Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 30, 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: Jim Harsch from Fort Smith was looking for bass along with his guide, Mike Siefert of Millwood Lake Guide Service, earlier this week, but it turned out the Millwood crappie liked lizards as well as the bass did.
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
For the most up-to-date lake level, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Conway water level site.
(updated 3-30-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said crappie are starting to pick up on jigs and minnows. Some anglers are saying they’re out on the flats, and others say they are moving up on the shoreline. They are clearly shallower now. Bream are really starting to take off. They are shallow and biting on redworms and crickets. Now that the water is warming up, the black bass are picking back up too. If anything, they are taking to a white spinnerbait or anything that has some chartreuse, as well as soft plastic worms and Trick Worms. Catfishing is great, and they are hungry on the bottom. Use nightcrawlers or your basic catfish bait.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 6,023 cfs (turbine) as of noon Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m.; the Corps ran water from 8 a.m. to 7p.m. Wednesday with about 5,700 cfs average. The tailwater was at 276.33 feet as of noon Thursday. Greers Ferry Lake is 13.4 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 3-30-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the fishing on the Little Red is really good early in the mornings before the Corps of Engineers turns on the generation, and in afternoon when generation is stopped, with good fishing while catching the water falling.
Most of the catching is coming on a No. 7 Rapala Countdown in a gold color and also a gold and black back jerkbait with an orange belly. They’ve been catching both bigger browns and bigger rainbows on the latter. Also try a eighth-ounce black maribou jig for both browns and rainbows, as well as a No. 5 Rapala Shad Rap. “We tend to catch a little bigger fish now on the hard baits,” they say.
(updated 3-23-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said that with recent rains, Greers Ferry Lake is above top seasonal pool, creating unpredictable generation for the Little Red River. “Currently we are receiving 12-16 hours of daily generation beginning early mornings. If you plan to fish the Trout Magnet in high water, consider using extra weight and focus on eddies and close to banks using pink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads. For fly-fishing, consider weighted San Juan worms, weighted egg patterns and streamers.”
Always check generation schedule and be aware of unexpected water release. Check before heading to the Little Red River for Greers Ferry Dam water release by downloading the USACE Little Rock app, 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.
(updated 3-23-2023) Mike Winkler of Little River Fly Fishing Trips (501-507-3688) said Wednesday that Greers Ferry Lake is 8.4 feet above power pool. The Army Corps of Engineers has been running two units usually starting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it’s subject to change. Always check the USACE Little Rock app for the generation schedule before heading out.
“With the current generation schedule the bite has been good fishing the falling water in the morning. I’ve been putting in at Lobo Landing access and starting a little early to beat the new batch of water that hits in the afternoon. Afterwards, I’ve been putting in at the dam for the second half of the day and fishing a deep water nymph rig.
Set the the indicator at various depths depending on how deep the water is, anywhere from 6-12 feet deep, with split shot to get it down. Hot flies for this technique are San Juan worms and egg patterns along with caddis, pheasant tail nymphs or anything buggy.
“The streamer bite has been good. Try fishing sink lines on your streamer rod with articulated patterns and pound the bank.”
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 475.32 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 3-30-2023) AGFC staff fishing Greers Ferry Lake said black bass should move up into the newly flooded areas with the warm weather, looking for places to set up spawning beds and feed on insects and other terrestrial critters caught in the rising water. Covering shallow water with a square-billed shallow-running crankbait or a spinnerbait with a single Colorado blade will help locate likely spawning flats. Once found, the flats can be milked for a few more fish as they continue to move up by casting Texas-rigged lizards and weightless worms to shallow targets like stumps and flooded brush.
Crappie will likely be found around brush and vegetation near the old shoreline as they were moving up to spawn when the last rise of water came into the system. Vertical jigging a crappie tube on a one-sixteenth-ounce ball-headed jig using at least a 10-foot jigging pole would be a good approach. We’re personally fond of black/chartreuse, white/chartreuse and electric chicken (pink/chartreuse) tube jigs.
Bream and catfish will still be in deeper brush. Most of the white bass and hybrid fishing will be up the rivers, and the usual spawning areas will likely be too deep and have too much current to fish them right now.
(updated 3-30-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 475.45 feet msl and has been falling the last couple of days but is fixing to start back up after expected rain again Friday and into next week. The lake is 13.41 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. All species are scattered, from super shallow to out deep. Fish are on some of the shoreline you can get with all the high water, but not all; you have lots of area surface acres to dissect. Some black bass are eating jerkbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits in guts or side of guts. The rest are out deeper and can be caught dragging something, while some are right up on the shoreline. Some crappie are as shallow as a couple of feet, while most are 10-40 feet. Jigs, minnows or crankbaits are catching them. Walleye are eating crankbaits, plastics on a jig head, or live baits in a lot of different places all over the lake and rivers. Catfish are eating around dying shad in the lake and rivers, and also in fish run-ins. Hybrid and white bass are eating a lot of days away from the super stained water – they do not like it,spoons. In the better water, inline spinners, swimbaits and small grubs are working in 10-50 feet and some are upriver, of course, spawning. Some around bushes up on the shoreline and out in fields. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-30-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said Greers Ferry Lake is now 13 foot high and probably looking to come up with rain in the forecast. At 13 feet high, anglers are having best success catching fish in creeks and midway in backs of creeks, finding run-ins and such. In the dirty water, most of the time they are throwing a white/chartreuse spinnerbait or white/chartreuse Chatterbait, and they are also flipping a black/blue jig or a Texas rig around the bushes. Also, a floating worm and a Senko thrown around the bushes will work at picking up black bass.
They have not heard any reports on crappie with the lake coming up so high. “I know people were catching them before all the rain, but it’s not been as good since the rain.” Clarity of the lake is muddy with some clearing on the low end and near the dam.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 3-30-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says crappie remains slow. “There has been too much rain, the water is really muddy and the water level is high,” they say.
Last week, anglers caught some really nice catfish and that catfishing is really good right now. Some bream is being caught. Largemouth bass fishing has been really good, with one angler landing a 4.5-pound fish (21 inches in length) on a spinnerbait. Another angler fishing from the dock landing 4-5 fish that were all 2- to 3-pounders.
But the biggest fish landed were three buffalo, including one that weighed 94 pounds. The other two were 68 and 70 pounds; this angler was pole fishing for catfish when he landed the buffalo, which are spawning, they report.
If you’re going for crappie, the boat anglers are trying in the shallow area now with minnows and with a Crappie Stinger jig. Spinnerbaits and bass minnows are what are working for the bass. Bream anglers aren’t catching any with great size, but they’re active on redworms, nightcrawlers and crickets (which they sell out the resort bait shop).
Catfishing will be best with gold fish on trotline or noodles. They also sell baby bream that are working, and one catfisher favors golden shad.
(updated 3-23-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said the water is clearer than it has been. Catfish are doing well on trotlines baited with cut shad or nightcrawlers. No report on bass or bream. The crappie are still out in the deeper water. “But I believe they are moving up closer to the banks. Anglers are requesting lots of pink and crappie minnows,” she said. Check out the Lakeview Landing Hwy 95 Facebook page for water temperature and other updates.
(update 3-30-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, said that like everywhere else, water has been higher than normal. At Brewer it is up to the top of the boat dock, but you can still park in the parking lot. As soon as you back up you’ll be the water, he said. Expect to fish deep for success. Anglers say 12-15 feet is where you’ll find the catchable crappie. They are fishing over the underwater brush piles or trolling the channel for the current. That’s been the case there for a while now. Crappie like the live stuff, but will also go for jigs in chartreuse/white or Electric Chicken.
Black bass are starting to hit on the warm days, though David admits they haven’t really had many warm days yet. On the warmest days, though, you’ll get some reaction beginning midday/high noon. Bass are not up in the shallow water yet like they would typically be in the summertime. Anglers are fishing for them with a jig. Put one of those heavy Rooster Rails on that will go about 3-6 feet deep with a spinnerbait. Bass will eat minnows now as well.
Catfish are on the bottom. You’ll have to wake them up with something that stinks. “I’ve heard of a couple of good days for catfish, but that’s when it’s not rainy, not windy and above 72 degrees. If you’ve got all of those things, come on out,” David said.
(updated 3-30-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported water temperature is in the mid- to high-50s. Lake level is down 1.09 feet. The lake is no longer being drawn down by Central Arkansas Water. The company was planning up to a 10-foot drawdown to eliminate the hydrilla that has caused trouble for the company’s water filtration process.
Largemouth bass fishing is good. Reports have come in of bass being found both deep and in shallow sports along rocky points. Some reports say they are deep, 18-22 feet. Try using Carolina-rigged lizards, crankbaits, spinnerbait and drop-shots. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are also biting well. Some reports have them being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks, and other reports say they are being found on brush piles. Try using a Texas rig on brush, or use a jig.
White bass fishing is good. Reports of finding pockets of fat whites around rocky points. They are not running yet, but should start anytime now. Try using red and white crankbaits, jigs or spoons.
Keep your eye on the thermostat. When the water temperature reaches 60 degrees (it was 58 Wednesday following a chilly night, look for the white bass spawning run to commence with much activity from the west end up into the Maumelle River and up through Sleepy Hollow Access.
No reports on crappie, bream or catfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 92,661 cfs. The stage at Morrilton was fishing at 18.27 feet and falling (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 94,926 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 3-30-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said water is just a little low because the Arkansas River has been running this week. The Little Maumelle has cleared up quite a bit in the past couple of days, as of this Thursday. Some anglers were out catching really nice crappie, Ray said, landing them in 3 feet depth on minnows. He said 3-5 feet will be the ideal depth for catching them. They appear to be staging up; the fish those anglers caught didn’t appear to have spawned but were on the verge.
Black bass also have been doing really well. Several people landed bass this week using Alabama rigs, crankbaits, worms – basically catching them on everything, Ray said. They have moved up and also can be caught in about 3-4 feet of water.
Nothing’s been heard on bream. Some catfish were caught on liver. No signs of white bass either; Ray notes that they are normally biting real well at this time of year. He’s also heard from anglers that the white bass out of Lake Maumelle are at the bridge but no farther up into the creeks for the annual spawn.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 100,742 cfs. There is a small craft advisory for the pool.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday midday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 111,425 cfs. The elevation is 248.55 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was falling at 9.13 feet (flood stage is 25 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 101,140 cfs. There is a small craft advisory for the pool.
(updated 3-30-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) reports a small craft advisory on the Little Rock Pool with flow over 100,000 cfs as of Thursday. Anglers should wait until the flow drops below 70,000 before venturing out on the water.
When the flow had dropped to around 40,000 or so more than a week ago, anglers were mostly catching fish mostly in the backwaters and behind the jetties and more in the pockets via Texas-rigging with a black/blue creature bait or flipping a black/blue jig up shallow on the edge of the bank. Bass are going to be shallow now, pretty close to the bank, with the water warming and with the sun shining. Anglers were also seeking bass by throwing a 3.5 black/red Gitzit Tube, flipping it along the bank and fishing it slowly. Also try a spinnerbait in white/chartreuse out along the bank areas, or try chartreuse and black back square bill for covering water down a bank. They’ve been covering water with a black/blue Chatterbait as well before this sudden surge in flow after all the recent rain.
(updated 3-30-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “A spring day in the Arkansas Ozarks fishing on one of our rivers, streams or lakes is the next best thing to heaven. Spring rains are causing a rise in the lake levels in the White River watershed but the increase is being managed well as we continue to net great trout. Bull Shoals Lake is 13 feet above power pool level at 672 feet msl. The dam has been holding back much of its inflows to alleviate flooding downriver, so we’ve seen lower flows than might be expected. The average generation has been two to four units (6,000-12,000 cfs).
“No surprises that the browns continue to chase mid- to large-size sculpins and shad, but they’ve shown some interest in the larger sinking baits (look for Rapala’s silver and black CD7). Rainbows never fail to bite at fluorescent yellow or orange eggs with shrimp, but are also chasing the floating pink mouse tails (artificial worms) when dam generation causes a rise in the water. This week we pulled in rainbow after rainbow casting Rooster Tails with black and yellow skirts, silver blades, quarter-ounce to three-eighths ounce.
“This lower water provides the option to fish with jigs. Try white or olive Zig Jigs or a standard white maribou jig; both have offered a lot of fun and success. There’s a relatively new jig on the market, a D2 Jig sold through the Trout Magnet folks. The peach and olive flavor promises to be a great catch. Live worms have been working well, too, when the water level increases flush more worms into the river, making your bait looks more natural.
“Spring break is mostly behind us for now, but it’s never too late to take a break for fishing. Visit the Natural State for some terrific catches and lots of Ozark hospitality.”
(updated 3-30-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the storms last Friday dumped a lot of rain across the state, causing the Buffalo River and White River to flood. By Saturday evening the White River crested at 19 feet at Calico Rock. Sunday morning the muddy water was back inside the banks. Monday saw the river starting to clear up and the best chance to catch trout was to tie up to a tree in one of the creeks and use corn. There were some decent size 14-inch-plus trout caught using this method. By Wednesday the river was down to about 7 feet and still dingy but fishable. Drift-fishing with yellow or orange Power Eggs with shrimp worked best when fishing the gravel bars. Rainbow trout colored Rapala Countdowns and Purpledescent or shad-colored Shad Raps had some success.
There were two trout stockings Wednesday. In the morning the AGFC used its pontoon raft to stock 2,400 trout from the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery between Norfork and Calico Rock. In the afternoon the Norfork Hatchery stocked a large number of trout at the Calico Rock boat ramp.
(updated 3-30-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had a 3-inch rain event, cold and then cool temperatures, and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 6.4 feet to rest at 12.9 feet above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 23.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 2.5 feet to rest at 8.3 feet below power pool and 10.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.5 feet to rest at 8.3 feet above power pool or 1.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water and heavy, then moderate flows. Norfork Lake rose 6.7 feet to rest at 10.2 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 16 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. Expect higher flows on the White and some wadable water on the Norfork.
John says, “The caddis hatch is just beginning. This is our best hatch of the year. We have seen some small hatches in late afternoon. Before the hatch, fish a caddis pupa like the Sunday Special in size 16. When you see takes on the top but see no insects, switch to a caddis emerger like my Green Butt in size 15. When you observe trout taking insects from the top of the water, switch to elk hair caddis size 16.
“On the White, the hot spot has been the Rim Shoals. We have had higher flows that have fished well one day and poorly the next. 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.”
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.
John also said, “For the last week or so I was beginning to think spring was here. My tulip tree bloomed and went. My hyacinth is in bloom, as is my quince and forsythia. My dogwood tree is covered in buds and is ready to pop at any moment. I have cut my grass twice. I do admit that was to mow down winter weeds, but it is usually a harbinger of spring. I had even spent a day or two wearing shorts around the yard.
“Last weekend I had three days guiding. When I originally booked them I had no idea how cold it would be. All three days began in the 20s and did not get that warm later on.
“I took great care when getting dressed. I put on polypropylene long underwear, wool socks, flannel-lined khakis, a heavy fleece pullover, my warmest down jacket, insulated L.L. Bean boots, a knit cap topped with my Elmer Fudd billed cap with ear flaps and heavy wool fingerless gloves.
“On the first day my clients were a nice couple from Oklahoma. They had made an emergency trip to Walmart the night before to get some additional warm clothing that made a big difference for them. I suggested that we meet at the White Sands Cafe for breakfast and stayed there drinking coffee until it warmed up a bit.
“We went to Rim Shoals and saw that they were running about 16,000 cfs, or about five full generators. We launched and began fishing. We caught several trout on orange egg patterns. The big problem was that it was very windy, 10-20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. This made it feel much colder. We quit early due to the wind.
“The next day I had three guys, a father and two adult sons. I knew that I was in trouble when I found out they were from Wisconsin. To them the 21 degrees at start time was like a spring day. One guy fished all day with no gloves and a light mesh-backed ball cap. I got cold just looking at him.
“The first day we fished at Rim Shoals and did well. The water conditions were the same but there was much less wind, which made fishing much easier. We got much better drifts and caught plenty of trout.
“While making a leader repair I dropped two tippet spools, which were snapped together, into the river. They each contained 100 yards of fluorocarbon tippet. These spools cost $44.95 each plus tax. I sat there and watched about $100 worth of tippet sink into the river. If guides were allowed to cry, I would have.
“The next day we fished below Bull Shoals Dam. The water conditions and the weather were about the same. The fishing was better with some really nice trout.
“I survived the unexpectedly cold weather and caught fish but spent the whole time wondering what happened to spring.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 673.24 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 4,544 cfs and has ranged from 2,500 to 5,213 cfs for past two days; tailwater elevation was 453.61 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was up 4.5 feet to 919.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-30-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that Bull Shoals Lake’s level was about 13 feet high, at 672 feet msl. Water temperature has ranged 52-61 degrees give or take. The lake is on the rise; watch for debris. Temperature and conditions will dictate your game plan and success.
The bass have been stingy the last couple of days. It’s up and down like the weather. There are some fish moving up. While some warmer creeks have a wave of fish up skinny, they are mostly bucks with an occasional big. Fish it like two separate lakes: with windy conditions and dirty, cloudy warm rainwater you should be power fishing a crankbait, Chatterbait or squarebill. Try on the last couple of swing banks or in or around the pockets. Cover water. Fish warm runoff if available. When it’s sunny and flat water with stained conditions, try slow-dragging a Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin color. With sunny conditions and clear water, try a green pumpkin three-quarter-ounce shaky head or a Ned fished slowly, then go a little slower. Also use the ol’ Wobble Head with a Menace slow-banging on the rocks, ledges or points in 5-15 feet, early, then focus on 15-20 feet around midday.
Fish outside the spawning areas. The fish are moving in. It’s getting to where you can beat the bank and run into a few. Target staging early prespawn areas in the creeks, swings and points. Outside the spawning areas fish the old shoreline. If you’re feeling brave trying a Megabass Jerkbait+1 on breezy-day bluff ends over steeper swings and points with shad nearby will fool a few, but has been hit or miss. I’m not a rig guy but they are set up for that.
The shad are moving up again, and video gamers are everywhere from the main lake to the backs of the creeks. Look for bigger spreads shallower than 30 feet. Gulls and loons can help or hurt; don’t hang out if they are over deep water. Expect drum or walleyes. Throw around the ol’ McMinnow 2.8 Swimbait in white or shad colors. This has been the deal for me.
The bass are definitely grouping up. Whites and walleyes are spawning or prespawn; early in the morning or late in the day is the deal to fool them. 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 564.64 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 8,198 cfs, with constant generation in that range for several days.
(updated 3-30-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 564.41 feet msl and has risen 3.5 inches in the last 24 hours with one generator running since 8 a.m. on Wednesday. It is still rising with one generator running, but not much. The White River at Newport is 26.35 feet and dropping. They are predicting a crest on Norfork Lake to be on April 6 at 565.10 feet msl and it would be a rise of 9 feet since the rain last Friday.
“This report is for the lake area from Cranfield Island to Robinson Island. The water is brown but not muddy and clears as you go downstream. I could see my lure down 6-8 feet in float creek and 2 inches near Cranfield Island. The water temperature was 54 degrees and the weather has been very nice but cool. We are expecting a storm on Friday.
“Fishing has not been the best but a few bass are being caught beating the bank partway back in the creeks with a red crankbait or a single spin. I am using a small grub tipped with a minnow almost exclusively and catching a few bass and a crappie now and again. The night bite for stripers is over and did not amount to much, but some larger fish were caught than I expected.
“Overall fishing is poor but some bass are being caught if you know how. The topwater bite should start anytime if the water warms a bit and it is usually good on April 15. I will be glad when March is over.”
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog for a daily report.
(updated 3-23-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for most species has been pretty good Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, but it will get better once we get some stable weather and a stable lake level. Normal early spring requests. “I have several guests in and they are all catching fish. The bite in the dark is going strong as long as you find where the fish are hanging out. Casting a small 3.5- to 5-inch paddle tail swimbait with a quarter-ounce jighead has been working the best.
“You can catch just about any species in the lake, including walleye, crappie and stripers, by casting out a swimbait. I prefer white or a Sexy Shad color. Once it gets light out, the fish tend to move off the shoreline and into deeper water, about 30-40 feet deep on the same points. I found fish yesterday morning on main lake points. I have been using Tater Baits, Tater Shads in the Bayou Magic, Key Lime and White Trash flavors. I catch most of my stripers by keeping the bait motionless about 3 feet off of the bottom.
“On Tuesday morning before the heavier rain started, I landed my limit of stripers/hybrids, including a 9-pound-plus hybrid. He really gave a great battle. Bob, another guest, found nice largemouth bass back in a creek in very shallow, muddy water. He was also casting out a swimbait. Another area that has been holding a ton of bait and fish is partway back in a creek where the fish are in 30-60 feet of water. Most of the stripers in this area are suspended 20-30 feet down. You will also find a lot of white bass in the same areas with the striped/hybrid bass.
“Wednesday morning was another good day to be on the lake. I checked out a new area and fished a flat in 30-40 feet of water. On one end of the flat I found a lot of bait and found white bass and a few stripers feeding heavily. The fish were at all depths, but the fish on the bottom were the most aggressive. I managed to land a monster striped bass weighing in at 30 pounds that was suspended 20 feet down in 37 feet of water. All my fish Wednesday were caught by slowly vertical-jigging a Bayou Magic Tater Shad. This big guy took 30 minutes to land on 8-pound test monofilament line.”
The surface water temp is holding around 50 degrees. The lake level is falling and currently sits at 556.92 feet msl. The northern part of the lake remains stained. Enjoy Norfork Lake.
Lou also posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 3-30-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 6.7 feet to rest at 10.2 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 16 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. Expect higher flows on the White and some 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-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, while it tapers off at midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better. Weekends can get quite crowded. Some schools may be having a later spring break, so Friday this week may also have some younger anglers. 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 3-30-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing poorly. With cooler temperatures, the smallmouths have not been 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 1,128.90 feet msl, or 5.8 above normal pool (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-30-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is still coming up and is getting close to flood stage. There is a considerable amount of floaters drifting through the system. Use caution!
Stripers are cranking up as expected for the spring spawn. Look from Monte Ne down lake past Prairie Creek to points 8 and 9. Spotted bass are still good on Alabama rigs and jerkbaits. Look in back of Rambo and Clifty arms. White bass were showing up this last week. Look in all the usual spawning areas. Crappie are on the move to the banks and will really start after this next week of warm weather. Walleye are halfway through the spawn and still being caught on Flicker Shad and swimbaits. Catfishing is ramping up, also!
“Spring fishing in its glory will happen in a couple of weeks. Fish the shoreline; lots of good structure is in the right depth with the high water. Stay safe, keep your eyes open out there for debris,” he said.
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 3-16-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said Thursday the fish are active, though they conceded that could change any minute with the frigid temps expected to roll in this weekend (highs predicted in the 40s through Sunday).
Walleye are going full bore in the rivers and that run is on, they report. Anglers are fishing minnows or any kind of softer-style baits. The white bass are just starting and anglers are catching some nice ones. Go to the rivers for both of those species. The White River and War Eagle Creek are very active with white bass anglers.
“That’s as of now, it’s pretty good,” they say.
Crappie are in prespawn mode but are being seen around cover and channel edges, and the fishing is pretty good for them as well.
No reports of stripers this week.
The water conditions are good, with water temperature getting into the low 50s.
They rate the overall fishing as good. “Take your choice. They aren’t spawning yet (whites and crappie) but the fish have been actively feeding, so we’ve had good reports. Everything is just now starting up here. It’s been a pretty good week. Walleye have been the big conversation piece, and the white bass. That’s just prespawn on the whites, they’re just on the front edge of what it will be. It’s a good time to fish. At least today.”
Beaver Lake is 4 feet or more elevated over normal pool.
(updated 3-30-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing this past week has been great. “Even with all the rain we got and the rising river levels, as soon as the debris cleared out, the bite was back on. Trout have been most responsive to Pautzke Fire Balls and Fire Bait, fished on bottom with light terminal tackle. Also, throwing quarter-ounce spoons has also gotten the job done. Walleye are spread out and you have to look for them. Some of the females have started spawning out and heading back towards Table Rock. The bite has been pretty solid between Beaver town and Holiday Island. Fishing ripping jigs, along with blade baits in the deeper water, has produced nice results as well. A few white bass are being caught here and there, but nothing to write home about. Most have been caught casting Flicker Shad in 10-15 feet of water. This week’s hot spot has been between Houseman and the U.S. Highway 62 bridge for trout. I hope you all are enjoying the nice weather, get out and catch some fish!”
For daily fishing updates, follow Austin’s fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service).
(updated 3-16-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said crappie are doing really well on jigs. Bream also are biting well; try redworms, which are available at the bait shop. Black bass are biting on craws and soft plastics, and there has also been some topwater action lately. The small lake is stained, and the temperature has been fluctuating with the changing air temps. The lake level is normal.
(updated 3-30-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said crappie fishing picked up significantly this past week. The crappie catches were good, with anglers using white and chartreuse jigs fished right off the shoreline. Catfish began to get active again, biting fair on worms and blood bait. Bream fishing fell off to poor. No reports were received on black bass or white bass.
The water temperature took a big jump in a week, which correlated with the crappie bite. The temp rose nearly 8 degrees to 57.7 degrees on Sunday. The clarity is the usual murky and the water is still high.
Looking to April, Shelly says the best days to fish based on moon times will be April 17-23. Good days start Saturday and run to April 9.
(updated 3-23-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported Lake Poinsett’s 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.
(updated 3-30-2023) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has seen some activity with bass being caught in good numbers and are reported to be healthy “and chunky.” They are using a variety of baits, but it tends to lean toward crankbaits or jigs. No bass are on top yet, but they are moving into shallower areas. They’ve seen some crappie anglers out. The water level is normal and the clarity is dingy.
(updated 3-30-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) had no new reports.
(updated 3-30-2023) 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,” he says. 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 slightly falling at 9.00 feet (flood stage is 15.0 feet). The Newport stage is falling at 25.47 feet (flood stage is 26 feet). The stage at Augusta is falling slightly to 32.97 feet, almost 7 feet above flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 3-30-2023) 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 117,864 cfs. The stage at Pine Bluff is now falling, about 1 foot in day, at 33.09 feet (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 110,660 cfs.
(updated 3-30-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new reports this week.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.04 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Total hourly outflow at the dam is still very high; at midday it was 16,969 cfs, which is steady for several days, peaking at 18,323 cfs.
(updated 3-30-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, the lake jumped a couple inches over the past few days from Tri-Lakes release rates, and clarity is heavy stain to muddy in some locations near Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing to McGuire oxbow. There is high river flow and current. Currently Millwood is almost 13 inches above normal pool after recent thunderstorms pushed elevation high. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation is near 245 feet msl (almost 20 FEET above normal) and falling with gate discharge at the dam near 18,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps on Tuesday. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s web page linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Watch for random floaters and broken timber during any navigation on Little River and Millwood Lake.
Surface temps were stable this week, ranging 60-68 degrees depending on location and the time of day. Clarity along Little River stained to muddy many locations, and is much worse further up Little River with river clarity ranging 3-5 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of the oxbows will vary widely from heavy stain, visibility 5-7 inches up to 3 feet visibility in a few locations away from river flow. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain and muddy conditions with high current flow.
Mike had these fishing specifics for this week:
* Largemouth and spotted bass have been staging for several weeks near creek channels and dumps into Little River and the oxbow. High river current flow rate conditions in Little River make river fishing somewhat difficult to maintain. Some males from 2-3 pounds were found shallow in 1-3 feet of water on flats near vegetation, and others in 6- to 9-foot deep creek channels where grass and reeds and fresh lily pad shoots are emerging, on Brazalo spinnerbaits, lizards, brush hogs and Bass Assassins. Over the past couple weeks, largemouths have been randomly feeding in creek channels dumping into Little River. The oxbows continue providing best water clarity, albeit somewhat heavy stain to muddy conditions in many locations. Flats next to deep creeks and secondary points with any fresh grass growth, new lily pad blooms, and vegetation, will coax a bite on a chatterbait or squarebill on warm and sunny days, mainly in the afternoon. A few chunky 2 and 3 pound male Bass, were the most aggressive at mid day into late afternoon over the past couple weeks and those fish we are finding randomly near and close to deeper creek channels or ditches through the flats. The best Bass activity from midday to mid afternoon have been randomly hitting Brazalo spinnerbaits in spot remover, chatterbaits in chartreuse sexy shad, black and blue, or white and seemed as if the firetiger color spinnerbait worked best in a few of the areas with heavier stain and water color. Bass Assassin Shads, finessing through the new vegetation and lily pad blooms, have picked up a few male bass in the 2- to 3-pound class. The best water clarity and reaction from chunky Largemouth Bass has left the river, and moved to the back of the Oxbows like McGuire, Clear Lake, and Horseshoe Lake where the clarity is somewhat better, away from the current of Little River. Clear Lake has current flowing through it, and has stained up to heavy.
Floating trick worms like the Zoom Trick Worm, Barlow’s Salty Rat Tails, and the Yum Dingers are beginning to get good reactions. Merthiolate, Firecraw, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse colors were all randomly working in the back of Clear Lake, Horseshoe Lake, and McGuire oxbows. Bass Assassin Shads in Pumpkinseed, Salt and Pepper Silver Phantom, and Chico’s Red Ear have been getting bit near Cypress trees and fresh vegetation from both, prespawn female and male Bass near bedding areas over the past week. 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 past couple weeks when the sun was up bright high in the sky and could see movement in 3-5 feet of depths on the spawning flats.
Brush Hogs and Yum Christie Critters in black/blue, and Lizards in blackberry or cherryseed were picking up some cruising shallow Bass. Big female Largemouth have been moving into bedding areas along creek channels and ditches over the past week, and near the first vertical drops from the spawning flats to deeper water. Red Chrome Crawfish, Toledo Gold, or Natural Crawfish 3/4 oz, and 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps were working a few weeks ago on fish from 8-12 feet deep on vertical drops. A few big fish have also been found in shallow grass, reeds, and vegetation. Male Largemouths have been observed making beds in numerous areas in fairly good numbers for the last few weeks, with cold fronts chasing them back and forth from 1-3 foot flats back to the creek channels on cold nights. We have seen a few females with their tails bloody from fanning, but not real numbers on beds yet, and assume the majority of the females are still yet to move onto beds. We have been noticing big female Bass cruising in 2-4 feet of water near bedding areas, obviously on a mission.
Mud Lake and Clear Lake’s clarity worsened over the past few days with increased current passing through there, but 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 few 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.
* White bass continue to bite well. We continue to find a few large schools over the past couple weeks along Little River, and most and largest schools have been between Cemetery Slough and Cossatot River inflow ditch. Those whites were in large numbers and decent school sizes, ranging from 2-3.5 pounds, and continue biting well on Rat-L-Traps, 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 we started simply casting to the school, then ripping it up into the school. The current along Little River has continued w/ high flow rates this week, but the schools of White Bass continue migrating up Little River for their annual spawning run. Many different schools continue roaming Little River and caught for several weeks, from Cemetery Slough upwards toward Wilton Landing. Tail Spinner and Underspins with lead heads like the Little Georges, Little Cleo’s, and Rocket Shads, caught some 2-3 pound Whites along Little River between Cemetery Slough and Cossatot inflow, over the past week. We spoke with two fishermen at Wilton Landing this week, and they have been catching the White Bass further upriver near Wilton Landing, Cossatot inflow ditch, and Patterson Shoals over the past few days now.
* Crappie have been hit or miss with the muddy current in Little River, high wind and lake wind advisories on main lake over the past few days. Best bite was near Saratoga, Beard’s Bluff and Millwood State Park on live minnows from 9-14 feet deep in planted brush, and PVC pipe attractors. We caught crappie this week while bass fishing, with lizards. These crappie have begun pulling into the ditches and silted creek channels leading to flats and cypress trees over the past week or so, and are aggressively feeding from 3-6 feet of depth near cypress trees and grass lines. We spoke with two crappie fishermen in Horseshoe the other day, and they were catching some nice 2- to 2.5-pound slabs suspended in standing timber from 8 feet deep all the way to the bottom in 15 feet of depth. They were having best luck on jigs with the crappie facing the standing timber.
* No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 3-16-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) that the lake is at full pool (before any predicted rain had arrived Thursday) and “all of the fish seem to be biting.”
Anglers are catching a lot of crappie now, and a lot of those crappie are in the 2-pounds-plus range. They’re being caught from the bank on out; the majority are being caught in the shallow flats in 6-12 feet of water. Bright-colored jigs are the way to go, and hand-tied jigs are doing the best, but quite a few crappie have been caught on minnows also.
The catfish seekers are catching a bunch of channels and blues on cut bait. Bass anglers aren’t letting on to what they’re using, but they appear to be bringing in a lot of bass as well. One regular angler had a five-bass stringer that weighed 20 pounds Wednesday.
“The cool snap didn’t even affect them a whole lot. The water is looking good, clear. We have no complaints on our end,” they report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
For the most updated Narrows Dam generation schedule from SWEPCO, click here.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 546.33 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.61 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-30-2023) AGFC staff fishing here Sunday said the morning bite was slow, but it picked up as the water temperature rose with the nice, sunny weather. The largemouth and spots caught were keeper size but not really big fish – mostly male bass moving up to prepare the spawning beds. The big females are probably out deeper. Spinnerbaits, quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps and wacky-rigged Senkos were the best presentations. Bass were caught in 1-5 feet of water but closer to the deeper water. The bigger bass are probably holding deeper in those secondary points or in the great new coontail sitting in 9-15 feet of water.
In the BFL tournament held here on Saturday, tourney anglers had several five-bass limits of bass beginning to come up the shallower water, but most weren’t made up of really big fish. First place was almost 19 pounds, second place was 13 pounds and a large number of anglers were in the 6- to 8-pound range among the five keeper bass. Fishing was good overall, but it was hard getting the big fish.
Sunday, the crappie anglers said they were catching them on the inside edge of those coontail mats sitting in 12 feet of water and they were catching them moving up into shoreline brush anywhere it was flooded. Best success came on curly tail grubs.
Clarity still a little stained in midlake and above in the creeks from recent runoff. Near the dam it’s a lot clearer. Temperature was 52 degrees at the start, warming to 62 by the end of the day.
(updated 3-30-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said he has been fishing DeGray, Hamilton and Ouachita lakes in the Hot Springs area frequently and the water temp is perfect for the beginning of the crappie and bass spawn at each. “We’ve been catching ample numbers of crappie and bass on staging brush piles with jigs and minnows fished 6-12 feet deep.”
(updated 3-23-2023) Randy Plyler with Plyler Outdoors Guide Service (870-210-0522) said bass fishing has been up and down this past week with the weather changing from cold to warm conditions. Lake level is at 405.65 feet msl and falling. Bass are being caught on a Carolina rig as well as jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. Crappie are moving up to shallower brush piles and can be caught on jigs and live bait. White bass are still running upriver and can be caught on a variety of baits. No report for hybrids.
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 442.711 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 548.34 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 3-30-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 53 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Very heavy generation has been the norm for weeks with both generators running huge amounts of water through the system to keep area lakes at normal spring and summertime pools. Floodgates have been opened and closed in an effort to bring Lake Ouachita down out of flood pool. Weekly storms have forced Entergy to schedule heavy generation below all area dams to keep lakes stabilized. Little productive fishing has been done in the tailrace under these adverse conditions and this scenario has continued since mid-January. Anglers should plan on staying off the water below Carpenter Dam until area lakes are safe to navigate and conditions return to normal. The public is urged to use extreme caution when visiting the Carpenter Dam use area during this time. 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.
All floodgates have been closed below Carpenter Dam, but this could change as stormy conditions return Friday afternoon.
The trout stocking program has proceeded as scheduled, so thousands of rainbow trout are in the tailrace and can be caught when safe conditions allow bank and boat fishermen to access the lake. Lake Catherine has now been refilled to normal pool following the 5-foot winter drawdown, but is dangerous due to heavy flow from Carpenter Dam. Near zero walleye and trout have been taken in the tailrace due to the treacherous bank and boat conditions.
The following techniques, however, will produce results when fishing is once again safe to engage:
San Juan worms in hot pink give trout a visible prey item in the murky conditions. Trout key in on the shad kill this time of year as continued low 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 dependent on consistent weather fronts. The massive influx of healthy rainbow trout to the lake gives hope for future good fishing. Mid-February marked the beginning of the walleye run for Lake Catherine. Smaller males migrated first into the tailrace to prepare the spawning beds. Larger females soon followed 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. More importantly, rising water is the death sentence for quality trout fishing. Regardless of clear or muddy conditions, rising water kills a solid trout bite where consistent action has been the case.
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 94,926 cfs. Elevation was 337.59 feet msl and the tailwater was at 294.99 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage was slightly down to 14.43 feet Thursday afternoon, but was up 8 feet from this time a week ago (flood stage is 32 feet).
(updated 3-30-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said the river is still pretty dirty, but clearing slowly and falling slowly. Creeks are beginning to clear, with temperature around 57 degrees in the morning this week. Some of the backwater is up to 66-67 degrees. The protected pockets are reaching 70 degrees.
We started seeing beds Tuesday in the protected pockets. The bass spawn has started. The bait of choice has been black-and-blue jigs with a bamboozie trailer in cobalt blue. Black-and-blue Chatterbaits have been working well, also. Some people have been catching bass on spinnerbaits “but I have not been able to get that accomplished. Green pumpkin with a little chartreuse. with a Falcon Lake Rage Bug trailer. Baby Brush Hogs have been working well also in the color purple with blue flake. And green pumpkin with a little orange on its legs.
Crappie are kind of scattered; some are still deep, with some extremely shallow. I have noticed the creeks with a lot of stumps have the crappie up pretty shallow on the stumps. But in places that don’t have stumps and they have brush, the crappie could be as deep as 10 feet, but we’re seeing a lot of them suspended in the trees at 5 feet. In the deep creek, some of the crappie are down as deep as 20 feet. Monkey Milk has been working excellently. Black/chartreuse, chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Electric Chicken, have also been working often.
White bass has been pretty thick in some of the creeks. You can catch them on spoons, white jigs and small crankbaits. Blue back/chartreuse has been working well. Stripers are being caught with swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps, spoons and bucktail jigs.
Blue catfish have been biting well on cut perch and cut skipjack. with the channel cats doing well on nightcrawlers and crickets. Flatheads have been doing well on sunfish.
(updated 3-30-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said for all the lakes he fishes in the Hot Springs area – DeGray, Hamilton and Ouachita – the water temp is perfect for the beginning of the crappie and bass spawn. “We’ve been catching ample numbers of crappie and bass on staging brush piles with jigs and minnows fished 6-12 feet deep.”
As of noon Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 16.2 feet high at 366.75 feet msl (normal pool: 345 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-23-2023) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says that the crappie anglers with LiveScope are catching their 30 “but it’s kinda tough out here right now.” The lake is holding at 361 feet msl and is not dropping a whole lot even though they are moving a lot of water at the dam, they report. Nimrod is murky and the fishing is slow, though the guides and others are still getting out 4-5 days a week and doing some catching.
There are some blue cats being caught on yo-yos in the shallower water. The water temperature is 51 degrees. They’ve been sending some anglers to nearby lakes but the fishing is slow all around. The bream aren’t reporting on Nimrod, and the black bass aren’t taking even to the reliable-on-Nimrod War Eagle Spinnerbait.
“I will run out of minnows, though,” they report, “but I’m not gonna lie, it’s just tough out there.”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 579.58 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-30-2023) Fish ‘n Stuff in Sherwood said the lake is high but there are a lot of fish moving up to spawn. Anglers have been catching a lot on Chatterbait covering the water, or a Senko or floating worm up shallow. Also they are flipping a jig in the bushes. And some are even Carolina rigging some of the points, too. Target those secondary points before a spawning flat or the back of the creek where they go spawn.
(updated 3-30-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said the water temp is perfect for the beginning of the crappie and bass spawn. “We’ve been catching ample numbers of crappie and bass on staging brush piles with jigs and minnows fished 6-12 feet deep.”
Darryl has been fishing Ouachita, Hamilton and DeGray Lake lately, and this report works as well for Lake Hamilton and DeGray Lake.
(updated 3-23-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still good. Rat-L-Traps, crawfish-colored square-bill crankbait or a PB&J jig were working best. Jerkbaits and Carolina rigs sare getting some action, too. Walleye are still slow, but there are random reports of these fish being caught on jerkbaits. Stripers are good. Alabama rigs or live bait on main lake points or creek channel mouths on the rivers should be the best ways and spot to find these. Crappie are very good on small jigs or minnows. Try brush 20-35 feet deep. Time to get your trotlines and jugs set for catfish, and so far still no reports on bream. Water temperature is on a slight rise, ranging 54-58 degrees at midweek. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level is 578.46 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 413.03 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 is rising at 29.31 feet, up a half-foot from last week, or 3.31 feet above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 3-9-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said that with last week’s 6-plus inches of rain there, the lake came up and got muddy to stained in most areas. The surface temperature has continued to rise and was 60.5 degrees as of Sunday afternoon. More rain is forecasted for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We shall see how the fish respond.
With the rising water and the rising temperatures one would think the crappie fishing would be on fire. The crappie are/were still deep and finicky. “Spider-riggers that I spoke to were struggling to catch fish. Longlining over a 4-hour period produced one fish for us.
“Livescope was the only tactic that we could find to consistently produce and that was at a slow rate. With the water having color to it, we swapped bait colors and caught our fish on an Oxbow Jig in the color Orange Crush (a jig I make).
The fish are still very pale, coming from an average of 18 feet deep. On a better note, after a while in the live well the colors come in and the males are getting darker.
“There was a bass tournament on Saturday (two tournaments, I think). I was coming out as they were weighing in. There were some really impressive fish released back into the lake. I didn’t see many with a five-fish limit but it looked as if most had two or three fish. Most folks I saw bass fishing were in the shallows.”
Still no reports as yet on bream or catfish.
(update 3-23-2023) Wil Hafner, facility manager at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321), says the center is prepping the lake for fishing; they are just dealing now with high water from the White River (more than 2 feet above flood stage at Clarendon). Cook’s will open for youth and mobility impaired and up to two guests as soon as the water recedes and allows access to the dock and ramp. Please note the change in phone number to the facility as well, listed above.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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