Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
June 1, 2023
Reports are updated weekly, although some reports may be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for current news for the lake or stream you plan to fish.
TOP: Richard Reeves and his son, Daniel, from Walls, Mississippi, landed some Greers Ferry Lake walleye while fishing with guide Tommy Cauley recently. Tommy says that if you can find them, walleye will eat on nightcrawlers and crankbaits in 10-25 feet of water at Greers Ferry Lake. Tommy also says that the lake is like many everywhere, seemingly two weeks behind where they would usually be on June 1, though bream should be biting big-time with this weekend’s full moon. Read more of his report below under Central Arkansas.
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
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors will be conducting herbicide applications to Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir and Lake Overcup June 5-9. Contractors will complete the application of the EPA-approved aquatic herbicides by June 9. The treatment causes no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but water irrigated from the lake can harm gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. By federal law these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to not irrigate for lawns or gardens with water from these lakes until October. Multiple applications per year are necessary for effective control of alligatorweed, and being unable to irrigate during this time is another unfortunate effect of this nonnative invasive aquatic plant species. With controlling it, alligatorweed can infest lakes, restricting access to boathouses, boat ramps and fishign locations, and choke out native vegetation and fish populations. For more information, call the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at 833-338-3636.
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 6-1-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said bream are biting on redworms, crickets and waxworms. Catfish are biting, too; try shad, skipjack, dip bait and nightcrawlers. Those two species are producing well at this time. Black bass have slowed but are still biting. The catches seem mostly to be coming on black/blue Baby Brush Hogs, when they’re biting. A few crappie are being caught on jigs, but the overall crappie bite has slowed some. Everything is good about the water now, they report, with the usual Lake Conway stain to the clarity.
(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 20 cfs (turbine) as of noon Thursday, with one 12-hour discharge Wednesday average 6,200 cfs. The tailwater was down at 266.74 feet as of 2 p.m. Thursday. Greers Ferry Lake is at 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 6-1-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said, “It looks like we might be getting a break from 24-hour generation that we have experienced the last few weeks. Hopefully we will settle into a more fishing friendly water release pattern.
“If you plan to fish the Trout Magnet, consider using pink, cotton candy and white-colored bodies on chartreuse jigheads. For fly-fishing, consider weighted San Juan Worms, egg patterns, Caddis imitations 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 the generation schedule.
(updated 6-1-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said Greers Ferry Lake is at summer pool. “It looks like we will be seeing reduced flows from the Southwestern Power Administration. Let’s see what happens with the generation schedule and if they start a consistent pattern.
“This will open up wade fishing for the entire river. The bite has been good with the lower flows. We are having Caddis still hatching throughout our river. Anything buggy is working. Try fishing sowbugs, midge patterns and Caddis patterns. We’re fishing them underneath an indicator alongside the moss beds in the deeper water or fishing the oxygenated shoals.”
(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.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 462.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 6-1-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level now at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.55 feet msl, just 0.01 feet above normal pool for this time of year (462.54 feet msl). Greers Ferry is in the shape as most lakes around the country: All species are scattered and about two weeks behind regular schedules, in between spawning and post-spawn. With that said, crappie are eating live bait, jigs,and crankbaits in 10-40 feet of water, according to how you like to present your bait. Stay around bait fish. Walleye are eating, when you find them, on crawlers and crankbaits in 10-25 feet. Catfish are scattered from 10-60 feet eating lots of stuff on lines and rod and reels. Bream are eating and preparing for a big spawn on this full moon – crickets, crawlers and inline spinners are working super shallow out to 25 feet.
Hybrid bass and white bass are chewing well, roaming, as they have not gotten set up to stay yet on offshore stuff where you can really work on them good day in and day out yet. It’s coming, but for now stay with the bait and the fish will be close roaming. Use spoons, inline spinners, topwater plugs, swim baits and Alabama rigs.
Black bass are like the rest, roaming and not locked in offshore stuff just yet. Alabama rigs, topwater baits, Texas-rigged worms, football head rigs and crankbaits and spinnerbaits all are working. Stay around the bait shad, bream, etc. on the shoreline out to 40 feet and suspended over deep water.
(updated 6-1-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the largemouth bass and spotted bass are moving out onto main lake points. Throw a shaky head or a crankbait for best success.
Crappie have moved about halfway into the back of the creeks and are sitting in the tops of brush. They were biting Leland Lures Eye-hole Jig.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 6-1-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says bream and catfish have been really biting. “There are a lot of them around,” they report. Crickets and worms are the way to catch the bream. Also, both species have hit their spawning seasons at Harris Brake, so this weekend should be a good one, along with a full moon for the bream. Some anglers have been catching black bass, mostly on bass minnows.
One angler earlier this week, fishing right by the dock, hauled in a 5.6-pound catfish. Small bream and nightcrawlers are the baits mostly being used for cats.
Crappie have moved out to the deeper end of the lake, according to several anglers. There have been fewer reports of catches.
The lake level is about medium or normal for Harris Brake. The water is closer to clear.
(updated 6-1-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said, “The bream are biting good! Use crickets! We caught a mess of ’em a few days ago. We were out in the tree lines and around some old posts. Also I got confirmation (Thursday) that they are coming up to the banks, also. If you know their secret hideouts from last year, I would try there first. Shouldn’t be hard to get you enough for supper.”
Lacey reports that the crappie are deep. Try using pink minnows, crappie minnows or white/black/red jigs. Go about 10 feet down into the stumps and underwater brush. You may only get one or two from that area. But keep moving around. You can catch them with patience. Same for bank fishing. Catfish are coming up into the shallows. Try using bass minnows just a foot or two deep. Bass are biting on spinners and wacky worms. The bite is good early in the morning and about an hour before sunset.
The lake water level is lowering, and the water isn’t murky like it has been. “It’s going to be a great weekend for fishing.”
(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 they’re 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.
(update 6-1-2023) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210), a 24/7 self-serve bait shop at the lake, had no new reports.
(updated 6-1-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) says the fishing was great over the weekend and through Wednesday or this week, but anglers were saying Thursday morning that things had slowed down. Water temperature has reached into the low 80s. For the week, largemouth bass have ranged from good to fair. Reports of the bass being found on points around 10 feet deep. They have also been caught shallow. Try using crankbaits, flukes, wacky rigs or buzzbaits. Their black bass cousins, the spotted bass (Kentucky bass), were great over the weekend and the beginning this week before slowing back down. Some reports had them being found near 10 feet and off rocky points. Crankbaits are suggested. In WestRock’s Tuesday night weekly black bass tournament this week, Matt Hedrick and Brandon Crain caught 14.39 pounds on a five-bass stringer to win, and the top three finishers were at or over 12.4 pounds. Out of 26 boats, 19 caught limits. Robert and Tracy White hauled in the Big Bass of 4.35 pounds.
White bass provided no reports this week. Crappie, though, were good. Reports of crappie hanging in the brush around 18 feet of water. Try using white Bobby Garland Jigs, or minnows. Bream are fair, but the full moon is coming up this weekend. Reports of the bream starting to move up to bed, if they haven’t already. Also, reports of anglers catching bream from the shoreline. Worms or crickets are best. A few catfish are being caught.
(updated 6-1-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said whites and hybrids are running east end of the lake. You can catch them on ROoster Tail or a spoon.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
As of Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 13,034 cfs. The stage at Morrilton was steady at 9.74 feet (flood stage is 30 feet). Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam the flow was 10,868 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 6-1-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the fishing is about the same as it’s been for a couple of weeks. Black bass have been doing real well, while the bream are still bedded. Crappie are done with their spawn and have gone back to deeper water.
Bass are being caught in 1-2 feet of water, up shallow. Anglers are fishing with spinnerbaits and worms, and one angler reported catching them this week on Chatterbait. They seem to be on the tail end of spawning, Ray said.
Bream will bite crickets and redworms. Catfish are being caught on trotlines baited with shiners. No reports on crappie or on white bass, Ray said. The water is normal level and clear. He estimates the water temperature is in the high 70s.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday afternoon, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 0 cfs, though there had been generation of about 12,900 cfs for about 17 hours up until 9 a.m.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 14,085 cfs. The elevation is 249.15 feet msl. The stage in the Little Rock pool was steady at 7.25 feet (flood stage is 23 feet). Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 13,543 cfs.
(updated 6-1-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) reports that bass are on the main river jetties on crankbaits and topwater. They have heard there are crappie being caught around Willow Beach.
(updated 6-1-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Summer break is officially here; time to replace the digital devices in the hands of your kids with rods and reels. We’ve had a great week on the river catching trout with spoons, spinners, jigs, stick baits and PowerBait, so it’s been easy to keep them occupied.”
The White River is flowing fairly fast as Bull Shoals Dam is continuing to release three or more generators, 9,000 to 13,000 cfs. It’s not uncommon with round-the-clock releases to find the rainbow bite has slowed, but it’s also not uncommon to observe the quality of the catch has improved. Carry some extra split shot, egg weights or bass-casting sinkers to ensure your baits get near the bottom, then prepare for some action because the trout are healthy and fighting.
Trout are constantly swimming against the current, which means they need to refuel often, which explains why the bite is usually so rapid on the White River. They’re smart, too, and look for places to get out of the flow for some rest now and again. Look for rocks, or other structure – that’s easy in our river because the water is so crystal clear – and place your bait downstream near the hidey-hole. Some added flash might cause a quicker response. “We’ve had some fun replacing the hook on a gold Blue Fox Spinner with a feathered treble hook, or adding that flashy feather to the tail end of a Rapala Countdown.”
They add, “Don’t forget the sunscreen with all this springtime sunshine reflecting off the water, but don’t mix your sunscreen with your bait/tackle. Trout do not like sunscreen. We sometimes take the beauty of our Arkansas Ozarks for granted since we live it every day, but it wasn’t possible this past holiday weekend. We reveled in the perfection of creation in our Natural State of Arkansas. Come see for yourselves, and welcome to our river.”
(updated 6-1-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the last few days the river is averaging 7.5-8.5 feet with clear water. Both Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are slightly above their desired power pool levels. “With the expected power generation schedule for both lakes, I expect they should slowly reach the desired levels without generating extra water. Once they reach the power pool levels, expect the river level to drop and the fishing to improve.”
With the slightly higher water levels, fishing was steady throughout the week and the holiday weekend. Silver inline spinners with orange eggs and shrimp worked best. The river levels were a little high for lures to be very effective. The lures that worked best were the Rapala Shad Raps in shad coloring, which dive deeper.
There was one trout stocking this week at the Calico Rock boat ramp with 1,100 rainbow trout from the Norfork Hatchery and another 1,100 rainbows were stocked just upriver at the Chessmond Ferry boat ramp.
“With the hotter weather, remember to take precautions such as using sunscreen, drinking plenty of water and wearing a hat. Many people also keep a cooling rag to dip in the water and wrap around their neck,” Dave said.
(updated 6-1-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had no rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.9 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 32 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 2.8 feet above power pool or 5.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water and higher flows. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water every day. “All of the lakes are at or near power pool. We can expect lower flows in the coming days,” he said.
John added, “The Caddis hatch is on the wane. This is our best hatch of the year. We have seen some small hatches in the 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 Rim Shoals. We have had higher flows that have fished poorly. 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) or 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 said, “Last week I had a two-day guided fishing trip, on Tuesday and Thursday. I had two clients, Nick and John, retired guys that are about my age. We fished the first day at Rim Shoals. In the morning we had low flows around 6,000 cfs, or the rough equivalent of two full generators. I already had a couple of rods rigged with cerise San Juan Worms and orange eggs. We had the place to ourselves and did well, around 20 trout. The water came up at 1 p.m. and the fishing slowed. We caught a few more trout, but not that many. We did manage to catch an 18-inch rainbow, our biggest trout.
“On Thursday, we considered wading the Norfork on low water or boating below Bull Shoals Dam on high water. We decided that an eight-hour day of wading might be a little too challenging, so we opted to fish the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam with the goal of handing a trophy trout. I always catch fewer but larger fish there.
“We noted that the water was much higher than it had been on Tuesday. They were running over 18,000 cfs, or the rough equivalent of 5½ full generators. We fished the same rigs but with much longer leaders in order to reach the bottom in the higher water. We noted that there was a lot more river traffic than at Rim Shoals.
“When you are targeting bigger fish, you will have fewer opportunities. There are just not as many big fish. Mid-morning, Nick hooked a good trout. He quickly put it on the reel and took his time bringing it to the net. It was a stout 22-inch rainbow with a huge girth. It was a great catch and we took photos and quickly released the fish.
“We went fishless for several hours. Then mid-afternoon, John hooked a good fish. I got a good look at it and it was bigger than Nick’s. I noticed that John had a lot of excess line on the deck of the boat and was stripping the trout in.
“This is my pet peeve. The most effective way to land trout on a fly rod is to fight them with the reel. Stripping in a fish by pulling in the line and securing it under a finger is an inexact procedure that is subject to error. Your fingers do not have the reliable constant pressure that the disc drag on my reel has. I have had 12-year-old boys land 16-pound trout on that reel on Dry Run Creek.
“As I feared, the big trout took a run and John increased the pressure on the line to keep the trout from getting away. It snapped and the biggest fish of the day broke off. I pulled in the line to check the rigging. The break was clean, which told me that it was due to the pressure on the line from stripping it in. The tippet was 4X fluorocarbon, which is 5.5-pound test. It was plenty strong to land the fish. By not using the reel, he had missed an opportunity to land a trophy trout.
“The reel is there for a reason. Use it!”
(updated 5-11-2023) AGFC staff fished the White River in the Sylamore Creek-White River junction area. 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 662.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 662.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 15,095 cfs with constant generation over recent days; tailwater elevation was 456.88 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.06 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 6-1-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that lake level Wednesday was at 663 feet msl, or about 4 feet high. He adds, though, that Bull Shoals hasn’t been this low this time of year in quite some time. Water temperature is about 75 degrees. Algae blooms seem to be diminishing. Looks like a thermocline is starting to form in that 20-foot range. The sunfish bluegills are spawning on flats. Most fish seem to be schooled up and moving out over deeper water and suspending in 10-25 feet.
“I’m spending lots of time graphing, checking summer spots, points, drops and ledges. Most fish still seem to be looking up, making dragging bottom baits slow. Most of the dirty water is in the larger creeks, while there is high visibility around the main lake, especially the dam area.”
For several weeks now, Del has been recommending that anglers fish Bull Shoals like two separate lakes, depending on the conditions. If you find dirty creeks cloudy days when it’s warm, windy and with rainwater, you should be powerfishing a square-bill crankbait, Chatterbait, spinnerbait or a Rat-L-Trap-style lure. Try on the last couple of swing banks or in or around the bluegill spawning flats, pockets, bushes – cover water. Fish runoff if available. There’s a big Texas-rigged 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 orange, or use perch colors in the 10-20 feet range. For sunny, clear water use natural colors in small profile baits. Look at ledges; keep your boat as far away as castable.
Start early with a topwater, and as that slows try a 2.8 or 3.3 McMinnow. Once the sun gets up drop-shot a Robo Worm. The shad are broken up high in the water column mostly over deep water. It’s that time of year: topwater, topwater, topwater. Get up early and fish a wake shad, Spook, Lucky Craft Gunfish, a Pop-R or Spook Jr. topwater. Also try a Flutter Spoon early in the morning, or all day if it’s cloudy, especially with the warmer temperature now. 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 557.18 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Flow below the dam Thursday midday was 3,064 cfs.
(updated 6-1-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 557.18 feet msl and had dropped 1 inch in the previous 24 hours as of 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Corps of Engineers has started generating a little more, and the White River at Newport is 12.24 feet. They are regulating to 12 feet at Newport and letting a lot of water out of Bull Shoals and both lakes are approaching the top of their power pools.
“It is getting very dry here and we need some rain badly and may get some later this week,” he said. The surface water temperature was 80 degrees and the water is clearing after the churning of the holiday weekend. The summer thermocline has formed at 17 feet and it is very pronounced. Several fish are at or around this depth. The water is very cold at 20 feet. Walleye, crappie, bass and bluegill are at or around this depth, and if you find brush there at that depth, there will be a lot of fish near. Spoons and plastic worms are working well. Stripers are going deeper and deeper with the rising water temperature, and the topwater bite has diminished to mostly bass early and late. It is spooning time and stripers are about 50-60 feet down in 90 feet of water. Trollers are catching a few fish but are traveling a lot of miles and burning a lot of gas to catch them.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 6-1-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water every day. “All of the lakes are at or near power pool. We can expect lower flows in the coming days,” he said.
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 eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan Worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). My 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 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 6-1-2023) 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 1,124.11 feet msl, or 2.7 feet above normal pool (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 6-1-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake continues to drop. It also continues to warm up with the all-so-important thermocline starting to set up. Where it has set up, it’s around 22 feet.
Stripers are moving daily back toward the dam. Look from Prairie Creek all the way down to the dam. Trolled live bait is the key. Move until you find fish. Walleye are doing the same thing. It’s crawler harness season from now until September. Look at main points and secondary points. Concentrate in the 20-30 feet of water.
“Crappie are starting to be caught on crankbaits. This is my go-to in the summer. “Catfish getting ready for their spawn. I have been catching cats on trolled cranks and they are full of eggs. Noodles and trotlines will be the ticket. Be safe and good luck!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 5-25-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing has been pretty good this past week. “We have been 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 are 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 have muddied things but it is improving.
(updated 6-1-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said black bass finally joined the bream, crappie and catfish among the active, hungry fish at Lake Charles this past weekend. Spinnerbaits and plastic worms were bringing in a good number of bass.
Bream are good on worms and crickets, of course, but specifically on Arkie, Shinee Hinee and Arkil Gill Candy baits. Crappie were fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish were good on the usual catfish baits. The water is the usual murky clarity and at a normal level. Water temperature edged upward slightly to 71.7 degrees on Sunday morning.
(updated 6-1-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, said Lake Poinsett’s fishing has been good. The bream are biting on worms and Bream Killers. Catfish are good on live or stink bait.
Crappie, while catch-and-release only, have been hammering pink and chartreuse jigs. Bass will bite 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 indicator 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 6-1-2023) 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 9.35 feet (flood stage is 15.0 feet). The Newport stage is slightly rising at 12.38 feet (flood stage is 26 feet). The stage at Augusta is steady at 24.32 feet, below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
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 14,374 cfs. The stage at Pine Bluff is steady at 31.41 (flood stage is 42 feet). Further upstream, the flow at the Maynard Lock and Dam was 12,172 cfs.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 6-1-2023) 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 259.36 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl). Release at the dam was 775 cfs, steady for the past day or more.
(updated 6-1-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake is back near normal 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 tailwater elevation is near 225 feet msl and stable with gate discharge at the dam near 430 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Watch for random floaters and broken timber during any navigation on Little River and Millwood Lake. Surface temps stable this week ranged 78-85 degrees at Wilton and Little River this week, depending on location and the time of day. River clarity was ranging 10-15 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of oxbows will vary widely from heavy stain to good clarity, visibility is 15-30 inches up to 3 feet visibility in a few locations away from the river as flow rates have begun settling out, depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain, or thunderstorms.
Mike had these specifics on the fishing this week:
* Largemouth bass remain fair to good, best early and late, ranging from 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. Buzzbaits, plastic frogs, Bass Assassin Shads, Bill Lewis Lures StutterSteps, SB-57 squarebills, Echo 1.75 Crankbaits and 10-inch Power Worms are working. Over the past couple weeks, largemouths have been randomly feeding in creek channels dumping into Little River. The oxbows, in many locations, continue providing best water clarity. Flats next to deep creeks and secondary points with any fresh grass growth, new lily pad blooms and vegetation will coax an ambush bite on a BLL S-57 or Echo 1.75 square bill after the topwater bite subsides on buzzbaits, near late morning and noon.
A few chunky 2- and 3-pound bass were the most aggressive early into late morning over the past few weeks, and those fish were being spotted randomly near deeper creek channels or ditches through the flats. The best bass activity is shifting to early morning on buzzbaits, BLL 4.0 StutterStep in Ghost Shad, Horny Toads in Junebug or Pumpkinseed, and Spit’n Images in dingy water color. Bass Assassin Shads and soft plastic frogs, finessed through the new vegetation and lily pad blooms, have picked up decent-sized bass in the 2- to 3-pound class.
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 and BLL MR-6 Cranks in Bluegill, Tennessee Shad and Millwood Magic colors.
Wacky-rigged Senkos and floating trick worms are still getting reactions. Watermelon Candy, Junebug/Red, Blackberry, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse colors have been randomly working in the back of McGuire and Horseshoe Lake oxbows. Bass Assassin Shads in Pumpkinseed, Salt and Pepper Silver Phantom and Chico’s Red Ear were being bit last week near cypress trees and fresh vegetation.
Yum Christie Critters in black/blue, Brush Hogs and lizards in black/blue, watermelon candy and cherry seed continue working for shallow bass inside grass and vegetation, near stumps in 1-3 feet of depth.
* The white bass have been roaming points, as well as creek channels dumping into the river, and continue to bite randomly in broken schools. Most of the larger schools of have begun moving back toward the main lake and are scattered in numerous schools along Little River. They were in decent school sizes ranging from 2-3 pounds and 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.
* Crappie improved near Saratoga, Millwood State Park and Beards Bluff last week and are biting best using minnows in 9-10 feet of depth in planted brush piles up to 2.25 pounds.
* 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 Bill Lewis SB-57 square-bill crankbait in bream and Sneaky Shad colors.
* 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 feet of water, with the fish about 6 feet 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 544.78 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.15 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 6-1-2023 John Duncan of YoYo Guide Service at Iron Mountain Marina says, “Hope all are well and safe after this past weekend. Wow, was there traffic!
“On to fishing: Water temperature is running in the high 70s to low 80s, depending on where you are. Water level is around 407 feet and steady.
“The reports that I have gotten from the field are all good. Crappie are in the brush piles 12-14 feet. Good reports north, but little from Brushy. Minnows and slip bobbers are my choice this time of year. You can stand off and throw jigs or tight-line if you prefer. Fish close.
“Bream have been getting after it from Point Cedar to Brushy. Find the beds with side imaging and work on them. Crickets are hard to come by so come prepared. I have been seeing beds from Brushy to Shouse Ford, 4-15 feet deep.
“Even with the surface activity (from boats and anglers), it appears surface action is picking up. Hope we get some calm days. That’s the key. Go early or go late.
“Nothing on catfish except there are a lot of people doing it.
“Be courteous and stay safe. Go get ’em.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.40 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.50 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
NOTICE: AGFC employees and contractors will be conducting herbicide applications to Lake Atkins and to the Cabin Creek arm of Lake Dardanelle June 5-9. Contractors will complete the application of the EPA-approved aquatic herbicides by June 9. The treatment causes no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but water irrigated from the lake can harm gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. By federal law these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to not irrigate for lawns or gardens with water from these lakes until October. Multiple applications per year are necessary for effective control of alligatorweed, and being unable to irrigate during this time is another unfortunate effect of this nonnative invasive aquatic plant species. With controlling it, alligatorweed can infest lakes, restricting access to boathouses, boat ramps and fishign locations, and choke out native vegetation and fish populations. For more information, call the AGFC Fisheries Office in Russellville at 833-356-0879.
(updated 6-1-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-264-0851) said the AGFC was fertilizing the lake again this week. He had no reports from this week. Last week, black bass were being caught on the lower end of the lake. Anglers were using all kinds of spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits and Whopper Plopper. The bass were still bedding up in the cove at that area. Also, folks were catching fish in the bream beds. Bream were spawning. Redworms and nightcrawlers are the best baits.
Crappie were in the brushpiles. Anglers were catching a few, not many, but the catches were around 13- to 14-inches. Crappie minnows were the go-to now.
Some catfish were being caught on cut shad, bass minnows, black salties or goldfish baited to jugs, limb lines and yo-yos.
The lake clarity was clearing from the fertilization of a few weeks ago. Water temperature is 74 degrees and water was at a normal level.
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 6-1-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 56 degrees with slightly stained conditions in the tailrace. Finally the tailrace has stable conditions for the first time this year, enabling the public to fish and boat safely on Lake Catherine. Big numbers of fish have relocated downstream due to the flooding that ruined over three months of the trout season but are currently migrating upstream to feed and establish territory in the nutrient-rich tailrace. Fishing below a hydroelectric dam poses many problems dictated by Mother Nature for boaters and fishermen.
The rainbow trout bite has been slowed by the unfishable conditions, but fish have been caught with quality being the main attraction now instead of numbers. Currently, Entergy has planned running the generators below Carpenter Dam for two hours each day through Friday, June 2. This schedule will allow a few hours each day for anglers to bypass fishing in the heavy flows and effectively target the many fish species that are now present in the tailrace. The following techniques will give anglers a chance at catching numbers of rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, bream 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 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 resemble fleeing crayfish will also catch trout that are 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.
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 nearing an end, but 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. Bream are present in big numbers preparing to spawn and are being caught on nightcrawlers and redworms fished under a bobber or a few feet off the bottom around rock structure.
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 10,868 cfs. Elevation was 337.77 feet msl and the tailwater was at 285.70 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.) The stage was on a nearly 1-foot drop since Wednesday to 5.51 feet as of Thursday afternoon (flood stage is 32 feet).
(updated 5-14-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is reaching up to the 80s. Upriver is clear with the lower end of the river dingy. The bigger mountain creeks are muddy, but the upper ends of the creeks are beginning to clear, With the smaller creeks still clear. Bass fishing has picked up with the spawn winding down. There is still a good jig bite in the grass, especially when the water’s up. Spinnerbaits and frogs are working well around the grass with the shad spawn. Crankbaits are working well around stumps. Worms are working well in the backwater. Creature baits are working well around floating mats.
Crappie fishing is really good as the spawn is winding down. Natural colors such as Monkey Milk and live minnows are working very well. Many crappie actually are being caught on bass lures, such as structure bugs or rage bugs. They’re catching crappie in 6-10 feet of water, with some being caught around floating mats, jetty rocks and brush pads.
Bream are finishing up their spawn. Crickets and worms have been working really well around mudflats and mud points, as well as along the cattail.
White bass have made a move out to the river. They are biting really well when there is current. Small spoons, white crankbaits and white bucktail jigs are working very well.
Catfish are on fire with many being caught on the spawning flats and points. Fresh cut bait shad and skipjack have been working well on the blue cats. Live perch has been working well on the flathead, especially on the jetties and around bluffs. Channel cats are being caught in the creeks and have been good on worms and crickets.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 345.44 feet msl (normal pool: 345.00 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 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.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 576.68 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 6-1-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said crappie fishing is great. They are starting to move toward deeper brush piles because the lake level is dropping slightly and water temperature is going up. “We have caught crappie 8 feet deep to 22 feet deep on brush piles in 16-32 feet of water. So, yes, they are scattered. Start shallower early in the morning and work your way deeper as the sun gets higher. The brush piles are also loaded with bream/sunfish. Friends have informed me they are doing well on the spotted bass early in the morning near points and humps. They are using topwater baits early and suspending soft plastics later. Right now the key, no matter the species you’re after, is to start fishing at first light because the bite is over by late morning.”
(updated 6-1-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still good. Topwater baits are still working in multiple applications; shallow frog fishing or deeper, open water Spook/Boy Howdy fishing. Swim jigs and shaky head worms are producing some quality sacks, too. Walleye are being caught on jigs tipped with nightcrawlers. Try main river/lake channel points for these fish, near brush, in the 18- to 22-foot range.
Stripers are still excellent. These fish are being caught in the central portions of the lake and can be caught on live bait, trolling crankbaits and Alabama rigs. Or, try throwing a topwater C-10 Redfin early and late.
Bream are excellent. Try a cricket or worm near brush in the 8-20 depth range for a quality bite. Crappie are very good and being caught on small jigs or minnows. Try brush and structure 15-20 feet deep. Catfish are still very good on rod and reel with crawlers or stink bait. Jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too.
Water temperature has inched upward to a range of 76-82 degrees. Clarity is clearing. Lake level Thursday was 576.72 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 386.33 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 steady at 22.35 feet (flood stage is 26.00 feet).
(updated 6-1-2023) 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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