Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Feb. 23, 2023
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
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: An angler named Bo (no last name available) from Gentry, Arkansas, landed this very impressive brown trout in the Beaver Lake tailwater this past week while fishing with guide Austin Kennedy. Bo was fishing with Pautzke Fire Eggs, and he released the massive fish after this photo was taken. Austin Kennedy has more great fishing news in his report from the tailwater below, as fishing has really picked up on trout, walleye and more.
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 2-23-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said crappie have been biting in the usual hot spots like Gold Creek. Use something bright: chartreuse, Mo-Glo. Crappie were reported at about 6 feet depth in Gold Creek, and at 6-8 feet depth around the Highway 89 bridge area. Bass anglers picking up topwater lures, Chatterbaits, buzzbaits, worms, shad-type flukes, creature baits and swimbaits.
Catfish are good on nightcrawlers, skipjack, shad, chicken liver and stink bait. People have been fishing for cats under the 89 bridge, Pierce Creek and around Dix, Green and Adams lakes.
Bream are starting to pick up. Redworms and crickets, of course, but also try bucktail jigs, maribou jigs and hair-tied jigs. Anglers seeking bream have been headed to Pierce Creek.
(updated 2-9-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said crappie are still on in the usual places like Gold Creek, but are hit and miss. This rain and all this water, and the rain in the forecast, are going to make things very up and down for a few days, they say.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 8,641 cfs (turbine) as of midday Thursday, where it had been for well over 24 hours. Greers Ferry Lake is 6.6 feet above 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 2-23-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the Little Red is really blown out with the water being released from Greers Ferry Dam over the past week or more. There has been nothing to report this week.
(updated 2-16-2023) Mike Winkler of Little River Fly Fishing Trips (501-507-3688) said Greers Ferry Lake is 7.6 feet above power pool. The Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water to get the lake down, usually running two generators 24/7. Expect more of the same as far as generation schedule goes. Always check the USACE Little Rock app for the generation schedule before heading out.
Fishing on the Little Red from a boat in high water has been good as far as the streamer bite goes. Try throwing articulated patterns on a sink line toward the bank. “Double Deceiver patterns in yellow or olive have been working best for me,” Mike said. “If you’re looking to drift-fish, try fishing a double-nymph rig and adjust for the depths you are fishing. Sam Juan worms and egg patterns have been working good.”
(updated 2-16-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) has no new updates. He suggests anglers and boaters 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 468.68 feet msl with slight falling (0.36 inch) over the past 24 hours (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 2-23-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level now at Greers Ferry Lake is at 468.75 feet msl, 6.71 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling with generation. Water temperature ranges 45-50 degrees.
“Crappie are back chewing pretty good since water has cleared back up. They are in 12-50 feet of water for best results,” Tommy said, suggesting anglers use minnows, jigs or a small crankbait.
“Some walleye are upriver, some are on their way and some have not even started and all in-between,” he said. Use minnows on a jighead, small worms, crankbaits or jerkbaits. “No reports on catfish, but this is a great time to catch them all over lake and rivers with a variety of baits.”
He reports a few bream are starting to show up floating around. Try crawlers in 5-15 feet. Black bass are scattered all over, from shallow to deep. Jigs and craws, spinnerbaits and small crankbaits are working in skinny water. Drag something deep, or sit out and throw an Alabama rig, jerkbaits, and the Wiggle Wart, and don’t forget about the Rat-L-Trap. Hybrid and white bass are eating very well all over, 25-55 feet deep, while some are still in 80 feet of water; spoons, inline spinners and swimbaits working well.
(updated 2-23-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the fishing says the fish have been biting pretty well toward the backs of creeks on the upper end. Anglers have had success catching bass on a crawfish-colored Spro Rock Crawler and even throwing a spinnerbait in the stained water of the backs of creeks, too. Anglers are also throwing a green pumpkin or brown jig around the wood. The northern portion of the lake has some color to the water, while past Cove Creek and Eden Isle the lake gets clearer.
Crappie anglers haven’t provided much news from Greers Ferry Lake recently.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 2-23-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says fishing is mostly “no good” this week after all the rain. “It’s kind of slow right now.” Crappie are still biting but it’s difficult to catch them from the shoreline or dock. Out on the boats, anglers have caught some but not many.
However, white bass are really picking up and appear hungry and hunting for something to eat around the shoreline. Bream, too, are a little more active. Redworms are getting reactions from bream right by the dock. White bass are about 5-7 feet out from the shoreline and also going after the redworms.
The clarity is muddy to almost “yellow looking,” they report, and the level of the lake appears to be 2-3 feet deeper for some that at this usual time of the year. “People are fishing 5-foot deep for crappie.”
(updated 2-23-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville says crappie are biting and are typical for the changing water of late because of the weather, so move around from shallow to deep water. It’s still hit and miss. Make sure you have the right color: Monkey Milk, black/chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Kiwi, Mo-Glo, Silver, Blue Ice in jigs, or orange/white/diamond mist in Crappie Magnet. Also use minnows and nightcrawlers.
Bream are a year-round bite on redworms and crickets, but they’re slow now. Black bass are biting, but they’re slow. Use a dark-colored bait. Also, the minnows and nightcrawlers that work for crappie may get a bass reaction. Watermelon red, red/blue/grape colors in artificials are good choices for bass here.
Catfish are biting, but it’s been slow. Liver of all kinds, dough bait, minnows and nightcrawlers are the go-to baits.
(updated 2-23-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said that crappie anglers should look for the underwater timber about 5 feet deep and use minnows. Catfish are still doing well on trotlines using shad or slicks. No bream or bass reports. Check out the Lakeview Landing Hwy 95 Facebook page for water temperature and other updates.
(update 2-23-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, had no new reports from the lake.
(updated 2-9-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported that water temperature is in the mid-40s. Lake level is now down 6.5 feet. Ramps are still accessible. Central Arkansas Water will stop drawing down the lake on March 1. CAW has been planning a 10-foot drawdown to eliminate the hydrilla in the lake.
Largemouth bass reports have been good. Reports have the bass being found both in deep water and shallow along rocky points. Some reports say they are deep at 18-22 feet. Anglers should try using Carolina-rigged lizards, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and drop-shots. Kentucky (spotted) bass are good. There have been some reports of them being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks. Other reports have come of them being found on brush piles. Try using a Texas rig on the brush, or fish with jigs. No reports of white bass, crappie, bream or catfish.
(updated 2-9-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) says the water has been very low from their 10-foot drawdown, but a lot of crappie and other fish are going to get active after a big rise in the water. But you’ve got to find out where they are, and don’t expect them to be consistent.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 15,682 cfs. The stage at Morrilton was down almost 6 feet from this time a week ago, to 12.28 feet (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 37,793 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 2-23-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the fishing has been really good. Crappie are really starting to move up shallow. Anglersare catching them as shallow as 3-5 feet now. “They are moving up, this water has warmed up, it’s clear and normal (level),” Ray said.
Anglers have also been doing really well on the black bass, which are also coming up shallow in 3-4 feet of water. Lizards, soft plastics of any type and crankbaits are working. Catfish folks are catching their target on yo-yos baited with minnows. The yo-yos are working for crappie, too, and also on minnows.
Not much to report on bream, “but I’m sure you could fish worms on the bottom and catch bream. That’s how it’s been all winter but nobody is fishing for them,” Ray said. “The main thing here is the crappie is moving up shallow.”
Plan your crappie trip to the Little Maumelle either early (sunup or before) and late in the day, an hour or so before dark and into the night (when the yo-yos are working). Use minnows or jigs. With the clear water, about any color is good now. Ray suggests shad-colored jigs or jigs favoring white, silver/white and pink colors.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 48,636 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 49,248 cfs. The elevation is 249.26 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was at 7.55 feet, down about 1 foot from this time a week ago (flood stage is 25 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 54,428 cfs.
(updated 2-23-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is good right now. They suggest fishing more in the backwaters where the water will be a little warmer. Bass have been caught this week on Chatterbait (black/blue, a Z Man Jackhammer is a good one to throw now with more vibration to it than others), or flipping a black/blue jig as well as a square-bill crankbait. The bass are in the 5-foot range or shallower in these backwater areas. They have not heard much on the crappie fishing front, though, in the Little Rock Pool.
(updated 2-9-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) said even with high flow you can fish the bank, and if you can figure out where the fish are, you can have success. Anything shad-like will be a great bait now. White bass, hybrid bass and striped bass will be catching all the knocked-around bait fish stunned in this water. They will be feeding. The catfish will be burying in their holes and then will come out and be feeding. “The water is going to be so high, you have to know where the holes are to catch these guys. Once it hits a peak and starts to fall, the fish will scatter more. It’s going to be very up and down but if you can find them, you can do really well.”
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 2-23-2023) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) has not heard any reports from the lake or from the lower LR pool or beyond Terry Lock and Dam this week.
(updated 2-23-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the recent storms caused both Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes to rise above the conservation pool. As a result both Bull Shoals and Norfork Dams have been releasing a lot of water. Over the last week they have seen water depths of 8.5 to 10.5 feet with a strong current. “Once the lakes reach the conservation pool levels of 659 feet msl for Bull Shoals and 553 feet msl for Norfork, I expect both dams will reduce how much water they release allowing the river to drop to more normal levels.”
With the increased water flow the fishing has been marginal. Drift-fishing with silver inline spinners with Power Eggs and shrimp continues to work best. Add a little bigger sinker to allow the bait to get to the river bottom. If you use artificial lures try deeper-diving lures. Look for something in the water that gives the fish a break from current. The fish will hide behind the obstacle to rest and watch for something to eat to float by. Fishing in the creeks feeding into the river can result in some nice bass or catfish.
(updated 2-23-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake elevation has fallen slightly over the last week due to the drier weather “but the upcoming rains may put us back where we were.” The lake on Wednesday was at 660.35 feet msl, which is very near the seasonal power pool level. The Southwestern Power Administration has dictated power generation at nearly five generators (14,000 cfs) pretty much round-the-clock this week, so be very careful motoring in these higher water conditions. Wading might need to wait for a while.
The ample brown trout bite has proven that late winter is a great time to visit the White River, and the rainbows aren’t ignoring the bait either. Shad and sculpins are the preferred meal for a hungry brown; try also egg patterns (light yellow peach colored) with an orange leading bead.
“This week we’ve seen a significant shad kill on the lake. The overflow of that food source into the river sets off the famous voracious feeding pattern and the easy trout catch, which anglers love. Think white for baits and flies this week: shad patterns, white egg patterns, white-bellied stick baits – the water level will support deep-diving jerkbaits – white jigs and minnows. In addition, add lots of flash to white, olive or olive-and-brown streamers, sparkling collars on your jigs, or toss out a shiny silver spoon.
“Winter probably isn’t through with us yet, but we will take advantage of this early spring-like weather while it’s here! Keep anglin’ and we’ll see you at the river.”
(updated 2-23-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they have had a half-inch of rain at Cotter, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1.5 feet above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 34.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1 foot below power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 1.4 feet above power pool or 8.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water and heavy flows. Norfork Lake fell 2.3 feet to rest at 0.9 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water.
John said, “We have had a shad kill. There have been numerous shad coming through Bull Shoals Dam. Use large white shad imitations in floating and sinking versions.
“Streamer season is upon us. The brown trout that have been spawning for the last three months are now working their way back downstream. Anglers are now targeting them by banging the bank with big streamers on sink tip lines.
“The hot spot on the White River has been the catch-and-release Section below Bull Shoals Dam. We have had higher 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 offers an explanation for choosing the right fly: “Fly selection is a big deal in fly-fishing. It is the choice of the fly that you are going to use to catch fish. Hopefully you choose one that the trout wants.
“My first choice is usually the flies that I fished the last time I was out – especially if it has not been so long since I fished. If it worked yesterday, it should produce fish today. If it has been over a week or two you need to put some more thought into it. Conditions are constantly changing. There could have been a new hatch, or a serious rain or temperature change that triggered another food source since your last trip.
“Another source of information is asking others. Anytime I am in a fly shop I ask what the hot fly has been recently. The people there talk to a lot of guides and anglers and often have good information. I went to the San Juan River in New Mexico without a clue of what to fish. I stopped at Abe’s fly shop and asked for the fly. I bought six flies, tied one on and never changed a thing, I caught 60 good trout.
“Some of the best information I ever got on fly selection was from a guy I sat next to in a bar in West Yellowstone, Montana. He told me the fly he used. I started the day with that fly and did well at Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison River.
“When I do wade trips, I talk to everyone I see in the parking lot or pass on the stream as I walk in. If they are or have been fishing, I ask them how they did. If they did not do well, I moved on. If they did well I asked what fly or flies they used. In general, fly-fishers are quite willing to share information. If they tied the fly and you do not have one, they will often give you one and wish you luck.
“If I am fishing from a boat, I will ask every guide I see at the ramp. We are all in this together and freely share information. If I am struggling I will ask another guide how he is doing and what he is using as we pass on stream.
“When I rig my rod before starting, I take all of this information and determine what flies would be the best to use and I tie on as many as I can. When my wife, Lori, and I go out, I rig our rods differently. Each rod has two different flies (a lead fly and a dropper). I do the same for my two clients when I am guiding. As we fish, I pay particular attention to which fly caught the trout. One fish is a fluke. Two fish is a coincidence. Three fish is a trend. Once I have identified the trend I make sure everyone has the most productive flies.
“Gather as much information as you can before making your fly selection for the best results.”
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.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 660.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 16,745 cfs and has ranged 12,700 to almost 17,000 over the past 24 hours; tailwater elevation was 457.49 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-23-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said that with Bull Shoals Lake level being at 660 feet msl, the Corps of Engineers has been pushing water through the dam. The water temperature is ranging about 46-49 degrees. Fishing continues to be up and down just like the weather. The warm rain helped. Some fish will move shallower under the right conditions and hold on swings, points and ledges. Temperature and conditions over the next month will dictate your game plan and success.
The shad are spread out. Some holding in the mouths of the creeks and main lake and are over 120-150 feet and have been suspended 90-100 down. While some warmer creeks will hold them shallower, the fish are spread out so you’re going to have to look for them. I feel most of the largemouth bass have pulled off the deeper shad and are holding in the 30-50 feet range on ledges, tree tops, bluff ends or points nearby. We’re capitalizing on the shad if they come up to feed early or in the evening, or if the stripers and white bass push them up in the column.
There has definitely been some shad kill. The shad bite video gaming isn’t over yet. When they push back in, try a Rapala Jigging Rap or Tater Shad on a Moon Eye. Most of the bass are only 25-55 feet over the shad.
Some fish are already staging early prespawn areas in the creeks. The crankbait bite is getting better as temps rise. The crawdads are becoming active. This should improve with warm days and dirty water. Wind, wind, wind and clouds will help. Parallel steeper ledge 45-degree banks and steeper transition banks. Cover water. Try Rock Crawler reds on the steeper, clearer water; Wiggle Warts on mid; and a Chick Magnet on the flat side in the stain. Using a jerkbait on breezy day bluff ends over steeper swings and points will fool a few.
The smallmouth are definitely grouping up if you can find them; they are in roaming mode. A 2.8 McMinnow is on deck. I’ve been getting bit on a Jewel football jig or shaky head in green pumpkin on the points, ledges and swings in the creeks. Fish slow if it’s flat, clear and sunny. The drop-shot is a player in 30-45 feet. You’ll have to keep moving to find them but when you do there’s usually a few. 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 midday Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 556.22 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 midday was 3,041 cfs.
(updated 2-23-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 554.51 feet msl and the storm was just starting to enter the area about 11:30 a.m. when he arrived at the resort Wednesday. The wind came up and it started to rain pretty hard. The surface water temperature was 49 degrees and the water was stained in the creeks but a little clearer on the main lake. The White River at Newport was 22.29 feet, indicating they are letting out quite a bit of water out of both lakes. “We are now just three-quarters of a foot above the top of the power pool and 1½ feet above where we were on Feb. 7 before the 3-inch-plus rain.
Bass fishing starts to improve on both windblown banks on crankbaits back in the creeks and on main lake points near brush on grubs, and then another cold front comes through slowing the fishing. Crappie fishing is fair to poor on main lake brush piles on both jigs and live minnows on a slip float just at sundown to dark. When they quit, they quit. Some larger white bass are up the river with walleye spawning, and smaller ones have not spawned yet and are still in open water on shad. Hybrids and smaller stripers are still in open water on shad about 50 feet down, no matter how deep the water is, and can be caught dragging live bait or umbrellas through the shad. Vertical-jigging a spoon or 3-inch grub on a lead head is also working.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.
(updated 2-9-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite has been pretty good for striped bass as of late. Lots of jigging soft plastics and lead spoons. He said, “I had a much better day of catching fish (Monday). The fish were being a little more aggressive. I didn’t get to head out on the lake until 10 a.m., but as luck would have it, the bite was on as soon as I got to the area that I wanted to check out. I could see the birds feeding from a distance, which made me smile really big. I knew what was going on. I stopped the boat and looked at my graph and there were fish all over the place.
“I was in roughly 80 feet of water just outside of a channel swing with fish suspended 20-70 feet down. I started to target the 30-feet-deep fish and found that they wanted to chase my bait today. I dropped my bait down to 50 feet, and when a small school of fish came under me, I would reel up as fast as I could through the middle of the school. I saw a couple fish turn and follow my bait. At about 15 feet down they would attack and then dive! These fish were hybrids, stripers and white bass. I did catch a few fish on a dead stick, meaning no motion at all except for what the boat was doing.
“All species were out there feeding. I got to land a couple of nice largemouth bass, a big 15-inch crappie, a handful of white bass and 4 hybrid stripers. I landed fish on a Bayou Magic Tater Shad with a half-ounce white big eye jighead, as well as a three-quarter-ounce Binks Many Shad white spoon. The fish I was marking at 60 feet or deeper did not want to bite. If you are out looking for striped bass, they will be in an area from East Pigeon to the 101 bridge and/or from the Highway 62 bridge back to the 101 Boat Docks. Find the bait, then make sure you mark a few fish before you start fishing. It does take some looking, but once you find them it is a blast.
“With the rising water level, the largemouth bass bite will become really good. Look for water flowing back in creeks and coves and start casting a Wiggle Wart or a Rock Crawler crankbait into shallow water.”
Water temp was 44-46 degrees. The lake is rising with the current rains and sits at 553.5 feet msl. The lake is slightly stained in most areas, but will become more stained in the next day or so. Enjoy Norfork Lake!!
Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 2-23-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.3 feet to rest at 0.9 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water.
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-head 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 size 14 pheasant tail nymph and a size 18 ruby midge. 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 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 2-23-2023) 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 1,121.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl). As of 1 p.m. there had been 31 straight hours of release in the neighborhood of 3,800 cfs. The lake is at the same level as it was a week ago.
(updated 2-23-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is sitting close to 1,122 feet msl as of Wednesday. The water temps are in the mid-40s and close to 50 degrees in the river arms. Fishing has been good for crappie and mostly on structure of some sort in the 6- to 20-foot range. The usual jigs and minnows are working. This bit should continue to ramp up each week as the prespawn bite is starting up.
Stripers are really hard to find. My thoughts are they are migrating toward the south end for the spawn. Stripers do make a spawn just like every other fish in the lake; the only difference is the eggs do not recruit new fish. In the spring they move to the Point12 area and on up into river arms. For those who do not know the lake, Point 12 is where the War Eagle and the White rivers intersect. These are the two main rivers that feed Beaver Lake.
“On that note, the walleye are moving up and the bite can be good if you locate the moving fish. I have been doing well on swimbaits anywhere from the U.S. Highway 412 bridge up towards Neil’s Bluff. We have been doing well catching spotted bass and largemouths throwing these baits for walleye, so that shows me bass are on the feed.
“White bass are hard to find and I believe the AGFC needs to put a 25-fish limit on them. The numbers for the last few years are down and a no-limit and no-size with the huge angler pressure on Beaver has decreased the population on Beaver Lake. I log every trip I do and fish 275-plus days a year and I promise you numbers are down. White bass are a fun fish for new anglers and old alike.
“Stay safe and respectful on the lake.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 2-24-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the main topic of conversation this week is the walleye are s tarting to move into the creeks. Anglers are fishing mostly live baits (minnows have been the big thing) and they are finding mostly males, no females, and the males aren’t really that big yet. The run has just started, they note. Look for them in the river arms and below Beaver Dam, around War Eagle and the White River arms. “They are not really going full bore, but they can be caught now and that’s big.” Crappie are rated fair to good. There are not a lot of crappie anglers out yet with the chill (35 degrees Friday) still in the air. The crappie are in a prespawn bite and found around brush and other cover. Many crappie anglers are using the LiveScope and searching them out and using a variety of baits, mostly jigs, artificials and minnows.
The fishing pressure on the lake is still light. The lake is in good shape and clear for hte most part. Conditions are good.
Stripers, a year-long target on Beaver Lake, are being caught on big minnows, but pressure is light on them as well right now. Stripers are moving into the river arms and upper White.
Black bass are still in a winter pattern and that bite is rate fair. Jerkbaits, Alabama rigs are the baits of choice, and mostly it’s tournament fishing time, though it has taken around 15 pounds to win the tourneys, The white bass run hasn’t really started; some have been caught in the river arms but that is also still a winter fishing pattern for now.
Water temperature in the river arms is in the high 40s and the main lake is in the mid-40s. It’s still far from spring-like temps. “We expect a big change in the next three weeks,” they report. “It hasn’t been a hard winter up here. Everything is happening as it should. The walleye are the first to pick up.”
(updated 2-23-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said this past week the fishing has been great. Water temperatures have been 43-44 degrees. Generation has been pretty consistent, starting around 6 a.m. and ending mid-afternoon. Most trout are being caught on Pautzke Fire Bait fished with light terminal tackle, with most being caught in slack water and eddies.”
This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Bertrand Access. “I have been getting asked a lot lately, yes, we are catching walleye. Most are being caught in 15 feet of water downstream from Houseman to Beaver town. The preferred presentation has been casting soft plastics, with Fire Gel added to the plastic bait. Ledges, humps and weed lines have been the most productive areas to fish. I have found that the late afternoon bite has produced the best numbers.
“Follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for day-to-day updates on the walleye bite. Remember to be courteous to other boaters on the water. With the increasing boat traffic, we need to be mindful when operating our boats near others who are not underway and anchored. Let’s all be safe and enjoy this awesome fishery.
(updated 2-23-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said fishing has been pretty slow for the past several days, and they had no reports of note. No one was out late this week with the bad weather.
(updated 2-23-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said fishing continues to pick up at Lake Charles. While there were no reports on bream yet, crappie, black bass, catfish and white bass were all reported caught in fair numbers. Minnows and jigs are working for crappie, and a few anglers reported getting bites. Another angler caught a 2-pound white bass while fishing from the shoreline. No specific bait was reported. No baits were mentioned for black bass or catfish, either, but they were caught in fair numbers as well. Shelly has already started looking ahead to the good “moon” times for next month. She says good days should fall on March 4-10, while the best days are March 18-24.
Water temperature on Monday was 51.4 degrees, which is more than 3 degrees higher than this time last week. The water is high. Clarity is the usual murky.
(updated 2-23-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported Lake Poinsett had crappie biting well on minnows and jigs. Bass are starting to bite on artificials off of the points. Bream are biting on worms and Bream Killers. Catfish are slow but biting in the early evenings on stink bait and live bait. Crappie and bass are catch-and-release at Lake Poinsett. Normal state limits on bream and catfish now.
Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) is closed for the winter and will reopen this month. They are taking reservations on their answering machine for spring.
(updated 2-23-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels at the Spring are running at 440 cfs (350 cfs is average, while water clarity has been poor. Plenty of rain lately has the river up about a foot above normal and has the water stained a good pea soup tint.
The trout and smallmouth have been hitting well in the higher water. Woollies and streamers can work on good days, or nymphs on other days, with really nice bug hatches on the nice sunny mornings. A big crackleback fished deep has been good on several trips lately. And if the bite is off, a big Y2K can be the ticket. The hatchery has been stocking some really nice chunky fish.
Crankbaits for spin-fishing work well in high water. This is a great time to chase walleye with big stickbaits.
“Wading with the water up can be tricky – wading staffs can keep ya dry. Heavy rains lately can make river conditions change overnight. Check our blog (linked above) to make sure it’s not up and muddy. Be great if all this rain was snow. But warm weather has made for great times on the water.”
(updated 2-23-2023) 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.” 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 steady at 10.39 feet, less than 5 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage is falling at 21.65 feet (flood stage is 26 feet). The stage at Augusta is steady at 31.87 feet, nearly 6 feet above flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 2-23-2022) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam at Pine Bluff was 40,646 cfs, about half the flow of this time last week. The stage at Pine Bluff is at 31.63 and slightly on the rise (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 52,474 cfs.
(updated 2-23-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperature is in the mid-50s in Lake Langhofer to the low 60s in protected backwaters. Visibility is 6-12 inches. Water level has stablized from recent rains. Black bass can be caught with shallow-medium diving crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs along rocks and docks. Bass are not yet loading into typical early spwaning areas despite the abnormally warm temperatures. If the warm weather continues, the spawners should move soon.
(updated 2-23-2023) After a two-year project of rebuilding the lake habitat by the AGFC while the city of Monticello rebuilt the lake’s dam, Lake Monticello is reopened for fishing though the water is still well below what will be full pool when it refills. Lake Monticello is mostly dependent on rainwater for refilling all of its 1,520 acres, and in late fall it had reached a coverage of almost 500 acres.
All fish that are caught are catch-and-release at this time and the AGFC Fisheries staff rebuilds the predator population and the forage base.
Late in 2022 the AGFC hatchery staff stocked about 180,000 fathead minnows, 111,902 golden shiners, 78,840 bluegill and 82,056 redear sunfish. 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 260.33 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Total hourly outflow at the dam is still high; at midday it was 18,275 cfs, and in the past two days the flo2 has been as high as 19,600 cfs.
(updated 2-23-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake has begun falling from recent rise over 3 feet and is still muddy from recent storms. Millwood is near 260.6 feet msl and remains almost 16 inches above normal pool and falling. Clarity is heavily stained to muddy in places this week along Little River, while the main lake is heavily stained. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 244 feet msl (almost 20 FEET above normal) and rising with gate discharge at the dam near 20,000 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 at 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 are stable this week, ranging 48-52 degrees depending on location and the time of day. Clarity along Little River is stained, and is much worse further up Little River with river clarity ranging 3-5 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of the oxbows is normal stain; visibility ranges 5-10 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.
Millwood State Park MARINA WILL REOPEN March 1.
The Millwood State Park IS OPEN for camping, and the State Park Office can be reached at 870-898-2800 for availability or additional information. USACE Campgrounds ARE OPEN for camping. Millwood Lake’s various Corps of Engineers parks current status, information and reservations may be made by calling (877) 444-6777 or the Millwood Tri-Lakes office at (870) 898-3343.
Mike provided the latest fishing specifics:
* Over the past couple of weeks the largemouth and spotted bass have been randomly feeding along Little River and the oxbows 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- and 3-pound male bass were the most aggressive at midday into late afternoon recently, with those fish being found randomly near and close to deeper creek channels. The best bass reactions are random hits on 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, and custom painted Bent Pole Little John Cranks in Rayburn Red finessed through the dead pad stems. The best water clarity and reaction from largemouths is in the back of the oxbows where the clarity is somewhat better, away from the river current, although the main lake from Paraloma Trail to mile marker 4 in Little River was fairly clear over the past few days before the thunderstorms.
Mike said, “We talked to some friends up Little River in the oxbows over the past few days and they told us they were catching some decent largemouths on a floating Trick Worm like the Senko or Zoom Trick Worm and the Yum Dingers. Merthiolate and June Bug colors were working in the stained water in back of McGuire. Brazalo Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover or River Shad with red blades were catching some decent prespawn males moving in and out of spawning flats over the weekend when the sun was up bright and high in the sky and you could see movement in 3-5 feet of depths on the spawning flats. Big female largemouths are beginning to stage at creek mouths and on the first vertical drops from the spawning flats to deeper water. Red Chrome, Toledo Gold or Natural Crawfish three-quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps were picking up a few prespawn fish from 8-12 feet deep on vertical drops.
Mud Lake, Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows along Little River have had the best water clarity and the most aggressive largemouth and spotted bass over the past few weeks. “In the back of McGuire oxbow, we were throwing a custom-painted Little John Crankbaits 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. Mike says they continue to find a few large schools of white bass over the past couple weeks along Little River above White Cliffs about 2 miles before getting to the mouth of McGuire Lake. Those white bass were in large numbers ranging 2-3 pounds and were biting well on Cordell Hammered Spoons, Bomber Fat Free Shads, 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 current has dropped, but the schools of white bass are migrating up and along Little River.
Mike says they expect to see greater numbers of large white bass schools running upriver near Patterson Shoals and Wilton Landing near Cossatot inflow ditch for their annual spawning runs over the next few weeks as the surface temps continue to climb into the low and mid-50 degree range.
* Over the past few weeks, the crappie bite improved, then thunderstorms and lake wind advisories destroyed clarity and discharge along Little River went back to over 30,000 cfs. Now with all the increased thunderstorms this week and slowly falling lake level, with the lake still almost 20 inches high, and the decrease of discharge at Millwood Dam and gates, we have yet to see how the crappie will respond over the next week. After the lake rose over 3 feet with over 4-6 inches of rainfall the lake clarity turned to chocolate milk and almost completely shut down the bite we had the week before.
With Little River turned to chocolate milk again this week with all the inflow, current and gate discharge, we are just going to take a wait-and-see approach as normal lake pool should be achieved over the next week to 10 days – provided we don’t have much more rainfall.
Best bite for us before the chocolate milk situation had flipped back to jigs from minnows, but the crappie will randomly pick up a minnow with a few decent bites on good 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 mid-day, 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 2-23-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reported that the crappie are moving to the shallows. Anglers are caching lots of nice[-sized crappie. Use hand-tied jigs in white/silver and gray/silverwhite or use minnows for best results.
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 546.89 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 405.58 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-9-2022) Randy Plyler with Plyler Outdoors Guide Service (870-210-0522) said that there’s only been a few folks out here over the course of the last couple weeks on DeGray. Some reports say folks are getting bit on green pumpkin jigs in 25 feet of water on ledges. Look for balls of shad and try throwing an Alabama rig. DeGray Lake water level is 406.5 feet msl.
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 447.76 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 540.05 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(updated 2-23-2023) 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 2-23-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 50 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Very heavy generation has been the norm for several weeks with both generators running huge amounts of water through the system to keep area lakes at winter drawdown levels. Winter drawdown is scheduled to end next week (March 1-8) Flood gates remained open to aid in lowering Lake Ouachita out of flood pool. Little productive fishing has been done in the tailrace under these adverse conditions.
Anglers should plan on staying off the water below Carpenter Dam until area lakes are brought back to winter drawdown levels and conditions return to normal. The public is urged to use extreme caution when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area during this time. 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. The weekly generation report is posted every Wednesday evening on the Entergy website under Hydro-Operations. Currently, all floodgates have been closed below Carpenter Dam, but generation flows are still high as Lake Ouachita is barely below flood pool. The trout stocking program has proceeded as scheduled, so big numbers of fish are in the tailrace and can be caught when safe conditions allow bank and boat fishermen to access the lake.
January marked the first big month of rainbow trout stocking with 9,300 fish scheduled for Lake Catherine. In February another 12,000 rainbow trout were scheduled to be released, which will create a perfect environment for quality trout fishing. Trout now are widely scattered from the bridge to the dam and, in safer conditions, can be caught in the shoals by fly-fishermen casting micro-jigs in black and white under a strike indicator.
A San Juan worm in hot pink gives trout a visible prey item in the murky conditions. 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. Excellent angling opportunities are on the horizon as soon as stable conditions return to Carpenter Dam, depending on consistent weather fronts. The massive 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. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits that imitate shad or crayfish against the current will draw strikes from spawning walleye and is an excellent method of locating areas where walleye are congregating.
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. All the above information will enable anglers to successfully fish in Lake Catherine as soon as Lake Ouachita falls down out of flood pool and the need for heavy generation and open flood gates subsides. As stated earlier, this process is ongoing and is regulated by Entergy on a weekly basis. Always follow all park and lake regulations when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area and be aware of lake conditions before planning a day on the water.
As of Thursday midday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 37,793 cfs. Elevation was 338.20 feet msl and the tailwater was at 289.21 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage is on a fast rise at 8.77 feet as of Thursday afternoon (flood stage is 32 feet).
(updated 2-24-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) in Plainview hears from guides and anglers that crappie are doing very well now. Guide Jeff Larch, who operates River Valley Tours and takes groups out at Nimrod, went up in recent days to Dardanelle “and did very good on the crappie,” they report.
(updated 2-16-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that the lake right now will have some stain to it especially past the U.S. Highway 270 bridge on the upper part of the lake. With color to the water, anglers have been flipping a brown or a black/blue jig in and around cover and fishing it slow to pull in bass. They’ve also been catching them on darker-colored Chatterbaits. Try one in green pumpkin or in red. Anglers are also throwing a crankbait either in a red or something with some chartreuse in it.
In the clearer water farther down the lake, anglers been catching bass on Alabama rigs (which a few weeks back landed a 10-plus-pound largemouth in a tournament) and on green pumpkin or brown-colored jigs. They’ve also had success with red crankbaits and red Rat-L-Trap. The best area to target is the transition areas where it goes from deeper water to the backs of creeks with the warmer water coming in.
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was at 359.00 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-24-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Friday morning that the crappie are beginning to bite, and bite well. One of the guides going out from Andrews fished three days this week and on his teams the anglers were doing real well on the crappie. The preferred bait is a yellow-headed hair jig, and some minnows are being used, though not as many as jigs. The fish are about 8-12 feet deep.
The lake had made its way up to 50 degrees though on Friday morning it was recorded as 39 degrees.
Bass are slow and anglers are not catching many even up into the backwaters. Nobody is really catfishing now, and the bream anglers have not started bream fishing in number yet, though they were catching bream before the water took a big rise.
Nimrod was 18 feet above normal pool level, but even with the latest rain it is dropping. The Corps of Engineers is “running it strong,” they report, and the water below the dam is at 314 feet msl. Above the dam and coming from the river the water is clear, though in front of the dam the water is muddy. In spite of the higher level these days, anglers are able to launch boats.
(updated 2-23-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville says crappie are biting in spite of the various weather and water changes we’re seeing lately. Move around, check out shallow water and the deep water too. Good luck. It might be hit and miss now. Use jigs in Monkey Milk, black/chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Kiwi, Mo-Glo, silver and Blue Ice, or throw a Crappie Magnet that is orange, white or Diamond Mist. Minnows and nightcrawlers for live bait.
Bream are slow, but try redworms and crickets as they may be starting to get hungry as the water warms some. Black bass are biting but it’s been slow. We favor a dark colored bait and also watermelon red, red or blue, or shad-like baits. Also use minnows. Catfish like liver, dough bait, minnows and nightcrawlers now, but cats have been slow.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.46 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 2-23-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still very good. An Alabama rig, crawfish-colored square-bill crankbait or a PB&J jig were working best. Crappie are good on small jigs or minnows. Try brush 20-35 feet deep. Stripers are still good. A Bama rig or live bait on main lake points or creek channel mouths on the rivers should be the best ways and areas to find these. No reports on walleye. Bream are still trying to hide from the big fish. Catfish are still looking for the bream.
Water temperature is ranging 44-50 degrees, about a 2-4 degree rise from this time last week. The clarity is clearing. The lake level Thursday was 577.50 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 2-9-2022) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said, “I know it’s still cold but the crappie and bass spawn is just around the corner. Everything is still deep but moving up the channels. We are still catching crappie and other bass deep – 25-55 feet deep, but all the fish are going farther toward the river portions of the primary and secondary channels. Watch the water temperature, and as it warms they will begin to move up into shallower water on brush piles. Follow them and have a great season this year. I’ll post again when they begin to shallow.”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 401.55 feet msl (full pool: 387.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
(updated 2-9-2023) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) reports that one of their regulars went to Blue Mountain Lake before this latest rainfall that inundated places, and he reported that for crappie he “just slayed ’em.”
“But the amount of rain we’ve had, the crappie will be out of the flow of the lake, now, in the murky waters, and won’t be deep. Anytime lakes like this and other similar lakes come up, they get out of the flow,” they said.
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge rising slightly at 28.74 feet, or 2.74 above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 2-23-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said the water temperature is rising and the water is clear. Water temperature was ranging 51-54 degrees as of Tuesday. Crappie are SLOW! With the water temperature coming up, one would think the fish would respond in a positive way that would allow us fishermen to catch some. Most fish are still holding in a winter pattern and are right on the bottom in 16-23 feet of water. Bait presentation should be very slow. “I tried a variety of methods and the one that worked best was spider-rigging with minnows at a slow crawl!” Kent said.
“For bass, what I gathered from the bass fishermen I spoke with, they are struggling as well with fish not responding to the warmer water. The shallow bite is practically nonexistent right now.”
Kent has heard no reports on catfish or bream.
The lake is closed to fishing until spring as it serves as a rest area for migrating waterfowl, and as access opens up after the White River recedes in the area. 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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