Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Sept. 21, 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: Collin Bryant of Memphis caught what he said was “the catch of a lifetime” last Thursday (Sept. 14) on the Spring River at Mammoth Spring, a 20-inch brown trout, his personal best. After this photo, he released it back to the Spring. Bryant was using a tan Chubby Chernobyl with a black Zebra Midge dropper on what he planned to be his last cast of the day.
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 9-21-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Thursday that the catching is coming mostly on the north end of the lake. A few bass are being caught, while the crappie has picked up, and catfish are still going strong.
Bass are being caught with Yum Dingers and spinnerbaits. Crappie can be caught on minnows and jigs; Bates is “selling a ton of minnows,” they report. Fish for the catfish with shad, trotline minnows “and the same-ol’ same-ol’ catfish baits.” Overall, catfish is going to be the best bite.
The drawdown of Lake Conway is “very evident” now, they report, but anglers are still showing up regularly in good numbers.
“The fish are running uplake and holding as long as they can,” Bates reports. “There are some deep holes on that end of the lake.”
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 9-21-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is now at 454.47 feet msl and falling with evaporation and generation. It is 8.07 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet 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 and fall right on us and some fish and bait being on the move. Crappie are eating jigs minnows and crank baits in 12-40 feet depth. Walleye are biting but not very aggressively in 28-45 feet on crawlers or spoons. Bream are still doing their bream thing 12 inches out to 25 feet — use crickets, crawlers or inline spinners. Black bass are aggressively chasing shad in areas and coming up on top in other areas, eating on or near bottom on structure and especially brush piles — wood is one of the keys, for sure. A big variety of baits is 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. Hybrids and white bass are eating live bait, spoon 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 9-21-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reports that the largemouth bass bite is slow. There have been reports of largemouths 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 as well as in 16-20 feet depth. Along with topwater lures, try using crankbaits, flukes, a wacky rig shallow and Texas rig deep. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass), however, are good. Reports of them being found at all depths scattered. Some are chasing schools of minnows on top as well as anglers catching them deep fishing in 18-20 feet depth. Try using shaky heads and jigs. White bass are slow, anglers are catching a few here and there. Crappie are ranging fair to good. Reports of crappie being found around brush in the channel as well as chasing bait fish. Try using minnows.
Bream have slowed down. They are being caught anywhere from 8-15 feet deep as well as shallow (3-5 feet). Use crickets or worms. No reports on catfish 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 9-21-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said things have picked up. Water is at normal level and clear. People are catching a few crappie on minnows. The black bass were doing well on crankbaits. Some regulars in the area are fishing for catfishing off the docks and attracting them with chicken liver.
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 9-21-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We’re starting to see some nip in the air — autumn’s finally popping out. Cool mornings, warm days, perfect weather for float fishing on the White for trout. Bull Shoals Lake reads 656.89 feet msl, or 5 feet below power pool for this time of year. Generation continues to be low, minimum flow in the mornings followed with increased releases in late afternoon for 5-6 hours averaging around four units (12,000 cfs).
“The rainbow catch has been fabulous: They’re snapping up the shrimp and egg combo, and we’re continuing to see success with X-Factor bubblegum pink worms and mice tails – good sizes among the catch, too — several rainbows measured at 16 inches and above. The hopper season is slowing, but your red-silver and Zebra Midges should be kept close — they’re a necessity for fly tackle.
Keep a variety of live bait on board for the browns. Sculpins, red fin minnows and crawdad tails will work well. Baits should be kept close to the bottom and to the sides of the main channel. Best bet this past week was the one-sixth-ounce red/gold Thomas Buoyant Spoon; the blue/silver was close behind. Find a rainbow-colored bait (a Buoyant Spoon or a smaller floating Rapala, size 5 or 7) to keep things interesting. Just for grins, try jig fishing in the deeper holes with olive or orange jigs; fun and often victorious.
“Come out and spend some time with us on the river! I think it’s going to be an early and very colorful season. (Don’t put any money on my predictions.)”
(updated 9-21-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the last week they have seen water depths below 2.5 feet in the mornings and rising to near or above 5 feet before starting to drop again. Drift-fishing with Uncommon Bait UV Orange with shrimp has worked best. Early in the mornings quarter-ounce Colorado Spoons in nickel/gold have been effective in addition to the Rapala Countdown CD7 in silver. Fishing one-sixteenth-ounce dark color jigs with a splash of color has resulted in some nice brown trout.
The weather front moving through on Tuesday and Wednesday caused fishing to slow down and anglers had to work a little harder to catch their limit. The cooler weather has made it comfortable to spend all day fishing.
“This week we had one stocking of 540 rainbows from the AGFC’s Jim Hinkle Spring River Hatchery. Once again in the stocking was a few nice and fat 15-inch-plus rainbows.
(updated 9-21-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had about half of an inch of rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.7 foot to rest at 4.2 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 38.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 4.1 feet below power pool and 18.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 6.1 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 rose 0.1 foot to rest at 2.4 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.7 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 Rim Shoals. We have had lower flows that have fished well. The hot flies were Y2Ks, Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan Worms, gold ribbed Hare’s Ears and Sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a pheasant tail (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).
John also said, “After what seems like years, we finally have a low water year. This is the thing that wade fishers have hoped to come this year. I, like many anglers, really prefer to wade. Several years of high water combined with the implementation of minimum flow have pushed many fly-fishers to fish from boats.
Guiding wading fly-fishers is a tough job. Walking in and out is work. Then when they are fishing (if there is more than one angler) they are often separated by quite a distance. A guide working two clients is constantly trooping the line dealing with problems. As a result, few guides do wade trips anymore. I joke that I was the only guide in Baxter County that owned a pair of waders. This new low water has caused several guides to postpone their trips to the afternoon when the Corps of Engineers is running water during peak power demand. The lower water has been wonderful to me. Both rivers have been on the bottom for long periods every day for months.
“The low water on the Norfork is a bit problematic. All of the generators at the Norfork Dam are down for major repairs. We do not know when they will be back online. They are able to achieve minimum flow by drawing water through the siphon. To control the lake level, they have been releasing water through the flood gates. The problem is that the water releases through the flood gates are not included on the Southwestern Power Administration’s projected loading schedule (this is an online schedule that tells you when the dams will come online and how much generation there will be). This means you do not know when the water will come up. You must be ever vigilant to detect rising water and get out of the river as soon as you see it or limit your fishing to the area just below the dam. Here you can hear the horn they blow, before they begin releasing water.
“I have chosen to wade the lower water on the White River. My favorite spot is Rim Shoals. This is a trophy zone and is catch-and-release. Trout Unlimited developed a trail that Gary Flippin first established years ago. It runs along the river and gives you several spots to access the river and can offer a solitary spot far from other anglers.
“My sister, Ernestine, and I donated a bench on the trail in honor of our brother, Dan. It is near an access to the river that is an easy and relatively safe spot to cross the river to reach the island. This is where Dan and I began fishing Rim over 20 years ago. I just walk the trail and take a right at Dan’s bench. I have enjoyed the solitude and caught some nice trout. On the way out, I sit on the bench and remember catching a spectacular hatch of sulphurs with Dan many years ago.
“Take a moment and fish this lower water. It is has been magnificent. It will not last forever.”
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 9-21-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that lake level continues to fall. The lake is now at 656 feet msl, while the water temperature dropped to about 79 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair. The early morning topwater bite continues to be hit or miss. A small walk-the-dog-style bait such as a Zara Spook or Lucky Craft Gunfish will work. If they’re busting don’t put it away, though; they can go to the middle of the day. Typically September is junk fishing, covering water with a Whopper Plopper or buzzbait. Wind and clouds will 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 swings, turns and creek intersections. It seems 32-40 feet is a consistent depth for the drop-shot. On the points, brush piles, ledges, etc. a big worm or shaky head worm and Jewel Jig are working. If the shad are around, you’re probably going to get bit.
It’s hoped they will generate some water at the dam. If you venture into the stained water in the backs most days, you’re gonna have to work for them. Target areas with shad. Use a square bill Chatterbait or a big worm in the laydowns. Overall there’s a lot of roaming suspended fish 20-35 feet over deep water (60-feet-plus). Still, these videogame fish can be tough to fool. Try a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad drop-shot with a Robo. Fall Fishing can be hit or miss as conditions change. Walleyes stopped eating my drop shot. Some guys are still catching a few bottom-bouncing in 35-40 feet. Crappie guys are still hopping brush piles and that’s working for them they are starting to pile in. 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 9-21-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 553.34 feet msl and had risen three-quarters of an inch in the last 24 hours with a little over a half-inch of rain as of 6:30 Wednesday evening. There has been no discharge for the last five days and the generators on Norfork Dam are still inoperable. The White River at Newport is 2.57 feet and very low, indicating they are not letting out much water anywhere on the area lakes. The surface water temperature is 79 degrees and dropping with the cooler weather. The thermocline that was at 31 feet is gone and it gets a little cooler at 34 feet but is not pronounced. The fish are scattered from shallow to 30 feet and the crappie have just moved back into the main lake brush from 20-30 feet.
Kentucky bass are everywhere. The visibility is the same from 0-30 feet, indicating the lake is in its early stage of turnover, which is about 2-3 weeks earlier than normal. The steady water levels have contributed to this. Striper fishing is slow as is walleye. The best bite is Kentucky bass and crappie on main lake point brush using slip floats and live minnows and creature baits on jigheads.
The lake overall is in excellent condition and at a good level, but overall fishing is just fair at best. Some good fish are being brought in every day, but you have to work for them
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 9-21-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 2.4 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.7 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 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 9-21-2023) 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 9-21-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said, “Beaver Lake has big changes going on. We have started the turnover process. This can slow fishing down for a bit, but then it usually roars back with a good fall bite. The only other thing that’s of interest is we had 4 inches of rain Wednesday and the forecast is for 4-6 more in the next couple of days. Should be very interesting to see what impact this may have. My hope is that it speeds up the process by mixing the waters. Will be interesting to see what happens as I cannot recall 6 inches of rain at the start of turnover.
“So on to the report: Stripers are still pretty good as of late. Now that will change next week, I believe. Not sure if for the better or worse but it will change. Right now look from Point 4 and 5 to the dam and you may want to run back south toward Prairie Creek as the fish will start to move south for the winter coming up. Crappie are fair and if you work your brush piles you will catch some fish. I have downsized to 1/32-ounce jigheads and 4-pound test. When Beaver gets tough, well, that’s when you go smaller on everything. Walleye are scattered with a few being caught on crawler harnesses around Prairie Creek and Beaver Shores in 20-34 feet of water. Catfish are still hitting the crawler harnesses, also.
“Good luck and be safe this Friday through Sunday and watch for lighting with these storms.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 9-21-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said this summer has been slow. It got hot (in temperature) and they just didn’t see a lot of fishermen. Crappie are OK now, there is just no fishing pressure. The lake is down several feet. It’s pretty, but now about 6-7 feet below normal level. Water is clear. Anglers are LiveScoping and catching crappie around brush. Black bass are just hit or miss on a hodgepodge of baits. “I can’t find any consistent pattern the anglers are using,” they report. “If it’s cloud they’re fishing shallow with a topwater early and doing fair. If it’s a clear day, they just finesse them with soft plastics in 10-15 feet depth. There is good fishing, overall; they are catching some bass, but there just is no real consistency.”
Nothing’s been heard lately on white bass or catfish.
“Most people coming in to the store have a bow in their hands now, so the fishing pressure is just light … nobody is burning them up.” Call it fair all around on fishing. Use minnows for the crappie. Regular walleye anglers are probably catching a few here and there in the river arms.
(updated 9-21-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) reported that fishing has 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 9-7-2023) 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 9-21-2023) 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.
(updated 9-21-2023) 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 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 9-21-2023) 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 9-21-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new reports, but in recent weeks, 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 9-21-2023) 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.
(updated 9-21-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Tuesday that the Army Corp of Engineers’ 2-foot drawdown of Millwood was scheduled to end this week, while a 1-foot drawdown (258.2 feet msl) would hold until Nov. 1. Mike urges boaters and anglers to use extreme caution until normal pool conditions return; stumps and shallow flats exist and obstacles are at or near the surface, while main lake boat lanes may be dry and out of the water or less than 1 foot deep in some areas.
Mike said that as of Tuesday, lake elevation was about 28 inches below normal conservation pool and still falling. Clarity was improving in most locations. Up Little River from White Cliffs to Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing, the water remains more heavily stained. Reduced river flow rate and current. The Millwood tailwater elevation was near 224 feet msl and steady with gate discharge at the dam near 180 cfs in Little Rive, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website also linked above, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temperature has been stable this week, ranging 77-82 degrees along Little River depending on location and the time of day. Clarity along Little River is stained but improving in many locations, worse further up Little River, with river clarity ranging 15-24 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of the oxbows will vary widely from heavy stain to good clarity; visibility ranges 15-30 inches up to 3 feet in a few locations away from river flow.
Mike offered these specifics of the fishing this week:
* Largemouth bass are best from daybreak until up around 10 a.m., but continue randomly schooling into early afternoon along Little River from Pugh Slough and Snake Creek all the way upriver to White Cliffs Creek dump. “We found several schools of adolescent largemouth schooling early this week between Jack’s Isle and Hurricane Creek early and eager to bust a Bass Assassin Shad or Clear Baby Torpedo on the surface, then alternating with a shallow-diving Bill Lewis Lures SB-57 or Echo 1.75 square-bill crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps with a tail spinner.”
Brush Hogs continue working Texas-rigged, or fish a Bang 3.5-inch Skunk Ape, along grass lines and stumps in the river. Most bass are ranging 2-3 pounds, but activity slows in afternoon warming. “We connected with some largemouth and Kentucky bass and white bass in the early morning on Cordell Jigging Spoons all in various groups following shad schools along the river. Anywhere a creek channel dumps into Little River, the mouths of the creeks are holding various size schools of largemouths or spotted bass. Along Little River just north of Jack’s Isle creek dump in the first bend to the right, there were a few good schools of schooling largemouth and juvenile spotted Bass chasing shad. These schooling bass were hitting chrome/blue, Sexy Prism and Silver Tennessee Shad-colored Rat-L-Traps after the surface-breaking slowed for another 15-20 minutes at a time.
Best colors of Shad Assassins with current water clarity are Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, Chico’s Red Ear and Pumpkinseed. Best colors of Brush Hogs are Watermelon Candy with chartreuse tail, June Bug Red and Skunk Apes in black/blue tail, Hematoma Shad or Blank Check.
The schooling largemouths seemed to like our topwater plugs when surface-breaking, like the Cordell Crazy Shads (chrome/black), Baby Torpedoes (clear), and Pop R’s (any shad color with a white bucktail) or a Bass Assassin Shad skipping on the surface. Small 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 and 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 near late morning and close to noon. Best colors of Power Worms have been Blue Fleck and Black Grape, as well as Brush Hogs in Watermelon Candy with chartreuse tail.
Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows, Cemetery Slough and Black’s Creek along Little River continue to hold the best water clarity, but the more aggressive largemouth and Kentucky bass this week seemed to respond better in Little River at creek junctions on primary and secondary points. In the mouth of McGuire oxbow up Little River this week, we tied into a few decent 15- to 17-inch bass 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.
* White bass: We found a few very large schools surface-breaking in Little River between Jack’s Isle and the mouth of Mud Lake on the north bank heading upriver along the edges near grass mats and extended points breaking off into deep water, chasing shad. These whites were hitting Cordell or Kastmaster 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. Once the surface-breaking subsided, we were able to coax another 5-10 good bites from the school by switching to a Rat-L-Trap MR6 Crankbait, or a Magnum-size three-quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap in Silverado color, or an ATV Square Bill. The majority of these hard-charging, and jerk-the-rod-outta-your-hands white bass, were feeding aggressively and ranged from around 2-3 pounds each.
* The crappie bite has been slow to fair over the past week along Little River and Bee Lake oxbow; it will be best using minnows one day and jigs the next in 12-16 feet of depth in planted brush piles up to 2 pounds.
* No reports on bream or catfish still.
(updated 9-21-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) said anglers report a few crappie being caught. Hand-tied jigs work well here, along with minnows. Also, some catfish and bass have been caught.
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 9-21-2023) Randy Plyler with Plyler Outdoors Guide Service (870-210-0522) said DeGray is nearly 10 feet low and the water temperature is ranging 77-81 degrees. Bass are schooling early in the morning and late in the evening and can be caught on topwater lures as well as vertical-jigging a spoon. White bass and hybrids are schooling as well along in the mix with the bass. They can also be caught on topwater as well as vertical-jigging a spoon. No report on crappie.
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 9-21-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 61 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 weekday 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 spring flooding. The annual winter drawdown will also begin in November to allow for dock renovation and vegetation control. Extreme heat had kept many anglers of 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 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 when these game fish 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 temperature 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 8-21-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no new reports.
(updated 9-7-2023) 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 9-21-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, the new owner of Carter Cove Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025), formerly Andrews, said fishing has been slow.
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 9-21-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are good. Try your favorite topwater lure early or late. Walleye are good. Three-quarter-ounce silver spoons and drop-shotting night crawlers are still working for these fish. Stripers are still fair. These fish are being caught in the eastern and central portions 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 still very good and being caught on small jigs. Try brush and structure 20-25 feet depth. Catfish are still good on rod and reel with crawlers or cut bait. Jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too.
Water temperature has been ranging 78-82 degrees. Water clarity is clear. Lake level on Wednesday was 568.97 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 9-21-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said that now on Lake Ouachita, It’s definitely fall crappie time. They have moved up the creek arms and stacked up on brush piles in 25-35 feet of water where you can fish at 15-18 feet deep over them.. Live bait for sure will harvest ample numbers. Tightlining jigs will get some, too. Water temperature is down to 75 degrees. Bass are schooling in the same areas for their morning feed.
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.
(updated 9-21-2023) 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 and into September, Cook’s Lake has not had any anglers trying their hand at fishing recently. Fishing will be wrapping up soon on the oxbow as it’s turned over to waterfowl resting later next month.
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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