Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Dec. 12, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Dec. 12, 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 12-12-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the clarity is the normal lake stained and the lake level is high even with the recent winter drawdown. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair and biting in 8 feet of water on redworms. Crappie improved, with fair reports heard this week. Word is they were biting at night. Bundle up! Bass are good using deep-diving crankbaits and worm. Catfishing is good on minnows and nightcrawlers. They’re biting on the bottom throughout the lake.
(updated 12-12-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) reports that anglers say crappie are excellent. Try using pink minnows or orange/chartreuse jigs. No other species were reported caught.
(updated 12-12-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear and the generation the past two days has been morning only, starting about 6 a.m. for 2-4 hours with two units. Rainbows and browns are active. Be sure to check the generation schedule each day because it is subject to change. Early wade fishing is possible from Ritchey Shoal downriver. Take note of the rising water and be able to wade out when it arrives. The best flies have been egg patterns, small midge pupa and size 16 nymphs. The brown trout are spawning on the shoals, so if you get a chance to wade, be careful of walking through the redds. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the areas on the river bottom where the brown trout have made their spawning beds. These will show up as clean, polished areas of gravel in the shallow areas of a shoal. Please avoid them because disturbing these areas will prevent the eggs from hatching. The eggs are in these areas until about February, when they will hatch. It is always best to fish for the browns that are moving up to the spawning areas and those laying behind the redds eating the eggs floating off these areas. Rainbows will also be downstream of the redds feeding on these eggs. Browns are not stocked in the Little Red River, so fishermen can help ensure the future brown trout population by being careful during this season.
Greg also says, “If you are wondering what to get that special person for Christmas or if you have been asked what you want for Christmas, a gift certificate for a fly-fishing trip on the Little Red River may be a good gift idea. Just give me a call and we’ll work out the details. Merry Christmas and good fishing!”
(updated 12-12-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said they are seeing sporadic generation from Greers Ferry Dam to accommodate power needs. The generation pattern often changes from published schedule, so it’s best to check what is scheduled and the current water release to determine when and where to fish on the Little Red River. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends midges, soft hackles, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink, cotton candy 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 461.97 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 12-12-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.01 feet msl. It is 0.03 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and staying pretty steady at present, but Tommy says he’s sure the expected rain will change that. He says, “We are pretty much in winter pattern. Some fish are still shallow and live that way all year, for the most part just some of the black basses.” The crappie catching seems to be still good in 15-30 feet of water; use jigs or minnows fished vertical. No report on catfish. As for black bass, some are super shallow on out to 60 feet. The loners will eat small crankbaits and spinnerbaits up shallow, or a jig. The deeper fish can be caught on a football head jig, C-rig or jighead worm for the most part, with a hair jig coming into play as well or a wacky rig. No reports on bream. As for walleye, the river fish have got spawning on their mind this time of year and begin their travels up lake. Troll big crankbaits for the best bite, or use a minnow on a jighead or spoon fished vertical. Hybrid and white bass are eating off and on all day in 25-60 feet of water with some topwater action as well. Use spoons, inline spinners or a hair jig with a grub.
(updated 12-12-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water is fairly clear and the level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are good using crappie minnows. No reports came in on bream, bass or catfish, however.
(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 12-12-2018) Angler Bennie Goodman said crappie are still fair on jigs in and around the Lakeview Landing end of the lake. This week the smaller ones have moved in and keeper fish are fewer than last week. They are in 4-5 feet of water. Water seems to be up about a half-foot. Catfish are simply on fire off the northwest corner of the pier at Lakeview Landing. River rig, just any bait is working. Fish 4-5 pounds are common. Bream are out of sight. Haven’t seen a bass landed in two weeks. No water temperature reported but to the touch it feels normal for this time of year. Check out Bennie’s Facebook book: Talking Pan Fish in Arkansas.
(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 12-12-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake is clear and the level is high. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are biting “real good,” Larry said. They are excellent and hitting minnows and jigs around 5-15 feet depth. Focus on the brush piles. Bass are fair and catfish are fair. No reports on bream.
(updated 12-12-2018) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water temperatures are in the upper 40s. Largemouth bass are good. With the water temperatures in the high 40s some bass are being caught in 10-15 feet near stumps, as well as some being found suspended off creek channels in 20-25 feet of water. Try using crankbaits, jerkbait and jigs. Kentucky bass are good. They are mixed in with the largemouths, but most can be found in 10-15 feet of water. Try fishing off drops and brush. White bass are good. Some whites are being caught on brush piles with the crappie in 20-30 feet of water. Crappie continue to bite great. Crappie are staging in their fall pattern. Reports of them being found on top of deeper brush suspended about 20-30 feet of water. Try using jigs and minnows. Search for sharper ledges and deeper brush. The bream bite is poor. Fewer reports of them coming in this week. Some anglers are still catching the occasional bream on redworms. No reports this week 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 12-5-2018) 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 12-12-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is excellent. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 12-5-2018) 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 nightcrawlers.
(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 12-5-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said weather and hunting have just about shut down fishing in that area. Most fishing is below Lock and Dams 9 and 10. Catfishing is mainly around deep holes and around jetties below the dams. Use a combo of liver and shad. For stripers, use a wobble spoon or float a live shad. A few sauger are being caught with a speck rig tipped with minnow. Bass are biting on a worm or a jig fished slow. No reports on crappie, bream or white bass.
(updated 12-12-2018) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is has cleared and the level and current are normal. Bream are good but they are deep. Fish with worms. Crappie are excellent. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. No reports on catfish or white bass.
(updated 12-12-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie are good. They can be found in 6-8 feet of water and are biting minnows and jigs. No other species were reported.
(updated 12-12-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is dingy and is at a normal level and normal current. The surface temperature is ranging in the mid- to low 40s. Crappie reports continue to be good. Anglers were finding them at 10 feet depth and were fishing most successfully around brush piles, rocky points and the end of jetties. Crappie tubes (best color being black/chartreuse) were the way to go. Bass are good. Working best are the mid-diving crankbaits in chartreuse, black and red/orange colors, as well as jigs. Focus efforts around rocky points and just off the jetties but more toward the backwater areas. No reports on bream. Nothing on catfish.
(updated 12-12-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that crappie are excellent in the river just below Murray Lock and Dam. They’re biting in 8-10 feet depth on white/chartreuse jigs. Target the rocky points. No other reports came in on other species in the Little Rock Pool. Below the Terry Lock and Dam, crappie are excellent in 10-12 feet depth and are biting pink minnows. Also, catfish are fair below the dam and are biting shad. Stripers are excellent below the Terry dam on shad-colored jigs.
(updated 12-5-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is a little murky and the level and current are a little high near the Terry Lock and Dam. Crappie are good, with the fish biting mostly minnows but some jigs. Bass are fair on crankbaits and worms, with best success had near rocky points. Catfish are good behind the dam. Use shad, cut bait and live bait. No reports on bream.
(updated 12-5-2018) 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 12-5-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is clear and level is just a little high. Crappie picked up, with good reports. Minnows or jigs are working. Bass are fair on crankbaits and worms. Bream reports were poor. Nothing to report on catfish.
The lake has closed for the season and will reopen Feb. 2, 2019.
(updated 12-12-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says winter has set in with temperatures below freezing in the morning, but that doesn’t mean the trout are frozen. The spawn is still underway with most of the bigger browns being caught on the northern end of the river. However, several browns have been caught lower down around the Cotter area with live crawdads. Orange Powerbait has been the popular bait for the rainbows to mimic the eggs coming down from the spawn. During the sunny parts of the late morning, dry flies have been doing well with many hatches occurring as the weather warms slightly; orange and yellow egg patterns have been successful when the clouds return. Bundle up and enjoy the excellent wintertime fishing.
(updated 12-12-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear and the level is normal, but there has been nobody fishing. “If someone came out, they would catch fish,” they tell us. The trout bite is good.
(updated 12-12-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had just a trace of rain, cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.7 feet to rest at 2.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had 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 Roundhouse Shoals. They have been some blue-wing olive and some midge hatches (try a size twenty 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 bead-head 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 655.18 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Sometimes it’s easy to say what is happening on the lake than actually being on the lake. This time of year, I do not fish everyday like I do in the spring and summer, so when I do go out I make the best of it. This past week I went to areas where I had been fishing and telling everybody, ‘That’s where you should fish.’ I had caught fish there the week of Thanksgiving and had a client fish the area the following weekend, so I was pretty sure I would catch stripers without a problem. The weather was supposed to warm with light winds. I know better than trust the weather, but I did anyway. The trip turned out to be cold with winds that churned the lake into white caps. I went to all my recommended areas and found fish, but could not get a bite. Not one. It was the first time in months that I was skunked. Sometimes it’s better just to stay home.”
Tom adds, with that being said it is still a great time of year to be on Norfork Lake catching stripers. The stripers are in their winter feeding pattern in 50-80 feet depths. You will find them feeding in the 40-50-foot range. The stripers will be in large schools along with the white bass. Shad, shiners and spoons are the best baits. Because they are now schooled up, when using those baits expect the action to be very fast. Trolling will produce fish, but because you’re moving you are not staying on the schools long enough to catch many. Even though it’s cold, winter striper fishing is one of the best time to catch lots of fish and have the lake to yourself. The good part of winter striper fishing is the fish will stay in this pattern for the next several months, so there should not be a lot of traveling looking for fish. When you find big balls of shad, the stripers will be close by. The stripers will move to the channel towards Crystal Cove and stay on the big flat and channel near Howard Cove and Blue Lady. 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.
Tom says he and his anglers are using shad but shiners will be an effective substitute to shad. The best method is downlines set off the bottom about 2 feet. Tom says he also has 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 along with Big Creek. Follow the same pattern: Find the shad and the stripers are nearby.
(updated 12-12-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing has been exciting as always. There have been fantastic days of catching along with some mediocre days, but it is always a great day to just be able to be out on the water. If you have been following my blog, I am sure you have noticed that I enjoy fishing for striped and hybrid bass the most, whether they are located in deep water or shallow water, but I do fish for other species in order to keep up with their movements and patterns.”
He says the striped and hybrid bass bite is really starting to improve. They are being caught in several different types of locations at varying depths. On Monday, Lou said, he spent the day checking out various areas, but mainly concentrated on the deep water channels. Bait is starting to move into the 80-plus feet channels on the main lake and the stripers are either buried inside the bait balls or are following. This is a typical winter pattern, and as the water continues to cool, more and more bait will move into the deep water and suspend 40-60 down with the striped and hybrid bass hanging out close by. Lou did end up finding several large schools of fish following bait, which were suspended 50-60 feet down. Lou says he managed to land a nice hybrid and broke off a second fish. He was vertical-jigging with a 1-ounce spoon. Another good fishing method at this time to target these suspended fish, he says, is to troll with umbrella/Alabama rigs or with just a single large swimbait. The main key is to be able to get your bait down to the fish at 50-55 feet. Using live bait has also been very productive.
“Today I was checking out various flats on the lake. I started at the 101 bridge flat and worked my way west to the Cranfield area, then headed northward to the Seward Point and Briar Creek flats. I found fish on all the flats, but it was mainly scattered white bass. At about 10:30 I was checking out a final flat and found a few arcs in 48 feet of water. I stopped and started to fish and my fish finder screen lit up like a Christmas tree with all kinds of fish. For the next two hours I vertical-jigged with my 1-ounce spoon and also casted out a ½-ounce Kastmaster. I ended up landing a couple nice striped bass, a few hybrids, flathead catfish, largemouth bass and lots of jumbo-sized white bass. I dropped my spoon and let it sit about 1 foot off of the bottom, then placed it in the rod holder, I then would cast out my Kastmaster and let it sink to the bottom and then retrieved it slowly with a stop, jerk and reel retrieval method. I would glance at my spooning rod on occasion and find that it was buried with a fish on. I had a great time with a great big grin on my face.”
Lou says the largemouth bass are also starting to move toward deeper water as the water continues to cool. This is normal for this species, as well as for all the species in the lake. Lou says he has been catching some nice fat largemouth while vertical-jigging for stripers in 50 feet of water. You can also jig around sunken brush piles in 30-40 feet of water and catch some nice fish. The third location is along the rock bluff walls. Cast out a worm, crawdad or a jig & pig to the shoreline and let it sink down the bluff wall. Most of the fish caught on plastics are in the 20- to 30-feet depth range. There are still a few fish up shallow, but most are deep following the bait, which is going deeper. Crappie are still in their normal habitat for this time of year and will be found buried in brush during the morning and daytime in 30-40 feet of water. In the evening they will come up in the water column and may be only 8-15 feet down. You need to test different depths until you find that magic area where they are feeding. “I have actually caught a few nice keepers on 50-foot-deep brush piles over the last week, so don’t hesitate to check out the deep areas for crappie.” Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable. Generation has been sporadic. The current depth is 552.94 feet msl. The main lake surface water temperature this morning ranged 48.5-51.5 degrees. The lake cooled as Lou traveled northward, he said. The main lake is clear with a very slight stain and most coves and creeks are stained. The lake is in excellent condition as are the fish. “If you would like to see a more frequent update on fishing activity on Norfork Lake, follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook,” he says.
(updated 12-12-2018) 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 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had 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 top-water action. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole over the past year. 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 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.
John also said, “I took a fall when I was fishing on the Norfork recently. I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I tend to fish by myself quite a bit and a fall could get serious. I am not particularly graceful, nor am I particularly clumsy. I wanted to know what happened so that I could possibly prevent it from happening. I know that if you wade-fish there, there will always be an occasional fall into the water. The trick is to keep these incidents to a minimum.
“I returned to the Norfork a week later to fish and determine what had happened to cause me to fall. Was it just a coincidence, or could I make changes to limit such situations in the future. The day was very similar to the previous week. It was cold. The high was to be in the mid-40s with overcast skies and 10-15 mph mile winds. I dressed the same way I had the previous week. The combination of wool and fleece had kept me warm even when I got wet.
“One thing that I did different was to wear my polarized prescription bifocal sunglasses. The week before, I did not wear them because it was to be overcast and I did not feel that the sunglasses would help me. Yet, when I was wading, I had trouble seeing the bottom even in shallow water. The problem was that there is sun glare even on overcast days. With my polarized sunglasses on, I could see the bottom even on a seriously overcast day. I found the wading to be much easier, when I could see where I was going.
“I had arrived at about the same time, and as before I had the place to myself. I walked upstream to the spot where I had fallen the week before. With the polarized sunglasses I could clearly see the bottom. I noted that it was bedrock, which is pretty slick and can be difficult to walk on. My memory of this area is different from what I saw. I have been wading through this section of river for decades and remember the river bottom to be gravel, which is very easy to wade. The gravel had been washed out to reveal bedrock. I was not aware of this change the previous week. It was an important lesson to me that the river is constantly changing. Even when we go into spots that we are familiar with, we need to pay attention to subtle changes to the river.
“As I waded through that section of bedrock, I pulled out and used my folding wading staff. Not using it was an error that I had made on my previous trip. I carry it to help me travel through perilous water. Why did I choose not to use it? I don’t know; maybe I was in a hurry. I learned my lesson.
“On reflection, I learned three things: Always wear my polarized sunglasses (even on overcast days), be on the lookout for constantly changing conditions, and use my wading staff.”
(updated 12-12-2018) 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 much less active with the cold conditions. 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 1,118.24 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is clear. Water level has returned to normal. Surface temperature is in the high 40s. Crappie are good. They’re biting reasonably shallow this week, in the 3-4-foot depths. They’re mostly around wood and brush pies and hitting minnows or jigs. Bass are fair. Use a CC Spoon, an Alabama rig or drop-shot. Catfishing is good using prepared bait. No report on bream.
(updated 12-12-2018) 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 (check channel bends and gravel bars and watch for surfacing fish).
(updated 12-12-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, it looks like the Corps of Engineers has got the generators back online. It has been a little too cold for me to fish in the past few weeks, but I did manage to sneak in a couple of hours (Tuesday).” Browns and rainbows were quite active Tuesday, he says. Most were caught using quarter-ounce spoons of various colors. However, the rainbows also responded well to PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. “The hot spot for me was Parker Bottoms, hitting the deeper holes and fishing the ripples. As we continue to have below-freezing weather, I will not fish regularly until spring. With that being said, I will post a report if I did get a break from the cold and have a chance to get out. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Be safe, have fun and if you’re able to brave the cold, go catch some fish.”Lake Fayetteville
(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 12-12-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the water clarity has cleared and the water level is normal. No surface water temperature was recorded. Bream response has been poor for some time now. Crappie are good on minnows. Bass reports are poor. Catfish are good on chicken liver or shad.
(updated 12-12-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “The main occupation right now is getting ready for the holidays. After all the ham and turkey, we should all be ready for some ‘good fresh fish.’ That is why we here at Lake Poinsett State Park want you to know we are here for your fishing needs.” 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 12-12-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) had no report.
(updated 12-12-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 275 cfs (350 average) and water clarity has been clear. The river is low and clear. Y2Ks have been the hot fly for numbers the last week with a few big fish biting. The big fish fly of the week has been the White Lightning. It is a big white fly tied on a size 6 jig hook. Mimics a big bait fish. For spin-fishing it’s hot pink Trout Magnets all the way. On the tough days, pull the float off and bounce the Trout Magnet off the bottom in the deeper pools. The trout will hit it as it swings out. Lots of fun!
(updated 12-12-2018) 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 12-12-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water has come up to normal level and the clarity is clear. The walleye bite is excellent. Topwater lures are proving the most successful. No reports on any other species, however.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 12-12-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 12-12-2018) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 12-12-2018) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet and while the AGFC completed vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through September. The lake is rising with rainfall will cover the new anchoring of cut gum trees and other vegetation good for fish habitat on the shallow shoreline areas. 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. Next spring should be a great time to check out this fishery.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 261.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Monday that Millwood Lake was on a rapid rise of over 2 feet from all the recent rain in southwest Arkansas. Army Corps of Engineers gate changes at the dam were releasing about 3,000 cfs Monday, but that jumped Tuesday afternoon to more than 16,000 cfs. The tailwater below the dam rose 6 feet in a day to 242 msl. Water temps dropped over the past week, and on Monday ranged 40-45 degrees. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website helpful links page, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Navigation is normal, and floating debris is reduced in navigation this week. Clarity and visibility have worsened over the past week with the recent thunderstorms and rain with 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 is moderate stain, ranging 5-7 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 3-6 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current.
Mike says the rain and thunderstorms over the past week have stained up the lake again. The bite for bass is random, and good most warm days and during the midday hours in the oxbows. They are finding bass still hitting crankbaits in the oxbows, with Bomber Crankbaits, bulky worms, Gitzit Tubes and Yum Dingers getting best responses. The schools of largemouths, Kentuckies (spotted bass) and white bass are getting fewer and farther apart, but they continue to follow shad schools. Best locations for these schools 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. Best reactions continually randomly to come on crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 8-12 feet of depth. Surface feeding activity levels have disappeared 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. Rat-L-Traps and SpinTraps in chrome/blue and shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Sexy Bone Nova, Blueback Herring or Liv-N Chrome continue working, albeit slower. These are still drawing random reactions in creek channels with any cypress trees, standing timber and stumps. Magnum tube jigs like Gitzits, Yum Dingers, Brush Hogs, 10-12″ bulky Power Worms, and Real Deal Custom Tackle Jigs continue taking a few chunky, largemouths in the creek channels from 8-10 feet deep on stumps, and on secondary points with stumps from 5-9 feet deep. Blackberry, Pumpkinseed, June Bug Red, or Red Shad colors continue to be good colors for soft 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. If you’re using a tube jig, put a rattle inside it on a tungsten knocker weight to draw a reaction in the stained water 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.
Decent-size schools of white bass continue following shad in the oxbows, and nice 2-4 pound white bass still randomly hitting crankbaits 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 largemouths, 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 for the white bass seem to be the Tennessee Shad and the Citrus Shad patterns. Crappie were beginning stacking up vertically, 10-15 feet deep in standing timber of the oxbows, and before the recent thunderstorms and lake rise were hitting paddle-tail smoke-colored grubs and Blakemore Roadrunners in white and chartreuse. Since lake turbidity has increased over the past few days, the crappie anglers were seeing have retreated to deeper water. Catfish continue biting well on yo-yos and trotlines in the oxbow lakes up Little River. Cut baits, punch bait and catalpa worms were working well over the weekend and late last week.
(updated 12-12-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) heard no reports the past week. Late last month, crappie were biting well.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 548.49 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is just above full pool of 548 feet msl and holding fairly steady. Water temps have made it the mid-50s. The bass are in their fall patterns. 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. Ned Rigs using half of a Yum Dinger are also working well. The jig bite is getting better using Booyah Finance Jigs. The crankbait bite is picking up as well using shad-colored Bandit Crankbaits and Chrome Booyah Hard Knocker or One Knocker. Cotton Cordell or War Eagle Spoons are working well on flats adjacent to creek channels 20-30 feet deep. The Yumbrella has started working well over deeper brush using the small Yum Pulse Swimbaits. Crappie are really coming on. They can be caught in 15- to 30-foot brush with minnows or Kalin’s Grubs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.71 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said vertical jigging spoons 35-55 feet deep is producing ample fish. Water temps are at 50 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 439.43 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 529.22 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 12-12-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado says the river is back on the rise. The bass have slowed down a little. There are still a few crappie being caught in the riverbed and at Wildcat. No report on catfish.
(updated 12-12-2018) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) reported that everything was pretty much the same as last week. Clarity is clear and the water level is normal. Surface water temperature was not recorded. Crappie fishing remains strong, and reports are “mostly excellent.” Use minnows or jigs. Reports on bream, bass and catfish continue to be poor.
(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 Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 12-12-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that the winter drawdown is now complete for lakes Hamilton and 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 presented in the same manner will also be effective. 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 present. 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. Walleye and yellow bass are feeding on threadfin shad schools that have migrated in the tailrace. Anglers using Carolina rigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers will catch walleye in periods of slack water by the bridge. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current has taken good numbers of yellow bass and trout although the size runs on the small side. Anyone planning to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace is cautioned to be aware of the generation schedules and always wear a life jacket.
(updated 12-5-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 48 degrees, warming to 53. River clarity is still poor but clearing slowly. Some creeks are muddy, some are clear; bays are dingy. Bass fishing has been good. Soft jerkbaits like scam shad, hard jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, swimbaits with underspins, jigs and Hoax Bamboozie craw are working, and use structure buds on the days that are tough. Stripers have been good on Rat-L-Traps, swimbaits and Alabama rigs. Crappie have been excellent; chartreuse has been working in deep water, while pearl white and black chartreuse are working well shallower. And, of course, minnows work. It seems like 12 feet depth is the norm. White bass are in the Creeks. Use Rat-L-Traps, spoons or white grubs. No reports on bream. Catfish have been good in the creeks and at the mouth of the creeks. Stink bait, blood bait and cut bait have been working well.
(updated 12-12-2018) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, Xpress all-welded fishing boat in Hot Springs, reports lake temperatures in the high 40s with water clarity stained and visibility at 5 feet or less. No reports on bass, but crappie are smoking hot! Large groups of crappie are balled up in deeper brush piles up to 45 feet deep and a being taken wholesale on slip bobber rigs with smaller minnows, unweighted hooks and 2- to 4-pound test line. Position the bait just over the piles and get ready! Strikes are not aggressive so be patient with the hook set. No catfish reports, but you striper guys need to be looking around 55 feet and look for the gulls on the surface. Fish near the state Highway 7 bridges. “Good Luck and Go Greeson!”
(updated 12-12-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said that like he’s found at DeGray Lake, is you vertical-jig spoons at a range of 35-55 feet depth, that will produce plenty of catches. Water temperature is 50 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 343.19 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is beginning to discolor and the level has risen about 1 foot; they consider it high. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair on chartreuse jigs. Crappie are good. The fish are biting in 3-7 feet of water on minnows or jigs (black/chartreuse will work best). Bass are good on spinnerbaits and black/gold willow leafs. Fish in the channels in deeper water for the bass. Catfish reports have been fair.
(updated 12-12-2018) 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 577.68 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are fair. Alabama rigs or spoons fished on main lake points or in creek channels are best at this time. No reports on walleye. Stripers are still 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 reports on bream. Crappie are slow and being caught with jigs or minnows in 15-20 feet of water near brush. No reports on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 46-50 degrees. Water clarity is stained. Lake level is 577.68 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 384.88 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 12-12-2018) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) is requesting to recycle your real Christmas trees to be donated to be used as fish structure around the mobility impaired fishing dock at Cook’s Lake. Drop off locations include the Potlatch Conservation Education Center at 625 Cook’s Lake Road, Casscoe , AR 72026, or the bus lot across from Grand Avenue United Methodist Church in Stuttgart. Merry Christmas from the Cook’s Lake staff!
Cook’s Lake is a 2.5 mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility-impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species. Cook’s Lake will reopen for fishing the first weekend in March, 2019. Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youth under 16 or mobility-impaired, and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat, but we ask for trolling motors only (outboard motor may be used for loading and unloading or in case of emergency). Before launching, please check in at the Conservation Education Center, and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.
(updated 12-12-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
(updated 12-12-2018) No report.
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