Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Aug. 24, 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: Rich Arnold from Ida, Louisiana, was drift-fishing a Pheasant Tail soft hackle alongside the moss beds in the deep water of the Little Red River when this nice brown trout decided to take his fly while he was fishing with guide Mike Winkler.
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 8-24-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the catfish bite is still excellent. “They’re tearing the catfish up, daytime and nighttime both. The odd thing is, they’re catching in the middle of the day, too,” they tell us. Channel catfish are making up most of the catches but anglers are pulling in some good flatheads, too. Flatheads are favoring the goldfish or bream, while channels have been enjoying shrimp, cut bait, nightcrawlers and the usual catfish bait for Lake Conway.
They also report that the second $500 tagged catfish by AGFC was brought in Thursday; it was caught on a nightcrawler.
Anglers are catching lots of bream but most of them are small. Redworms and crickets will work. Black bass have been “kinda slow. They are catching them on tournament days, but other than that, no one has caught much of anything as far as bass,” they report. Crappie has been slow, too. “You would have thought it would have picked up with these three days of nicer weather, but not really.”
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 8-24-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said they are seeing typical summertime water release pattern of daily afternoon and evening generation for the Little Red River from the Greers Ferry Dam. This pattern provides wade and drift-fishing opportunities on all sections of the river. If you plan to fish the Trout Magnet, consider using cotton candy 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 8-24-2023) 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 consistent generation schedule this week. They have been running two units of water starting at 1 p.m. and running until 8 pm.
With the hot weather we are trying not to overplay the fish. Land them quickly and get them back in the water as soon as possible.
Try fishing the oxygenated shoals and the plunge pools right below them or work the deep water around the moss beds. As the water falls out, hit anywhere there’s moving water or start fishing the deep holes.
The best bite has been early mornings while fishing the falling water. “I’ve been drift fishing out of the boat running Pheasant Tail soft hackles and Guide Choice Hare’s Ears. As the water falls out and the bite starts to get tough with temperature reaching 100 degrees, I’ve been putting on a Midge Dropper. Another fly that has been good is a pink San Juan Worm. Or an egg.
“The streamer bite has been good lately with the current generation schedule. I’ve been fishing the dam in the evenings after the fish get acclimated to the two-unit water coming out of the dam. I’ve been using an 8-weight rod with 330 sink lines to get down. Brown & Yellow Double Deceivers or white and chartreuse have been my best color choices.
(updated 8-24-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout anglers are mostly catching fish on a small Rooster Tail or maribou jig and Trout Magnet above and below the shoals. Early morning has been better fishing when the water is falling out. Generation has come in the afternoon and into the evening.
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 8-24-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 456.17 feet msl, or 6.37 feet below normal August pool of 462.54 feet msl, 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 — baits to cover all three locations will have you covered and however you like to target them, from 1-60 feet, and sometime a few are coming up to the top. Crappie are still being hauled it more regularly now with anglers using that invention to show people where fish are located a lot of times in a highland reservoir. Use jigs, beetle spins, hair jigs, live bait, etc. 10-50 feet. Bream catching is at its best now; crickets, crawlers and inline spinners 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, 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 jighead or drop-shot for best results in 20-40 feet depth. Some crankbaits are working as well as spoons.
(updated 8-24-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said that because it’s been so hot, anglers have been finding better success and much less heat night fishing Greers Ferry Lake. They’re catching bass with a spinnerbait with a gold or black blade on it and adding a big profile trailer in a blue or black. They’ve also been throwing a Texas-rigged big worm in a red or purple color. Also, they’ve been fishing a smaller worm on a three-eight-ounce shaky head. They’re catching bass in 15-25 feet of water, targeting brush piles.
In the early morning the topwater bite around the main river banks and the bluff walls remains but has been more hit or miss; it’s best just before or right after sunrise. Anglers are especially throwing a Zara Spoon around the bluff walls and catching fish out of the deeper water.
During the day, for bass, the anglers who are willing to deal with the heat have been successfully drop-shotting a 4.5-inch finesse worm in 20-25 feet around brush piles or drop-offs. They are also getting good responses from a Carolina rig.
Also, for a multispecies bite around the lake, anglers and throwing crankbaits in 20-25 feet of water all around and catching white bass, black bass, walleye – a little bit of everything, they report.
Walleye are also taking to the nightcrawler on a drop-shot in 30-40 feet of water. Early morning is probably best for that pattern.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 8-24-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says it’s apparently been too hot to get many anglers out on the lake lately. A couple of kids were out this week catching some bream off the bank with worms, but that is all they had to report.
The water looks good, though, and is clear.
(updated 8-17-2023) Lacey Williams at Lakeview Landing on Arkansas Highway 95 (501-252-1437) said the catfish “are biting real good! They’re better caught with yo-yos or trotlines, but you can still reel them in with a pole. They were night fishing. Use bass minnows or trotline minnows. We had a father-son duo go home with 14 keepers the other day.”
Bream are biting but mostly on the small side. No report for crappie or bass.
(updated 8-17-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) says water temperature is ranging 85-87 degrees. The largemouth bass bite is good. Reports of the bass being found in a wide range of depths. The bass are biting best in the mornings and evenings. They can be found shallow, some starting to hit topwater as well as 16-20 feet. Try using crankbaits, flukes and wacky rig shallow, and Texas rig deep. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are fair, with reports of them being found deep in 16-20 feet depth. Use shaky heads and crawdad colors.
In the last Tuesday night black bass tournament until WestRock’s September fish-off, Cameron Nesterenko and Andrew Wooley, who were the Anglers of the Year with 214.63 pounds total caught over 19 tournaments this summer, won with a 5-bass stringer Tuesday totaling 15.33 pounds. They shared Big Bass (4.12 pounds) with Mark Brown and Jack Whitbeck.
White bass are slow and scattered, with anglers catching a few here and there. Crappie are fair, with fish reported hanging around the brush at around 18-22 feet of water on top of brush. Use minnows. Bream are great. Reports have them still on beds and biting. Catches are coming anywhere from 8-15 feet deep as well as in shallow water (3-5 feet). Crickets and redworms are best to use. No reports on catfish.
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 8-17-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said water is normal and pretty. Not a whole lot of people have been out fishing. One anglers has been catching a lot of bream this week.
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 8-24-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) reports early and late, the topwater bite has been getting a little better, and it’s picked up because of the slightly cooler mornings (though that seemed to shorten in duration this week). Use a Zara Spook or Whopper Plopper in white or bone color, and fish the main river banks around grass, wood or sand.
During the day, some anglers have found a good bite using something mimicking a baitfish, like a small spinnerbait, flukes or quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap. Concentrate around the sandbars, and jetty tips.
(updated 8-24-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We’re finally getting those Arkansas summertime temps we’ve avoided so far — from blissful to blazing hot. But our early morning hours on the river are still blessed with a little bit of chill that counteracts the afternoon heat. Water releases from the Bull Shoals Dam, the famous tailwater of the White River, have been steady throughout each day for the last week: minimum flow during the morning followed by higher generation (up to four units or 12,000 cfs) in the afternoon.”
Bull Shoals Lake is below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl elevation, currently sitting at 659.70 feet msl as of midweek. The rainbow catch has been phenomenal. Bring in some healthy, brightly colored trout using spinners with gold blades and olive/brown skirts, or try your favorite Rooster Tail with a rainbow body and a bright pink tail. An eighth-ounce jig with white, white-gray or orange-black skirts bobbed in the center channel will attract a few, or rig a line with some garlic-flavored yellow or pink PowerBait and shrimp to keep you busy reeling. Float your bait just above the bottom — in the clear water of the White you can easily see the river bed. It’s best to keep it in or near the river channel during low-water generation.
The browns are continuing to respond best to sculpins for now, but the best bet is to keep your options open and carry an array of baits, from shad to lures, to pique their curiosity. If you’re casting flies, the ruby Midge, as well as red/silver or black/silver, were a constant success; Copper Johns made a splash last week, too.
“Visit Cotter and find out why we’re called Trout Capital USA. Hope to see you at the river!”
(updated 8-24-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said river conditions continue to be mixed this week with Bull Shoals running six generators in the afternoon and Norfork Dam releasing water through three to four floodgates at the top of the dam and sluice gates from the bottom of the dam. “We are seeing dingy water in the mornings rising to 8 feet and clearing up in the afternoons dropping to 5 feet overnight. Using Uncommon Baits UV glow eggs (orange or green firefly) and shrimp with or without an inline spinner worked best. With the higher and dirty water, artificial lures have not been very effective. With the dingier water, what has worked best has been the Rapala Countdown CD7 in silver or brown trout colors. The heat is projected to continue to be oppressive into the weekend but cooling early next week. With this heat drink plenty of water and make sure to use some sort of sunscreen.”
(updated 8-24-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had no rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include excessive heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 35.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 2.8 feet below power pool and 16.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.5 feet to rest at 5.4 feet below power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had wadable water every day with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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.
John said, “On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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 Pheasant Tail (size 14) with a ruby Midge Dropper (size 18).
John also said, “My last two days of guiding before I retired were a week ago with George, an old friend and regular customer. We were both raised in Memphis and have fished together for years. He brought his friend Randy to fish with me.
“We began the trip as all guide trips should be — breakfast at the Sands. We had cooler weather than we had in a while. The water was incredibly low and gin clear. I rigged up two fly rods with a Pheasant Tail nymph with a ruby Midge Dropper.
“I launched the boat and motored upstream to a good spot. We began fishing and George had the hot hand. Randy was feeling under the weather due to a visit to one of our many Mexican restaurants the night before. I had stopped by my house on the way to the access to get some over-the-counter medications that my wife, Lori, keeps on hand.
“Initially the fishing was hot. But as the day progressed the water dropped lower and lower. This made drifting more difficult and I banged several rocks in the process. I wasn’t able to make my desired drift and the catch slowed down. The wind picked up and did not help. The Corps of Engineers had run little water the day before and I had not seen the White so low in years.
“We broke for lunch and discussed our options. Randy was ready to return to his motel room and rest. George wanted to try some wade-fishing. I took Randy back to Cotter and came back to wade with George. We waded across to the island at Rim Shoals but did poorly. We ended the day with about 25 trout.
“The next day we returned to the Sands for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. for an early start and then drove to Rim Shoals. The Corps had run more water the day before and the water level was still low but was much better for my drifting. It was a gorgeous day with no wind. We were rigged the same as the day before.
“The bite was on. We were catching two or three trout on each drift. The guys were stoked. About that time, Randy hit a good one. I looked down and saw a big brown fish. I was pumped. The idea of landing a trophy brown on my last day of guiding really appealed to me. It was not to be.
“The fight was awe-inspiring. The fish took run after run. We were using the same rods that I use on Dry Run Creek so I knew that they were up to the challenge. I finally got a good look at it. The mouth was in the wrong place. It was a huge sucker, not a brown trout. We finished the day at 11:30 a.m. and the bite never slowed. We had landed over 50 trout. They had twice the catch in half the time as the day before.
“What a difference a day makes.”
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 8-17-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Tuesday that the lake level is steady at 660 feet msl. “We needed that rain,” he said. “Water temp cooled to 83 degrees, give or take. Get up early, especially when it’s hot, and hopefully you’ll get a chance at a little topwater action. Topwater has slowed this week, but don’t rule it out. Look for surface activity along shallow areas close to deep water. The shad are starting the transition. Graph time pays off. The bass are schooled up still. If you’re around them they will show themselves. Spots are deeper. I’m still hanging in that 20-30 feet range and up and covering water.
“If they are busting, try a small walk-the-dog like a Lucky Craft Gunfish or Sammy if you can get it in there while they’re up. The main lake and mouths of large creeks are holding fish. Also halfway back into the creeks early if you’re planning to fish runoff or stained water in the back, make sure the conditions are right after a rain cloud, etc. You can catch them on a shad square bill, buzzbait or Plopper on the flats and remaining bushes. Pick up a Jewel Jig Bass Whacker in green pumpkin orange or a big red worm or green pumpkin shaky head in any of the laydowns, brush piles and drop-offs, and cover water. Look at temps back there before you start. Be sure to fish the conditions. Sunny and clear, stay out and use finesse in natural colors and small profile baits. Look at ledges, keep your boat off the fish. These fish have been pressured. A drop-shot has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm on brush piles, bluffs, standing timber, off ledges and points, especially if they are generating. Fish in 35-40 feet. You’re gonna have to cat-and-mouse ’em most days. Tater Shad or Scuba Spoon in shad colors will also work on the deeper suspenders. Most action will happen if you are around the shad.
“Them danged walleyes are eating the drop-shot again in the deeper piles, around 32-40 feet. It’s always a pleasant surprise bass fishing. Crappie guys are saying it’s pretty random. Lots of running and gunning piles. Here today, gone tomorrow.”
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 8-24-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 554.88 feet msl and had dropped 3¼ inches in the last 24 hours with sluice gates open to an equivalent of over one generator for six straight days. Both generators are still inoperable. We are now below the top of the power pool of 555.75 feet msl for the first time in months. We are down from a high of 557.27 a little over a week ago. The surface water temperature is rising with the hot ambient temperatures and is now at 90 degrees and the thermocline has pushed down to 30 feet. The water clarity has also diminished and there is a start of an algae bloom. Scuba conditions are not the best right now, and fishing has deteriorated in the last week. Some are catching fish but are working hard to get them. Kentucky bass and bluegill are the best bite now in brush piles at 27-32 feet deep on the small jigging spoon. Trollers are catching a few but are dragging stuff for several miles to catch them. The lake overall is at an excellent level for boating, but fishing and scuba diving is fair at the best. We were heading in the right direction for fishing but the hot weather has changed things a bit. A few bass are coming up on shad early and just a few feet deep and doing the same thing in the evening. Overall fishing is fair at best. Things will get better as the weather cools.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 8-24-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “A couple of our guests had a great day, or should I say night, and early morning fishing on Norfork Lake this week. Jimmy and Wayne are night owls and had the first fish boated by 3:30 a.m. They were trolling deep-diving 5-inch crankbaits in dark colors. They got their baits down to 30 feet and were trolling in 30-45 feet of water. Quite a few big white bass and 15- to 16-inch spotted bass are being caught by vertical jigging a three-quarter-ounce spoon. The whites and spots are being found on main lake rounded points feeding on the bottom.”
Walleye are still being caught in 32-35 feet of water, either by vertical jigging a spoon or Tater Shad, or by trolling Flicker Minnows. Get your baits down on the bottom for the walleye, whites and spotted bass. The striped bass are suspended from about 30 feet down to the bottom.
“I got my mount back from Summer’s Taxidermy and Wildlife Studio (Tuesday). They did a fantastic job on this fish. I caught this 30-pound, 41.5-inch striped bass on March 22 by jigging a white Tater Shad.”
The lake temp is on the rise and was about 88 degrees. The lake level is falling about 3 inches per day and currently sits at 554.9 feet msl.
Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 8-24-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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.
He says, “There has been wadable water, on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like Zebra Midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-head nymph (Zebra Midge, Copper John or Pheasant Tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan Worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). 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. School is back in session and weekdays are not as 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 8-24-2023) 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 8-24-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake continues to drop slowly. Water level is in the 1,116.50 feet msl range, which is approaching 5 feet below normal. Fishing is stuck in the dog days with some oppressive heat this week. Early and late is your best for all species and for your well-being. Stripers are good, but again your need to be fishing by sun-up. Bite lasts an hour or two. Bass are schooling in the two main river arms and these are small schoolie fish but will hit topwater and is pretty fun. Walleye are still on main and secondary points that have quick access to deeper water. Crawler harnesses will work. Look from islands at Prairie Creek down to the dam. Crappie are still biting on trolled cranks. Catfish are also smacking trolled cranks to add some fun into the mix.
“It’s hot so stay hydrated, fish early and late. This pattern will soon be a distant memory.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 8-17-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the lake is nice and pretty and the water level is good, clear and normal. But the fishing is pretty slow and results are fair. “They’re not doing much. Some are trolling for crappie. Pressure on the fish is very light right now. The activity we’re getting is scattered. We’re selling some crappie bait. These days, they’ll just get out and throw something and you never know what you’ll get: crappie, bass.”
Bass fishing has been mainly at night because of the heat and an early morning bite with topwater lures. At night, they’re using jigs, spinnerbaits and worms but it’s still only fair results. Catfishing is fair. Bream are fair.
The exception would be walleye, at least for “the ones who know how to do it. They’re doing great.” These successful walleye anglers are looking at 20-25 feet, getting something down to the thermocline, and dragging worms and spoons, using bottom bouncers. “That’s (walleye fishing) one of the brighter spots, there are just not a lot of people around here who do it. The ones that do have done well all summer.”
(updated 8-17-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) reported that this week has been good on the tailwater and nothing drastically has changed since his last report. The Army Corps of Engineers still has been generating pretty much starting at 1 p.m., but that has not stopped the bite. In fact, it increases the bite in most cases. Most of our fish were caught using light terminal tackle and Pautzke Fire Bait. When the sun moved higher in the sky, we would switch it over to quarter-ounce spoons and coat the spoons using Pautzke Fire Gel. Try letting the spoon sink a bit before retrieving, due to the water still being a little deep. The water levels are still low and continue to fall, seems like each day. If we can get some overcast or rainy days, the bite should pick up a lot!
This week’s hot spot for trout has been above Spider Creek. Try hitting the deeper holes and looking for slackwater during generation. The walleye are still up toward Holiday Island, but you need to look for them. Jigging live minnows off of points and humps have done the trick. There are still quite a few males in the river, so get after them. “Remember, for additional tips, visit my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service). Hope you all are able to get out and catch some fish.”
(updated 8-17-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said there is not much to report; there may have been a few bites here and there, but no one is having much luck. Catfish and bass are getting anglers out, but they don’t seem to be bringing in any catches this week. Cool mornings did not translate into more catches later this week.
The water is looking good, they report. It rose quite a bit due to rains late last week but is back down to normal level. Visibility is always murky.
(updated 8-24-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says state park guests were catching some bream/sunfish from the shore this past week, with a few reports coming in on catfish. Outside of that, the fish bite fell off some — no reports were heard for crappie or black bass. Worms were working for both the bream and catfish.
Shelly says that good “moon times” for fishing are coming up Aug. 27-Sept. 1. Best days in September are forecast for Sept. 11-17.
Surface water temperature Sunday was 78.6 degrees, steady from the previous week. Water clarity is the usual murky and the level is high.
(updated 8-17-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, said Lake Poinsett has fish hopping in the cooler times of the day. Bream are biting on crickets and worms, though the bigger bream are in deeper waters, it seems. Minnows and shad seem to be schooling in early morning, noon, and early evening, which causes great opportunities for anglers to catch bass on topwater or spoons. Just remember, bass and crappie are catch-and-release only under current Lake Poinsett guidelines following its major renovation!
Crappie are biting on minnows and light-colored jigs intermittently. The catfish are biting in the evening on chicken livers and live bait across the old creek beds.
(updated 8-24-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels at the spring have been running at 280 cfs, very low, and water clarity has been clear. With low, clear conditions a person might get more dry fly action on the cooler days. There has not been many of those. With the hot weather it is key to get out early to fish and quit when it gets too hot! This is one time of the year it doesn’t hurt to fall into the river that is 58 degrees year-round.
The trout are biting great in the deeper pools trying to escape the heat. Don’t be afraid to use split shot to make sure to get to the bottom. It’s a great time for Hopper droppers, with eggs, and nymphs as droppers. A Hopper hit is priceless! Lots of baitfish action with the lower water levels; if you see a minnow running that’s your first sign to pull out a Guppie pattern. Loads of fun when the trout are chasing them.
“Be safe, hydrate and be safe out there. Saturdays have been busy on the river, but the rest of the week is very quiet. Canoe season ends Oct. 1 until April 1 of the next year.”
Mark has a blog on his website linked above with the most recent conditions and updates from the Spring.
(updated 8-24-2023) 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.
(updated 8-17-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reported that water temperature is around 90 degrees, and there is little to no flow on the main channel. Black bass are biting best in the morning and late evening on shad-colored bladed jigs, spinnerbaits and shallow crankbaits around rock points, brush piles near drop-offs and submerged woody cover. Dark-colored jigs, creatures and finesse worms around the same cover worked more slowly during midday can get an occasional bite. Focus on wind-blown banks/cover when available, and target shaded areas after the sun is up.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 8-24-2023) Stephanie Clingenpeel, seasonal park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, said Monday that overall the weather has been pretty hot with the exception of one day where the high only reached about 85 degrees. Otherwise, the temperature has been at a steady 95-100 degrees with clear skies. On Saturday, she spoke with a group of anglers who said they were able to catch a few nice-sized crappie off the campsite fishing pier, using live bait. On Sunday, an angler coming in to buy minnows told her he’d been having a good amount of luck using minnows to catch black bass toward the south part of the lake. On Monday, a group of anglers reported they were catching gar off the exterior pier using minnows as bait.
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 8-17-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Wednesday that other projects have kept him off the lake this week. He is told by his guides and other anglers that nothing else much changed. Surface temperature on Millwood is ranging a hot 86-92 degrees. The lake is still in its Army Corps of Engineers-ordered 2-feet drawdown, which will be in place until next month.
Mackey Harvin, the “crappie guru” for the guide service, is still doing a limited few crappie trips — only half-days with this heat of late.
Bass have are slow, while crappie are still biting between 10-16 feet deep in Little River planted brush, with minnows working best.
Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Use extreme caution during the drawdown, as stumps and obstacles will be at or near the water surface in many locations. Some boat lanes on the main lake will be inaccessible during the drawdown with shallow flats and stumps preventing navigation.
Mike offered these specifics of how the fishing has gone in the last few weeks on Millwood:
* Largemouth bass are fair, biting randomly. They are best from daybreak until up around 9 a.m. along the river from the mouth of Warrior Trail all the way upriver to White Cliffs Creek dump. It is 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. They are ranging from 2-4 pounds, and activity slows in midday heat. “We connected with some largemouth and Kentucky bass and whites on Cordell Jigging Spoons all in various groups following shad schools along the river. During the drawdown, the current and falling lake level is pulling most bass to the creek mouths, primary and secondary points where channel dumps, and into Little River.”
The 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 good action in the 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 are pulling out off the flats into 9-10 feet deep creek channels where grass and reeds and fresh lily pad shoots are emerging. Best colors of Shad Assassins with current water clarity are Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, Chico’s Red Ear and Pumpkinseed. Best colors of Brush Hogs are Watermelon Candy and June Bug Red, while Skunk Apes are best 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 ATV Square Bill, Echo 1.75 Crankbaits, and 10-inch Power Worms or a Brush Hog. Over the past couple of 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 ATV Square Bill or Echo 1.75 after the topwater bite subsides on Buzzbaits near late morning. Best colors of Power Worms have been Blue Fleck and Black Grape; the best Brush Hog is Watermelon Candy with a chartreuse tail.
Senkos, Yum Dingers and trick worms like the Barlow’s Salty Rat Tails, as well as finesse worms are still getting reactions wacky-rigged. South African Special, June Bug Red, Blackberry and Watermelon Seed have been randomly working all along Little River and in the back of McGuire and Horseshoe oxbows.
* Some 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 earlier this month. “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. We didn’t see the white bass surface-breaking over the past week.”
* Crappie are still biting between 10-16 feet deep in Little River planted brush, with minnows working best. Some catches in recent weeks have reached 2.25 pounds.
* Bream were biting well above Jack’s Isle earlier in the month. Those bream were biting best on crickets, redworms and sweet corn.
* No reports on catfish.
(updated 8-24-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) had no new reports. The Lake Erling Guide Service store is open daily, 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 p.m. on weekends. 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.
For the most updated lake level at Lake Greeson, click here.
For the most updated lake level at DeGray Lake, click here.
(updated 8-24-2023) John Duncan of YoYo Guide Service at Iron Mountain Marina says, “My, my, my, it is hot! I’m gonna try a different take on the report this week:
“Here’s what’s happening on the lake and the best ideas for fishing. The best bite is the white bass, hybrids and Kentucky bass. It appears that they tend to surface around 7:30 a.m. Of course, this can change due to clouds and wind. Shad-colored topwaters work on the surface. Of course, I have to say the old spoon is the go-to bait. Several reasons: First, you can throw a 2-ounce spoon a tremendous distance. Second, you can retrieve at any speed. Third, you can fish it vertically. And last, they love it. You can pull crankbaits or Alabama rigs when you are cruising around looking for them. The Bandit 300 size is a good starting place.
“Crappie are more on vertical timber or roaming. Jig-casting or sniping is the best bet out there. Brush piles are full of small bass and small bream.
“Doesn’t sound like much, but the schooling fish is most of the action for now. Water temperature is right at 90 degrees. Water level is 401.19 feet msl with a slight dropping.”
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 8-24-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-264-0851) said nobody has been fishing of late with the heat (and heat index). He’s heard that every early mornings, some anglers were getting out and catching very few bass. Water temperature is 86 degrees. He has shut down the shop until September. “Hopefully it gets cooler and the crappie start moving in. I’m hoping.”
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 8-24-2023) 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 scheduled nine hours of generation each day this past week at 6,300 cfs, which has kept the lake cool and clear of debris. Extreme summer heat causes tailrace temperatures to skyrocket, which promotes rapid moss growth, making the area difficult to fish. Long days of high generation is the norm below area dams in the summertime in an effort to provide electricity for the surrounding areas. The public is urged to be aware of the generation schedules below Carpenter Dam before planning a day on the water. Weekly reports are available for viewing on the Entergy website under Hydro-Operations.
The fact that the rainbow trout season was destroyed by flooding has created a void in the tailrace for catchable fish species. This problem occurs every year, but not with the severity of 2023. Trout are normally present below the dam until early August, but the season was essentially over in late May. Anglers have to rely on migrating white bass and hybrid bass that follow yearly spawning patterns and shad schools for a consistent bite. Observing topwater activity is the most effective method of locating feeding bass, which normally occurs in the early morning and late evening hours. Zara Spooks and Puppies in a shad color will draw strikes from feeding bass cast from the bank or boat. Hybrid bass are often mixed in with white bass and will strike the same lures when presented in the proper manner. Jigs in 1/16- and ⅛-ounce weights in a smoke pattern have caught numbers of fish that shy away from a surface strike. Stripers will often move toward the dam in search of prey and cooler temperatures, and have been caught on Alabama rigs when the turbines are running.
Fishing below a hydroelectric dam presents many problems to overcome when attempting to have a safe and effective fishing trip. Being aware of the generation schedules and mindful that game fish are only present in the tailrace for short periods of time will give anglers a fighting chance for success. The key is knowing what species are present and doing everything possible to use lures that match the forage these fish are targeting. Rainbow trout stocking begins for the fall season in mid-November. Always wear a lifejacket when boating on Lake Catherine and follow all park regulations.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ outflow and gauge level reports from Dardanelle, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 8-24-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no new reports. In his most recent report, he said 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.
(updated 8-17-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said the fishing pattern on both lakes Hamilton and Ouachita is essentially the same as he’s stated before. “It’s summertime fishing and I’m marking time till fall.”
With the summer water temps, the bite for all species (walleye, striper, hybrid striper, white bass, largemouth bass and spotted bass) comes very early. “Start casting, vertical jig and drop-shot your favorite lures – mine are gold and silver spoons – at first-light. Work the ends of points and submerged humps as shallow as 12-18 feet of water and as deep as 30-45 feet of water for the best results. You’ll find some breaking fish early with most suspending 8-12 feet deep. When the morning feed slows and the fish scatter, trolling crankbaits in the same areas will produce fish.”
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow reports from Nimrod Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 8-24-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, the new owner of Carter Cove Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025), formerly Andrews, said fishing is dead for now with few if any anglers and all the heat. One person came out very early Thursday morning but had nothing to report.
Carter Cove has a Facebook page and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the current lake level at Blakely Dam, click here.
(updated 8-24-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said that on Lake Ouachita, it’s definitely dog days. Just remember, the warmer the water the less capable it is to hold dissolved oxygen. So, like us, the fish get winded, starved for oxygen, but have still have to eat. Bass are moving back on the major creek arms and feeding on small, juvenile shad. Start at first light and downsize your bait. The morning feed won’t last long, then they scatter and go deep. Plan your morning tactics accordingly.
(updated 8-17-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are fair. Try a drop-shot for some spotted bass action near brush in the 18-22 feet range or your favorite topwater early or late. Walleye are still excellent. Silver spoons and drop-shotting nightcrawlers are working for these fish. Try main river/lake channel points for walleye, near brush, in the 20-24 feet range. Stripers are fair. These fish are being caught in the eastern portion of the lake and can be caught on live bait. Bream are good. Try a cricket or worm near brush in 15-25 feet depth range for a quality bite. Crappie are still fair and being caught on small jigs or minnows. Try brush and structure 20-25 feet deep. Catfish are good on rod and reel with crawlers or stink bait. Jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too.
The water temperature has fallen with the cooler ambient air lately, ranging 82-86 degrees. Water clarity is clear. Lake level at midweek was 572.46 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
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 8-24-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) had no new reports.
(updated 8-24-2023) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321) says there has been nothing to report from the lake lately. With school back in swing and the massive heat wave that has hit the region, Cook’s Lake has not had any anglers trying their hand at fishing recently. The water is still very hot, low and muddy.
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.
AGFC Commissioner Meeting Notice
Dec. 4, 2023
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
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