Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Aug. 31, 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: Happiness is a nice slab crappie on the end of a hook at DeGray Lake for Happy Caldwell, who was fishing recently with guide John Duncan on one of the nicer days in southwest Arkansas. Photo provided by John Duncan. Read more of the fishing at DeGray from Duncan under the “Southwest Arkansas” section of the report.
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.
(updated 8-31-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the bream and catfish are biting really well and probably the best species to target now. The lake begins its drawdown leading up to renovation on Friday. And, in spite of calls wondering “if Lake Conway is closed,” Bates reminds anglers that Lake Conway is not closing and will remain open while the water drains. There are no limits on length or creel now, either.
They say they’ve been selling a lot of crickets and redworms for bream, along with nightcrawlers, big minnows, cut bait, shad, skipjack, shrimp, chicken liver and other catfish bait for the cats. Also, hair jigs are popular again along with redworms and crickets for the bream. The most recent super blue moon has had bream popping on the bank, anglers report.
Black bass are doing well on poppers along the surface and worms below, with anglers throwing the worms and letting them fall to the bottom. Spinnerbaits in white or chartreuse — something that flashes pretty well — are popular buys at the bait shop.
Crappie appear to be finicky but you can find some between the stumps and trees in about 4-feet plus depth, or around 6 feet depth near bridges. Use jigs and minnows mostly, but don’t forget the hair jigs.
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 8-31-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said, “It’s looking like we are at the start of a different generation schedule now that it’s not 100 degrees outside. I see them cutting back the generation a little bit as the temperatures start to cool off. If it gets hot again, I’d expect to see the same kind of generation schedule that we were having when we had 100-degree temps and excessive heat warnings.
“Let’s see if the Southwestern Power Administration runs the water at a consistent start time and how much they plan to release now that the daytime temperatures aren’t as hot as we had the last few weeks.
“The current schedule has opened up the entire river for wade fishing. Start early at JFK Park, Cow Shoals or Swinging Bridge and work your way downriver when they start to release water. Always check the USACE Little Rock app before heading out.
The best bite has been early mornings while fishing the falling water, and before the fog burns off. Fish the deeper holes when the sun is at its peak and the temperature starts to rise. The fish will be around the moss beds and in the deep plunge pools at the end of the shoals.
“Hot flies for me while drift-fishing from the boat have been soft hackle Pheasant Tail nymphs, or a pink San Juan Worm, especially in the morning when there’s still plenty of high water. As the water falls out and it starts to get skinny, I have been running soft hackles or midges, sometimes with an apricot or peach egg above it.”
(updated 8-31-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout anglers are mostly catching fish on a small Rooster Tail or maribou jig as well as the Trout Magnet above and below the shoals. Early morning fishing has been better with the water falling out.
(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 the 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.
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 8-31-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers ferry Lake is at 455.46 feet msl, or 7.08 feet below normal pool, falling with generation and evaporation. It will continue to fall with Southwestern Power Administration needs. The crappie bite is still good all over the lake and rivers and will continue to get better with shorter days and cooling water on the way, and with anglers learning more with new electronics at their fingertips. Use jigs, minnows, crankbaits and beetle spins 12-50 feet. Walleyes are still chewing pretty well if you’re dragging something on the bottom or right off the bottom in 28-50 feet. Jigheads or some type of spinner or a drop-shot rig with crawlers are working best. No reports on catfish. Black bass are on and off biting at different times throughout the day and night, with some schools chasing bait to the top at various places. A topwater or dragging something is the best way to catch now — football heads, Carolina rigs,Texas rigs or drop-shots in 25-60 feet of water.
Bream are spawning with the super blue moon, of course. Crawlers, crickets and small spinners are working super shallow out to 25 feet. Hybrid bass and white bass are on structure pretty much, but some are busting topwaters as well. Wse spoons, inline spinners and swimbaits in 25-60 feet of water.
Good luck out there and be safe and wear a life jacket.
(updated 8-31-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said that because the lake is low, some of the boat ramps are closed, so anglers should be aware of those types of conditions around the lake. Also, be careful on the water with all the extra boats on the water this weekend as well.
Fishing has been consistent for several weeks. The early morning sees a good topwater bite around the main river banks and the bluff walls, especially throwing a Zara Spoon around the bluff walls and catching fish out of the deeper water. During the day, for bass, anglers 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 using a Carolina rig.
Also, for a multispecies bite around the lake, anglers are 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 have taken to the nightcrawler on a drop-shot in 30-40 feet of water. Early morning is probably the best time for that, especially this weekend when many more boats will be out from midmorning on.
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 8-31-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) says the lake’s water temperature is in the mid-80s. The largemouth bass bite has been slow. 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 are starting to hit topwater baits as well in 16-20 feet. Try using crankbaits, flukes, a wacky rig shallow and a Texas rig deep. Kentucky bass, however, are good. Reports of spots being found at all depths and scattered. Some are chasing schools of minnows on top as well as catching them deep, 18-20 feet. Try using shaky heads and jigs.
White bass are slow. They are scattered and anglers are catching a few here and there. Crappie are fair. Reports of crappie hanging in the brush around 18-22 feet of water on top of brush. Try using minnows. Bream are still great. Reports of them still on beds. Anglers are catching bream anywhere from 8-15 feet deep as well as shallow (3-5 feet). Use crickets or worms.
Catfish have been slow, and there were no reports this week.
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 8-31-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said some bass anglers have been having good success this week using worms and some topwater baits. Another bunch of anglers were catching bream this week. Otherwise fishing has been much the same as it was throughout August, with not a whole lot of anglers. The water is clear, normal level and has cooled off somewhat.
Ray says one regular bream fisherman reports that even though it seems a little out of the ordinary, some bream this week under the super blue moon appeared as if they were bedding up for another spawn.
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 8-31-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) reports that both early in the morning and later in the evening, the topwater bite has been getting a little better, obviously picking up with the cooler mornings this week. It’s back to anglers being able to fish a little longer into the morning before it gets too hot. Zara Spooks and Whopper Ploppers in bone or white colors have been the go-to baits. Fish the main river banks around grass, wood or sand with the topwater baits.
The anglers toughing it out through midday are using baits mimicking usual baitfish such as small spinnerbaits, flukes or a quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap. Concentrate your efforts 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 tailwaters 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 8-31-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said these cooler days have been nice — at least upper 80s/low 90s feels a lot better than 100-plus. With the lower temperatures, electrical demand has been reduced resulting in less generation from Bull Shoals Dam. We continue to see low water in the morning, but this week the low water has been 3 feet instead of 5 feet and high water late in the morning has been 6 feet instead of 8 feet. With the lower water, be more aware of submerged rocks and gravel bars. Fishing continues to be good using Uncommon Bait UV Orange and/or UV Firefly-colored eggs with shrimp. “We have seen a little more success using silver inline spinner with the eggs and shrimp, but just eggs and shrimp have worked well. Many people are reporting success using red wiggler worms or corn. Rapala Countdowns in rainbow trout, silver or brown trout colors work well when the water is lower. Additionally quarter-ounce spoons in gold work well on the shallow gravel bars.
“With Labor Day weekend expect more people on the river. Be watchful and courteous to each other when fishing. If someone is drift-fishing a hole, move a couple of hundred yards further up the river before you start your drift. That gives plenty of room between boats and allows the person who arrived first the first opportunity to drift the hole. When running up or down the river, slow down as you pass boats that are drift-fishing. Additionally, there will be many people in kayaks on the river.
“Enjoy the long weekend and good luck fishing.”
(updated 8-31-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had no rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell a foot to rest at 2.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 3.6 feet below power pool and 17.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 5.2 feet below power pool and 13.8 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 1.6 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater 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, “On the White, the hot spot has been Rim 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, “When I first started guiding 30 years ago I did all of my fishing and guiding by wading. It seems like we had a lot more wadable water back then. This was back before minimum flow and the wading was much easier and safer. I was still living in Tennessee then and did not have a boat, unless you consider an aluminum canoe a river boat.
“When I moved here and began guiding full time, the first thing I acquired was a river boat. The boat of choice at the time was a 33-inch-wide Shawnee. All of them were green and that was basically the only boat available. The most popular motor was a 9-point, 9-horsepower, two cycle pull-start outboard.
“My first boat was a secondhand Shawnee ($1,000 for boat motor and trailer). It was so narrow it was like handling a canoe. It had spider chairs, and if my clients moved them toward the side of the boat it severely affected the balance of the boat. It had a 15-hp Mercury two-cycle pull-start and it was all I needed. I had some work done on it to repair a few dings and make it look better. I used it for five years and sold it for what I paid for it.
“My next boat was a used 48-inch Shawnee (I paid $3,500 for boat motor and trailer). The extra width made it much more stable and more comfortable to fish from. I moved the 15-hp Mercury to my new boat. I fished it for seven years and sold it without the motor at a slight loss.
“About this time the hot boat on the river was a drift boat. Just about all of the guides got one to fish low water and streamer fish. There are still a few drift boats around but they are limited to a one-way trip as they are propelled by oars. This requires a shuttle, although some of the drift boats have a small outboard. There are not as many around now.
“When I sold my 48-inch Shawnee, I bought a used 60-inch Supreme, which was the deluxe boat at the time (I paid $4,500 for boat motor and trailer). It was wide, stable and comfortable. It came with a 15-hp four-cycle Honda engine with electric start. I thought I was really special.
“Then minimum flow came in and the lower flows were much higher. The hot new boat is a large river boat, with a huge jet motor that could easily navigate low water. The boats were about the same size as my new boat but had 40- to 60-hp engines (they cost around $18,000 without a motor). The problem is that they are very loud. Many of the guides running them wear hearing protection. They also produce a huge wake, which I think is causing severe bank erosion. The wakes are also a nuisance when you are fishing and one of these boats blows by. Some guides are considerate and slow down as they pass. Others blow by without a thought for your safety or comfort.
“I kept my Supreme when I retired and use it for my wife, Lori, and I to fish on our own. As I fish on the river and hear the howl of a big jet boat approaching, I remember a simpler day.
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 8-31-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level is almost at normal pool level, sitting 658 feet msl. “We needed that rain,” he noted. The water temperature cooled some to about 86 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair. “It’s junk fishing season. The shad are starting the transition moving into the creeks. Graph time pays off. The bass are schooled up. If you can get out early there’s a good morning window. I have even been focusing on the large creeks. They are holding fish toward the main lake and also halfway back into the creeks. There’s definitely a lot of fish still suspended off the swings and ledges and points, especially when they are generating water.
“If you’re planning to fish stained water in the back 20 feet or less, make sure the conditions are right after a rain, wind, clouds, etc. Target swings and brush piles with jigs and the big worm. You can also catch them on a Chatterbait, buzzbait or Plopper on the nasty rock transitions, bushes and on the flats. Fish areas with shad. Pick up a Jewel Jig Bass Whacker in green pumpkin orange, a big red worm or a green pumpkin shaky head in piles. When it’s hot, sunny and clear and flat water, try a drop-shot deeper, like 25-45 feet. This has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm. You’re gonna have to cat-and-mouse ’em most days. Tater Shad, Scuba Spoon in shad colors will also work on the deeper suspenders. Most action will happen if you are around the shad. Graph time pays off.
“Them danged walleyes are eating the drop-shot again in the deeper points and piles. Look around 32-40 feet depth. There’s always a pleasant surprise bass fishing. Lots of running and gunning piles. Here today, gone tomorrow. Have a fun safe Labor Day!”
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 8-31-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level he came in at dark last evening. The Army Corps of Engineers closed the sluice gates and both generators are still inoperable. The White River at Newport is 5.11 feet and about ready to dry up. The wade anglers on the rivers are liking this low water. The surface water temperature is 88 degrees and dropping with the cooler temperatures. The thermocline is at 32 feet and very pronounced. There is a mudline from 23-30 feet with reduced visibility but not too bad. Several fish of different species are at 23-30 feet, including Kentucky bass with a few largemouth, a few smaller walleye, a lot of bluegill and a few smaller crappie. Drop a small spoon in and around the main lake brush to catch about anything. Bait fish are everywhere. Some fish are being caught trolling live bait and weights clipped in front of crankbaits but they are burning a lot of gas. Several larger fish remain in open water on shad, and a spoon is your best bet. Look at different depths of water but focus on 32-35 down.
Fishing overall is just fair, Steve said. 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 yesterday. 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 was 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 8-31-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater 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.
The most productive flies on the Norfork 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 bit better despite a lot of fishing pressure. School is back in session and weekdays are not as crowded. The hot flies have been Wowbugs, 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 8-31-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing well but are quite low. 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 8-31-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake continues its slow descent. The lake is in the 1,116 feet msl range, which translates into about 5 feet below normal. “With the holiday weekend coming, I am urging boaters that are not familiar with the lower levels this year to pay attention and know where you are boating and keep your eyes open for hazards.
“Fishing for striper has been the bright spot. If you get up early and have some good bait you should catch some stripers. The fish have been located from Coppermine down to the dam. Again, the key is early. You need to have lines out by sunup.
“Shad are the best bait now. Guides have been getting two to three limits per trip. Bass are blowing up shad early in the morning. These are not big bass, but they are fun. Look for boils and have topwater ready. This goes on for a few hours and then repeats at dusk. Look on any flat near deep water.
“Crappie are still good on trolled cranks. Bandits and Picos will work. Troll at or below 2 mph for best success. Walleye are being picked up on those same cranks, as are catfish. It will be busy this weekend, so when you arrive at the launch ramp be ready to launch and keep tempers at a minimum. Be respectful of others and have a safe time on beautiful Beaver Lake.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 8-24-2023) 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 8-31-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) reported that this past week has been up and down for fishing. “You really got to move around to get on the bite. However, once you locate them, there are some beauties to be had.
“Our clients have been catching rainbows well over 18 inches and up to 5 pounds, using light terminal tackle with Pautzke Fire Bait. In the areas between Houseman and U.S. Highway 62 bridge, it seems the stocked fish are scarce. If you are able to boat up past Bertrand Access, you can find them.
“This week’s hot spot has been between Bertrand and Parker Bottoms. We have still been pulling a few walleye here and there; but once again, you have to search for them. Jigging soft plastics in 15 feet of water has produced the best results. Get out there and catch some fish!”
For additional tips, visit Austin’s fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service).
(updated 8-24-2023) 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 8-31-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says last week’s heat through the weekend kept the anglers away and she had no reports. During the previous week, she said state park guests were catching some bream/sunfish from the shore, with a few reports coming in on catfish. Worms were working for both the bream and catfish.
Surface water temperature Sunday made a jump from a week ago with 82.4 degrees recorded. Water clarity is the usual murky and the level is high.
The “moon times” align for good fishing here as August ends and September begins. The “best” days in September are forecast for Sept. 11-17.
(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 have 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 guppy 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 1st of the next year.”
Mark has a blog on his website linked above with the most recent conditions and updates from the Spring.
(updated 8-31-2023) 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 ongoing. 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 8-31-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Wednesday he hasn’t been out this week and has no new reports. The lake is still in its Army Corps of Engineers-ordered 2-foot drawdown, which will be in place until next month. He said last week that black bass are slow but should be picking up in a few weeks as temps cool. 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. 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 said this was the most recent report on Millwood fishing by species:
* 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 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 8-31-2023) 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 8-31-2023) John Duncan of YoYo Guide Service at Iron Mountain Marina says the best bite now is with white bass, hybrids and Kentucky bass. It appears 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 morning, 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 8-31-2023) 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. The public is urged to be aware of Entergy’s 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 (linked above).
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 8-31-2023) 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 8-31-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said, “I really wished I could write something new and exciting … BUT, it’s a full-on summertime pattern. Early morning bite is the ticket. Start preparing for fall fishing as the water temp cools. The anticipation of the bite is more exciting than falling asleep in a stand hunting horns. Always be safe and helpful to other anglers.”
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 8-31-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still 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 very good. Three-quarter-ounce silver spoons and drop-shotting nightcrawlers are working for these fish. Stripers are still 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 the 15-25 feet depth range for a quality bite. Crappie are good and can be caught on small jigs or minnows. Try brush and structure 20-25 feet deep.
Catfish are still good 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 82=86 degrees. Water clarity is clear. The lake level Wednesday was 570.98 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(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 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.
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 8-31-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) had no new reports.
(updated 8-31-2023) 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 hit the region for most of August, 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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