Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Sept. 28, 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: A Missouri angler caught and released this beautiful 24-inch, 6- pound rainbow trout while fishing out of Jenkins Fishing and Motel at Calico Rock.
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 9-28-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Thursday that fishing is about the same as it’s been lately. Anglers are still coming out in steady numbers as the lake drops in elevation, in preparation for the renovation ahead. Crappie are biting on minnows. Black bass will go after Yum Dingers and spinnerbaits. Catfish like an assortment of baits, if not “everything thrown at them.” Start out with live bait or cut bait and go from there. You should have success.
The prize for catching a tagged fish in Lake Conway (through Oct. 31) has been raised from $500 to $1,000. There were over 50 fish tagged by the AGFC to aid in research as the lake is drawn down. Many fish are expected to escape from the lake through the Palarm Creek spillway as the lake continues to drop. Lake level was approaching 260 feet this week. “It’s very obvious now, it’s getting on down there,” a Bates employee told us.
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 9-28-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said the generation schedule has been fairly consistent for a while now that the temperatures started to fall. “Usually running just an hour or two and starting late in the afternoon. Or they didn’t generate at all for the day. We didn’t get much water running through the turbines last week and had low flows. But this week the forecast has 90-degree daytime temps forecasted throughout the week and no rain. I’d expect to see them running a little bit more water as the daytime temperatures rise. Or, at least hope they run more water. The fishing is always better when they have a consistent generation schedule and good flows.”
“The water temperature around Dripping Springs Access and further downriver warms up when they don’t run much water and the fish start to get stressed out when this happens and the bite goes way down. Be mindful as your fishing as the temperature starts to rise.
“Starting early in the morning while we have good flows and the water is dropping out has provided the best bite. I’ve been fishing the deeper sections of the river when we have low flows or no generation for the day. When the sun gets at its peak I start concentrating around the deeper water by the moss beds, or anywhere there is some flow. We’ve been mostly drift-fishing a nymph rig usually with a small Pheasant Tail soft hackle and a midge dropper.
“For beginners I’ve been starting them out by running egg patterns or a San Juan Worm or just a single fly underneath an indicator. The best flies for me at the moment have been small buggy patterns, Pheasant Tail nymphs or Hare’s Ear nymphs. Root Beer Midges, peach eggs and pink San Juan Worms.
“There’s been a lot of pressure on certain sections of the river because of the low flows from both wade anglers and boat anglers. Try mixing it up and throwing different fly patterns or adjusting the size of fly or downsizing your tippet if the bite gets tough while we experience the low flows.”
(updated 9-28-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) said, “We are still 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 mealworm and pink lemonade 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 9-28-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the water has been really low. In a boat, be aware of the shoals. On low water like this, a 1/32-ounce or 1/16-ounce Maribou Jig in an olive color has been doing well. Also try a 1/16-ounce Rooster Tail in rainbow or brown trout color. And give a try to the Trout Magnet Mini Magnet, it’s been doing really well. Use the white color of Mini Magnet. Rainbows are predominantly what are being caught these days in the lower water. Brown trout are few and far between with the low water. They tend to bunch up in the deeper pools. Lot of browns will feed at night when the water is like this.
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 9-28-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 454.35 feet msl, 8.19 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet and falling with generation. Water temperature is in the high 70s to low 80-degree mark and shad are more shallow than usual for this time of year.
Crappie continue to be caught pretty well but are getting real skittish of people chasing them around with forward-facing sonar. Try fishing straight up and down in 10-40 feet of water with jigs and minnows or troll crankbaits. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating in 22-50 feet of water on spoons and inline spinners all over the lake and rivers; stay with the shad, some even coming to top on given days. Catfish are eating a variety of baits, with hot dogs doing real well all over the lake and rivers using several different methods.
Walleye are following shad also; they’re at 22-40 feet eating when the time is right. Minnows and nightcrawlers are working by being dragged around on several different methods. Bream are spawning again — use crawlers, crickets, inline spinners and small crankbaits from real shallow out to 25 feet on flats. Black bass are eating on top down to 50 feet in certain areas all over the lake and rivers. Round, sloping points seem to be working best with a variety of baits.
(updated 9-28-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said anglers should be advised that the lake is 9 feet low at the moment. There are boat accesses that are closed or partially closed now. Also, boat with caution with structure closer to the surface.
In the early morning, throw a Whopper Plopper in a bone or black color; that has been working very well, along with a white buzzbait or a clear Zara Spook.
As the day goes on, fishing a windy bank with a spinnerbait or crankbait in a shad color is a great way to catch bass. Also try a single swim bait on a jighead. Reports are that a drop-shot has been doing well, too.
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 9-28-2023) John “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Landing off Arkansas Highway 9 said water level is about 2 feet low and surface temperature is around 85 degrees with fair clarity. Black bass are doing well on buzzbaits and plastic worms. Bream have slowed up but anglers are still catching some on crickets and redworms. Catfish are doing well on yo-yos and jugs using minnows. Crappie are being caught in 5 feet of water and 8-10 feet of water using jigs and minnows.
(updated 9-28-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reports that water temperature is in the mid-80s. The largemouth bass bite is good. They are biting best in the mornings and evenings. They can be found shallow, some starting to hit topwater as well as at 16-20 feet depth. Try using crankbaits, flukes, a wacky rig shallow and Texas rig deep. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) also are good. Reports of them being found in all depths and scattered. Some spots are chasing schools of minnows on top as well as catching them in 10-15 feet. Shaky heads and jigs are go-to baits.
WestRock hosted its Tuesday Night Fish Off Championship last Saturday from 3 p.m.-midnight, with 23 teams qualifying and 21 catching a 5-fish limit. Vaughn Greenway and Daniel Romine returned to the dock with an 18.06-pound stringer, including a 5.97-pound Big Bass, to win. Lee Brizzolara and Wes Lowder hauled in 16.32 pounds.
White bass are slow. They are scatted, and anglers are catching a few here and there. Crappie are good. Reports of crappie being found around brush in 16-18 feet. Use jigs and minnows. Bream are slow. Anglers are catching some anywhere from 8-15 feet depth as well as in 3-5 feet. Use crickets or worms. No reports on catfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
For the real-time water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam and Morrilton stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 9-21-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said things have picked up. Water is normal and clear. People are catching a few crappie on minnows. The black bass were doing well on crankbait. Some people 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 9-28-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says angers are catching fish by going to the sandbars and main river jetties. They may not be catching sizable fish, but they catching a lot of numbers now.
The best river presentation seems to be square bill crankbaits, anything from shallow- diving ones to 10-foot diving, and also in any type of natural shad color as the fish are relating to the shad now. Also try a quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap, a quarter-ounce spinnerbaits, and also a single swimbait on a jighead. Successful angers are targeting schooling fish chasing shad.
Also, there is an early morning/late evening topwater bit. Use a buzzbait, a Zara Spook, or even a small frog in a white color.
(updated 9-28-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Perfect Arkansas Ozark autumn days — cool mornings; warm, sunny afternoons — are unmatched for making memories on the White River. Bull Shoals Lake is approaching 656.66 feet mls, 3 feet below the fall pool elevation of 659 feet mls. The current generation schedule continues to follow the pattern we’ve seen for the last six weeks or so: minimum flow in the mornings (very low), gradually increasing to over three units (9,000 cfs) in the late afternoon.
“The rainbow bite has been steady and plentiful here on the tailwater of Bull Shoals Lake in the Cotter area. Favorite baits: orange/brown or mossy/olive green jigs, 1/8 ounce, and Thomas Buoyant red/gold hammered spoons. Cast those spoons toward the bank, then use a slow and steady retrieval. Don’t ever leave your shrimp at home. Tie that on with your favorite colored egg (salmon egg, Power Bait, fluff ball) and enjoy a lot of excitement.
“September may not provide the best catches of brown trout, but a sculpin drifted near the bottom can still generate the desired outcome. You’ll never know how good an air-filled nightcrawler works until you try it. Get a worm blower, fill a worm with air, float it out there and watch the action.
“The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Trout Management Program keeps our resource healthy and stable and our natural resources have stayed strong. If you’ve not visited Cotter before, come join us. The river will capture your heart.”
(updated 9-28-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said most of the last week they have seen depths as low as 2.5 feet and rising to about 6 feet. “The last few days we’ve seen lows around 4 feet and rising to 7 feet. With the varying river depths and conditions, fishermen have had to be flexible on how they fish. During the low clear water, quarter-ounce spoons worked well. As the water rises the water gets dingy, artificial lures don’t work as well and switching to drift-fishing with UV Eggs with shrimp worked best. Later in the day as the water stops dropping and starts to clear up, Rapala Countdowns CD7 in silver or gold worked well, as did ShadRaps in crawdad colors.
“The next few days we will continue to see some beautiful weather with cool mornings and temps rising into the upper 80s.”
(updated 9-28-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had several rain events that combined for about an inch and a half, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 4.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 38.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.7 foot to rest at 3.4 feet below power pool and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 5.9 feet below power pool and 14.5 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 2.5 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork 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).
He added, “Last week my wife, Lori, and I fished the Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch in Rockbridge, Missouri (commonly called Rockbridge). This is a pay-to-fish resort located in south-central Missouri. It is located on a spring-fed stream and has its own hatchery. You can pay by the fish you catch or choose a catch-and-release option. There is a nice restaurant, a streamside tavern and a variety of overnight accommodations. It is known to have big fish.
“Lori walked and fed our dogs while I loaded our fishing gear into my Suburban. It was about an hour’s drive from our house in Cotter. We ran into some road construction that took a few minutes to get through. We registered at the lodge and were on the stream donning our waders by 9:30 a.m. It was a bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The high for the day was forecast to be 78 degrees.
“We chose to fish the catch-and-release option. The catch-and-release section is downstream from the lodge. The water was crystal clear and easily waded. There was a slow, mild current. There were a few other anglers but there was plenty of water to fish. We chose a pretty spot with high cliffs on the opposite bank and a lot of large trout.
“The fishing was unexpectedly challenging. There was a heavy midge hatch occurring as we arrived. I dug through my fly boxes and located some size 18 Adams Dry Flies. I struggled for a while but managed to land a couple of trout. Meanwhile, Lori was doing her best. She is a better caster and was able to land her fly near the opposite bank. She got several takes, but the flies were so small that the big trout easily broke off during a momentous struggle. She did manage to land a couple of large rainbows.
“I tried to fish a larger Adams. I then tried a Dave’s Hopper and a Woolly Bugger with no success. I then tied on a brown San Juan Worm. I was immediately into a big rainbow. I was fishing one of the rods we use when guiding on Dry Run Creek with 4X tippet. With the drag cranked all of the way down I was able to get the fat 24-inch rainbow into the net fairly easily. I followed with a matching rainbow a few minutes later. My next two trout were lost when they straightened out the hook. Both were much bigger than the previous trout.
Lori changed over to an Elk Hair Caddis and caught a couple more good trout. She then tied on a Crackleback. This was the ticket. This is a fly that I do not generally carry, but all of that is about to change. She landed some really nice trout on it. About then it was time to quit. We went over to the restaurant for a nice lunch and then headed home.
“Easy wading and big trout — what is there not to like!? We are already planning our next trip.”
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 9-28-2023) 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 9-28-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 553.26 feet msl and stable with no discharge for the last 24 hours. Both generators are still inoperable. The White River at Newport is 4.15 feet and still low. The surface water temperature is 79 degrees and also stable with the very warm ambient temperatures. The water is stained green in the creeks and fairly clear on the main lake but also a little green with the lake turnover. The summer thermocline is gone and the water is the same down to about 40-feet where it starts to get cooler. Few fish are below 40 feet and most are between 25-35 feet on and around brush on steep river channel banks and main lake points. Kentucky bass and crappie are the best bite. Try a live minnow just above the brush for crappie on a slip float and a creature bait on a 3/16th-ounce jighead on the first drop-off for the bass or a small jigging spoon in the brush in general. Some walleye are still coming in but most are throwbacks. Temperate bass are scarce and catfishing is also slow with the full moon. The lake is at a good level and condition but overall fishing is fair at best but getting a little bit better with fish scattered, roaming and spooky.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 9-28-2023) 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 2.5 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork 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-head nymph (Zebra Midge, Copper John or Pheasant Tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan Worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan 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 9-28-2023) 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 9-28-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said, “Beaver Lake level is holding stable even though we had 6-8 inches of rain last week. The White River arm from Pin Hook up is stained to muddy. The rest of the lake responded in a positive fashion with the water clearing up to a better color. Turnover is not done yet, as I am seeing a thermocline faint as it may be at 37 feet in some parts and no thermocline in other parts of the lake.
The fishing has improved slightly after all the storms. Stripers are still good and they are spread out from Point 5 to Horseshoe Bend. So you have to trust your electronics to put fish in the boat. Crappie are continuing to move off the thermocline and setting up on brush. Look in 10-20 feet of water. Fishing has been good from Point 12 up to Horseshoe. Jigs and minnows are working and the bite seems better in the afternoon.
Bass fishing is really good now. Lots of blowups for the topwater crowd and pitching jigs/Chatterbaits are working. Bass are located from the bank and out to 25 feet. Catfish are good for those targeting them.
“Fall is coming and the fishing will just get better, especially after the whole lake turns over. We need some cooler weather for that to finish. Stay safe and good luck!”
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 cloudy 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 9-28-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) reported the fishing this past week has been off and on. Water temperatures have been around 50 degrees and the water levels has dropped a little. Trout have been real responsive to Pautzke Fire Worms and Fire Baits, fished with light terminal tackle. The Fire Worms have done best with drifting. The walleye bite has been up and down as well, but it is still there, mainly between Beaver town and Holiday Island. Pulling mid-diving crankbaits coated in Pautzke Fire Gel has been the preferred method.
“Remember to follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for day-to-day updates between reports. Have fun, stay safe and catch some fish!”
(updated 9-28-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said catfish and bass are getting anglers out with some success lately.
(updated 9-28-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says she’s heard reports of nice black bass being caught but no one is sharing what baits are used. But she suggests trying spinnerbaits or a soft plastic worm. Some small sunfish and other bream are being caught from the shore; typically use can use worms or crickets and small jigs. The bream bite is good. Crappie have been hiding; no reports. Catfish are good, with worms, blood bait and chicken liver being favored.
The lake is its usual murky and a little low now. Water temperature earlier this week was 76.8 degrees.
(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 9-28-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said fishing season here on the Spring River has begun. With the brown trout showing up better than ever on the Spring, we expect 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.
He said there are plenty of hatchery rainbows 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 9-28-2023) 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 while the weather is nice. 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 9-28-2023) 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 9-28-2023) 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 9-28-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the Army Corps of Engineers’ 2-feet drawdown of Millwood ended last week, and a 1-foot drawdown will be held until Nov. 1. Boaters should use extreme caution until normal conservation pool conditions return, as stumps and shallow flats and obstacles are at or near the surface. Main lake boat lanes may be dry and out of the water or less than 1 foot deep in some areas. Lake elevation as of Wednesday was 9 inches below normal pool. Clarity continues improving in most locations. Up Little River from White Cliffs to Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing remains more heavily stained. Tailwater elevation is near 232 feet msl and steady with gate discharge at the dam near 7,000 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 also linked above the Millwood Lake listing, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temps were stable this week, ranging 74-80 degrees.
Mike offered these recent details of the major sport fish targets:
* We have not been on the lake this week, but last week the largemouth bass were best from daybreak until 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 aged 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 Crankbait and Rat-L-Traps with a tail spinner.
Brush Hogs and creature baits have been working Texas-rigged, along with Bang 3.5-inch Skunk Apes, along grass lines and stumps in the river. Most bass are ranging from 2-3 pounds but activity slows in afternoon heating. We connected with some largemouth and Kentucky (spotted) bass and white bass in the early morning 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 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 and June Bug Red, while Skunk Apes are best in black/blue tail, Hematoma Shad or Blank Check.
The schooling largemouths we found last week 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 Crankbait 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.
Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows, Cemetery Slough and Black’s Creek along Little River were beginning to stain heavy with current increased, but continue to hold the best water clarity. 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 up Little River this week, we tied into a few decent 15- to 17-inch bass on a Bill Lewis ATV 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 or Kastmaster Hammered Spoons with a white bucktail when we saw them surface schooling. Several different schools of whites were feeding along Little River breaking on shad at the surface, and the 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-out-of-your-hands white bass were feeding aggressively and ranged from around 2-3 pounds each.
* The crappie bite has improved over the past week when we spoke to John Gathright, a friend of ours at Millwood Lake, and wonderful crappie guide on Millwood also. He said it was best using minnows one day and jigs the next in planted brush piles, with catches up to 2 pounds.
* No reports on bream or catfish.
(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 9-28-2023) 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 not scheduled a recreational weekend release the past several weeks. Also, the weekday release of 6,900 cfs has been reduced to two 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 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 September as these fish migrate in and out of the tailrace chasing threadfin shad. Zara Spooks and Alabama rigs have been the lures of choice when feeding schools of bass have been observed in the late evening on the main channel and just below the bridge. Jigs have also caught fish over the deeper waters of the main channel in a white or gray pattern. Hybrid bass have also been taken using the same techniques — most of which are in the 3- to 4-pound class. A few large stripers have been seen in the area when the turbines are running just before nightfall.
No big numbers of game fish have been reported during the summer months, but several different species of fish are always present close to the dam. Bream and crappie numbers are low but they are being caught on jigs, minnows and nightcrawlers during periods of no generation along with catfish that spawn next to the dam in late June. Because baitfish are often present in the tailrace, these species can be found and caught all throughout the summer months. Good numbers of crappie and white bass are always taken by anglers in March and April which are the times for these game fish to spawn.
The absence of rainbow trout always creates a huge void for anglers to deal with on Lake Catherine in the tailrace area. This year was no exception. Fishing will improve dramatically as the trout stocking schedule kicks into gear this fall and temperatures allow a safer environment to be on the water. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and remember to follow all park and boating regulations when visiting our local lakes.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ outflow and gauge level reports from Dardanelle, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 9-28-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no new reports.
(updated 9-28-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass anglers are concentrating on main lake points and the guts of creeks. Mostly they are targeting schooling fish or fish relating to a drop-off or ledge. Crankbaits or a drop-shot work when the bass are down on the drop-offs. When the fish are schooling, anglers are catching them on a clear Zara Spook or some kind of clear topwater lure.
Crappie on Lake Hamilton have been biting pretty well of lake. They are being caught on a one-sixteenth-ounce gray hair jig. They’ve been targeting them in 15-20 feet of water.
And something to consider for families wanting to get the kids out and catching: There are still bream bedding around the docks and biting on crickets.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow reports from Nimrod Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 9-28-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, the new owner of Carter Cove Bait-N-More (479-272-4025), formerly Andrews, said fishing is slow, but a 56-pound flathead catfish was caught earlier this month. Carter Cove has a Facebook page and the email address is email@example.com. Stop in for live bait, tackle, cabin rentals, pizza, burgers, sandwiches and more.
For the current lake level at Blakely Dam, click here.
(updated 9-28-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are fair. Try your favorite topwater early or late. Walleye are fair to slow. Three-quarter-ounce silver spoons and drop-shotting nightcrawlers are still working for these fish. Stripers are 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 good and being caught on small jigs. Try brush and structure 20-25 feet deep. Catfish are fair on rod and reel with crawlers or cut bait. Jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too.
The water temperature is ranging 78-82 degrees. Water clarity is clear. Lake level is 568.61 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 9-28-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said the crappie are doing great and stacking up more and more each day. You’ll find them most on brush piles in 25-35 feet of water where you are able to fish 15-20 feet deep upon them.
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 9-28-2023) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321) says they are still there welcoming anglers, but the water has been “low, low, low. We haven’t had many people fishing so there’s nothing to report.” Cook’s Lake will provide a good fall opportunity for fishing as things cool and before it closes for the season to serve as a waterfowl rest area.
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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