Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Sept. 7, 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: Keeling Grubb from Eureka Springs landed an impressive 20-inch rainbow trout while fishing with guide Austin Kennedy on the Beaver Lake Tailwater recently. Photo provided by Austin Kennedy. Read more of Austin’s reports from the tailwater under “Northwest Arkansas” below.
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 9-7-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the bite has disappeared since the draining of the lake began on Friday, Sept. 1, for the renovation of Lake Conway. “It has slowed everything down, it’s given them zip-lip. It’s tough all the way around. Maybe catfish, if you want to know something that might bite, but other than that, nothing!”
Bates has been selling a lot of worms, particularly nightcrawlers, for the catfish bite. They report that the lake appears to have dropped “probably 8-10 inches since last Friday. It’s dropping faster than what they might have thought.” The lake was estimate to fall 6 inches per week during the drawdown phase.
They note that before the drawdown began, bream and catfish were biting really well, but they appear to be spooked this week and may need time to adjust.
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 9-7-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the Southwestern Power Administration is running water at the dam about 6 hours in the late afternoon through the night. That makes the fishing really good early in the morning. First thing around sunup has been the best. A No. 5 ShadRap is a great choice, and 1/16- and 1/8-ounce maribou jigs in olive color have been working pretty well. Also try a Trout Magnet and also use a little pink Trout Worm. Those baits have been doing well below the shoals, just letting it drift through. Anglers are catching numbers of fish now, more rainbows than browns.
The brown trout have been hanging around wood structure such as laydowns or logs. The best bet for those is the No. 5 ShadRap.
The water has been pretty clear with little color to it now, with no rainfall of note.
For fly-fishing, later in the afternoons has been a good time for catching rainbows. Starting about 3 p.m. this week there has been a hatch of a blue-wing olive or mayfly going on. Use a dry fly in light olive color and watch the fish hit it.
(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 8-24-2023) 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 9-7-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry lake is at 454.97 feet msl, or 7.57 feet below normal pool. Walleyes continue to eat pretty well from 25-45 feet deep on crawlers, spoons and minnows dragged around in front of them in certain areas with the right mix of rocks. Black bass are pretty active on top and around structure as well, using a variety of baits on top and dragging something (drop-shot, Carolina rig, football head or a Texas rig) in 25-60 feet of water in the main lake and rivers during the early mornings and late in the day, as well as sometime during the middle of day. The night bite will dimming now going forward with cooler temps and shorter days.
Bream are guarding fry again and eating crawlers, crickets and small lures, pretty shallow out to 25 feet. Crappie are getting more gun-shy to sonar as the year drags on; stay further away and be super quiet, or fish straight up and down. Minnows and jigs are working great in 15-45 feet. Catfish are pretty active; lots of different baits and methods are catching them. Hybrid and white bass are eating spoons and other metal baits as well as live bait fished on structure in 25-60 feet of water.
Wear that life jacket and be safe.
(updated 9-7-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said that because the lake remains 7.5 feet low, some of the boat ramps are closed, so anglers should be aware of those types of conditions when they plan a trip to the lake. Be careful around areas where there is structure just at or below the surface.
Fishing has been consistent for several weeks. In the early morning, anglers have enjoyed a good topwater bite around the main river banks and the bluff walls, especially by throwing a Zara Spoon around the bluff walls and catching fish out of the deeper water. During the day, 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 that’s been going on since mid-summer, 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 will take a nightcrawler on a drop-shot in 30-40 feet of water. Early morning is probably the best time for that approach.
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 9-7-2023) John “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Landing off Arkansas Highway 9 said the surface water temperature is around 93 degrees. The clarity if fair. The water level is down more than a foot. “Not much to tell, hardly anyone has been fishing late,” John says. “I quit fishing about three weeks ago, but my last (catch) was a 32-pound blue.”
(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 9-7-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said a few anglers were out on Labor Day and had success. A few anglers were focusing on crappie and were catching them in 6 feet depth on minnows. Another group caught quite a few bass using soft plastic worms and on spinnerbait. That’s been most of the action this week. The water is perfect, he said — clear and normal level.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
For 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 9-7-2023) 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 9-7-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is holding steady at 658.09 feet msl. Water levels continue to be extremely low throughout the day, providing great catches of trout and wonderful wading opportunities. Late in the afternoon when releases climb to 16,000-plus cfs (about five units or more), floating a wriggling worm near the bank takes precedence. It takes about two days for trout to acclimate to changes in water levels, but when a pattern is established they adjust and the bite returns to normal. (Normal on the White River means a lot of action!)
The rainbows are seeking deeper holes during the morning hours — crawdad tails and shrimp will lure them out for a nibble. Browns are continuing to be enticed by shad, soft-shell crawdads and, always, sculpins. Keep a Rebel Wee Craw in your tackle box. Later in the day, as the water rises, bring out the nightcrawlers and watch the rainbows snatch them at dinner.
The successful trout-catcher this week was tying on X-Factor fluorescent orange or shrimp pink-scented worms, and bubblegum pink Berkley Mice Tails. The copper-colored Colorado spoon was a favorite, too. “We’ve seen only a minor decrease in post-Labor Day river traffic, and are thankful that our Arkansas Game and Fish Trout Program folks keep up well with demand! Come on over and catch a rainbow.”
(updated 9-7-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that over Labor Day weekend “we saw water as low as just over 2 feet and rising to 4-5 feet. The fishing was great using quarter-ounce Thomas Colorado Nickel/Gold spoons. Bright-colored Rooster Tails were also successful. The storm Sunday briefly muddied the water, but we didn’t see any significant rise in river levels. We saw similar water levels Tuesday. The storm early Wednesday morning combined with increased generation raised the water to over 7 feet before starting to drop.”
Using silver inline spinners with Uncommon Bait UV Orange and/or UV Firefly colored eggs with shrimp worked well. Rapala Countdowns in rainbow trout or brown trout colors work well when the water is lower.
There were two trout stockings in the last week. The first stocking was with the AGFC pontoon raft distributing 1,100 rainbow trout between Calico Rock and Mt. Olive. The second stocking was 500 rainbow trout. There were some nice 15-inch-plus rainbows included in the stocking.
(updated 9-7-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had about an inch of rain in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.7 foot to rest at 3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 37 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 3.7 feet below power pool and 17.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 5.7 feet below power pool and 14.7 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 remained steady 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 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. At Norfork Dam, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
On the White, the hot spot has been 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. John’s favorite has been a pheasant tail (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).
John also said, “Thanks to my recent retirement I have been able to fish with my wife, Lori, about once a week. This is less time on the river than I am accustomed to having but I am enjoying it more. First I get to fish myself, which I have not done enough of for the past 30 years, and then I get to choose who I take fishing with me. I fish with Lori, my favorite fishing buddy, whenever I can.
“Aside from being my wife and the love of my life, she is easy to fish with. She can rig her own rod and seldom has a malfunction. She casts better than I do and we hardly ever have a tangle between us. I have two boat nets and she has one up front and lands her own fish. If a fish is over 20 inches long, we assist each other in landing it.
“Last week we caught a perfect day. It was sunny with light and variable winds. The forecast high was 100 degrees but the morning was cool. There was a dense fog blanketing the river, which made it feel quite comfortable. The water was very low and gin clear. With the fog and the low water, I had a bit of difficulty in navigating but I just took my time and did fine.
“We were fishing with my loaner rods that I keep in my car still rigged from our last trip. We were fishing a Pheasant Tail nymph with a ruby Midge Dropper. We had exactly the same rod, reel, line, leader, tippet, weight, strike indicator and flies.
“We began fishing. Lori had the hot hand. She caught four fish before I caught one. After an hour of serious angling she had 10 and I had one. She was kicking my rear end. I don’t usually compete with her but this was starting to bother me a bit.
“About that time, I got a strong hit. The fish was making a run. This was on one of the rods that Lori and I regularly fish on Dry Run Creek. The drag on the reel is cranked all the way down to quickly wear down the big trout there. He made several stout runs, and the way he was moving against the drag told me he was a big fish.
“I finally got a good look at it. I saw a big brown hugging the bottom and giving me all of the fight that I could handle. Lori cranked in her line and put her rod in the bait tray. She picked up her net and came over to help me land the big brown. We took our time and finally were able to net the trout. It was a 24-inch brown. It is the biggest brown that I have personally caught in a while.
“I put my rod down and carefully removed the tiny, size 18 ruby Midge from the fish. Lori handed me the net and got out her iPhone and took several shots of my trout. I then carefully revived and released it. I was relieved when he slowly swam away. Lori finished the day with 20 trout and I landed four.
“Sometimes one fish can make a tough day into a stellar one.”
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 9-7-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that lake level is at 658 feet msl, while the water temperature is about 85 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair. The early morning topwater has been hit or miss. A small walk-the-dog-style bait (Zara Spook, Lucky Craft Gunfish) will work. Typically September is junk fishing — covering water, Whopper Plopper or buzzbait time. Wind and clouds definitely help that bite. The shad have started their migration towards the creeks.
Graphing can pay off. The shad are getting balled up way off deep points, channel swing turns and creek intersections. It appears 32-40 feet seems to be a consistent depth for the drop-shot. On the points, brush piles, ledges, etc., a big worm, shaky head worm and Jewel Jig are working. If the shad are around you, you’re probably going to get bit. If you venture into the stained water in the backs most days you’re going to have to work for them. Target areas with shad. Square bill, Chatterbait and big worm in the laydowns.
Overall there’s a lot of roaming suspended fish over deep water, 60-feet-plus. These video game fish can be tough to fool; try a Damiki with a Tater Shad drop-shot with a Robo or bombing a spoon. Fall fishing can be hit or miss as conditions change. “Walleyes have been mixed in with the bass eating my drop-shot out on the long points in 32-40 feet. Crappie guys are hopping brush piles working for them but a lot of crappie are still out roaming.”
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 9-7-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 553.56 feet msl and had dropped 1.75 inches in the last 24 hours with the sluice gates open to an equivalent of less than one generator for two days at 7 p.m. yesterday. Both generators are still inoperable. The White River at Newport is 3.42 feet and very low, indicating not much water is being let out into the White River. We have had two rain events this past week totaling 1.5 inches and we seem to get a rain every time it gets dry. Wading conditions are good for the trout anglers.
The lake’s surface water temperature is 83 degrees and dropping slowly and the thermocline is at 32 feet. A lot of fish are at or around the thermocline no matter the depth of the water. Kentucky bass are the best bite now and are in front of or around main lake brush in 18-25 feet of water. Creature baits and spoons are the best lures. Trollers are catching a few walleye on Lindy rigs.
Fishing is fair at best but the lake is at a good level and is in good condition and will get better as the water 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 Summers Taxidermy and Wildlife Studio (in Bakersfield, Missouri) 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 9-7-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake remained steady 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 has had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. At Norfork Dam, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like Zebra Midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-head nymph (Zebra Midge, Copper John or Pheasant Tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan Worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan Worm and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better despite a lot of fishing pressure. 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 9-7-2023) John Berry, retired guide and angler 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 9-7-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake’s water level is 1,115.50 feet msl and still dropping. This is the lowest it has been in a while. Water temps are still above 80. Fishing is fairly good considering the amount of boat pressure the last week. Stripers are still doing well on the dam end of the lake. Look from Point 4 down to the dam. Early is the key!
“We saw many nice fish last week. Shad is the bait of choice. If you want to catch shad, look in the back of Blue Springs and near Camp War Eagle. Cast-netting shad is an early morning or evening affair. If you cannot get shad, brood minnows will work as will bluegill.
“Catfish have been on fire for people targeting them. Look up in the river arms on flats. Lots of people jug/noodle fishing for them. Crappie are still in the thermocline and the brush pile bite is picking up. I have been doing well on Bobby Garland Baby Shad on 1/32-ounce jigheads fishing brush in 15 feet of water. Walleye are still being caught on crawler harnesses in 25 feet of water. You can also drop-shot crawlers for walleye. This is a good technique, especially if you have a good graph or LiveScope. Look for fish that are relatively close to the bottom and pitch your drop-shot in their direction. Bluegill are good. Take the kids out and hit some docks or brush with crickets/redworms for a good time and lots of action.
“Stay safe and get ready for the fall bite coming soon.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 8-31-2023) 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 9-7-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says fishing has falling off unless your target is bream or catfish, and both of those were only fair this past week. Bream were caught on a worms, crickets and jigs. Catfish were hauled in using worms. No reports from crappie, black bass or white bass.
Water temperature tumbled to just 75.5 degrees on Sunday. Clarity is murky and the water level is normal.
Shelly says the “best” days for fishing based on moon times in September are forecast for Sept. 11-17.
(updated 9-7-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, had no new reports from this week. But he said that Lake Poinsett regularly 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 9-7-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 200 cfs at the Spring and water clarity has been clear. Average flow is 350 cfs, the gages have been adjusting lately showing very low spring outflow. In other words the river is getting really low. Floating in the drift boat has been difficult and the fly craft has been better at getting through the rocks.
Labor Day was the last big party on the river. Fishing season here on the Spring River has begun. With the brown trout showing up better than ever on the Spring, we are expecting a great season. And as the newly renovated Jim Hinkle Spring River fish hatchery ramps up things, it will only improve on the Spring River. Please follow our blog (linked above) for future plans on getting catch-and-release areas on the Spring River. There is no reason we should not have small areas to help with the holdover rate.
Catching has been on lately, there are plenty of hatchery ’bows in the river, with some really nice browns and smallmouth chasing down a fly on good days. Woolly Buggers in olive, black or brown on a strip or swing can be deadly on the river. But if that doesn’t work, high sticking or indicator drifting eggs and nymphs right off the bottom in the deeper pools is very productive. Dry fly action can be had with these conditions — low and clear, hoppers with droppers, elk hair caddis, stimulators and ant patterns can all work. Just got to be at the right place at the right time.
There are two flies that have been very productive with low clear conditions with bright sun: an eyelash minnow pattern that is a very simple imitation of the shad that are running out of places to hide with the low water; and Mark’s personal favorite, the Guppie, which imitates the small baitfish hiding along the shore line. They’re not always hot, but when they are, it’s on!
If the forecast is for a hot sunny day, fish early, then take a break to beat the heat and to not stress the fish. There are cooler days ahead full of chasing trout on the Spring River!
(updated 9-7-2023) John Berry, an angler and retired guide 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 over but there will still be a few boats out. Be sure to 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 9-7-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no post-Labor Day reports. Before the holiday, they reported that water temperature was around 90 degrees, and there was little to no flow on the main channel. Black bass were 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 9-7-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Wednesday that as far as fishing, there’s nothing new to report at the lake. With the 2-foot drawdown still underway, Seifert says he’s been working on projects and cleaning up boat runs on Millwood but hasn’t been fishing in this heat.
Millwood Lake Guide Service’s crappie guide, Mackey Harvin, has been joining him to drag floating logs, trees, stumps and debris out of the boat lanes and creeks and to clean up the boat runs the past three weeks. After 10 a.m., he said, it’s too hot to do much else on the lake, at least until the next cold front comes through.
“Hopefully by getting all the broken timber, logs, floating trees, stumps and debris out of the boat lanes and boat runs, river and creeks during the drawdown, it will help everyone navigational-wise, once the lake resumes back to normal conservation pool in a few more weeks,” Siefert said, adding that the Army Corps of Engineers’ drawdown is expected to conclude in mid-September, and the lake will then be allowed to reach normal conservation pool.
Water temperature is still running 85-90 degrees. Crappie are still stacked in planted brush from 12-16 feet depth and not moving much. Siefert says he’s been giving the bass a rest for the last several weeks to get all his other work done before the end of the drawdown.
Millwood Lake on Wednesday was 26 inches below normal conservation pool. If you plan to boat the lake, he says, use extreme caution in navigation, as stumps and obstacles will be at or near the surface. “We are seeing a lot of that,” he warns.
Dam release at Millwood was 530 cfs Wednesday, while tailwater was very low at 225 feet msl with very little flow. Check the guide service’s website page linked above, of the Army Corps of Engineers readings for Millwood on the COE link above, for more information.
(updated 9-7-2023) 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 9-7-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 64 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has scheduled a recreational release each weekend of 5 hours per day at 3,600 cfs the past several weeks in addition to a Monday through Friday release of 6,900 cfs of 5 hours for purposes of power generation. Rainbow trout stocking will begin again in mid-November, which will bring life back to the area, as the trout season ended early this year due to the constant flooding of spring. The annual winter drawdown will also begin in November to allow for dock renovation and vegetation control.
Extreme heat has kept many anglers off the water below Carpenter Dam this summer but diehard anglers have caught numbers of white bass in late August and early September as these fish migrate in and out of the tailrace chasing threadfin shad. Zara Spooks and Alabama rigs have been the lures of choice when feeding schools of bass have been observed in the late evening on the main channel and just below the bridge. Jigs have also caught fish over the deeper waters of the main channel in a white or gray pattern. Hybrid bass have also been taken using the same techniques — most of which are in the 3- to 4-pound class. A few large stripers have been seen in the area when the turbines are running just before nightfall.
No big numbers of game fish have been reported during the summer months, but several different species of fish are always present close to the dam. Bream and crappie numbers are low but they are being caught on jigs, minnows and nightcrawlers during periods of no generation, along with catfish that spawn next to the dam in late November. Because baitfish are often present in the tailrace, these species can be found and caught all throughout the summer months.
Good numbers of crappie and white bass are always taken by anglers in March and April, which are the times for these game fish to spawn.
The absence of rainbow trout always creates a huge void for anglers to deal with on Lake Catherine in the tailrace area. This year is no exception. Fishing will improve dramatically as the trout stocking schedule kicks into gear this fall and temperatures allow a safer environment to be on the water. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and remember to follow all park and boating regulations when visiting our local lakes.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ outflow and gauge level reports from Dardanelle, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 9-7-2023) 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 email@example.com.
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) 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.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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