Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Oct. 5, 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: Agustin Icka from Chile was visiting his godparents in Arkansas for the first time and had never caught trout, at least until this trip. Fishing out of Gaston’s Resort on the White RIver with guide Paul Jones and Graeme Shaw, Icka’s godfather from Marmaduke, Icka and the others had a most-memorable trip catching many trout, including this gorgeous brown. Photo provided by Graeme Shaw.
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 9-28-2023) 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 10-5-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said the Southwestern Power Administration has been running water most days starting sometime late in the afternoon and usually running for an hour or two. Then there’s days when they don’t run anything at all.
“I’d expect to see the same generation schedule unless it gets hot again but I think fall has finally settled in. The bite has been best on the days when they run water the previous night. Start fishing early while there’s still some flowing water falling out from the previous night’s generation schedule.
“With the low flows, try fishing anywhere there’s still some current. The fish will be in the oxygenated shoals and in the deep holes below the shoals. The deep slow-moving pools have been holding fish, especially if there’s a bunch of moss beds in the area.
Set your indicator deep and fish the deep, slow sections that most people float through.
“The patterns I’ve been fishing the most have been peach or apricot egg patterns. Anything buggy, Pheasant Tail soft hackles or Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear. And Midges. Lately I’ve been running two rods. One of the rods is set up with either a single egg pattern or a San Juan Worm. The other rod is set up with a double-nymph rig and has a buggy pattern as the top fly, and 16 inches below it I have a midge dropper.”
(updated 10-5-2023) 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 low water conditions. Lower sections are unfortunately seeing warm-water conditions. Water release pattern could change if the need for hydropower increases or we have cooler air temperatures. 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 10-5-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 454.13 feet msl, which is 7.91 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling with generation. Water temp is 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 and white bass are eating 22-50 feet of water on spoons, inline spinners all over 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 good all over lake and rivers using several different methods. Walleye are following shad also 22-40 feet eating when time is right, minnows and night crawlers dragged around on several different methods working. Bream are spawning again; use crawlers ,crickets, inline spinners, small crank baits real shallow out to 25 feet on flats. Black basses are eating on top down to 50 feet in certain areas all over lake and rivers, round sloping points seem to be working best on 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 10-5-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says everything is doing good. Anglers are catching a lot of catfish on trotline. Some more than 12 pounds. They are using minnows and stink bait on the lines at night. Largemouth bass are biting well in the morning and the evening. Anglers are using purple-colored soft plastic worms among a variety of other baits. One bass caught was about 4-5 pounds fishing from a kayak. The same angler caught several as well during the full moon that were at least 2 pounds each.
Bream have slowed down but you can still catch some off the bank on worms and crickets. Crappie are still slow; the temperature of the water is reportedly still not right, according to anglers. Still some anglers are trying and catching a few that were small. Minnows and jigs are best.
The water level is kind of low, they say and has muddied with the rain this week.
(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 10-5-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reports that the largemouth bass bite is good. Water temperature has settled into the mid-80s. Largemouths are biting best in the mornings and evenings. They can be found shallow; more are starting to hit topwater lures as well as various other baits in 16-20 feet depth. Try crankbaits, flues, a wacky rig in shallow water and a Texas rig deep. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are good as well. There are reports of spots being found an all depths scattered. Some anglers report catching them in 10-15 feet depth off rocky points. Try using shaky heads and jigs. No reports on white bass. Crappie fishing is great. Reports of crappie being found around brush in 16-18 feet depth. Use jigs and minnows. Bream are slow. Some are being caught 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 10-5-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said things are looking up for anglers on the river. The water is clear and normal, and the crappie in particularly really began to bite this week. Crappie are being caught in 4 feet depth, with anglers using minnows. Bass are biting well on crankbaits and plastic worms.
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 10-5-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing continues to be the primary draw to the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks, though hunting season has lots of our folks (including guides) in the woods instead of on the river. Leaves more for those of us catching trout — and catching is the name of the game this week. The Bull Shoals Lake tailwater continues to offer all-day action for anglers and satisfies the most zealous of fishers.
“The lake is now 3 feet below the new seasonal power pool target of 659 and keeps dropping. Power generation from the dam remains at minimum flows in the morning followed by much higher releases averaging 4-5 units (12-15,000 cfs) in the afternoon. Waders, beware. Always be alert to water level changes; sometimes the water sneaks up on you, sometimes it rises fast.
“Low water means we all share a sometimes narrow main channel — boat traffic and waders alike — so please watch out for, and be courteous to, fellow anglers, be they in a boat, on the shore or wading nearer the action in the river.
“The rainbow catch was abundant this past week. The water is perfect for some jig fishing. D2 Trout Magnet or Whiter River Zig Jigs are fun to play. Look for olive, olive/orange, white or brown/orange. Nightcrawlers and red wigglers bested the bubblegum pink-scented worm; however, the XFactor shrimp pink worm played a role in a good share of landed trout, too. We found less success with the shrimp/PowerBait combo than usual, but alternating shrimp and worms over the course of the day proved successful.
“Start thinking about spawn season. Change your egg patterns or PowerBait choices to orange, white and/or sunrise colors.
“You’ll enjoy your fishing adventures much more if you come prepared for Arkansas weather extremes. This week we will begin to see fall temperatures as the lows creep down toward the 40s and the highs drop to around 70 degrees. Whatever the weather, we know we’re blessed to be here in The Natural State and always look forward to meeting fellow trout lovers. Stop in and say ‘Hi.’”
(updated 10-5-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said they continue to see water depths under 3 feet in the morning and rising to about 6 feet (a little plus or minus) by late morning. The water has had some dinginess in the morning and clearing later in the day as the water levels drop. It hasn’t been uncommon for boats to leave Calico Rock and run upriver a few miles to Red’s Landing to find cleaner water and fish back to and through Calico Rock following the dropping water. In the mornings drift-fishing with a silver inline spinner with Uncommon Bait Bright Orange UV glow eggs and shrimp has worked well. Additionally, fishing the deeper holes with deeper-diving ShadRap size 5 lures in shad or orange crawdad colors worked. As the water drops in the afternoon using quarter-ounce Colorado Spoons with nickel/gold or copper/gold or Buoyant Rainbow Trout or Brown Trout-colored spoons work well while fishing the gravel bars. Additionally, Rapala CD7 Countdowns in either silver or rainbow trout color have resulted in some nice trout. The rain Wednesday and Thursday may muddy the water temporarily, but it shouldn’t last very long. This week we had one stocking of 550 rainbow trout with additional stockings upriver at Chessmond Ferry and Red’s Landing.
(updated 10-5-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had no rain (it is just beginning to rain as I write this), cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 foot to rest at 2.9 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 38.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 3.4 feet below power pool and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell at 0.5 foot to rest at 5.1 feet below power pool and 14.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had had wadable water every morning with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at at 0.4 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. All turbines on the Norfork Dam 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 Bull Shoals State Park. 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 Eorms, 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, “Last Thursday my wife, Lori, and I took our weekly fishing trip this time to Rim Shoals. It was a gorgeous day. Even early on it was bright and clear without the usual heavy fog. The temperature was scheduled to hit the mid-80s by mid-afternoon. We planned to be long gone by then. It was a cool start but I peeled my light wind shirt off in just a few minutes after we started. The going was slow for me, but Lori was catching several trout. After a few hours the bite really slowed. We decided to head in.
“I started the motor and headed toward the ramp. I noticed a truck with a utility trailer than contained a big white tank on it out on the ramp at the water line. There was a White River john boat pulled up next to it. I had noticed it earlier in the day and wondered just what it was doing. I assumed that someone was having a motor problem.
“When we got to the bank, I recognized the guy in the trailer, T.L. Lauerman, conservation chair for our local White River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. I recognized one of the guys in the boat, Clay Henry, the retired sportswriter who still writes for Hawgs Illlustrated. T.L. and I quickly got into a conversation of what he was doing.
“They were stocking Bonneville cutthroat trout. This is the continuation of a stocking program that T.L. had started years ago to introduce a new species of wild trout to the White and North Fork rivers. The idea was to add a renewable resource.
“Originally Trout Unlimited brought in no less than Dave Whitlock to supervise the first stocking. They took Bonneville cutthroat trout eggs and put them into Whitlock Vibert boxes, which are designed to stock trout eggs into streams and offer them some protection from predators. They then buried them in gravel runs in catch-and-release waters to give them more protection. This was a demanding technique that required a large number of volunteers and perfect low-water conditions. TU did this for several years.
“When they began planning this year’s stocking, the Army Corps of Engineers could not guarantee the low flows required for this technique. T.L. was determined to not waste these valuable eggs and came up with another plan.
“They had the trout eggs hatched in the Norfork National Fish Hatchery and raised there until they were 2-3 inches long. They were then taken to the river in the large white tanks that I saw. The trout were netted up and transferred to the waiting john boat. They were then randomly released in the river. This would give them a better chance to survive than if they were hatched in the river. Lori and I watched them work. It was definitely easier than planting the Whitlock Vibert boxes.
“It sounds to me to be a rational response to the water conditions. I look forward to fishing for the Bonneville cutthroats at Rim Shoals.”
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 10-5-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level 656 feet msl, or 3 feet below normal pool. The water temperature is about 77 degrees. “Looks like we are getting a Little rain and cooler weather. Bass fishing has been slow to fair. The early morning topwater has been off. A small walk-the-dog-style bait like a Zara Spook or Lucky Craft Gunfish will work. If they’re busting don’t put it away, though, as they can go into the middle of the day.
“Fall fishing equals junk fishing, covering water with a Whopper Plopper or buzzbait on days with wind and clouds. The shad have started their migration towards the creeks. A lot of shad are still way off the long points. But they are everywhere right now. Look for areas where they are bunched up. I have found groups from the surface down to 60 feet. Graphing can pay off, 28-34 feet seems to be a consistent depth for the drop-shot.
“On the points, brush piles, ledges, etc., a big worm, shaky head worm and Jewel Jig are working. If the shad are around, you’re probably going to get bit. Hopefully the Corps will generate some water.”
If you venture into the stained water in the backs, most days you’re going to have to work for them. Target areas with shad. Go with a square bill, Chatterbait, big worm and Beaver-style bait in the laydowns.
Overall, there’s a lot of roaming suspended schooling fish 20-35 feet over deep water still. These videogame fish can be tough to fool; try a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad or drop-shot with a Robo. Fall fishing can be hit or miss as conditions change. Walleyes eating a drop-shot again. They started piling on the points and they seem to be following the shad again, and folks are still catching a few bottom bouncing at 28-34 feet. Crappie guys are hopping brush piles working for them; the crappie are starting to pile in. Every day is different; be sure to fish the conditions. “It isn’t easy fishing right now, you’re gonna have to work for them.”
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 10-5-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday night that the lake level was 553.49 feet msl and had risen 1.6 inches in the last 24 hours with no discharge from the dam for several days. The White River at Newport is 3.8 feet and still low. There has been 1.6 inches of rain so far on Wednesday as of 6:30 p.m. and it is still raining.
The fishing is getting better with the summer thermocline gone for about 10 days and the lake is clearing and is homogenous down to 40 feet, where the water gets cold and there is little oxygen, but has good visibility until you get down to dark water. Scuba diving conditions are good and fishing is getting better. Crappie have moved to the main lake on brush along with Kentucky bass and a few largemouths. Pea gravel banks are holding a lot of fish, especially on brush from 18-23 feet. A few keeper walleye are showing up partway back in Blackburns Creek. Stripers are moving upstream and back into deeper creeks and can be caught on spoons. Live minnows on slip floats for crappie, Kentucky bass and bluegill are the best, but creature baits on jigheads near the bank are working for bass. There is some topwater actionboth early and late partway back in the creeks but are mostly small bass. “I am finding some white bass on the main point outside of brush piles. The moon is waning and the lake is rising and catfishing is getting better. Use 3-inch live bait for the best results. Cut bait, hotdogs and other stuff are only catching small fish.”
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 10-5-2023) 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 at 0.4 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. All turbines on the Norfork Dam are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). My favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worms and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better despite a lot of fishing pressure. School is back in session and weekdays are not as crowded. The hot flies have been Sowbugs, various colored San Juan Worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white Mop Flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-5-2023) 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 10-5-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake remains in the 1,115-feet range. Turnover is sputtering but all of this will change with lows this weekend in the upper 30s and some rain predicted. “Hoping this will flip the lake, as fishing is always a challenge in turnover. Stripers are still showing up and they are scattered everywhere. Look from Horseshoe Bend down to Lost Bridge South area. Again, rely on your electronics to pinpoint schools. Shad is best option with bluegill working, also. Small but fun bass are in big schools from Point 12 to Horseshoe. Lots of boils and blowups in the early morning and right before dark. These fish are small schoolies but are a blast to catch.
Crappie are fair. They are moving to brush in the 8-15 feet range. Jigs and minnows will work. As this water cools, fishing should pick up. Walleye are scattered throughout, making it hard to place a finger on where they are at this time. ”One piece of advice is on the crappie — I have had to downsize line size and jigs to 1/32-ounce to get bit on the jigs. Also from Point 12 up to Camp War Eagle is a good place to look for crappie and back toward Hickory as the water here seems to be in better shape than other areas.
“I fished up the White (Tuesday) and the bite was tough. When I went back toward Point 12 the fish seemed to cooperate better.”
Catfish are still biting for all of you targeting them.
“Good luck! Lake is still coming down, so keep you eyes open for any hazards. Tight lines.”
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 9-28-2023) 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 9-21-2023) 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 10-5-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says crappie are being found in deeper water, while anglers caught 10-pound flatheads on lines while fishing this past week. Water temperature recorded in the shade Sunday was 74.8 degrees. The water level is low and the clarity is the usual murky. There were no reports on bream. The overall crappie bite was fair; try jigs or worms. Black bass have been biting well, but anglers haven’t revealed their baits. For the good catfish bite, cry chicken liver or minnows.
(updated 10-5-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, did not have a new report. Most recently, though, crappie were biting on minnows and light-colored jigs intermittently, while catfish were biting in the evening on chicken liver and live bait across old creek beds. Black bass were taking to topwater lures or spoons. Remember, bass and crappie are catch-and-release only under current Lake Poinsett guidelines following its major renovation.
(updated 10-5-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) had no recent reports, other than the water at the Spring River was very low in September but the brown trout bite was on.
(updated 10-5-2023) 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 10-5-2023) 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 10-5-2023) 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 10-5-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service urges boaters to use extreme caution at Millwood until normal conservation pool conditions return, as stumps and shallow flats and other obstacles are at or near the surface. Main lake boat lanes may be dry and out of the water or less than a foot deep in some areas. The Army Corps of Engineers has concluded the 2-foot drawdown of Millwood and is allowing it to refill, but will maintain a 1-foot drawdown from normal pool until Nov. 1.
As of Wednesday, the lake was 3 inches below normal pool due to recent rainfall. THe lake is stained to heavy stain in most location. Surface temperature is stable this week, ranging 72-78 degrees along Little River, depending on location and the time of day.
Mike had these fishing specifics:
* “With all the projects we have been working on to remove floating logs, stumps and obstructions in the creeks and boat lanes over the past couple weeks, 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 they 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 Crankbaits, and Rat-L-Traps with a tail spinner.”
Brush Hogs and creature baits have been working Texas-rigged, and so have 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 warming. We connected with some largemouth and Kentucky bass and whites 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 spots 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 best Skunk Apes colors are 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-Rs (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, 10-inch Power Worm 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. Best colors of Power Worms have been Blue Fleck and Black Grape, and best color of Brush Hogs are Watermelon Candy with chartreuse tail.
* Mike said they found a few very large schools of white bass schooling and surface-breaking in Little River between Jack’s Isle and the 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. Several different schools 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 ¾-ounce Rat-L-Trap in Silverado, or an ATV square bill.
* The crappie bite has improved over the past two weeks and is best using minnows one day and jigs the next in planted brush piles, with catches up to 2 pounds.
* High fin blue catfish and channel cats improved with the recent increase in river current on trotlines and limblines, according to three friends we spoke with this week. Chicken livers, hearts, Punch Bait and homemade blood bait were working best on trotlines set across Little River from 8-14 feet of depth.
* No reports on bream.
(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 9-21-2023) 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 10-5-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 63 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has not scheduled a recreational weekend release the past several weeks. Also, the weekday release has been reduced to minimum flow for purposes of power generation and lake level management. This pattern will continue for the next several months in an effort to refill Lake Ouachita. 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 for lakes Hamilton and Catherine will also begin in November to allow for dock renovation and vegetation control.
Extreme heat kept many anglers of the water below Carpenter Dam this summer but diehard anglers caught numbers of white bass in late August and early September as these fish migrate in and out of the tailrace chasing threadfin shad. Zara Spooks and Alabama rigs have been the lures of choice when feeding schools of bass have been observed in the late evening on the main channel and just below the bridge. Jigs have also caught fish over the deeper waters of the main channel in a white or gray pattern. Hybrid bass have also been taken using the same techniques, most of which are in the 3- to 4-pound class. A few large stripers have been seen in the area when the turbines are running just before nightfall. No big numbers of game fish have been reported during the summer months, but several different species of fish are always present close to the dam. Bream and crappie numbers are low but 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 warm months. Good numbers of crappie and white bass are always taken by anglers in March and April which are the times for these gamefish to spawn.
The absence of rainbow trout always creates a huge void for anglers to deal with on Lake Catherine in the tailrace area. This year has been no exception. Fishing will improve dramatically as the trout stocking schedule kicks into gear this fall and temperature allows 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 10-5-2023) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop in for live bait, tackle, cabin rentals, pizza, burgers, sandwiches and more.
For the current lake level at Blakely Dam, click here.
(updated 10-5-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are still fair. Try your favorite topwater early or late. Walleye are slow. Three-quarter-ounce silver spoons and drop-shotting nightcrawlers are still working for these fish. Stripers remain fair. These fish are being caught in the eastern and central portions of the lake and can be caught on live bait. Bream are fair. Try a cricket or worm near brush in the 15-25 feet depth range for a quality bite. Crappie are still 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 76-80 degrees. Water clarity is clear. Lake level is 568.32 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.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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