Arkansas Wildlife Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 20, 2019
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 20, 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 3-20-2019) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said that the lake clarity is has cleared while the water level returned to normal. No surface water temperature was reported. Bream picked up over the past week. The bream are spawning and anglers say they are biting well. The fish are in shallow water and biting worms and crickets. Crappie are good and appear to be spawning into shallows. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good on crankbaits or plastic worms. Catfishing is fair; use cut bait or prepared bait.
(updated 3-20-2019) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said that as of this writing, there are some morning fishing opportunities on the Little Red. However, it is expected the Army Corps of Engineers will increase water release from the Greers Ferry Dam this coming weekend and going with round-the-clock release next week. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends egg patterns, San Juan worms 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 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 3-13-2019) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear and the generation Wednesday was scheduled for 12 hours with two generators. The lake is 8 feet above normal but the releases have been lowered to accommodate the lower Little Red and White River flood gauges. “As I write this report, rain is expected today (Wednesday), so one should check the generation before planning your fishing trip. It just depends on the amount of rain we get as to how much longer this generation pattern will continue.” As soon as the lower river will allow an increased flow, the generation will return to the 24/7 two-unit variety until the lake is normal. The bite was fair on the one-unit generation and is also fair if you are able to stay just ahead of the rise when they are generating two units. Please take extra care if fishing the higher generation. The increased flow is dangerous when your boat is pushed against the upstream side of a dock or other obstacle. “Be safe and food fishing!” Greg says.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 470.90 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 3-20-2019) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 470.95 feet msl and staying pretty steady but will come up some with the forecasts of rain. It is 8.91 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. The overall catching is good and will get better by the day. Crappie catching is good all around the lake on minnows and jigs fished 12-30 feet on the edge of current and pole timber. Walleye are eating up rivers on crankbaits, drop-shot rigs, grubs and the like in deeper holes and on shoals at certain times of the day and night. Black bass are eating well all over the lake and rivers with the best to come; use spinnerbaits, crankbaits, Carolina rigs, tubes, jigs and wacky worms from right on the bank out to 40 feet. No report on bream. Catfish are still feeding well all over the lake on a variety of baits. Hybrid and white bass are eating well fishing shallow and deep using grubs, inline spinners, Road Runners and spoons. Stay around the bait or spawning areas for the best results.
(updated 3-20-2019) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reported the clarity is muddy and the water level went back up and now is high. Surface water temperature on Tuesday morning was 62 degrees. Crappie fishing tailed off somewhat over the week to fair. Crappie will be spawning in the next two weeks. Right now, they are in shallow dept and are being caught on the banks. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass reports were poor. Catfishing is poor. Bream reports were poor.
(updated 3-20-2019) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is about 2 feet high. Clarity is good, while the surface temperature is around 56 degrees. Black bass are doing fair but are still slow. Bream are slow but should be picking up soon. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline with cut shad and minnows. Crappie are doing well around brushtops and structure around the banks, on minnows and jigs.
(updated 3-20-2019) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake has cleared, and now it is just “a little high.” Some of the fish aren’t responding well this week. The black bass are fair and are being found in 8-10 feet depth. Crankbaits are working. But crappie are not biting well, he says, with poor reports coming in. Bream are poor. Catfishing is fair.
(updated 3-20-2019) WestRock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland reports that water temperature is ranging 53-55 degrees. The female white bass are being caught past the Arkansas Highway 10 bridge at the west end of the lake and most males are running through the creeks. That is the first wave for whites and the next wave for whites is coming real soon, they report. Largemouth bass are good. They are in transition and moving out of deeper water. With the temperatures rising, the bass are starting to move in and are getting ready to spawn. Some can still be found in depths of 16-22 feet. Try using chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, drop-shots and swimbaits. Kentucky bass are poor. Fewer reports this week but most can be found deep in 16-22 foot of water. Try fishing off drops and rocky banks. Overall on the white bass, the reports are good. Some reports are coming in that the whites are moving through the channels and headed towards the creeks. Try using Rooster Rails, jerkbaits and or 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. Catfish are slow. Try using stink bait, crayfish or worms.
(updated 3-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said customers have recently reported catching some catfish on nightcrawlers, chicken livers and minnows. Crappie fishing has been fair and they seem to be trying to move up to shallow water. Lisa says they’ve had reports of catches in 1.5-2 feet of water on No. 6 and pink minnows. Black bass are hitting live minnows and watermelon seed or green pumpkin trick worms. Bream fishing is slow but you can catch a few with crickets or worms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that the recent few straight days of sunshine have started to warm the ponds a bit and fishing has been pretty good. Crappie, catfish and bass have been biting No. 6 minnows for customers fishing early in the morning and just before dark. While most of the fish have been fairly small, they’ve been loads of fun and a few have been decent sized. Bream have been biting crickets and redworms.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said that at the time of this writing the river level at Benton is at 4.64 feet msl. That’s a tad above normal but almost perfect for fishing. Smallmouth bass, Kentucky bass, largemouth bass and walleye fishing should be great right now. Try a No. 12 minnow or Lisa’s favorite, a big ol’ brooder minnow. Use a good 8- or 10-pound test, clear line with a No. 1 or No. 2 hook and a small split shot. Fish in or near the current, close to deep water at the upper ends of the holes. If you don’t get a bite before your line settles, prop your pole up and watch it for a few minutes. Take plenty of hooks and sinkers because you will get hung and break off some, but that’s fishing in the Saline River. Catfish should be biting well, too. Black Salties, goldfish, brooder minnows, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, stink baits or one of many other baits will catch catfish when they’re biting. Crappie have been biting in some backwaters of the river during the recent high water levels.T should continue and crappie fishing in the river itself should be good now as well. No. 6 minnows are a favorite bait but a number of jigs and grubs will catch Saline River crappie, too. The bream will almost always provide some fun on the river. Use small hooks, light line and crickets or redworms. Take a kid or a fishing buddy. Don’t expect to catch all big ones but keep a count and see who catches the most. “Good fishing. Have fun and enjoy the outdoors. Keep the banks and waters clean and above all, be safe,” Lisa said.
(updated 3-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been tough on Norrell forever and it still isn’t a crappie angler’s dream lake, but reports collected over the last year or so indicate crappie fishing is improving. Customers have been telling us about catching some nice ones on No. 6 minnows and Bobby Garland jigs. No big stringers have been caught yet, as far as we know, but some of the fish have been in the 13- to 15-inch range. Catfish are biting minnows, black salties, nightcrawlers and chicken livers. Bass fishing is fair with No. 12 minnows, Texas- or Carolina-rigged trick worms and 6-inch lizards, jigs and spinnerbaits. The big bream are still deep as usual on Norrell. Redworms or crickets dropped close to deep cover such as logs, brush or rocks will get the attention of a big redear or bluegill.
(updated 3-20-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing is fair. Use chicken liver, chicken hearts or nightcrawlers.
(updated 3-20-2019) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says crappie are fair on regular and pink minnows. Fish for them off the piers. Black bass are fair on minnows and swimbaits.
(updated 3-20-2019) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are starting to bite pretty well for some of her customers fishing with No. 6 and No. 12 minnows as well as Kalin’s grubs and Bobby Garland jigs. Yellow colors like Acid Rain, Green Banana and Full Moon are working well right now. Bass are biting No. 12 and brooder minnows, Carolina-rigged lizards and Brush Hogs and spinnerbaits on the windy days. Catfish are moving up shallow in the evenings and biting minnows, nightcrawlers and chicken livers. No reports on the bream bite from Winona recently.
(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 and 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 3-20-2019) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said fishing is better since last week. The water level is normal and the clarity is clear. Crappie are good. They’ve come in shallow and were biting the yo-yos. Black bass are good. They’re being caught in 3 feet of water. Catfish are fair on yo-yos. Bream are poor. White bass are poor.
(updated 3-20-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says the Maumelle pool is muddy with high level and current. Surface temperature recorded as 58 degrees. Crappie are good fishing for them at 6-8 feet depth around cypress trees. Use white/chartreuse jigs. No other reports.
(updated 3-20-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are fair around Murray Lock and Dam by snagging or bait fishing with skipjack.
(updated 3-20-2019) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that the river level and current are high, while the clarity is muddy. Anglers say that black bass response is poor right now. Crappie reports, though, are good. The crappie are being caught at a depth of 3-4 feet using pink minnows. Work the rocky points/the riprap. Nothing reported on bream, catfish or white bass. Moving further down the Little Rock pool to the Terry Lock and Dam and into the next pool, Tony Zimmerman reports that the clarity is muddy and the current and level are high. Crappie are good below the dam in 10-15 feet of water. Fish the rocky points with minnows or jigs. Catfishing will be good below the dam on cat shad. White bass are good using swimming minnows in pearl and chartreuse grubs. No reports there on black bass or bream.
(updated 3-20-2019) Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) recommends that boaters/anglers stay off the river until the flows are down to 70,000 cfs. Earlier this week, they were at 85,000 cfs and the level is high. The river is cloudy and the surface temperature is ranging 54 degrees on up. Overall, fish are biting in the backwaters rather than in that fast current. Crappie are fair. Currently they’re in the deeper water and moving at around 6-8 feet depth over that deep water. They’re wanting the black/chartreuse jigs. It’s best to fish around wood – brush piles, stumps – and focus on the backwater areas. Black bass seem to be biting when the water goes over 54 degrees. Bass are hanging around the wood and the dead grass, and they’re hitting Jackhammer single swim baits as well as jigs. Poor reports this week on catfish and bream.
(updated 3-20-2019) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the fish are not doing much in the lower end of the Little Rock pool near the Terry Lock and Dam. The clarity is muddy and the water level there is high. Poor reports across the board on bream, crappie, black bass and catfish.
(updated 3-20-2019) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfish are fair around Murray Lock and Dam by snagging or bait fishing with skipjack.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-20-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water level remains just a little higher than normal, while the clarity is clear. Crappie are excellent this week. Minnows and jigs will work. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and worms. Nothing reported on catfish.
(updated 3-20-2018) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the clarity remains dingy while the water level is normal. No surface temperature was recorded. The crappie bite remained good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good; no baits were suggested by the tight-lipped anglers. Catfishing is good. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-20-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says spring is here, or at least spring break time is here. Many families have been making their way to the White River and have been reeling in great trout. The Brown Trout bite has still been excellent with sculpins slowly overtaking minnows as the favored bait. Fishing at the bottom of deep pools or cover near the bank has proved to be the best way to pull in a big brown. Rainbows have been a bit trickier to find recently, but throwing a pink worm in relatively slower water has reeled in many good sized trout. The river is still high from the releases from Bull Shoals Dam, however the high water is providing the trout with a great food source resulting in larger, better fighting fish. Enjoy the warming weather and come to the White River to catch some great trout.
(updated 3-20-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is cloudy, as there is fast water. The river level is high with six to eight generators running. The trout bite is fair, and anglers are doing OK.
(updated 3-20-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they have had several rain events that combined for just over an inch of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.7 feet to rest at 4.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 31.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.9 foot to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 foot a foot to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.7 feet to rest at 2.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps opened six gates of the 12 gates 1 foot each, releasing about 4,500 cfs, as 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. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River system are at or above the top of power pool. Expect more generation in the near future. 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 mentions an upcoming spring fly-fishing class: “I have been teaching fly-fishing for almost 30 years. In the late 80s, I was president of the Mid South Fly Fishers (the local fly fishing club in Memphis). We decided to teach a fly-fishing class. I taught various basic subjects and my brother, Dan, taught fly-casting. It was quite successful.
“We continued to teach the Mid South Fly Fisher Classes. A local sporting goods store, Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods, asked Dan and I to teach fly-casting. We did it for over 10 years. We taught literally thousands of people to cast a fly rod. That evolved into a fly-fishing class for Tommy Bronson.
“We approached Shelby State Community College and began teaching fly-fishing there. Mississippi County Community College in Blytheville invited us to teach there. About that time the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission asked us to teach fly-fishing at JFK Park on the Little Red River.
“I met my wife, Lori, when I was teaching a fly-fishing class for the Mid South Fly Fishers. She was a natural and quickly became a great fly-fisher. Lori had a strong background in corporate training (she has a master’s degree in counseling). It was a given that she would become involved. She worked with Dan on how to teach casting. She had an opportunity to work with the late Lefty Kreh, who took her under his wing and made a great casting instructor out of her.
“I moved here first and a couple of years later, Lori and I were married and she joined me in Cotter. We were both guiding and decided to teach fly-fishing here. We approached Arkansas State University Mountain Home to see if we could teach there and they agreed. We began our classes and they have remained popular. We have been teaching the classes twice a year (spring and summer) for several years now and still enjoy it.
“We devote half of our class time to teaching casting and Lori leads that portion. I consider her to be the best casting instructor in the area. Of course, I assist her at every class to ensure that everyone gets the full benefit of the instruction. I lead all of the classroom instruction and Lori assists. Here again she provides her experience in order to increase the quality of the instruction.
“The spring fly-fishing class is scheduled to be held on April 4, 11, 18 and 25 in room D102 Dryer Hall on the ASU Mountain Home Campus. The classes run two hours each. They begin at 6 p.m. and last till 8 p.m. There is a modest fee involved. To register go online to www.asumh.edu/services/community-education.html. You can register by telephone at (870) 508-6105 or in person at the Community Education office in the Sheid. If you would like to learn to fly-fish in a friendly nonjudgmental environment, give our class at ASU a try.”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.00 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 555.18 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-20-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “What a weather week we just had. We started the week catching limits of stripers and hybrids and ended it with cold weather winds and very little fish activity. The threadfin that was abundant up on the flat past Fout was blown out, and the small hybrids and stripers are still around but have been very sluggish to bite. We did catch fish Saturday but the bite was very light and you had it get on the bite as soon as saw the hit.” The good news is the weather looks consistent and is warming, Tom says. Earlier this week in Bennett’s Bayou it was 52-degree water and it will only get warmer. The bait and fish will move back into the creeks as the water warms. If you’re looking for walleye, there is a strong bite from Calamity Beach to the 160 bridge. Both live bait and stick baits are catching limits of walleye. “With the water warming up I saw crappie being caught off the stickups in Bennett’s today, you should be able to find them in good numbers by weeks end,” Tom said. Stripers and hybrids will start to feed now that the big front moved past. You will be able to catch fish in the Fout area, Big Creek above Reynolds Island and also Brushy Creek. “I caught fish around 6B in Bennett’s Bayou. Shad, shiners, spoons and umbrella rigs have been catching all of the species. As the south winds begin blowing, start fishing the northern bays and banks. The night bite will start after that ,so 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 3-20-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Spring has sprung on Norfork Lake. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous the last several days. The lake water temperature is on the rise and fish activity is increasing daily. It has been exciting to see the fish transition from the winter pattern to the early spring pattern.”
He says bass fishing “has been awesome” with largemouth bass and spotted bass being the most abundant, with an occasional smallmouth mixed in. Crankbaits and jerkbaits are working very well. “(Tuesday) morning I got into an hours’ worth of great topwater action using a Zara Spook. The fun has begun for the early spring bite. I found topwater action partway back in a small creek on a shallow round point where the channel swings in. The fish were in 5-20 feet of water and chasing shad in a very large area. I landed a fish on about every other cast. The majority of the fish were short, but in an hour I landed six keepers with the largest well over 3 pounds. Yesterday, I was part way back in a major creek in a similar type of area, and found a lot of bass in 10-18 feet of water. My jointed tail, Flicker Shad, size 7 was working great. The fish were closer to the bottom with very little topwater in this location.”
The other type of area producing fish is shallow main lake points, especially if the channel swings in close to the point. Same types of baits mentioned earlier are working in these areas as well, he said. As the water level becomes more stable, more and more of the bass will move back into the creeks and will start staging for their spawn. That also means they really start to feed heavily.
The striped bass bite is also transitioning from the winter pattern to an early spring pattern. What this means, Lou says, is that the fish are moving out of the deeper water and are moving in close to the shoreline to feed. The striped bass’ move to the shallow water to feed has just started over the last several days. They are following the baitfish to their new feeding grounds. “This is also changing my fishing times. Over the last several days the best bite for striped bass has been about an hour before and after sunrise and similar times at sunset. This is also telling me that the stripers should be feeding after dark; so, if you like throwing a suspending jerkbait, now is the time to be out there. I myself have not been out after dark yet, but I will be soon.
“I have two different baits that I enjoy using this time of year. The one I use the most is a 6-inch swimbait with a paddle tail. I use a 3/8-ounce to half-ounce jighead. I cast it toward the shoreline and let it sink to the bottom, then use a steady retrieval back to the boat. The other bait I like is a suspending jerkbait. My retrieval method varies until I find out what the fish wants. I may retrieve it like a crankbait or work it as a jerkbait. I guess I have one more favorite bait in my arsenal, my trusty quarter-ounce to half-ounce Kastmaster. I typically change hooks out to one size bigger and add a feather trailer. This morning I landed two stripers in about 6 feet of water on a swimbait, along with a handful of large white bass. There was a few bigger fish hitting the surface, but very sporadically.
Lou says the topwater for striped bass will pick up over the next several weeks if the weather continues its warming trend. The best areas that he has found for stripers are main lake points that are very shallow on one side and deep on the other. Meanwhile, crappie fishing has been fair, he said. “My crappie fishing guests are catching quite a few crappie, but the bigger ones over 11 inches long are harder to come by. They have been landing around eight to 12 nice fish a day, along with many short ones. Small quarter-ounce spoons in white and green or white and chartreuse have been working for them. Live crappie minnows are always a great bait for crappie fishing. The fish are on brush at all different depths. You can find fish on brush from 20 feet to 35 feet deep. Crappie will be buried inside of the brush or suspended above the brush. You will need to keep fishing different depths until you start catching fish. Lately the crappie have seemed a little more timid, so you may have to move often to catch your fish.”
Norfork Lake level is falling about 3 inches per day with both generators at the dam running. The lake sits at 555.29 msl as of Tuesday. This equates to only 1.5 feet above normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 52 degrees. It warms during the warm day and then cools again during the cooler evenings. The lake is mostly clear with maybe a 5- to 6-foot visibility. Some creeks are similar to the main lake clarity and other are stained a greenish tint. “Overall the lake is in great shape and the fishing is shaping up to be a fun spring bite.”
(updated 3-20-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 2.7 feet to rest at 2.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps opened six gates of the 12 gates 1 foot each, releasing about 4,500 cfs, as 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. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River system are at or above the top of power pool. Expect more generation in the near future. 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).
(updated 3-20-2019) 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 1,122.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 3-20-2019) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is primed and ready to go. Mid-40-degree water on the north end and has hit the magic 50-degree mark in the river arms. The lake is still above normal pool. The start of the week was tough but the last few days fishing has been on fire. With the full moon, the walleye spawn is happening now. “I have run day trips and night trips this last week for walleye. We have caught many walleye on various baits this last week. I would assume the spawn will be over this week for the majority of the walleye and they will respond next week with a good bite to follow. Walleye do not have a major letdown after the spawn and rebound pretty quick and really start to feed well quite soon after the spawn. My clients are catching females up to 26 inches that have just spawned. We are doing well at night, also.”
Jon says white bass are really turning on and ”it’s better than I have seen in a few years.” He talked with lots of fly-fisherman this last week and they were doing really well on the whites. The best and easiest way to catch them, Jon says, is with a Lil Fishy fished on a 1/8-ounce jighead. It is an easy jig to use, especially for kids. Just cast out in the moving water and reel in on a steady retrieve.
Crappie are good. Look for laydowns or and humps or other structure adjacent to main river /creek channels. You have to learn your electronics. Master that and crappie fishing becomes consistent year round. Any method is workingn. They are being caught anywhere from 5 to 15 feet deep. Bass are also picking up as they should. Look for staging areas. Jerkbaits and some swimbait action been reported.
(updated 3-20-2019) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the fishing continues to pick up. Mid-lake there is stain, but the water is clearing up on the river. Surface water temperature is in the mid-40s as of Monday. The level is high by about 2 feet. The crappie bite fell off this week, though. Poor reports. White bass are running at Twin Bridges. Jerkbaits also are working. The largemouth bass bite is fair again this week, with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs getting the most action. Walleye are good on the river using deep-diving crankbaits or 3-inch plastic grubs. Poor reports on catfish. Bream are fair on crickets.
(updated 3-20-2019) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) had no report
(updated 3-20-2019) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reports that the lake is clear and at a normal level. No surface temperature was reported. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair and are hitting spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Poor reports on bream. Catfish also are poor this week.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 3-20-2019) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent at Lake Fort Smith State Park, said Tuesday the water clarity was clear with visibility of 3 feet. The surface water temperature was 54 degrees. Bream are fair to poor using worms (best bet) at 6-20 feet deep over brush piles. Crappie also are fair to poor. Rooster Tails are an angler’s best bet to catch crappie, fishing them at 10-15 feet depth over brush piles and stumps. Black bass are poor. However, crankbaits, plastic worms and jigs may work at 10-15 feet depth over brush piles, stumps and rocky points. Catfishing has been poor. Worms may get some action if fished in 30-foot deep water over rocky points. White bass are poor. But worms may attraction some bites in 6-10 feet deep water in channels entering the coves.
(updated 3-20-2019) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported the lake clarity is clear and it’s at a normal level. No surface temperature was reported. Crappie are excellent. They are now by the bridges and are active for minnows and jigs. Bass are good, but no baits were mentioned. Catfish are fair on chicken liver. The bream bite is still a waiting game; no reports this week.
(updated 3-20-2019) Shelly Jeffries at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says the clarity at Lake Charles remains murky, while and surface water temperature on Sunday morning was 42 degrees. Lake Charles’ water level remains high. Largemouth bass are good. Anglers were having success catching bass off the bank, as well as fishing rocky points and brush. Chatterbaits were working best. White bass were biting off the bank on a Z-man Ned rig and on minnows. No reports on crappie, as well as no reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-20-2019) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “We are selling more bait this week. In a couple weeks we should be in full swing here at Lake Poinsett State Park with more live bait. Soon thereafter we should be getting crickets. Looking forward to seeing you. Happy Fishing.” 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. Stop in for your bait supplies on the way there.
(updated 3-20-2019) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the water is clear now and has returned to normal level. Surface water temperature was 50 degrees on Monday afternoon. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass are good and are favoring spinnerbaits, plastic worms and jigs. Catfishing is improved to fair this week. Anglers are catching them where the water is moving on chicken livers or nightcrawlers. Poor reports again on bream.
(updated 3-20-2019) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are at 450 cfs (350 cfs is average) at the spring. Water clarity has been good. The river is still up some. Weekly rain showers can murk up the river. Last week during a rainstorm the river was murky on Thursday and good by Saturday. Smallmouth bass and rock bass are hitting well. On the fly, olive Woolly Buggers are the ticket. On spinning gear, Crappie Magnets in pumpkin seed color are hot. Ned rigs in same color work well, too. The trout are hitting great as long as the fly gets to the bottom. That’s not easy in some areas. Olive has been the hot fly lately. An olive marabou jig is an easy way to get down to the bottom. On spinning gear, hot pink and white Trout Magnets and Berkley Flicker Shad are hot. “Be safe out there wading! Tight lines and good luck.”
(updated 3-20-2019) 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 3-20-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) says no one is fishing. The river level there is 13 to 13.5 feet high, with a cloudy clarity. No surface temperature was reported. Poor reports across the board on bream, crappie, bass, catfish and walleye. Chances of catches, they say, have been slim to none.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 3-20-2019) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report. They are on spring break.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 3-20-2019) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 3-20-2019) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), says Lake Chicot is ready for fishing. The lake is muddy, but water level is back to normal. Catfish are for sure biting. Possible showers on Wednesday, but the rest of the week weather should be pleasant for fishing.
(updated 3-20-2019) The lake was drawn down about 6-7 feet while the AGFC completed vegetation and fish cover work on the shoreline through last September. The lake is rising with rainfall that will cover the new anchoring of cut gum trees and other vegetation that is 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 target now 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 261.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 3-20-2019) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake appeared to about be stabilized and begin to fall again after the recent thunderstorms and gate changes at the dam. Lake elevation Monday was about 22 inches above normal pool. The Army Corps of Engineers made gate changes at the dam Monday that started releasing about 17,000 cfs on Tuesday. The tailwater below the dam is also back on the rise, and as of Monday, with USACE gates release at the dam, was about 243 feet msl. Water temps rose over the past week and ranged 57-62 degrees Monday. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the US 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 logs and debris are still very visible this week. Clarity and visibility conditions are beginning to improve in flats and creeks away from Little River current over the past week. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility is moderate stain, ranging 5-8 inches. Little River is improving and visibility ranges 5-6 inches with heavy stained conditions, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity slightly improved with most recent lake level stabilizing, but stain is obvious in the mouths of the oxbows. Currently, oxbow clarity ranges 15-30 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
The bass bite has been slow but there is steady improvement, and still best during the midday hours in the oxbows and pockets, away from strong river current. Bass Assassin Shads, Bang XX FAT JOBS, Yum Dingers or Bad Mamas, large bulky Hogs, War Eagle Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and lizards are all getting good responses. The bite frequency and patterns improved with increased surface temps 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. Best bite continues during afternoon’s warmest periods of the day, from 12 to 4 p.m., along flats adjacent to wide creek wings, away from Little River muddy current, where stumps and fresh lily pad shoots are blooming, being prime locations. They are seeing very good bass reactions with Bass Assassin Shads, War Eagle Spinnerbaits in grass, and Rat-L-Traps in the creeks between 8-10 feet of depth. The best crankbaits drawing reactions recently were square-bill cranks in craw patterns and Bandit Cranks in brown/orange crawfish patterns. Rat-L-Traps and Echo 1.75s in shad patterns like Millwood Magic, red chrome, Toledo Gold, and Echo 1.75s in Rayburn Red Craw or Ghost Minnow continue working near midday warmer periods in back of the feeder creeks dumping into the oxbows away from muddy Little River current flows where water clarity is better. Bulky, fat tube jigs like magnum, fat 4-inch Gitzits, Brush Hogs and Real Deal Custom Tackle jigs continue taking a few chunky, largemouths on trees 3-8 feet deep, and on stumps, 6-10 feet deep. Cotton Candy, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, chartreuse pumpkin and Blackberry colors continue to be good colors for soft plastic brush hogs or lizards getting hits from solitary bass. A slow-moving Real Deal Custom Tackle jig in Texas Craw, black/blue, amber/chartreuse or June Bug, with black craw trailer, well get good reaction bites near stumps from 7-8 feet of depth in outer bends of creeks and ditches with cypress trees. Bass Assassin Shads are getting great reactions in the oxbows in 2-5 feet depth of water in fresh hydrilla, coontail grass, deertongue grass and new lily pad growth. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in Smokey Shad, Spot Remover and Hot Mouse colors are still working and getting good reactions in the oxbows fished slowly from 6-8 feet of depth. If the water clarity is stained and dirty, switch to a FireTiger color. Chatterbaits in FireTiger, chartreuse/orange bream and Dirty Blue-Dog colors with a beaver or Bang Boss Shiner swimbait trailer are catching solid, random 4- to 5-pound bass.
A few white bass were caught on Little Georges, Cleos, Rooster Tails, Rocket Shads and Rat-L-Traps up Little River between McGuire Oxbow and entrance to Cemetery Slough over the past week. The white bass are evidently 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, with clearest water you can find being the most activity areas, and are hitting minnows and jigs in 2-6 feet depth around cypress trees. Best colors of jigs over the past couple weeks or so have been white/chartreuse, red/white and blue/chartreuse. Blues and channel catfish continue biting well on trotlines and yo-yos set in the current of Little River, and in back of the oxbows where current from Little River is bleeding through, set from 12-18 feet deep. Yo-yos set from cypress trees over 8-12 feet deep in back of Mud and Horseshoe lakes 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 3-20-2019) 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 545.83 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-13-2019) Tamara Lunsford, park superintendent at Daisy State Park near Kirby, said Monday that Lake Greeson surface water temperature was 52 degrees with turbid clarity. Greeson was 1.14 feet below 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. Anglers are using jigs around brush piles or rocky points. Bass are fair on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Most bass are being caught in 10-15 feet depth and around brush. Catfish are fair on worms and blood bait. White bass reports are poor, but some can be caught fishing crankbaits or silver spoons in the deeper holes.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.62 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-20-2019) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says the water temperature is up to 55 degrees, and each day the water warms the more the crappie will stack up on the brush piles. It won’t be long and the males will be making and guarding beds and the females will be staging.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.41 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 540.28 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 3-20-2019) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) in El Dorado had no report.
(updated 3-20-2019) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says clarity is “pretty clear,” while the water level is high by about foot. Surface temperature Tuesday was ranging 51-56 degrees. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are picking up more and more, Sharon says, with good reports this week. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are best baits to use. Catfishing is fair on shad. White bass and bream are both poor for now.
(updated 3-20-2019) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park (501-844-4176) said the lake is a “little dingy” but beginning to clear. The surface water temperature was ranging 55-57 degrees on Sunday. Bream reports were poor. Crappie are fair and improving. Black bass are slow to fair, with best success coming on jigs and crankbaits. The bite is improving. White bass are poor, but could improve soon. Catfishing is slow/poor. Chuck Emrick of Fishing with Chuck on Lake Catherine guide service reported catching 14 crappie and one Kentucky bass last Saturday, “the first real good catch in two months,” he told Steve.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 3-20-2019) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that Lake Catherine is now refilled to normal levels. The lake rose 6 inches per day and was brought to normal summertime pool March 10.This process began 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 effected by the rising waters. Trout despise muddy conditions and the bite is almost nonexistent while the lake is rising. Also, Lake Ouachita is still in the flood pool, which forces Entergy to run heavy generation to pass excess flow through the dam system 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 week to 10 days after the lake has reached summertime pool. 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 3-20-2019) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495) said the area for much of the week received welcome sunshine; strong winds on Friday gave way to calm conditions and clear skies the rest of the weekend. As for clarity, at the lower end of Dardanelle the water is slow to clear up after last week’s storm and still remains somewhat muddy. The Big Piney and Illinois Bayou rivers are also slow to clear up as well. Surface temperature is 55 degrees. The pool elevation has held at normal elevation. Upriver, release at Ozark Lock and Dam 12 has been steady over the past week, ranging between 45,000 cfs last week to almost 70,000 cfs on Sunday. Its release has since slowed down to near 61,000 cfs. They have been generating all day and spillway release has remained steady. Downriver, release at Dardanelle L&D 10 has also been steady over the past week ranging from 40,000 cfs last week to 71,000 on Friday. Its release has not changed much since then. They have also been generating all day and spillway release has also remained steady. Weekend tournaments are taking place on the lake. The big bass are biting. An 8-pound, a 7.23-pound, and three other 5-pound bass were weighed at Lake Dardanelle State Park on Saturday. Anglers reported using Alabama rigs, soft plastics, jerkbaits, crankbaits, tubes and spinners. Anglers are also fishing for crappie in the deeper tributaries.
(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 3-13-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels at or just below normal pool with water clarity varying. The main channels are murky with temps at or below 50 degrees mostly. Most arms and creek channels have decent clarity of up to 2 feet and temps in the mid-50s. One would think that the conditions that we have going would be producing good reports but with the lake levels changing, the recent and coming rains and the high winds, it’s simply dang tough out there, folks. Things should pick up when we get a little stability. Until then, for bass try Alabama rigs and deep-diving flat-sided and lipless crankbaits as the weapons of choice for search baits. Bright colors are the way to go with the water clarity murky. Chartreuse, FireTiger, orange and craw colors should be semi-effective. If you can locate fish, try switching to a suspending jerkbait or a shaky head jig or finesse jigs and see if there are a few more takers. Fish should be thinking about staging on main lake points or the next location up the bay or creek channel, but no reports as of yet of any massing of fish. No crappie report. “Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.71 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-20-2019) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the clarity this week is cloudy with the high water level. Surface temperature at midday Monday was 47 degrees. Crappie fishing is good. Your best success will be fishing for them at 6 feet depth in 12 feet of water. Chartreuse/black or green Electric Chicken is the way to go. Minnows and other jigs are worth a throw, too. Bass are good on chartreuse swim jigs. Catfishing is good if you throw them hot dogs. White bass reports were poor. Bream are poor.
(updated 3-20-2019) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said reports picked up this week. The water level was normal there and the clarity is clearing. Bream are good. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Catfish reports were good. Nothing reported on bass.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.35 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-20-2019) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said black bass are very good. Jerkbaits, crankbaits and some floating worms fished on main and secondary lake points or in creek channels are working at this time. Walleye are good and moving back into the lake from spawning run. Small minnow colored crankbaits and gray hair jigs have been producing good stringers up the main river channel. Stripers are still good. Most of these fish are up the rivers and being caught on shad colored lipless crank baits, C-10 redfins and live bait. Bream are slow but having sporadic reports of fish being caught with grubs and worms in 20-25 feet of water near brush. Crappie are still fair and being caught with jigs or minnows in 20-30 feet of water near brush. Catfish are slow but some anglers are having luck with limblines and trotlines using live bait. Water temperature is up some, ranging 50-54 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. The lake level is nearing normal pool, and is less than a half-foot over normal. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
(updated 3-20-2019) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born and bred, all-welded, aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Ouachita at normal levels with temperatures in the low 50s in the main channels and mid-50s in the backs of pockets. Water clarity is in most areas 6-8 feet. “We are in that weird transition time for bass, where some are moving in closer to the secondary points of the lake with many fish still on main points. Preferably rocky ones.” Suspending jerkbaits and crawfish colored crankbaits are taking some good fish. It is imperative to get out early. Right as the sun breaks in the morning seems to be when the binge feeding is going on. Most fish are being taken in good numbers on the warmer southern end of the lake. Planning ahead to the lull between morning and evening is crucial on bait selections. Drop-shot rigs, jigs and Carolina rigs are the best ways to cover water during the day right now when the fish get inactive. Natural colors like green pumpkin and light craw colors are best with the fantastic water clarity. Crappie are good on brush piles near shallow pockets and preferably near some current in 25 feet of water. For you striper folks out there; it’s on right now! Fish are moving toward main lake feeding channels and it is not uncommon to accidentally catch one while bass fishing. “Good Luck and GoGreeson!”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 387.84 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-20-2019) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
(updated 3-20-2019) No report.
(updated 3-20-2019) 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 this month, 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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