Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Oct. 12, 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: This couple found the bass angling terrific this past weekend at Lake Charles in Lake Charles State Park in northeast Arkansas. Photo provided by Shelly Jeffrey.
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 10-12-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said catfish are great. But the big news is that crappie are too now. “Saturday it started picking up and they’re coming on now,” they tell us. “We’ve sold lots of minnows, but most people are using jigs. We don’t have a (1/32-ounce) jighead in the house.”
Crappie are in the channels — that’s about all the major water left and the lake is being drained for the AGFC’s major renovation planned there – and will bite in 2 feet of water. This time of the year is about when crappie kick on, as the water temperature settles into their comfort zone.
Catfish are very hot now on trotlines and jugs. The best bait to use is trotline minnows or bass minnows.
Nothing has been heard this week on the bass front, and bream disappeared about the time the drawdown began last month.
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, and two tagged fish were caught when the value was $500 per tag. Many fish were expected to escape from the lake through the Palarm Creek spillway as the lake continues to drop.
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 10-12-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said SWPA, South West Power Administration has been running an hour or two in the afternoon usually on the weekends they have not been running. Always check the SWPA for generation schedule. With the low flows we are having the best fishing has been early mornings while there’s still flow from the water released from the night before.
Try fishing where there’s still current or hit the deep holes below shoals.
The deep water has been fishing well alongside of the moss beds. Anything buggy like Pheasant tail soft hackles or Guides Choice Hare’s ears have been good. Midges have been working exceptionally well when used as a dropper off a pheasant tail or any soft hackle. Egg patterns and San Juan worms are also on the menu and have been producing,
(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 10-12-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass are hitting topwaters mostly. They’re starting to move into the creeks. They’re being found mostly on secondary points and biting on topwaters and shad-looking baits. Also try a drop-shots around brush for some responses. Crappie are also hungry around brush in 15-20 feet. Some anglers are catching crappie by trolling Bandit crankbaits. Nothing has been heard this week on walleye.
(updated 10-12-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 453.94 feet msl, or 8.01 feet below normal pool and falling with generation. Water temp is high 70s to the low 80-degree mark, and shad are more shallow than usual for this time of year. Crappie continue to be caught in good numbers 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 or inline spinners all over lake and rivers; stay with the shad, some are even coming to top on given days. Catfish are eating a variety of baits with hot dogs doing real well all over lake and rivers. Anglers are using several different methods. Walleye are following shad also in 22-40 feet and eating when time is right; minnows and nightcrawlers dragged around on several different methods are working. Bream may even be spawning again; use crawlers, crickets, inline spinners or small crankbaits real shallow out to 25 feet on flats. Black bass are eating on the top down to 50 feet in certain areas all over lake and rivers. The round sloping points seem to be working best on a variety of baits.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 10-5-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says everything is doing well. Anglers are catching a lot of catfish on trotline, with some more than 12 pounds. They are using minnows and stink bait on the lines at night. Largemouth bass are biting well in the mornings and the evenings. Anglers are using purple-colored soft plastic worms among a variety of other baits. One bass caught was about 4-5 pounds by an angler fishing from a kayak. The same angler caught several as well during the recent 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 if you’re going to try.
The water level is kind of low, they say, and muddied with the rain last week. It should clear up with no more rain though.
(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 10-12-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reports that water temperature is in the low 70s. The largemouth bass bite is fair. Largemouths are biting best in the mornings and evenings. They can be found shallow; more are starting to hit topwater lures. Also try crankbaits, Rat-L-Taps, square bills and shaky heads. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are good. There are reports of spots being found an all depths scattered. Some anglers report catching them in 10-15 feet of water off rocky points. Try using shaky heads and jigs. No reports on white bass. Crappie fishing is good. 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. Use crickets or worms. Catfish are good. Try using bream, liver or worms.
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 10-12-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says the bass have been biting on the sandbar points for anglers throwing Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and tubes. The crappie are around 5-10 feet in brush and biting on crappie jigs and minnows. No reports on bream. Catfish are pretty much also being found around the sandbars and will bite cut shad or stink bait.
(updated 10-12-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, Bull Shoals Lake is 4 feet below the established power pool elevation of 659 feet msl. This means we have some mornings of pretty low water, around 2,000 cfs, (less than one unit), with mostly gentle releases later in the day. It’s great for wading and bank fishing as long as you keep your eye on the water level; when the water is released it can sneak up on you and make reaching the bank a little tricky if you’ve waded to the channel or landed on a gravel bar/island. The river claims a lot of tackle boxes and gear, too, when rising water creeps up.
Trout catching remains good to very good with sunshine forecast for the next week — perfect fall days predicted. We’ll likely run into some windy days as summer makes it’s exit and fall is ushered in. Cold mornings and warmer afternoons will pull anglers to the river where nature will flaunt some gorgeous autumn colors throughout the Cotter area.
Nightcrawlers and red wigglers provided successful creel limits for many of our bank anglers, while sculpins continue to get some attention from the browns. Crawdads haven’t holed up for the winter yet and are also a popular meal for both the browns and healthy, fighting rainbows.
The brown trout spawn season is nearing, and as we approach the shorter, colder days required for the spawn the browns will be tougher to attract. Annoy them repeatedly and you’ll get some action if only in an attempt to make you leave. The favorite artificial bait this week was the Thomas Buoyant red/gold or blue/silver spoon. Jigs continue to entice a rainbow or two; find the right color combination for the day and you’ll be busy netting a bunch.
Come join the action and enjoy the changing of the season.
(updated 10-12-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that over the last week they have seen depths as high as over 7 feet and as low as 3 feet. The depth of 7 feet was due to Norfork Dam opening six floodgates for about 48 hours. Because the Norfork River had been so low before that there was a lot of mud and debris stirred up, this caused murky water in Calico Rock. During that time fishing was poor. The last few days we have seen water between 3-4 feet with a short spike to over 5 feet. During this time fishing has been tremendous. Drift-fishing using Uncommon Bait UV eggs with shrimp has been the most effective for catching rainbows. We have seen some success dragging sculpins for some bigger rainbows and brown trout. Rapala Countdown CD7s in rainbow trout or silver and black have also been effective as have quarter-ounce Colorado spoons in nickel/gold. The low water has made it difficult getting over some of the gravel bars, but it is doable. Watch the water levels and if you see the water dropping head back over the gravel bars before you get stranded on the wrong side and have to pull your boat over the gravel bar.
(updated 10-12-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had two inches of rainfall in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 foot to rest at 3.5 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 3.1 feet below power pool and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 5.4 feet below power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had wadable water every morning with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet and 26.7 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. 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 catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. We have had lower flows that have fished well. The hot flies were Y2Ks, Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan Worms, gold ribbed Hare’s Ears and Sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a Pheasant Tail (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).
John also said, “My wife, Lori, threw a small retirement party for me last Saturday. My brother- and sister-in-law, Larry and Terri, came as did their daughter, Brooke, and her beau, Jonathan. My sister, Ernestine, was not able to join us due to prior commitments. Lori and I am both crazy about Brooke and always enjoy her company.
“I first began fishing with her 20 years ago on Dry Run Creek. She was 14 then and was a member of the pom squad at Germantown High School (which competed on a national level). Now 20 years later and she is a Doctor of Pharmacy at the VA hospital in Memphis. She and Jonathon were just here for a short time so our opportunity to fish was limited. The water was on the absolute bottom and we should have waded. They did not have waders with them so we opted for a boat trip. Larry decided to come and net fish.
“We skipped breakfast to get an earlier start. The water at Rim Shoals was gin clear. The sun was bright with no fog and there was little if any wind. The forecast high for the day was near 90 degrees. There were a couple of boats out when we started, but they disappeared downstream a few minutes later. Then we had the place to ourselves. The only thing we heard was a kingfisher working the water.
“On the first drift, Brooke missed one. On the second drift, Jonathan landed one. From then on it was the Brooke story. She definitely had the hot hand. For someone who only fly-fishes only once a year she did very well. From then on she hooked a fish on each drift. She was able to bring most of them to the net. Jonathan was catching trout but Brooke was catching more.
“Then mid-morning she hooked a much better trout. This fish took a nice run. Brooke was using one of the rods I keep for Dry Run Creek. It has an Orvis reel with a heavy drag system that was cranked all the way down. She carefully took her time and expertly fought the trout. It finally surrendered to the net. The trout was an incredibly fat 19-inch female rainbow. It was the largest rainbow she had caught since her days fishing Dry Run Creek. We took a minute to grab a quick photo and then gently released the trout. We fished for another hour. Jonathon caught several but Brooke maintained her lead.
“It started to warm up. We decided to pull the plug and head back to the ramp. I put my boat on the trailer and stored my gear. We headed back to my house to drop off the boat and pick up Lori and Terri. We were headed to the White Sands Cafe for a late breakfast.
“Life is good!”
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 10-12-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level continues to fall and is sitting at 655 feet msl. The temperature is about 73 degrees. “Looks like we are getting cooler weather. Bass fishing has been 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; they can go to the middle of the day.
“Fall fishing equals junk fishing, covering water with a Whopper Plopper or buzzbait in the early morning or days with wind and clouds. The shad have started their migration toward the creeks. There are wads halfway to three-quarters of the way back in the middle of the channel. A lot of shad are still way off the long points. Shad balls 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 in the 28-34 feet depths; that seems to be a consistent depth for the drop-shot. On the points, brush piles, ledges, swings, etc., a big worm, a shaky head worm and Jewel Jig are working, seem to have some color in the water for this bite.
“If you venture into the stained water in the backs, there are some shad there, but most days you’re going to have to work for them. Square bill Chatterbait and big worm and a Beaver-style bait are good around the laydowns. 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. Walleye have started trolling over deep shad. Crappie guys are hopping brush piles and that’s working for them as they are starting to pile in. Every day is different; be sure to fish the conditions. It isn’t easy fishing right now, you’re going to 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 10-12-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday night that the lake level was 553.18 feet msl and stable for four days when he went in at 9 p.m. The surface water temperature was 75 degrees and the visibility had diminished just a bit with clear water down to 15 feet on the main lake and stained green in the creeks. The White River at Newport was 3.50 feet and still low, indicating not much water is being let out of the area lakes. Bink reports catching some stripers on the spoon in the 6- to 8-pound range back in the larger creeks in 90-100 feet of water suspended about 35 feet down; crappie and Kentucky bass are on main lake brush on windblown banks in 18-30 feet of water. A few largemouth and smallmouth are with them. Look for gravelly banks that have the wind blowing into them near channel swings. Catfish are biting better with the smaller moon and stable lake level, and bluegill are biting crickets under docks and in the shade. The lake overall is in good condition and at a good level, and fishing is fair and improving. Crappie and Kentucky bass are the best bite.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 10-12-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet and 26.7 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. 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). My favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan Worm and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better despite a lot of fishing pressure. With school in session, 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. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-12-2023) 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 10-12-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is cooling nicely and is inching down daily. The lake will be in the 1,114 feet msl range soon. Water temperature is right at 71 in most places. Stripers continue to be good; fish seem to be on the smaller size, though. This time of the year there are big movements. Move and keep an eye on your electronics. Look from Horseshoe Bend on down to Point 5. Later they will be heading toward Monte Ne and on to Point 12 area. Crappie are more or less attached to structure of some sort. Look for brush in the 12-20 feet of water. Jigs and minnows are working.
“We’re are almost turned over. Lots of off-colored water in areas. Give it a week and should be good to go.”
Bass fishing is hit or miss. If you find some schools you can get on them. Catfishing is still good for those targeting them. White bass should start to school up and present some topwater soon as the water gets into the 60s. Lake is low so be careful running your boat. Be safe and good luck!
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 9-28-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said this summer was 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 10-12-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing on the tailwater this past week “has been pretty darn good. The trout have been real responsive to Pautzke Fire Bait, fished with light terminal tackle. Most of this week’s fish were caught between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. As the water rises a little when the Corps generates, one with a reasonable boat can access these areas.
“In the early morning hours, tossing a quarter-ounce spoon has also produced some nice numbers. In the deeper waters, the same above methods are working, you just have to allow the spoon to sink a bit more before retrieving.
“As hunting season ramps up, one could possibly have the river to themselves if you hit it on the right days. That’s all for this week; have fun, be safe and catch some fish!”
Follow Austin’s fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for day-to-day updates between his reports.
(updated 10-12-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said catfish did really well this week. Black bass were being caught, though there was nothing too big, while white bass were caught by anglers not even looking for them. They were trying to catch crappie or bream but he minnows and jigs were getting white bass to bite.
Bream were OK. Crappie will bite about like the bream, and the ones being caught being around 10-12 inches.
Catfish are biting liver, catfish bait and worms. Black bass were favoring the wacky worm this week.
Fishing is hit or miss every other day with the weather changing, they say. It’s been a little slower this week, they add. The water is stained and the water level will rise really high after a rain, only to drop by quickly back to normal. The lake rarely drops down low.
(updated 10-12-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) says that is the “moon times” are accurate for good fishing, then this week through Oct. 17 should be very good, while the best days fall between Oct. 25-31. Leading into this week, the action has been mostly fair, though bass fishing has been good. Again, no one is leaving any information on what baits they are using, but they are catching nice bass (and Shelly sent along a photo of one couple with some impressive largemouths to prove it). Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows, jigs and worms and they still remain in deep water. Catfish are fair; try worms, chicken liver, and minnows.
Lake Charles is beginning to chill down, so those crappie should be coming closer to the anglers and maybe the shore folks too. Sunday’s temperature in the shade was 64.2 degrees. The water is low. The clarity is the expected murky.
(updated 10-12-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, said Lake Poinsett is still doing well with black bass and some crappie. The bass have been biting well around the lily pads and the crappie are a bit deeper with live bait. Bream are still biting, but have been more active early in the morning and right before dusk. Catfish are doing outstanding on just about anything at night. One angler and his family caught around 100 over the weekend per their report. They said anything they put on the hook seemed to work for the catfish.
(updated 10-12-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) has had no recent reports.
(updated 10-12-2023) 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 10-12-2023) 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 10-12-2023) 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 10-12-2023) 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 9-28-2023) 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 10-12-2023) Randy Plyler with Plyler Outdoors Guide Service (870-210-0522) said DeGray action is on fire with water temperature ranging 72-76 degrees. Bass fishing has been great on topwater. Watch for fish schooling early in the morning through midday. When they stop schooling just watch your LiveScope and when you see them you can vertical, drop a spoon on them. White bass have been schooling along with the blacks but have been below the largemouth and spots and can be caught on spoons. Hybrids are being caught on topwater out over deeper water.
No reports on crappie
Randy adds, “Book your trip today to get some of best action you can get.”
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 9-28-2023) 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 10-12-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 65 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 will also begin in November — although no exact date has been announced — 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 were 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 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 the temperature allow a safer environment to be on the water. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and remember to follow all park and boating regulations when visiting our local lakes.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ outflow and gauge level reports from Dardanelle, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 10-12-2023) 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 10-12-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, the new owner of Carter Cove Bait-N-More (479-272-4025), said the fishing is off and on. When it’s on, most of the anglers are catching 10 up to the limit of crappie, throwing back the big ones. They are using mostly minnows, some are using jigs. Crappie are relating to the brush piles.
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 10-12-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are biting well. Try a drop-shot or use topwater. Largemouths are good, but they are not as on as the spots. Largemouths appear to be moving up in the creeks. Try a shad-colored bait or a Spook-type bait. You can catch bass first thing in the morning on a buzzbait or spinnerbait as well.
Crappie are in 10-20 feet and biting around brush piles.
(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 10-12-2023) 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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