Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
May 13, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for May 13, 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
LEFt AND TOP: Despite the high water seen on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam recently as the Corps of Engineers releases water to lower Bull Shoals Lake, Jack Robinett found a way to hook a nice brown trout on May 6.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be conducting herbicide applications to Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir over the next several months, with separate applications planned for May, July and September. The herbicides cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but will kill gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after each application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from the lake from May 1, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021. The use of herbicides is necessary to control the current problems with alligatorweed and other invasive vegetation species that have infested the lake, restricting access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hindering native wildlife and fish populations. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 5-13-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is the usual stain but the level has jumped up. They termed it high as of Tuesday at 2:35 p.m. (Editor’s note: One tip about fishing Lake Conway we learned recently is, when the water is on the rise, fishing tends to be pretty good, but when the water begins to fall out the fish seem to sense that and the bite falls off until the water levels to normal and the gates are closed at the dam, then the bite picks up again).
Bream reports have been good. Anglers are using worms, crickets and high-tied jigs, as well as nightcrawlers. Crappie are good on minnows and regular or hand-tied jigs. Black bass are good on about everything: spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms, topwater lures, crawfish imitations, buzzbaits and frogs. Catfish are good; try stinkbait, chicken liver, black goldfish, regular goldfish, bream and nightcrawlers.
NOTE: Anglers are advised to use caution while navigating the new boat trail between Paradise Landing and Gold Creek. The AGFC has put out special buoys and flagged portions of the new trail in Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir as the AGFC continues to improve the boat trails. Scheduled work on renovating the boat trail from Paradise Landing concluded last weekend, and during the initial pass through this section over 900 stumps were cut (photo left). Also on Saturday AGFC staff used two side-scan sonar units and the strump-cutting contractor’s LiveScope unit to inspect this section of trail and found an additional 90 stumps that the contractor had cut. However, after additional inspection and reports from anglers, staff also discovered some stumps present in the newly marked trail.
Therefore, the AGFC is buoying off and flagging portions of the new trail to caution anglers. The contractor has been informed and plans and to return next week to finish the job.
So, again, during this time of transition on Lake Conway, the AGFC asks that boaters and anglers please continue to use caution in this section (and others) of the boat trail system, and thank you for your patience.
Little Red River
(updated 5-13-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) says the Greers Ferry Lake level is still above seasonal pool. “Right now the generation pattern is unpredictable, but we are seeing days that have lower water providing wading opportunities.” 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. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, caddis pupa, hares ear, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river.
(updated 5-13-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) says the river was stained Wednesday morning after Tuesday’s rain. The Army Corps of Engineers are still on the 12-hour generation pattern with the start times varying each day. It is best to check the generation schedule after 4 p.m. for the next day before planning your fishing trip. With additional rains forecast for the rest of the week, the river may become muddy. Small amounts of rain should not impact the clarity because they are generating each day.
A caddis hatch has been occurring each day, but the generation pattern has allowed only limited wading for a short time. Be sure to check the schedule and watch for rising water due to the new generation each day. Caddis pupa and emergers are good patterns at this time.
Greg says, “During this time when many people are not working and children are out of school, please use caution when boating and kayaking on the river during periods of generation. Be aware of the generation schedule and when to expect high water. The river can change from a placid stream to a dangerous current in a short time during generation.”
He adds, “I have suspended my guide business until June 1. With the state beginning to open to travel and other activities, I feel like it is best to see how this affects the virus spreading before I take fishermen on guided trips. Hope all are well and we can fish together starting in June.”
The generation schedule can be checked by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information, or checking online at the Corps’ website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) for the forecasted generation schedule.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 464.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 464.62 feet msl and falling with generation. As of Tuesday it was 2.08 feet above normal pool, “and with the rain forecasts we should see another rise, which will help with the fish and shad spawns.”
Tommy adds, “The overall bite is good all over lakes and rivers for all species and should continue until mid-July.” Crappie are still spawning in lake and some in rivers and small creeks; use jigs or minnows and or beetle spin for the best bite. Walleye are done spawning in rivers. Some have not gotten back to the lake yet. The lake fish are trying to spawn; drag crawlers on a variety of methods or use a small Rite Bite Senko on a jighead in 15-28 feet of water. Bream are coming off a good spawn and preparing for another; use crickets, crawlers, small crankbaits or small inline spinners for the best bite behind, in and in front of bushes out to 15 feet. Black bass are still spawning. Some guarding nests, while some headed out to deeper water. A lot of techniques are working, and good topwater action has been seen as well. Catfish, of course, are eating all over lakes and rivers, and flatheads are getting ready to spawn; a variety of ways and baits are working for the cats. Hybrid bass and white bass are gorging on shad all over lakes and rivers; spoons, inline spinners, topwater baits and swimbaits all are working in 10-30 feet of water. Shad are spawning all over lake, as well; find the shad and the fish will be close by.
(updated 5-13-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says smallmouth bass continue to bite well on the peanut butter and jelly jig on the edges of bushes, and they’re also hitting the Carolina-rig in 10-20 feet of water. Topwater baits also are working on the smallmouth. Largemouth bass also will hit a PBJ jig on the edge of bushes. Crappie are favoring beetle spins around the bushes on the upper end of the lake.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 5-13-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) said they had no overall report for this week on fishing or conditions, but they did report that some people have been catching some bream, crappie and bass. “There are not a lot of people fishing right now,” they said.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be conducting herbicide applications to Lake Overcup over the next several months. The herbicides cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but will kill gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from the lake from May 1, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021. The use of herbicides is necessary to control the current problems with alligatorweed and other invasive vegetation species that have infested the lake, restricting access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hindering native wildlife and fish populations. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 5-13-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no new reports. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for the latest updates and photos.
(updated 5-6-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake is slightly stained. Surface water temperature is ranging 65-68 degrees and the level is 4 feet high. Bream are good, and are best when the sun is out in the heat of the day. David says he has crickets with more coming Wednesday, and that’s what the bream like best now. Crappie also are good. They are at 10-12 feet depth on top of underwater brush, and they are pulling out of the buckbrush. Minnows and jigs, naturally, with Monkey Milk and Purple Monkey jigs along with tri-color crappie tubes being the best choices. Black bass are good. Look for them at 4-5 feet depth. No baits were suggested. Catfishing is good on jugs. Use size 20 trotline minnows. David hears that white bass are also biting well.
(updated 5-13-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland reports that water temperature as of Wednesday morning has been ranging in the mid- to upper 60s. Largemouth bass are good. Most of them can be found around the grass and in 8-12 feet of water at both dusk and dawn, biting a variety of lures. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots and swimbaits for the best results. As an indicator of the bass bite, Stephen Dillon and Barry Wolfe teamed to catch a 12.08-pound stringer to win Tuesday night’s bass tournament (the Tuesday tournaments are ongoing now). That total edged Eric Wallace and Sam Lowrey with 11.7 pounds of fish. Phillip Cole and Jason Bargil hooked a 5.08-pound Big Bass.
Kentucky bass are good. There are some reports of them being found outside the grass line, while they can also be found in 12-16 feet off drops and rocky banks. White bass fishing is fair. Some reportedly can still be found mixed in with the crappie on the flats or near brush piles in 8-12 feet of water. Try using minnows, Rooster Tails, jerkaits and rattle-type baits. The crappie bite is fair. There have been reports of them being found in 12-14 feet depth, while others can still be found mixed in with the white bass. Use jigs or minnows. The bream bite is slow. Bream are found scattered in 6-10 feet of water; use crickets or worms. Catfishing reports are good; use chicken liver, nightcrawlers and baitfish.
(updated 5-13-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Sunset Lake was stocked with catfish on Wednesday, May 6, and they have been hitting near about anything you throw out there. People have been using black salties and goldfish and have been returning here to purchase more, and with stories of having caught several catfish. “They are also doing very good off of fresh chicken livers,” Lisa added. “I have boxed up 120 pounds last week and 80 pounds more this weekend. My livers have never been frozen, which makes a difference. When you freeze it, then thaw it out, it actually weakens it.”
Other anglers have been catching bream using crickets and redworms. “The hotter it gets, the better the bream bite,” Lisa says. “While crickets are the biggest choice of most people, Superworms and waxworms are also great for catching the bream.” Bass have been doing well off of black salties and also Zoom Trick Worms fished wacky style. Crappie have been caught off of pink minnows and No. 6 crappie minnows.
This lake has a limit of 3 catfish per person. You can find Sunset Lakes fish limits in the AGFC Fishing Guide regulations booklet.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 5-13-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream seem to be doing well off of the dock on the pond in the back with redworms. A few crappie have been reported off of No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish have been doing well on stink baits and fresh chicken livers. Bass have been good off of crawfish and plastics.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 5-13-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says lots of bass are being reported caught off of live crawfish, black salties and Brush Hogs. ”One of my customers said his girlfriend had caught a big walleye off of a black salty,” Lisa said. “Thinking it was a bass, she ending up cutting her thumb up while trying to lip it. These fish have teeth; don’t lip them.”
Bream have been good off of crickets and redworms. Brown Rock Hoppers have also done well for catching not only bream, but crappie, too.
(updated 5-13-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the crappie have been shallow, but some regulars out there say they have went deep again. Crappie have been doing well off of both regular crappie minnows and pink minnows. Catfish have done good off of live crawfish, cut bait, stink bait and black salties. Bream haven’t bed up yet, but some anglers are catching them off of crickets and redworms. Bass are doing well off of goldfish and Zing Tails and plastics.
(updated 5-13-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been good on minnows and jigs. Catfish have done well on live crawfish and nightcrawlers. Bream are fair using redworms and crickets. Bass have been hitting crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 4-29-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said all the activity is below the dams, and mostly it’s catfish. They’re using shad and skipjack, as well as live bream. Striper were being caught on wobble spoons, but that was earlier in the month. So, it’s mainly catfish below the dams. “Then you go back into Point Remove Creek and up Petit Jean River, when the water is down, anglers were doing good on crappie three weeks ago,” he said. The river is hard to fish now. They have had calm water for about six days over the past several weeks, he said. The river is high and fast (over 100,000 cfs). “Watch it on the river right now,” Charlie said. Hidden Harbor has reopened and Charlie says he will have bait, gas for boats, a pump-out, and he has his boat stalls available. The boat ramp also is open. “If the river is over 70,000 cfs, the flat-bottom boats probably don’t need to go out,” he added. Charlie said that some of the backwaters in the pool were doing great a few weeks ago, especially gar, but they appear to be over with.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 5-13-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and at normal level, and fishing has remained about the same over the past two weeks, but he expects the rainfall this week will change that. Leading into this latest rain, bream were good and being caught in 2 feet depth on worms and crickets. Black bass catching good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastic worms. Catfishing had been good with chicken liver or minnows. Crappie fishing had been poor after they had finished spawning. Water level Tuesday midday was normal and clear, before the rain, Ray said.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 5-13-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) had no reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 5-13-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says clarity in the river remains muddy. The level is high with a flow of 50,000 cfs. They hear good news on the crappie front, with good catches targeting 5-8 feet depth using Beaver Bottom bait (Ashdown Smackdown in blue/chartreuse and black/chartreuse). Also, black bass reports are good. Black buzzbaits, black/blue jigs, white/chartreuse spinnerbaits and black/chartreuse square-bill cranks are working well. Fish ‘N Stuff is also providing reports from Greers Ferry Lake; check out this week’s report in the lake listing above.
(updated 5-6-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that white bass are biting great below the dam; use 3-inch chartreuse grubs. Stripers are biting well on 5-inch white grubs below the dam. Bream report are good; you’ll find them biting at 5-feet depth on crickets in the Willow Beach area. Catfishing is good below the dams; use cut bait, skipjack or shad.
(updated 4-29-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says the area near Terry Lock and Dam is murky; pool water level is high. Crappie can be found active in the backwaters. They hear good reports; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are also biting in the backwaters. Try a crankbait. Catfishing is good, but no word on baits.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-29-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said Clear Lake clarity lives up to the name this week, while the level is high. Bream fishing is good; use worms or crickets. Crappie reports are good, with minnows and jigs working well. Black bass are good; the baits of choice appear to be spinnerbaits, crankbaits or worms. No reports on catfish.
(updated 5-13-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the water is “a little dingy” but it was at a normal level as of Tuesday midafternoon. Bream reports are excellent. Both worms and crickets are working great. Crappie fishing is good; anglers are catching them trolling in the brush or focusing minnows and jigs around the brush piles. Black bass are good; no baits mentioned. Catfishing is good on worms and hot dogs.
(updated 5-13-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said water releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the tailwater have been moderate over the past week. While not providing for substantial wade fishing, the current is less swift and some banks and a few gravel bars are more accessible for angling from the shore. Those golden rainbows (stocked from Norfork access to Bull Shoals Lake State Park two weeks ago) are making their appearance pretty clear and are snapping up the Red Wigglers by the dozen. They have some size and heft to them, too, so you’ll know you’ve got a bite when they hit. Bank anglers have also found a lot of success in these waters jigging bronze-colored spoons with a light rainbow pattern – these active rainbows were even chomping on white crappie jigs. Rapala Count Downs are making a real splash both from the shore and casting from a drifting jon boat. Keep to the brown-
and tan-colored baits for now (brown trout No. 5, gold/black No. 5 or No. 7); save the silver flashy stick baits for later in the month when the water is sure to be deeper and swifter.
No surprise here: The browns have been nibbling on sculpins, and will continue to remain near the bottom and center of the stream during these spring rain events we’re still experiencing. The weathermen promise warmer temperatures beginning Thursday, so pack some sunscreen when you’re headed to the river.
They add, “Remember: Keep your baits and line free from exposure to that sunscreen since fish do not like it; sunscreen can sabotage your fishing day. Social distancing rules still apply for anglers, but as you’ve heard from me before: Those rules don’t apply to you and your catch!”
(updated 5-13-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said anglers caught some rainbows last weekend. The water there is still down, but not a lot of people are fishing for them to really tell how the fishing is.
(updated 5-13-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that it has for a couple of months that he has been unable to have out-of-state anglers “and Lori and I have missed it. Here in Baxter County (that includes Mountain Home and Cotter), we have been very safe with only five cases of Covid-19, all of whom have fully recovered. The trout are still here and the weather is nice. It is a good time to visit.”
Leading up to last weekend, John says that during the previous week, they had several rain events (combined for about 1.5 inches), cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose more than 3 feet to rest at 19.1 tenth feet above seasonal power pool of 661.14 feet msl. This is 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.4 feet to rest at 0.6 foot above seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.4 foot below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 14.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.9 feet msl and 9.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Beaver and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 deep water worm with a weighted egg suspended below it).
John also said, “Last Saturday (May 2) was a chance for my wife, Lori, and I to go fishing. We have been stuck at home like everyone else. We have been spending most of our time working in the yard. We put in a garden, extended our side patio and put in some new plantings. It is looking good but we were ready for something that was a bit more fun.
“I checked the generation schedule and noted that they were scheduled to run about 6,500 cfs, or the equivalent of two full generators. This is a perfect level for easy fishing from the boat. I also checked the weather report and saw that we would have a cool start with a gentle warming. The winds were to be light and variable and there was to be plenty of sun. It all looked good to me. I discussed the conditions with Lori and she was all in.
“As is my habit, I left the house about 7:30 a.m. and launched my boat. I put a couple of fly rods in the boat that were still rigged from my last trip. I had a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge and an AB split shot. I adjusted the strike indicator, so that it was 7 feet from the strike indicator to the bottom fly.
“I caught a nice trout on the third cast. By the time Lori arrived, I had landed eight rainbows. Lori had stayed home to feed and walk our beloved Labrador retrievers, Tilley and Ghillie. Before she left the house, she also quickly used our weed eater on the grass that grows under my boat that I cannot reach with my lawn mower.
“Lori was soon on the scoreboard when she caught a nice one in front of the ramp. We continued fishing for a few hours and by 11:00 a.m. we had landed around 30 trout. Most were small.
“About that time I hooked an 11-inch stocker and didn’t think much about it. I was standing and had a good view of the trout as it struggled in. I noticed another fish near it. It was a big fish. It was apparent to me that a large brown trout was stalking my fish. How big was the brown? It was big enough to swallow the small rainbow whole. I had told Lori what was happening and she also saw the take.
“She dropped her rod, grabbed her boat net and rushed to my side. We were both stoked and relished the struggle. As the fish inched toward the boat, she leaned forward to net it. As luck would have it the hook slipped from the little rainbow’s mouth. The brown leisurely swam away.
“I had wanted to land the brown but I was not really that disappointed. It was something I had never personally encountered and was truly fascinating to watch. I stopped fishing. There was nothing that would top that. We did another pass and Lori landed another trout. We headed home and, to make it a perfect day, she picked up a couple of pork shoulder sandwiches at KT’s Barbeque on the way home. Life is good!”
Bull Shoals Lake
Roger Pyzocha caught this 9.2-pound walleye on Bull Shoals Lake recently. The catch, which qualified for a Master Angler pin in the Perch category (the minimum walleye weight is 9 pounds) meant that Roger has now caught fish in all eight Master Angler categories, a first for the program. Read more about Roger’s catch his life in Flippin after retiring relocating to Arknaas from Massachusetts a decade ago with his wife, Christine.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 686.14 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-29-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is murky. Surface water temperature is 60 degrees (as of Tuesday afternoon) and the lake is 24 feet above normal conservation pool. Crappie reports are fair. Crappie are shallow and spawning, he said, and subsequently hard to find right now. Black bass are all at different stages of the spring – some are post-spawn, he said, others are spawning and some are pre-spawn. Your best bet is to fish them with Senkos, floating worms and 2.8 swimbaits. No reports on bream or catfish, Del says. Walleye are good. “People are starting to catch walleye pretty well,” he offers. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on catching the fish in Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good over the last several weeks and should remain the same if not better for the foreseeable future. “It is really hard to say what the best bite is at this time because all species seem to be biting very good most days,” he said. “As is normal for this time of year the best bite is typically at sunrise and then again at sunset. This is not to say there will not be a good bite during the middle part of the day. I guess you just need to spend the whole day on the lake fishing.”
The crappie bite continues to be good and there are still several different fishing methods to catch them, he said. “I have been trolling the Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9. Colors vary by day, but I have had success with the following; slick pearl silver, racy shad, slick firetiger and slick alewife. The crappie that I have been finding are back in coves and the fish are on brush or near the brush suspended 15-25 feet down. The brush can be in 20-40 feet of water, as long as the top of the brush comes up to 15-20 feet of water. I troll at about 1.2 mph. You can also vertical-jig for them with a small 1/8- to ¼-ounce spoon or a small curly or twister tail grub. Also try tipping the grub with a small minnow to get more bites, most times. The third method is to cast out the grub past the brush, let it sink, then retrieve it slowly over the brush. The hardest part about casting is getting the bait at the right depth and keeping it there.”
The bite for largemouth bass has also been very good. A 5- to 6-inch swimbait with a ½-ounce jighead has been working well for Lou when the fish are out a little deeper chasing shad. If you find them close to shore, downsize the swimbait to a 3.5-inch and use only a 1/8- to ¼-ounce jighead. Flukes and suspending jerkbaits are also working well for the shallow fish. At sunrise and sunset, keep your eyes open and look for topwater action. They can be close to shore or out in deeper water, but typically close to a point with sunken brush. Spinnerbaits are also working, especially if there is some wind. Fish the point that the wind is blowing into.
Striped and hybrid bass fishing has also been good, but has been inconsistent – no different than our ever-changing weather. The weather really makes fishing for striped bass interesting. You first need to find the bait and the stripers will typically be nearby. There has been some good topwater action for striped/hybrid bass early in the morning that has lasted until the sun rises above the tree line. If it is cloudy the action can last longer. You can also find topwater action at sunset, but this bite typically does not last long, as they go down as it gets darker out. “I have been finding fish out in 90 feet of water on a main lake bluff. There are good points at each end of each of the bluffs, which have lots of sunken brush. The fish seem to move back and forth along the bluff feeding on shad. Zara Spooks and my larger swimbait has been working great. You will also find striped bass in shallow water next to sunken brush, as long as the brush is holding bait. Striped bass seem to be all over the lake. They have been caught back in the major creeks, as well as on main lake points at both ends of the lake.”
The surface water temperature is falling slightly and is in the low to mid-60s. The lake is fairly stable, but is rising slightly with the rain they have been having over the last couple of days. The current lake level is 570.20 feet msl. The lake is clear with some slight stained water in different areas. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 4-29-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “I was wrong last week when I said this past week would see lots of fish activity on Norfork Lake. The warm weather promised never materialized. Instead we had rain almost every day with some heavy downpours. There was some shad spawning in Big Creek last Wednesday afternoon (April 22). I was crappie fishing with no luck because the crappie are still off the banks. My son was catching shad and found threadfin spawning in a debris slick on a bluff wall. I assumed that was happening all over the lake until Sean told me the main lake was only 60 degrees. Sean had several good days fishing the main lake points near the dam, but the weather kept changing the pattern. One day stripers were active on the main lake and then the next day they were way up the creek. Nothing is consistent right now. Once we see consistent warm nights and south winds, the whole lake will see topwater bites and lots of feeding activity.
“The stripers should begin to feed on the main lake points and near mid-creek bluffs and on the flats up the creeks. Some good places to try this time of year are: Cranfield Island, Crystal Cove, Koso Point, Dam Cove, Big and Brush creeks, Woods Point, Diamond Bay, Thumb Point and School Bus Point.”
(updated 5-13-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week, leading up to last Friday, Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 14.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.9 feet msl and 9.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Norfork is fishing better. 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 ruby midge (sizes 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. With the coronavirus pandemic there has been little pressure. 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.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
NOTE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the urging of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has closed access to the Buffalo National River for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(updated 5-13-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. John’s favorite fly here 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 1,129.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is full. “Sounds like a broken record but it is what it is. More rain has fallen with some record cold days. Fishing still is pretty good all around the lake,” he said. Stripers are on and have seen some topwater action as of late. Fish are not that big but they are really active. Look in mid-lake areas and, if you’re trolling bait, have a rod with a topwater tied on.
Crappie are good on jigs. The crappie are scattered from shallow buckbrush to 40 feet deep. “I caught many limits of nice-size crappie on structure in 30-40 feet of water last week. The fish I have been catching look to be reabsorbing eggs for some reason. Eggs were white and mushy. On the other hand I have been catching very large females in 3 feet of water full of mature healthy eggs. My advice is, do not pass up your deeper structure as those places are holding nice-size crappie.”
Walleye are moving to major points adjacent to deep water. Walleye like humps and points with close proximity to 75-100 feet of water. Worm harnesses are working well. Bass are in all stages of spawn just like crappie. Look shallow and deep. All methods are doing well. Spots and brownies are good off main lake points and secondary points. White bass are good; they also are busting shad along with the stripers. Catfish are good. Bream are good up shallow.
(updated 5-6-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said stripers are being caught in fair numbers at the deeper end of the lake. Beaver is still high by 9 feet this week, and the clarity is “fairly dirty,” they say. Bream reports are good, with crickets working best. Crappie catching has been fair. Some are shallow while others are more in the deeper areas – “it’s kind of weird with the crappie right now,” they note. Black bass are good. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs all will get bit. Catfishing is good; use nightcrawlers or catfish PowerBaits.
(updated 5-13-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says the tailwater has produced some nice fish this past week. However, this next system has cooled things down a bit. The trout have been very responsive to light terminal tackle fished with various PowerBaits. The white bass have made their way up, spawned and are scattered throughout the tailwater. Whites are pretty much biting on any hard baits thrown at them. Kentucky bass are being caught between Beaver and Holiday Island throwing suspended hard baits and soft plastics. Try targeting points, structure and chunk rock. Most of the bass are being caught in 10-14 feet of water. “We have a warmup on the way, so hopefully that will produce a couple nice days of fishing,” Austin said. “This week’s hot spot has been Houseman, downstream towardBeaver town. Hope you all get out and catch some fish!” For more information, contact Austin through his Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service).
(updated 5-13-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lake is open to fishing.
Lake Fort Smith
(update 5-13-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, had no new reports.
(updated 5-13-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) remains closed until further notice. Fishing is allowed on the lake, however.
(updated 5-13-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) is reopened, and they have good reports on fishing. The lake is dingy and about 10-12 inches above normal level. The surface temperature is 63 degrees. Bream fishing is good using crickets. Crappie are good on minnows. Not a lot of people are talking about the bass, they say, but they see good catches and anglers are catching a lot of smaller fish. Catfishing is good using chicken liver.
(updated 5-13-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the visitor center is still closed at the state park, and therefore she’s not able to visit with their guests and obtain fishing reports. However, she reports that lots of fishing is going on at Lake Charles. “Hopefully everyone is fishing and enjoying the beautiful weather,” she said. What she has heard is that crappie are biting well now, and catfish catches are good using goldfish and minnows. Shelly says best moon times for this month will come May 19-25. Surface water temperature early Sunday was 51 degrees. Water remains murky and high.
(updated 5-13-2020) The lake at Lake Poinsett State Park has been undergoing a renovation with plans to refill it later this year and for fishing to resume at levels far better than in recent years, thanks to improved fish habitat and new underwater structures. The water control structure was also repaired.
(updated 5-6-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are at 520 cfs (350 cfs average) and water clarity has been green tinted. All of the rain lately has kept river levels up for several months now. Water flow has been strong in the main river channel; extra care is needed when wading.
Hot flies have been olive Woollies on overcast days and Y2Ks on sunny days. An extra split-shot sinker about a foot above the fly to get down can be very useful in the fast water.
Mark says, “The (AGFC) trout management plan is still being created, and work on rebuilding Jim Hinkle/Spring River Fish Hatchery has not started yet. These are two key things that will help the Spring River go to the next level as a great place to fly-fish. Once completed, the Spring River will be a much better fishery. Jim Hinkle has been stocking 12-inch rainbows weekly.
“Weekends have begun to get busy early this year. Last Saturday we had a full-blown canoe hatch. All of the campgrounds and public areas are open. Please stay safe and keep the distance.” For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 5-13-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is high and off-color. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White River and Norfork tailwater. Canoe season is coming soon. 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 5-13-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville said the river is still 9 feet high and the clarity is murky. The water has been turned off at the dam; there are not a lot of people fishing, but the water is on the decline.
(updated 5-13-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), said fish are biting. There is a gradual increasing chance of precipitation with some thunderstorms over the next few days, so do use caution when going out on Lake Chicot. Lake level is about average for this time of year, not too high, not two low. Water clarity is a bit murky and will likely get worse once rain/storms move in like expected.
(updated 5-13-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 5-13-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.43 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was slightly up about 2.5 inches above normal conservation pool at 259.4 feet msl; the discharge was around 4,700 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gatesas of Monday remained around 231 feet msl with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake the guide service’s website linked above, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels, especially during high-flow river conditions.
Millwood State Park and Marina is open and the state has reopened the state park for campers. See the Covid-19 related information and camping reservation requirements at www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/millwood-state-park. Continue to use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and floaters may be present this week. Mike says they have noted no river markers along Little River from Yarborough Point downriver to the open lake for two weeks now. “Use extreme caution where the river current may have moved or damaged river buoys,” he said.
Surface temps rose this week with increased radiant heat and were ranging 72-78 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is improving. Little River stain is consistent this week, muddy in locations near Cossatot inflow and Wilton, with increase of current, and with random broken timber and debris.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: The majority of largemouth on Millwood are now post-spawn and starting to recover from the past couple weeks, upriver and in many locations. Best water clarity is in the back of oxbows but bass are finicky as to what will get a response. Bass Assassin Shads, Trick Worms, wacky-rigged Senkos and Twitch Sticks have been getting fair responses from decent 14- to 15-inch bass for the last couple of weeks. Spinnerbaits improved in responses over the past week, and square-bill crankbaits, medium-running Echo 1.5 crankbaits, chatterbaits and custom painted Little John crankbaits also improved response this week. A large number of the post-spawn bass have pulled out of the flats, although a few decent fish remain in 1-2 feet depth. The post-spawn females are continuing to move slightly deeper off the flats into the creeks and points near vertical structure and drops. The largemouths continue to recover from the spawning activities upriver in the oxbows of McGuire, Mud and Horseshoe lakes. In the pockets between Millwood State Park and South Hickory, largemouths were sluggish over the past week on lizards and Senkos and Trick Worms.
Jigs in Texas Craw, black/blue/purple and June Bug, 5-inch Bass Assassin Shads and Beaver Bugs got a few good responses from 6-9 feet of depth around cypress trees, flooded buckbrush and bushes where new lily pads are blooming continue to be good areas. The pockets near Millwood State Park have been producing good bass for the past few weeks up to 5-6 pounds, but bass near the Millwood State Park were sluggish over the past week. Dead-sticking Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook near cover and stumps have been catching some decent 15- to 18-inch largemouths. A slow fall to the Assassin is critical, and too large/heavy a hook will kill the action. Line watching is mandatory, and many times while dead-sticking the line it will just start taking off when the bass hits it on the fall and swims off with it, like a stick or Trick worm. Best colors of Assassins as of late are the Salt-N-Pepper Silver Phantom, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse, and Houdini colors. Lizards and Baby Brush Hogs were getting fair responses over the past week and best colors have been the blackberry, pumpkinseed/chartreuse, junebug, or solid black and purple flake. Spinnerbaits in Firetiger color for stained water, or Spot Remover for clear water, SB-57 cranks, chatterbaits and S-Cranks were improving this week, too.
* White bass: Whites have finished up their annual spawning migration along Little River’s headwaters, upriver near U.S. Highway 71 and Patterson Shoals, although a straggler can be found trolling around the bridge pilings. Random schools have been caught between McGuire and Cemetery Slough over the past few weeks, migrating back downriver. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along primary points extending into Little River will pick up an occasional white bass. The bite has become more scattered.
* Crappie: They are biting well over the past couple weeks. Increased surface temps have the crappie shallow to spawn. Minnows and jigs have been working away from current and flow of Little River, in the clearer sections of the oxbows and golf course pockets, and Okay Landing and Cottonshed areas near cypress trees from 3-5 feet deep. The crappie responses continue to improve and they’re hitting small jigs in chartreuse/white, chartreuse/blue and black. Millwood State Park is seeing good activity in the pockets and coves near cypress trees and grass from 4-6 feet of depth. Cottonshed and Okay landing boat ramp areas have been giving up some nice healthy 2- to 3-pound crappie over the past several weeks.
In photo left, crappie guide Mackey Harvin displays one of several nice crappie he caught this week. Photo provided by Mike Siefert.
* Catfish: They remain consistent and good on trotlines and yo-yos in current along Little River using chicken hearts, cut chad or buffalo, and Punch Bait in 10-15 feet depth.
* Bream: They were biting minnows and crickets at Millwood State Park and in the oxbows upriver over the past week.
(updated 5-6-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) says they hear that a few bass are being caught, but they’ve heard no other reports from Magnolia.
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 546.89 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.21 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says the crappie have had a long and hard spawn loosing allot of weight but they got the job done. So, we’re in post-spawn and they’re stacking up on the mid-range brushpiles. Live bait or jigs are good 8-10ft deep before they move out deeper. Water temps are in the low 70s so the catfish are moving up.. hang on and set the drag right on that crappie pole. Fish ON y’all and be safe.
(updated 4-29-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Spring is here, turkeys gobbling, pollen falling and fish spawning. Fishing time. Rains have done their damage to the spawn with water fluxuations. DeGray Lake shows signs of rapid rise with dingy water from upriver down to Lennox Marcus. Arlie Moore and Brushy areas are much clearer. Water temperatures have been up and down like a yo-yo. As of Tuesday, surface temperatures were back to high 60s. The lake level is up to 407.34 feet msl.
“Still seeing bass on the beds in the clearer water around Iron Mountain Area. Bass fishermen are catching fish on lots of baits. The buckbrush is loaded with bass, both Kentucky bass and largemouths. Anglers are using wacky worm, Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, jerkbaits, crankbaits and, I guess the best producer now is still the spinnerbaits. White is the dominate color.
“Bream are active in the buckbrush and brushpiles. Finding the big ones is the key. Crappie are still in the brushpiles. They are in water from 32 feet to 16 feet deep. Minnows produce more than jigs, it appears, but they bite both. Use your electronics to locate the piles. The crappie are gathered in clouds over the piles. The problem is that many piles are loaded with 8-inch crappie. However, if you can find the right one, it will be loaded with big crappie. This applies from Point Cedar to Arlie Moore.
“The newest event is surfacing fish. Hybrids and white bass are moving into the pockets to feed. Find a pocket where the wind is pushing shad into the pocket. Spoons, white swimbaits, Rooster Tail Jigs and topwaters are getting it done.
“Be versatile. Use your electronics. Look for the pattern. Stay safe and practice social distancing.”
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.91 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 537.93 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
A bream bed was spotted just a couple of feet off shore at Lower White Oak Lake on Monday by AGFC Fisheries staff.
(updated 5-13-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said the river is going down and the fishing is good. Water clarity is clearing up. Popular baits for the black bass are crawfish, bass shiners and artificial lures.
(updated 5-6-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) has been shut down for a while due to the coronavirus pandemic, they say. But they are hearing reports from Felsenthal, though the area still has high water. Both bream and crappie fishing have been slow. A few black bass and some catfish are being caught.
(updated 5-6-2020) Donald Ramirez, owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, said the lake clarity is cloudy and the level is high. Black bass are good. Bass minnows and swimbaits are among the most successful baits the past week. No reports on bream, crappie or catfish.
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 5-13-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 58 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has held off on generation the past week until noon so fishermen could have the opportunity to fish. Dangerous flows have been the norm for months, making the area unsafe for boating and useless for angling. A new generation schedule is posted each Wednesday and the public should check on lake conditions each week before attempting to navigate the lake. Rainbow trout fishing has improved greatly in the last several days, with limits being caught by boat and bank anglers alike. Numbers of catches are low, but the size of trout ranges 12-17 inches. These fish are healthy and colorful as the water temperature rises into the high 50s. The majority of trout are being caught on redworms or waxworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Nightcrawlers, cut into small pieces, and live minnows are also working well presented under a bobber. Live bait offerings like these are a tried and proven method of catching finicky trout that are negatively affected by cold fronts and muddy water that have plagued our area lakes. Fly anglers have been few and far between since the lake returned to normal summertime pool in March. Those that have adapted have caught rainbows casting San Juan worms in hot pink or red under a strike indicator. Micro-jigs in black or white have also hooked trout that are beginning to chase the shad migration beginning in Lake Catherine. Hundreds of thousands of threadfin shad move toward Carpenter Dam in May to spawn. These baitfish will be in the tailrace for several months. All gamefish species feed heavily on these shad, which provide a great source of protein.
No crappie or walleye reports are available. Both spawns were missed due to the treacherous and unsafe conditions that were present during these spawning periods. However, the month of May will bring big numbers of white bass to the tailrace. These fish will spawn and feed heavily on the shad schools. Trolling crankbaits against the current that imitate threadin shad is an excellent method of locating schools of bass. Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jig presentations will dominate the majority of white bass numbers and will also attract walleye that live in the lake year-round. Live minnows tight-lined over deep water have accounted for some quality catches of white bass in the 2- to 3-pound range this week.
Rainbow trout fishing is the main draw this month and next as the big numbers of trout stocked in the lake have received little fishing pressure because of adverse conditions. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should be aware of the generation schedules and must always wear a lifejacket.
(updated 4-29-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that rain and storms move through the area Tuesday; leading up to that they had several mild days of sunshine. After this week’s storms, the forecast called for sunshine and warm temperatures leading into the weekend. Recent rains and high river flow has kept the water muddy. Surface temperature is 65 degrees.
As of Tuesday (April 28) the Corps of Engineers reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam near 77,000 cfs. Release at Ozark had risen above 100,000 cfs over the past weekend but has since fallen. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam is reported near 90,000 cfs. Release at Dardanelle had also risen above 100,000 cfs over the past weekend and has since fallen.
As for fishing, water temperature continue to be favorable for spawn of several of our fish species. Look for crappie near the tributaries and creeks. “We are finding bream in shallow areas,” Jason says. “The catfish are biting on shad. No reports on bass. I continued to find mayfly nymphs in the rip-rap along the bank. Now is a great time to get out there and try to catch some crappie, catfish or bass.”
Lake Dardanelle State Park continues to comply with state and federal recommendations for social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Reservations for the use of the tournament fishing facility have been canceled through May 31. Tournament participants are advised to contact their tournament event directors for details specific to their tournament.
(updated 5-13-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred X-press all-aluminum, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton at full pool and visibility up to 8 feet. “The weather just can’t make up its mind what it wants to do this year, and so it’s feast or famine on our lakes. On sunny days the water temp approaches 70 degrees in most areas and fish are beginning to show signs of summertime patterns for bass. Bluffs and chunk rock points are good target areas for the drop-shot and Ned rig. Green pumpkin and June bug are the go-to colors depending on the water clarity that day. Some fish are in the shallow on flats in depths as little as 8 inches of water. Chatterbaits, Texas-rigged worms and lizards have been doing really well! Fish are bigger in the shallows but there will be long periods of time without bites. After cold fronts all we can say is, fishing is a GRIND. Short strikes or no strikes can be very frustrating. Plan your fishing around the weather fronts and fishing will be much more fun!”
No crappie report, and with the weather it’s likely not great anyway. Bream are good everywhere but especially in 10 feet of water near lake points. Catfish are very good on cut bait and cheese in creek channels and main lake flats where they drop off to deeper water. “Good luck and Go Greeson!”
In the photo right, Benton’s Clyde Rowan caught this mess of crappie at Nimrod using Bobby Garland Jigs in the colors blue ice and money milk. Photo provided by Lisa Spencer of Lisa’s Bait Shop in Benton.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 355.51 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reports that Lake Nimrod is clearing up a little bit but remains “a little dingy.” The water level is 14 feet high as of Tuesday midday but is dropping 7 inches a day. Bream are good for anglers fishing around the watershed lake and using redworms or crickets. Crappie are good. Minnows are working along with Frosty Mug and Beaver Bottom baits. Black bass tournaments are underway at Nimrod on Tuesdays, and last week a 19-pound stringer won the tournament. Overall, bass fishing is good. War Eagle Spinnerbaits and Brush Hogs are working best. Catfish reports are good, with chicken liver the choice.
Hudson Grant, all of 4 years old, caught this nice bass on Lake Ouachita. He was casting from the bank with his own fishing pole when he hooked it.” Let’s just say landing it was a small but exciting adventure,” said his granddad, Steven Quinn, who provided this photo. Hudson is from Benton.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 576.79 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-6-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still very good. Topwater baits and jighead worms are producing very good stringers. Walleye are still very good, too. Jerkbaits and small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best right now. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on topwater C-10 Redfins and live bait on the central part of the lake. Bream are still excellent with crickets or PowerBait in 5-15 feet of water. Crappie are good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are good and are being caught with trotline and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature Tuesday was in the 68-74 degree range. Clarity is clear throughout. Lake level was 577.68 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 401.39
feet msl (normal pool: 387.00 feet msl).
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 5-13-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says that Bear Creek Lake has had reportedly high bass activity. Anglers are catching with jigs – generally black or dark in color. Anglers have also seen some bream activity fishing with live bait such as crickets from the bank and with more shallow water.
Meanwhile, Storm Creek Lake has also seen a rise in bass activity, though not as substantially reported as on Bear Creek. Anglers are reporting activity on lighter colored jigs.
(updated 5-6-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says things are still closed down at Cook’s Lake due to Covid-19, high water and downed trees. “Hopefully by the time the river recedes from the parking lot, we will be able to reopen,” he says. “I have been fishing some other water bodies around the region mainly in search of bedding bream but have not graphed many. We should start seeing more beds this week with the warmer weather we have experienced and the full moon.”
(updated 5-13-2020) Fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) had no new reports. Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for the latest information and recent photos of his and clients’ catches on the old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
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