Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 16, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 16, 2019. 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 1-16-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the water level is normal and the clarity is stained. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie fishing is good around the green cypress trees. Work the usual baits around Caney Creek and Gold Creek. Bream are fair on redworms. Best success has come at Pierce Creek and the Highway 89 bridge. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits, white crankbaits and jerkbaits. Catfishing is good using redworms or nightcrawlers.
(updated 1-16-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing significant amounts of water daily from the Greers Ferry Lake to maintain the lake at top pool level. Generation often changes from published schedule, so it’s best to check both scheduled generation and current water release information to determine if river level is safe for fishing the Little Red. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends egg patterns, San Juan worms and streamers during high water conditions and midges, soft hackles, sowbugs and streamers during normal water conditions. 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 Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water-release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 1-16-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said that due to the weather and high water, he has not taken many trips lately but was able to take a couple of fishermen Tuesday morning. “We started at 8 a.m., ahead of the new generation, and fished until 12:30 when the new water overtook us. The bite was slow at first but picked up as we went downstream and the water level was lower. The rainbows were biting midges, egg patterns and size 14 nymph patterns. We also caught one brown about 15 inches.” Greg says the weather is getting cold again but after this passes and the generation decreases, the fishing should be good. Keep those fingers crossed that the water level in the lake keeps falling and the generation is decreased. Check the generation schedule before planning your next trip.
NOTE: Greg will again be offering the free fly-fishing class at Heber Springs First United Methodist Church beginning Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Family Life Center. The class is open to all adults and older youths. Younger children can attend with a parent. The class will meet each Thursday evening from 7-9 for four consecutive weeks. These dates are Feb. 21, Feb. 28, March 7 and March 14. All persons interested in learning to fly-fish are welcome to attend. It is best to attend all classes but, if this is not possible, come when you can. If you have attended in the past and wish to participate again, please feel free to do so. Call Greg Seaton at 501-690-9166 to register for the class. If Greg is unable to answer then, he will return voicemails or texts.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.52 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 1-16-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.56 feet msl and falling with generation; it is 0.52 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl, as they are trying to keep it at or around normal pool. The crappie catching is still going good around the lake in 15-30 feet of water, with some coming even shallower on minnows and jigs. Walleye are eating, but just kind of hard to locate. Crankbaits and minnows with jigheads are doing best in 8-30 feet of water. Black bass are eating and are real healthy (all species), from super shallow out to 60 feet on a variety of baits. No report on bream or catfish. Hybrid and white bass are eating well all over lake and river. Spoons, Texas Tornados, swimbaits and hair jigs, as well as live bait are working in 25-70 feet of water.
(updated 1-16-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water clarity is “fairly clear” with a water surface temperature of 43 degrees. The lake level is high, about 8 inches above normal level. Crappie are hitting, but they are slow to hit, anglers report. Results have been poor. Fish a minnow on the bottom for best results. No reports on bream, bass or catfish this week.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup will be in effect through March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Overcup for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 1-9-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is still murky, but getting better. Surface temperature is around 46 degrees. Bream are slow but still catching some on redworms. Bass are doing well on topwater baits around brush tops and shad pools. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline with shad and bass minnows. Crappie are slow but should start picking up with this cooler weather. “Come see us, off Highway 9 in Morrilton.”
(updated 1-16-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) reported that no one has been fishing of late. The water level is high. The clarity is dingy to muddy and the water is quite cold. No reports.
(updated 1-16-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water temperature is in the upper 40s and starting to clear up. Largemouth bass are good. With the water temperatures in the upper 40s some bass are being caught in as shallow as 8 feet of water. Some also are being found 25-30 feet off steeper rocky banks or secondary channels. Try using crankbaits, jerkbait and jigs. Kentucky bass are fair. They are mixed in with the other black bass, but most can be found in 20-30 feet of water. Try fishing off drops and rocky banks. White bass are fair. Some whites are being caught near brush piles with the crappie in 20-30 feet of water. Crappie are good. Crappie are still in deeper water. Reports of them being found scattered anywhere from 25-35 feet of water close to deep brush. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are poor, and no reports have come in lately. No reports on catfish.
(updated 1-16-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said customers tell us the crappie have been biting fair around the docks and just outside the grassy areas. They aren’t catching big stringers but a few of them have been nice ones. Pink minnows, No. 6 crappie minnows and Bobby Garland Baby Shad jigs have been working lately, but try your other favorite crappie baits, too. Catfish have been biting minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp fished on the bottom. Move around the banks until you find a couple and set up to fish there for a bit. Remember, the limit is three per person on Sunset Lake. Bass are hitting live minnows and small spinnerbaits around grass and other cover. Bream fishing has been slow but you can catch some on crickets or worms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-16-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie, catfish and yellow bass have been biting well at Lake Charles. No. 6 minnows have been catching them about 3 feet deep around the dock and the grass around the banks. If the bite slows down in those areas, fish a little deeper out in the middle. Bream have been biting crickets and red worms around the grass and at the lower end of the pond by the spillway. No recent reports from Lake Norma (pond by Boone Road). “Some construction in that area MAY have it closed to fishing at this time, but we can’t confirm that,” Lisa said.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-16-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said smallmouth, Kentucky and largemouth bass fishing is good right now. No. 12 minnows and brooder minnows are irresistible to bass on the river right now. Crawdad-colored crankbaits and small spinnerbaits will catch some as well. Walleye have been biting brooder minnows, also. A couple of good stringers came in this week. Catfish are biting minnows and nightcrawlers on the bottom. Crappie have been biting in some big deep holes and in backwaters on No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Grubs. Bream will hit crickets and redworms on small hooks and light line.
As for some other hot spots in the region, Lisa says some of her customers are mentioning Harris Brake Lake. She says this lake does very well on No. 4 or No. 6 crappie minnows, but lately that hasn’t been the case; instead, No. 12 bass minnows have been the key to catch the crappie there. Also, she said, Lake Ouachita is still doing well for catching some nice slab crappie using pink crappie minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows hitting those brushtops.
(updated 1-16-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said No. 6 crappie minnows and pink minnows are catching a few good crappie. Customers tell us they are hard to find but worth the trouble when you do. Catfish are biting fair on nightcrawlers, minnows and bait shrimp. Bass have been biting fair on minnows, spinnerbaits and jigs. Bream are deep on Norrell as usual and like crickets and redworms.
(updated 1-16-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is excellent. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers. Also, bass reports have been fair of late. They’re biting minnows.
(updated 1-16-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been good for some using crappie minnows, Kalin’s Triple Threat jigs in blue and silver and Bobby Garland Baby Shad in blue back shad color. Bass have been hitting minnows, jigs and spinnerbaits. Catfish are biting fair on minnows, nightcrawlers, shad and skipjack. Bream fishing has been slow but some have been caught on jigs while crappie fishing. A cricket or redworm dropped to the bottom of those crappie tops might catch some good bream.
(updated 1-9-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said weather and river flow have kept even the commercial anglers off the river. Few people who are trying to fish have been below the dams. Please remember: 70,000 cfs brings small boat warnings. Catfish are going to deep holes. Use shad-worm combo. Fishing is fair below the dams with the same approach. No reports on black bass. White bass are being caught below the dams; use spoons. Crappie are being caught below the dams in backwater 8-15 feet deep. Use jigs. No reports on bream. For sauger, use speck rigs in chartreuse and yellow.
(updated 1-16-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear, but the level on the Little Maumelle is low with the river running fast. Crappie are excellent. They are deep and some at 8-10 feet, hitting minnows or jigs. The bass bite is good. Again, look for them about 8-10 feet deep with crankbaits, minnows or jigs. Nothing reported on bream, catfish or white bass.
(updated 1-16-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that water is dingy but the level has worked back to normal. Anglers turned in good reports on crappie fishing. Crappie are about 10-12 feet deep and are biting white Road Runners. Fish around the rip-rap. Bass are fair, with Rooster Tails and pearl swimming minnows working best. Catfishing is excellent below Murray Lock and Dam. Catfish in the 2-5-pound range were reported. Use fresh shad for bait. White bass are good below the dam. They’re being caught on white bucktail jigs.
(updated 1-9-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are biting fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or shad. White bass are good with spoons and twister tails.
(updated 1-16-2019) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) advises that anglers stay off the river at all possible. The river has been high of late with a swift current. No reports were heard.
(updated 1-16-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that water is dingy but the level was falling to normal. Anglers turned in good reports on crappie fishing. Crappie are about 10-12 feet deep and are biting white Road Runners. Fish around the rip-rap. Bass are fair, with Rooster Tails and pearl swimming minnows working best. Catfishing is excellent below Murray Lock and Dam. Catfish in the 2-5-pound range were reported. Use fresh shad for bait. White bass are good below the dam. They’re being caught on white bucktail jigs.
(updated 1-9-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is a little muddy, while the level and current are high. No reports on bream or crappie. Bass are biting fair on crankbaits or using worms. Catfish reports are fair behind the Terry Lock and Dam.
(updated 1-9-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are biting fair below the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or shad. White bass are good with spoons and twister tails.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-9-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is a little murky and the water level and current are high. Crappie are good. Use minnows or jigs. Bass are fair on crankbaits and using worms. No reports on catfish or bream.
The lake has closed for the season and will reopen Feb. 2.
(updated 1-16-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The lakes in our White River system are still experiencing a rise from the rains in the past week so Southwestern Power and the Corps of Engineers continue to relieve the lake levels by releases through the dams. Expect high water from Bull Shoals Dam through the trout fishing waters in the Cotter region for a while yet.” They say anglers have the opportunity to cast those big stickbaits now. Get out your No. 9 and No. 11 Rapala Countdowns, gold and black or the rainbow pattern, and the 3-inch and 4-inch Smithwicks; try the blue back, orange bellies first. If you’re fishing from a jon boat, drift a live worm or a bright pink plastic 2-inch worm toward the bank and near the bottom. “All standard high-water techniques that continue to produce good results. Stay warm and stay alert – safety first.”
(updated 1-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had two rain events totaling about a half-inch (at the time of this writing) with more coming, plus cold temperatures to include frost advisories. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 2 feet to rest at 2.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 33.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 feet to rest at 0.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.9 feet to rest at 1.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.3 feet to rest at 2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork also had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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.
John also said, “Last week my wife, Lori, and I guided a couple, Brian and Lee, on the White River. On the second day it was cold with a bit of wind. We had fished the morning and had done well. We were fishing a double-fly rig, a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper. They caught several fish and around noon we broke for lunch. We built a campfire and Lee ate her lunch standing by the fire to warm up a bit.
“Brian had been catching more fish than Lee. She thought that his fishing position in the back of the boat was giving him a bit of an advantage. When we fish from a White River jon boat we drift backward. Therefore the angler in the rear of the boat has their fly drift over the trout first. Logic would say that the angler should catch more trout. If that were true, I would out-fish Lori every time we went out. That is not the way it happens. Sometimes I catch more and sometimes she catches more. What happens is we fish at different distances from the boat without trying to. I like to work close and she prefers to cast further out. Therefore we are both fishing different water. Brian and Lee were doing the same thing. Brian worked closer and Lee cast further out.
“I see it time and again where anglers change their position in the boat with the idea that it will help them. Boat position is not as big a determinate of success as concentration, line control and keen reflexes. Then there is luck. I would rather be lucky than good! I have never seen a position change affect any angler’s level of success.
“While Lee’s position change did not affect her catch rate it did put her in greater peril from my motor as she was now closer to it. During the day I occasionally have to alter my drift due to changing wind conditions, water generation levels or to try more productive water.
“Whenever I move, I warn my clients that I am moving so that they do not slip or fall. I always point out at the beginning of the day and several times throughout it that they should be careful when I am moving, to keep their line out of the motor. This is important to me because they were using my fly rod, reel and line.
“As luck would have it, Lee got her fly line tangled in the propeller. As soon as I heard her call out, I hit the kill switch on my motor to limit the damage. If you are not careful you can destroy a fly line. The fly lines that I use cost about $75. I was in the middle of the river drifting downstream. I did not have a motor to move toward the bank and there were rocks downstream. I dropped my anchor to secure the boat’s position.
“Getting the line out of the propeller is not as easy as it seems. I hit my power tilt and raised my prop out of the water. It was a long stretch for me to reach it from the boat. I was a bit concerned about losing my balance and falling into the water. I put the engine in neutral and began to slowly turn the prop and carefully pull the fly line in (there was so much line in the propeller it was hard to turn). To make it safer for me, I was using my paddle to turn the prop. As I got more of the line out of the prop, it began to turn more easily until I was able to pull the fly line in easily. I examined the fly line and noted no serious cuts, although I did lose a split shot and two flies.
“I pulled my anchor, lowered my motor into the water and motored over to the bank where I rerigged Lee’s fly rod. We were soon on the river fishing. Lee decided to move back to her original position.
“Things happen out there on the river. The best thing to do is remain calm and deal with any adverse situation as quickly as possible so you can return to fishing.”
(updated 1-16-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no reports of any catches. They say the water clarity is clear but the water is high with eight generators running.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Happy New Year to all. I hope the fantastic weather we have been having is allowing you to get out on the lake and do a little fishing. Norfork Lake is one of the best lakes I have had the opportunity to fish and I enjoy it most every day. Even though I have been out of pocket for the last couple of weeks, I am back out on the lake finding and catching fish.” Lou said Monday was his first day out on the lake for 2019 and he spent the day traveling to different parts of the lake, doing a lot of graphing and looking for striped bass with very little fishing. Tuesday was a different story, he said. “I retraced my travels from yesterday to the spots where I found fish. My first area at about 8 a.m. was the Cranfield and Pigeon Creek area. I found bait and fish, but very few takers. I fished this area for about an hour with little luck, then headed to a mid-lake creek that the wind was blowing into. Again I found scattered bait with fish following, and this time they were feeding. The fish were 40-60 feet down. The hybrids and whites were in the 40-50 foot range and the deeper fish were stripers. I was vertical-jigging with a spoon and caught many big whites, a hybrid and 2 striped bass. I was jigging for the suspended fish 60 feet down and a small school of big fish came under me on the bottom at 80 feet, so I dropped my spoon to the bottom. The spoon did not have a chance to hit the bottom as a striper just inhaled the spoon and the fight was on.
“The fish in this area were scattered though out the deeper water so I had to keep moving around until I located them. I finally decided to move to my next location and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of active fish. I was in between the two bridges in 90-100 feet of water. This time I found schools of fish only 20-40 feet down, but lots of them. They would not hit my spoon jigging, but when I dropped it though the fish and reeled up fast though them, they hammered it before the spoon got to the surface. One of the striped bass caught here hit the spoon almost on the surface, then took a straight-down dive to about 60 feet before I could turn its head. It ended up being a nice 14-pound fish. I ended up catching fish all the way up to 2 p.m., when I decided it was time to go home, but the fish were still there.”
Lou says winter time fishing can be a blast. The fish, as you have read, can be at any depth from surface all the way down to the bottom, located in very deep water. Lou said he did have a couple of live baits out part of the time and never got a bite on them, but they liked his spoon. Each place that he fished Tuesday are typical wintertime locations based on prior years’ experience. It does take some time to locate the fish, but when you do, hang on. Lou says he still only uses 8-pound test monofilament line, so he has his drag set a little loose. What is a little different this year, so far, is that the fish and bait typically move into the deep channels, but he is finding them near the channel or on very deep flats, but not in the channel. Nothing to report on other species at this time as he says he’s just getting back into the groove. But wintertime bass and crappie fishing are both typically very good and lots of fun.
Norfork Lake has risen about 3 feet since his last report and currently sits at 556.34 feet msl, which is less than 3 feet over the normal seasonal pool. The main lake is clear. Some coves and back in the creeks are stained. The water temperature Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. was 48 degrees and by the time he headed back to the dock it was slightly over 49 degrees. The lake is in great shape and the fishing is looking to be a lot of fun, Lou says.
(updated 12-19-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake winter striper bite is going strong now. “I went out Tuesday looking for some stripers since I struck out the week before. We headed towards Fouts Boat Dock but were slowed down to a crawl by the heavy fog bank that started at the 62 bridge. We creeped all the way up to Fouts, where I had caught so many winter stripers last year, and looked from there back to Bidwell Point and could not find bait or fish.
“My next move was to look in Float Creek. I have structure scan, so I’m very certain when I see fish they are stripers, compared to 2D sonar that show lots of hooks that look like big fish but when you view them using structure scan you realize your viewing small fish. I finally found some good white lines that I knew were stripers. I threw out two long lines and then set out seven downlines. It didn’t take long and we hooked up with a fat well feed 12-pound striper. We caught a small hybrid, several largemouths, and catfish while I continued to search for stripers. I moved out to deeper water and found small schools of stripers in 60 feet of water on the bottom. When I put the shad I was using for bait on their noses, they would slam the bait. In the first school we caught one and missed one. The next school we hooked up with four all at once and managed to land three. It was a great way to end our trip. The moral of the story is keep looking, use your electronics and have faith once you find fish. Winter fishing is fun and you never know when the bite will come since they will feed all day long.”
Tom says the other good area for stripers right now is above Cranfield toward Steward Point. Lots of whites, hybrids and stripers are being caught using spoons and Kastmasters. 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, anglers using those baits should 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. Tom adds that 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 be not 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 toward 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 they 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 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 1-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 1.3 feet to rest at 2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water last week. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Norfork has fished well. 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 or more. 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 (size 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).
(updated 1-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color and the White River below these streams is high and off-color also. The smallmouths are much less active with the cold conditions. My favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,122.27 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 1-16-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is muddy and the surface water temperature was “cold.” Water level is about 1 foot above normal. They report that things are slow, but there are good ways to catch some fish. Crappie are fair on minnows. Fishing in the river arms will find that water muddy. Bass are good. Anglers report catching nice bass using anything from crankbaits to jigs to a jerkbait down in the lake. Also Alabama rigs are working. Nothing reported on catfish, and no reports on bream.
(updated 1-16-2019) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said the striper activity forecast for the week is fair. Stripers are in their winter locations. They are restless due to the change in lake level and clarity. There are fish to be caught but you’ll have to scrounge for ’em. Cover water and keep all your senses alert to find them. Watch for the color change from turbid to clear and focus your search efforts there. For you diehard live baiters fishing using weighted lines, balloons and downlines between 15-35 feet deep should get you some stripers. For the artificial baits you can try trolling umbrella rigs with white or chartreuse jigs/grubs or plugs like Rapala No. 14 Husky Jerks in black back or purple back colors, or Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in the 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. Downrigging those baits will be effective, also. 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 the lake from generation will generally position fish on upstream or downstream edges of structure. You can get the Army Corps of Engineers app for your phone or check the daily lake level and flow data link on Bailey’s website. Live bait is always the go-to approach on Beaver Lake when fishing for trophy stripers. Water surface temps are in the mid-40s. On the mid and upper sections, check out these hot spots: Point 5 (stripers still found over deep open water and near the tree/bluff lines between points 5 and 6), Rocky Branch, Larue, Coppermine, Highway 12 bridge (check mouth of the river and main lake structures; stripers heading upriver), Prairie Creek (note the areas around the islands and Point 10), Blackburn Creek (stripers being found over deep open water and near the tree/bluff lines from here to Joe Creek; also check in mouth of Joe Creek), Hickory Creek (check channel bends and gravel bars, watch for surfacing fish) and the War Eagle/White River junction (check channel bends and gravel bars).
Walleye are in winter pre-spawn locations and can be found on main lake structures like points and gravel bars. Three-way rigging, downrigging or using snap weights with Rapalas in natural colors for clear water, or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water, are effective, but hang on tight because the walleye and striper territories overlap some and you my hook more than you bargained for. Try Rapala Tail Dancers, Bagley Rumble B’s, Flicker Shad, Bandit 300 Series and Arkie 350s in colors that include orange and chartreuse. Also try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers on long points and humps near the channel rigged in orange/chartreuse.
(updated 1-16-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing “has been good and COLD this past week. We got some much needed rain, which raised the river to an acceptable level.” Trout have been hitting on multiple Power Hairs, fished with light terminal tackle. Quarter-ounce spoons and jigs in various colors have produced some nice fish as well. It seems Houseman Access has been holding some bigger trout this week and is this weeks “hot spot.” We are about two weeks away from the start of the walleye spawn and bass spawn. “I have caught some smallmouth and spotted bass towards Beaver town, but I have not marked walleye or bait as of yet. The bass were caught in about 8 feet of water on various suspended baits. Fishing structure and ledges has been successful for me this week. We have some serious cold air coming down this weekend with negative wind chills, if you get out, bundle up and be safe.”
(updated 1-16-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
(updated 1-16-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) has just reopened this week after a three-week vacation. Nothing to report on any catches. The water level is high and the clarity is clear.
(updated 1-9-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, Wow, temperatures in the fifties. The fish must think it is “spring”. Maybe the fishermen think so too. Bait sales have picked up. We are keeping plenty of minnows in stock. Sorry we don’t have Lake Poinsett back yet and we are looking forward to that day. You may address your questions to “Game & Fish” and they will keep you up to date. Meanwhile, we at Lake Poinsett State Park are keeping bait and lots of fishing supplies in stock for you. Happy fishing!!
(updated 1-16-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that the water is clear and at a normal level. No surface water temperature was available. Crappie were good on minnows and jigs, as well as squirts. They are deep, however, with catches coming at 25 feet. Work the brush piles. Bass are fair, with small spinnerbaits and crankbaits working best. Bass are around the brush. Nothing to report on bream or catfish.
(updated 1-16-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said that plenty of rain lately has the river higher than average flow, 400 cfs at the spring with 350 average flow. Water clarity has been poor over the last week. With the water conditions it’s all about getting the fly down. Lots of mending and upstream casts will get the fly to the fish. Y2Ks, Woollies and big nymphs have been the hot flies. Extra weight may help. Hot pink and bright orange Trout Magnets are the go-to for spin fishers. Once again it’s about getting to the bottom. Run your Trout Magnet float extra high. If you keep hanging up, then you’re too deep… . Follow Mark on his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com/blog for latest reports on river conditions.
(updated 1-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is high and off-color. 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 1-16-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the clarity of the river is muddy and the level is high. No reports of catches from the river, but they report that anglers are catching black bass and stripers on the lake using purple jigs.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-16-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperature is in the upper 40s, while visibility ranges from less than 6 inches to about 12 inches in protected places. Water level is fluctuating quite a bit day to day with the waves of storm runoff coming through. The threadfin shad die-off continues. Black bass are very slow. Best bet for a bite is to use black/blue jigs worked slowly along steeper rock banks close to deep water. White crankbaits and spinnerbaits worked very slowly down the rocks can work, too. Set your expectations low for black bass in this pool this time of year; it’s difficult to get many bites.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 1-16-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-16-2019) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet and while the AGFC completed vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through last 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. This 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 260.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 1-16-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday Millwood Lake continued approaching normal pool with current discharge at the dam following a rise of over 2 feet from all the rain in the region. Army Corps of Engineers gate changes at the dam were releasing around 15,750 cfs on Monday. The lake was about 10 inches above normal conservation pool Monday at 260 feet msl. The tailwater below the dam as of Wednesday is now about 244 feet msl. Water temps were stable over the past week, ranging 42-47 degrees. Be sure and check the guide service’s website, 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 normal, and floating debris is reduced in navigation this week. Clarity and visibility continue improving over the past week. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 7-10 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 6-8 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity ranges 15-25 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
Mike says the bite for bass is very good most days for largemouths during the midday hours in the oxbows, and bass will respond to crankbaits in the oxbows. Good reactions occur using Bomber crankbaits, large bulky Gitzit tubes or Berkley Power Worms. The best locations over the past few weeks have been in the back of the oxbows on points with stumps where tributary creeks and ditches dump in, ranging 8-15 feet deep. Largemouths and continue hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 8-12 feet of depth. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were Bomber Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad, or Pearl White. Rat-L-Traps and SpinTraps in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Liv-N Chrome, Ghost Shad or Transparent are working in the more clear sections in back of the oxbows away from muddy Little River current flows. These are still drawing random reactions in creek channels with any cypress trees, standing timber and stumps. Decent size schools of white bass are still roaming in the oxbows, and nice 2- to 4-pound white bass continue randomly hitting crankbaits in Horseshoe and McGuire oxbow lakes up Little River. These white bass have dropped off into slightly deeper water in the oxbows over the past few weeks and were back randomly hitting Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails, and Rocket Shads. Best color of crankbaits for the white bass seem to be the Tennessee Shad and the Citrus Shad patterns. Crappie continue stacking up vertically, moved deeper and out of Little River’s muddy current, about 20-26 feet deep in standing timber of the oxbows, or on planted brush. They were hitting Southern Pro Scale Head Little Hustler tubes in blue/white, blue/chartreuse and blue/fire tail. Cordell Paddle Tails, smoke-colored grubs and Blakemore Roadrunners in white and chartreuse were getting reactions away from muddy water in the clearer sections of the oxbows on standing timber in 20-25 feet depth. Catfish continue biting well on yo-yos and trotlines in the current of Little River. Chicken livers, hearts and gizzards, punch bait and Catalpa Worms have been working well for the last couple weeks from 12-18 feet deep.
(updated 1-9-2019) 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 546.42 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is just over full pool of 548 feet and has some color throughout the lake because of the recent rains. Water temps have made it the lower to mid-50s. The bass are in their winter 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 crawdad colored Bandit Crankbaits. Cotton Cordell or War Eagle Spoons are still working on flats adjacent to creek channels 20-30 feet deep in the clearer water. The Yumbrella has started working well over deeper brush using the small YUM Pulse swimbaits. Crappie are really good lately. They can be caught in 15-30 foot brush with minnows or Kalin’s Grubs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.17 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) 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 440.36 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 535.58 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-9-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado had no report.
(updated 1-16-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) reports that no one has been fishing of late. The lake level is high and the clarity is cloudy/muddy.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 1-16-2019) 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. Very heavy generation is taking place below Carpenter Dam even though Lake Ouachita has fallen out of the flood pool. Heavy flows will continue until Ouachita falls 2 feet below flood pool, which is 578.10. This process could last another week or more. Anyone navigating the tailrace should use extreme caution. 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 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 baitfish. Trout fishing starts slowly in the winter 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 navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is cautioned to be aware of the generation schedules and always wear a life jacket.
(updated 1-16-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said the river is high and muddy, very swift. The heads of some creeks are beginning to clear, with some clear backwater. Water temperature is 46 degrees, warming to 48 just before sundown. Bass have been hit and miss due to the conditions. Alabama rigs and jerkbaits have been working. Look for the clear water that isn’t running swift. Same with the crappie – on the days that the creeks aren’t running swift they are catchable. Black chartreuse, black/pink, Cajun Cricket and Electric Chicken have been the colors. Stripers have been hit and miss; use swimbaits and A-rigs early. White bass can be caught in the clear pockets of the creek. Spinnerbaits and inline spinners, spoon, and small Rat-L-Traps are working best.
(updated 1-9-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said vertical-jigging spoons at a range of 35-55 feet depth will produce plenty of catches. Water temperature is 50 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
(updated 1-16-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred, Xpress all-welded fishing boat and Veranda Pontoons in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still down about 5 feet from normal levels with 3-foot of clarity throughout. “We are in the wintertime grind, folks.” All bass species are very sluggish right now but there are still decent numbers being taken in the shallows over rip-rap with flat-sided crankbaits in crawfish colors. Most fish are still deeper in 40-60 feet of water in or near the main channels and especially on drop-offs. Use ¾- to 1-ounce jigs in brown, black and blue and grays. Vertical-jigging spoons in white, chartreuse and chrome will work sometimes, also. Just be prepared to grind all day for a few bites, and don’t be shocked when you put some white bass and walleye into the live well. Crappie are still very good on slip corks with minnows or small jigs at about 30-40 feet or brush piles or deeper dock pilings near the channels. Wear those life jackets this time of year even on the gorgeous days; the water temps are below 50 degrees. “Good Luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 353.49 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-16-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said few people are fishing lately. The water is described as muddy/dirty/heavy, and Nimrod’s level is high, about 11-12 feet above normal as of this report. The only catches reported were catfish on trotlines using shad. Reports were fair.
(updated 1-16-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the clarity is muddy and the water is too high to have any anglers out on the lake in their area. No reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.33 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-16-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are still fair. Bama rigs, jigs or spoons fished on main lake points or in creek channels are best at this time. No report on walleye. Stripers are still fair on live bait and Alabama rigs. 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 slow and being caught with jigs or minnows in 20-30 feet of water near brush. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 46-50 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level is 577.62 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 393.78 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-9-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said it seems like the warmer weather has been bringing some brave anglers out to the state park. They have seen a slight rise in crappie activity in the past week or so – folks fishing with redworms at both Bear Creek and Storm Creek have reported higher numbers at both sites. Folks have also started fishing early for bass, but no incredible numbers to report. “We’re loving this sunny weather, and are hoping the rain holds off for a few more days,” she said.
(updated 1-9-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 1-9-2019) 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.
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