. The hot spot has been Parker Bottoms; remember to find the deeper holes. “Spoons have done a pretty good job too this week, gold had seemed to work the best. Nothing else to report this week. Good luck and stay warm. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!”
(updated 11-28-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is clear and at a normal level. The surface water temperature is 49 degrees. Crappie are good and are found in 8-15 feet of water. Use minnows, jigs and spider rigs. No reports on bream, brass or catfish.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water clarity is clear and the water level is normal. No surface water temperature was recorded. Bream activity remains poor. Crappie are good on minnows. Bass are still biting poorly. Channel catfish are excellent, though. They’re biting chicken liver and minnows.
(updated 11-28-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “A few warm days and the fishermen are out again. One said he was tired of deer hunting, ready for some crappie. No, it is not too cold to go fishing. Stop by Lake Poinsett State Park and get your bait and other fishing supplies and ‘Happy Fishing’.” 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 11-28-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 260 cfs at the spring and water clarity is clear. “The river is very low, we could use some rain. Last few days have been cold and windy,” Mark says. Y2ks have been the go-to fly lately, he adds. Woolly Buggers, White Lightning and Old Yeller have been hooking bigger fish on some days but hard to beat a Y2K lately. Hot pink and white Trout Magnets are working well with spinning equipment. Watch out for the body sliding down on the hook. It’s a good idea the night before to super-glue several bodies on.
(updated 11-28-2018) 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 11-28-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said they’ve never see the water as low as it is this week. No one can fish for anything. It is 2-3 feet below the dam. No reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 11-28-2018) 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 11-21-2018) 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 259.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 11-28-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, the lake is on a slow pool reduction and falling, with gate changes at the dam by the Army Corps of Engineers. Millwood on Monday was about 4 inches above normal conservation pool at 259.5 feet msl; the discharge was recently decreased to around 4,000 cfs for Little River, according to the USACE, and updated again on Tuesday it was reduced again to 875 cfs. The tailwater below the dam continues falling, and as of Tuesday was about 227.7 feet msl with gate releases at the dam. Water temps dropped over the past week, ranging 45-50 degrees earlier this week. Be sure and 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. Watch for sudden gate changes and debris, which will increase with current in Little River. Navigation is hazardous with wide debris fields of broken timber, logs, trees, limbs and broken vegetation mats concealing logs. Use extreme caution in navigation this week. Clarity and visibility have improved over the past week with the reduction in river current and lake pool, and navigation is noted normal along Little River. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was moderate stain, ranging 10-15 inches. Little River’s visibility ranged 10-12 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity ranged 20-30 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
Mike says conditions continue a slow improvement and the bass and crappie bites are beginning to recover. The bite for bass recently improved in the oxbows, and he said they are finding bass a little less finicky and willing to bite in the clearer areas of the oxbows, with crankbaits remaining the best responses. The schools of largemouths, Kentuckies (spots) and white bass continue to follow shad schools. Best locations over the past few weeks were at mouths of creeks and sloughs dumping into the back of the oxbows on points, ranging from 10-12 feet deep with dead lily pad stems and stumps. Shad migration into the creek channels continued and the bass are following these shad schools into numerous creek channels and ditches. Best reactions remain fair to good during the heat of the day and the fish continue to randomly hit crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 8-12 feet of depth. Surface feeding activity levels have diminished with current conditions. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were Bomber Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad, or white. Also, they’re reacting in creek channels with any cypress trees, standing timber and stumps to Rat-L-Traps and SpinTraps in chrome/blue and shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Sexy Bone Nova, Blueback Herring, or Liv-N Chrome. Brush Hogs, 10-inch worms and Real Deal Custom Tackle Jigs were taking a few chunky, 3- to 4-pound largemouths in depths of the creek channels from 8-10 feet deep on stumps, and on secondary points with stumps from 5-9 feet deep. Blackberry, green pumpkin or red shad colors continue to be good choices for plastic Brush Hogs from solitary bass not chasing shad. Good reactions have been found on Real Deal Custom Jigs in Habenero, black/blue/ or black/blue/purple using a Hog Craw trailer for bulk. Jumbo or Magnum 4-inch Gitzit Tubes are beginning to draw a few solid hits from solitary, 2- to 5-pound largemouths on stumps in creek channel swings, ditches, wash-outs, ridges and cuts behind secondary points along the river. TIP: Put a rattle inside your tube jig on a tungsten knocker weight to draw a reaction in the stained water clarity conditions. Best colors of tube jigs and Gitzits have been smoke/black/red flake, black neon and pumpkinseed or green pumpkin with tail tentacles dipped in JJ Magic Chartreuse dipping dye. Pitching the Gitzits on stumps from multiple angles seems to initiate a reaction in mid-day warmer periods.
Large size schools of white bass continue following shad in the oxbows, and nice 2- to 4-pound white bass were again hitting crankbaits again in Horseshoe and McGuire oxbow lakes up Little River. These white bass are following the same schools of shad along Little River and the oxbows as the largemouth, and were back to randomly hitting Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails and Rocket Shads. Best color crankbaits seem to be the Tennessee Shad and the Citrus Shad patterns. Crappie continue a slow recovery after the recent muddy 2-foot rise of the lake and are beginning to stack vertically over planted brush and cut treetops near standing timber, as long as the brush and timber are out of any remaining current of Little River. Blakemore Roadrunners in white and chartreuse, solid white or white and red were catching some nice 2- to 2½-pound slabs mid-day last week. Catfish continue biting well on yo-yo’s and trotlines in Mud Lake, Horseshoe Lake,and McGuire Lake up Little River. Chicken gizzards or livers, punch bait and any cut baits were working well over the weekend and late last week.
(updated 11-28-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) says some nice crappie continue to be caught here. No reports on bass.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.71 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.62 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.46 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 525.21 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 11-28-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado says the river has been up the last couple of weeks, and that has slowed the fishing down. It is back to normal now. Crappie and bass should pick up.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) reported that clarity is “very clear” and the water level is normal. Surface water temperature was not recorded. Crappie are good. Fish in deep water with minnows and jigs. Bream are poor. Bass are poor. Catfishing has tailed off, with poor reports this week.
(updated 11-28-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) in Benton said some customers have been having great success fishing for crappie using pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 11-28-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that the winter drawdown is now complete for Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine. A 5-foot draw is now in place and will remain at this level until March 1, when both lakes are scheduled for refilling. Normal water levels have returned to the area after days of open flood gates, which created unsafe navigation below Carpenter Dam. Rainbow trout are now stocked in the Carpenter Dam tailrace. Bank fishermen are catching trout on waxworms or mealworms floated just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Redworms or nightcrawlers will also be effective presented in the same manner. Fly-fisherman can wade to areas that hold numbers of trout and can catch limits of fish casting egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. San Juan worms in red or hot pink will draw strikes from hungry trout in areas close to the main channel where some current is flowing. Spin fisherman casting Super Dupers in silver or gold over current flow will have success as rainbows will be feeding on injured threadfin shad. Rock structure provides a perfect ambush point for trout chasing bait fish. Trout fishing starts slowly in November as lower numbers are stocked this time of year, so anglers need to use patience and use different techniques until one is found that produces results. Some striper activity has been observed below the bridge late in the evening around 4 p.m. Alabama rigs and Super Spooks in white give anglers a good chance at hooking one of these large predator fish as they feed on trout and gizzard shad. Anyone planning to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace is cautioned to be aware of the generation schedules and always wear a life jacket.
(updated 11-21-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature 46. The river is starting to clear. The majority of creeks are in good shape clear and ready to fish. Bass fishing has been good jig and Bamboozie around rock, jerkbaits around the mouth of the creeks and channel swings, Alabama rigs along bluffs and treetops. Soft plastic jerkbaits like scam shad and chiselers working well in the backwater, around pad stems. Stripers and white bass or moving in the creeks and bays; spinnerbaits, swimbaits, hair jigs and grubs working well. Crappie have been good on minnows and jigs in Electric Chicken, chartreuse, brown and pink, and blue shad. Fish 5-7 feet deep in the creeks just off the bottom in the river. Catfish have been good. Use worms or blood bait, and minnows have been working well in the creeks.
(updated 11-28-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, Xpress all-welded fishing boat in Hot Springs, lake temperatures stabilizing near the 55-degree mark, signaling the onset of the winter pattern. It’s very hit or miss out there lately. The weather has been all over the place and the only stabile factors are: 1.) The nights are consistent around 30 degrees regardless of the daytime temp; and 2.) the lake winds are back and gusts of 20 mph or more are not uncommon. Look for bass in areas of deeper water (30-60 feet) off the main channels and they are running into rocky flats. Fish are getting sluggish and they want to move in vertical motions, covering as little ground as possible to find food in the water column. Work the shallow sides with suspending jerkbaits, crawdad-colored lipless crankbaits, and drop-shot rigs in pale colors like translucent greens and flesh colors. And jigs in browns or greens. On the deeper areas, try the good old jigging or flutter spoon or a swimbait heavily weighted and popped like a spoon. Crappie are in their sweet spots, in depths of 20-30 feet most of the time on brush piles near or on the main channels. Jigs and small spoons along with minnows should be the lethal weapon from now until February. “Wear those life jackets out there 24/7, folks; it could save your life, this time of year especially! Good luck and Go Greeson.”
(updated 11-28-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.49 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-28-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) had no report.
(updated 11-28-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.36 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-28-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are good. Bama rigs or spoons fished on main lake points or in creek channels are best at this time. No reports on walleye. Stripers are fair on live bait. Major creek mouths and main lake points on the western and central parts of the lake are the best for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie are still slower and being caught with jigs or minnows in 15-20 feet of water near brush. No report on catfish. Surface water temperature ranges 48-54 degrees. Water clarity is stained. Lake level is about a half-foot below full pool at 577.54 feet msl. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.44 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
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.
AGFC Commissioner Meeting Notice
Dec. 4, 2023
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
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