Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Sept. 14, 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: Russ Hannah caught this nice brown trout on a guppie pattern while fishing with Spring River guide Mark Crawford recently. The Spring River, though spring-fed, has been low like most of Arkansas’s lakes and streams lately, and while the drifting has been tough on the Spring, Mark reports that the fish are biting. “With the brown trout showing up better than ever on the Spring, we are expecting a great season,” Mark said.
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 9-14-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Thursday that the only bite to speak of was from the catfish. Cats were being caught on the north end of the lake on yo-yos hung in the trees and baited with live bait. They spoke with some anglers Thursday who had been out on the lake for bass fishing who said they had caught nothing.
That was also the story last week, when Bates reported that the bite had all but 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!”
The drawdown seems to be going well, they report, and maybe dropping a little faster than anticipated.
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 9-14-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said, “We are experiencing minimal water release for the Little Red River from the Greers Ferry Dam. This pattern is creating some low water conditions. Lower sections are unfortunately seeing warm water conditions. Water release pattern could change if the need for hydropower increases over the next week.
“If you plan to fish the Trout Magnet, consider using pink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse jigheads. For fly-fishing, consider San Juan Worm, egg pattern, Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail and midges. Always check generation schedule and be aware of unexpected water release. Check before heading to the Little Red River for Greers Ferry Dam water release by downloading the USACE Little Rock app, Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 9-14-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said, “With the cooler temperatures we are having, the Little Red River is in its fall generation schedule. As of lately they are running one unit of generation for maybe 1 hour, sometimes more sometimes less. There’s been no consistent start time and no consistent amount of water being released. On the weekends they might not run anything.
“I’d expect this schedule to continue unless it starts to get hot again and they release more water for power demand.
“With the low flows, the water temperature starts to rise later in the day and stresses the fish out; try to quickly land the fish and get them back into the water.
“The bite remains good, even in the low flows. Try fishing around the moss beds in the deep water. The fish are liking the slow deep pools when there’s not much water being released. Pheasant Tail soft hackles and pink San Juan Worms underneath an indicator about 5-6 feet deep is what I’m fishing by the moss beds. The best bite is early morning or later in the evening before it gets dark.”
(updated 9-14-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said there was little change to report from the Little Red. The dam is running about 6 hours in the afternoon through the night. That makes the fishing really good early in the morning, particularly as first light. A No. 5 Rapala ShadRap and one-sixteenth-ounce and eighth-ounce Maribou Jigs in olive color have been working well. Also, a Trout Magnet and a little pink Trout Worm have been doing well below the shoals just letting the lure drift through. Anglers have been catching good numbers of rainbow trout. Brown trout are biting around wood, laydowns and logs. The best bet to catch browns is also a No. 5 ShadRap.
The water has been pretty clear with very little color to it of late.
For fly-fishing, later in the afternoons have provided a good opportunity for rainbows. At around 3 p.m., there has been a hatch of blue-wing or mayfly. Using a light olive color dry fly has been working for the trout bite.
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 9-14-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is now at 454.72 feet msl and falling with evaporation and generation. It is 7.82 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet msl for this time of year. The overall catch rates are still high for this time of year despite the fish being more scattered because of shorter days, fall being right on us, and some fish and bait being on the move. Crappie are eating jigs, minnows and crankbaits in 12-40 feet deep. Walleye are biting, but not very aggressive, in 28-45 feet on crawlers or spoons. Bream are still doing their bream thing from 1 foot out to 25 feet on crickets, crawlers and inline spinners.
Black bass are chasing shad aggressively in areas and coming up on top in others, eating on or near bottom on structure and especially brush piles — wood is one of the keys, for sure. A big variety of baits are working out to 50 feet.
Catfish are eating a lot of shad at this time of year, as well as cut or prepared baits, all over lake and rivers. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating live bait, spoons and inline spinners. Find the shad and fish will be close in 25-55 feet.
(updated 9-14-2023) 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. Fishing has been consistent for several weeks, and it’s the same this week as well even with temps throughout the day. 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 have been 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 go for a nightcrawler on a drop-shot in 30-40 feet of water. Early morning is probably the best time for that.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 9-14-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says catfish have been doing pretty well, biting minnows on trotlines and yo-yos. Anglers report catching them daily with some up of them up to 8 pounds. Small crappie have also been caught on minnows. The largemouth bass bite is pretty good, too. Spinnerbaits are working for bass. Bream are OK, just small in size. Use redworms or crickets.
Anglers are saying that it appears in about two more weeks the crappie should be very good.
The water looks to be a normal level and clear. Fish can be seen chasing the shad in the mornings.
(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 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 9-14-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says that things have been pretty much the same fishing on the Little Rock Pool — they are expecting something new in the patterns next week with the water cool-down, though it hasn’t been enough to make much different so far. 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 9-14-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is 3.5 feet below power pool, so it’s not surprising that generation flows have been low and slow. Water level on the White River in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks have remained steady at minimum flow during the morning hours over the last seven days. Late afternoons we see upticks in generation, often nearly five generation units being discharged.
“Until Tuesday, we successfully dodged daytime rainfalls, but braved a wet day and sent our anglers home with a great catch of rainbows. Most everybody was glad to see the gentle rain because we’ve all been so dry for a month or more. Rain or shine, our rainbows are chasing shrimp, especially when paired with a small piece of PowerBait. Berkley Mice Tails (bubblegum pink body, white head) are turning into a favorite as they’ve been very successful over the summer even in the low water.
“As we move into autumn and near the brown trout spawning season, change your bait color to orange or pink to attract them to your bait and distract them from nature’s call. The brown bite has slowed some in this lower water, but a sculpin drifted near the bottom will still get a good bite or two. The Vibrax Blue Fox spinner, three-sixteenth-ounce gold, or the bright chartreuse with a partially silver blade, were providing a steady catch of 12- and 13-inch rainbows. As always, it’s hard to beat a good day of jig fishing; tie on an olive or an olive/black Marabou Jig (three-sixteenth-ounce works best in this water level) or the peach D2 jig and get ready to net some trout. Use those same colors for casting Woolly Buggers with your fly rods.
“Enjoy these cool mornings and sunny days on the river; stop by and share your latest fish story.
(updated 9-14-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “During some days we are seeing varying water depths of 3-7 feet and other days with depths of 2-3 feet. No matter the depths, drift-fishing with Uncommon Bait UV Orange and/or UV Firefly colored eggs with shrimp or red wiggler worms worked well.
“When the water was dingy, adding a silver in line spinner added the extra flash to get the attention of the trout. Size 7 Rapala Countdowns in gold or silver worked well. During lower water, throwing quarter-ounce spoons or baits similar to Rooster Tail worked exceptionally well. This cooler weather has been nice. Fall is not far away and many people are shifting their focus to hunting, but don’t forget about trout fishing. There are plenty of fish in the river.”
(updated 9-14-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they about an inch or rain in Cotter, much cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 foot to rest at 3.5 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 37.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 4 feet below power pool and 18 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 6 feet below power pool and 14.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had wadable water every day with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 2.5 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
John said, “On the White, the hot spot has been The Narrows. We have had lower flows that have fished well. The hot flies were Y2Ks, Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan Worms, gold ribbed Hare’s Ears and Sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a pheasant tail (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).”
John also said, “It is almost fall. I am just about tired of hot weather. To me fall means cooler weather good fishing and the fly-fishing class that my wife, Lori, and I teach twice a year (spring and fall) at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. We have been teaching it for almost a decade. We have been teaching together for 20 years and have previously taught at various universities and colleges in Tennessee and Arkansas. We have also taught for sporting goods stores, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Becoming an Outdoors-woman and other classes for the AGFC.
“We give a lot of private lessons. Since I retired from guiding last month, we have been concentrating on teaching. Lori has been giving a lot of private casting lessons. Our favorite place to teach is ASU-Mountain Home. It is a beautiful campus with plenty of parking, a convenient space for fly-casting and great classrooms. This fall’s class will be held on Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26. The classes are 6-8 p.m. There is a modest fee. Go to the ASUMH’s Workforce and Community Education website to enroll for the class.
“The first half of every class is dedicated to learning to cast a fly rod. This instruction is held outside behind Dryer Hall. Lori leads this class and does a great job. She is the best fly-casting instructor in the area. She has been teaching fly-casting for over 20 years. She will teach the basic fly cast, the roll cast, and we have added the Belgian cast this year. This cast is useful for casting in the wind and for casting the heavy two fly rigs that are common here. I do assist in this instruction. You may use your own fly rod or use one of ours.
“I teach the next hour, which is in class room D106 in Dryer Hall. This covers a lot of subjects. First is equipment. We discuss all of the gear you need to fly-fish and discuss what you do not need. The next class is dedicated to learning to tie knots. We teach all of the knots you will need to fly-fish and how to avoid tying knots. The next class is devoted to rigging. We show you how to rig your fly rod four different ways, which cover 99 percent of our fishing conditions here in the Twin Lakes area.
“The last class covers a variety of subjects. We begin with water safety. We go on to discuss reading water, fly selection and stream entomology (the study of aquatic insects). Lori assists in the classroom sessions.
“This is all taught in an open format where questions are welcome. If this sounds like something that would benefit you, please join us. We will be looking for you.”
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 9-14-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that lake level is at 657 feet msl (2 feet low) and the water temperature dropped this week to around 82 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair. The early morning topwater is still hit or miss. A small walk-the-dog-style bait (Zara Spook, Lucky Craft Gunfish) will work. Typically September is junk fishing time — covering water, using a Whopper Plopper or buzzbait. 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 or Hover Rig 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. Every day is different; be sure to fish the conditions.”
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Norfork Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 9-14-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 553.21 feet msl, and was the same for several hours, beginning 7:30 Wednesday evening. The surface water temperature was 81 degrees and the water was not as clear as it was Tuesday. The thermocline is 31 feet but is not as pronounced as it was last week, and it seems to be mixing up. The weather has been almost perfect and the boat traffic is low. They closed the sluice gates early Wednesday and are letting out no water. The White River at Newport is at 3.08 feet and very low. The lake is at an excellent level and condition for boating, swimming, scuba diving and fishing but the fishing is not the best.
Bass are the best bite now and are both shallow and on the main lake on shad. Crappie have not moved to the main lake brush yet and most also are still on shad. Kentucky bass are on brush and some largemouth bass are with them both shallow on steep river channel banks and in cover at 25-32 feet. Some temperate bass are being caught trolling but are small. Spoons are the lure of choice, but also plastic worms are catching some bass.
Fishing overall is fair at best but some good ones are being caught every day.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 9-14-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 2.5 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well 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 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 headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). My favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worms and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better 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 9-14-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator 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 9-14-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said, “Beaver Lake is starting to transition from hot summer pattern into a cooling water and fall pattern. This usually takes a while — depends on if the cool weather stays or that Indian summer shows up late September. Water temps have lowered to around 78-80 degrees throughout the lake – 4-5 degrees doesn’t sound like a lot, but to the fish it signals fall is approaching.
“With that said, the fish are definitely moving. The crappie have moved off of the thermocline somewhat and set up on brush/structure. Look in and around 15 feet deep to find the fish. Jigs and minnows will work. Also, shooting docks is still good. Walleye are on the move and starting their southward migration. Look around the islands at Prairie Creek and further south to Horseshoe Bend. Crawler harnesses and drop-shot crawlers are working, as are trolling cranks. Stripers are scattered as usual and you need to trust your electronics to find the fish. Look from Coppermine to the Starkey area for fish. Shad is the bait if you can get some; otherwise bream will work. Brooders cannot be purchased at most bait stores as the minnow farms are out of big brooders right now.
“Catfish are still good. Look on flats in 15-25 feet of water. All methods will work.
“Give the lake a few more weeks and the bite should uptick fairly well. Be safe on the lake as water levels are lower than the last three years and obstructions are out there and in play Good luck and tight lines!”
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 8-31-2023) 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 9-14-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says the fishing continues to be fair for bream and catfish. Water is cooling down and the fish are moving. Anglers have been catching both bream and catfish from the shore, and worms are still working. Jigs will also get the attention of the bream, while blood bait with pull in a cat. No reports on black bass or crappie. Surface water temperature on Monday was 74.4 degrees, the level is normal and the clarity is the usual murky.
The window for best fishing days based on “moon times” concludes on Sunday, Sept. 17, Shelly notes. This might be a great weekend to take in some fishing at Lake Charles.
(updated 9-14-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, has reported recently that bream are biting on crickets and worms, though the bigger bream are in deeper waters. 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 gauges 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 9-14-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator 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 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 9-14-2023) 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 9-14-2023) Stephanie Clingenpeel, seasonal park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no new reports, but in recent weeks she had spoken with anglers who said they were able to catch a few nice-sized crappie off the campsite fishing pier using live bait, while other anglers reported good success using minnows to catch black bass toward the south part of the lake.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Millwood Lake Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
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 9-14-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Thursday that 2-foot drawdown remains in effect to run through Friday, then the Army Corps of Engineers will allow Millwood to refill to normal pool. The lake is 27 inches below normal pool and falling, while clarity continues improving in most locations. Use EXTREME CAUTION during the drawdown when stumps and obstacles will be at or near surface pool in many locations. Some boat lanes on the main lake will be inaccessible with shallow flats and stumps preventing navigation.
Up Little River from White Cliffs to Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing remains more heavily stained. Reduced river flow rate and current. Tailwater elevation is near 224 feet msl and steady with gate discharge at the dam near 170 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website above, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temps stable this week, ranging 80-86 degrees along Little River this week, depending on location and the time of day. River clarity ranging 15-24 inches visibility depending on location. Oxbows will widely from heavy stain to good clarity, while visibility can be 15-30 inches up to 3 feet in a few locations away from river flow.
Mike and fellow guide Mackey Harvin got out Thursday for an update on the fishing:
*Largemouth bass are best from daybreak until up around 10 a.m. along the river from Pugh Slough and Snake Creek, all the way upriver to White Cliffs Creek dump. We found several schools of largemouth schooling early between Jack’s Isle and Hurricane Creek and eager to bust a Bass Assassin Shad or Clear Baby Torpedo, shallow-diving square-bill crankbaits, and Rat-L-Traps with a tail spinner. Brush Hogs or Bang 3.5-inch Skunk Apes are working along grass lines in the river, and ranging from 2-3 pounds but 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. Anywhere creek channel dumps into Little River, the mouths of the creeks are holding various size schools of largemouths or spots.
Best colors of Shad Assassins with current water clarity is Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, Chico’s Red Ear, and Pumpkinseed. Best colors of Brush Hogs are Watermelon Candy, June Bug Red, and Skunk Apes in black/blue tail, Hematoma Shad or Blank Check.
“When we ran into the schooling largemouth bass, it seemed they wanted a frantic topwater like Cordell Crazy Shads, Baby Torpedoes and Pop R’s or a Bass Assassin Shad skipping on the surface. Bill Lewis Lures StutterSteps and Ken Pops have also been working randomly at daylight at various locations. 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 Brush Hogs. 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 square bill after the topwater bite subsides on buzzbaits, near late morning to noon. Best colors of Power Worms have been Blue Fleck and Black Grape, and Brush Hogs in Watermelon Candy with chartreuse tail.
“Horseshoe & McGuire oxbows, Cemetery Slough and Black’s Creek along Little River continue to hold the best water clarity, but the more aggressive largemouth and spotted bass this week seemed to respond better in Little River at creek junctions on primary and secondary points. In mouth of McGuire oxbow up Little River this week, we tied into a few decent 15- to 17-inch bass on those on a Bill Lewis ATV square bills, or a Rat-L-Trap with a tail spinner and an MR-6 Crankbait picked up a few random bites. Best colors of traps and MR-6 Crankbaits were Millwood Magic or chrome/black back.
* “We found a few very large schools of white bass schooling and surface-breaking in Little River between Jack’s Isle and mouth of Mud Lake on the north bank heading up river along the edges near grass mats and extended points breaking off into deep water, chasing shad. These whites were hitting Cordell Hammered Spoons with a white bucktail when we saw them surface schooling this week. Several different schools of whites were feeding along Little River breaking on shad at the surface and biggest part of the school was between 5-10 feet of depth while we were casting to them with a chrome Cordell or Kastmaster Spoon, and ranged from 1-2.5 pounds each.”
* The crappie bite remained good near Bee Lake and along Little River this week, and best using minnows one day and jigs the next, in 12-16 feet of depth in planted brush piles. Caught crappie up to 2 pounds.
* No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 9-14-2023) 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 9-14-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-264-0851) said some anglers catching a lot of black bass, some that were in the 5- to 6-pound range that Donald figured were the Florida strain of largemouths, and some 3-pound largemouths. Anglers are picking up very few crappie right now — “They’re still down deep, the water is not cold enough,” he said. “I did have a neighbor who caught a couple of crappie that were about a pound each and he tossed them back. When the weather gets a little cooler, we should see them move up more.”
Water temperature reported by the bass anglers earlier this week was still a warm 86 degrees, but it dropped to 82 degrees after some rain on Wednesday. “It’s starting to drop,” Donald said. “It will be a couple of weeks before the crappie and shad start to move in.”
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 9-14-2023) 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 5-6 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 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 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 gamefish 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 later 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 9-14-2023) 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 8-31-2023) 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.
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.
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