Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
July 13, 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: Crew (no last name provided) from Oklahoma had a big day fishing for rainbow trout in the Beaver Tailwater in northwest Arkansas recently.
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: The AGFC reminds landowners adjacent to Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir and Lake Overcup to not irrigate for lawns or gardens with water from these lakes until October. Both lakes were treated in early June with herbicides to control the invasive aquatic vegetation. 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. Without controlling it, alligatorweed can infest lakes, restricting access to boathouses, boat ramps and fishing 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 7-13-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said nothing much has changed on Lake Conway. It’s hot and slow, and now raining this week. Black bass have been the only species that anglers have been consistently catching. Look in shaded areas, in the grass, and under trees. Try creature baits (frogs especially), spinnerbaits and jigs. Also try a walk-the-dog-style bait for a reaction, and try a curly tail worm in 7.5 inches or smaller. Best colors are June Bug Red, black, black/blue or any other muddy water colors.
Bream are the same as they’ve been, biting in maybe 1-2 feet depth. Find some cover, like around lily pads. Use redworms or crickets. Catfish have been caught in good numbers on both trotlines and rod-and-reel. Black goldfish, trotline minnows, nightcrawlers, frozen shad, skipjack, regular shad, chicken livers and shrimp are in demand.
Little Red River
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Greers Ferry Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website or by calling (501) 362-5150). Also check the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecast generation schedule.
(updated 7-13-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said the Southwestern Power Administration has been running a fair amount of water at Greers Ferry Dam with the current ambient temperatures in the 90s; SWPA has been usually starting sometime around 3 p.m. in the afternoon and running until 7 p.m. or later. Always check the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock app before heading out.
With the temperatures in the 90s and somewhat low flows during the heat of the day, try not to overplay the fish and quickly release them back to the river. The fishing has been best early mornings and later in the day in the evening. Try fishing the deep holes around the moss beds and the oxygenated shoals and plunge pools.
“I’ve been running a Nymph rig set between 3 feet to 6 feet deep, depending on the depths of the river, and drift-fishing pink San Juan Worms, Duracell jigs and Pheasant Tails. If the water completely falls out I’ll put a Midge dropper below the Pheasant Tail or the Duracell jig.
“The bite has been good on the entire river. I think the SWPA will continue to run the current generation schedule while we have hot daytime temperatures and power demand is high.”
(updated 7-13-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said the Little Red River is in a summertime water release pattern from the Greers Ferry Dam. Daily afternoon generation provides wade and drift-fishing opportunities on all sections of the river. If you plan to fish the Trout Magnet, consider using pink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse jigheads. For fly-fishing, consider San Juan Worm, Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail and Midge. 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 7-13-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood the water has been fairly low, and the Corps and Southwestern Power Administration have not been running a lot of water except late in the afternoons. Even with low water, trout anglers have been catching fishing in really good numbers on a Trout Magnet and also a 1/16-ounce Rooster Tail and a 1/16-ounce maribou jig in olive color.
Greers Ferry Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Greers Ferry Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-13-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 460.22 feet msl; that’s 2.32 feet below normal pool (462.54 feet msl) for this time of year, and with evaporation and generation will continue to come down. Black bass for the most part are super shallow, suspended or out sitting on structure, so have baits to cover all three different locations and you’ve got it covered – and however you like to target them from 1-60 feet, and sometime a few are coming up on top as well. Crappie are still being hauled in more regularly now with inventions to teach people where fish are located a lot of times in a highland reservoir – use jigs, beetle spins, hair jigs, live bait, etc. in 10-50 feet. Bream catching is at its best now – crickets, crawlers and inline spinners are working super shallow out to 20 feet. Catfish are eating live and cut bait, dog food, soap and prepared baits as well as artificial baits like spoons under shad, from shallow to deep. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating live bait, spoons, inline spinners and hair jigs fished right on structure; some schooling activity is going on. Some walleye are floating around with shad suspended, some are on structure and some roaming – drag a crawler on a jighead, or drop-shot in 20-40 feet for best results. Some crankbaits also are working, as well as spoons.
(updated 7-13-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said fishing has been fairly good on Greers Ferry Lake. Anglers are chasing the schooling fish with a topwater in clear or bone colors, and then also catching fish on a little CC Spoon or a jigging spoon casting at the school fish or jigging it in deep water. That approach will catch white bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass (Kentucky bass) and largemouth bass – “a little bit of everything,” which is what you get here when these species are out chasing bait around.
Later in the day, around midday, anglers are having success bass fishing with a drop-shop, a football jig, a Carolina rig and also a single swimbait targeting structure, chunky rock areas and drop-offs in 20-25 feet of water.
Walleye are being caught trolling crankbaits in 20-25 feet of water and also using a nightcrawler on a drop-shot.
The lake is clear and the water level is a little low now.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 7-13-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says catfish are being caught off the bank at night in good numbers and sizes, including fish close to 11 pounds. People are catching baby bream and using them on the hook, and also garlic with a hot dog is working as well.
Bream are “pretty good” but the size differs depending on where you are fishing. Close to the bait shop, they say, the bream are smaller, but some anglers fishing across the lake from the bait shop appear to be catching some nice-sized bream using crickets.
Anglers are also catching some largemouth bass using spinnerbaits. Meanwhile, crappie are slow and what is being caught is being found in 9-10 feet depth.
Rain this week has muddied the water as of Thursday, but the water level is normal.
(updated 7-13-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) says the water temperature continues to range 85-87 degrees. Largemouth bass remain fair. Reports of the bass being found in a wide range of depths. They are biting best in the early mornings and evenings. They can be found shallow, some starting to hit topwater, as well as biting in 16-20 feet depth. Crankbaits, flukes and wacky rigs are suggested for shallow fishing, while a Texas rig will work in deeper water. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) also are fair. They’re being fond in the 16-20 feet depth, according to reports. Shaky heads and crawdad colors seem to work best on spots. The black bass anglers were back at it Tuesday evening in the weekly tournament out of WestRock, with Randy Sugg and Anthony Farnam hauling in 14.88 pounds on a 5-bass stringer, edging Matt Hedrick and Brandon Crain, who landed a 5.09-pound Big Bass.
White bass haven’t been reported lately. Crappie are fair. They’re hanging in the brush around 18 feet of water as well as at 25 feet. Minnows are working best this week. Bream are good with reports of them still on beds. They are spawning in 3-5 feet and at 15 feet depth. Worms or crickets are the usual go-to. Catfish reports have been good, with the cats hanging around the bream off the bottom.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
For the real-time water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam and Morrilton stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 7-13-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said water is clear and normal pool. Still catching a lot of bass on plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Bream are still doing real well. Catching in 2 feet of water on crickets and worms. Catfish are being caught on liver and minnows. Also, one angler was noodling with big shiners and doing well.
Crappie are hiding.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
For the real-time water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
For the real-time water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam and David D. Terry Lock and Dam, as well as the Little Rock pool stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-13-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) reports that bass fishing has been a little tougher out there in recent days with not any real flow on the water. Early in the morning or late in the evening, though, anglers are throwing a Whopper Plopper with success in bone or black colors, and also a buzzbait in the same colors, as there does appear to be an early morning and late evening bite in these conditions. They are targeting main river grassy areas, wood and the ends of jetties.
During the day, anglers have been catching mostly on a finesse jig in green pumpkin or black/blue colors, and also with a shaky head and a Trick Worm or a straight tail worm on it, again focusing these toward main river grass areas.
Catfish are biting well below the dam on nightcrawlers or stink bait.
(updated 7-13-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River that flows past Cotter in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks, 18 river miles below Bull Shoals Dam – aka Trout Capital USA – is a perfect blend of peace and lots of fishing action. You might have to take you line out of the water to catch a little of that peace, but you can’t ever miss the beauty of our Natural State.
Bull Shoals Lake elevation is 659.38 feet msl, 2 feet below normal power pool, the targeted number set by the Army Corps of Engineers. The water level in the river is quite variable right now with minimum flows (670 cfs) in the morning to mid-afternoon, rising to almost four units (12,000 cfs) in the late afternoon/early evening.
The rainbow catches were lured in mainly with sunrise or orange PowerBait tipped with shrimp (don’t use anything much bigger than a size 8 hook), but our favorite spoons were making a splash, too. The copper/gold quarter-ounce Colorado and the red/gold Thomas Buoyant hooked a fair share of trout. Rooster Tails have been flying off the shelves; just about every color seems to attract more than a few rainbows. Brown and black maribou jigs have been a popular tool, too. You’re right in saying, “It sounds like just about everything is working.” We’ve been catching the tar out of the rainbows.
As expected, the browns are pooled up in the deeper holes and might be a little finicky. But if you can anchor near a deep spot, or repeatedly drift across one with a sculpin, you’ll have success. The mighty Midge has been working for fly anglers all week.
“Come out and test the waters. Hope to see you at the river!”
(updated 7-13-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “On average we are seeing water depths as low as 2.5 feet in the early mornings rising as high as 5-6 feet. This weekend we did see water levels stay between 2.5-3.5 feet all day. The low water Saturday and Sunday raised the water temperature to over 70 degrees and limited where you could take a boat, but the fishing was good and it was easy to see the big trout.
“The hard part was getting the big trout to bite. On Tuesday and Wednesday we saw water levels back to the average. In the mornings, drift-fishing with a silver inline spinner with Uncommon Bait UV glow eggs and shrimp has worked well, as has quarter-ounce spoons. Additionally, deeper diving Shad Rap size 5 lures in Purpledescent or orange Crawdad colors did well. As the water drops in the afternoon, using quarter-ounce Colorado Spoons with nickel/gold or copper/gold or Bouyant rainbow trout- or brown trout-colored spoons work well while fishing the gravel bars.
“The cooler weather has been nice but it hasn’t lasted long. This week the Calico Rock boat ramp received one stocking of 750 rainbow trout.”
(updated 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week, they had four minor rain events (combined for little over a half of an inch in Cotter), hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.2 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool of 661.1 feet msl. This is 35.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.8 feet below power pool and 15.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool and 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had wadable water every day with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot over power pool of 555.85 feet msl and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. We can expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
On the White, the hot spot has been the Narrows. “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 copper John (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).”
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “About 20 years ago, Gary Flippin, the owner/operator of Rim Shoals Resort, told me that he had put a trail along the White River at Rim Shoals, Menoka’s Trail. My brother, Dan, and I walked it and noted trail head No. 3, which led to a rock shelf in the river that was an easy place to cross the river to the island there. We fished there for years until his untimely death eight years ago. In 2020 Trout Unlimited and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission did a major project to improve and substantially increase the length of the trail.
“Soon after it was completed my wife, Lori, and my sister, Ernestine (who was visiting from Memphis), walked the trail to look at how well the project turned out. It was awesome. The Rim Shoals Trail was about a mile long and went far downstream, creating access to some great water that we had not been able to wade to before. I was duly impressed. On the return to the parking lot, we were about halfway back when Ernestine remarked that she could use a place to sit for a while and rest her feet. I thought about that for a while.
“About a year later I talked to her about putting a bench on the trail as a memorial to Dan. We were very close to him and think of him often. He was larger than life. He was the best casting instructor around and a gifted fly-tyer. As a Vietnam Era veteran, he was committed to working with other vets. He dedicated the last years of his life volunteering at the VA hospital in Memphis teaching wounded warriors how to cast a fly rod and tie flies.
“I talked to Gary Flippin and my fishing buddy Danny Sabo (a member of TU’s board of directors) about donating a bench to the trail in Dan’s honor. They were quite receptive and took it to the board of TU, which began planning it. They searched far and wide and found a cast metal bench with a trout motif and an aged bronze finish. It is gorgeous and nearly indestructible. They wanted something that was good looking and would last in the outdoors. Along the way they thought of other people they wanted to honor on the trail and expanded the project to eight benches at last count.
“This past weekend they were able to get Dan’s bench installed. I called Ernestine and she traveled from Memphis to see it. When she got here, the weather was brutally hot, over 100 degrees. We got up early and drove over to the trailhead, arriving about 7:30 a.m. It was 75 degrees. We walked down to Dan’s Bench and took photos and then sat down and looked at the view. I could see the spot where Dan and I fished so many years ago. We stayed there until it began to get warm. It was a special time.
“Now, every time I want to be close to him I can walk the trail and sit on Dan’s bench.”
Bull Shoals Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Bull Shoals Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-13-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level is steady at 659 feet msl. The water temperature is about 85 degrees “and it’s getting hot!” Del says.
“Bass activity seems fair. A thermocline is starting to form down there around 26 feet. Get up early, especially with this heat, and you’ll get a chance at some topwater action. Look for surface activity along shallow areas close to deep water. If you’re around them, they will show themselves. They are schooled up and covering water. A popper or small walk-the-dog like a Lucky Craft Gunfish or Sammy if you can get it in there while they’re up. Shad are spread out everywhere and there’s another big bug hatch.
“Most topwater for me has been closer to the main lake or on the main lake. Look in large creeks early if you’re planning to fish runoff or stained water. If the conditions are right you can catch them on a Plopper on the flats and remaining bushes. Pick up a Jewel Jig in green pumpkin orange, a big red worm or green pumpkin shaky head in any of the laydowns and drop offs, and cover water. Look at temps back there before you start. Be sure to fish the conditions.
“If it’s sunny with clear water, stay out toward the main lake and use natural colors in small profile baits. Look at ledges, keep the boat off the fish. Start early with a topwater and, as it slows, a drop-shot has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm on brush piles, bluffs, standing timber and off ledges for suspenders.
“Bonus walleye are mixed in on the brush piles off points in 25-28 feet.
“It’s summer for sure. You’re gonna have to cat-and-mouse ’em most days. Tater Shad will also work on the deeper suspenders. Also try a big Flutter if the largemouths and Kentucky bass are up high, 0-20 feet, and a small spoon if they are deeper, 20-40 feet. Use a spoon or Jewel Scope Spin on schoolers. Don’t put the topwater away after the morning bite. If they start generating, there will be a flurry.”
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.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Norfork Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-13-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 556.46 feet msl and had risen just a bit in the last 24 hours with no discharge for three days. Both generators are still inoperable. The surface water temperature was 85 degrees and starting back up with the hot weather as of 8 p.m. last evening. The thermocline is at 22 feet and several fish are around that depth, including Kentucky bass and walleye. The water is clear down to 16 feet and then there is a mudline with little visibility down past the thermocline.
The best bites now are for black bass after dark on the first drop-off on steep banks with a black light and salt craw. All of the bass being cleaned are full of crawdads, indicating they are going to the bank some time or another. Stripers are deep and are being caught on spoons in 70-plus feet of water. Bluegill are on brush and under docks and biting crickets. Catfishing is getting better with the smaller moon, and channels are biting prepared bait after dark under docks. Crappie are scattered and spooky, “and if you catch one they are gone. It is a typical summer fishing pattern,” Steve said.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 7-13-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new reports, but Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot over power pool of 555.85 feet msl and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. We can expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
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 Worm and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a poorly. School is out and it can get quite crowded, particularly on weekends. The hot flies have been Sowbugs, various colored San Juan Worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white Mop Flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing well. 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.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Beaver Lake Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-13-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said the Beaver Lake water level has dropped a bit and now is sitting at 1119.23 feet msl, which is around 2 feet below normal. Fishing has definitely set up summer patterns. And what that means to anglers is early and late is the time to fish. Stripers are active early on and that means you need to be out and fishing by sunrise and you have maybe two hours to get on some fish. Same thing for evening bite as the last two hours is when the bite is the best and into the evening to around 10 p.m. or so.
Crappie fishing at this time is trolling cranks or fishing under lights at night. This is a great way to get out from under the heat. Locate some brush or structure in and around bluffs and drop a green light over the side and watch the shad show up and then the game fish. Catfish have been really good on a lot of methods at this time. “We are catching a lot of nice cats on trolled cranks targeting crappie. On that note my cranks of choice are Bandits and Picos. The key on this is not to troll too fast – 2.3 mph or less is the key. Using a trolling motor is ideal if possible.
“Bass are, again, an early and night proposition. Only thing I can say is the lake is getting lower than it has been in a bit, so be careful as there are lots of hazards showing up. Be safe, stay hydrated. Good luck!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 6-29-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said people there are not fishing much in the daytime with the heat full-on. Fishing overall is fair. The lake level is normal and clear with no rainfall of late.
Black bass fishing has happened more at night than anything, they report. These days, soft plastic worms, spinner baits and jigs are the main baits, and they’re fished mostly around brush piles. There is some schooling action of the bass, but it’s hit or miss.
Crappie are scattered now. The fishing for them “is not great, but it’s not terrible.” Again, just fair. Trolling is working some and fishing with minnows around brush and cover.
Not much if anything to report on white bass now. Bream have been good, but they are small – most bream on Beaver tend to be of the small size, being it’s such a big lake, they note. Catfishing is really not bad now, there are just not as many hungry catfish it seems “in these mountain lakes,” they tell us. “The ones that fish for them are pretty after it. They go for flatheads with live bait. We also sell a lot of skipjack for the catfish, all of them. Flatheads are nearly through spawning. There is a full moon next week. July is a good summer month for catfish here.”
So, the total outlook? “Nothing exciting,” they said. “Also the fishing pressure on the lake is light now … The Fourth of July is not a big fishing weekend around here. It’s a firecracker weekend. Boats will be on the water and the campsites will be full, but there will be a lot more playing in the water than fishing it.”
(updated 7-13-2023) 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 water at the dam. Water temperature has been in the high 40s and low 50s. If you want to get in on some white bass action, try fishing between Beaver town 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 6-29-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) did not have any reports from this week, though several anglers were out Thursday morning and still out near midday. The dock will be open for the Fourth of July, by the way.
Before this week, though, they had gotten reports that catfish were good off the rocks and were pretty shallow. Anglers were using nightcrawlers, cut bait (mostly little bream). The grown-up bream are doing really well, and should again this June 30-July 4 period with the full moon, both the bluegill and redear. Redworms are working mostly, as crickets are hard to come by, but they’ll work if you have them.
Black bass were doing well on plastics and some spinnerbaits. Crappie were forcing anglers to have to work for them. Mostly jigs, but some minnows, were used.
(updated 7-13-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says crappie have made a reappearance with anglers, while bream and catfish continue to bite well and black bass are active at the lake during the past week. Sunday’s water temperature was 83.4 degrees and the clarity is the usual murky. The lake level is normal.
Crappie are fair on jigs and worms. The best time to fish for them is the cooler hours around dusk and dawn. Bream are good on worms, crickets and jigs. Catfish are good on worms, blood bait, crankbaits and rattle-style lures. Black bass are fair on a variety of baits: cranks, soft plastic worms, topwater lures, worms and hollow body frogs.
Shelly notes that good days in coming weeks based on “moon times” should be around July 29-Aug. 4. Best days in August according to “moon times” will be Aug. 13-19. She reminds anglers visiting Lake Charles to pick up some worms at the Visitor Center for the active bream and catfish.
(updated 7-13-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, said Lake Poinsett has the bream still biting. The bigger bream seem to be off rocky shores in about 12-15 feet of water biting on worms or crickets. Catfish are deeper right now and more active in the evenings on chicken liver and other good-smelling baits. Bass and crappie are still catch-and-release but the crappie have been biting on minnows and worms. Bass are biting on white jigs around structures and frogs off the water primrose.
(updated 6-29-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 350 cfs and water clarity is clear. Very little rain over the last month has the river getting low. The low clear conditions have made for smart trout. On the hot, sunny days indicator/hopper dropper rigs work great just off the bottom. Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, sizes 12-16, Pat’s rubber legs and, of course, an egg pattern for the top fly with plenty of weight. On the rare cloudy day, Woollies are great. Browns and rainbows are hitting hard. Lot tougher to hook up with a brown but they are there.
The smallies are hitting hard on big heavy Woollies, fished slow and deep. The big rocks in the river are the structure. Just remember, be careful and safely catch and release. It takes a long time for a smallmouth to grow big.
It is the heat of summer and Saturdays have the traditional canoe hatch. Not a great time to fish. Through the week and on Sundays is the perfect time to fish the cold waters of the Spring River in the summer months. Cold year-round, no need for waders with this heat, at 58 degrees the Spring is perfect for wet wading. Be safe, the river bottom can be very slick. A wading staff can be a life saver.
(updated 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is here. Fish early or late to avoid the boats. 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.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time gauge level and flow from the White River stages at Batesville, Newport and Augusta and all other sites within the White River basin in Arkansas, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
For the real-time water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam and Maynard Lock and Dam, as well as the Pine Bluff pool stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 7-13-2023) Stephanie Clingenpeel, seasonal park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, said that Henry, a young angler, and his father were out fishing over the last few days on Cane Creek Lake and throughout their visit they caught around 10 small largemouth bass and numerous bream of all sizes around the boat dock and in the shallow water. Most notably, the pair caught several largemouth bass and channel catfish out in the deeper part of the lake. They had most success fishing on a trotline using small redear sunfish for bait. Spotted gar were seen in the area as well. The ambient temperature has been an average of 83 degrees and partly cloudy with a slight breeze through Monday.
On Sunday, Tyler and some friends, a group of young anglers, reported spending the weekend fishing off the Cane Creek boat dock. They caught numerous largemouth bass fry, redear sunfish and bream. They had the most success in the areas that were shallow and covered mostly by lily pads. The temperature on average was 83 degrees, partly cloudy, with a slight breeze.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Millwood Lake Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-13-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake is about a foot above normal pool, on a slow rise, and clarity continues improving in most locations. Up Little River from White Cliffs to Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing remains more heavily stained. Tailwater elevation is near 236 feet msl and rising with gate discharge at the dam near 9,800 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level on the guide service’s website linked above, Corps of Engineers website linked just below the Millwood Lake listing, 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 with discharge rates and fluctuations in conditions in Little River, and anytime high gate discharge conditions exist. Lake elevation and discharge at the dam can change dramatically in mere hours with thunderstorms and freshwater influx. We expect this week to see a rise of lake pool elevation and gate discharge increase at the dam due to intense thunderstorms all over southwest Arkansas and southeast Oklahoma this week.
Surface temps are stable this week, ranging 86-89 degrees at Wilton and Little River, depending on location and time of day. Clarity along Little River is stained but improving in many locations, worse further up Little River with river clarity ranging 10-15 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of oxbows will vary widely from heavy stain to good clarity, visibility 15-30 inches up to 3 feet in a few locations away from river flow, depending on location.
Note that fresh minnows are in stock at the Millwood State Park Marina, which is open daily 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
Mike provided these specifics on Millwood Lake fishing from this week:
* Largemouth bass are good early from daybreak until up around 10 a.m. along the river from the mouth of Snake Creek dump, all the way upriver to Hurricane Creek dump, best early and late on plastic frogs, Bass Assassin Shads and Brush Hogs, or Bang 3.5-inch Skunk Apes in the pads along grass lines ranging 2-4 pounds. Activity slows in midday heat. “We connected with some largemouths and Kentucky bass and white bass on Cordell Jigging Spoons all in various groups following shad schools along the river. Best action along Little River is near washouts, from 6-15 feet of depth off the bank near vegetation mats, and along primary and secondary points and creek dumps into the river. Also, back in the oxbows in 3-8 feet of water on flats near cypress trees, until the sun gets above the trees. Once the sun reaches overhead, they pull out off the flats into 9-10 feet deep creek channels where grass and reeds and fresh lily pad shoots are emerging.”
Best color of Shad Assassins with current water clarity is Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, Chico’s Red Ear and Pumpkinseed. Best colors of Brush Hogs are Watermelon Candy, June Bug Red, and Skunk Apes in black/blue tail, Hematoma Shad or Blank Check.
Buzzbaits, Heddon Dying Flutters, Cordell Crazy Shads, plastic frogs, Bass Assassin Shads, Bill Lewis Lures StutterSteps and Ken Pops are all working randomly at daylight at various locations. Once the sun gets above the trees, many of the better quality fish are pulling out to the creek’s deeper sections. After about 9-10 a.m., bass will randomly respond to a Bill Lewis SB-57 Square Bill, Echo 1.75 Crankbait and 10-inch Power Worms or Brush Hog. 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 an ambush bite on a BLL SB-57 or Echo 1.75 after the topwater bite subsides on buzzbaits near late morning and noon.
Senkos, Yum Dingers and trick worms like the Barlow’s Salty Rat Tails and finesse worms are still getting reactions wacky-rigged. South African Special, Blackberry, Watermelon Seed or June Bug Red colors have been randomly working all along Little River and in the back of McGuire and Horseshoe Lake oxbows.
* Several very large schools of white bass were spotted schooling and surface-breaking in Little River between Jack’s Isle and the mouth of Snake Creek along the edges near grass mats on threadfin shad. These whites were hitting jigging spoons when we saw them surface schooling last week. Several different schools of whites were feeding along Little River breaking on shad at the surface and down to 8-12 feet of depth near the burnt tree at Pugh Slough, while we were vertical jigging chrome Cordell or Kastmaster Spoons, and ranged from 2-3 pounds each.
* Crappie continue biting very well near Bee Lake and the State Park this week and are biting best using minnows one day and jigs the next in 12-16 feet of depth in planted brush piles, with catches up to 2.25 pounds.
* No report on bream.
* Hi Fin blue catfish and channel cats continue feeding well the past few weeks on yo-yos, limb lines and trotlines with a few folks we saw along Little River. Punch Bait, chicken hearts/gizzards and catalpa worms working. Several folks were snagging below the dam with the increased discharge this week, also.
(updated 7-13-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) has had no reports to provide, but the store on Lake Erling is open daily, 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 p.m. on weekends. We hear that good numbers and sizes of fish are being caught there this week, though, based on anglers posting on their Facebook pages. Also check out Friends of Lake Erling on Facebook for more information and photos, too.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
For the most updated Narrows Dam generation schedule from SWEPCO, click here.
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
For the most updated lake level at Lake Greeson, click here.
For the most updated lake level at DeGray Lake, click here.
(updated 7-13-2023) John Duncan of YoYo Guide Service at Iron Mountain Marina says, “Summer is upon us. Hot days and thunderstorms.
“Water surface temperature has dropped some. It’s in the mid-80s now instead of the high 80s. Water is clear up to about Lenox Marcus, where you pick up a little stain. The fish are making their move to the summer/fall patterns.
“The full moon is past for this month, but I still see many bream beds that show activity. Use your side or perspective view to locate the beds. Slip bobber or drop-shot work well. Crickets or worms nail ’em.”
“Surface activity of whites, Kentucky bass, hybrids and black bass all working the schools of shad. Same old story: shad-colored topwaters for surface activity, shad-colored crankbaits for below surface or trolling, and the old dependable spoon.
“Crappie are still being caught by throwing jigs over cover. They are also in the timber staging. Sniping or jig casting is the most producing technique. You may have to use a supper small one with a weight above it, 1/32- or 1/16-counce.
“Nothing to report on catfish.
“It’s hot, go early and hydrate.”
De Queen Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from De Queen Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Dierks Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
White Oak Lake Area
NOTICE: The AGFC reminders landowners adjacent to Lake Atkins and to the Cabin Creek arm of Lake Dardanelle that EPA-approved aquatic herbicides were applied to those bodies of water earlier this month, and while he treatment causes no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, 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. Please 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. Without controlling it, alligatorweed can infest lakes, restricting access to boathouses, boat ramps and fishing locations, and choke out native vegetation and fish populations. For more information, call the AGFC Fisheries Office in Russellville at 833-356-0879.
(updated 7-6-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-264-0851) said he had been out catching a bunch of small bream (5-6 inches) and tossing them back Thursday, and no one was trying to fish at midday. Fishing is slow and the water is hot. Anglers are trying, starting early (around 6-7 a.m.) and are out by 10-11 a.m. having caught one or two bass probably. Crappie are deep and hiding from the heat.
Clarity is a little murky.
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 7-13-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 64 degrees with slightly stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy is generating 6,900 cfs for seven hours each day this week through Friday, July 14. The rainbow trout season is over. While a few fish have been caught in the last month, flooding and extremely high flows from the dam forced thousands of trout downstream early in the year that never made their way back to the tailrace, creating one of the least productive fishing seasons in recent memory. Professional trout guides reported the fewest numbers of catches this year because of high water. The rainbow trout stocking schedule will resume in mid-November, when water temperature cools again, to start the fall and winter season.
Fair numbers of white bass have migrated into the tailrace chasing shad. July is a good month for white bass fishing, although most of the fish present are on the smaller size. Topwater activity is key in locating feeding bass. The main channels hold the majority of shad, and anglers casting one-eighth-ounce jigs in gray or white will catch bass keying in on these baitfish. Small topwater plugs such as Zara Puppies and Heddon Tiny Torpedos closely match the profile of area shad.
Because of the variety of forage, walleye, catfish and bass will move in and out of the tailrace in the hot summer months and can be caught in numbers by anglers that closely observe conditions on Lake Catherine. Carpenter Dam is a difficult area to fish with a constant barrage of changing conditions brought on by storms and dangerous heat. Live bait is a must when anglers are serious about catching numbers of fish in the area. While artificial lures work when feeding fish are showing themselves, anglers must be patient and use live presentations when no topwater activity is present.
Always wear a lifejacket when on Lake Catherine and be aware of the generation schedules before planning a day on the water.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ outflow and gauge level reports from Dardanelle, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-6-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) said water temperature is getting in the upper 80s and lower 90s. Water clarity is good in the river, stained in some creeks. Black bass have been hit-and-miss. When there is current, there is a good topwater bite. When there is no current, it is extremely tough – unless you get lucky and come across some schooling bass. Large worms and deep-diving crankbaits will catch you some fish off of points and drops. Crappie are on brush piles and deep trees. Monkey Milk color has still been working well; 6-10 feet is the best bite. But it is still going to take all day to get your limit.
White bass and stripers are starting to school out in the river around the flats. Crankbaits and spoons have been working the best. Flathead catfish have been good with live perch on the steep rocky banks, rock dikes and around bluff walls. Blue cats are in the deep hold around the channel swings. Channel cats are best found in the creeks. Cut bait, shad and skipjack have been working well on the blue cat. Worms and minnows have been working well on the channel cat. Bream have been good around the Mayfly hatch. Worms, crickets and flies have been working well.
(updated 6-29-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said the crappie have moved deep, scattered and are tough to catch. However, at first light until about 9 a.m., white bass, spotted bass and walleye are suspended 10-12 feet deep on points and humps. Casting and vertical-jigging spoons have produced. Then, trolling crankbaits later in the morning is equally productive.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow reports from Nimrod Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 7-6-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, the new owner of Carter Cove Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025), formerly Andrews, says fishing is going good but it’s hot. They are selling a lot of minnows and definitely running through crickets for the bream. The store sold out of crickets earlier this week “so that tells you something about the bream,” but more crickets were on the way to the store Thursday.
Black bass are pretty good in the evening, but it’s not great when it’s super-hot. Buzzbaits and other topwater lures are good in the early morning or late in the evening.
People are catching a lot of catfish below the dam, using black salties and goldfish. Several flatheads and blues and some channel cats were caught this week.
Crappie are still being caught on minnows but “you gotta brave the heat to catch them. Most ‘LivesScopers’ are coming through rather than spider-riggers lately,” they report.
Sheila, who moved from California to take over the business, says Carter Cove offers breakfast and lunch. They have a Facebook page and the email address is email@example.com.
For the current lake level at Blakely Dam, click here.
(updated 7-13-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are fair. Drop-shot for some spotted bass action near brush in the 18- to 22-feet range.
Silver spoons are still working walleye. Try main river/lake channel points for these fish, near brush, in the 18- to 22-feet range. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught in the central and eastern portions of the lake and can be caught on live bait, trolling crankbaits and Alabama rigs. Bream are good. Try a cricket or worm near brush in the 15-25 depth range for a quality bite. Crappie are fair and being caught on small jigs or minnows. Try brush and structure 20-25 feet depth. Catfish are fair on rod and reel with crawlers or stink bait. Jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too.
Water temperature is ranging 84-88 degrees. Water clarity is clear. Lake level is 575.40 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 7-6-2023) 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 Lake Ouachita is at full pool. The cooler temps and two inches of rain falling on Hot Springs earlier this week has helped. The rainfall sent some runoff into the creek arms, and you should head there for some reactions.
Blue Mountain Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow reports from Blue Mountain Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
White River/Clarendon Area
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time gauge level and flow from Clarendon, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website
(updated 7-13-2023) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321) says that the lake is low and muddy. The water conditions and the recent heat has really slowed the bite down for anglers. Bass anglers are having some luck with white spinnerbaits and buzzbaits as well as flipping a Texas rig black and red flake soft plastic to the hollow cypress trees. For bream, crickets have been working the best around laydowns, about 18 inches under a cork. Crappie anglers have pulled out a few on black and chartreuse jigs in the hollow trees.
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 guests (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.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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