Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 4, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for March 4, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://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: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 3-4-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is the normal stain, and surface temperature is 51 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are good. They’re found in 5-8 feet depth and are biting redworms and crickets. Crappie remain active with good results reported. Pink, white and chartreuse jigs are working best, along with minnows. Black bass are good. White is the color for baits: white spinnerbait, white crankbait or a white chatterbait will work. Catfishing is good with nightcrawlers or with cut shad on the bottom.
Little Red River
(updated 3-4-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red River is receiving 18-20 hours of daily of generation. The Greers Ferry Lake level is above normal seasonal pool due to recent rains, so longer periods of generation to lower the lake level are expected. If you choose to fish these conditions, you will want to use long leaders and weight. Key for both fly-fishing and Trout Magnet fishing during heavy generation is the ability to get and maintain a good presentation of the fly or Trout Magnet. Working shoreline with streamers is also an effective fly-fishing method during high-water conditions. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, micro-jigs, egg patterns and streamers during high-water conditions. Hot pink, cotton candy and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 3-4-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the Army Corps of Engineers has told him that there be slight increases in the number of hours of two-unit generation as long as the level of the White River at Georgetown will permit the increase in flow on the Little Red. Wednesday’s forecast is for 21 hours of generation. The flow is about 6,200 cfs. This means high water for at least the next 10 days unless the lower river levels cause a reduced amount of generation. Check the Southwestern Power Admistation forecast before planning a trip. “If you plan on fishing the high water, please be safe. Small craft are dangerous during these flows,” Greg said.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 465.13 feet msl, 3.09 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. As long as they are generating, it’s staying about the same; when they stop it starts rising, as there is a lot of water in the ground. The water temp varies and this time of year just a degree or 2 will make a big difference in catching or just fishing. Bream up the rivers are shallow and eating not so much in lake; use crawlers, beetle spins or small crankbaits. Some crappie are in the bushes, while some are not and are out still floating around in deep water; try a jig or jigs with minnows. Catfish are eating as there is word of a 60-pound fish being caught; even people trolling for other species have caught some cats. Walleye are eating upriver on some days, males mostly. The lake walleye are not doing much as a lot of fish are still traveling at present. Up the rivers, try live bait, crankbaits, Rogues, Flukes and jighead worms. Black bass catching is all over water column, changing every hour according to weather. Use a variety of baits. Hybrid and white bass are upriver shallow and some in the lake deep – pick your poison as live bait, spoons, swimbaits, inline spinners and grubs are working.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 3-4-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water is clear. The water level is a little high. Overall fishing continues to be down but some catches were reported. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass reports also were fair. Nothing reported on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-4-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 2 feet. Clarity is good with surface temperature around 57 degrees. Bream are slow but should start picking up with this warmer weather. Bass are chasing shad but not many people are fishing lately. Catfish should start picking up with people starting to fish again maybe I can tell more. Crappie are starting to pick up in 4-7 feet of water. A lot of males are being caught on rods and reels using minnows the last few days. Two anglers had 10 crappie Saturday afternoon that was well over 18 pounds.
Johnny also said, “Just a heads up, the Central Arkansas Crappie Association is having a tournament this weekend.”
Crappie are being caught on yoyo’s at night lately.
Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for any latest updates and photos.
(updated 3-4-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake clarity is clear and the water is “just a little high.” Surface temperature is ranging 56-57 degrees. Bream reports were fair. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie remain good. They are still found about 10 feet deep in the channels; they appear to be moving more. They’re also bunching up around brushpiles about 5-6 feet deep. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass improved to good this week; they also are moving more like the crappie. They can be found in the shallows. Anglers are catching them off the docks with minnows, including a 5-pounder hooked. Catfishing is good as they are coming up off the bottom. Use chicken liver or shrimp.
(updated 3-4-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland says water temperature is in the mid to upper 50s. Largemouth bass are good. Some can be found shallow outside of the grass around 8-12 feet biting a variety of lures. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and swimbaits. Indicative of the good bass bite were the results from the Lake Maumelle Bass League’s tournament last Saturday, where Mike Hammett and Eric Wallace had a five-bass stringer of 19.56 pounds with the Big Bass of 6.89 pounds. Cody Bryant and Jerry Bryant were right behind the winners with 17.38 pounds.
Kentucky bass, however, are slow. Some reports have them being found in 10-15 feet of water outside the grass line. They can also be found in 18-22 feet off drops and rocky banks. White bass are good. Some reports this week of the white bass being found staging around underwater bridges and some can still be found in the channel. Try using Rooster Tails and spoons. Crappie are good. Reports of them being found scattered in the river channel around 20-24 feet deep. Also some reports this week of them starting to move out of deeper water. Try using jigs and minnows. No reports on bream this week, and they’ve been slow, but try them with crickets and worms. Catfish are fair; use chicken liver and crayfish.
(updated 3-4-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting No. 6 minnows and pink minnows. Catfish are biting slow but some have reported catching a few on minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass fishing is fair with minnows, Carolina-rigged plastics and lipless crankbaits. Bream are biting crickets and worms.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-4-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting fair on minnows, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Crappie are hitting No. 6 and No. 4 minnows. Bass are biting live minnows and small spinnerbaits. Bream fishing has been OK with crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-4-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says the river was up most of the week but the last couple of days it has been fishable. A few report catching some bass and walleye on brooder minnows. The bass on the Saline really like small plastic lizards and small crawdad-colored crankbaits too. Catfish are biting fair at night on trotlines baited with brooder minnows, goldfish and black salties. Crappie are hitting light on No. 6 minnows. Bream can be caught on crickets and red worms
(updated 3-4-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some good crappie have been coming out of the deep parts of the creek channel. Pink minnows have been working well for customers recently. Bass are biting fair on minnows, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Carolina-rigged plastics. Catfish have been slow this week but some have been caught on No. 12 minnows and black salties. Bream are starting to pick up the bite a little. Redworms or crickets will catch them.
(updated 3-4-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been good for some with pink and No. 4 minnows. Bass are biting minnows, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Catfish have been biting fair late in the day and just after dark on minnows, nightcrawlers and stink baits. Bream are biting crickets and redworms.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 2-26-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) says commercial fishermen have just come back to fish as the water is just now getting where they can fish. “We have had six years of high water. I have not had even catfishermen in three and a half weeks.” He says catfish below the dam will bite; use skipjack. Results have been fair. They’re also in the deep holes in the river and will bite skipjack. White bass are biting fair below the dame. Use Sassy Shad in pearl. Sauger fishing below the dam is slow but they will bite some. Use horsehead spinners with a red head and chartreuse body. No reports on black bass, crappie or bream.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 3-4-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and the level is normal. Surface temperature is 54 degrees as of Monday afternoon. Crappie are fair on minnows or jigs. Black bass are using crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfish are fair on the yo-yos baited with minnows. No reports on bream or white bass.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 3-4-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-4-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river is stained but the water is back to normal level and the flow is good. Crappie fishing is good, with anglers reporting the fish in 5-1 feet depth. Best bets were the milky white Bobby Garland Crappie Jigs, along with red/white jigs. Minnows and other jigs, of course, can get a response. Target the rocky points. Black bass are good. They are in 3-4 feet depth in the backwaters. Black/blue Z-Man Chatterbaits were working well. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 3-4-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the water level and current are normal as of Tuesday morning. Crappie are being found around Willow Beach in 10-12 feet depth. Results have been good. Jigs are your best bet, particularly black/chartreuse Super Jigs. Also, there is a crappie bite over near the old Cajun’s location. Anglers were using pink minnows fished in 6-8 feet depth. Make sure to try around the rocky points in the pool. White bass are good, according to anglers. Worden’s Vibric Rooster Tails below the dams are working. Tony also reports that anglers are catching sauger below the Terry Lock and Dam on black/pink jigs.
(updated 3-4-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no reports from the lower end of the pool.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-4-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) didn’t hear much from Clear Lake, but they do here good reports on crappie. The fish are biting crappie minnows or jigs. No other catchers were reported, and conditions were unavailable as of Tuesday morning.
(updated 3-4-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake remains a little dingy in clarity and is at a normal level. Fishing picked up from last week, though. Crappie are good on minnows, jigs, spider rigging and yo-yos. Black bass are fair on topwater lures. Catfishing is good using hot dogs or minnows. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-4-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Whether we’re experiencing a false spring or a full-blown early, here-to-stay spring season, let’s take advantage of it. Cotter, 18 river miles from Bull Shoals Dam, is enjoying mild daytime
temperatures, a week with no rain in the forecast! And still cool – but not cold – nights. Get on the river and catch some trout in an abundant fishery managed so generously by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission folks.”
The recent ample brown trout bite has proven once again that February and March are great months to visit the White River, and the rainbows aren’t ignoring the bait, either, they report. Minnows and sculpins are the preferred meal for a hungry brown and egg patterns (light yellow peach colored with an orange leading bead), or lemon lime-colored PowerBait drifted mid-depth “will keep you cranking that reel and bringing in trout. Keep an eye on the Buffalo National River; the smallmouth bass over there should soon be waking up. The White River watershed is still full to brimming, so the Corps of Engineers continues to release large amounts of water to decrease the overfull lakes and prevent spring floods. Just remember this: Fish love water. Keep anglin’ and we’ll see you at the river.”
(updated 3-4-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is still high with 6-9 generators running from the dam. They say that many people are fishing. “They’re still trying to let the water out.” Despite all that, they say it appears that those willing to fish are finding good results with the trout.
(updated 3-4-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they have had several minor rain events (just a trace in Cotter), milder temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.6 feet to rest at 4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 32 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 7.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 4.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The White has fished well. It’s been hot around the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam where there was a shad kill. 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 cerise high-water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
John also said about a recent shad kill below Bull Shoals Dam, “We had a shad kill on the White and North Fork rivers last week. This is a natural phenomenon where large numbers of thread fin shad (an abundant forage fish) die due to cold temperature in the lakes and are swept through the generators at the dams. This results in a feeding frenzy below the dams.
“This is usually brought on by specific conditions, cold temperatures and heavy levels of generation. These are the exact conditions we are now experiencing. Before the recent interest in fishing streamers began, this was the major fishing event that occurred this time of year. Its precise timing is impossible to predict.
“The major action takes place just below the dams. The trick to identifying the beginning of the shad kill is to watch the gulls at the dam. When the gulls suddenly begin feeding on the surface, it signals that the frenzy has begun. This usually coincides with a major migration of river boats upstream to the dam. This all begins quickly and can stop just as quickly.
Fly choices are simple. Any fly will work as long as it is big and white. Many of the bits of shad are on the surface so you can have success with floating flies. Many shad chunks sink into the water so a subsurface fly can also be effective. Once you get a distance below the dam the sub surface flies will be more effective.
“The fishing frenzy can be a little crazy with large numbers of boats crowding into a small area below the dam. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of the guide boats and private boats are now equipped with large jet motors. These motors are very loud and also push a large wake. The result is a chaotic section of water that is as choppy as a stormy day on the North Sea, where you can barely hear yourself think. This is not for the faint of heart.
“After the trout in this area are gorged on these big bits of food they quit feeding. I have caught trout that were so gorged the tail of a shad was protruding from their throat. The uneaten shad drift down stream and the fish there begin feeding. I have caught trout on shad patterns as far downstream as Rim Shoals. That is twenty four miles downstream from Bull Shoals Dam.
“Last week I was guiding two ladies from Idaho. The weather did not bother them but the huge water flows was something new. I talked to a fellow guide as I was launching my boat and rigging my fly rods before their arrival. He said that he had fished shad patterns on his drift from Cotter to Rim Shoals and had done well. I immediately tied on some white mop flies, my current favorite sub surface shad pattern. We fished the lower section of the Catch and Release section and did well.
“The shad kill is something you should be prepared for. I always have some floating and subsurface shad patterns in my fly box.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is clear and is 4 feet above normal level. The surface temperature Tuesday afternoon was 47 degrees. Black bass are fair and found in 10-20 feet of water. Jerkbaits, jigs and swimbaits all were working. White bass are moving to spawn. The catch is fair now. Use white jigs, spinners, Rooster Tails or Alabama rigs. Walleye are actively feeding in the evening on jerkbaits fished on the long, shallow points by the bushes. No reports on crappie, bream or catfish. View Del’s YouTube videos (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for the latest in what’s biting and what Del is using, plus his tips on how to fish the various lures.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 558.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “The weather for Norfork Lake has finally changed for the better and has been stable for the last several days. The long-range forecast is for continued spring like temperatures and if it holds true the fish should get energized. The warmer weather has dramatically increased the surface water temperature to almost 50 degrees at daybreak and warmer during the daylight hours. I can definitely see a change occurring in some of our fish species.
“I have mainly been striped bass hunting and fishing for the last several days. The last 2 days has been outstanding. The bait is still predominately back in the creeks or some of the larger coves. Yesterday (March 2) I found large balls of shad in 30 to 40 feet of water halfway back in a major creek and on every bait ball there were at least 2, if not more big fish following. The bait that I have been finding has been anywhere from the surface down to 20 feet and sometimes to the bottom. Since the fish have been scattered I have started trolling a couple Berkley’s Flicker Minnow crankbaits, size 7.
“My best colors have been the slick pearl silver (shad color) and the other is the racy shad pattern. These baits dive to about 15 feet. I’ve had several fish hammer the bait and peel out drag then come off. I’ve noticed a few birds feeding heavily. When I reached them my graph lit up with fish. It was a huge school of hybrids. My first fish came on the shad colored Flicker Minnow, then I switched to casting a Kastmaster (blade type bait) and landed several others. By around 9 a.m. the bait and fish both disappeared. This was the first large school of hybrid/striped bass I have found in some time, telling me that the start of the spring bite is not far off. (Tuesday) morning I headed back to the same area and the bait and fish were gone. I moved to another creek looking for bait and decided to go all the way to the back. Once I got into about 15 feet of water, bait was all over the place. I started to slow troll (roughly 1.3 mph) the Flicker Minnows. In 30 minutes, I had landed five largemouth and spotted bass and all were keeper size fish. I decided to head back to my original creek, but this time kept on traveling to the back of the creek. Once I reached 17 feet of water, my graph lit up with bait and big arcs. I threw out my two Flicker Minnows and started to slow troll again. It was not long until I hooked up, but lost the fish. The bite had started and each fish kept getting bigger. I ended up landing 5 striped bass and a couple of largemouth bass with the largest striper 14 pounds. Similar to the previous day, around 9 a.m. the bait and the fish left the area.
“The best areas where I have found striped bass are back in the major creeks close to the creek channel. The large bait balls that I am finding, tend to be close to the creek channel. If you find a smaller creek that has some flowing water, check it out you will more than likely find bait and a good chance some nice fish.
“One of the great things about the stripers hitting the Flicker Minnows is that I will be using the same baits trolling for crappie in similar types of areas in the next couple of weeks. For crappie fishing I try to troll close to the brush moving form brush to brush. Crappie will start to school very soon and will be roaming and staging for the spawn.”
The lake was falling about 3-4 inches a day, but last evening our northern part of the watershed received a lot of rain and the lake actually came up about 3 inches with both generators running. The lake surface water temperature is warming up and ranges from 49 to 52 degrees depending on time of day and depth of water. The water in the mid-lake is stained, but you can see a constant clearing occurring. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 3-4-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 4.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The Norfork is fishing better, though. There was a shad kill below this dam. 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. Doublefly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week. The weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 3-4-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. 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 1,127.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is holding steady at 1,128.4 feet msl or so. Water stabilized and clearing. Water temps are in the mid- to upper 40s. It has hit 51 in river arms; 50 is the magic number! Stripers are doing well still this week. Look at Natural Walk area, Monte Ne, Big Hickory and Rocky Branch. Crappie have been fair one day and lock-jawed the next. “I feel this week will bust the bite open,” Jon said. “No rain till next week! White bass are showing up the river arms and are being caught in fair numbers.
“I was scouting and caught one of the larger walleye I have caught on Beaver a 29-inch, 9.75-pounder. Walleye are starting to show up the War Eagle Arm in fairly good numbers and back toward Neills Bluff on White River. Bass are hitting jerkbaits throughout lake. Weather holds and it will be on!”
(updated 3-4-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said there is color in the river arms. The water level is still high, while the surface temperature was reported at 50 degrees Tuesday morning. Crappie are fair and a little spotty, they report. The crappie are in 8-20 feet depth. Anglers are catching them with maribou or plastic jigs, as well as minnows. Black bass reports were poor. Anglers are catching a few but they’re fighting, Southtown reports. Try crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, grubs or swimbaits. Striper action is good. Brood shiners and shad will work best. Walleye are being caught (a few, they say) with bottom-bouncing jigs. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-4-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing this past week has been good. The trout bite has been great. Most of the trout have been caught between Houseman Access and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. Most trout are being caught on various PowerBaits, fished with light terminal tackle. Spoons, jigs and cranks have done the trick, too. Kentucky bass are being caught between Beaver and Holiday Island, most with soft plastics and crankbaits. Try fishing brush and chunk rock for best results. A few schools of white bass have been marked in this area, also. Hard crankbaits, fished in 14 feet of water, have seemed to produce the best results. Back in coves and inside bends have been good locations to find these fish. “Well, I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy some of this weather. Be safe and have fun!” You can contact Austin through his fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for more information between reports.
(updated 3-4-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is a little dingy and the surface temperature was ranging 43-44 degrees as of Tuesday. The level is normal. Good reports have come in on crappie, with minnows and jigs working. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits. Nothing reported on bream or catfish.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 2-26-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, says he had little to report. While the lake water levels continue to be very high, the lake was very busy last weekend but anglers were tight-lipped about any success.
(updated 3-4-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) had no report.
(updated 3-4-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the clarity remains stained, and the water level is normal. Surface temperature was ranging 45-47 degrees on Tuesday morning. Crappie are fair in 15-20 feet depth. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair. They note a lot of anglers out but the bite is slow. Your best best is to use a deep-running jerkbait. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-4-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park had no report. Call the visitor center for any updates if you are going to Lake Charles.
(updated 3-4-2020) Seth Boone, the park superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, says the lake remains drained for the ongoing repair work; however, the state park has “continued being the light in the dark for bait. We are looking forward to the lake coming back in about a year for guests to enjoy.” The park’s bait shop is in close proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas while Lake Poinsett is repaired.
(updated 3-4-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are at 480 cfs (350 cfs is average) at the spring and water clarity is good. Water levels are up, making for tough wading in the main channels. Water color has been a normal green tint. A lot of the recent heavy rains has missed this area.
Mark says he and customers are “catching really nice rainbows on Y2Ks and olive Woollies,” he says. “Doesn’t hurt to weight the flies extra when tying, or use of a split shot can help to get down to the fish. If you’re not hanging up on bottom occasionally then you may not be getting deep enough. The smallmouth have been biting well on olive with the warm up the last few days. This is a great time to get out on the water. Starting in March, stocking will increase from 1,700 during winter months to 7,000 rainbows in preparation for the summer fishing.”
He adds that hot pink and orange Trout Magnets and brown trout and rainbow trout trout cranks have been hot for spin fishers.
“A trout management plan is in the works and will hopefully be put into place this year,” Mark says. “We are all hoping for some catch-and-release areas on the river. Trout permits increased in price last year and money is earmarked for rebuilding the Jim Hinkle Fish Hatchery that was damaged during a 2017 flood. When these two things come into place it will really make the Spring River an even better trout fishery. And it is great now! Great things are happening on the Spring River.” Check out Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.
(updated 3-4-2020) 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 North Fork rivers. 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 3-4-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 3-4-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville said the water is 12 feet high and the clarity is clear. Anglers report a fair catch of walleye using minnows. No other catches were reported.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 3-4-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 3-4-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 3-4-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no reports.
(updated 3-4-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
As of Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.4 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Tuesday that Millwood Lake was approaching normal conservation pool. Millwood continues falling; on Monday it was about 2.5 inches above normal conservation pool, near 259.4 feet msl. The discharge around 7,000 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 234 feet msl with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels, especially during high flow river conditions. Surface temps as of Monday ranged 47-52 degrees, depending on location. Continue to use extreme caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for random broken or floating timber in Little River. Clarity continues improving in the oxbows with the river receding. Little River is heavy stain, moderate current and with random broken timber and debris.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: With Millwood Lake approaching normal pool, reduced current in Little River, and drastically improved clarity up river, Largemouth Bass males continue roaming in areas of 6-9 feet depth creeks, ridges, and bedding flats on warm afternoons, near vertical structure. Heavy 3/4oz One-knocker Rat-L-Traps, Brazalo Chatterbaits, and Spinnerbaits have been working over the past few weeks, and Echo 1.75, and Bill Lewis SB-57 MDJ crankbaits are getting decent responses over the past couple weeks from these active roaming Bass. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent sized bass over the past several weeks and they were moving shallow on afternoons, best responses from the heat of the afternoon, best from 12pm-3pm. The Largemouths were much more reliable in the oxbows of McGuire and Horseshoe Lakes where the water clarity was drastically better, water temps were warmer, and calm/no river current present. The best responses from Bass we are seeing is the Red Chrome, Toledo Gold, Ozark Craw, and Red Rayburn Craw. Baby Brush Hogs have been taking some decent 14-17″ male Largemouth Bass roaming flats in the clearer water sections of the Oxbows, away from River Current. With the water temps continuing into the low and mid 50’s the males are active. Where you find shallow 5-8 foot depth flats with stumps can find a few decent 2-3lb male Bass roaming on warm afternoons, if near to a quick creek bend drop into 8-12 feet structure. A few bed making activities are being currently observed now. Red Slough and South Hickory golf course pockets are warming up as well. We got several good reactions from 2-3lb males over the past week or so, throwing an old school, H&H Spinnerbait in yellow/white and black/white around cypress tree knees using a trailer hook for short strikers.
Best reaction colors throwing Chatterbaits and Spinnerbaits we were seeing lately have been the Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover, or Arkansas River Shad. Best depth zones we are targeting are cypress tree knees from from 6-10 feet, with 12-15 feet of depth nearby. We have been seeing the male Bass roaming the flats through the dead lily pad stems from 2-4 pounds each, moving in shallow 3-5 feet deep bedding areas, not staying on the flats for very long, and were spooky. The larger females are staging further out depth zones, near points and drops where broken timber and stumps are present. Six- to 8-inch Lizards in black neon, blackberry, California 420, and watermelon magic have been picking up some cruising Bass near stumps, on drops into 10 feet structure.
Trick worms, trick sticks, and twitch worms in watermelon candy, black/blue, blue ice, and blue/purple ice, were working late last week in 5-8 feet depths on cypress trees. Bass Assassin Shads in Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, or Pumpkinseed, by dead-sticking on stumps and cypress knees using a extremely-light wire hook, caught a few nice male and female Bass roaming in and out of flats to and from the creek channels. Several nice-size pre-spawn female largemouth were hitting jigs using Texas Craw, Millwood Mayhem Bream and Black/blue, using a black frog plastic trailer, upriver, over the last week.
* White bass: For several weeks, they continue roaming and staging along Little River and mouths of the oxbows and creek dumps in preparation for a spawning run, upriver. Heavy thumping ¾- and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points, caught some decent, 2- to 3-pound whites over the past few weeks from 9-16 feet deep. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail vertical-jigging behind primary points near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points, were connecting with a few nice sized 2-3 pound whites over the past several weeks. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few white Bass in 10-14 feet by swimming and dropping the bait.
Most of the white bass continue staging along Little River, stacked up near primary or secondary points, from 10-15 feet deep were most reliable locations. Deep-running Fat Free Guppy cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, H&H Spinnerbaits and red/white Rooster Tails were also picking up a few whites this week. With the increase of warm water temps we are seeing, the white bass continue staging Little River in preparation for a final run up to US Highway 71 Bridge and Patterson Shoals for annual spawning, if water temps stay in the 50 degree range. White bass were found again over the past couple weeks between White Cliffs Campground and the entrance to McGuire Lake along Little River where points intersect with creek mouths dumping into the river, although the water was very stained, but improved and had current. the White Bass Spawning Run is about to be ON!
* Spotted Bass/Kentuckies: No report.
* Crappie: Improved over the past week with the improved clarity and conditions in the oxbows. Minnows and jigs were working near standing timber and creek channels in the clearer sections of the oxbows and golf course pockets, from 8-12 feet deep.
* Catfish: continue biting consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel cats and blues remain good on Punch Bait and cut baits on trotlines set at 8-14 feet of depth in current.
(updated 3-4-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 544.50 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 404.98 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 2-19-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) in Camden said that both Upper and Lower White Oak are muddy and the level remains high, making fishing tough. Poor reports on bream, crappie, bass and catfish.
(updated 3-4-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
(updated 3-4-2020) Donald Ramirez, the new owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, said the clarity is clear and the level is normal. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. White bass are fair on worms. One whie bass was caught this past week weighing 2.5 pounds. No other reports.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 3-4-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that both lakes Hamilton and Catherine are being refilled this week to their normal summertime pool. Each lake should be back to pre-drawdown levels by early this weekend. As reported last week, rising water in the Carpenter Dam tailrace creates a very slow rainbow trout bite. Thousands of trout are present but few quality fish have been caught due to this situation. A more consistent bite can be expected in the next few days after the lake has been refilled. Fishermen can begin to catch limits of trout using redworms or nightcrawlers under a bobber or fished just off the bottom. Worm presentations are often overlooked and will consistently produce results when other baits fail. Other live baits such as waxworms and mealworms will also perform well used in the same manner. Live minnows tend to catch larger trout that search for bigger prey. PowerBait and Trout Magnets in basic colors are two of the best methods of catching rainbow trout known to man are should never be forgotten by anglers who are serious about catching fish. Fly-fishermen that cast San Juan worms or micro-jigs in black or white under strike indicators can expect a solid bite. Egg patterns in white or yellow will also work very well in slack or current flow. Woolly Buggers have to be included in the “best of” fly patterns and should be present in every fly angler’s tackle. The middle of March should be the beginning of good trout fishing on Lake Catherine.
The walleye spawn is on in the tailrace with fish spotted in the shallows at dawn and dusk. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current will draw strikes from hungry walleye guarding their beds. A Carolina rig tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers is a proven technique in current or slack water. Vertical-jigging spoons in deeper water is often a forgotten method of catching walleye and will outperform many other efforts.
Trout will be king for the next few months, but the crappie spawn is due to begin in the next several weeks.
Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace must always wear a lifejacket and should be aware of the generation schedules.
(updated 3-4-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that Since last Tuesday (Feb. 25) they have had several days with clear skies that were bookended with overcast skies and cool temperatures. For this week, a low-pressure system will be moving out by Wednesday. The Little Rock National Weather Service forecasts temps Wednesday will top out in the upper 50s to near 60 and will warm up well into the 60s by Thursday. Cooler air will filter into the state on Friday, with settled weather through most of the weekend, and seasonable temperatures. Rain chances return on Sunday and Monday next week. Clarity and visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 54 degrees.
As of Tuesday (March 3) the Army Corps of Engineers has reported the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater is near 344 feet msl and flowing about 60,000 cfs. The Ozark tailwater has fallen slightly but no major changes. Ozark has been generating power consistently this past week. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has finally fallen and has been near 337.6 feet msl. You may still have to duck your head under the low bridges but maybe the outboard will clear. The 1- or 2-foot drop on the lower end of Lake Dardanelle at the State Park usually means more in the middle and upper areas of the pool. The Corps of Engineers has reported the Dardanelle tailwater is near 9 feet (290 feet msl) and flowing about 54,000 cfs. Dardanelle’s tailwater did rise to near 90,000 cfs Sunday but fell back Monday. The powerhouse has been generating all day.
As for fishing, the Lake Dardanelle State Park tournament season will be in full swing this weekend. They’ll be hosting the ABA Open Series on Saturday and the TBF High School State Championship on Sunday. Jason says he will have tournament results and fishing feedback in next week’s report. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.
(updated 3-4-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels rising rapidly along with the lake temperatures. Main channel areas are right around 50 degrees and rising. The backs of pockets are up to 56 degrees and rising in the shallows. Needless to say, the bass have begun moving shallow, also. What a difference a week makes! Jerkbaits, Spinnerbaits, swimbaits and crankbaits are producing well in pockets and creek channels where the warm water is. Silver, white, craw and bluegill-colored presentations will work and have worked best. Some bass are still on main lake points but the pre-spawn in on! Crappie are still a bit sluggish but there have been good reports occasionally of fish located over brush or even better suspended in between brush and shorelines feeding at as little as 2 feet but over 20-35 feet of water. Crappie are starting to think spawn, too! Rolling a jig or minnow in pink, white or shad colors should prompt some strikes. Hybrids are easy to find right now. White gulls are floating like markers over the massed shad balls. The hybrids are under those bait fish. No catfish report. Good luck! Go fishing! Go Greeson!
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 343.11 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Tuesday morning that clarity was “pretty clear,” and the lake was at a normal level. Surface temperature was 53 degrees. Bream reports were good around the Porter Creek bridge, with anglers using redworms and crickets. Crappie are good in 10 feet depth in the river channels. Use minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits (especially the War Eagle Spinner in white with gold leaf) and blue/black jigs. Catfishing is fair on the yo-yos.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 577.34 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still fair. Fishing with Alabama rigs in major creeks, a Pig-n-Jig near brush, or running a lipless crankbait in the shallows have worked. Walleye are on the spawning run up the rivers. Stripers are still fair to good. These fish are being caught Bama rigs, hair jigs or spoons in the mouths of creeks. No report on bream. Crappie are slow. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees. The water clarity stained on the west side and clear on the east. Lake level is up to 577.76 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.69 feet msl (normal pool: 384.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) had no report. Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for photos and other information from his fishing excursions at Horseshoe Lake, an old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 3-4-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says they are starting to see increased activity at Bear Creek Lake. The levels are still down and the boat ramp is still closed because of levee repair work, “but our faithful folks fishing from the shoreline are seeing results,” she said. There has been a slight increase in crappie activity. Mississippi River State Park has boats and kayaks available for rent for those who want to get out on the water. They can call (870) 295-4040 for more information. If folks have questions on the status of the lake levels they can contact the USDA Forest Service at (870) 295-5278. Storm Creek Lake has not seen any reportable increase in activity. She says they have had more anglers out the past few weeks, and are hoping to see some results soon.
(updated 3-4-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the White River at Clarendon is 28.3 feet and falling, “but we still have a ways to go before the parking lot is dry and accessible. Now is a great time to get out and fish lakes that are not highly affected by large amounts of rainfall. Good luck!”
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails
Don't miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!