Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
Jan. 26, 2023
Reports are updated weekly, although some reports may be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for current news for the lake or stream you plan to fish.
TOP: Curtis Priest made a trophy catch recently on Lake Hamilton. Fishing in an Arkansas Bass Team Trail tournament, Priest hauled in this bass weighing about 10.5 pounds. A fin clip was collected by tournament organizers for subsequent genetic evaluation.
Quick links to regions:
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Download the Fish Brain app and follow AGFC at: https://join.fishbrain.com/agfc-page
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
Lake Conway is currently in its annual winter pool drawdown from normal seasonal level. For the most up-to-date lake level, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Conway water level site.
(updated 1-26-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said fishing has been more of the same as it’s been the past couple of weeks. Crappie are biting really well on jigs, minnows and worms. Anglers are heading toward Gold Greek, going up Palarm and at the Highway 89 bridge and all doing well. Anglers fishing with waxworms are also picking up some bream along with the crappie. Bream will also bite the usual crickets or redworms, but the reports of catches are coming from the crappie anglers. Bass fishing is going on around the shoreline by boat around Highway 89 bridge and they have caught some good ones. They’re also going through Palarm, Adams and Lawrence and picking up some bass. Jigs, worms and Chatterbait seem to be preferred.
Catfish are doing well on stink bait, dough bait, shad, skipjack, chicken liver, Magic Bait Chum, trotline minnows and nightcrawlers.
Rain earlier in the week helped the lake rise a little, they report, and more rain is forecast for the weekend. The lake clarity is muddy.
(updated 1-26-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said anglers are having good success on crappie in Gold Creek and Wilhelmina cove. One angler told them that one morning on Lake Conway the crappie were hitting only straight jigs and would not touch a minnow. Later in the day, another angler said it had flipped: only minnows were drawing a bite.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reports the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 20 cfs (turbine) as of noon Thursday afternoon, though there had been 6 hours of generation earlier at about 6,200 cfs. Greers Ferry Lake is 0.6 foot below normal conservation pool. Check with the Army Corps of Engineers website for real-time release data or by calling (501) 362-5150). Also check the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecast generation schedule.
(updated 1-26-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said browns and rainbows are biting on No. 5 or No. 7 Rapala Countdowns in a brown trout or rainbow trout color. Also working is a Fire Tiger Rooster Tail. And don’t forget to try a gold Little Cleo or a gold spoon now.
(updated 1-19-2023) Mike Winkler of Little River Fly Fishing Trips (501-507-3688) said Greers Ferry Lake is just .09 foot below power pool with all the rain we have had and is still rising. For the past week the SWPA, South West Power Administration has been running water on days when the temperatures are cold out and not been generating on days when the day time temperatures are warm.
Always check the USACE Little Rock app before heading out. They are always subject to change so check the release feature on the app to see if they are running water. The bite has been good for nymphing under an indicator in the falling water or streamer fishing in the high water. The hot flies right now are egg patterns and Mega worms or San Juan worms along with midges. Or a small buggy pattern.
The streamer bite has been good when the dam is releasing water. I’ve had a couple of guide trips just throwing streamer patterns chasing after brown trout.
We have been throwing Double Deceiver patterns in brown and yellow, or olive on a #8 weight rod with a 330 sink line.
(updated 1-12-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said, “We’re still experiencing low water conditions on the Little Red. Water release/generation is sporadic, with multiple days of zero water release. This pattern makes it challenging for boaters but provides wading opportunities on all sections of the river.
“We are currently in spawning season for our brown trout, so be careful when wading to not step on the spawning beds (the redds) that are made in loose gravel on shoals. Always check generation schedule and be aware of unexpected water release. Midges, egg patterns, small pheasant tails and soft hackles are recommended for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing, we recommend pink, white and cotton candy colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads.”
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.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday morning, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 1-26-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is back up. It had been on steady slow rise for a while, and now some on-and-off generation is taking place, so this week it has settled at 461.41 feet msl (0.63 foot below normal pool of 462.04). Water temperature ranges 49-53 degrees. Bass fishing is good all over. Try to stay away from the most stained areas unless you want to fish in that type of water. Try to stay in medium stained and throw Wiggle Warts, Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, A-rigs or drag a football head or hop a jig off that second drop, deeper fish can be caught on Carolina rig as well as football head – and remember, this time of year some are right on the bank, also some topwater baits are working.
Crappie fishing is great all over, but remember they have moved with the water now – it’s a new puzzle. Straight up and down or troll, casting works also, live bait, crankbaits, jigs. The river walleye spawners are on the move for sure but will eat big crankbaits trolled 15-40 feet; the lake walleye are best with jighead minnows straight up and down or down-riggers with big cranks down to 50 feet. Hybrid and white basses will eat two or three times a day now, or sometimes all day, in 40-80 feet in turns or off of turns in deeper guts. Use hair jigs, spoons, swimbaits, inline spinners or live bait for best results.
No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 1-26-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass anglers are using an Alabama and a crankbait mostly. With an A-rig they are fishing that roughly in 20 feet or water. The crankbait, preferably a crawfish-colored crank in either green craw or red craw, has been going along the shoreline with the target being the 9- to 14-foot range.
Crappie are being caught in 15-25 feet of water suspended on trees. Anglers are catching them on a natural colored hair jig or a blue and white crappie jig. Something natural colored should work now. Also, try a 2-inch swimbait.
The water us about a foot low. The clarity in the upper rivers is a little dirty, but the main lake and down by the dam have clear water.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-26-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville says crappie are biting on silver, purple, chartreuse and blue jigs. Bass fishing is slow. Bream and catfish are biting, but it’s also slow.
(updated 1-26-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says crappie are doing pretty good, but if you’re not there early you’ll show up finding other anglers already fishing. The best crappie fishing is coming before daylight and between 6-7 a.m., with decent-size crappie (one caught this week was 2.5 pounds) in 4-5 feet depth. Mr. Crappie, Shiny Hiney and Bobby Garland Crystal color are the go-tos, with crappie trailers in white and chartreuse also being used. Some of the AGFC’s tagged crappie in Harris Brake Lake continue to be hooked, including a couple recently that were double-tagged ($110 in reward for returning the tag).
White bass are running pretty well on the lake. Anglers are picking them up while fishing for crappie using crappie jigs. The white bass size is medium, with the biggest caught being around 2 pounds.
Anglers are catching largemouth bass out of the boat or on the bank. A few in the 3-pound range were caught this past week. A purple or watermelon colored soft plastic worm will work well.
No reports on catfish or bream.
(update 1-12-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, crappie are over brushpiles in 6-7 feet depth and the bite is fair to middlin’. Real stuff or the tricolor jigs are the way to go.
|Black bass, for some reason, sunset is the best time to catch them right when it’s turning dark. Try a Tequila sunrise worm, but they are hitting on minnows too. Also anything white and spinning. Fish at 3-4 feet depth right off the bank.
Catfish like the goldfish and stink bait. David says he’s been selling out of worms so that tells him the bream are biting, too.
(updated 1-26-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) has heard reports of crappie doing well here. A couple of limits reportedly caught in the area of the marinas.
(updated 1-26-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) had no new fishing reports. The lake level is down significantly as Central Arkansas Water lowers the lake to eliminate some of the hydrilla in the lake. Access in early December was reported as “iffy” from the ramps.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 31,988 cfs. The stage at Morrilton was at 11.23 feet and rising (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 28,236 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-26-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says fishing was good until the heavy overnight rain Tuesday-Wednesday. About 2 inches fell in this area. That left the Little Maumelle at normal level but “pretty dingy” Thursday, leaving fishing “on the out,” though Ray expects it should be fine in a day or two.
Before the rain, crappie were doing real well, and people were catching nice bass too. Some crappie were biting as much as 3-5 feet depth on jigs and minnows. The bass were interested in crankbaits on the channel edges at 7-8 feet depth. Also, redear can be caught on the regular on the bottom with worms.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 40,952 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 43,077 cfs. The elevation is 249.01 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was at 7.67 feet (flood stage is 25 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 44,442 cfs.
(updated 1-26-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says most people on the river have been bass fishing lately. A white/chartreuse or red/chartreuse spinnerbait or a red Chatterbait should be fished around some of the insides of the jetties on the main river and in the backwaters for best success. Also, anglers are throwing a red Rat-L-Trap, and they’re also using a black/blue jig around cover.
Crappie have been biting on the insides of the jetties in about 15 feet of water. Red/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and orange/chartreuse crappie jigs have been the baits of choice.
The water level is about normal and the clarity is stained to muddy.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-26-2023) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said that the lake level should be back to normal for fishing (it was significantly low in the fall) but there hasn’t been any activity going on there with the wide range of weather that’s passed through.
The lake is closed to fishing until February while it serves as a rest area for migrating waterfowl through waterfowl season. Call 870-626-6899 for more information.
(updated 1-26-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We have snow on the ground here in the northern Arkansas Ozarks. It won’t last long, but it sure is pretty. And wet. Chances are good that the lake level may rise some; Bull Shoals Lake is currently at 657.05 feet msl. Yesterday’s rain and snow caused a slight rise – we’ll probably see more in the next few days – but the lake is still almost 2 feet below power pool, so there is a safety net. The Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Power Administration have been varying outflows quite significantly over the past week, from just under a unit (2,500 cfs) to 4 units (12,000 cfs), so be very careful and pay attention to the river conditions if you choose to wade or anchor fish. Rapid rises can increase the trout bite but can also increase debris and may catch you off guard.”
Changing water conditions has made finding the trout’s favorite hiding spots a little more difficult, but as they move away from spawning grounds, browns are more than ready to grab a minnow or sculpin. Most white lures or jigs have also proven successful, orange bellied stick baits are always a good bet, too. Any type of yellow or peach-colored egg pattern was popular with both fly and spin fishers. Rigged just above the hook, it mimics the trout eggs after the spawn and has brought a number of browns up for pictures. Rainbow trout get a break during the winter to grow, and they’re now eagerly taking worms, both live red worms and nightcrawlers or molded, scented sunrise or orange PowerBait.
“Make sure you bundle up for early morning trips to the river; the temperature can be 5-10 degrees colder on the river than the thermometer reads. Our afternoon temps have been very pleasant for January. Stay warm and keep anglin’.”
(updated 1-26-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the rain a week ago Wednesday caused some dinginess in the river but by Friday the river had cleared. The river has seen spikes as high as 7 feet and lows of 4 feet. Drift-fishing with yellow or sunrise Power Eggs with shrimp worked well catching rainbow trout. Quarter-ounce gold-colored spoons when the sun if out, or silver colored spoons when it is cloudy, also worked well in lower water. Size 7 or 9 Rapala Countdowns in rainbow trout colors worked well for some nice 20-inch-plus brown trout. We have also seen success using jigs. There was one stocking this week of a 1,000 rainbow trout at the Calico Rock boat ramp.
“The snowstorm Tuesday evening knocked out power for many people in the area and as of Thursday many thousands are still without power. I would like to give a shout out to the linemen of the various electric companies working to restore power,” Dave said.
(updated 1-26-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had numerous rain events that combined for a half-inch in Cotter, cold temperatures and heavy winds. “As I write this I am waiting for 8 inches of snow to hit here in Cotter. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.4 foot to rest at 2.1 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 38.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool and 16.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 2.2 feet below power pool or 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had some wadable water and more moderate flows. Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest 0.3 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had more wadable water.”
All of the lakes in the White River system are still at or below power pool. With cooler temperatures, expect higher flows and less wadable water. Expect heavy generation during peak power demand.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. This section will reopen next Wednesday!
“On the White, the hot spot has been The Narrows. We have had some lower flows that have fished well. The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a cerise San Juan worm with an orange egg dropper.”
John also said, “Today (at this writing) would be my late brother Dan’s 70th birthday. He passed away unexpectedly seven years ago. When we were young Dan and I shared a bedroom and attended the same public schools. I went in the Army and he entered the Navy as a photographer’s mate. I went to Vietnam and he was clever enough to get a job taking pictures of the admiral playing golf.
“He took up fly-fishing first and soon introduced me to the sport. He taught me how to cast a fly rod, tie flies and fly-fish. We were fishing buddies for decades. We became known in Memphis as the guys to introduce others to the sport. As a result, we decided to start Berry Brothers Guide Service. We obtained guide licenses, bought liability insurance and developed a marketing plan. We were soon guiding others.
“The first thing we noticed was that while I loved guiding, Dan did not. He thought if he was on the water, he wanted to fish. I began doing all of the guiding. We had to come up with an alternate source of income. We began teaching fly-fishing. We taught at a local junior college, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and a local sporting goods store.
“To enhance this, we took the Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor exam from no less a teacher than Dave Whitlock. We began teaching fly-casting for a local sporting goods store and also giving private lessons. This was well received.
“Dan was a great caster and casting instructor but he was best known as a fly-tyer. He was a commercial fly-tyer for several years. He was a regular tyer at the Sowbug Roundup and the Southern Council Conclave where he tied several midge patterns like Dan’s turkey tail emerger (my favorite) and chucks emerger. He was adept at tying very small flies. In addition, to his tiny midges he tied size 32 (the smallest hook made) dry flies.
“Once I moved to Cotter to guide full time, we did not work together as much. He stayed in Memphis and taught Wounded Warriors at the VA to cast and tie flies. He had a cabin in Norfork and we got together to fish as often as we could. Our favorite trip was to wade fish the Norfork tailwater. I would wade upstream and fish nymphs and he would fish the ring of rocks near the access. There were always fish rising there.
“His loved to fish one of his size 32 dry flies with a 70-foot cast. I asked him how he could fish that small of a fly on that long of a cast. There is no way that he could see the fly. When you are fishing dry flies you must see the fly to see the take. He said that he would set the hook when he saw a rise near where he thought the fly was. He caught fish doing this! Our last fishing trip was there.
“I miss him and think of him often.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657,13 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Flow on Thursday midday was 2,502 cfs, and tailwater elevation was 452.60 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-19-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the Bull Shoals water level 656 feet msl, or about 2 feet below normal pool. The lake came up a little. Water temperature Thursday was 48 degrees, give or take. “Fishing is good. Shallow guys, there are plenty of fish on the bank. If there are wind and clouds, I’m covering water where the wind hits square on the bank – hopefully on a point, chunk rock, steep bank or ledge rock. I’m saying close to deeper water. A Spro Crawler, Wiggle Wart, Red Craw or green variations. You’ll have keep moving to find them, but when you do there’s usually a few close.
“There are always fish to be caught on a jig. If it’s flat, try sunny points with brush or ledges 30-40 feet. The winter patterns are working. Offshore video gaming. Shad are still spread out; target bigger bait balls and shad becomes the structure. Creek hollers, 50-90 feet overall depth. Every day every creek will be different. Watching the loons and graph time pays off this time of year. Use a single 2.8 white swimbait or jerkbait or flutter spoon around those high swimming shad balls. It’s usually best early or late in the day when shad are up in the water column. If they are being finicky, hang a Tater Shad over the side. For schooling fish, use a Jewel Scope or spin a Jigging Rap. Jewel Scuba Spoon for the bottom dwellers. Lots of different species showing up out there in the middle of the lake. Each day is different, so fish the conditions.”
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Flow below the dam Thursday morning was about 6,200 cfs for six hourws before dropping to 205 cfs.
(updated 1-26-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 553.45 feet msl and has risen a half-inch in the last 24 hours with one and two generators alternating for just a few hours. “We officially received 8 inches of snow, but it did not look like it with it coming right after the rain and it took a lot before it started to stick. It was very wet and heavy causing some power outages. The surface water temperature was still 47 degrees when I came in Wednesday evening at dark.
Not much has changed since last week, with clarity about the same, and I could see my lure down about 4 feet. Both crappie fishing and bass fishing is just fair but some temperate bass are being caught deep. Bluegill are starting to bite again, but you have to work for everything you get. It is not easy, but the lake is in excellent condition and at a good level. Spoons are the best overall lure.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.
(updated 1-26-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new reports, but Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 1-26-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest 0.3 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had more wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are still at or below power pool. With cooler temperatures, expect higher flows and less wadable water. Expect heavy generation during peak power demand.
There has been more wadable water on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his favorite rig has been a pheasant tail nymph size 14 and a ruby midge size 18. The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better. Weekends can get a quite crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs, various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white mop flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White and North Fork 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 soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-26-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing poorly. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are much less active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,118.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl). The release at the dam was 20 cfs, though earlier ther ewas a 5-hour release of about 3,800 cfs.
(updated 1-26-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-253-3474) said Beaver Lake remains a few feet below normal pool level. “Fishing is in an up-and-down pattern just like this crazy weather last couple weeks. The water was on a warming trend and almost hit 50, which I look at as a milestone when it comes to the bite.”
Stripers were fairly good with many fish in the mid 20s last week. Areas to look at are Horseshoe Bend and Monte Ne areas. Trolling live bait for the most part has been working although some were trolling umbrellas with success. Walleye are moving toward spawning areas, but with this colder weather Jon believes this will halt their progress a bit. Once it starts to warm, then watch out, he adds.
Crappie have been fair/good with spider-riggers doing well, as are jig fishermen. The Alabama rig and jerkbait bites will start to pick up in coming weeks for bass. Also, white bass will start to make runs into river arms in the coming weeks.
“We need to hang on through the next few weeks with the weather, then after that the trajectory is going to go way up on the bite. Stay safe and good luck!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 1-12-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said fishing is fairly active on the lake. Anglers are still catching a lot of crappie. They’re armed with their LiveScope and throwing both jigs and minnows with solid results. The walleye are on the move. Anglers report catching a few on the White River. Stripers are fair in the lake; brood minnows are the bait now. They haven’t heard much to report on catfish or perch. Black bass are fair and responding to hair jigs, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.
(updated 1-19-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said with water conditions improving in the tailwater (weekly it seems), reaching the fishing grounds by boat has become a bit easier. This week the trout were eager to bite what we were throwing. Using Pautzke Fire Bait, on light terminal tackle did the job in most places along the tailwater. When the Corps of Engineers started generating, we then switched to drifting Pautzke Fire Worms on one-sixteenth-ounce jig heads, which produced nice results as well.
This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. “Remember to follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for more Tailwater updates. Good luck, get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 1-26-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) has reopened for the season. They had no reports.
(updated 1-26-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said there has been little fishing to report. Looking ahead to February, though, she notes Feb. 2-8 as good “moon” times for the fish, with best days being Feb. 17-23. The lake is high and its usual murky. Monday morning’s water temperature was 42.4 degrees.
(updated 1-12-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported Lake Poinsett is full with bream and catfish able to be caught at state limits, according to AGFC. Bream have been biting on nightcrawlers toward the bottom of the lake bed. Catfish anglers “have been pretty silent about their success, but I bet you could catch a few on livers,” he says. Bass and crappie are still catch-and-release, but a few are being caught on jigs and some live minnows.
Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) is closed for the winter and will reopen in February. They are taking reservations on their answering machine for spring.
(updated 1-26-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said the Spring River has been running at 340 cfs (just below the 350 average flow) and water clarity with recent snowfall is clear. The river is looking great for this time of year. Plenty of rainbows are biting at this time of year on egg patterns like the Y2K with nymp droppers. The caddis hatch is heavy some days, making for some dry fly action and really good nymphing with bead-head pheasant tails, princes or hare’s ear.
“”‘Tis the season for brown trout, and we have been catching some dandies. My fav is bead-head olive Woolly for big browns on the Spring. The guys do well with streamers and they can work great some days. Our browns are not consistent on the bite, but we are getting a good, healthy population and starting to catch some big ones.
“Smallmouth bass should be biting this time of year, moving up the Spring looking for warmer water. We’re catching one every now and then, but no many. The great thing about smallmouth and brown trout is, they like the same flies. It’s hard to beat sculpin and crayfish patterns for both, bu I do love a white streamer.
“Be safe out there. The Spring River has a very slick river bottom! If you fall in during this time of year, find a warm dry place!”
Check out Mark’s blog for latest fishing conditions at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 1-26-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is over. 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, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was falling at 8.25, almost 7 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was rising at 12.70 eet (flood stage was 26.00 feet). The stage at Augusta at 23.81 and rising Thursday, 2.19 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 1-26-2022) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
On Friday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam at Pine Bluff was 40,828 cfs. The stage at Pine Bluff is at 31.33 feet and steady (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 45,275 cfs.
(updated 1-26-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new report from the river.
(updated 1-26-2023) After a two-year project of rebuilding the lake habitat by the AGFC while the city of Monticello had the dam rebuilt, the water in Lake Monticello now covers about 470 acres. The acreage of water in Lake Monticello’s lakebed has only increased about 20 acres since May as a result of minimal rainfall. The water in Lake Monticello covers about 1,520 acres when it is at full pool. When the lake was first flooded, it took about five years for Lake Monticello to reach full pool, with two drought years during this period.
Fisheries District 5 staff in Monticello worked with AGFC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery staff to stock about 180,000 fathead minnows, 111,902 golden shiners, 78,840 bluegill and 82,056 redear sunfish into Lake Monticello during the month of October. The fish were placed in a hog trough on a trailer pulled by a UTV. The fish were then transported about 220 yards from the boat ramp to the water’s edge, where they were stocked. It took quite a few trips to stock all of the fish that were on the hatchery truck.
The AGFC plans on stocking threadfin shad this fall. Florida largemouth bass will be stocked during the summer of 2025. The aforementioned forage and bream species will be stocked again in the fall of 2025, along with black crappie.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.14 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Total hourly outflow at the dam by midday was 5,702.
(updated 1-26-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake was near 260.0 feet msl, 10 inches above normal pool and rising. Clarity was stained this week along Little River. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 229 feet msl and rising with gate discharge at the dam near 4,500 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Watch for random floaters and broken timber during any navigation on Little River and Millwood Lake.
Surface temps were stable this week, ranging 40-45 degrees depending on location and the time of day. Clarity was stained further up Little River with river clarity ranging 5-10 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of oxbows was normal stain, visibility was about 10-20 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain or thunderstorms.
Mike had these specifics on fishing:
* Largemouth and spotted bass have been randomly feeding in Little River and the oxbows over the past few weeks with a few warmer days being best days to make a run upriver. Flats next to deep creeks and secondary points with any remaining dead lily pad stems will coax a bite on a Chatterbait or square bill on warm and sunny days, mainly in the afternoon. A few chunky 2- to 4-pound male bass were the most aggressive at midday into late afternoon over the past couple of weeks and those fish are randomly near and close to deeper creek channels. The bass have been randomly hitting Brazalo Spinnerbaits in spot remover, Chatterbaits in white, and Rat-L-Traps in natural-colored crawfish browns and oranges or Toledo Gold and Red Chrome, custom painted Bent Pole Little John Cranks in Rayburn Red finessing through the dead pad stems. The best water clarity and reaction from chunky largemouths has left the river, and moved to the back of the oxbows where the clarity is somewhat better, away from the current of Little River.
Mud Lake, Horseshoe, and McGuire oxbows along Little River have had the best water clarity and the most aggressive Largemouth and Kentucky (Spotted) Bass over the past couple weeks. In the back of McGuire oxbow, we were throwing a custom painted, Little John crankbait in Rayburn Red, and a Bill Lewis SB-57 or MR-6 crankbait in Strawberry Craw, Blood Craw, or Red Glitter Craw and picking up a few random bites. One-Knocker Rat-L-Traps in Red Shad, Toledo Gold, or Goldfire Craw picked up several chunky, fat male Bass on cypress trees and knees in 7-8 feet of depth near flats adjacent to spawning locations, but the retrieve had to be slow and deliberate deflecting off wood, stumps, and cypress knees. Expect to get hung up, but expect a big fat prespawn female to bust that 1-knocker any minute or the very next cast, this time of year.
* White bass continue to bite well. “We continue to find a few large schools over the past couple weeks along Little River above White Cliffs about 2 miles before getting to the mouth of McGuire oxbow Lake. Those white bass were in large number ranging 2-3 pounds, and were biting well on Cordell Hammered Spoons, Little George Tail-Spinners, Heddon Sonar Metal Blades and Rocket Shads. The spoons, Sonar blades and Rocket Shads seemed to work better by vertical-jigging in the school, letting the blade/spoon drop into the depth zone BELOW the school, then ripping it up, and letting it fall back into the school. The river clarity and current has improved, but the schools were very obvious on your electronics and are migrating up and along Little River. Many different schools continue roaming Little River and have been caught for several weeks, casting or vertical jigging spoons, along Little River. Tail Spinner lead heads like the Little Georges, Little Cleos and Rocket Shads caught some 2-3 pound whites along Little River between White Cliffs Campground and mouth of McGuire oxbow over the past 2-3 weeks.
* Crappie were much improved over the past few weeks when clarity finally returned. Best bite for us has been on minnows, but jigs will randomly pick up a few decent bites on sunny days. Bee Lake had a few keepers to play with recently as long as the wind would let you stay out on the main lake. The best activity was midday, and the crappie were holding 12-15 feet of depth in our planted brush piles.
No reports on bream or catfish.
NOTICE: The American Gamebird Research Education and Development Foundation, under recommendation from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is conducting a 5-foot drawdown of Lake Erling in Lafayette County to combat the spread of giant salvinia, a highly invasive aquatic plant species not native to the United States. Giant salvinia, a free-floating South American plant that has become a major threat to fisheries in the southern U.S., was first spotted on a small portion of Lake Erling in 2018. Since that time the AGFC and AGRED, the lake’s owner, have worked together to monitor and minimize potential spread of the invasive species through information campaigns. With the recent detection of the plant at nearby Mercer Bayou and the spread of the plant within Erling, AGRED worked with the AGFC to determine a plan that would help combat the aquatic nuisance species. The drawdown will remain in effect until March 1, at which time the 7,000-acre lake will be allowed to refill.
(updated 1-26-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 544.16 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 404.01 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 438.80 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 527.58 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 1-26-2023) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-251-3831) had no new reports
(updated 1-26-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) had no new reports.
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-26-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 45 degrees with slightly stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy is running water 8 hours every day this week beginning in the early morning hours. Anglers should plan on dealing with a current situation and plan accordingly. The 5-foot drawdown creates a dangerous environment when attempting to navigate the tailrace in current or zero flow. Numerous rocks and shallow sandbars dot the area creating treacherous boating and wading. Extreme caution is advised by everyone using the tailrace, and the public is advised to be aware of the generation schedules posted every Wednesday on the Entergy website.
January marks the first big month of rainbow trout stocking with 9,300 fish scheduled for Lake Catherine. Trout now are widely scattered from the bridge to the dam and being caught in the shoals by fly-fishermen casting micro-jigs in black and white under a strike indicator. Trout key in on the shad kill this time of year as freezing temperatures stun threadfin shad in Lake Hamilton and these baitfish are drawn through the turbines and scattered throughout the tailrace area. Flies that imitate injured shad will draw immediate strikes from hungry rainbows. Spin-fishermen using PowerBaits and lures that represent fleeing crayfish will also catch trout that are searching for prey.
Quality fishing is now happening in the tailrace as conditions have stabilized and the game fish have resumed a more normal bite pattern. The influx of healthy rainbow trout to the lake rejuvenates the tailrace to an earlier scenario of quality fishing.
Mid-February marks the beginning of the walleye run for Lake Catherine. Smaller males migrate first into the tailrace to prepare the spawning beds. Larger females soon follow and all will remain in the area for weeks until the spawn is complete.
Both lakes Hamilton and Catherine were drawn down 5 feet for the winter. Refilling will begin somewhere between March 1-8, with the process completed by March 15. It is important to note that dramatic drops in temperature greatly affect the trout bite in a negative way. It can take days for a regular bite pattern to resume after a big drop in temperature so anglers need to be aware. Entergy will schedule daily generation from Carpenter Dam each week and the public is advised to read the Entergy Hydro website news for updates on lake conditions. Remember to always wear a life jacket when on the water and follow all lake and park regulations when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area.
As of Thursday midday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 28,236 cfs. Elevation was 337.61 feet msl and the tailwater was at 288,12 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage is at 7.89 feet and rising (flood stage is 32 feet), up 3 feet from last week.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was at 343.24 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-26-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville says crappie are biting on silver, purple, chartreuse and blue jigs. Black bass are slow. Bream and catfish are biting, but it’s also slow.
(updated 1-12-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said “they are catching the fish” these days on Nimrod, and especially crappie. “It’s unreal,” they add. Some anglers are catching limits in 5 feet of water at 3 feet depth, while others are reporting catching 30 in four hours fishing in 12-14 feet depth. Anything with a chartreuse glow to it is preferred, and a black/chartreuse jig will be ideal. Also, anglers are using minnows when Andrews can keep them stocked, they say.
The catfish are not too bad these days. The anglers catching cats are mostly using poles to bring them in. Lake fluctuations of late have cut out most limblining, but a few are being caught on trotlines with cut bait.
Nimrod is a bluegill lake but not a lot of those are being caught right now. Black bass are somewhat slow “but the fish are out there. This is a bass lake.” Some anglers have been seen catching bass, but what they’re using for bait is a mystery.
The water is “a little chalky” and the lake is at normal level, ranging 342-343 feet msl.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was to 573.52 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-26-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still good. An Alabama rig or a PB&J jig are working best. Stripers are good. A Bama rig or live bait on main lake points or creek channel mouths on the rivers should be the best spot to find these. Crappie are good on small jigs or minnows. Try brush 20-35 feet deep. No reports on walleye, catfish or bream. The water temperature is ranging 44-50 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level is 573.84 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 1-19-2023) John at Masterbaiters Bait and Tackle (501-209-6538) on Arkansas Highway 7 outside Hot Springs Village said Lake Ouachita is doing great if you get out on the water. Bass are being caught from 5 feet to 40 feet. A-rigs and crankbaits are working, and we’re also getting them on jig and pig. Also, catching some nice crappie in 40 feet on brush. Minnows and jigs are your best bet. “So get out on the water and don’t forget, please take the kids fishing. They love going, also.”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was down 2 feet from last week, at 385.25 feet msl (full pool: 387.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge on a slight rise at 23.21 feet, about 2.8 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
The lake is closed to fishing until spring as it serves as a rest area for migrating waterfowl. Call the center at 870-241-3373 for more information.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.
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