Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 23, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 23, 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. 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 1-23-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said fish are biting, but its mainly at night. The water is stained and the level is normal. No surface temperature was reported. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good using minnows and jigs. Fish Gold Creek and other creeks for best success. Bass are good. White spinnerbaits and white crankbaits are the hot baits for now. Bass are prevalent just beyond the shoreline chasing shad. Catfish reports are good, with nightcrawlers and bait dough working best.
(updated 1-23-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said that due to the recent rains, the Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing significant amounts of water daily from 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 1-23-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said he took two anglers from Kansas City on the river Tuesday. “We fished from Lobo downstream staying ahead of the generation, which started at 6 a.m. The bite was fair on clear falling water. The generation caught up to us about 1:45 p.m. below Dripping Springs. They caught all rainbows and had action all day until the water caught us.” He said the river was muddy Wednesday morning below Sulphur Creek. The lake is again on the rise from the rain Tuesday night. The Army Corps of Engineers has informed Greg that they will continue with the 12 hour/two-unit generation until Georgetown (White River) drops below flood stage and then the generation will increase up to full generation 24/7. This will continue until the lake returns to the normal level. The lake is expected to crest at 463.5 feet msl, which is 1.5 feet above normal. “Please be safe if you venture out on the high water. Cold temperatures and high water are a dangerous combination.”
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 462.50 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 1-23-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.31 feet msl. It is 0.27 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and trying to come up even more. “Greers Ferry’s fish population is very healthy and there is plenty of bait present as we go into spring, as a lot of the species are feeding all day – it has been a good catching winter thus far. The long-range weather is supposed to be wet, so we should have plenty of water for the upcoming spawn, which will be great for reproduction overall.”
Tommy says he has a neighbor nicknamed “Dummy” tell him earlier this week that he has been catching lots of catfish using milo for bait in the lake, and using a variety of baits on all three species. Meanwhile, Tommy says, crappie are eating minnows and jigs around any timber on the lake at the right depths, 18-30 feet according to conditions at present. “Fish slow until ya get bit and then slow down some more and/or slow roll a beetle spin horizontal in pole timber,” Tommy says. Walleye are staging for spawn and are in various locations, grouped up eating and moving with conditions. Here today, gone tomorrow. You just have to stay on water to stay with them. Use crankbaits, jigs tipped with minnows and drop-shot rigs. Black bass are scattered from up on the bank out to 60 feet and all in-between. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, hair jigs and bottom jig-rigs are working all over the lake. Pick your poison. A wacky rig is working as well. it just takes patience and more patience. This time of year is good for the float and fly, too. Hybrid and white bass are eating well off and on all day, you just have to stay around the shad as they will be moving and are on the move. Hair jigs are working well as is a spoon, inline spinners and a swimbait. You can catch fish in depths from 25-80 feet of water now. No reports on bream.
(updated 1-23-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water clarity is clear and the lake level is normal. Crappie have been active for a while, and this week they were biting well. Use minnows. Still no reports on bream, bass or catfish.
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 1-23-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) reported that fishing was not very good the past week. The water is clear and the lake is 2 feet high. Surface water temperature has ranged 47-48 degrees. White bass was the only species that had good reports, as they have been found in the shoals. Bream are poor. Crappie are poor, but some are being caught in 10 feet of water. Use minnows, jigs or spider-rig and fish the middle of the lake. Bass reports were poor. Catfish, as well, were poor.
(updated 1-23-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said little has changed on the lake from last week. The water temperature is in the upper 40s and the water clarity is beginning to clear. 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 are also being found 25-30 feet off steeper rocky banks or secondary channels. Try using crankbaits, jerbaits 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. The crappie bite is good, and the 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, no reports this week. No reports on catfish.
(updated 1-23-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting on No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin’s Tennessee Shad grubs. The bite has been slow and customers aren’t reporting any big stringers but a few nice-size ones have come from around the dock. Catfish have been biting fair for some customers fishing with minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp on the bottom. Bass have been hitting minnows, too. Bream have been slow but some have been caught on worms and crickets. Remember that Sunset Lake is an AGFC Family and Community Fishing Program lake, and special limits and regulations apply. Pick up an AGFC Fishing Guide Book and know the regulations before you go.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-23-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting pretty well on No. 6 minnows fished from 2½-5 feet under a small float. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows and worms fished on bottom. Bass are hitting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. Bream are biting slow but will bite crickets or redworms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-23-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the rain has kept the river level kind of crazy lately. Up, then down, then up again. It can rise fast and catch you off guard, so watch out and be safe. If you catch it right you can catch some fish. Smallmouth, largemouth and Kentucky bass fishing is great with No. 12 or brooder minnows, small crankbaits or spinnerbaits and small plastic worms or lizards. Remember the smallmouth limit on the Saline is only two and they must be 12 inches or longer. Walleye fishing has been good for some as well. Brooder minnows seem to be the best bait but some are doing well with crankbaits and stickbaits. Crappie have been biting well for customers on No. 6 minnows. They’re catching them 5-8 feet deep in the deeper holes right next to the channel and current. Customers are catching catfish on minnows while fishing for bass and walleye. No recent reports of customers bream fishing but you can almost always catch small bream on crickets and redworms and you’ll get a big one or two from time to time. Have fun with them all, no matter how big or small. Wherever you go, whatever you’re fishing for, keep yourself and others safe and keep our great outdoors clean.
(updated 1-23-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said one customer has been catching a few catfish on minnows and nightcrawlers around his dock. Bass fishing has been slow according to the few reports we’ve had. Only a few dinks on minnows is what we hear. Crappie are few but those who find them catch a couple of good ones. No. 6 and pink minnows seem to work best for them. Somewhere up the creek is as close as I can get them to tell. Bream fishing has been slow but not many people are fishing for them right now. Drop a cricket or redworm around some deep structure and you might find a few good ones. Norrell has some dandy bream.
(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 1-23-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are biting minnows fished from 8-12 feet deep. Customers tell Lisa that any minnows will catch them but the bigger ones are hitting the No. 12s. Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Scent Wigglers are working, too. Blue Ice, Ghost and Live Minnow are the colors that have been working this week. Bass have been being caught with the same baits while fishing for crappie. Catfish are biting minnows, cut shad and nightcrawlers. A couple of customers reported catching some walleye on Winona lately with No. 12 minnows and crank baits. No reports of bream being caught recently.
(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 1-23-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is stained, and the level has returned to normal. The crappie bite fell off slightly from last week’s excellent, rating good. Crappie can be found in 6 feet depth and are biting minnows or jigs. Bass are fair. Use crankbaits or jigs. Redear bream are biting well, Ray says. Nothing reported on catfish or on white bass.
(updated 1-23-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that the river is muddy and is at a high level and swift current. Crappie are reported good, though, in 6-8 feet depth. Use white/chartreuse jigs. Catfish are good on skipjack. Nothing reported on bass, and no reports with bream.
(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 1-23-2019) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says that the river flow is back up to 86,000 cfs, making fishing tough. The river clarity is muddy and the level is high. Anglers have caught a few crappie, but not many. The best success has been in 10 feet depth using black/blue and chartreuse jigs and a polished Rap. Fish close to the jetties. Bass reports were poor. Nothing reported on bream or catfish.
(updated 1-23-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that not much is happening in the way of fishing on the river. The clarity is muddy and the river has been high. The flow remains strong, as it has for the past couple of weeks. No reports in the Little Rock pool, but below Terry Lock and Dam, catfish are good on skipjack.
(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 1-23-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “High water. Southwestern Power and the Corps of Engineers are continuing to issue maximum water through Bull Shoals Dam and the lake levels are nearing power pool numbers. That means outrageous fish growth for the upcoming spring fishing season. While it’s been a little tough to lure the trout to the boat or shore, we’re still hearing nice daily reports of successful catches. The spawning season is drawing to an end and everybody (trout, that is) will be moving back to home base and looking for an interesting bite. For now, with the high water, throw your big, shiny stickbaits: Smithwick white bellies, blue backs (yellow eyes will work better) or the Rapala CD9 rainbow trout. As always, shrimp and scented baits (white, orange, yellow or a combination) will trick the rainbows into biting. Catch a not-too-cold winter day to come over to the White; we’ll see you at the river.”
(updated 1-23-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had two rain events (combined for an inch and a half inch here in Cotter) and cold temperatures (to include frost advisories. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose two tenths of a foot to rest at two and six tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is thirty three and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose two tenths of a foot to rest at a foot above seasonal power pool and fifteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell four tenths of foot to rest at nine tenths of a foot above seasonal power pool and eight and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one foot to rest at one foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty five and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork we had a little wadable water. 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 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 The Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (8, 10), Y2Ks (14, 12), prince nymphs (14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead 16, 18), pheasant tails (14), ruby midges (18), root beer midges (18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (10), and sowbugs (16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm (10) with a Y2K (12) suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down.
John also said about the recent high water conditions: “The past few weeks have been pretty wet. It seems like it is always overcast and raining. In addition it has been cold and windy. As a result of the wet conditions the lakes have risen and are all over power pool and solidly in power pool. The Corps of Engineers is doing what it does and is aggressively running water to draw down the lakes to power pool. The low wadable water we enjoyed most of last year is gone. With the lake levels as they are, we will have high water conditions for quite a while. Currently they are running about 18,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) or the equivalent of five and one half full generators at Bull Shoals Dam on the White River. On the Norfork they are running about 6,100 CFS or the equivalent of one and two thirds full generators. This is way too much water to attempt wading. It is definitely time to launch the river boat. If you want to wade I would suggest the Spring River. It is not subject to generation and a great alternative when they are generating on the White and Norfork Rivers. Luckily the crown jewel of trout streams in Arkansas, Dry Run Creek, is unaffected by generation.
“Fishing in water this deep and fast is challenging. The most effective technique for numbers of fish is to nymph. The trick is to get your fly to the bottom. You need to set your strike indicator so that your fly is ticking the bottom. On minimum flow I set my indicator at four and a half feet. For every additional generator, I add a foot of depth. Therefore for this amount I would set the depth at about ten feet. This is a rule of thumb place to start. If I were to hang up a lot I would reduce the depth. If I was not getting any bites I would set it deeper. You will have to play around with the depth until you find one that is productive.
“You should use plenty of lead to get the fly down. I would use a couple of AAA split shots that weigh around eight tenths of a gram each. Once again this is my rule of thumb. I will add or reduce the weight based of success. If I am hanging up a lot I will reduce the weight. If I am not having success, I will increase it.
“Fly selection is always a personal thing. For this kind of water I usually opt for an egg pattern below a San Juan worm. This is known among the fly fishing guides as spaghetti and meatballs and is the rig of choice for high water. I like to use a cerise or hot fluorescent pink San Juan worm because they show up better at that depth. For my dropper, I like to use a Y2K or an egg tied on a jig hook, as they sink better than an unweighted egg.
“How do you cast this mess? A long leader, strike indicator, heavy weight and two flies is an invitation to disaster. I try to keep my rod arm high when casting this rig in order to keep everything away from my head. If you hit your head with this heavy rig, it will hurt. Make sure that you do not rush your back cast. Give that cast plenty of time to straighten out behind you. Otherwise you will cast a tailing loop and tangle your rig. Don’t let high water keep you from fishing. The fish are still there.”
(updated 1-23-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is a little cloud and the water is matching the air temperature: cold. The river level is high with 8 units running for a week, leading to fast water. They did have people fishing for 3 days. Trout are biting well. Anglers are using minnows or plastic worms. Fishing, they report, has been good. Several browns and a “ton” of rainbows were caught. Overall for the past week, there hasn’t been a lot of fishing, but the ones who were say they were happy with the results.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 555.16 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 1-23-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 1-23-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell one foot to rest at one foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty five and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork we had a little wadable water. 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 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 things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (#18, #20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (#14, #16) like the green butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small Y2K suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise #10). The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing much better. The hot flies have been sowbugs (14), Y2Ks (12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise 10). It is cold out there be sure and bundle the kids up. Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
(updated 1-23-2019) 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. 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 1,122.49 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 1-23-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake’s clarity is stained and the level early this week remains a little high. Crappie are good. They’re being found in 8-12 feet depth of water and are biting crankbaits and plastics. Bass are fair, with anglers having best success with Alabama rigs and jerkbaits. Catfish are poor. Bream are poor.
(updated 1-23-2019) 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 them. 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. Beaver Lake stripers are using stained, warmer, shallow water to hunt for food, so don’t ignore the skinny water. Water 4-feet in depth or less could be very productive. 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 1-23-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing between the fronts has been quite fun this past week. The Army Corps of Engineers has been generating, starting about 7a.m. this week. As water levels have pretty much returned to normal, fishing from a boat is ideal with the flowing water. The bite has been great! Trout have been the most active with quarter-ounce jigs in various colors. They have also hit PowerBaits fished under light terminal tackle. This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. “I made a trip up towards Beaver to check on the walleye situation, nothing to report this week. We are getting very close to the spawn, for both walleye and bass. I did not fish for bass this week; however, I would assume the same methods apply, as written in last week’s report. If you get out, bundle up and have fun!”Lake Fayetteville
(updated 1-23-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) has reopened after its holiday break, and the level is normal with the clarity being “a little dingy,” they report. Surface water temperature is 43 degrees. Anglers aren’t really catching many if any fish, they report, but they are seeing them on the graph. Crappie reports are poor. Anglers are using minnows, jigs and are spider-rigging. Again, the fish are showing up on their graphs. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
(updated 1-23-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475), which was closed for a 3-week holiday, reopened last week, but the fishing wasn’t up to typical lake standards. Only catfish came through with good reports. Catfish are biting chicken livers or minnows. Bream, crappie and bass are were poor with few if any reports. The lake level is normal, and the clarity is clear.
(updated 1-23-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “Oh, I thought we would skip ‘winter’ this year. But, it is not too cold for some. They are still buying the minnows and some are buying the nightcrawlers. They don’t tell us where they are going to catch their fish, but they cannot fish here at Lake Poinsett because the AGFC still has a lot to do in the rebuild before they start allowing the lake to fill again. We are patiently waiting. We do have live bait and a large variety of fishing supplies for your convenience.”
(updated 1-23-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that the water is clear and at a normal level. The conditions on the lake have been cold and windy. Therefore, no one has braved the elements to fish, they say. Nothing reported.
(updated 1-23-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been running at 415 cfs and water clarity has been murky. Lots of rain lately has the river up. The trout have been hitting Y2Ks, olive Woollies and White Lightning. Big fish was caught last week on a Red Tail Black Woolly Worm. Got to get it down. On spinning equipment it’s hard to beat a fluorescent orange Trout Magnet. Fish it deep.
(updated 1-23-2019) 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 1-23-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-23-2019) 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 260.42 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 1-23-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday Millwood Lake continues falling back to normal pool with current discharge at the Millwood Dam, from a recent rise over 2 feet from all the rain the region. The Army Corps of Engineers gate changes at the dam were releasing around 15,800 cfs Monday. Millwood Lake was about 10 inches above normal conservation pool on Monday at 260.03 feet msl. The tailwater below the dam as of Wednesday is now about 243.8 feet msl, with USACE gates release at the dam. Water temps were stable over the past week, ranging 44-48 degrees on Monday. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Watch for sudden gate changes and debris, which will increase with current in Little River. Clarity and visibility continue improving over the past week, and navigation is considered cautious along Little River with the current discharge. 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 currently ranging 15-25 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
The bite is good most days for largemouths. Bass will respond to crankbaits in the oxbows during the midday hours. Bomber crankbaits, large bulky Gitzit tubes or Berkley Power Worms are getting good responses. The best locations recently have been in the back of the oxbows on points where tributary creeks and ditches dump in, ranging 8-15 feet deep with stumps. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were Bomber Fat Free Shads in Citrus Shad, Threadfin Shad or Pearl White. Rat-L-Traps and SpinTraps in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, Liv-N Chrome, Ghost Shad or Transparent continue working near mid-day warmer periods 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. Bulky, fat tube jigs like Gitzits, Brush Hogs, 10- to 12-inch bulky Power Worms, and Real Deal Custom Tackle Jigs continue taking a few chunky largemouths in the creek channels from 10-15 feet deep on stumps, and on secondary points with stumps, from 6-10 feet deep. Blackberry, Pumpkinseed, June Bug Red or Red Shad and Blue Fleck colors continue to be good colors for soft plastic brush hogs or 10-inch Power Worms from solitary bass not chasing shad. A slow-moving Real Deal Custom Tackle jig in Habenero, Pumpkin/Chartreuse or Texas Craw with black craw trailer will get a good reaction near stumps in 8-9 feet of depth in creek channel outside swings. Slow-rolling, heavy 3/4-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Hot Mouse colors continue getting good reactions in the oxbows fished slow from 7-10 feet of depth. If the water clarity is heavier stained, the best bet is switching over to a FireTiger color.
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 over the past few weeks in the oxbows, and were back randomly hitting Fat Free Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hammered Spoons with red/white bucktails, and Rocket Shads. Best color for crankbaits seems to be the Tennessee Shad and the Citrus Shad patterns. Crappie were beginning to stack up vertically over planted brush piles and standing timber in the oxbows, but have scattered over the past week or so with all the recent muddy runoff from rain, high wind, thunderstorms, and river current from gate changes at the dam. Catfish continue biting well on yo-yos and trot ines in the current of Little River. Punch bait, chicken livers and gizzards, and catalpa worms have been working for the last couple weeks from 12-21 feet deep.
(updated 1-23-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) reported that it has received no reports on catches.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 545.99 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 406.82 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-23-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said fishing is pretty much how it’s been the past few weeks: vertical-jigging spoons 35-55 feet deep is producing ample fish. Water temperature is 49 degrees. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points. Be smart, be safe on the cold water, he adds.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 438.01 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 531.30 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-23-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado said the river is still 12 feet high and fishing is slow. A few bass are being caught in the current.
(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 Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 1-23-2019) 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 1-23-2019) 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 49 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 344.97 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-23-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is level is beginning to get closer to normal, and anglers are able to get to their normal areas with the drop in water level. The clarity is clear. On Tuesday the level was at 346 feet, a little high. Crappie are good and are biting minnows and green/black/chartreuse jigs. No reports on bream, bass or catfish.
(updated 1-23-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said few anglers are fishing much. The lake clarity in their area remains muddy, and the water is still 2-3 feet or so above normal level.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 575.79 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-23-2019) 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 reports 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. Surface water temperature ranges 46-50 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level is 575.67 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 388.10 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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