Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 30, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 30, 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 1-30-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake clarity is stained and the level is normal. Bream are fair on redworms and creeks. They’re being caught at night in Gold Creek and at Caney Creek. Crappie reports have been good on minnows or jigs. Bass are good; use a white spinnerbait or a white crankbait. Catfishing is good on nightcrawlers or with dough bait.
(updated 1-30-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said current generation pattern is around 12 hours each day. This pattern provides opportunities to fish the middle and lower sections of the Little Red River during the morning. 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 1-30-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear with the 12 hour/two-unit generation schedule. The majority of the time, this has been from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. The Corps of Engineers says that this will probably be the schedule through the weekend or until the lake is back to the normal 462.04 feet msl level. Drift-fishing has been fair to good ahead of the rise each morning. Large nymphs, sowbugs, midge pupa and egg patterns have been good selections. From mid-river down, the water never quite gets to the low water stage before the new generation arrives, so there is very little opportunity for wade fishing.
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 501-690-9166 to register for the class. Greg says if he’s unable to answer then, he will return voicemails or texts.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 463.21 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 1-30-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry lake is at 463.21 feet msl and falling with generation. At midweek it is 1.17 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl, and with the forecast will be a very wet spring. The hybrids and white bass catching is still good, but we could be on the verge of a shad kill, looking at water temps. Try spoons, hairjigs, inline spinners and swimbaits in 25-80 feet of water, on little humps around baitfish. Black bass are eating at the same depth (25-80 feet) on a variety of baits. Bream have provided no catches. “Dummy,” who I mentioned last week, is still reporting he is catching all three species of catfish. Crappie are still going strong vertical on jigs and jigs with minnows, in again 25-40 feet of water around timber. Also use a Roadrunner. Walleye are staging up at various places and moving every day or so back and forth; try a jig tipped with minnow or use crankbaits.
(updated 1-30-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said the water clarity is clear and the lake level is a foot above normal. Surface water temperature is 46 degrees. Crappie continue to be good for anglers, with minnows working best. Striped bass and largemouth bass both are good. There is a good bite early in the morning and late in the evening. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are working best. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup 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 Overcup for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 1-30-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 1-30-2019) Angler Bennie Goodman reported very little fish activity. Best success is going to come using sonar to find them. Few crappie caught.
(updated 1-30-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said it’s too cold to fish, but a few anglers have given it a try. Crappie are good. They are 20-25 feet on the bottom, and best success is coming under the bridge on the north end of the lake. Use jigs. Bream reports were poor, as were the reports on bass and on catfish. White bass, though, are good. They are on the bottom with the crappie. Lake level is 1.5 feet high with most clear clarity, though there are some dingy spots. Surface water temperature is 47 degrees.
(updated 1-30-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland The water temperature is in the mid-40s. Largemouth bass are fair. With water temperatures in the mid-40s the shallow bite has slowed down. They are moving into deeper water where most can be found 25-30 feet off steeper rocky banks or channels. Try using crankbaits, jerkbaits 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 good. Some whites are being caught near brush piles stacked on 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, no reports. Catfish are poor, too, no reports coming in.
(updated 1-30-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a couple of customers are still catching a few decent crappie around the dock. They tell us that No. 6 crappie minnows fished under a small float with plenty of time and patience is what it takes, and don’t expect a big stringer-full then. Bass have been hitting No. 6 and No. 12 minnows, as well as spinner baits and some jigs around the lake. Fish around grassy or any structure in the lake. For catfish try minnows, nightcrawlers, bait shrimp or stink bait on or near the bottom. Bream are slow right now but try redworms or crickets around the docks, grassy areas and other cover and you’ll like find a few.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 1-30-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie and bass have been biting fairly well at Lake Charles on No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. Catfish are biting minnows, nightcrawlers, bait shrimp and cut shad on bottom. Bream have been hitting redworms fished on bottom.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 1-30-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that only a few reports came in this week because the water was a little high and muddy. Bass and walleye seem to be the main targets lately, and brooder minnows seem to be the bait of choice. Crappie have been biting in deep holes and backwaters when the water isn’t too stained. No. 6 minnows and pink minnows or one of your favorite crappie jigs will get some decent eaters and a better one now and then. Catfish will bite brooders or No. 12 minnows fished on bottom. Bream will bite redworms or crickets on small hooks and light line. Fish around logs, rocks or brush in the water that get plenty of sun during the day.
(updated 1-30-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been slow and few, but customers that know where they are can catch couple of good ones with No. 6 crappie minnows or No. 12 bass minnows. Bass fishing has been slow. Some have been caught recently on minnows and jigs fished around docks. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows and bait shrimp on bottom near the channel. No recent reports on the bream fishing but a redworm or cricket fished around deep logs or on bottom next to walls or docks will probably produce a few.
(updated 1-30-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers. Valencia has been stocked by the AGFC with trout, and they are biting PowerBait.
(updated 1-30-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says crappie are fair, with the crappie being caught in the channel of the lake on pink/chartreuse jigs and on minnows. Largemouth bass are fair on the pier by the church. Best success will come using crankbaits or deep-diving jerkbaits. No other reports.
(updated 1-30-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been good for some customers using No. 12 minnows, Kalin’s Triple Threat 2-inch grubs in Bleeding Tennessee Shad and blue and silver colors. Bass fishing has been fair. Some are being caught on minnows while crappie fishing. Spinnerbaits, jigs and crankbaits have been catching a few, too. Catfish are biting minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bream are biting slow on redworms and crickets fished on bottom around deep structure.
(updated 1-30-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
(updated 1-30-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water clarity remains stained, and the level is normal. The crappie bite continues to be good, with minnows and jigs working. Bass are fair on jigs or minnows. Bream are being caught on the bottom using worms; reports are fair. White bass reports were good this week. Catfishing is poor.
(updated 1-30-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfishing is fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or cut shad. White bass are good with white twister tails and spoons.
(updated 1-30-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that the pool is dingy and there were no reports. Cold weather and high flows are keeping anglers off the river.
(updated 1-30-2019) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) is advising anglers and boaters to stay off the river, as the flow earlier this week was 92,000 cfs. Water level and current are high. The clarity is cloudy. Of course, the water is cold these days. Vince had no reports from anglers.
(updated 1-30-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said that not much is happening on the river with the cold weather. The clarity is muddy and the river level and current are high these days. “There is a lot of current,” Tony says. No reports.
(updated 1-30-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports.
(updated 1-30-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfishing is fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or cut shad. White bass are good with white twister tails and spoons.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-30-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no report.
The lake will reopen for business Saturday, Feb. 2.
(updated 1-30-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is fair, and with all the generation it’s being stirred up. The level is high, as eight generators are running around the clock providing fast water. Few anglers have been fishing. No reports.
(updated 1-30-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The cold got you down? The flu season claimed you as a victim? Coughs and sniffles keeping you at home? Cheer up, springtime is closer today than it was yesterday, warmer weather is on the way. The trout are getting feisty and looking for some interesting nibbles.” Bull Shoals Lake level has almost reached the desired power pool elevation and generation flows should decrease shortly. Even with high water running on the White River, the trout catch has been plentiful. The fly guides are using weighted line and more tricks to keep the flies lower in the water, Woolly Buggers and streamers attract positive attention in fast water. Nightcrawlers and redworms are standard diet when lots of water is being issued, so pack those in the bait bag. Don’t wait too long to find your way to the river. The bite is strong right now.
(updated 1-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had rain and snow (combined for an inch and a quarter here in Cotter), cold temperatures and heavy wind (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.9 foot to rest at 1.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 34.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.9 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1 foot above seasonal power pool and 8.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no 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 anglers will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the state park below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 10 cerise San Juan worm with a sizer 12 Y2K suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down.
John also wants readers to know about the annual banquet held by the local Trout Unlimited chapter: “As I have always said, the premier social event in the fly-fishing calendar is the annual banquet put on by the Trout Unlimited White River Chapter No. 698. This is the annual fundraiser of our local TU chapter. It takes a lot of money to do all of the good works that this organization does.
“They are an active conservation organization that is responsible for the introduction of Bonneville cutthroat trout to the White and Norfork rivers. This is a great idea to add a sustainable cutthroat species to our rivers. I have caught them up to 22 inches in length and I think their introduction has been a benefit to fishing in the area. The chapter has also sponsored several cleanups of accesses in the area (Rim Shoals and Wildcat Shoals).
“A lot of their emphasis is on educating the future conversationalists in our area. They sponsor a summer youth camp that is a big hit. In addition, they sponsor Trout in the Classroom to introduce students to the natural world of trout. This past year they organized a women‘s program, Leaders, Lines and Lipstick. My wife, Lori, was involved in teaching casting.
“Future programs include a veterans program (this one particularly appeals to me as a veteran), improvement of the access at Rim Shoals, partnering with other organizations to improve access at Roundhouse Shoals and a new educational program for residents with riverfront property.
“The annual banquet will be held on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Elks Club in Mountain Home. The banquet will start at 6 p.m. and run till 10 p.m. Remember that space is limited. Tickets are $35, or $50 per couple, until Jan. 30 when they will increase to $45 per person and $60 per couple. Or, if you prefer, you can sponsor a table for $500, which will seat eight and includes drinks and souvenirs. Tickets are available at http://www.whiterivertu.com or at Dally’s Fly Shop in Cotter. The White River Chapter of Trout Unlimited No. 698 is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.
“While I support their mission and all of the fine work they do, the main reason that I want to attend is that it is so much fun. First, there is always a good crowd. At the time of this writing all of the sponsor tables were sold and there were only 40 general admission tickets left. If you want to attend, do not wait till the last minute to buy yours. Everybody who is anybody in trout fishing will be there.
“Then there is an open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres (shrimp, Swedish meat balls, sausage, cheese, fruit, desserts, etc.). It is served buffet style so there is time to chat with your friends.
“There are silent auctions, a live auction and games. More importantly there is music. This is my favorite place to dance, and Lori and I always spend quite a bit of time on the dance floor. I have attended every banquet that TU has held here. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend this one due to a schedule conflict. It is my greatest regret.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.91 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 554.89 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 1-30-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 1-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no 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 anglers 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. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small Y2K suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing well. 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). 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 1-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and a bit high. 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 1,121.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said fishing has been slow the last few days. The clarity is clear and the water is cold. The level is normal. Crappie reports have been good, though. Anglers are having good success along the channel edges and in the river arms using minnows or jigs. Bass are fair, but you have to fish deep to find them. Work the creek arms, also. CC Spoons, Alabama rigs, jigs and jerkbaits are being used. Walleye reports are coming in, they note. Walleye are in the river arms and hitting deep-diving crankbaits and Flicker Shad. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor.
(updated 1-30-2019) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said the striper activity forecast remains fair. Beaver Lake Striper are in the creek arms with some of them in the often overlooked skinny water. So, make sure you look in the warm shallows as this where a large portion of bait will be hiding. Travel as far up the arms and coves as possible. Be very stealthy and quiet to avoid spooking these shallow fish. Some stripers are using gravel bars, points, humps, treetops and cuts in the bank to corner bait. Fishing freelines and lightly weighted downlines will definitely get you some fish. Beaver Lake striper fishing will be good with striper taken on live bait fished on freelines and downlines from the surface down to about 20 feet deep. Also try trolling small umbrella rigs with white grubs or chartreuse for stained water, plugs like Rapala No. 14 Husky Jerks in black back or purple back colors, and the 5-6-inch model of Smithwick Rogues in similar colors on plane boards with snap weights to get some depth and stagger your presentation. Jerk baits like Flukes, swimbaits and jigs will also produce. Topwaters like 7-inch CC Redfins, Zara Spooks, Pencil Poppers, etc., will work. Have them tied on and ready. 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 low 40s. On the mid and upper sections, check out these hot spots and focus on 5-35 feet of water as the stripers are making their way up creek arms: Indian Creek and Lost Bridge North (Check main lake structures and secondary points in the area for stripers; check past the marina near the power lines), Rocky Branch (the back of Larue Cove in 5-35 feet of water and the smaller islands in front of the cove are producing stripers), Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, the Highway 12 bridge, Prairie Creek, Coose Hollow, Blackburn Creek, Beaver Shores, Mont Ne, Hickory Creek, War Eagle, War Eagle/White River junction (Point 12). In Hickory Creek, War Eagle and the rivers’ junction, check 5-15 feet of water.
Walleye are making their way out of the main lake in numbers but can be found scattered around the lake and are on the feed. Walleye can be found from 10-30 feet deep depending on where you fish. 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. Bink Pro Scale 1-ounce jigging spoons in white or white/chartreuse combo and a variety of jigs are also producing walleye.
(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!”
(updated 1-30-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake level is normal with the clarity stained. Surface water temperature is 43 degrees. Fishing is slow and they had no reports.
(updated 1-30-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the lake conditions are clear and normal level. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie are good; try blue and white jigs. Catfishing is good with small pieces of chicken liver. Bass are biting poorly. Bream reports were poor.
(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 1-30-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that with a fair rise in the temperatures late last week, they saw a lot of anglers over the weekend, but “none were talking much” about their catches. The clarity is clear and the water level is normal. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Bass are fair, with spinnerbaits and crankbaits working best. Catfishing is poor. Bream reports were poor.
(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 1-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is over. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 1-30-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the clarity of the river is clearing up, but the water and current are high. The level is up 12-12.5 feet above normal. No one is out on the river, they say.
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 1-30-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 1-30-2019) 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 1-30-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday the lake continues falling back to normal pool with current discharge at the Millwood Dam. The Army Corps of Engineers was releasing around 10,000 cfs at the dam on Monday, and Millwood lake is about 12 inches above normal conservation pool at 260.2 feet msl. The tailwater below the dam dropped slightly, and as of last week was is about 236.5 feet msl. Water temps were stable over the past week, with Monday’s temps ranging 40-48 degrees. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the 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 on the lake is normal, and floating debris is reduced in navigation this week. Clarity and visibility worsened to muddy condition over the past week, and navigation is considered cautious along Little River with the current discharge around 10,000 cfs. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 5-6 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 3-4 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity currently ranges 10-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
While Millwood continues dropping back to normal level, the clarity and visibility conditions went from fair to muddy along Little River due to recent heavy wind, rain and thunderstorms. The bite for largemouth bass dropped off from good to fair most days, and now is somewhat better during the midday hours in the oxbows. Bass are randomly responding to crankbaits in the oxbows. Good reactions are coming from 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 where water conditions and clarity are best, like back of McGuire and Horseshoe oxbows. Best bite during the warmest parts of the day were in 10 to 15 feet deep drops, with stumps and remaining vegetation. Largemouths have been responding to crankbaits; heavy, ¾-ounce slow-rolled War Eagle Spinnerbaits; and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 10-15 feet of depth. Decent-size schools of white bass are still roaming in the oxbows, and nice 2-4 pounders 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 crankbaits seem 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 a couple weeks ago, 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 resulting in the muddy flows along Little River. Catfish continue biting well on trotlines set in the current of Little River set from 12-18 feet deep. Yo-yos set from cypress trees over 8-12 feet deep in back of Mud Lake were catching some nice 3- to 5-pound cats. Punch bait, chicken livers and gizzards, catalpa worms have been working for the few weeks on the yo-yos.
(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 545.17 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.27 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) 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 437.66 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 528.26 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 has been slow. A few bass are being caught in the current.
(Updated 1-30-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says no one is fishing. The lake level remains 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 1-30-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catcher All Guide Service, reports that Entergy is currently running a minimum flow pattern below Carpenter Dam. Fast flows and dangerous currents had been the norm for weeks as Lake Ouachita stayed in the flood pool for most of January. Fisherman can now safely access areas that hold good numbers of rainbow trout as the stocking schedule is in full swing. Bank fisherman are recording limits of trout using corn floated just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Waxworms or mealworms are also working well presented in the same manner. Spin fishermen casting Super Dupers in silver or gold colors have perfectly matched the injured threadfin shad that are drawn through the turbines in times of generation. Shad are a main prey for trout and other area gamefish below the dam. Little Cleo’s and small jigs are also very effective in current situations from the bank or boat. Fly-fishermen are taking advantage of the 5-foot drawdown and are wading to areas that hold big schools of fish. Woolly Buggers in black or green and San Juan worms in hot pink cast with a strike indicator have been deadly for those anglers who chose to brave the freezing temperatures of the last several days. Overall, rainbow trout fishing has improved dramatically in the last week as stable conditions have returned to the Carpenter Dam tailrace. Fishing will only become better as the month of February brings another 12,000 rainbow trout into the area. As January comes to an end, the walleye spawn looms on the horizon. Smaller males will begin to show up in early February to prepare the beds for the much larger females. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current below the bridge is an excellent way to target these fish that guard their beds aggressively. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or night crawlers work better in slack water conditions. The spawn will start below the bridge and bedding fish can be found all the way to the dam by late February. White bass fishing has been very slow with no reported catches. Striper activity has also been slow. These fish are often found together in the tailrace as both species feed on shad schools and injured baitfish. Rainbow trout are king below the dam as huge numbers are stocked this time of year and this influx of trout gives fishermen the chance to catch a beautiful fish and provide their families with a tasty and healthy table fare. Anyone navigating Lake Catherine is urged to be aware of the generation schedules and always use caution and wear a life jacket when on the water.
(updated 1-30-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 46 degrees. The river is muddy. Creeks are starting to clear. All species have been slow due to the high and dirty water conditions. But as the creeks start to clear there will be opportunity. Jerkbaits, and Alabama rigs will play a role in catching you some largemouth bass. A jig and Bamboozie will also play a role; make sure the jig is small, and shorten up the Bamboozie and dragged it very slow on bottom without picking it up. The bite is really light and you should be ready for it. The striped bass have also been good on jerkbaits and Alabama rigs. The best bite has been early. A single swimbait will work, also. White bass have been with the stripers. Jerkbaits and spoons will catch you some good white bass. Crappie have been hit-and-miss due to the current in the creeks. The clarity is getting good with the current, it’s been just a tad bit swift to keep the jig where the crappie are. Chartreuse, black/chartreuse, Bobby Garland Monkey Milk and Cajun Cricket have been working well if you can keep the jig in front of the fish.
(updated 1-30-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still down around 5 feet and stained water. Hamilton is in annual winter drawdown of 5 feet until March 1. Water temperatures are hanging around the 45-degree mark throughout. It’s January and already the fishing pressure is up. Many anglers are braving the cold and windy conditions and having some success fishing for cold water bass. Bass have drawn deep for the most part in rocky areas between 25-55 feet. If you can find the baitfish balls, the bass and walleye are usually just below, looking for easy meals like dying baitfish. Vertical approaches will work best. Drop-shot rigs with very heavy weights will work best fished just off the bottom. Fish are lethargic so don’t give it too much action once it’s down there. Vertical-jigging white or chrome spoons will also produce fished in the same manor. On Hamilton there is always the possibility to catch shallow but smaller bass, up shallow on the rock transitions, using a flat-sided crankbait or a suspending jerkbait. Crawfish colors or shad colors work best. Crappie are still good in 25-45 feet depth over brush piles near the main channels. Minnows and slowly fished jigs in shad color patterns work best. “Wear your life jackets at all times, folks. Hypothermia is quick! Good luck and go Greeson!”
(updated 1-30-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said the pattern has been the same for several weeks here. Vertical-jigging spoons at a range of 35-55 feet depth will produce plenty of catches. Work deeper channels and the deep end of points.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.81 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the water is level is now low with muddy-dingy clarity. Crappie fishing is reported good, however. They are being caught shallow on black/chartreuse jigs, only 8-10 inches below the surface. Also use minnows. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits. Catfishing is poor. Bream reports are poor.
(updated 1-30-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the action was slow and they said they had no anglers. No reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 576.23 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are fair. Alabama rigs, jigs or spoons fished on main lake points or in creek channels are best at this time. No report on walleye. Stripers are fair on live bait and Bama 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. Lake conditions this week show a clearing water with surface temperature ranging 46-50 degrees. Lake level is 576.25 feet msl. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.88 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-30-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said crappie are starting to bite in state park area, with a good bite the previous weekend and the past Saturday when the weather was nice. Anglers seem to be having some luck with jigs or worms. Bass were trying to fire up this weekend, but the cold sent them back into hiding. Natalie says the lake has a few fishing tournaments coming up in the next few weeks “so we will see how they fare.”
(updated 1-30-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 1-30-2019) Cook’s Lake will reopen for fishing the first weekend in March.
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