Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
May 25, 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: Vaughn Greenway (left) and Daniel Romine teamed to catch 15.11 pounds of black bass to win the Tuesday night weekly tournament out of WestRock Landing at Lake Maumelle. Their total including the 5.48-pound Big Bass. Nineteen of the 22 teams that entered caught limits Tuesday night. Maumelle was expected to be closed Tuesday for Central Arkansas Water’s hydrilla application work this week, but CAW was able to reopen the lake Tuesday.
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 5-25-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said crappie are still out on the flats and are biting mainly on jigs. They are a little slow on minnows. The best jig would be one that’s brightly colored, like orange, white, chartreuse, Monkey Milk. They have not heard a lot on the black bass, but in a bass tournament held there last week there were 23 pounds caught to win it, “so they must be doing something on the bass, they just aren’t talking about it,” they tell us. Bream are good on waxworms, redworms and crickets. Not many reports have come in on catfish this week, though they are selling a lot of catfish baits at Bates. The condition of the water is good, they say.
(updated 5-25-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the black bass are biting a big worm, like a Zoom Ol’ Monster, as well as spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits. The bite is very good beside the trees and the stumps.
Little Red River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported the outflow at Greers Ferry Dam to be 6,204 cfs (turbine) as of 4 p.m. Thursday. The tailwater was up to 276.31 feet. Greers Ferry Lake is 2.1 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 5-25-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout are really starting to bite well on the river. Anglers have reported that best catching is on Trout Magnets and the Rapala No. 7 Countdown in rainbow and brown trout colors.
(updated 5-18-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said the Army Corps of Engineers still has one generator operating 24 hours each day. 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 5-18-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said Greers Ferry Lake is 4.1 feet above power pool. The Army Corps of Engineers have been running one unit 24/7 round-the-clock for a while now to try and get the lake down to power pool.
“I think they will continue to run this same generation schedule for a while unless we get rain in the forecast and need to shut it off for the creeks and streams to get back to normal flows.
“The bite has been good with the one unit water they’re running. With the current generation schedule I’ve been drift-fishing from the boat with a nymph rig set from 6-8 feet deep and deeper depending on where I’m fishing.
“There’s been a lot of Caddis hatching up and down the river. Usually they start hatching as the temperature starts to rise about late morning. The two flies I’ve been primarily using are Caddis patterns and pink San Juan Worms.
“The Streamer bite has been really good as well with the one unit of generation. Try fishing articulated patterns on a sink line on these cloudy days and throw toward the bank. Patterns in yellow and brown or white have been my go-to, along with olive.”
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 464.78 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.88 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 5-25-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 464.91 feet msl, 2.37 feet above normal pool of 462.54 feet and falling with generation every day. It looks as though the lake will reach normal pool soon. Walleye are eating pretty well on rocky banks in 12-18 feet of water on crawlers dragged around. Crappie are eating well suspended, a lot in 10-15 feet over 40 feet, biting on jigs, crankbaits and live bait. Bream are aggressive and eating crickets, crawlers and inline spinners super shallow out to 20 feet.
Shad are spawning again in the bushes, and a lot of different species have followed as well. Catfish are eating shad, cut bait, soap, dog food, etc., on jugs, lines and rod and reels from super shallow out to 40 feet.
As for black bass, some are doing a late spawn, some have been done a while and others are in between. Baits from top to bottom are working all over lake and rivers – use what you like for the most part now. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating and roaming all around points, humps etc. In another week they should be setting up better on structure and staying more predictable. Use hair jigs, spoons, inline spinners and topwater baits.
(updated 5-25-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the black bass are up shallow. Catch them on a topwater, weightless worm and both upper and lower ends. Hybrid bass have been schooling in the Middle Fork and Devil’s Fork, and anglers are catching then on topwaters and jerkbaits. Crappie are also being found in those two arms. They are mainly suspended in the treetops and timber. Use a Crappie Magnet or a little, 2-inch Keitech for best success.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 5-11-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the rain has raised the water level quite a bit and the clarity is muddy, with pollen mixed in as well. Black bass were caught even Thursday morning in the rain, though, right up near the bait shop in shallow water. Use white swimbaits, maybe with some red in it. Some decent-sized bream have been caught on crickets in the shallower areas of the lake, particularly around Crappie Cove and Doughty Cove, two of the shallower spots. Crappie is still not producing of late, they say. Catfish have been caught on short lines around the bends. One angler hauled in an 11-pounder on rod and reel next to the dam.
(updated 5-4-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said bream are biting on redworms and crickets. Black bass are doing well. They like dark colored baits along with minnows and nightcrawlers. Look for a bait in watermelon red, red, blue or grape colors. Catfish are doing well on liver of call kinds and dough baits, plus minnows and nightcrawlers.
Crappie are biting and typical for all this changing water with the weather, so move around from shallow to deep water. Expect it to be hit or miss. The best colors are silver/chartreuse, Monkey Milk, black/chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Kiwi, Mo-Glo, silver/Blue Ice, orange/white and Diamond Mist. There is a Crappie Magnet bite, and make sure to try to with minnows and nightcrawlers, too.
(updated 5-18-2023) John “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Landing said water is a little over 1 foot high, while clarity is good. Surface temperature is around 82 degrees. Crappie have slowed down a little, but there still biting in 8-10 feet of water. Bass are chasing the little fry that are everywhere. Catfish are being caught on jugs, limb lines and trotlines using perch or bass minnows. Bream are starting to bed in places.
(updated 5-18-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said the fishing is fun right now. People are catching on the bank and out in boats. Crappie are hiding in the brush piles. Look for the blue signs, bank fishers. There biting on all minnows including roseys and jigs. There at least 6 feet down or more. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers in the shallows, as well as minnows down deep. No report on bream. Bass are hit and miss, “but the recent bass tournament I saw out here would make me think they are still active,” Lacey added. Anglers can check out the Lakeview Landing Hwy 95 Facebook page for water temperature and other updates.
(update 5-11-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, said that the last time he had checked you could still see the boat ramp despite the latest rainfall. The lake is high and is murky with about 1 foot of visibility.
Black bass have been in prespawn. Crappie reportedly are starting to get more active. Anglers are catching them in 6-10 feet over the underwater brush piles. Crappie will favor the live stuff, particularly No. 6 size crappie minnows. If you are going to use a jig, try something multicolored. White/red/chartreuse is what anglers say they are hitting on most.
A lot of people at Lake Brewer are buying up goldfish to fish for catfish on lines. Also, David reports he’s starting to sell out of crickets for bream fishing, as the bream are starting to hit around the shoreline or the brush. The two hot days from earlier in the week were pretty good for bream, he said. “They’re eating crickets if you can keep them on your hook,” he said.
He added about the fishing overall, “Whenever it quits raining and warms up a little, it will be prime time.”
(updated 5-25-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) says the water temperature is in the low 80s. Largemouth bass are biting fair to good. Reports of the bass being found on points around 10 feet deep. They have also been caught shallow. Try using crankbaits, flukes, wacky rig and buzzbaits. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are biting fair, with some reports of them being found near 10 feet and off rocky points. Try using crankbaits. The bass were biting well for the Tuesday night anglers in the weekly black bass tournament on Maumelle, with 22 boats competing and 19 of them catching limits. First place with a 5-bass weight of 15.11 pounds was the team of Vaughn Greenway and Daniel Romine, who also hauled in the Big Bass of 5.48 pounds.
No reports on white bass this week.
Crappie are fair. Reports of crappie hanging in the brush around 18 ft of water. Try using white Bobby Garland jigs, or minnows. Bream are biting fair to good. Reports of the bream starting to move up to bed, if they haven’t already. Try using worms or crickets. Anglers are catching a few catfish, but a better bite is anticipated over this weekend and into next week.
(updated 5-25-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said black bass are biting football head jigs. Bass are moving out to deeper water now. Also, topwater baits are working up shallow as well, and a shaky head is the go-to on the brush.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 34,694 cfs. The stage at rising at 11.48 feet (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 31,981 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 5-25-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the bream have bedded. Anglers are catching lots of big bream in the creek. Crickets and redworms both are working. The black bass seem to be right up on the banks as well and appear to be at or toward the end of spawning. Worms and spinnerbaits are being used mostly, as well as soft plastics like a lizard or swimbaits.
Not much news on the crappie end; some were caught this week but they weren’t great, Ray said. Some trotline folks were catching catfish using cut bait or shiners.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 38,389 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 41,181 cfs. The elevation is 249.11 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was steady at 7.39 feet (flood stage is 23 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 39,469 cfs.
(updated 5-25-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) reports the river flow on Wednesday was at 40,000 cfs. Anglers are working the backwaters successfully around grass and wood both. Bass are biting on a very light Texas rig with a Big Bite Fighting Frog or other creature baits. Try the Motivated Revelation Craw, too.
On the main lake channel along jetties that are perpendicular to the bank, use square bills in chartreuse and black, as well as a Bandit 200.
Crappie in the river have been biting on black and chartreuse Crappie Magnets. Those active and biting crappie are mainly on rock piles off edges of the jetties.
(updated 5-25-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the bite is on and the anglers on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks are catching trout on the first cast of the day, on the last cast in the afternoon and on a whole lot of casts in between. The water is cold and clear, refreshing, and provides a cool updraft when you’re moving downstream in a john boat.
Bull Shoals Dam is continuing releases from the lake – usually two or more generators, 6,000 to 12,000 cfs all day, a little heavier in the afternoon than the morning. Bull Shoals Lake is at 666.15 feet msl, 4 feet above seasonal power pool, and will continue to drop.
Plan your baits based on water conditions. Begin with the tried-and-true shrimp and egg pattern (orange, yellow and/or pink) for a swift catch of rainbows. Transition to live worms or to drifting a pink or orange 2-inch artificial worm as the water rises later in the morning. Crawdad season is here. Fresh crawdads are nice but sometimes hard to find; the Rebel Teeny Craws are a great way to outwit the trout.
The secret bait this past couple of weeks has been the Rapala brook trout Countdowns.
A family fishing adventure offers time together in an outdoor arena, slows time down a little in a digital-free environment (as much as desired) and makes for some terrific, lifelong memories. Go catching and enjoy Arkansas’s natural resources.
(updated 5-25-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said it has been a great week of fishing. “We have seen water depths as high as 7.5 feet and as low of under 5 feet. All except one day the water has been clear. The one day we had some dinginess in the water but fishing was still good.
“Nickel-colored inline spinners with orange or yellow-colored eggs and shrimp worked well. We are also seeing a lot of success using 3-inch plastic trout worms with a white body with an orange or pick tail. When the water is clear and low, throwing quarter-ounce spoons work well. We have had the best luck with Colorado spoons in nickel/gold or copper/gold colors.
“The weather this weekend is looking nice with sunny days and highs in the low to mid-80s. This long weekend is a perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy some fishing and the beautiful scenery of the White River. The river will be crowded; stay safe and be respectful of others. On Monday, take a moment to reflect on the purpose of Memorial Day and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice by losing their life in the service of our country.”
(updated 5-25-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had half an inch of rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.9 foot to rest at 4.1 feet above power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 28.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool and 14.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 4.5 feet above power pool or 4.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water and lower flows. Norfork Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water every day.
John said, “The Caddis hatch is on the wane. 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 White Hole. We have had lower flows that have fished well. The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a cerise San Juan worm with a girdle bug dropper (size 8).”
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive algae. Be sure and 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.
Berry, who has fished the local streams for over 40 years, also says, “The weakest link in your fly-fishing rig is the knots that you tie. I have been fly-fishing for over four decades, most of which I have been a working guide. During that time I have tied a lot of knots and I have learned a thing or two about tying knots mostly through trial and error.
“Knot tying is a basic skill for fly-fishing. You must master it if you are going to achieve independence as a fly-fisher. The other idea is to hire a guide every time you fish and require them to rig your rods and tie all of the knots you need.
“When I first began fly-fishing, my instructor was my brother, Dan. He rigged me up and put me in the water with no instruction on knot tying. When I lost a fly, I had to wade over to where he was fishing and have him tie on a fresh fly. This got old pretty quickly and I sat down and learned a few basic knots.
“I quickly decided to simplify the process as much as I could. First, I decided to have as many knots as possible eliminated or tied by others. When I bought a new reel, I bought a fly line at the same time and had the fly shop mount backing and fly line for me. They usually do this at no charge. I always buy a fly line with a loop at the end and a leader with a loop at the end. I simply do a loop to loop connection and avoid having to tie a nail knot.
“I tie the tippet to the leader with a surgeon’s knot and tie on my flies with an improved clinch knot. Therefore, I only need to know how to tie two basic knots for all of my fishing.
“The trick is to do it properly. If you lose a fish and immediately check your hook to note that it is missing, look at the end of the tippet. If there is a curly pig tail on the end, then you had knot failure. This means that you did not tie the knot properly. It is a guide’s nightmare.
“The most common problem is that you did not tighten the knot enough. You must tighten the knot until there is no excess slack in the knot. A slack knot will slip and come untied. This usually happens when there is a trophy trout pulling on your line. The best way to ensure that the knot is properly tightened is to lubricate the knot before you draw it tight. Water is the best lubricant for monofilament. I usually just use saliva, which is convenient and effective. Finally, test your knot by putting pressure on it. Let it fail in your hands, not when a big fish is pulling on it.
“Take care with your knots and they will take care of you.”
(updated 5-11-2023) AGFC staff fished the White River in the Sylamore Creek-White River junction area last weekend. On Saturday, there was a little smallmouth bite in the current of the big river just in front of the creek, biting white maribou Trout Magnets. Rainbows like the Trout Magnet some but early, as well as an inline spinner, at midday started really favoring the orange PowerBait, while some liked the No. 7 rainbow trout-colored Rapala Countdown. On Sunday, fishing out of Jack’s Resort (870-585-2211) after the river had risen 1 foot overnight, we drift-fished the White River below the confluence, catching what would have been boatload of rainbows (all were returned to the river), including a 16-incher, using inline spinners and hooks baited with X Factor eggs and pieces of shrimp.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 665.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 12,506 cfs with constant generation over recent days; tailwater elevation was 456.39 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that Bull Shoals level continued to rise over the past week to 7 feet over normal pool at 666 feet msl. Water temperature is about 75 degrees.
He says, “Algae blooms seem to be diminishing. There’s still a Senko flipping bite. Don’t expect that to last much longer. The sunfish bluefills are spawning as well as the carp. A lot of post-spawn fish are no moving deeper and suspending. I’m spending lots of time graphing, checking summer spots, points and ledges. Most fish still seem to be looking up, making dragging bottom baits slow. Most of the dirty water is in the bigger creeks, while there is high visibility around the dam area.
Fish Bull Shoals like two separate lakes. With dirty creeks, cloudy and warm, windy and rain, we’re powerfishing a square bill, Chatterbait, spinnerbait or Rat-L-Trap-style bait.
Try on the last couple of swing banks or in or around the spawning pockets and bushes. Cover water. Fish runoff if available. There is a big redworm bite in some of the brush piles.
For sunny, flat, stain conditions, try points slow-dragging a tube or Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin in 15-25 feet. On sunny days with clear water, look at ledges already, keep boat as far away as castable. Start with a 2.8 or 3.3 McMinnow or drop-shot a Robo Worm.
The shad are broken up high in the water column. It’s that time of the year: topwater, topwater, topwater. Get up early and use a wake shad, Spook, Lucky Craft Gunfish or Spook Jr. topwater early moring or all if it’s raining. This pattern has been the deal for me, especially with the warmer temperatures.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend and be safe. 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 557.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.18 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Flow below the dam Thursday midday was 3,043 cfs.
(updated 5-25-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 557.37 feet msl and was up just a bit when Scuba Steve arrived at the resort at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The surface water temperature was 77 degrees, the lake is trying to clear and he could see his lure down about 7 feet. It is slowly rising but is at a good level for boating, fishing and swimming. The best bite remains the topwater bite early at sunrise, but that is diminishing. Flatheads continue to bite on live bait on throw lines and on drop-shot jugs with live bait. Stripers are going deeper but still come to the surface just at sunrise, but not for long, especially on sunny mornings. Spawned-out crappie are on brush about 5-10 feet down and feeding on live minnows on slip floats and jigs cast over the brush and allowed to sink into it. Black bass are also biting near the bank on crankbaits. The smallmouth bite is over.
“The lake overall is in excellent condition for swimming, boating and fishing. It looks to be a very busy holiday weekend and all campgrounds, launches and parking are open,” he said.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 5-25-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 5-25-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water every day. 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 cerise San Juan worms and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better. Weekends can get a quite crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs, various colored San Juan Worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white mop flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 5-25-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing better. With warmer temperatures, the smallmouths are more 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 1,125.77 feet msl, or 5.0 feet above normal pool (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is sitting at 1,125 feet cfs and is 4 feet above normal levels; water is in the low 70s. Fishing is in that transition phase. Most fish have spawned and are in a post-spawn mood. Stripers are moving back toward the dam. Look from the islands at Prairie Creek down to Points 4 and 5 areas. This fishing should continue to get better in the coming weeks. Crappie are all over the place. Shallow to suspended in 30 feet of water. “We did well trolling cranks the other day, albeit early for this to set up. That bite will get good as water gets near 80 (degrees).”
Walleye are on points in 20 feet of water. You can reach them on cranks and crawler harnesses. Bluegill are starting the spawn; look shallow for bedded fish. Catfish are good on any method you choose.
Water cleared up and is getting better in the river arms. “Stay safe out there. Lots of boat traffic this coming weekend. Good luck.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 5-12-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said overall there is not a lot of high quality fish being caught and when when anglers do catch them it’s on bigger baits – bigger finesse worms, bigger swimbaits. Mostly, though, it’s just stop and go activity with the weather, rain, cold, then hot, the wind and so forth. Friday at the end of the week was decent day to be out as of this report, they told us.
Anglers are catching good numbers of crappie but they are having to search for them and many of the caught crappie are reported to be under the slot limit and returned to the water. Not much has been heard from the walleye lately; about the only way to catch them now is trolling the lake. Largemouth bass have been pretty decent for anglers fishing the creeks and streams, catching them on their beds, in tributaries and up real shallow on presentations such as a Ned rig.
Beaver Lake was described as “pretty muddy” up until a few days ago around Monte Ne, with fishing not that good in that area, but up further north in the lake, anglers were reported fishing with Kastmasters on a Sunday and were catching 30-40 bass, using crankbaits, Chatterbaits and finesse worms. There is some topwater action, but it’s mostly gone to soft plastics, Ned rigs, and the bass catch, like crappie, is all smaller fish. Also, big swimbaits are working, such as KVDs, the SPRO Chad Shad and the Megabass Magdraft swimbait. The Magdraft fished in the creeks and streams, not so much on the lake, was attracting the occasional bass in the 2- to 6-pound range. Things are good in those areas backwater areas, especially after a heavy rain.
Stripers have been doing well. Use brood minnows. Some days are producing a lot of fish, other days not so much.
(updated 5-25-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing has been pretty good this past week. “We have pulling trout in nice numbers and there are still some walleye to be had (but you’ve got to work for them.) Most trout are being caught using Pautzke Fire Bait and Fire Eggs, fished with light terminal tackle. Gold and silver spoons have also done great, especially during generation. Quarter-ounce, letting it sink and working back slowly has been the preferred presentation.
“As far as the walleye, like stated above, you have to work for them and try various methods. Jerkbaits and jigging soft plastics have produced the best numbers. This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms, but don’t expect to get up there by boat unless you have a jet or until they kick on the water.”
Water temps have been in the high 40s and low 50s. If you want to get in on some white bass action, try fishing between Beaver and Holiday Island.
“Remember, for additional updates follow my Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service). I’m pretty much on the water every week. Feel free to message me if you have any questions. Take care, get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 5-25-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported “a ton of bream, readers,” are being caught lately on live worms and little jigs. Some catfish waking up and getting more active. They’re biting on catfish balls. Bass have been coming around on live worms as well, with bass being found mostly off the pier and relatively shallow. Crappie have been steady and the ones being caught are about 10 inches or bigger. Bream and crappie are the most prominent catches now, they report. Water clarity is clearing up; recent storms had muddied things but it is improving.
(updated 5-25-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said water temperature has been steady, with Sunday’s temp recorded as 70.7 degrees. The lake level is normal and the clarity is the usual murky. Bream and crappie fishing remained good, and catfish are really taking off with excellent results this past week.
Use worms, crickets jigs for a great bream bite now, while minnows and jigs are preferred by crappie, along with Arkie Gill Candy. Ask Shelly about it at the visitors center.
Catfish are excellent on worms (especially redworms or nightcrawlers), blood bait, stink bait and chicken liver. Catfish are currently spawning, she said.
Black bass appear to be hard to find for anglers, and she had no reports on white bass.
(updated 5-11-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, said Lake Poinsett’s fishing continues to hit on all cylinders. The bream are biting on worms and Bream Killers, but they are deeper now. Seth also says that catfish could bite in the evenings on live or stink bait.
Crappie, while catch-and-release only, have been hammering pink and chartreuse jigs. Bass continue to do well on crankbaits and shallow-water baits, and they also are catch-and-release only. Bream and catfish may be kept at regular state limits.
(updated 5-18-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been at 440 cfs (350 is average), and water clarity is clear. No rain over the last week has the river looking great, up less than a foot above average. Heavy stocking by Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery with some really big stockers makes every day on the Spring lately hot with plenty of rainbows coming to the boat. We’re chasing browns on good overcast days. Swinging flies most days, with indicators setups on the hot sunny days, are working great. Streamers are the go-to on the cloudy days until everyone gets tired.
Smallmouth bass are starting to get active with the spawn over. Heavy sink tips with streamers work great with a slow retrieve – or my fave, long leaders tight-lining heavy Woollies. The smallmouth are all in the river, you’ve just got to fish for them deep. Woollies in brown, black and olive are great with heavy lead eyes or skull heads.
The canoe hatch will start up soon. The river will be busy with floaters through the summer on Saturdays and holiday weekends. Through the week is a great time to come up and catch.
Be safe wading and remember when it gets hot out, the Spring River is cold and refreshing!
(updated 5-25-2023) 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 steady at 8.83 feet (flood stage is 15.0 feet). The Newport stage is slightly rising at 11.93 feet (flood stage is 26 feet). The stage at Augusta is dropping slightly to 23.85 feet, more than a foot below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 5-25-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report this week.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.75 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Release at the dam was 13,961 cfs, up about 4,800 cfs from Wednesday.
(updated 5-25-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service reports that the big news from Millwood is that the Army Corps of Engineers Millwood Lake Project Office, Little River County, and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have begun the first phase of a Yarborough Landing renovation project consisting of site work, drainage, base prep,and asphalt on a 163,943-square-foot parking area, which will provide 138 spaces for vehicles with trailers and 11 single vehicle spaces. The construction will began Monday and the area may be closed for eight weeks or longer. Once the parking lot expansion is complete, the renovation will continue with a new tournament courtesy dock. Anglers looking to access Millwood Lake can still use the State Park, Jack’s Isle, Beards Bluff, and other boat ramps throughout the lake.
As of Wednesday, Millwood Lake is back on a slow fall from recent thunderstorms, currently 4 inches above normal conservation pool, and clarity is heavy stain but improving in most locations. Up Little River from White Cliffs to Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing remains more heavily stained. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation near 230 feet msl and falling with gate discharge at the dam near 3,500 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Surface temps were stable this week, ranging 75-83 degrees depending on location and the time of day.
Mike had these details on the Millwood Lake fishing this week:
* Largemouth bass are fair to good, best early and late, ranging 2-3 pounds in 3-8 feet of water on flats near vegetation, and others in 6- to 10-feet deep creek channels where grass and reeds and fresh lily pad shoots are emerging. Brazalo Spinnerbaits, lizards, Bass Assassin Shads and Chatterbaits are working. Over the past couple weeks, largemouths have been randomly feeding in creek channels dumping into Little River. The oxbows continue providing best water clarity 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 square bill on warm and sunny days, mainly in the afternoon. A few chunky 2- and 3-pound bass were the most aggressive early into late morning over the past week and those fish are being found randomly near deeper creek channels or ditches through the flats. The best bass activity is shifting from midday to early morning on buzzbaits, Chatterbaits in chartreuse Sexy Shad, and black and blue in dingy water color. Bass Assassin Shads and soft plastic frogs, finessing through the new vegetation and lily pad blooms, have picked up decent-sized bass in the 2- to 3-pound class. The best water clarity and reaction from chunky 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. Further up above McGuire in Little River, near Cemetery Slough and Black’s Branch, several nice largemouths around 3-5 pounds were caught near new bream beds on a custom painted, bream-colored, Little John Crankbaits.
* White bass have been roaming points, creek channels dumping into the river, and continue to bite randomly in broken schools. Most of the larger schools over the past couple weeks have begun moving back toward the main lake, and are scattered in numerous schools along Little River. They continue hitting on Rat-L-Traps, Cordell hammered spoons, Bomber Fat Free Shads, Little George tail-spinners, Heddon Sonar Metal Blades and Rocket Shads as long as you can locate shad and schools in creek mouths dumping into Little River. These schools are migrating back down river from the annual spawning runs up near Patterson Shoals, and almost every creek dump held some broken schools over the past several weeks. Sexy Blueback Herring, Millwood Magic custom-painted Little John Crankbaits, and Bomber Fat Free Guppys in Tennessee Shad were able to coax a bite over the past several weeks from these broken schools.
* Crappie improved near Saratoga, Millwood State Park and Beard’s Bluff last week and are biting best using minnows in 9-10 feet of depth in planted brush piles.
* Several folks have been catching bream on beds near Cemetery Slough and Black’s Creek above McGuire oxbow along Little River. Best baits reported to us have been crickets and redworms in 2-5 feet of depth. Several nice largemouths were caught near those bream beds on a square bill bream-colored crankbait.
* Catfish are fair in Mud Lake on yo-yos and trotlines using Punch Bait, chicken livers/gizzards and shiners.
(updated 5-25-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) says crappie limits are being caught, and good-sized crappie at that. The crappie started back up about two weeks ago and anglers are catching a bunch daily. “Every crappie we see, they’re hungry,” we’re told. Your best bet is using hand-tied jigs on white/silver/white or solid gray or solid orange. Anglers are fishing in 16-17 foot of water, with the fish about 6 foot down on tops.
One angler at Lake Erling is having a feast on catfish, we’re told, catching a lot of the cats on dip bait. A lot of good-sized catfish in the 25- to 40-pound range are also being caught baiting noodles with little bream. And speaking of bream, anglers are catching lots of those, with crickets being bought by the thousands for them. The bream are bedding and being caught on the beds.
Nothing reported on bass lately.
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 545.20 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-11-2023) Philip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoors in Little Rock and Hot Springs said on the weekly “Wild Side Show” on KABZ-FM, 103.7 The Buzz that the crappie bite on Greeson. If you want to go crappie fishing, he says that for the last week everybody he knows that fishes for crappie is done by 8 a.m. They’re up on the bank and fishing in the guts of pockets. You don’t have to brush pile fish right now for crappie on Greeson. Literally just fish the guts of pockets in 5-6 feet of water and catch all you want.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.22 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2023 John Duncan of YoYo Guide Service at Iron Mountain Marina says, “Hey, fisher people! I am back from turkey hunting. Let’s go fishing. Lots of good reports, but first things first: The lake level as I write this is 407.2 feet msl with a slight fall. Water temperature is high 70s (depending on where you are). A big shoutout to the Garner brothers, Devin and Tanner, who won the Trader Bill’s tournament on DeGray last weekend. Congratulations!
“OK, bream beds are everywhere. Use your SI to locate the beds and slip bobber or drop-shot the beds. Bring your bait; marinas selling bait fast.
“Crappie are moving back into the brush piles. The 2-inch rain we got slowed them down for a day or so, but this weather (finally) is gonna kick them in gear.
“As you know, this has been an exceptional windy and rainy season. When you have a calm day, surfacing fish are showing up. So, fish activity is on the upswing. Get your crickets, minnows, jigs or whatever ou like and get after them. My report this week applies to the whole DeGray Lake and not a specific area.”.
White Oak Lake Area
(updated 5-25-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-264-0851) said black bass are being caught on the lower end of the lake. Anglers are using all kinds of spinnerbaits, using Chatterbaits, Whopper Plopper. The bass are still bedding up in the cove at that area. Also, folks are catching fish in the bream beds. Bream are spawning. Redworms and nightcrawlers are the best baits.
Crappie are in the brushpiles. Anglers are catching a few, not many, but the catches are around 13- to 14-inches. Crappie minnows are the go-to now.
Some catfish are being caught on cut shad, bass minnows, black salties or goldfish baited to jugs, limb lines and yo-yos.
The lake clarity is clearing from the fertilizing of a few weeks ago. Water temperature is 74 degrees and water is at a normal level.
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 5-25-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 55 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. April marked the final stocking month for rainbow trout until November, with 4,320 trout released. Big numbers of fish had relocated downstream, but are migrating upstream to feed and establish territory in the nutrient-rich tailrace. More rainfall had forced Entergy to run heavy generation flows, so the public needs to check lake conditions before planning a day on Lake Catherine. Fishing below a hydroelectric dam poses many problems dictated by Mother Nature for boaters and anglers. Over four months of the trout season have been lost due to flooding. It’s hoped the weather will become stable enough to salvage some of the remaining time the trout are present in the tailrace.
Entergy planned running the generators below Carpenter Dam for eight hours each day from last Friday through Friday, May 26th. This schedule will allow a few hours each day to bypass fishing in the heavy flows and for anglers to effectively target the many fish species now in the tailrace. The following techniques will give anglers a chance at catching numbers of rainbow trout, walleye, crappie and white bass that have received little fishing pressure this season.
Fly-fishermen are now handicapped to some degree with the lake now at summertime pool, but they can still access areas that hold feeding fish. Trout key in on the shad kill this time of year as good numbers of threadfin shad in Lake Hamilton are drawn through the turbines and scattered throughout the tailrace area. Thousands of shad have migrated into the tailrace to spawn, creating a perfect environment for area fish to feed on baitfish. Flies that imitate injured shad will draw immediate strikes from hungry rainbows. Micro jigs in white or black casted with a strike indicator will produce strikes in current or slack water. Egg patterns in white or yellow used in the same manner can be productive when the action slows down. Spin-fishermen using Powerbait in yellow or white and lures such as a Super Duper and Little Cleo in silver are proven trout catching baits in many conditions. Crankbaits that represent fleeing crayfish will also catch trout searching for prey. Live bait fishermen can use waxworms or mealworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater, or earthworms and nightcrawlers in the same manner, to target larger trout.
Excellent angling opportunities will present themselves when the heavy current is slowed by Entergy (as Lake Ouachita is returned to normal levels) for all methods of fishing, giving the public a good chance of success for the first time this year. The walleye spawn has ended, but many fish will remain the tailrace to rest and feed up from the rigors of reproduction. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current is an excellent method of covering water and locating feeding fish. The crappie spawn is still underway, and these fish can be caught with live minnows and jigs fished in current breaks around sandbars and rock structure. Crappie shy away from heavy current and thrive in protected areas out of the main flow. White bass are migrating into the area this month in huge numbers to spawn and their presence rounds out a multispecies opportunity for angling. The public is now urged to take advantage of the changing weather and fishing possibilities at all area lakes. 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 afternoon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 31,981 cfs. Elevation was 337.63 feet msl and the tailwater was at 286.80 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage was on a nearly 2-foot drop since Wednesday to 6.51 feet as of Thursday afternoon (flood stage is 32 feet).
(updated 5-26-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is in the 80s. Water clarity is good in most of the river and most of the creeks. Bass fishing has been good with plastics and crankbaits on points. The jig bite in the grass is starting to slow. Spinnerbaits are working well sometimes. Topwater baits and large worms are starting to come into play with some of the fish making their move out to the river.
Crappie are still doing well on gigs in 6-10 feet depth. Monkey Milk continues to be the best color. Fish around brush piles, trees and around floating mats. White bass have been good when there’s current. Look for current breaks off of points ahd holes in the jetties. White hair jigs, spoons, small white cranks and small Rat-L-Traps are your best bets. Bream have been really good on crickets and worms around sand points and on jetties with grass. Channel catfish have been good in the backwaters and creeks on worms and crickets. Flatheads have been really good on live perch around bluffs and jetties. Blue catfish have been good on cut bait just inside of the pocket around the current.
As of noon Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.76 feet msl (normal pool: 344.89 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, the new owner of Carter Cove Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025), formerly Andrews, says crappie, bream and catfish all are biting well. Some of the crappie are in the 2-pound range, and two cats that were pulled from the lake this week “were the biggest I’ve seen,” she said. “We’ve been going through crickets like crazy for the bream and the crappie.” Black bass are biting “pretty good” on jigs and minnows. Crappie are also biting biting minnows and white jigs.
Sheila, who moved from California to take over the business, says Carter Cove offers breakfast and lunch, as well as pizza for now at dinner, “and eventually we’ll get there” for adding to the menu. They have a Facebook page and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
(updated 5-11-2023) Ken Winstead at Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) in Perryville said the crappie bite continues to be typical for the continuous water changes due to weather, so move around from shallow to deep water. It’s hit or miss. Best colors are silver, chartreuse, Monkey Milk, black/chartreuse, Cajun Cricket, Kiwi, Mo-Glo, silver Blue Ice, orange/white, Diamond Mist. Also throw Crappie Magnet, minnows and nightcrawlers. Bream are biting great on redworms and crickets. Black bass are doing well on dark colors, as well as watermelon red, red or blue shad, and minnows and worms.
Catfish are biting well on liver of all kinds, dough bait, minnows and nightcrawlers.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 576.96 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-25-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said crappie are still on the brushtops in 20-28 feet ft water fished 8-12 feet deep. Sunfish and catfish are beginning their spawn. Target slow-dropping points and humps and fish all the water from 2-20 feet deep.
(updated 5-25-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are good. Topwater baits are still working in multiple applications: In shallow water it’s frog fishing, and in deeper, open water it’s Spook/Boy Howdy fishing. Swim jigs and shakey head worms are producing some quality sacks, too.
For walleye, jigs tipped with nightcrawlers are working for these fish. Try main river/lake channel points for these fish, near brush, in the 18-22 feet range. Stripers are excellent. These fish are being caught in the central portions of the lake and can be caught on live bait, trolling crankbaits and Bama rigs. Or, try throwing a top water C-10 redfin early and late. Bream are excellent. Try a cricket or worm near brush in the 8- to 20-foot depth range for a quality bite. Crappie are good and being caught on small jigs or minnows. Try brush and structure in 15-20 feet depth. Catfish are still very good on rod and reel with crawlers or stink bait, while jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too.
Water temperature is on the rise to a 74- to 80-degree range. Water clarity is clearing. The lake level Wednesday was 577.03 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 388.23 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 continuing to drop at 22.96 feet (flood stage is 26.00 feet).
(updated 5-25-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) had no new reports.
(updated 5-25-2023) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321) says that the White River has dropped enough to open up fishing at Cook’s Lake. No one has fished the lake yet this season and water is still in the woods in places, so the fish might be hard to find. Bass anglers should have the most luck flipping black and red tubes or green pumpkin jigs to cypress trees. For bream, try fishing crickets or redworms near cypress trees or vines on the bluff banks. Crappie anglers should try tight-lining jigs or minnows near cypress trees or in the channel using forward-facing sonar.
Cook’s Lake is a 2.5-mile-long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility-impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass, and catfish of all species. Cook’s Lake will be open to fishing during normal business hours Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., water level pending. Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youths under 16 or mobility-impaired anglers, and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat. Please call ahead at least a day in advance to register to fish. Before launching, please check in at the Nature Center classroom and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, please call the center at 501-404-2321.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.
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