Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 6, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 6, 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
(updated 3-6-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said that the lake clarity is “a little murky” and the water is a little low. No one recorded the surface water temperature, but they assured Monday that it was cold. Bream reports are fair. Bream are in 5-6 feet depth and are biting redworms, crickets and nightcrawlers. Crappie are good. They’re being found at 4-5 feet depth and are most active in Willemena Cove and at Caney Creek. Minnows or jigs will work. Largemouth bass are good on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfish reports were fair. No baits were reported.
(updated 3-6-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said that as of this writing, the Little Red River is receiving two units of generation round-the-clock, creating high water conditions. This pattern is expected to continue unless the area receive heavy rainfall and the generation pattern is changed to avoid flooding downstream or the lake level is lowered to the desired level. The current pattern eliminates any wade fishing opportunities. If you choose to fish these conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. Key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high water conditions. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends egg patterns, San Juan worms, micro jigs and streamers during high water conditions, and pheasant tails, 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 Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 3-6-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said river is clear with two-unit generation around the clock. The Army Corps of Engineers has told Greg that this will continue as they draw the reservoir down to normal level. The lake is now 471.07 feet msl, which is 9 feet above normal. The lake level is falling at the rate of 0.3 foot per 24-hour period. There hasn’t been much fishing activity on the river due to the cold weather and high water. Please be safe when drifting the high water. Check the generation schedule before planning a trip.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 471.05 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 3-6-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 471.11 feet msl at present and falling. It is 9.07 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl for this time of year with more rain expected in the next 10 days, so it should stay high for a while, as all other lakes in the system are high as well. The bite is good overall with the best yet to come. Our fishery is as healthy as it can be at present. The fishery management meeting at Heber Springs last week had a good turnout, as 80 people attended the think tank they had set up for public input for management for the next five years. If you fish the lake at all you should have made it; there will be a follow up meeting at 6 p.m. on March 19 with 80 people’s input along with the fisheries division’s forward thinking for a plan for the next five years. There were a lot of concerns relating to but not limited to bait, length limit and enforcement to water quality – hats off to the team that is trying to work with anglers throughout this process.
As for current fishing, Tommy said the crappie are still being caught with ease, with reports of limits being caught on minnows and jigs suspended around structure in 18-30 feet depth. The catfish bite really picked up before the cold snap but should be leveled back out with the warm rain in the forecasts, on a variety of baits and techniques. Walleye are in all phases of spawn at present. Use live bait, crankbaits, and drop-shot rigs with an assortment of baits on in from super shallow out to 30 feet. Black bass are from right on the bank out to 60 feet of water eating a variety of baits fished a variety of ways. Hybrid and white bass catching is good from 1 foot out to 60, as well as a lot of fish moving to dump eggs somewhere. Use grubs, inline spinners, spoons and crankbaits for the best catches as well as live bait. Stay around spawning areas or the shad.
(updated 2-20-2019) Cody Smith of Fishing Greers Ferry Guide Service (501-691-5701) says, “Well. It’s February, and I should be well into two weeks’ worth of guiding by now and the fish should be participating better and better every day. Sorry to say that’s just not the case. Lake is up to 469 feet and it’s raining as I type this report. We just have to deal with Mother Nature as she generally knows what’s best for her resources. Water surface temps have come up a couple degrees and are ranging in the mid-40s lake wide. We have clearing colder water up most of the tributaries and the fish are staging in the dirtier, more stable water. Really spread out between active schools of fish and you can go awhile without as much as a nibble. All this will change as our water begins to warm slightly and the amount of sunlight we get is longer every day. Bear with us and there will be some good news to report before too long. Good fishin’.”
(updated 3-6-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the clarity is clear and the lake level rose over the week to where it was high on Monday. No temperature was reported. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair, but no baits were suggested. Catfishing is poor. Bream fishing is poor.
(updated 2-27-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 3-6-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake still is high by 2-2.5 feet, while the water is dingy in the creeks but clear elsewhere. Surface water temperature is 46 degrees. Poor reports came in from anglers for crappie and bass. Nothing reported on bream, catfish or white bass.
(updated 3-6-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland reports that surface water temperature is in the upper 40s. The largemouth bass bite is slow. They are in transition and moving out of deeper water. Some reports are coming in that the blacks are on the outer edge of the grass. Some can still be found in depths of 18-25 feet. Try using chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, drop-shots or swimbaits. The Kentucky bass bite is poor. Fewer reports this week but most can be found deep in 25-35 foot of water. Try fishing off drops and rocky banks. White bass are good. Some reports are coming in that the whites are moving through the channels. (late run for Lake Maumelle). And are also being caught near brush piles on the west end of the lake 18-25 feet of water. Try using jerkbates and rattle-type baits. Crappie are slow. Crappie are heading out of the deeper holes. Reports of them being found in 18-22 feet of water close to brush piles and are still scattered. Try using jigs and minnows. Bream are poor, no reports this week. Also, no reports this week on catfish.
Lake Maumelle served as the site last Saturday for Brewer Lake to stage its bass tournament. The winning duo pulled in 17.84 pounds of bass, including a 5.34-pounder, which was second to the Big Bass of 6.56 pounds. Just saying, while the bass bite might be slow for regular anglers, there are some big bass out there to be caught.
(updated 2-27-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Sunset Lake fishing has been slow this week. “According to the few reports we’ve had, a few little crappie have been biting minnows fished deep around the fishing pier. A catfish or two have been caught a couple of evenings on minnows and nightcrawlers. Customers tell us the only bass they’ve caught this week were small and few, but they did catch them on No. 12 bass minnows fishing around the pier and grassy spots. We have no reports of bream being caught this week.”
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 2-27-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she’s heard no reports from Bishop Park this week. “We assume the ponds have been flooded most of this week,” she said.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 2-27-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that unfortunately the river has been too high to fish this week, and with more rain in the forecast it may be high for a while.
(updated 2-27-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have picked up a little for some using goldfish and black salties on trotlines. Bass fishing was good a couple of evenings for some guys fishing with minnows and black and blue jigs. One customer has been catching a few crappie on No. 12 minnows. He says they’re scattered and he’s only getting one or two out of each of his spots. “We suggested that he drop a redworm or cricket in those spots before moving on to look for more crappie. I’d bet there’s a few of those big Lake Norrell bream down there. He said he’d let us know before next week’s report,” Lisa said.
(updated 2-27-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing continues to rate fair. Use chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(updated 2-27-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been bad, according to some regulars at Winona. Last time out with minnows and several different jigs resulted in zero crappie. The bass were hitting the minnows, however, and a couple of them were nice ones. Catfish have been biting fair in the evenings right before dark on minnows, nightcrawlers and stink baits. Bream have been biting slow, but some have been hitting the nightcrawlers, redworms and crickets.
(updated 3-7-2019) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said rain and cold have kept most anglers inside, and even his commercial anglers have pulled their nets for a week or so. What the commercial anglers say is the fish are laying down adn not moving. No report on bass. Catfish below the dam are biting on skipjack. No reports on bream. Nothing reported on crappie. Stripers below the dam are going for 2-ounce chartreuse jigs. A few sauger were caught below the dam.
(updated 3-6-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and cold, and the water level and current are normal. Anglers report good results crappie fishing at night. At that time, the crappie are coming up shallow and are hitting minnows. Crappie are also biting yo-yos. Black bass reports are good. Best results are coming on spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. A few white bass are being caught, but not a lot, Ray says. Nothing reported on catfish, and bream reports were poor.
(updated 3-6-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says the Maumelle pool is muddy with high level and current. Surface temperature recorded as 49 degrees. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Largemouth bass are fair on shad-colored crankbaits. No other reports.
(updated 2-27-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass are fair and are biting chartreuse twister tails and spoon.
(updated 3-6-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that the clarity remains muddy and the river and current continue to be high. Surface water temperature is about 49 degrees (cold, Tony assures). The crappie bite is good. Minnows or jigs will work. Bass are fair. Use a shad-colored crankbait. Bream reports were poor, and there were no reports on catfish or white bass. Moving down the pool to the Terry Lock and Dam, anglers will find similar conditions, with muddy water and high water levels and current, and the same temperature. Crappie are good in Pool 5 fishing around the riprap. Use black/chartreuse jigs and target a depth of 10-15 feet. Largemouth bass are fair and biting shad-colored crankbaits. Catfishing is good below the dam on skipjack. Anglers report catching walleye in Pool 5 on black/hot pink jigs. Bream reports are poor.
(updated 3-6-2019) Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) reported that the river clarity is stained and the level and current are high. The Monday river flow of 54,000 cfs is a safe level. A few people are out, they report. Crappie reports have been good. They are said to be in a 10-15 feet depth. White/chartreuse and blue chartreuse jigs are working, with best success coming behind the jetties. Black bass are good. Look for bass in 6 feet depth and eager to bite into a red crankbait or a Rat-L-Trap. Catfishing is poor. Bream reports were poor. Anglers say that fish appear wanting now to move into the backwaters.
(updated 3-6-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said fishing is slow on the Terry Lock and Dam end of the Little Rock pool. Water level and current are high, and the clarity is clear. No surface temperature was reported. Poor reports on bream, crappie, bass and catfish over the past week.
(updated 2-27-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said white bass are fair and are biting chartreuse twister tails and spoons around the Murray Lock and Dam.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-6-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is clear and the water is cold. Fishing has been slow. The water level is high. Bream, black bass, crappie and catfish all came in with poor reports for the past week.
(updated 3-6-2018) Donna at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the clarity is still dingy but the water level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. Crappie reports are fair with minnows and jigs both working. Bass were reported fair. Catfish are fair. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-6-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says to pull out your sinking line and heavier weights this week; Bull Shoals Dam is releasing a lot of water – six to seven units (19,000-plus cfs). Bank fishing and wading will be difficult until water releases decrease, making this the prime time to fish with a professional. Your river guide takes the hard part of fishing (untangling line, removing hooks, replacing bait, managing the boat and motor, instructing your favorite fishing partner on proper technique) and make it look easy. “I was surprised when, on four units of water, we were catching rainbows with Rooster Tails (white skirts with orange bodies, quarter-ounce, worked best), but not so surprised to hear the bite was still good with shrimp (the “Lazy Man’s Crawdad Tails”) and white egg patterns. Remember, high water causes bigger fish and offers the best time to use big stick baits. We’re experimenting with chartreuse bellied, black back, 5-inch Rogues and loving the catch. See you at the river.”
(updated 3-6-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is “a little cloudy” and the water is cold. The river level is high. There are six to eight generators running. They had people out this past weekend, and anglers caught several browns, though none were large. Overall, the trout bite is good. PowerBaits, Power Worms, white jigs, stick baits all worked. Several rainbows were caught.
(updated 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had a trace of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.9 foot to rest at 9.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 2.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 6.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the Army Corps of Engineers, the Little Rock District will begin spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps will open six gates of the 12 gates 1 foot each releasing about 4,500 cfs well as 6,000 cfs releases from the two power generation turbines for a total combined release of 10,500 cfs or the equivalent of three hydropower turbines at full power.
John says the White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a size 12 egg pattern suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down.
John also said, “Recently I have written a few articles about fishing in the rain. It seems like it has been raining nonstop all winter. Last week was no exception. The good thing was that it didn’t rain all day. We had a light rain early on and a bit of drizzle all day. At least I didn’t have to wear the hood on my rain jacket. When I use the hood my peripheral vision is impaired and I don’t see as well. The light rain didn’t bother us that much. Because of the constant drizzle we wore our rain suits all day mostly to stay warm.
“While the rain didn’t bother us much, the cold did. The temperature hovered just above freezing all day. My client, Jim, was from Minneapolis and the cold bothered him. He had come south to find a little warmth and found cold weather instead. It was a wet cold and felt cooler than the temperature indicated.
“I thought that I was dressed warm enough for the weather forecast. I wore polypropylene long underwear, top and bottom. I also wore flannel-lined khakis, a medium weight wool sweater and a fleece jacket. I donned heavy wool wading socks, muck boots and wool fingerless gloves. I was wearing my fleece-lined Gore-Tex “Elmer Phud” hat with the ear flaps down. On top of all of this I was wearing my rain suit with bibbed rain pants. I was still cold. I felt like I was short about half a layer.
“Despite this the fishing was good. We tried several flies, but a pheasant tail with a copper bead was our top producer. We caught a 22-inch rainbow and several other nice trout in the morning.
“We stopped for lunch around noon. We were so chilled we opted to eat in my Suburban. I ran the heater and we sat in the back seat where there was more leg room and no steering wheel. I had a thermos of coffee that helped warm us. We lingered for a moment to luxuriate in the warmth. It was time to return to the river. I changed my soaked fingerless wool gloves for a fresh dry pair. It made a difference to have warm dry gloves on.
“While we were eating lunch, the water came up a couple of feet. When we arrived that morning, the river was on the bottom. The Corps of Engineers had turned on two full generators (about 6,500 cfs) at 7 a.m. and it had taken about six hours for the water to travel the 24 miles from Bull Shoals Dam to Rim Shoals. The water was flowing better and we were able to drift much better. The fishing was good but not great. We caught enough trout all day to keep our mind in the game. About 4 p.m. we stopped for the day. Jim had landed over 20 trout and was pleased.
“It was time to head home and warm up. After I covered my boat and put away my gear, I put on my fleece-lined house shoes, sat in my leather chair, and my big Labrador, Ghillie, came over to have his ears scratched.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 666.86 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-27-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “The water is coming up, we’ve got a lot of rain last week. Cold rain, at that. It’s now about 9 feet high and water surface temperature about 45 degrees depending on where you’re at. If you get a warm day, the backs of the creeks with the dirty water seem to warm up. That’s kind of what I’ve been keying on,” he said. “However, with it being cold and no warm days in the future, that bite’s not looking so good. I know everyone’s chomping at the bit for spring. It’s slow.” Del said he’s been away a lot at fishing shows in the Chicago area recently, but he’s been out enough to find a couple of different bites that have been working for him. The deep bite has been slow, but anglers can find it drop-shotting, spooning or using a Damiki rig anywhere in that 25-35 feet range. “If you see them you can video game them and you can pick a few off,” he said, “but it’s going to be hit or miss on that bite.” However, he added, if a warm front comes through, he expects the crankbait bite to pick up. Use a Rock Crawler in natural colors in clear water, or go with brighter colors in the dirty water. “If you’ve got wind and you’ve got sun, it’s going to be a good day to go crank. That bite should get better over the next couple of weeks as the water temperatures start to come up. Hopefully we get a couple more warm fronts.”
Del adds that the jig bite is another that’s been working around the channel swing banks. Look for the chunk rock, the little ledges. He’s had best success in about 15-25 feet depth. “In the creeks has been better for me than out on the main lake,” Del said. Also, he mentioned, he’s found a swimbait bite by throwing a single swimbait and slow-rolling it as slow as possible. He’ll says to look for the shad, and if there are loons and seagulls and little pods of shad he’ll pick up a jerkbait or a swimbait to get a few more fish. The jerkbait is working over the points with brush piles. Del says the new brush piles are still holding some fish. Del also notes that the Alabama rig has been kind of the bread-and-butter for wintertime fishing there and that probably will continue until the warm up. He also says he’s seen a few crappie stacked up in the brush piles. The walleye jerkbait is getting close, too, he says.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 559.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-6-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake spring looks like won’t arrive until late March, based on the forecast. In spite of the weather, the spring fishing has started. “I have fished some in January and February but only had limited success,” Tom says. “For my fishing trips I had scheduled in February, I canceled or moved them to March thinking the weather would be better; but it’s not, so I just gave up waiting and started fishing.” The water temperature is around 45 degrees but will warm up on the sunny days. On several occasions, Tom says, he has found water temps in the 52-degree range and caught gizzard and threadfin shad. The backs of most creeks was the warmest, but now the lake is being lowered due to the run-up of over 10 feet above pool and the creeks will clear up. Stripers, hybrids and whites were being caught around 6B in Bennett’s Bayou before the run-up. Now they have moved out to deeper water around Fout Marina and Crystal Cove. The best bite was from mid-morning until late afternoon. Shad, shiners, spoons and umbrella rigs have been catching all of the species.
Tom says, “Threadfin shad are holding in most marinas right now and if you have a cast net you can catch them before light most days. My brother came down for the weekend so I took him fishing Friday afternoon and fished the 6A area. He caught his limit in two hours using gizzard shad. On Saturday I caught some threadfin to go along with the gizzards I had and we started fishing around 9 a.m. It took over an hour to catch the first one, we then missed two and by noon only had one on the stringer. I could not get a bite on the threadfin and was running out of them. I rigged up two free lines with only a split shot and went shallow. We had been catching the fish in 45-60 feet of water but the bite quit. I moved closer to shore in less than 30 feet of water and caught a big hybrid and the biggest striper of the trip. It was getting cold, so we quit but my brother caught his limit two days in a row. Not bad for not fishing since the beginning of February.
The stripers will move up the channel towards Fout and the big flat toward Bennett’s as the warmer weather begins. Once the south winds stay consistent, Tom advises to start fishing the northern bays and banks. The night bite will start soon, so make sure you fish the northern banks, as they warm the fastest in the spring. These same patterns will happen in all the creeks on Norfork Lake.
(updated 2-20-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake, along with the majority of the country, in his opinion, is in constant weather change. After a frontal system rolls through the area it typically takes a day or two for the fish to get active again. Once this happens the fish feed with a frenzy, but then they’ll have a new system roll through to start the cycle all over again. Lou says he will be the first to admit that he is really ready for spring to get here. “I am totally tired of the cold weather and need a little consistent warmth for my fishing days. Last Saturday, I found fish feeding heavily in 44-48 feet of water on a large flat in the Cranfield area. I did not get out until late morning due to the below freezing temperature early, but once it reached around 29 degrees I headed out. The fish stuck around until mid-afternoon and I got to land well over 40 fish between hybrid bass, striped bass and white bass. Vertical jigging with a ½-ounce to a 1-ounce spoon was my bait of choice. I was also casting out a ½-ounce blade bait with a feather trailer and landed some nice fish with it. Once the fish leave the flats they tend to scatter throughout the deeper water, staying suspended 30-50 feet down. You will still catch fish, but not necessarily the numbers.”
Crappie fishing has been fairly good as of late, but still the frontal systems have affected their bite. Lou says he has landed some really nice slabs 30 feet down near the sunken brush piles. “I typically use a 1/4 -ounce spoon and jig it very slowly in and around the brush piles on the bottom. Live bait with a slip float or a minnow tipped to a small curly or paddle tail grub will work great.”
“The big white bass that I have been catching are full of eggs. I would assume they are staging for their upcoming spawn, which will happen shortly. The males should be way back in the creeks or upriver in the shallower water awaiting the right timing and water temperature. Bennett’s Bayou is a great place to get into the white bass run or up river around the Arkansas-Missouri border. They also tend to head back into some of the larger creeks and coves.”
Walleye should also be gearing up for their spawn, he says. February is usually the time for this to occur. The border area is a good area to find the spawning and pre-spawning fish. “If we can get some nice weather, the first hour before sunrise and an hour before and after sunset are great times to fish for walleye in shallow water.” Throw a suspending Rogue or use soft plastic swimbaits. Norfork Lake level is on a slow rise and sits at 561.92 feet msl. This is about 8 feet over normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature ranges from 43-46 degrees depending on location and time of day. The main lake has a greenish stain along with most of creeks and coves. The water clarity heading up in the Bennett’s area is stained brown as is upriver past the Cranfield area. A lot of the brown water has dropped out and the remainder will follow suit quickly.
(updated 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the Army Corps of Engineers, the Little Rock District will begin spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps will open six gates of the 12 gates 1 foot each releasing about 4,500 cfs well as 6,000 cfs releases from the two power generation turbines for a total combined release of 10,500 cfs or the equivalent of three hydropower turbines at full power.
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.
(updated 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are still 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 1,122.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 3-6-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is still really high for this time of the year. If the area gets normal spring rains it should be an epic spawn, and Beaver can use that. The past week, the area had some snow, and water temps dropped in dramatic fashion from 48 degrees in river arms to 39. “Wow, did that slow fishing down,” Jon notes. The river arms have had white bass move to deeper staging holes in front of the spawning shoals and are doing well on Alabama rigs, if that’s your thing. Walleye have slowed some and Jon’s clients are catching a few each trip, he says, and the colder water is the culprit. “We need some warmer weather and water influx, and it may happen this weekend as thunderstorms are predicted,” he said. Crappie are good but they have moved back to structure on main channels in 15-20 feet of water and doing well “on slowly and, I mean slowly, worked jigs or minnows,” he said. “If you have a nice day and some warming, the crappie will move back up with the warmer water.” Bass fishing was tough this last weekend. A few tournaments were held and weights ranging 10-12 pounds were common. With stable water and warming, things will get better really fast. Stripers find the bait and there you go. They are in the river arms now. As they say, “Won’t be long now!”
(updated 3-6-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is stained by the dam, but clear on the river. Water temperature is in the low 40s and the water level is high by 2.5 feet. Anglers report decent crappie fishing. Fair catches were made with minnows as well as trolling crankbaits. Bass reports were poor. Bream also were poor. Catfish reports were poor. Walleye are fair, though. Throw a crankbait for best success with the walleye.
(updated 2-27-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, what a nice few days we have had. However, that is all going to come to an end towards the end of this week, as an arctic front is pushing through. If you can brave the cold, there are fish to be caught.” He says trout have been responding well to various applications. Quarter-ounce spoons of various colors have seemed to do better this week. PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle have also produced some nice numbers. This week’s hot spot has been between Houseman Access and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. If you can get out before or after generation occurs, you have a real opportunity to net some nice fish. You can download an app on your smartphone from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the generation schedule. “Hope you all have some time to get out and fish.”
(updated 3-6-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no report.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 3-6-2019) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said this past week featured some pretty COLD weather and only a few hardy souls ventured outside. Water is high and the surface temperature is 46 degrees. Clarity is clear with 3 feet visibility. No reports this week, but look for reports from this location each week on bass, crappie, bream, catfish and white bass through the fishing season.
(updated 3-6-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the lake conditions as clear water with a normal level. The water is, like everywhere else, cold. Crappie are enjoying it, though they’re staying on the bottom. The bite is good for crappie on minnows or jigs. Bream reports were poor, and anglers said bass were poor as well. Catfish are about average, or fair, they report.
(updated 3-6-2019) Shelly Jeffries at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says that fishing has taken a setback due to the weather. But spring is just around the corner at Lake Charles. Surface water temperature earlier this week was 31 degrees. The clarity is murky and the water level is high. No reports.
(updated 3-6-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “I am looking forward to spring. That means camping and fishing. We at Lake Poinsett State Park are here to help you by keeping live bait and other fishing supplies in stock as well as a place to camp. For your fishing needs, we are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.” While Lake Poinsett is closed to anglers until 2020 for the AGFC’s renovation of the lake, other area lakes such as Lake Hogue and Lake Charles are nice destinations in this area. Stop in for your bait supplies on the way there.
(updated 3-6-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water remains cold, and apparently too cold for anglers, as they had no reports for the past week.
(updated 3-6-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 450 cfs (350 is average), and water clarity has been good. The river is looking the best it has in a while. The river is still up and extra care should be used when wading. A wading staff can be a great asset when wading the Spring River. The river bottom is very slick. Water clarity has a green tint. Catching trout has been all about getting the fly down to the river bottom. Not easy with a higher river flow. Extra weight on flies or a sink tip fly line can be helpful. Y2Ks and big Woollies have been the go-to flies. Double nymph rigs can work well also. Fluorescent orange and red Trout Magnets and Flicker Shad are working well for spin fishers.
(updated 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is a bit high. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. 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 3-6-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the very cold water is running about 12-14 feet high, and thus they’ve had no fishing reports. Clarity of the water is dingy.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 2-20-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperatures are in the low to mid-40s. Water visibility is very low, only inches in most places. The water level and flow rates are fluctuating frequently, generally staying on the high side. Fishing for black bass is very, very poor this time of year in this pool. Best bet, honestly, is to go somewhere else until the water here warms into the low 50s at the very least.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 2-27-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, said it’s once again the time of year for Cane Creek to come alive with fish of all different species; they’re looking to get some grub after being largely inactive for the last few months. Although there isn’t much to say for the first real fishing report of the year, the promise of activity is on the horizon. Water temperature is hovering around 50 degrees, even with a large inflow of water after the most recent rains. This means that catfish, bass and crappie alike will be coming to the surface once the air temperature stabilizes and warms up marginally. With all the debris being washed into the lake from the creeks and banks, there will be plenty of activity from fishing competing for foodstuffs in confluences and mudflows. Water clarity drops off at about 15 inches, making the water of “muddy” quality, meaning that visibility is at its lowest. Instrument testing indicates that the most visible colors for Cane Creek at the moment are bright pinks, chartreuses, dark forest/olive greens and dark blues. That means the best artificial baits will be along the lines of Bobby Garland Electric Chicken jigs, pumpkinseed soft baits or craw-colored cranks that run anywhere from 3-8 feet deep. Bass have started making a slight comeback after a quiet winter, with heavier largemouth bass striking when provoked. Use baits that are either easy to see or cause enough of a disturbance in the water that the fish can feel them. Catfish will also go after pungent-smelling baits as the water warms. The Cane Creek State Park Visitor Center recently received a large shipment of great fishing gear that tends to be hard to find in most places, both bait and tackle! Keep your fingers crossed for stable weather in the coming weeks to see Cane Creek Lake become a hotspot for spring break fishing.
(updated 3-6-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), says that as of Sunday, fishing conditions for the lake remain poor. The lake level has begun to recede significantly; however, the lake is still high and docks are still partially submerged. Boat traffic to Lake Chicot has been closed off with all public ramps closed at this time. It is unclear when the ramps will be opened back up and boat traffic allowed. The lake is still muddy with a lot of debris. The beginning of this week is calling for cooler temperatures, which will not help matters.
(updated 3-6-2019) 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 were showing in the coves toward the east and northeast of the lake; those are good areas to fish for the bass, and good places to note when the water is right. 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 260.32 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 3-6-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Monday the Millwood Lake pool is slowing dropping in elevation, sitting 14 inches above normal pool (259.20 feet msl). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made gate changes at the dam Monday and were releasing around 16,000 cfs. The tailwater below the dam was also dropping, and on Monday was 241.3 feet msl with gates release at the dam. Water temps fell over the past week, and Monday they were ranging near 42 degrees to 49 later under full sun, depending on location. Be sure and check the most recent lake level on the guide services website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels and conditions. Watch for sudden gate changes and debris, which will increase with current in Little River. Navigation is cautious, and floating debris is very visible this week. Clarity and visibility conditions slightly improved over the past few days with increased current along Little River. Further up river finds highest turbidity rates. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 5-8 inches. Little River is stained and visibility ranges 3-6 inches with stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity currently ranges 10-16 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.
The bite for largemouth bass continues to be a hit and miss from all the recent cold frontal passages. The bite is best during the midday hours in the oxbows and pockets along main lake. Bomber, Bandit, random square-bill crankbaits, large bulky Hogs, Gitzit tubes, Bang Fat Jobs and 6-inch lizards are getting good responses, but bite frequency changed to a more random pattern with the colder temps earlier this week. The best locations over the past few weeks have been in the back of the oxbows and pockets along main lake, where water conditions and clarity are best. With cold weather dipping into south Arkansas this week, the best bite certainly was during warmest periods of the day, from noon to 1 p.m., in 9-15 feet depth on points in oxbows away from Little River muddy current, with stumps and new lily pad shoots being prime locations.
A few white bass were caught over the past week on Little Georges, Cleos, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads and Rat-L-Traps up Little River between McGuire Oxbow and entrance to Cemetery Slough. The white bass are still on the move upriver 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 most activity is in the clearest water you can find, and they are stacked up vertically over planted brush and biting jigs fished in 12-15 feet depth. Best colors of jigs over the past couple weeks or so have been white/chartreuse, red/white or blue/chartreuse. Blues and channel cats continue biting well on trotlines set in the current of Little River, and in back of Mud Lake where current from Little River is bleeding through. The lines are set 12-18 feet deep. Yo-yos set from cypress trees over 8-12 feet deep in back of Mud Lake are still catching some nice 3- to 5-pound cats. Punch bait, chicken livers and gizzards, and homemade dough balls have been working for cats over the last several weeks on the yo-yos and trotlines.
(updated 3-6-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.20 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-6-2019) Tamara Lunsford, park superinterendent at Daisy State Park near Kirby, says that Lake Greeson surface water temperature is 52 degrees as of Tuesday with turbid clarity. Greeson is at normal pool. Bream are fair and found in 6 feet depth of water. Fish for them around brush piles, stumps and rocky points with worms. Crappie fishing is good, with anglers finding them in 15 feet depth around brush piles and rocky points. Jigs are best. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Most bass are being caught in 10-15 feet depth. Catfish are fair on worms and blood bait. White bass reports are poor.
(updated 2-27-2019) 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 406.55 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-20-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said water temperature is at 50. White bass and hybrids are moving up the lake toward the river. Vertical-jigging spoons, casting swimbaits and trolling A-rigs or crankbaits have produced. Crappie are beginning to invade brush piles when the surface temp is warmer and clear and will stack up even more as the water warms.
De Queen Lake
As of Tuesday, 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 536.63 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 3-6-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado had no report.
(updated 3-6-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says clarity is clear. The surface water temperature Monday midmorning was 45 degrees and the lake level was about like last week, up 3 feet or so. Crappie are slow but anglers say they are catching a few. They’re getting most of the bites in deep water, using minnows or jigs. Overall, though, the bite is poor. Black bass were good, it appears, but no one suggested any baits. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor.
(updated 3-6-2019) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park (501-844-4176) said the lake is murky and the water temp is cold. The level is low. There has been a 5-good drawdown of the reservoir during the winter, and annual refilling of the lake began on March 1. It is scheduled to be completed by March 15. Remmel Dam’s minimum flow release is planned to be 400 cfs during March. Visiting with local anglers and with the marina staff at the state park, fishing for bream, crappie, bass, catfish and white bass is poor. Comments such as “the fish are not biting” is common. Increased lake levels and warmer weather should improve the catch.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 3-6-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catcher All Guide Service, reports that Lake Catherine is currently being refilled. After the 5-foot winter drawdown the lake is rising 6 inches per day and will be at normal summertime pool March 10. This process began on March 1 and has kept the lake stained from heavy rains earlier in the month. The Carpenter Dam tailwaters are clearing somewhat, but cloudy water has been the norm for days. Thousands of rainbow trout are present in the tailrace, but are adversely affected by the rising waters. Trout despise muddy conditions and the bite is almost nonexistent while the lake is rising. This is a very important fact to remember this time of year when you are attempting to fish for rainbow trout. Trout behavior will return to normal a few days after the lake has been brought back to normal levels. Meanwhile, the walleye spawn is in full swing with both males and females present on spawning beds. Little fishing has taken place for these fish due to the adverse conditions; however, these fish will bite and are not as affected by rising water as trout are. Trolling small crankbaits against the current that run 4-6 feet deep is an effective method of locating spawning beds and causes walleye to give a reaction bite. Anchoring in areas that hold walleye and casting Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers will produce positive results as long as these fish are in the tailrace. Crappie will migrate into the tailrace in the next week to begin the spring spawn. These fish will stay close to the banks during current flow behind rock and sandbars. Live minnows and small jigs are the best bet when targeting crappie that will feed heavily in areas where they make spawning beds. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to be aware of the generation schedules and always follow all park and boating regulations. Wear a life jacket and live to fish another day.
(updated 3-6-2019) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 47 degrees with some backwater reaching 50 before this cold front. River clarity is still poor. Creeks are clear with some clear backwater. Black bass have been good on Alabama rigs, jerkbaits, and jigs with Bamboozie. Spinnerbaits are beginning to come into play on the warmer days. Soft plastic jerkbaits such as the scam shad are working well on the shallow fish. Stripers are still good with swimbaits, A-rigs, Rat-L-Traps and jerkbaits. Crappie have been good deep on Cajun Crickets and Electric Chicken in chartreuse and chartreuse/black. Catfish have been good on cut bait on the main river in the channel swings. Bream have been fair in the creeks on jigs and crickets.
(updated 3-6-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton has begun the filling back to normal pool after the annual 5-foot winter drawdown. Water clarity is 6 inches or less with lots of debris coming down the main channel. No reports on any catches, but please be alert when boating and wear life jackets at all times.
As of Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 347.00 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-6-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is clear and the water level is back into the normal 345-348 feet msl for this time of year. Water is cold. Crappie are reported to be slow, but biting. Largemouth bass are good on crankbaits and jigs. Catfish reports were good with minnows and shad working best. Poor results were noted for bream fishing.
(updated 3-6-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the water level is dropping closer to normal. The clarity is cloudy and the surface feels cold. They’ve had no anglers, they say. Reports across the board were poor.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.31 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-6-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are good. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and crankbaits fished on main and secondary lake points or in creek channels are working at this time. Walleye are making their spawning run. Small lipless crankbaits and hair jigs tipped with a minnow should be best now. Try areas just above and below the first shoal on the rivers and major creeks. Stripers are still fair and picking up. Major creek mouths and main lake points on the western end of the lake are the best for these fish. No reports on bream. Crappie are still slow and being caught with jigs or minnows in 20-30 feet of water near brush. No reports on catfish. Surface water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees, and the clarity is clearing. Lake level as of Tuesday was 579.21, about a foot and a quarter over normal pool. 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 395.44 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-27-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), reported that crappie are still biting well at Bear Creek and Storm Creek. Bear Creek anglers are seeing lots of activity off of the bank near habitat and fallen trees, using live bait. No major reports on bass, although they do have some tournaments coming up and hope to have something to report on that next week.
(updated 2-27-2019) See Bear Creek Lake.
(updated 3-6-2019) Wil Hafner, education program specialist at the Potlatch Education Center at Cook’s Lake, said plans were for the lake to reopen for youth and mobility-impaired fishing on March 2, but due to White River flooding, the opening has been rescheduled. Check back in this space or call the center at 870-241-3373. Cook’s Lake, when it reopens, will make fishing available on the 2-mile-long oxbow off the White River to youth under age 16 and to mobility-impaired anglers on the first and third Saturdays of each month, through October. Anglers can be accompanied by a helper who may fish.
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