Arkansas Wildlife Special Holiday Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
May 25, 2018
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Weekly Fishing Report
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for May 25, 2018. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email AGFCfishingreport@outlook.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Conway will be in effect through March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Conway for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 5-23-2018) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) says bass are excellent around the shoreline and along lily pads. Anglers are using soft plastics and white spinnerbaits. Bream are also excellent. You’ll find them at a depth of 2 feet around the shoreline. Use crickets or worms. Crappie are fair. Anglers are catching around cypress trees and bridges using minnows and jigs and fishing at a depth of 6-8 feet. Catfishing is excellent in the creek channels. Use large minnows. The surface water temperature is 76 degrees. The clarity is stained and water is at a normal level.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said bream are excellent. Anglers were fishing the piers and looking for the bite in 4-8 feet depth with redworms and crickets. Bass were fair. They’re active in the grass beds at a depth of 3-4 feet. Use a crankbait.
(updated 5-24-2018) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said that due to local heavy rain below the dam, the river is muddy today (May 24) from mid-river to lower river. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has requested an increase in the generation due to a slight rise in the lake. This generation starting today (Thursday) should help clear the river for Friday and through the weekend. Hopefully the area will miss any heavy rain. The generation will be 2 units in the afternoon hours. This will be for about 6 hours each afternoon. Morning canoeing and kayaking should be the best time, and all boaters and fisherman should check the schedule and be prepared for this rise each day. Please take care when this generation reaches your area of the river. Never approach the upstream end of the docks because of the undertow created by the current. The current in the river increases drastically when the generated water reaches your area. All types of boating should take extra care in the generated water. Greg says, “We wish everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. Be safe and courteous and enjoy the river.”
(updated 5-23-2018) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service said currently the Little Red River is receiving early afternoon and evening generation. This schedule pattern provides great wading opportunities on the upper river in mornings and lower river in afternoons. With summer vacations beginning and a holiday weekend, the Little Red will see a lot of boaters and anglers. Remember to practice your best boating, canoeing/kayaking and wading etiquette while enjoying the Little Red River. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends soft hackles, hare’s ear, pheasant tails, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and cotton-candy-colored bodies on chartreuse jig heads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. 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.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.87 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 5-23-2018) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.71 feet as of Tuesday night at 7:29 p.m. It is 0.33 feet below normal pool of 463.04 feet msl and should stay about the same (“we just got a 5incher by Sugarloaf Marina this afternoon,” Tommy reported). The catching is hot on the lake right now for several species as the lake is seeing a threadfin shad spawn and it’s just that time of year they will eat a bunch for the next couple of months after coming off the spawn and being hungry. The lake is real healthy at present with a lot of shad and healthy fish. The hybrid and white bass are really chewing well right now – as last Tommy cleaned 76 out of 150 white bass his group caught in a half-day fishing. And the big hybrids are eating good as well; the best bite is around the shad, of course. Use spoons, inline spinners and swimbaits, and live bait is working also from 22-45 feet of water. Just stay with the shad, and the fish are feeding heavy five or six times a day. The walleye are ganged up on rocky flats eating crawlers, dragged along the bottom or suspended in water from 16-30 feet. Low light periods are the best times to catch, and this bite will continue until mid-August. The crappie are eating jigs and minnows in 12-25 feet of water all over the lake, and this will last until its gets real hot. Then, early morning or late evening or at night will be the best. Bream are bedding on this moon coming up and will be good the rest of year on crawlers, crickets, inline spinners and small crankbaits. The catfish are eating just about anything you throw in the water right now. The blues and channels are finishing up their spawn and the flatheads are eating well before their spawn in June on jugs, on trotlines and rod and reels. The black bass are still in all three phases of the spawn: Some are still on the bank spawning, some recouping, and some post-spawners are eating again real well. And do not forget about the bream spawn coming up, as the bass will be roaming the banks in packs chasing bream around. Also, the rest of the fish can be caught with Texas-rigged lizards, spinnerbaits, Right Bite, Senkos and jigs; the deeper fish can be caught with C-rigs and football heads. A good topwater bite is going on as well.
(updated 5-23-2018) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said bream activity has ranged from good to excellent. Anglers are having the best success with crickets. Crappie are good on minnows or jig. Shirley, the new owner for the resort, said she had gotten no reports on bass or catfish.
NOTICE: An irrigation restriction on Lake Overcup will be in effect through March 1, 2019. The irrigation restriction will allow the AGFC to apply Environmental Protection Agency-approved aquatic herbicides to treat and reduce the spread of alligator weed, a non-native, invasive aquatic plant. Herbicides used will not cause harm to aquatic organisms, such as fish, and are not harmful to people or wildlife that may come into contact with treated vegetation or water. Herbicides that will be used have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. Therefore, the AGFC strongly recommends adjacent landowners DO NOT irrigate water from Lakes Overcup for lawn or garden use during this period.
(updated 5-25-2018) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said everything is slow at Overcup. Still catching a few crappie in the deeper water, 6-8 foot deep on minnows and jigs. Catfish are a little slow. The heat and humidity may have everything slowing down. Bream may have spawned on the 15th. You can still catch 25 or 30 bream at times, you just have to work for it. Within the next week, the bream should be active again with the moon phase. The bass also are slow. The clarity of the water is good and the temperature is 83 degrees. The level is about 6 inches above normal. Johnny expecting everything to pick up, he just doesn’t know for sure when, but they just aren’t biting like last week. “Come out and enjoy the weather and fishing with us at Overcup Lake off Highway 9.”
(updated 5-23-2018) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the clarity is clear and the surface temperature as of Tuesday was 78 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream have moved shallow to near the shoreline and are good on worms and crickets. Crappie are good. Anglers have found them near brush piles in 12-18 feet depth of water. Try using minnows, jigs or a crankbait. Bass are good. They are around rocky points and are biting in 18 feet depth on plastic worms. Catfish are good. Fish for them around brush piles with worms, shad or shiners.
(updated 5-23-2018) Jolly Rogers Marina (501-868-5558) said largemouth bass are excellent. With water temps in the 70s, the black bass are moving out of spawn areas but they’re mostly done. Some are in the grass or just outside of it. Try using Trick Worms, crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs in 4-8 feet and 10-15 feet of water. A few can also be caught in shallow water on Pop-Rs, spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. The best success is closer to dusk and dawn. The top three teams in Tuesday night’s tournament each caught more than 10 pounds stringers of bass, with a Big Bass of 4.44 hauled in by Sam and Fred Lowry. Phillip Cole and Billy Walpole had a winning 12.98-pound stringer. Thirteen of 21 boats weighed in at least 6 pounds. The Kentucky bass bite is good. The spots are in the grass and also about 8-12 feet depth. Rocky banks or points are best with a crankbait or jig. White bass are good, but there have been fewer reports. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons, deep-diving Bandits, and Bombers. Crappie fishing is good. More reports of crappie being found near brush piles and structures anywhere from 12-15 feet deep. Some anglers say they are striking with the bait rather than hitting. Try using shallow rigs and minnows early in the morning or later in the evening. Bream are very good now. Bream are coming into shallow water off the rocky points and around brush piles. Try using crickets, worms or jigs anywhere from 3-12 feet deep. Catfishing is excellent. More reports of the channel cats starting to move out and the blues coming in. Use stink bait or bream around 8-10 feet and 20-feet-plus depths. A 27-pound catfish was caught last week.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said crappie are reported biting fair. They’re in 5-10 feet depth and around brush piles. Minnows are working best.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4958) said the crappie bite is fair around brush piles and rocky points. Fish minnows in about 5-10 feet depth for best results. Water level and current are normal.
(updated 5-23-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said customers tell us they’re catching catfish on chicken livers, minnows and stink baits. Bream are shallow and are biting crickets and redworms. Bass are biting best early in the mornings on minnows and floating worms. Crappie fishing has been slow with only a few reports of catches on pink minnows.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 5-23-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream have been biting crickets and worms in both ponds. Crappie fishing has been better in Lake Charles but most have been small to medium-sized. No. 6 minnows are catching them in the last hour of daylight. Catfish have been biting slow to fair for customers using minnows, chicken livers and bait shrimp. Bass are liking No. 12 minnows, red/black core Trick Worms, watermelon/red Trick Worms and watermelon/red lizards.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 5-23-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream fishing has been fast and fun for customers using crickets and redworms. Catfish have been hitting minnows, worms and goldfish. Bass are biting minnows, small spinnerbaits, plastic worms and lizards and crawfish-colored crankbaits. Crappie are biting fair on No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Grubs in Tennessee Shad and John Deere Green. One customer reported catching a couple of good walleye over the weekend on No. 12 minnows.
(updated 5-23-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crickets and redworms have been catching some really nice bream. Look for beds in shallow water but don’t forget to fish around deep structure as well. We’ve seen some big ones come from deep water on Lake Norrell. Catfish have been biting fair at night on night crawlers, minnows and chicken livers. Bass have been biting early in the mornings, late in the day and at night on buzz baits, floating worms and live minnows. Crappie fishing has been tough lately with reports of only a few being caught on No. 6 minnows.
(updated 5-16-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Lake Sylvia is a hot spot right now for catfish, her customers tell her. The catfish are biting great using chicken livers.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says catfishing are excellent. Use nightcrawlers, chicken livers and chicken hearts. Water level is normal, no other conditions were reported.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s in North Little Rock (501-758-4958) says bream are excellent. Fish around the piers in 4-8 feet depth for the best bite, using worms or crickets. Bass are fair and are cruising in 3-4 feet of water on the north side of the lake in grass beds. Anglers report using buzzbaits, a shallow crankbait and Texas rigs.
(updated 5-23-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie are biting No. 4 and No. 6 minnows, and various colors and styles of Bobby Garland and Kalin’s jigs and grubs. Cajun Cricket and Tennessee Shad are the hottest colors right now. A couple of Lisa’s customers tell her they’re picking up some big bream on their crappie jigs and switching to crickets for some nice stringers of bluegill and redears. Bass are biting fair on minnows, Carolina- and Texas-rigged plastics and buzzbaits early in the morning and right before dark. Catfish have been eating up some nightcrawlers and chicken livers around the shoreline and bream beds.
(updated 5-23-2018) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said bass are biting on green pumpkin lizards with chartreuse tail. Use a rattle. Reports have been good. Bream are moving to grass lines and sand flats. Use crickets. The bite is good. Catfish are coming in shallow and hanging off the jetty. Use whole shad for best results. Anglers say the bite is fair. White bass are in the muddy water lines of creeks. Use shad or perch and mid-diving crankbaits. No reports on crappie.
Charley says, “My friends from the Vo-Tech in Russellville came down the river today (Tuesday), Charlie Jordan and Peter Leonard. They were sampling catfish. This is one of many state and federal groups doing studies on the Arkansas River. Gar and sauger are among some of the studies. It took some time for them to get going, but it’s great they are doing it.”
(updated 5-23-2018) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the clarity is clear and the water level and current were normal. A water temp was not recorded. Bream are good on crickets. The bream are shallow and appear to be spawning. Crappie are good. They’re being caught at the edge of trees in about 4 feet depth. Use minnows. Largemouth bass are good, especially around banks or in other shallow areas. Fish with a spinnerbait or plastic worms. No reports on catfish or white bass.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said the water level and current are normal. Crappie are fair in 5-10 feet depth around brush piles and rocky points. Use minnows.
(updated 5-23-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said surface water temperature is in the 70s and the level and current are normal. Bream are good. Look for them in the beach area in 2-4 feet of water and use worms or crickets. Crappie are good near rocky points in 10-15 feet depth. Use jigs. Bass are good below the dam on jigs. Fish 10-12 feet deep.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said catfishing is excellent around Murray Dam using skipjack and by snagging. Crappie are good next to the wall of the hydroelectric plant at the dam. Fish in 6-8 feet depth with minnows or jigs. Water conditions are muddy with a normal level and current.
(updated 5-23-2018) Vince Miller from Fish ’N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the water is stained and the surface water temperature is reaching the high 70s. Bream are fair. Crappie are good in the main channel of the river. Use blue-and-black jigs and fish 6-8 feet deep. Bass are good in the back river on crankbaits, plastic worms and topwater lures. No reports on catfish.
(updated 5-23-2018) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water level and current are normal and the surface water temperature is in the upper 70s. Bream are being caught near beach areas in 2-4 feet of water on worms and crickets. The bite is good. Crappie are good in 10-15 feet depth around rocky points. Use black and chartreuse jigs. Bass are good below the Terry Lock and Dam on CC Spoons.
(updated 5-23-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is stained and the level and current are normal near the Terry Lock and Dam. Bass are good; fish around rocky points in 8-10 feet depth with crankbaits or plastic worms. Catfishing has been good with nightcrawlers. Crappie are good. Best success is in the backwaters fishing 6 feet deep with minnows or jigs. Bream are around the banks in good numbers with a good bite. Look for them at 3-4 feet depth with crickets.
(updated 5-23-2018) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said that catfishing reports near the Terry Dam were fair by snagging or using skipjack. Water level is normal. At the other end of the pool, at Murray Dam, catfishing is excellent using skipjack. White bass are excellent. Use white twister tails and spoons.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 5-23-2018) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the clarity is clear and the water level and current are normal. Bream are good in 3-4 feet of water around the shoreline using worms or crickets. Crappie are fair in 6-8 feet depth; use minnows or jigs. Bass are good around the shoreline. Anglers are using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms and fishing at 10 feet depth. Reports on catfish have been poor.
(updated 5-23-2018) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the lake is clear and at a normal level and current. Bream fishing continues to be excellent. The bream are 1 foot below the surface and around brush piles. Use worms or crickets. Crappie are good in deep water. Fish your minnows or jigs by targeting 10 feet depth. Bass are good and are all over the lake now. Anglers are catching them with spinnerbaits and topwater lures. Catfishing remains excellent on minnows and hot dogs.
(updated 5-23-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the hot spot this week on the White River tailwaters of Bull Shoals Lake is just upstream from Cotter. A 27-inch German Brown was netted earlier this week by a 13-year-old trout-fishing intern, hooked with a green and orange jig between the Rainbow Bridge and the railroad bridge. Stick with those jigs, especially in the low, minimum flow generation we’ve been fishing for the past two weeks. Take a variety of colors (brown/orange, tri-olive, ginger, ginger/olive) and switch the bait when you see the trout are bored. Drifting a mid-sized sculpin (1.5 to 2 inches) has tempted many a brown trout to chase a line this week, drop it on the calm side of a rocky structure and wait. Bam. But we’ve had a day or two of very finicky fish; keep moving and you’ll come across a deeper hole where you’ll find a full house. Lower your weighted line with a bit of shrimp as close to the bottom as you can and you’ll likely feel a tug before you reach the bottom. Shiny spoons (the blue/silver buoyant or Cleo) continue to work well. See you at the river.
(updated 5-23-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is good, with the water level being high in the afternoon and dropping low in the evening. There is some generation. The trout bite is excellent. Anglers are drifting with PowerBait or worms and Shrimpies for the rainbows. Brown trout bite was poor this past week.
(updated 5-23-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week, they had a rain event producing about three-quarters of an inch in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.6 feet to rest at 10 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 23 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1 foot to rest at seasonal power pool and 14.5 feet below the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.9 feet to rest at 6.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had less generation and more wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 10.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.7 feet msl and 14.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool. With the rise in the lakes due to our recent heavy rains, we can expect more generation in the near future.
The White has fished much better. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There are caddis coming off. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (sizes 14), ruby midges (sizes 18), root beer midges (sizes 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (sizes 10), and sowbugs (sizes 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite is a size 14 red fox squirrel nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
Remember that the White and Norfork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “Years ago I had a yellow lab, Ellie, that was the ultimate fishing dog. On stream, she was my constant companion. She was great company and sat at my side as I fished. Everything would go well until the trout took a leap. It flipped her switch and she would launch into the river to retrieve the fish. I would yell ‘No, Ellie’ but it had little effect. She passed away about five years ago and I got another yellow lab, Tilley, that I hoped to make my fishing dog.
“My wife, Lori, wanted to make her a show dog and asked if I would wait a while to see how she would do in the ring. She feared that Tilley would be injured and would not be able to show if she accompanied me on stream. Tilley has turned out to be a spectacular show dog. She has her championship and is well on her way to be a grand championship. In the meantime, she has picked up 10 obedience and rally titles. Tilley is one of the best performance dogs I have ever seen and would make a great fishing dog. The problem is that Lori is unwilling to let her retire from the ring just yet and wants to see how far she can go.
“About a year ago we acquired another lab, Ghillie (the Scottish term for fishing guide). He is a black male and the exact opposite of Tillie. She is small, dainty and laid back. He is a big bruiser of a dog. He is definitely an alpha and is always getting into some kind of trouble, like eating a red bud tree or an antique oak table. He is ADHD and definitely too exuberant for genteel company. Lori has spent most of the year trying to train him to be obedient, with little success. I have nicknamed him, The Prince of Darkness.
“Since I could not develop Tilley as a fishing dog, I thought it would be a good idea to see if Ghillie had any hidden talents as a fishing dog. I knew that he was a bit too wild to be used for wade trips because I feared that he would interfere with the fishing of other anglers. I decided to try him out fishing from my river boat. I often see other anglers floating down the river with a dog in their boat. Lori went with us to see if she could control him while I fished. We put a personal flotation device (PFD) on him despite the fact that he swims like a beaver. The PFD has a handle on the back so that if he jumped from the boat we could pull him back it. At 85 pounds he is not easy to lift.
“We began our trip by launching my river boat, loading Lori and Ghillie in, and motoring upstream. As I began my drift, Ghillie didn’t know what to expect. About that time, I hooked a solid 16-inch rainbow that took a spectacular leap out of the water. He went nuts. It was all Lori could do to keep him from leaping in the water to get the trout. When I landed it, I let Ghillie take a good look at it and sniff it real good. For the rest of the day, he carefully watched the strike indicator and was very observant when I fought and landed the trout. If the action slowed down and I wasn’t catching fish, he barked.
“I decided that it might be a while before he is ready to accompany me on my fishing trips. I don’t mind so much, but Lori was unable to fish because she was too busy handling him.”
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 672.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that they expect a big Memorial Day weekend coming up with everyone scrambling to get out for the weekend. Lake level is at 672 feet msl. Bull Shoals Lake is still about 13 feet over normal poo. There are lots of bushes in the water still, the fish are pretty much post-spawn. It’s been a fun week for topwater. There’s a couple different things that are working depending on the conditions. You can still throw a spinnerbait. Spinnerbaits are working in the backs off secondary points off the spawning flat. Most of the fish seem to be cruising the flats right now. They’re in wolf packs, they’re going into where the perch have been spawning. Del says he’s starting to catch a few on a popper. If you get around isolated cover laydowns, trees, anything of that nature, you can throw that around there. The big loud topwaters, the one knockers, those are working well. There’s nothing better than topwater if you’re going to be on the water. Del says he’s picking a few up also on a frog, so some of those fish are pretty shallow, obviously, and as you’re going through fishing those spawning flights you want to make sure look for a little bit of dirty water, a little bit of wind is definitely going to help. The temperature is actually warmer in the back and on the flats, but those fish are in there seeking revenge on the sunfish.
Del says that he’s also throwing a Senko around still, and a wacky rig seems to be still catching a few fish on that. Those fish are in the bushes. He’s pulling some fish also still on the Keitech with the Flashy. If you move out toward the main lake, hit all the points, everything that’s got wind on it, and you’re going to run into them. The topwater bite’s really good during the early morning, so if you want to get out early you can get in on the topwater bite. That goes strong for about half-hour, 45 minutes, but then it picks back up. It’ll be random throughout the day, so have it ready the whole time. If you want to go after a big fish, you can catch a few on the Whopper Plopper and a buzzbait. Those are working, those are two good big-fish baits. Del adds that he won’t be on the lake this weekend, as he’ll be bowfishing, but it should be great the next couple of weeks. The topwater should get going, and he said he’s starting to pick up the drop-shot rod. As it starts getting real hot, Del said, he’ll be doing half-day trips before too long. Next week, Bull Shoals Boat Dock as its Big John Bass Tournament championship. You can check out Del’s regularly posted videos on Youtube, just search for Del Colvin or Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock. “Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, guys,” Del says.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 565.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-23-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the fishing on Norfork Lake continues to improve. The shad are still spawning and the stripers are on a very early morning bite. Tom says they are catching stripers as soon as they get a bait in the water, somewhere around 5 a.m. The bite does not last long and is usually over by 7 a.m. Tom is seeing a shift in the bite due to the hot May weather. This past week he boated over 35 stripers in three days, but the weekend with the boat traffic and people fishing slowed the bite. What’s now happening is the stripers are beginning to feed heavy on crawdads and this means they are very shallow, then they are moving to deep water. Tom says he has yet to find a consistent deep-water bite, but it’s only a matter of time and you will catch them later in the morning. Right now Tom and his guests are catching them on weighted floats set a 15 feet and 30 feet, long lines with split shots and planer boards with the bait 20 feet behind the board. The odd thing this past week is where he has been catching them, Tom says – normally it has been off the points but they found large schools of male stripers in waters 90-140 feet feeding on shad before and shortly after light. There is some topwater action but it does not last long. Start looking at Robinson Point in the 20-30 feet of water range near the bottom. The stripers will be feeding on crawdads. Start very shallow, then continue to move out till you find them. This pattern will occur all over the lake as the water continues to warm. They are near or at the 80-degree water temperature all over the lake. The lake is also being drawn down a few inches every day, so start planning on switching to a full summer pattern within the next week or so.
(updated 5-16-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for all species on Norfork Lake has been outstanding for the last week. The lake has finally stabilized, the weather has stabilized, the threadfin shad are spawning and the surface water temperature has reached the 70s. Perfect fishing conditions. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing has been very good over the last seven days. The best bite has been from the start of dawn until the sun gets above the tree line. The same holds true for the evening bite, which is just before sunset until it becomes dark. With the shad spawn ongoing, using live bait has been excellent. Lou says he’s mainly been using free swimming shad. He either pitches the bait up close to the shore and lets it swim or he has been slowly moving with a free swimming bait behind the boat while still staying in 20 feet or less of water. Main lake points that have a lot of sunken brush seem to be holding the most fish. There has been good topwater action for these species throughout the week. It may not be consistent in a certain location, but the stripers are coming up somewhere on the lake in the early morning and late in the day. Artificial baits that are working with Lou’s old standby method of walking the dog, are topwater baits, paddle tail swimbaits, flukes and blade-type baits.
Lou says the largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass bite has also been excellent. The shad spawn, as well as their own spawn, has been ongoing. The largemouth and spotted bass are inside of the sunken shoreline brush or just on the outside edge of the brush in the same locations as the striped and hybrid bass. Live bait is working excellent. Artificial baits that are producing some nice fish are a topwater bait worked on top of the brush, but one of the best bites is with a fluke-type bait. Cast your fluke inside of the brush and just give it little twitches and watch the bass come up and hammer the bait. Plastics, such as a lizard with no weight or very little weight, are also producing. A good color at this time is a dark green with some flakes in it. Crappie fishing has also been good. Most of this species have spawned, but there are still a few that are full of eggs. A great place to catch crappie in the middle of the day is under a covered dock that has some sort of underwater cover. Live minnows are working the best, but small plastic jigs are also producing some nice fish. The crappie are also moving back to the brush. Look for brush in 20-25 feet of water and there will be fish. Norfork Lake has finally stabilized and is actually falling slightly with two generators being run for approximately half of the day. The current level is 565.53 feet msl. The surface water temperature has risen to the mid-70s and if the high daytime temperature continues, the water temperature will continue to rise. Currently our air temperatures have been in the upper 80s to maybe the low 90s during the day and the mid-to-upper 60s at night. The water is clear for most of the lake with a slight stain in some of the creeks and coves.
(updated 5-23-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 10.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.7 feet msl and 14.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool. With the rise in the lakes due to our recent heavy rains, we can expect more generation in the near future. The water has cleared substantially and has fished much better. There have been some nice caddis hatches that have fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (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 bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, Copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s favorite rig lately has been a red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has cleared and is fishing better. 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).
Remember that the White and Norfork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also says, “The conditions for fishing on the river have been near perfect lately. The weather has been warm with little rain and light and variable winds. There has been plenty of low water and the caddis have been hatching. The Norfork tailwater, which suffered so much from a dramatic flood, last year, has recovered and is fishing well. It doesn’t get much better than this. My wife, Lori, and I have been on the river every chance we get. We are both fly fishing guides and spend a lot of time on the water but we do not get many opportunities to fish ourselves. The past couple of weeks have been the exception.
“To say that Lori is an accomplished angler is an understatement. She approaches every drift with an intensity that is amazing. She has been on fire of late catching trout after trout. When I fish with her we never seem to tangle our lines or lose flies. We normally carry two boat nets so that we can net our own fish. The only time we assist each other in the netting process is when one of us has a particularly large trout and need some help. This is normally a twenty inch or better trout.
“We have mostly been fishing on the White River at Rim Shoals. This has long been a favorite of ours. It is near our house in Cotter, has a great ramp with port-a-potties and picnic tables and is a Catch and Release section that has some trophy trout.
“I usually leave the house before Lori. I get the boat set up, rig the rods and launch. She normally arrives about the time I get in the water and am ready to go. We begin drifting immediately. Lately we have been fishing double fly nymph rigs under a strike indicator. The lead fly is my red fox squirrel and copper. This is tied on a scud hook in size fourteen with a copper bead and copper wire rib. The body is dubbed with red fox squirrel belly fur. It is a great caddis pattern that can also imitate a scud. The dropper has been a ruby midge in size eighteen. This has been my top producer for the past few years. There are several variations on this fly but I use the original pattern tied by David Knowles. We have been catching most of our trout on the ruby. I found this to be a bit of a paradox. I suspected that with the caddis coming off the trout would key on the caddis fly.
“I find that all I need is to catch ten or twelve fish. Lori on the other hand wants to catch them all. I generally quit fishing when I have caught a dozen and run the boat for Lori and watch her fish. I probably enjoy this more than anything. We fish until it is time to check on our dogs, Tilley and Ghillie. We cherish these days on the river. Now is the time to get out there.”
(updated 5-23-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. As the water warms, the smallmouths will be more active. 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 Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,127.32 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 msl).
(updated 5-23-2018) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is clearing and the surface water temperature is 80 degrees. Water level remains high. Crappie are good. The fish are active around 10-12 feet in depth and have been caught along the shoreline. Best bet for bait is to use a small deep-diving crankbait. Bass are good and are biting at about 15 feet dept. Anglers are finding bass in a post-spawn mode and scattered around the lake, but focus your efforts first around brush. Use a crankbait, soft plastic bait or a topwater lure. Catfish are good and appear to be getting ready to spawn. Fish for the cats along the rocks and ledges using a big live bait or worms. Nothing reported on bream.
(updated 5-23-2018) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) says it is topwater time. Get those topwater baits out and get those binoculars ready because stripers are on the move, and covering lots of water will be the key to success. Beaver Lake stripers are making their way north and are scattered throughout the lake. They are still using mouths of coves and the channel adjacent to shallow gravel bars. For you diehard live baiters fishing free lines, balloons and downlines between the surface and about 20 feet deep should get you some stripers. For the artificial baits you can try trolling umbrella rigs with white or chartreuse jigs/grubs or plugs like Rapala No. 14 husky jerks in black back or purple back colors, Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on planer boards to stagger your presentation. Soft plastic swimbaits and jerkbaits like Flukes have been very effective as well and are a good choice when your fish are located near a point or other structure that has timber, rock piles or other snags that necessitate the need for a more precise presentation. Keep your eyes on the lookout for surfacing fish as they are taking topwater plugs like redfins as well. Water surface temps in the mid- to upper 70s. On the mid and upper sections check out these hot spots: Lost Bridge South (topwater hot spot), Point 4 (topwater hot spot), Big Clifty (topwater hot spot), points 5 and 6 (topwater hot spots), Rambo Creek Arm (topwater hot spot), Rocky Branch (check the back of Larue near boat ramp), Ford and Cedar creeks (topwater hot spot; pay attention to where tree line intersects channel), Larue (check the main channel bends and cuts), Coppermine (check back of cove and main lake structures), Ventris (check back of this arm), Shaddox Hollow (check in back), Highway 12 Bridge (check main lake structures, humps and secondary points in the area where the channel intersects around Bear Island), Prairie Creek (check in back of this and Avoca), Coose Hollow (check back of this arm and the mouth near Deer Island) and Blackburn Creek (check back of this arm as well as the mouth).
Mike says the walleye spawn has ended and a large portion of the walleye are making their way back to the main lake and a good portion of them can be found suspended 10 feet down over 20-plus feet of water near structure. The post-spawn negative feeding mood is wearing off and they are beginning to get back on the feed. Most walleye are being caught in 20 feet of water or less. Use three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Try Rapala Tail Dancers, Bagley Rumble B’s, Flicker Shad, Bandit 300 series and Arkie 350s in colors that include orange and chartreuse. Also try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse.
(updated 5-16-2018) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been very good this week. Most trout are being caught between Spider Creek and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. Trout are biting on various quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The water temperatures in the area mentioned above has been between 55-60 degrees. A few walleye are being caught between Beaver town and Holiday Island pulling various Rapalas, jigging minnows and Berkley soft plastic baits in 6-10 feet of water. The weather has been warm this past week and the much-needed rain has seemed to perk the fish up a bit more. The Corps of Engineers is generating more in the evening, so get out early and catch some fish.
(updated 5-18-2018) Beaver Dam Store said the flood gates are now closed. The dam crossing is still closed and expect it to remain closed for two weeks. The Bertrand ramp area has been fishing well. Fish upstream from Parker Bottoms in the Trophy Management Area as well as Campground C, Riverview walk-in areas as well as the turnaround. Always be attentive to rising water conditions. Nymphs and midges are working well along with white or olive PJ Jigs. Stocking occurred last week and fly-fisherman are report numbers of fish being caught.
(updated 5-23-2018) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water has been murky and is at a normal level. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are good in 4 feet of water on worms and crickets. Try fishing around the dock. Crappie are in the beds and are biting at 6 feet of water on crickets and worms. The bite is good. Bass are good, especially around rocky points, on plastic worms and topwater lures. Catfishing is good with worms.
(updated 5-25-2018) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports right now the catfish are doing best. They’re biting chicken liver and shad. Black bass is doing pretty good on spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. Crappie has slowed down but anglers are still getting a few on small jigs and minnows in about 8 feet of water. Use black and chartreuse jigs; the water has come down muddy after all the rain they had Thursday night. Bream are biting on worms and crickets at all different depths. The bite is fair. It typically is a good bite for the next full moon. It rained 3 inches Thursday and, being the first lake on the White River, they catch a lot of that water. The water temperature is 83 degrees. The lake is about 2 inches above normal.
(updated 5-23-2018) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said, “We are getting a lot of questions about Lake Poinsett. One question is, ‘Are they filling the lake back up?’ We have had so much rain that it just appears that is happening. The best place to get your questions answered is from the experts. That is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.” And that answer is that Lake Poinsett will be closed to fishing until 2020 as repairs are made to several problems with the lake. Those will take time through the next two years.
Ome says, “Another question is whether Lake Poinsett State Park is open since there is no fishing in the lake. Yes, we are open, and we are here to serve you. We are keeping plenty of bait and other fishing supplies on hand for you. Happy Memorial Day weekend and Happy Fishing.”
(updated 5-23-2018) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the lake is clear and had a surface temperature on Wednesday of 77 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are good and are most active under docks. Anglers are looking for them in 6-10 feet depth. Use crickets. Crappie are good in the channels and are found in 6-12 feet depth. Use minnows. Bass are good and have been found close to the shoreline. Use a plastic worm. Catfishing is good around the docks using chicken liver.
(updated 5-23-2018) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 400 cfs and water has been clear. The river is lower than it has been all this spring. Lately the heavy rains have been missing the area. Olive Woollies on most days work great, but on the sunny days with a good hatch early in the morning nymphs and M Mark’s El Diablo are working great. Hot pink and chartreuse Trout Magnets are working great with spinning gear. Silver spinners are working well some days.
(updated 5-23-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork rivers. Canoe season is coming and there are a few boats on the river. 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 5-9-2018) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water is muddy and they had no fishing report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 5-13-2018) Webb’s Sporting Goods (870-946-0186) in DeWitt said catfishing on the Arkansas River has been very good below Dam No. 2 near Dumas. Fish are being caught on catalpa worms, shad and stick baits. Flathead catfish are running and being caught on the river on live bait. We are selling a lot of minnows, crappie are biting in the Arkansas River on small oxbow areas out of the main river channel. Reservoir fishing is excellent right now, for bass, crappie, bream and catfish.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 5-23-2018) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the low 80s. Visibility is only a few inches in the main channel with light flow, and a little over 6 inches in most of Lake Langhofer. Shad are spawning along rock banks and other hard surfaces along the banks, and black bass can be caught early and late with buzzbaits, walking baits, spinnerbaits and squarebill crankbaits in shad colors. During the day, black bass are biting fairly well on worms and jigs worked slowly through woody cover. Black bass are starting to position on offshore brush piles and ledges in Lake Langhofer but have not established themselves there quite yet.
(updated 5-23-2018) Park Interpreter Austin Davidson at Cane Creek State Park said the fishing has slowed down somewhat at Cane Creek Lake. With the temperature being above 80 before 7 a.m. on most days, the fish are receding into the deeper parts of the lake or under thick cover and becoming a bit sluggish. A front due to push through the state may also be affecting the feeding patterns of most fish. Bream are still biting off and on around the lake, especially toward the end of the day when the air cools down a bit. Crickets are still the bait of choice, as insect activity on top of the water is high. Fish where the temperatures are lower in shaded areas along cypress stands and around the edge of lily pad fields. While large amounts aren’t biting, the ones that are big enough to swallow a hook are considerable in size. There are also large amounts of small fry that will nibble your bait, so be careful, as they seem unaffected by the temperature and will strip a hook quickly. The small fry have caught the attention of the bass, though, as can be told by the occasional action seen later in the day. For bass, fish topwater or any spinner or lipless crankbait that runs directly under the water’s surface. Bass are hunting the small fish that are feeding on the variety of bugs landing on top of the water, and will lurk just under cover with a good view of the surface if the temperatures are cool enough. During the hotter part of the day, fish in water that is deeper than 7 feet, as the bass tend to retreat to cooler water. Use a jig or 8- to 10-inch soft plastic worm drug along the bottom to coax the deep bass into biting. Catfish are almost a constant at Cane Creek as long as you know where to look and when to fish. Try your luck night fishing around the shallows. Most species of catfish are laying on beds after the spawn, and will become active when the water and air temperature cools a little in the evening. Use live minnows for all species, as they are aggressive now. Nightcrawlers may also work. Crappie are hard to find now due to their active season being pretty much up. Fish deep holes near structure to try and catch a few stragglers. Fish with a minnow and you might catch a bass while you’re at it. A front is due to move through the state, and rain is on its way at this reporting. It’s hoped that will cool the water down and wash some foodstuffs into the water to get the fish stirred up again. If all goes well, the upcoming week should be marginally more productive. With a little luck this month’s Junior Fishing Derby on May 26 will be successful!
And Park Interpreter Houston Wynn said Wednesday the fishing has been unpredictable over the past couple of weeks due to sporadic changes in the weather. Though the water temperatures are very high, the visibility is murky and it’s throwing off some of the fish’s patterns. The bream bite is not where it usually is in May based on past years. Though they can be found with good size, there is not a lot of quality on the beds. Bass fishing has been spotty as well, with reports of them being caught on shallow flats on dark spinnerbaits in the evening time. The crappie bite has slowed with the change in weather. They are most likely beginning to make their move out to deeper waters, but don’t be surprised if you find a school in that 3- to 4-foot range. Catfish seem to be the most consistent this time of year, thriving in our recent weather changes. Fish the banks where water may have washed in from higher ground or the shallow edges of channels.
(updated 5-23-2018) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said anglers are reporting excellent luck, especially with crappie and catfish. The best spots seem to be along the shoreline. A wide range of bait has been successful, from minnows to canned corn. Bass are hitting spinnerbaits. The fish were biting better during the cooler parts of the day and overnight. Trotlines were also successful during the morning hours.
(updated 5-16-2018) Angler Chris Van Duren at Lucky’s of Monticello says bass fishing is fair, but you need to be fishing in the early morning. Bass are being caught in a depth of about 20 feet, with most activity near the creek channel. Use a crankbait or fish with shad or XD-22s. There was also some topwater action, Chris reports. Crappie reports were poor, and no other reports came in.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.51 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 259.20 msl).
(updated 5-23-2018) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level continues falling, near normal, and as of Monday remained about 3 inches above normal conservation pool and at 259.5 feet msl. The discharge was near 1,800 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater as of Monday was about 228 feet msl. Water temps continued improving over the past week. Surface temps as of Monday ranged near 70 degrees early to the 80-degree range later under full sun, depending on location. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on Mike’s website’s helpful links page (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. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for random, broken, or floating timber. Clarity and visibility continue improving over the past week, but remain stained in places, especially upriver. The main lake and lower sections of Little River continue to improve, and are not quite as stained or muddy as the upper regions of Little River and Saline River. As of Monday on main lake structure away from current, clarity and visibility was moderate stain, ranging 15-20 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 10-15 inches with heavy to moderate stain, depending on location and current. The oxbow’s clarity currently ranging 20-30 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, rain, or thunderstorms.
Mike says largemouth bass continue to rebound from the post-spawn conditions over the past week. Most largemouths have finished their spawn; a few stragglers and late spawners can still be found randomly across the lake. Largemouth bass have been good over the past few weeks, and levels of feeding activity continues improving. Many bass tournaments over the past few weeks on Millwood Lake have given up numerous largemouths at weigh-ins from 7 pounds to over 11 pounds each. Best baits drawing reactions over the past week or so have been squarebill crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, soft plastic frogs and Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook working in new lily pad growth. Best color of frogs have been black, Pumpkinseed Pearl, Watermelon and June Bug fished in new lily pads. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or Firetiger colors continue working randomly around flooded brush and new emerging vegetation for 2-4 pound bass. Mike says they noted the better quality largemouths have pulled out to slightly deeper depths on points and creek mouths, from 7-11 feet, recovering from the spawn. Males can still be caught relatively shallow around new vegetation and lily pads. StutterSteps, Spit’n Images, Ken Pops, Pop-R’s and buzzbaits are beginning to draw good reactions from post-spawn largemouths around vegetation and new pads.
Mike says shallow running squarebill, 2.0 & 3.0 S-cranks, and Echo 1.75s deflecting and banging/deflecting them off stumps, from 3-7 feet deep, have been taking some random, post spawn bass around 14-17″ in length. War Eagle Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits have been working near cypress trees, for the last couple weeks, near stumps, new lily pad stands, and vegetation, all from 6-10 feet deep. In the clearer water of the oxbows, better spinnerbait colors are Spot Remover, Mouse, or Hot Mouse colors for the last week or so. In the more stained areas, the White/Chartreuse and Firetiger were drawing best reactions. Best color of cranks in the oxbows, like the 2.0 S-cranks, and Echo 1.75 squarebills, for the past week or so have been the Bold Bluegill, Millwood Magic, and Ghosts. Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic and White Smoke continue to get random reactions from 15-18″ Bass over the past couple weeks in creek channels leading in and out of spawning flats worked slower and deeper in the creeks. Squarebill S-cranks and shallow running crankbaits in shad or bluegill patterns are working near creek mouths and points extending into Little River for the past week or so, since the post spawn Largemouths have pulled out to deeper sections of creek channels and points dumping into the river. Soft plastic Lizards, Brush Hogs, and Beaver Bugs continue working well for the last several weeks deeper into the creek channels. Best lizard colors have been South African Special, PB&J, Watermelon Candy, black/blue and June Bug. Heavy, big, bulky 10-12-inch worms are beginning to pick up reactions from largemouths in creek channels, creek mouths dumping into Little River, and points along Little River. Berkley Power Worms, and Zoom Ole Monster 10-12-inch worms in black, black grape, blue fleck, plum, June Bug red, Watermelon Candy, blackberry and Red Shad colors have been drawing good reactions from lethargic, post-spawn largemouths.
Mike adds that a large school of white bass were connected in the mouth of Hurricane Creek this past week. Nomadic whites are on the move along Little River. Crappie continue to improve near standing timber and planted brush piles. Crappie were very aggressively hitting on jigs and minnows both, over the past week to deeper drops 14-15 feet of depth, near standing timber. They have been located by vertical-jigging minnows, Arkie Jigs and minnows in standing timber in 10-15 feet of depth. No reports on catfish this week.
(updated 5-16-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass are a little slow. A few crappie are being caught on the stickups. Heard some good reports on bream.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.97 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-16-2018) Jason Lenderman with JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said lake level is about a foot below full pool of 548 feet msl and holding steady. Water temps have made it to the mid and upper 70s. Most of the bass have spawned but some can still be caught shallow due to the higher water and the bream and shad spawns. Right now, a lot of these bass are on secondary points leading into and out of spawning pockets in search of bream. They can be caught using Booyah Buzzbaits, Super Spook Jr’s, and the new Booyah Toadrunner. Windy days are good for Booyah spinnerbaits or Smithwick Rogues in windy pockets and points. Super Spook Jr’s are starting to see some action on main lake points. Shaky head worms are working well on main lake points as well. Night fishing has been decent lately using Booyah spinnerbaits Yum Ribbontail worms. Crappie are great and can be caught in 15-25 foot brush with Kalin’s Grubs (Tennessee Shad or Rainbow Trout) or minnows.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.42 feet msl (flood pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-23-2018) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 80s and the lake is clear throughout. Fishing is pretty good overall with the reason being the water level has finally stabilized. Bass fishing is good with lots of fish reported, however, most are on the small side. Look for fish in major coves and creeks between Edgewood and Shouse Ford. Best patterns have been medium-running crankbaits, both lipped and lipless, in the early morning. Later in the day try a Texas-rigged 4-inch finesse worm in green pumpkin or red shad. A few decent-size fish reported coming on double spinnerbaits slow-rolled across secondary points. Lots of Kentuckies showing along the bluff banks at points 28, 14 and 15. Work a Texas-rigged 4-inch worm down the bank to about 20 feet. Crappie fishing is good early in the morning on attractors in the big coves in 18-20 feet of water. Back off the brush and throw a Kalin’s 2-inch Grub in Tennessee shad across the brush. Count the lure down to about 10 feet and just slow-roll it back. Bites will be very light so pay close attention to your rod tip. Best areas have been between Edgewood and Yancey Creek. Hybrids have been hit and miss with the schools moving following the shad. Look for surface-feeding fish early in the morning between Edgewood and Shouse Ford. Throw small surface plugs, Flukes and 4-inch swimbaits. The fish just aren’t as plentiful as they usually are for May. Some are blaming the absence of fish on the greatly reduced stockings the past few years. Some nice bream showing on the crappie attractors and this fishing will really pick up the next full moon with the spawn in progress. Try redworms and crickets.
(updated 5-23-2018) John Duncan of YoYoGuideService.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well, here is summer, early.” Water temperatures are up to the low 80s on the surface. The lake level is at 407.38 feet msl. They received about 1½ inches of rain yesterday around the area. That did not help with the stabilizing of the water at all. Bass are moving out of the shallow water except for early and late. If you can get there early fishing topwaters and surface lures like buzzbaits and Whopper Ploppers worked well. This applies for all of the lake area. As it heats up, move to the points and use Texas or Carolina rigs for the best results. There are some black bass schooling with the hybrids on the lake. The hybrids are still not on the surface in a consistent manner. You have to use your electronics to find them. They are showing up from mid-lake to Shouse Ford in schools, but not surfacing well. If you can get out early enough you can find them surfacing in some spots but very sporadic and in short bursts. If you can locate them with electronics, use spoons and soft baits to get down to their depth. John says he expects, if the weather holds out, that they will be surfacing soon. White bass are surfacing in mid-lake around the State Park and lake markers 2-6. Small topwaters like the Tiny Torpedo or Zara Spook Jr. work well on these. Crappie are in a transition state (“I hope,” John says) to stack up on the deeper brush piles. Reports are that smaller jigs fished slowly around brush piles in water 20 feet or more are producing in the Shouse Ford and Brushy areas. Minnow fishing over the brush piles has been a little slow but getting better as the fish move to them. Minnow fishing with bobbers in water in the 20s (feet) as a minimum is best. Drop-shotting the brush piles seems to be getting the better fish. They seem to be holding close to cover. Go to the bottom and start up slowly. Nothing to report on bream or catfish. Crappie don’t seem to be stabilized mid-lake yet, so fish the Arlie Moore to Shouse Ford area brush piles. Best fishing to you, and be safe.
(updated 5-9-2018) Greeson Marine, dealer of the Arkansas born and bred, all-aluminum, all-welded Xpress fishing boat in Hot Springs, reports that Lake DeGray is on fire! Water temps are in the high 70s and 80 degrees in parts. Water clarity in the 3-4 foot range. Bass have moved off of the spawn and on to the post-spawn! Fish are hungry and actively taking almost anything you can throw at them! Swimbaits, jerkbaits, soft plastic worms, lizards and craws are producing well in the natural colors of summer. Green watermelon and black are the way to go. Main lake points humps and colder creek channels are holding most fish. Go get ’em!
(updated 5-9-2018) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are off the beds and stacking up on the brush piles. Fish 5-8 feet deep with jigs or minnows. Darryl’s been catching some white bass and hybrids trolling crankbaits or Alabama rigs.
De Queen Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.68 feet msl (flood pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.32 feet msl (flood pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 5-16-2018) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass should be starting anytime. Bream and crappie a little slow. Water still 6 feet high.
Hot Springs Village Area Lakes
(updated 5-9-2018) Greeson Marine of Hot Springs, hometown dealer of the Arkansas born-and-bread all-aluminum, all-welded Xpress fishing boats, reports that village lake bass fishing, like many other areas, is getting great results as the post-spawn fires up! Fish are hungry and actively attacking soft plastic worms, Senkos and lizards with the occasional frog bite in lakes with grass. Water temps are in the low 80s and visibility from 2-6 feet in most areas. Most fish are on main lake points and changes in elevation on the main lake. Some fish can still be found hiding out under docks in the shade.
(updated 5-16-2018) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is murky and the level is normal. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Anglers report poor results with bass. The bites they’re getting are coming near the shallow end or around cypress on topwater lures. The AGFC fertilized the lake May 1. Fishing is very slow right how, Sharon reports, but they expect for things to pick up by Memorial Day weekend.
Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro.
(updated 5-23-2018) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that rainbow trout fishing is excellent as thousands of quality trout are thriving in the tailrace. Bank fishermen are catching limits of fish using PowerBaits, waxworms and mealworms, redworms, and corn fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Spin fishermen casting small jigs, Super Dupers and Little Cleos in silver or white are recording limits of trout during periods of current or slack water. Fly-fishermen can still access areas that hold good numbers of rainbow trout and can be successful presenting Trout Magnets in white or pink, micro-jigs in black, or San Juan worms in red or hot pink with a strike indicator. The walleye spawn is over but numbers of fish remain in the tailrace feeding on shad. The majority of fish are being caught by trolling shallow-running stick baits that imitate small minnows or crawfish. Carolina rigs tipped with nightcrawlers have taken the largest fish at night. White bass are making a run toward the dam, with numbers being taken from the bank by anglers casting flukes and Rapala jerkbaits in a black/silver combination. Crappie have finished their spawning run and are still being caught on small jigs and live minnows around rock structure and sandbars close to the main river channel. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should be aware of the generation schedules and must always follow all boating and park regulations.
(updated 5-23-2018) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is 84. Water clarity in the river is dirty with some clear creeks and some stained. Largemouth bass have been good. Resident fish have been good on frogs and chiselers; river fish have been good in the grass with scam shad, jigs and Bamboozie. Fish on drops have been good with crankbaits and spinnerbaits; brush pile fish have been good with jigs and crankbaits. Crappie have been good in the creeks around stumps with chartreuse jigs and chartreuse/black. White bass have been good on main river points around the current break; use white jigs, small swimbaits, crankbaits and spoons. Stripers are still in the creeks working the way out to the river. They are holding in the deeper holes and hitting Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, and scam shad used as a trailer on a chatterbait. Bream have been good in the creeks and the river around brush and stumps on the mudflats; use worms, crickets and small jigs. Catfish have been good in the creeks on worms and grasshoppers and small perch; the river fish are still hanging around mudflats, and cut bait, shad, skipjack and perch have been good bait.
(updated 5-25-2018) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports noted on US97 that what anglers need to pay attention to as the Memorial Day weekend arrives is, “I looked at that moon (Monday night), and the bream spawn has got to be ready to roar.” He said he saw a bunch of bream cruising the banks on Monday, and this is one of the best times of the year to throw a squarebill 1.5 or 2.5 crankbait in a bream color, and coming up this weekend with the moon will be basically when those bream start cruising the banks. “All that fry is out there and big mama bass are going to try to keep them off their babies, and you’ve got a bream spawn to boot. So, it’s a great time of the year to throw a bream-colored lure.”
On Thursday, Kastner and Tom Duke of US97 discussed the upcoming full moon, May 29. Both note that 3-4 days either side of the full moon in May, the fishing is usually fantastic. Tom is hearing already that the bream fishing is A-OK. Kastner says there is plenty of clear water to find the beds. “We haven’t had enough rain to discolor the water at all. I suggest looking for deep, deep pockets. Look on the sides as you’re going in and the back middle. As long as the water is clear you should be able to see them. Hamilton is very clear. Ouachita has really cleared up well in the last week. Look in 5-6 foot depth for the bite. Bream are like a pack of wolves. You can make all the jokes about chumming but it works. Get a cheap bag of dog food. Day-old bread. Go to an area, drop anchor on your boat, chum that area, give it a few minutes. Just chum one spot and they’ll come to it.”
Kastner says that crickets are his personal favorite for bream. Or you can use worms. He points to the Berkley Honey Worm. “It looks like a maggot, it’s about an inch long, they make three difference colors but I’m not sure color matters a lot. Off-white color is what I use. Put it on the hook wacky style, sideways, and drop it in. It puts off a really strong scent and attracts them like you wouldn’t believe.” As for line, Kastner prefers a 6-pound line, but 8-pound is fine, and use a No. 8 Aberdeen cricket hook. It’s a long shank light-wire hook, so if you’re using 6- or 8-pound line, if you get hung up, you can pull on the line and the hook will straighten out so you won’t break off. A pair of needle-nose pliers is all you need to bend that hook back. “I don’t think the diameter of the line is all that important in bream fishing. Crappie, you might win that argument. But like I said, bream are like a pack of wolves. They’re not real picky.” The bream bite is going on right now, he concludes, and anglers can look down at the bottom of the area lakes that are quite clear and see the bedding craters already. Anglers want to fish their bait on the bottom. Don’t use a bobber with your bream line or you’ll just have the bait picked off the hook, he said.
And it’s the perfect time to use a bream-colored lure to fish for bass around the bass fry, he said.
(updated 5-16-2018) Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton said the big bream have been doing well on crickets.
As of Friday , the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.54 feet msl (full pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2018) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the bass are doing real well on shad-colored spinnerbait with a willow leaf. Also, bass are hitting a silver and black Rat-L-Trap fishing shallow. A finesse worm, watermelon red in color, with a slip sinker will also bring in the bass that are up shallow now. The crappie have spawned and are moving back out into the deeper areas. They are biting well, anywhere on average from 14 to 16 feet deep in 20 feet of water. Bream are doing well on Nimrod. Andrews is selling a lot of crickets, they report. Bluegill is what you fish for on Nimrod and they are beginning to bed. As for catfish, if you run your lines every hour or hour and a half, you’ll have a lot of fish, but you better run them or they’re going to die, it appears. They are baiting the lines with shad.
(updated 5-9-2018) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) said the water is muddy but clearing. The level is normal. Bream are biting well on jigs. Crappie are good on jigs. Bass also are good and hitting jigs. Catfish reports are good and they say they are biting jigs. The Boys would not reveal specific area where the fish were being caught or the depth.
NOTICE: The AGFC will hold two public meetings in June to discuss a new Lake Ouachita fisheries management plan. Both meetings will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hot Springs Convention Center. The Fisheries Division is asking all anglers who like to fish Lake Ouachita to attend the meetings for the purpose of drafting a new fisheries plan, which will serve as a guideline for the Lake Ouachita fishery for the next five years. The first meeting, on June 7, will be an open house will displays about the lake’s largemouth bass sampling, Florida bass genetics work, the lake’s creel survey, the completed statewide angler survey by the AGFC and the Lake Ouachita striped bass and crappie sampling results. The public will be able to interact with AGFC biologists at different stations about their ideas. The second meeting, on June 26, will be presentation of the new plan.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.41 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2018) Tom Duke of US97 said on the Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports report that the bream spawn has started. The full moon is at its peak May 29 and 3-4 days on either side of the full moon, the fishing is traditionally fantastic in Ouachita and the other area lakes. He also said that the topwater fishing on Lake Ouachita is outstanding now. Last weekend, Tom says, he and his group fished topwater always. Not all of the bass were bit, but all day long they were catching fish on the topwater lures.
(updated 5-23-2018) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are very good. Creature baits, worms, black spinners at night and spooks during the day are all working well. Walleye are still fair. Try trolling a Flicker Shad or similar small crankbait for these fish. Stripers are good on live bait. Major creek and river channels on the western and central part of the lake are still the best for these fish. Bream are still excellent and being caught on crickets and worms in 8-15 feet water near brush. Crappie are very good and being caught on minnows or jigs in 15-18 feet of water near structure. Catfish are very good. Cut bait, live bait and stink bait are all producing good bags. Water temperature is ranging 72-76 degrees and the clarity is clear. Lake level is 577.72 feet msl. Contact the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717; Chris Darby, 870-867-7822; and Jerry Bean, 501-282-6104 – for more information.
(updated 5-16-2018) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton (501-778-6944) said Lake Ouachita is a hot spot for big bream right now. The bite is very good and they are being caught on crickets. Also, slab crappie being caught on No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin’s 2-inch Tennessee Shad grubs.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 387.62 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2018) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation and Education Center (870-241-3373) said black bass should be hitting any soft plastics around the bases of the cypress trees. Texas-rigged worms or soft plastic swimbaits should get the best results. Crappie should be along the channel or on the edges of the deeper cypress trees. Try white/chartreuse or black/chartreuse jigs. Bluegill are spawning and can be caught on crickets or night crawlers in the shallow flats or at the base of cypress trees.
Cook’s Lake is a 2.5 mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species. Cook’s Lake will be open to fishing on Saturday, June 2, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will be open the first and third Saturdays of every month through October, water level pending. Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youth under 16 or mobility impaired, and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat, but we ask for trolling motors only. Before launching, please check in at the Conservation Education Center, and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, please contact the center at 870-241-3373.
(updated 5-23-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Bear Creek Lake is still having positive bream and bass activity. If you can get your boat out, the bream are biting in medium depth water and the bass are hiding out in treetops around the shoreline. Anglers can also access the park’s fishing pier, where they have been bringing in the crappie. Live bait and artificial bait alike seem to be working – crankbaits are being reported on bass. The days are heating up, so we’re seeing most of our activity in the morning and evening hours.
(updated 5-23-2018) Natalie Faughn, ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Storm Creek Lake water is finally starting to clear up. No major reports on activity; however, it looks like the chances for scoring a bite are higher now than they have been. Keep on trying! Natalie adds, “Remember, Mississippi River State Park has all of your bait needs. We sell artificial and live bait including worms, crickets, and shad. Also, the park has flat bottom boats available for rental on Bear Creek Lake. Feel free to call the park for more details at the number listed above.
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