Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Feb. 13, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Feb. 13, 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 2-13-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said on Monday that the lake was murky and the level was high. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Bass are good on topwater lures and on minnows. Nothing heard on crappie fishing. No surface temperature was provided.
(updated 2-13-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said the Greers Ferry Lake level is over 7 feet above normal pool from the recent rain. It is expected the Army Corps of Engineers will increase generation to lower the lake level as flood waters downriver allow. We are anticipating heavy generation for an extended period to begin as soon as conditions allow. 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 2-14-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said that after more than 5 inches of rain on Sunday and Monday, the lake level is 469.3 feet msl and rising and the river is muddy. Wednesday, the river was getting back to a more normal level after flash flooding occurred Monday. But on Thursday morning (Feb. 14) the Army Corps of Engineers said they would be using a two-unit/12-hour generation schedule for the forseeable future. When the lower Little Red River and White River level at Georgetown permit, the release will increase to two units 24/7 to lower the lake level to normal as soon as possible. As the river clears from the runoff, there will be windows to fish according to the times of generation. Check the proposed generation each day to plan your trip.
NOTE: Starting next Thursday, Feb. 21, Greg will again be offering the free fly-fishing class at Heber Springs First United Methodist Church from 7-9p.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 starting next Thursday, through 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 469.22 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 2-13-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 469.14 feet msl. It is 7.1 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet and rising; looks like it will go to at least 8.5 feet high total. The warm rain has everything on the move and reacclimating. The overall bite is going to improve by a lot. Crappie are eating, and soon will be biting in 12-25 feet of water on jigs and jigs with minnows. No report on bream. Catfishing are eating, as my friend “Dummy” is still catching all over the lake, and the new run ins has them feeding and on the move. Black bass are moving, too; try spinnerbaits, on windblown banks until water clears, then go back to C-rigs and football heads and small crankbaits as well as the blade. The walleye catch will improve as soon as there is better clarity in water, and a lot are still on the move. Hybrids and white bass are not liking stained water much but the bite will improve each day as runoff is so much warmer than the rest. Use inline spinners so they can feel the bait. When water clears, some spoons will be good as well as swimbaits and jerkbaits.
(updated 2-6-2019) Cody Smith of Fishing Greers Ferry Guide Service (501-691-5701) says, “2019 is going to be an awesome year here on the reservoir. Water levels are falling slightly and approaching normal pool.” Surface temperatures on the lake are ranging from the low to mid-40-degree range. Water color now is very much dependent on location. The lake has visibility levels from 1-10 feet with the clearest water being closest to the dam and way up the rivers where inflow is clear. With the water temperature and oxygen levels being pretty consistent from 1-45 feet, it’s giving the Greers Ferry gamefish plenty of options on depth. “From my assessment last week the 12-35 feet mark is ideal right now for most all gamefish. The dirtier water has them spread out a bit and not really relating to cover while some of our clearer water has fish really shallow and holding tight to manmade and natural cover.” Crappie have not really made their way out of the winter holding areas and can be quite difficult to stay with. White bass are utilizing those mid-depth zones staging for their run upriver and in the creeks. Choctaw Bay and a few areas in the rivers are holding really big numbers of whites and occasional hybrids. The walleye are really on the move staging and beginning prepare for the upcoming spawn. The smallmouth bite has been best for bass fisherman on the lower end, while largemouth have been better in the shallower dirty water. “I’ll be updating reports over the coming weeks and it won’t be long until we are boating limits of crappie. Book your trip now so you won’t miss out on the best dates. Fish on.”
(updated 2-13-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the clarity as murky and the lake level as high. No surface temperature was reported. Fishing was slow when the lake was at normal conditions last week, and it’s poor this week. Bream, crappie, black bass and catfish all rated poor by anglers this week. Before this week, crappie were biting well on minnows.
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 2-6-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is murky, but it’s improving. Water surface temperature is about 45 degrees. Bass are doing well around brushtops and structure. Bream are slow, but anglers are still catching some with redworms. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night. Anglers are not catching a lot, but are catching some good ones on small No. 4s. Catfish are slow, but Overcup had a lake record for blue channel catfish caught, with a 71-pounder brought in. Carl Prince caught the blue on a floaty using shad, Johnny says.
(updated 1-30-2019) Angler Bennie Goodman reported very little fish activity.
(updated 2-13-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said Tuesday afternoon that anglers need to wait a couple of days before heading out. The lake is muddy and the level is high. Brewer Lake received 5 inches of rain over Sunday-Monday. Hence, Larry received no fishing reports from anglers the past week. Recently, when the lake was normal, crappie were setting up about 20-25 feet on the bottom. They were under the bridge on the north end of the lake hitting jigs. White bass also were good two weeks ago, sitting on the bottom with the crappie.
(updated 2-13-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water temperature dropped 6-8 degrees but are expected to rise this week. Lake Maumelle will be holding the 2019 Arkansas Big Bass Shootout on Saturday and Sunday with 70-100 boats expected on the lake. Also, the top 12 Arkansas high school fishing teams will be competing in a separate tournament on Sunday. Largemouth bass reports are good for some, though other anglers say it is slow with the water temps dropping and water levels rising. Kentucky bass reports are poor. White bass are slow after a good week last week. Whites are being caught near brush piles but are moving; it’s a tough bite. Crappie have slowed and are moving around; they are expected to be spawning in two weeks. Try using jigs and minnows. No reports of bream. Nothing reported on catfish.
(updated 2-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the cold, rain and now the wind have all played against the fishermen around here. A few bass have been caught off of brooder minnows. Crappie been deep with No. 6 crappie minnows and pink crappie minnows. A catfish here and there been caught off nightcrawlers and bait shrimp.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she’s unsure what the rain has done to the ponds lately. But usually after flooding and the Hurricane Creek getting up and flowing into the ponds, also means fish coming from Hurricane Lake through the creek dumping into the ponds are still there when the water goes back down. It makes one of the best time to hit them. Here again before the rain, a few hand-size crappie had been caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows off the dock and over off the bank across from the dock. Bass also were caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that before the rain came, there were a few good walleye being caught off of the brooder minnows. And quite a few smallmouth and Kentucky bass have been caught off of the brooders using a bronze 84A No. 2 Eagle Claw hook, using clear 8-pound XL Trilene line, with small split shot. Hook the brooder through the mouth, out through the nose hole, and let it swim freely. But now the river being very high and rolling, and with rain coming Thursday, it will be a good while before it will be back down and good to fish again. A few crappie, too, had been caught before it went up, some being caught on the brooder minnows.
(updated 2-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been slow but are biting No. 6 crappie minnows fairly deep. Bass are being caught off of No. 12 bass minnows and pink and white spinnerbaits. Catfish off of black salties and bait shrimp.
(updated 2-13-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers. Valencia will be stocked for one last month by the AGFC with trout (these dinner-size trout have been biting PowerBaitO) before the stockings are turned over to catfish as the lake warms.
(updated 2-13-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says crappie are fair. Use Electric Chicken jigs or minnows. Fish on the pier by the church. Bass are reported fair. They are biting crankbaits and black and blue jigs. Target the channel of the lake.
(updated 2-13-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said a few crappie were caught off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Bass have been caught off of No. 12 bass minnows. Catfish were caught off of nightcrawlers and cut baits.
(updated 2-13-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
(updated 2-13-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said Monday the water was muddy and the lake level was high. That was keeping everyone from fishing. Ray had no reports.
(updated 2-13-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said it’s heard that catfishing is fair around the Murray Lock and Dam. Try skipjack or shad. White bass are fair using chartreuse split tails, white twister tails and spoons.
(updated 2-13-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that conditions are poor for fishing, and he’s heard no reports of lake. The river has high current and water level.
(updated 2-13-2019) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said as plainly as possible: “Stay off the water.” He says flow in the Little Rock pool is 190,000 cfs. The high level to go with that rapid current is too dangerous to be fishing, he says. No reports have come in. Also, the water clarity is murky.
(updated 2-13-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that conditions are not safe for fishing. Current is high and the clarity is muddy. The fishing, particularly for crappie, stripers and white bass, has been good until the rains came, Tony reports.
(updated 2-13-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity near Terry Lock and Dam is muddy. The river is running high. However, anglers are having fair success with crappie or bass the past week. Bass are being found around rocky points and rock jetties and are hitting crankbaits and worms. Catfish are fair on worm around the rock jetties.
(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 2-13-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) the clarity here is not too murky, though the level and current are high “but not too high.” Crappie are good if fishing against the bank. Use minnows or black jigs. Black bass are poor, but anglers are trying with spinnerbaits, crankbaits or worms. Nothing reported on bream, an no reports on catfish.
(updated 2-13-2018) The lake has reopened, but has no reports.
(updated 2-13-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Cotter White River anglers have had the opportunity this week to fish high water and low water, fish on very cold, sunny days and wet, rainy days, and to lay their line in dingy water or crystal clear White River normal clarity water. Catching trout is always a good experience given most any circumstance and the anglers caught trout in every instance. Some days required more patience and more trial-and-error experiments with baits, some days were easier with the usual shrimp and scented egg or dough bait combinations. Minnows seemed to work best for the brown trout catch this past week with sculpins a close second. The water level was a little lower most of the week so the larger jerkbaits were left in the tackle box for a turn to spinners (some success with
red/gold blades, most often just gold.) Nightcrawlers proved their worth for bank fishermen, and dragging a scented pink or pink and white worm worked well angling from the jon boats in medium or higher water levels. “The changing water and weather offer fun challenges. You won’t get bored fishing the Cotter waters of the White. Come join us.”
(updated 2-13-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity of the water is brown and the river level is high. The water and the air temperature are both cold, and no one is fishing, they say. Trout fishing results have been poor. Nothing else to report.
(updated 2-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had two inches of rain in Cotter, bitterly cold temperatures and heavy wind. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above seasonal power pool and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White received heavy generation and little wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25 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 still above the top of power pool, and expect to see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam on the White River, closed during part of the winter for the brown trout spawn, is reopened and it’s also been the hot spot of late as the White has fished well. 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 size 12 Y2K suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 662.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-1-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is at 661 feet msl, it’s about 3 feet above pool. Water temps are still hanging around 48 degrees and the water’s been crazy. The lake’s been coming up, Table Rock is dumping on us, and Bull Shoals Dam is generating a lot of water out. From the rain the lake’s cleared up a little bit, but it’s moved the shad around quite a bit, those big monster schools of shad that they were seeing for the past month. Those have broken off in the little pods. Some of them are deep. Seeing a lot in 70-80 foot of water in the main channel or off the points. If you can find the shad balls in 30-50 feet of water you can get after them using a spoon or an ice jig. If you’re looking to do that, the deep fish you can video-game fish them for a little bit. It’s usually good for one or two fish, and then you’re just going have to go find the next little ball shad. You can look for the birds, there are still loons on the lake, so if you want to cruise the creek channels, most of those that were in the back or moved out closer to the main lake. Those deep fish, if they’re real finicky you can pick some more off using a Dubuque rig or and dropping a mat down in front of them. The bite for that and the ice jig are kind of just leaving the pole sitting still. So, if you are fishing a deep fish you’re gonna have to work for them a little more than what we have been, spend a little time graphing and it’ll pay off. Now with the water temp where it’s at, some shad are dying off and that’ll bring into the jerkbait bite, fishing channel swing banks, bluffs, bluff ends, points anywhere close to those shad is probably a good place to start. This time of year if we get a little bit of sun, that’s kind of what you’re looking for at this time of year. You’re not looking for a lot of wind, but if you do get some wind you can go cranking, you can throw a Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart. Del says he’s using the Red Crawler, the greenback orange belly and the same color in the Wiggle Wart. Depending on how deep the bank is, the channels swing banks with chunk rock on them are kind of what you’re going to look for. “The other thing I don’t throw a lot but I have thrown it little bit this week is throwing an umbrella rig, an A-rig. This will flat-out catch them. The thing with the A-rig, that bite’s going to get better as the water drops a little bit. I’m catching those fish mostly out of brush piles, keeping the boat in 40 foot of water, brush piles off of bluff ends, anywhere they’re close to the main channel where those shad are at. If you’re going rig your rig you have to have to use silver with one other different color or you won’t catch fish guys. Just mix up the baits and see what they want.
“The last thing is a jig. I’m using either a rubber jig, the jewel jig, and dropping those down in same spots where the shad are out. The jig bites been hit-or-miss but it’s going to catch fish year-round. Those are usually a little better quality fish. I’m using the greens, the green pumpkins, brown, something with a little blue in it has been working, too.” Some days are going to be slow out there, it’s the dead of winter and some days are going to be really good. You’re going to catch fish, you’re just going to have to work for them a little bit harder. Meanwhile, Del will be hitting the fishing and boat shows in the north in coming weeks.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 559.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “It has been a while since I have posted a report on Norfork Lake, but after another visit to see the grandkids, I am back fishing and the fishing has been pretty good. One of the best things about Norfork Lake is the diversity in fish species. If you have followed my reports you know I love to fish for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass, but if the bite is slow for these species you can switch up and go bass fishing, crappie fishing, walleye fishing or catfishing.” Lou says the white bass bite continues to be outstanding. You can find white bass on the large flats. A couple flats he has fished over the last week are the Cranfield Island flat and the flat east of Howard Cove (locally named Big Sandy) and at times the 101 bridge flat. The best depths have been from 35-55 feet of water and the fish are at all depths. Feeding with the whites are hybrid bass and striped bass. Vertical-jigging a spoon or casting out a blade-type bait such as a Kastmaster are both working well for me. Most days you can catch a boat-full, but of course the changing weather patterns affect the bite of all species. “I have also had luck finding and catching a few nice striped bass in deeper water. I have found scattered stripers on the deep flats outside of deep water channels. These fish have been 40-50 deep and I typically only see a few fish at a time. Several nice-size stripers have been caught by jigging a spoon, as well as by trolling an umbrella rig.”
The crappie bite has also been good over the last week, Lou said. “The best location for crappie are inside one of the newly refurbished Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fish attractors. I don’t remember the exact number, but this group did an incredible job of refurbishing roughly 180 sites on Norfork Lake. I can personally attest that these new brush piles are holding big fish and not just crappie. The crappie that I have caught have been at the bottom of the brush in about 30 feet of water. They do tend to come up off the bottom in the late afternoon following the bait. I have been using a quarter-ounce spoon to catch my crappie, but small grubs (you can tip it with a crappie minnow) are working as well. You can also use live bait with a slip float to catch your fish.”
The largemouth and spotted bass bite has also been very good over the last week. The bass Lou has caught are also buried in the brush, he said. The depth of the fish changes daily and lately 40 feet has been the magic number, but Tuesday afternoon he caught several 30 feet down on the bottom. Deep-diving crankbaits and plastics are working well. Lure action has been the best on the points of bluff-line walls or where the bluff wall changes to chunk rock. Norfork Lake level is falling slowly when the dam is generating and currently sits at 553.98 feet msl. This level is slightly higher than the current normal seasonal pool. Most of the lake is somewhat stained, but the main lake is starting to clear nicely. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning ranged 45–47 degrees depending on fishing location. Lou says he covered a lot of water Tuesday morning. He started in the Cranfield area then headed back to the Howard Cove area, then moved farther back into Bennetts by Fout Marina. “I caught some fish everywhere I fished, mainly white bass and largemouth bass.”
(updated 2-13-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.
(updated 2-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25 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 still above the top of power pool, and expect to see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Norfork has fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole over the past year and a half. 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.
Also, John explained the mop fly: “I am constantly being introduced to new flies. When I managed Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, I always had commercial fly-tyers and local tyers coming in and showing me their latest creation. That situation continued with my position as the chairman of the Sowbug Roundup Fly Tying Contest. Whenever I am guiding I talk with all of the other guides and ask what is working. I am frequently introduced to the new hot fly. I also talk to my fellow anglers when I am fishing on my own to determine what fly is working. Over the years, I have been shown hundreds of patterns and have been given many of those flies to try out. Most were nicely tied but did not produce the desired result. A precious few were game changers.
“Those were the ones that earned a place in my fly box. I learned to tie and fish them and, if asked I, would recommend them to others and often shared them with others. If have found such a fly, the mop fly.
“It is an odd-looking fly. It is a piece of heavy yarn tied to a jighead. The first ones were tied with the strings from a common mop. Hence the name mop fly. Now Wapsi, the largest purveyor of fly-tying materials in the world, manufactures a special yarn to tie them. I have seen them in white, lime green and pink.
“The first time I saw one was on the Norfork, below the dam. An angler fishing near me was having a good day while I was struggling. Later I saw a big brown caught on one on Dry Run Creek. My interest was piqued.
“My wife, Lori, actually used one before I did. A fellow angler gave her one while she was guiding on Dry Run Creek. She had a fantastic day with it and told me about her success when she came home that night. I went to the fly shop, bought some mop fly yarn and tied a few. My first attempt at using them was not productive. I figured that no fly works all of the time. I decided to try them again.
“I got my chance a week later on Dry Run Creek. We were having a good day fishing my usual flies. I ran out of San Juan worms and rather than walking back to my car and stripping some, from another fly box, I decided to give the mop fly another shot.
“I took a minute to tie on a fresh 4X tippet and a mop fly. My young client cast it into the creek and was immediately onto a nice 20-inch cutthroat. Things were looking up. We continued fishing it and it produced 20 trout of various sizes (the largest was a 24-inch brown) before we lost the fly in a tree. I tied on another and we caught even more. I was a believer and now fish it often. Give the mop fly a try.”
(updated 2-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are off-color and high. The smallmouths are much less active with the cold conditions. John says his 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 1,122.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 2-13-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is slightly stained and is high. The river into the lake is clear, and the water surface tempature is 44 degrees. Crappie are good. Anglers are trolling crankbaits, and they’re also spider rigging. Minnows and jigs will also work. Black bass reports are good. Try a CC Spoon, a crankbait or jerkbait. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor. White bass are being caught, a few at a time. As for walleye, males are being caught with nightcrawlers and with jigs on the flats in 12-15 feet of water.
(updated 2-6-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing was good this past week. The water level was great and in the mid-40s. Austin says he looked for some walleye between Beaver and Spider Creek, but noted nothing. “I did not fish for bass this week, but they should be quite active.” He says trout responded well to various spoons, PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle and jigs. This week’ hot spot was the Houseman Access area, up to the first bend. The preferred method was PowerBaits. “I did not mark any baitfish as of yet, but I suspect they will be right along. We had a couple days of nice weather, so I hope you were able to get out and fish. Still waiting on the walleyes!”
(updated 2-6-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake level is normal and the clarity remains stained. Surface water temperature is a consistent 43 degrees. Fishing has picked up a little over the past slow week. Crappie catches are poor, however. Bass are fair, and catfishing is fair. No other details surfaced for catching, and no bream catches were reported.
(updated 2-13-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the lake conditions as muddy in clarity and at a high level after the rainfall. Crappie are good and are biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are poor. Catfish are good and are biting minnows and chicken livers.
(updated 2-6-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “I am being told that some people think that Lake Poinsett State Park is closed because the lake has been drained. We ARE open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and closed on Saturday and Sunday for this month only. Beginning in March the visitor and information center will be open every day, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The campground is open every day all year. And, yes we have live bait as well as other fishing supplies. The sale of minnows and nightcrawlers is increasing. I am getting good reports from those who are fishing at Lake Hogue.”
(updated 2-13-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that the lake level is high and the clarity is “very dingy.” Fishing for all species has been poor this week. No surface temperature was recorded. Bass were biting fair last week though they were very deep. Crappie last week were in the 10-15 range and biting well until all the rain and lake level rise.
(updated 2-6-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 400 cfs (350 average) and water clarity has been good. The river is looking great and the smallmouth bass and brown trout have been hitting. “More rain is in the forecast may flood the river this week. But we’re hopeful it will not. As always check my blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest updates on river conditions.” It has been a very wet season this year and the main river can be difficult to wade. The trout are biting great, anglers just might have to work a little harder to get the fly down. Olive Woollies and Y2Ks have been the main producers. “On some days we have had some great hatches and a pheasant tail, hare’s ear or Copper John work great. Make sure and let the fly swing out at the end of the drift with short fast strips back upstream. Hot pink and orange Trout Magnets are hot on the spinning rods, and crankbaits for the browns work great.”
(updated 2-13-2019) 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 2-13-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said it had no reports. The level and current of the river is rising, and the clarity is poor.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 2-13-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no update.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 2-13-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 2-7-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park, says crappie are biting on minnows and bright pink crappie jigs. The expectation of rains and storms next Monday and Tuesday will likely mean a muddied-up lake, and that will put a hold on fishing.
(updated 2-13-2019) 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 261.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 2-13-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Millwood Lake’s pool jumped slightly over the weekend with rain in the region to about a foot above normal pool. The Army Corps of Engineers made gate changes at the dam Monday and were releasing around 10,018 cfs. Tailwater below the dam, which had dropped slightly, began rising and now is about 232 feet msl. Water temps also jumped over the past week, with Monday’s temps ranging near 47-53 degrees. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Watch for sudden gate changes and debris, which will increase with current in Little River. Clarity and visibility conditions worsened over the past few days with increase of current along Little River and navigation is considered cautious along Little River with the current discharge. Some debris remains in Little River current, so use caution. 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. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain or thunderstorms.
Mike says the bite for bass improved over the past few days for largemouths, and is better during the midday hours in the oxbows. Bomber crankbaits, large bulky Hogs, Beavers, and 6-inch lizards are getting good responses. 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 is during the warmest periods of the day, with 8- to 15-feet deep drops along with stumps and remaining vegetation being prime locations. We continue to see good bass reactions with crankbaits, ¾-ounce slow-rolled War Eagle Spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 10-15 feet of depth. The best crankbaits drawing reactions over the past few weeks were Bomber Fat Free Shads or square-bill cranks in craw patterns, and Bandit Cranks in brown/orange crawfish patterns. Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75’s in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, red chrome, Toledo Gold and square-bills and Echo 1.75s in Rayburn Red Craw, Pinch’n Peach or Ghost Minnow continue working in midday warmer periods in back of the oxbows away from muddy Little River current flows, in creek channels where clarity maybe slightly better than close to Little River current flows. Magnum 4-inch Gitzit Tubes with internal rattles are still drawing a few solid hits from solitary, 2-3-pound largemouth bass on stumps in outer creek channel bends, ditches, wash-outs, ridges and points in the oxbows. Best colors of tube jigs and Gitzits over the past couple weeks are Black Neon, Black/Blue tail, and Pumpkinseed or Green Pumpkin with tail tentacles dipped in JJ Magic Chartreuse dipping dye. Pitching the Gitzits on stumps from multiple angles seems to initiate a reaction in mid-day periods. Slow-rolling, heavy ¾-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, switch to a FireTiger color.
With the water continually warming as it has since late last week, a few white bass were have been caught on yo-yos up Little River between White Cliffs and McGuire oxbow. They evidently moving and staging in preparation for their annual spawning runs up the Little River to headwaters above U.S Highway 71 bridge. Crappie continue improving in the oxbows, the clearest water you can find being the most activity areas, and are stacked up vertically over planted brush with jigs from 12-15 feet of depth. Best colors of jigs over the past week or so have been black/chartreuse, white/chartreuse or blue/chartreuse. Catfish continue biting well on trotlines set in the current of Little River set from 15-20 feet deep. Yo-yos set from cypress trees over 8-12 feet depth in back of Mud Lake are still catching some nice 3- to 5-pound cats. Punch bait, chicken livers and gizzards, and catalpa worms have been working for cats over the last several weeks on the yo-yos.
(updated 2-13-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) reported that a few bass are being caught. No reports on crappie.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.92 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-13-2019) 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 407.99 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 444.81 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 534.41 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 2-13-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado said the river running high and there have been few reports of catches.
(updated 2-13-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says clarity is very muddy and the lake is back to a high level, up 4.5 feet over las week. No surface temperature was recorded. No fishing reports came in over the past week.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 2-13-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catcher All Guide Service, reports that recent area flooding has caused Lake Ouachita to rise up into the flood pool. Open flood gates and very heavy generation have been the norm this week in an effort to rid area lakes of excess water. No quality fishing has taken place below Carpenter Dam as dangerous conditions exist in the tailrace. Fast flows and high water have forced boaters and bank fishermen to forgo any effort to fish this week. These conditions will persist until Lake Ouachita falls out of flood pool. This process will most likely last all of this week and possibly longer. Until stable conditions return to Lake Catherine, all boating and wade fishing should be curtailed for safety reasons.
(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 2-13-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake levels up dramatically over the last 48 hours. With almost 5 inches of rain over the last few days, the lake is the color of chocolate milk throughout. Lake temps should still be around 50 degrees even with the cold rains. The best bets for these conditions while bass fishing are going to be brightly colored spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and crankbaits in chartreuse or orange. With the sun reappearing, the dirty water up in feeder creeks will heat up a little quicker and fish should be semi-aggressive now that they aren’t hunkered down dodging the big currents. No crappie report. “Please use extreme caution out there, folks! Lake Hamilton is notorious for large pieces of debris after rains and when the lake is on the rise, so slow down and trim up. Good luck (you’ll need it for a few days) 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 355.33 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-13-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the amount of rainfall that fell on Lake Nimrod last weekend means anglers may need to wait about two weeks for any decent fishing at Nimrod. The clarity is muddy and the level is high and on the rise, they say. Called on Monday, they said there was a period when the lake rose 5 inches in an hour. Crappie are biting well, though. Most of the crappie are being found in Porter Creek, but the bridge is already underwater. Crappie will bite minnows as well as black/chartreuse jigs. They are in about 3 feet depth. Black bass are fair on spinnnerbaits. Catfishing is fair. Bream are poor.
(updated 2-13-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the lake is muddy and high, and they heard no fishing reports.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.44 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) 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 working OK at this time. No report on walleye. Stripers are still 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. Catfish produced no reports. Water temperature is ranging 46-50 degrees. The clarity is clear. Lake level is at 576.08 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 400.24 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-6-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), reported that the crappie have been quite active both at Bear Creek and Storm Creek lakes this past week. “We have also seen an uptick in our worm sales; leading me to believe that live bait seems to be doing the trick.” Natalie said they have also had some bass fishermen out and about fishing with both jigs and crankbait in preparation of some fishing tournaments coming up at Bear Creek Lake – “they’re tight lipped about what worked and what didn’t,” she added.
(updated 2-6-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 2-13-2019) Cook’s Lake will reopen for fishing the first weekend in March.
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Nov. 30, 2023
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Nov. 30, 2023
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