Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Aug. 19, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Aug. 19, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 9 a.m. the day of publication.
* Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.
Quick links to regions:
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://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: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are conducting herbicide applications to Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir through September. The herbicides cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but will kill gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with water from the lake until Feb. 1, 2021. The use of herbicides is necessary to control the current problems with alligatorweed and other invasive vegetation species that have infested the lake, restricting access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hindering native wildlife and fish populations. For more information, please contact the AGFC Fisheries Office in Mayflower at (877) 470-3309.
(updated 8-19-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is in its usual stain and is at a normal level. The bream bite remains good. Redworms, crickets and hand-tie jigs are working. Crappie are fair on crappie minnows and small jigs. Black bass are good. Lots of baits from which to choose and throw, including spinnerbaits, plastic worms, topwater lures, frogs, buzzbaits, chatterbaits and jigs. Catfishing is fair. Go with stink bait, dough bait, nightcrawlers goldfish, trotline minnows and small bream.
(updated 8-19-2020) Angler Dennis Charles reports that fishing this week was much the same as last week. Bass are excellent early and late; they love frothing the water, it’s party time, go see what you can feed them. Anglers are finding success using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, topwaters, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, frogs and jigs. Bream are good all over; fish with redworms or crickets. Crappie are poor; see what you can do to catch a few. Catfish continue to be slow, go to deep water. Lake clarity is up to 10 feet in spots.
Little Red River
(updated 8-19-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said slightly cooler weather is expected this week and this will be a welcome change to the last few days. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been generating in the afternoon and early evening and this has kept the water temperature ranging from 50 degrees at the dam to 63 degrees at the 305 Bridge.
The river is clear and generation has been two units from about 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. This can vary so one should check the next day’s forecast before planning your trip.
Mostly rainbows in the 12-to-15-inch range. Quite a few smaller rainbows are being caught due to a recent stocking of smaller fish. The good side of this is that these small trout will be good forage for the brown trout. Small mayfly nymphs and midge pupa are a good choice of flies, and emergers are also good if there is a blue-wing olive hatch in the area where you are fishing.
(updated 8-12-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red River is receiving a few hours of afternoon generation each day. This pattern provides wading opportunities on the upper river in the mornings and lower river in the afternoons. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends midges, pheasant tails, hare’s ears, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin-fishing Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the 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.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 459.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 459.65 feet msl, which is 2.89 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet msl. The lake is falling from evaporation and generation and will continue to do so. The dissolved oxygen seems maybe low as all species are a little sluggish at present – its happens after a high-water year. Bream are guarding fry again, either right on the shoreline out to 18 feet. Crickets and crawlers are working well. Walleye are out on flats somewhere day-to-day relocating. Drag crawlers in 15-40 feet until you find them and stay with them. Crappie are still eating; some are in pole timber, in brushpiles, and some big schools are just floating around eating bait in 12-35 feet. Jigs and minnows are working well. Some black bass are shallow chasing bream, some are mid-range, and some are deep out to 80 feet – pick your poison. Catfishing is slow for some reason. Hybrid bass and white bass are eating when they want; find the shad and stay with them until they decide to chew in 25-80 feet on spoons, inline spinners or swim baits.
(updated 8-19-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the water is a little low. Bass are schooling and biting on topwaters and flukes.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 8-19-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake clarity is a little muddy and the water level has dropped some, to low. Bream catches are good. Anglers are catching bream as large or larger than an adult hand, they report. Redworms or crickets will work. Crappie bites are fair. Best action is coming early in the mornings in the deeper areas. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass and white bass both are fair. Try plastic worms for both. Largemouth have also been caught on trotlines and other bass lures. White bass are being caught around the island from the boats. Catfishing is good using nightcrawlers, frozen shad and baby bream on trotlines.
NOTE: Employees and contractors with the AGFC are conducting herbicide applications to Overcup through September. The herbicides cause no harm to wildlife, people or aquatic life, but will kill gardens, flowerbeds and lawns if used on neighboring lands. By federal law, these herbicides have up to a 120-day irrigation restriction after application. The AGFC asks adjacent landowners to NOT irrigate for lawn or garden use with lake water until Feb. 1, 2021. The use of herbicides is necessary to control the current problems with alligatorweed and other invasive vegetation species that have infested the lake and, if left uncontrolled, could restrict access to boathouses, ramps and fishing locations and hinder native wildlife and fish populations.
(updated 8-12-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said Overcup remains “nice and clear.” The level has dropped to 8-12 inches below normal. Bream are fair but appear to be slowing down a bit. Redworms and crickets have worked best. Crappie also are fair but slowing. They’re in deeper water these days. Use minnows, or try a jig with a pink head and chartreuse body. Black bass are good, with nice-size bass being caught lately. Best fishing is off the shore with spinnerbaits. Catfishing has been excellent. Randy reports several nice-size catfish caught, including one 30-pounder hauled in this past week. Shad, large shiners and bass minnows will all attract the catfish bite.
(updated 8-12-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said the water level is down about 1 foot below pool. Surface temperature is around 88 degrees. Clarity is good but has a lot of green moss in shallow water. Bass are doing well around the brushtops on plastic worms and frogs. Bream are doing well on crickets and worms. Catfish are doing well on jugs and trotlines using perch and hot dogs. Crappie are slow but anglers are still catching some good ones in 12-14 feet of water 3-5 feet down.
Johnny adds, “I want everyone to know that it’s been really warm and not a lot of people have been out. Thanks for your business and stay safe.”
(updated 8-14-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland said the water is warm and the fishing has been slow. Water temperature is in the 90s. Largemouth bass bite is fair. Some can be found outside the grass in 10-15 feet, so most are moving into deeper water biting a variety of lures. Try using drop-shots, swimbaits, deep crankbaits and spinnerbaits. The Kentucky bass (spotted bass) bite is also fair, with some reports of them being found in 15-20 feet off drops and rocky banks. The better bass bite of this week helped on Tuesday njight as Noah White and Greg White caught 12.94 pounds of bass, edging Cameron Nesterenko and Andrew Wooley’s 12.43 pounds; Nesterenko and Wooley found the 4.74 Big Bass, though.
The white bass bite is still slow. Some can be found in 20-22 feet in or around the channel. Use minnows, Rooster Tails, jerkbaits and rattle-style baits. Crappie are fair. Reports have them being found in 22-25 feet. Some can still be found scattered, mixed in with the whites. Go with jigs and minnows. Bream fishing is back to great. They can be found on windy points by drop-offs in 12-16 feet of water. Try using crickets, worms and beetle spins. Catfishing is good on chicken liver, nightcrawlers and baitfish.
For information on fishing the Tuesday night tournaments, call the marina.
(updated 8-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Sunset Lake is temporarily closed for renovations.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 8-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says customers are catching catfish on chicken livers, bait shrimp, stink bait and minnows. Crappie have been biting fair in the back pond (Lake Charles) on No. 4 and No. 6 minnows. Most have been smaller fish, but some keepers have been caught as well. Bream fishing has fun for some youngsters lately in both ponds. Crickets and redworms have been catching bream and a catfish now and then from just about anywhere in either pond. Use small hooks and light line. You’ll catch more small fish than big ones but it’s big fun for the kids. Bass have been biting minnows, Carolina-rigged 4-inch lizards and small Strike King Spinnerbaits.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 8-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says bass have been biting minnows, Zoom 4- and 6-inch lizards, Baby Brush Hogs, small spinnerbaits and Zing Tails. Catfish are biting minnows, goldfish, black salties and chicken livers. Crappie have been biting fair on No. 4 and No. 6 minnows, Kalin’s Grubs and Bobby Garland Jigs. Fish are close to logs and brush that are next to current and fairly deep water. Bream fishing can be so much fun and entertaining on the river. Redworms, crickets, small jigs or fly-type baits like Bream Killers on light line will catch fish all day long. Take a rod with heavier line and some No. 12 minnows to try your hand at catching some gar. Watch for them to surface and cast your bait close to them. They rarely refuse a live minnow. “Anywhere you go, have fun, stay safe, don’t litter. Please!”
(updated 8-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream are still biting good on crickets and redworms. Fish just off the bottom around brush, rock walls and deep structure for the big ones. Bass fishing has been fair at night and early in the mornings. Topwater baits, buzzbaits, Carolina- and wacky-rigged plastics in dark colors like green pumpkin or black are getting the bites. Catfish have been biting chicken livers, minnows, goldfish and nightcrawlers. Crappie have been biting well for some at night. No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Arkansas Shad Grubs have been catching some good stringers of crappie for those who stay after them.
(updated 8-19-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bream have been biting well on crickets and redworms. Crappie fishing has been slow but some have been catching a few on No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. Bass fishing is best early in the mornings and at night with minnows, topwater baits, buzzbaits and Carolina-rigged plastics. Catfish are biting at dusk and after dark in shallow water on chicken livers, nightcrawlers, minnows and goldfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 8-5-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said the black bass are mainly being caught in the early morning on topwater baits, and jitterbugs “seem like doing pretty good,” he said, as well as spinnerbaits going across the water. Then, as the day moves on, they’re going down around the jetties, and anglers are using medium-diving pearl- or shad-colored crankbaits. The bass bite is fair, not great, he said. Catfish are being caught in the early morning on the grass lines with shad mainly. Later on, anglers are drift-fishing for them using a shad/nightcrawler combination. Catfish catches have been good. Bream are biting on the grass lines and under the over hangs mostly in the early morning. Crickets will work then. As the day progresses, bream go to the jetties and drop down off the grass line a little bit. Use a black Rooster Tail there. No report on crappie. No report on stripers. White bass are schooling and are at the mouths of creeks early and late. Shad-colored and pearl-colored crankbaits are the way to go for white bass. Catches have been good.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 8-12-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says the water is clear, at a normal level and hot. Black bass are doing pretty well in the early mornings and late evenings, he said. Otherwise, there was little else to report as Ray says he has not talked to anyone who has been fishing.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 21,364 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 28,588 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 31,119 cfs.
(updated 8-19-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said the river level and current are normal. Bass fishing is fairly tough right now, but anglers should be able to find them at sandbars and the ends of jetties biting on Rat-L-Traps, shaky head worms, crankbaits and the Brazalo quarter-ounce buzzbair in black or white colors. Catfishing is good using nightcrawlers or with stink bait below the Murray Lock and Dam.
(updated 8-19-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports that around Rector Brake, bream are good in 3-4 feet of water and are being caught on crickets. Crappie are fair off the ends of the jetties and are biting regular minnows. Target 10-12 feet depth. Meanwhile, moving around to the Burns Park area for a good crappie bite; fish around the pylons and use Beaver Bottom baits. Black bass are biting in the early mornings on black buzzbaits in the main river. By midday, the bite is fair with the Bandit 200 Series Crankbaits in shad color working best. Catfish are being caught, with snagging being an excellent method below the hydroplant at Murray Lock and dam. Bait fishing for catfishing is good below the hydroplant and the dam and night; use skipjack of shad as bait.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 8-5-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says the lake is clear and at a normal level. Bream reports are good, with both worms and crickets working well. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good using spinnerbaits and crankbaits, as well as worms. Catfish reports were good; no word on the bait used.
(update 8-19-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said Peckerwood is clear and the water level is low, but there are no stumps showing. Bream reports have bveen good. Anglers are getting bites using redworms and crickets. Crappie are poor. Black bass are fair on spinnerbaits and topwater baits. Catfishing is good; try chicken liver, hot dogs or basic catfish bait.
(updated 8-19-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is continuing to drop; lake elevation is 681.8 feet msl, 20 feet above desired power pool. Fishing on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam was a treat this week: mild August days; fairly steady flows at about 10,000 cfs (three units); clear, cold water; and the trout were biting – a lot. Anglers kept the bait near the bottom with a quarter-ounce sinker, and the rainbows snatched if they detected a little shrimp or fresh crawdad meat on the hook. Try jigging a red wiggler or a white skirted 1/8-ounce jig for a flurry of action. The favorite spot for browns this week was upstream of Rim Shoals drifting river minnows or crawdads.
“Lots of sunshine is on call and the trout bite promises to be exciting. With school starting next week in many communities, now would be a great time for a final summer fling with the kids. Come drop a line in the White and pull in a rainbow or two; enjoy the Natural State with us.”
(updated 8-19-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says that it was a mixed bag of fishing this past week. “When the water is lower, fly-fishing is doing good with jigs and streams,” they say. Yellow PowerBait, lures, spoons and waxworms were the baits of choice.
They also say that generators were turned down to three or four in the evening into the early morning, while during the day the Corps of Engineers turns it up to eight generators. Clarity is “really good.” River level is high. Overall trout bite is good, they say.
(updated 8-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had a few minor rain events that combined for a quarter-inch of rainfall, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3 feet to rest at 21.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 12.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.3 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell a foot to rest at 2.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation in the morning and heavy generation in the afternoon. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 11.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. Most of the lakes are still near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water into the fall.
John says, “The grass hopper bite is upon us. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. My favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.”
He adds that the White has fished well. “The lower flows we have had in the morning have been extremely productive. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals.” The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm with a girdle bug) suspended below it.
John says, “The life of a fly-fishing guide has been challenged this year. The coronavirus pandemic completely shut down my business for over two months. Now that I am back on the river with clients, I have had to change several aspects of my business to protect my client’s health and my own.
“We are now well into our second high-water year in a row. We have been plagued with high levels of generation from our local dams and have had precious little wadable water. The high water has confined us to fishing from a boat. It has required us to use heavy flies, lots of lead and long leaders. These rigs have been difficult to cast and are easy to tangle.
“To further make life challenging for me, the weather has been very hot recently. Just last Sunday I had a full day guiding on a day where the temperature hit 97 degrees and a heat index of 108 degrees. It was sunny and there was little wind. I was pretty worn out when I got home.
“Even when we have conditions like these, I occasionally get those memorable days on stream that I relish. A week ago I had a day with great weather, great water and a great client. It was by far my best day of guiding this year.
“After weeks of days with temperatures in the 90s we had a day with a high of 80 degrees. It was 56 degrees when I got up that morning and I wore a light down sweater until after 10 a.m. because it was so cool. After the fog burned off, the temperature was perfect. It was sunny with a light wind.
“The Corps of Engineers were running a bit less than 10,000 cfs or the rough equivalent of three full generators. This is the lowest water I have seen in months. It was a great flow for fishing. There was plenty of water for a good float and low enough for easy fishing. The fish were more concentrated in the lower water and we could use shorter leaders, making casting easier.
“My client, Lee, was an experienced angler who had fished just about every major trout stream in the United States and had also fished several tropical spots noted for trophy saltwater action. He is a major fly-fishing blogger and frequently reads my articles on the internet. We hit it off from the first minute we met.
“We began early and landed our first trout on the first drift. Then the action slowed and we had a dry spell. I changed flies over to a girdle bug (see last week’s listing for more on the girdle bug) under a pink San Juan worm. We began catching trout, and the action continued all day. He was an excellent caster and concentrated on line control. Since it was a sunny day and the water was lower, he could see sunken trees and other obstructions. Therefore we only lost two flies over the day. There were no tangles and a lot of fish.
“We finished the day with around 30 trout, and several were large. It was a perfect day.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 681.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 916.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Army Corps of Engineers continues to limit access to ramps and parking; customers/boaters/anglers should call first, especially on weekends. Del says the bass bite is changing a little every day now. The Corps is pumping water out of the lake, and this has the fishing moving out on points. There is plenty of baitfish suspended deep off the points; generally it runs 10-15 feet depth early and then drops to 20-28 feet later in the day. If it’s hot, go deep, he says. If it’s cloudy and windy, work shallow. Throw topwater baits in the mornings. Berkley Wake Bait, poppers, a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait or chatterbaits are best for powerfishing shallow if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with shad.
During the day, smallies and spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are stacked out on main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swing bluffs and bluff ends. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. Still a lot of places for them to hide with high water, so keep it moving. Use a big worm in sunken trees, near ledges, or a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue in 20-25 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are at gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads. Drag baits like the Ned rig, Hula Grubs, tubes, the Lil’ McMinnow, and fish a drop-shot suspenders off bluff points, main lake points and hump islands at 26-32 feet depth.
Lake clarity is dingy to clear, while the surface water temperature is 85 degrees. Lake level is just over 20 feet high and falling. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for video with more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 566.56 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Each year that we have high water we experience a low oxygen level during late August. This is due to the lake level being lowered. As the lake is lowered, the oxygen is being depleted. Stripers need 5 parts per million to be active, and as the oxygen begins to decline and the water warms up, the stripers begin to stress and move deeper in the lake to find more oxygen. By the end of August the oxygen is less than 1 percent and the stripers will begin to become dormant. This will last into the first part of September, then they begin to move up the creeks.
“This year we have seen an early start to their inactivity. This past week on Wednesday I caught five stripers; Thursday we boated six; and on Friday zero – the average is two or less. The stripers will move deep and quit eating to reduce the need for oxygen. Live bait and spooning has been the less productive catching stripers. Some are being caught trolling, but it’s not worth the money to fish the lower end of Norfork until later in September. The stripers will move to Robinson Point and up Big Creek as the oxygen returns.
“But it’s not all bad news. The walleye bite is very strong right now. They are being caught using bottom bouncers and nightcrawlers in 22-28 feet of water off the flat points like Thumb Point and Skunked Islands. I did a test run going up the lake past the state line and found schools of legal but small stripers that were feeding heavy during the early morning. The waters up there are shallow and will begin to cool down much faster than the main lake. Once it hits 80 degrees a major striper push will occur and you will see lots of action.
“Until sometime in late October, if you want to fish with us expect that we will be fishing above the state line, which requires both Arkansas and Missouri fishing licenses. If you’re a resident of either state you can purchase a (WRL) White River Border License that allows you to fish in either state. It’s $10 and good for a year.”
(updated 8-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 11.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. Most of the lakes are still near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water into the fall.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding in the past two years. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try an egg pattern 18 inches below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With summer here, there is a lot of pressure. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 8-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. John’s favorite fly is a 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.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,124.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver is still falling and lake temperatures are in the low 80s. Fishing is fair to good for most species. Striper are good most days with an early bite still happening this last week. Look from Point 6 to the dam. Some days they are up fairly shallow and some days from 35 to 100 feet deep over timber and main points. Walleye are fair; look in the same points as the striper. Worm harnesses are working best. Bass are early and late and at night. Black spinnerbaits are working at night in Big Clifty area. Crappie are fair; look for brush anywhere from 15 to 25 feet deep. Minnows and tubes are working best. Troll some cranks and that will also catch some. Jon says, “A strange thing is occurring due to the cooler nights and that is the thermocline is not really as strong as it normally is, and that has scattered the bite somewhat for most species. This is due to water cooling somewhat with the cooler nights.” Catfishing is good. Bream are really good.
(updated 8-19-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says that nothing has changed since the last report, other than the water levels. Trout are still being caught with light terminal tackle fished with various PowerBaits. Spoons and Rooster Tails are pulling some good numbers as well. This week’s hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms. White bass and Kentucky bass are still being caught in the warmer parts of the river. “If you find the baitfish, you will find the whites,” he says. “Try fishing with suspended hard baits for the whites. For Kentucky bass, try using soft plastics thrown toward structure, chunk rock and points. Work the shorelines, up into cuts and inside bends.
“Hope you can find some time to get out and fish. The weather forecast for the end of this month is calling for cooler temperatures. Have fun, be safe and catch some fish.”
War Eagle Creek/Beaver Lake Area
(updated 8-19-2020) Loy Lewis with War Eagle Creek Outfitting (479-530-3262) had no recent reports. Follow War Eagle Creek Outfitting on Facebook for photos; call 479-530-3262 for guided trips and for free water access and parking.
(updated 8-19-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake is “a little dingy” and remains at a high level. Bream continue to bite well on redworms and crickets. Crappie reports improved a little, with anglers indicating fair results. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are still good using plastic worms and topwater baits, but there were good bites also this week on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and live worms. Catfishing is good; use nightcrawlers, glow worms and regular catfish bait.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 8-19-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) says the clarity is clear and the lake is at normal level. Bream are everywhere and the bite is excellent. Redworms and crickets both are great to use. Crappie are good; use minnows or slow-troll a crankbait. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits or plastic worms. Catfishing is good using stink bait.
(updated 8-19-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) says the lake is clear and is low by about 8 inches below normal pool. Bream are at peak form. Excellent action is being seen using redworms or crickets. No reports came in again with crappie this week. Black bass reports were also nonexistent, and nobody said anything about catfish either. It’s bream or bust right now, but you will catch plenty of bream.
(updated 8-19-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said that this week through Aug. 22 should be the best days to fish this month. September starts off with good moon times Sept. 1-5 and the best days are Sept. 14-20, she said. Bream this past week were good on worms, crickets and jigs of all colors. Black bass were biting plastic worms, topwater baits and lipless crankbaits, with the best bites coming around brush and rocky points. Catfishing is good using worms, blood bait, stink bait, chicken liver. The shoreline fishing has been good for cats, she said. She had no reports on crappie or white bass. Lake clarity is murky with a surface water temperature of 70 degrees. Water level is high.
(updated 8-19-2020) The lake at Lake Poinsett State Park has been undergoing a two-year renovation with plans to refill it later this year and for fishing to resume at levels far better than in recent years, thanks to improved fish habitat and new underwater structures. The water control structure was also repaired.
(updated 8-19-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are down to 400 cfs and water clarity has been clear. No rain in a while has the river looking great. Y2Ks and Woollies have been the go-to flies. Hot pink Trout Magnets, trout cranks and Berkley Flicker Shad have been working well for trout and smallmouth bass.
“During the week the fishing has been great,” Mark says. “The river has been busy on weekends with canoes and rafts. There are no floaters on the upper stretch in Mammoth Spring on weekends. There is a lot of moss in the river this time of year. The fish don’t hide in the moss. Fish the clear runs by the moss. The fish are there waiting on food to come by. Really nice weather lately, get out and enjoy!” For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 8-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is here and it can get very crowded, especially on the weekends. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 8-12-2020) Elizabeth Kimble at Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) said, from her observations, the fishing for black bass was fair. A couple of anglers Sunday reported catching two bass, both about 10 inches long, on yellow jigs. There were no other catches report.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Wednesday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 9.32 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 12.07, more than 13 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is steady at 23.90 feet, more than 2 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 8-19-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 8-19-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reported that water temperatures are in the upper 80s to low 90s. Visibility is 6-12 inches in most places. Black bass are biting fairly well on shad-colored medium-diving crankbaits and square bills while the wind is blowing. Use dark-colored shaky heads, jigs and soft plastics around offshore brushpiles and woody cover when it’s calm. Keep an eye out for schooling activity; many times it’s white bass or hybrid striped bass, but black bass are schooling with them on the shallow sandbars offshore. Small-to-medium-sized lipless crankbaits are very effective when you find a school, as are soft plastic jerkbaits and small topwaters while they’re at the surface. There are not many large fish in these schools, but you can catch several quickly if you can get to them before they move.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 8-19-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no reports.
(updated 8-19-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 8-19-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.03 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday began the annual summer 2-foot drawdown of Millwood Lake so that waterfowl habit on the shoreline can be prepared for the upcoming season this winter. Lake level on Wednesday morning had already dropped 5 inches from the day before to 259 feet. The discharge Tuesday was around 14,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Corps of Engineers, while the tailwater below the dam and gates was around 236 feet msl and falling with all gates discharging. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website lined above, or the Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate-release changes and inflow rates.
Surface temps were stable this week, ranging 85-90 degrees. Clarity was improving in the back of the oxbows before recent thunderstorms and the 10-plus inches of rainfall last week leading to muddy conditions along Little River and main lake. Clarity and visibility along Little River is 2-4 inches. Further up Little River has more stain. The oxbow’s clarity is moderate stain, ranging 10-15 inches depth of visibility.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: What a difference a week of severe thunderstorms had on Millwood. Southwest Arkansas received more than 10 inches of rainfall last week in a 24-hour period. As a result, the lake went muddy in many locations along Little River with increased flow rates up to 20,000 cfs. Heavy current and flow rates along Little River have repositioned the largemouth bass that were in their typical summer habits and haunts for the last few weeks. Early morning continues to be key for the best bite of the day in the oxbow lakes along Little River with the best water clarity. Cypress trees/knees near lily pads on shallow flats are drawing topwater blowups early, using soft plastic frogs, crankbaits and Stuttersteps in the oxbows. Best activity period remains from dawn to around 10 a.m. Juvenile largemouth have been surface-breaking on huge pods of threadfin shad in early mornings in multiple locations, near and in lily pads for short durations. Bass Assassin Shads, Johnson Chrome Spoons with a short grub trailer, or H&H Short-arm Spinnerbaits will work through the pads when bass move into the pads to feed for quick cycles, chasing shad.
Over the past several weeks, best surface activity has been early daybreak for a few hours in the oxbows of McGuire, Mud, and Horseshoe lakes. Use Baby Torpedoes, Spitn’ Images, Stuttersteps or Dying Flutters early in the mornings around standing cypress trees and knees where grass and pads are in close proximity. As the sun rises, shallow square-bill cranks in Millwood Magic, Splatterback and Tennessee Shad have been drawing random reactions. Bill Lewis Lures’ SB-57 and Echo 1.75 Crankbait square bills in Ghost Minnow, Bluegill and Sneaky Shad and MR-6 Crankbaits and Rat-Traps in Millwood Magic, SplatterBack or Ghost continue getting good responses as the bass transition to vertical structure. Target ditches with vertical drops near 3-6 feet deep flats that transition into 12-14 feet structure. Creek channels dumping into Little River have been holding small schools of juveniles from 2-3 pounds. The points extending into Little River, with large stumps and pads nearby, were holding good schools of Bbss prior to the thunderstorms. Mann’s Baby Minus-1 Cranks were taking a few subsurface bass on flats with long tapering points into the oxbows.
* White Bass: Finally found a few willing to bite crankbaits in Horseshoe and McGuire over the past week.
* Crappie: The best bite continues to be early, as it has for 3-4 weeks. Minnows and jigs have gotten the most consistent response, with minnows having a slight edge, working away from current and flow of Little River, in any clearer water sections of the oxbows and Millwood State Park and near Okay Landing and Cottonshed areas. Work them near cypress trees from 3-5 feet deep and planted brush piles from 8-10 feet of depth. Millwood State Park continues seeing good activity in the pockets and coves near cypress trees and grass from 6-12 feet of depth. River crappie have not been nearly as consistent as the oxbows or main lake early.
* Catfish: Have improved along Little River with increased river current this week. Cut shad or buffalo, spoiled chicken hearts and gizzards, or King’s Punch Bait have been working well for 3-to-5-pound blues and channel cats on trotlines and yo-yos.
* Bream: Report of good activity at Millwood State Park and off the floating dock at Jack’s Isle this week! Slab Mason bream and bluegill were hitting redworms, crickets. Good activity for kids to catch a mess of fine-eating bluegills.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 540.81 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 402.32 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 8-12-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Here we go again. Summer heat and slow down. Lots of people are taking advantage of the lower water by catfishing. Stretch your trotline across a stump-filled cove and bait with live bait. Catching them coming in to feed on bream and baitfish. Another way that is showing up is running a trotline with jug floats down the spine of a ridge. (Remember how deep to place it for outboard motor clearance).
“The full moon has passed so the bream should be moving off the beds and back into the brush and piles. Black bass are being caught mixed in with surfacing fish. Surfacing fish are happening all over. However, reports are that more hybrids are in the mid-lake area of Caddo Bend. Topwater while on top (Whopper Plopper or Zara Spook) crankbaits when they are just “dimpling” and, of course, spoons. You can also troll for the fish. Alabama rigs and deep-diving crankbaits shad-colored. Crappie have had a good report. The tournament last weekend produced some good catches. The winners were fishing timber with LiveScope. Go to the YouTube page to view how to do it, if you don’t know. It’s more of hunting fish individually. Great stringers, though.
“Be safe and remember social distancing.”
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.44 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 537.75 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 8-19-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 66 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has scheduled an 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. generation pattern that has included an open floodgate at times below Carpenter Dam, which has created a dangerous flow. Boaters are cautioned to remain a safe distance from the dam during this time. A routine lackluster summer pattern has set in in the tailrace concerning fish bite patterns. The rainbow trout season is over with the majority of the year ruined by constant flooding. The stocking program will begin again in late November. Hopefully, the upcoming year will be much better than the last two seasons. While the white bass spawn is over, good numbers of fish remain in the tailrace and are feeding on shad. The size is running small but these fish are actively feeding and are being caught on jigs, spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and live minnows. Walleye are also present from the bridge to the dam and being taken on the same presentations. The hot weather draws these fish to the tailrace to feed on shad and crayfish. The hot summer weather has drawn big numbers of freshwater drum into the tailrace. These fish range from 2 pounds to 20 pounds and larger. These fish feed on shad and crawfish and are also caught on nightcrawlers. The strikes are hard and fast and bank fishermen are cautioned not to leave rods unattended. Tackle is easily jerked into the lake by drum that are actively feeding. Little topwater action has been observed around the dam this week, which normally marks the feeding patterns of big stripers that migrate in and out of the area to rest and feed. Hybrid bass often accompany these predator fish and both species can be hooked by casting Super Spooks and weightless jigs in a rainbow trout color. Flow discharges can change rapidly and anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to stay alert and always wear a life jacket when on the water.
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 0 cfs.
(updated 8-19-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said the area returned to seasonal hot and humid conditions last week. There was no significant rain in the area either. The National Weather Service forecast discussion expects near to below normal temperatures through the work week with a return to normal over the weekend. A trough in the jet stream has set the area up for a drier northwesterly flow, which will drop the humidity and make temperatures comfortable with highs in the mid-80s and morning lows in the low 60s. Things will shift some by the weekend and warmer, more seasonal conditions will return. The water clarity has cleared up near the surface and visibility reaches a few feet. Surface temperature is 85.
No fishing reports. No fishing tournaments were hosted at Lake Dardanelle State Park this past weekend.
The Corps of Engineers on Tuesday reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam increased to 29,000 cfs. River flow did briefly increase to 61,000 cfs last Saturday night. The Ozark tailwater had risen to 344 feet msl over the past weekend but has since fallen to 340 feet msl. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was near 9,000 cfs Tuesday morning. It had risen to 52,000 cfs last Friday night. Dardanelle tailwater level had briefly risen to 9 feet then but has since fallen to about 4 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park has been relatively low and is just above 338 feet msl. River flow at both Ozark and Dardanelle has been good considering it’s August, which normally sees the slowest and warmest water. Most if not all of the flow at both dams has been through the powerhouses, which have been generating most days. Ozark has been flowing mostly through the powerhouse, while Dardanelle has been dividing flow between the spillway and powerhouse.
(updated 8-12-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton water levels down slightly and water temps hanging in the high 80s throughout the lake, with the exception of the river channel. Largemouth and spotted bass are generally deeper in the water column than they have been (12-22 feet). “It seems to our Greeson anglers that bass are starting their fall pattern of binge feeding a little early this year, for whatever reason that may be. All fish we have caught have had full bellies and a tremendous amount of energy, making angling a lot of fun! Targeting these deeper bass will drop-shot rigs with watermelon or watermelon seed Trick Worms have been the ticket, along with the Ned rig in June bug. Either way you go you will get bit, just stay in areas of deep shade, steep drop-off lines or deep structure!”
Catfish are good as always in areas near or in current. Block cheese and cut bait are the ticket. Bream (bluegill) have been very hungry lately. Crickets, worms and small spinners can put a mess in the pan very quickly. “Good luck, and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 344.50 feet msl (normal pool: 344.31 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says that it’s muddy in the rivers. The lake clarity is fair. Surface temperature is 87 degrees. The water level has been normal for a while now. Bream are “jumping in the boat,” they report. An excellent bite is found using redworms, as well as crickets (they can hardly keep the crickets in stock with the way the bream are biting right now, but there are crickets on hand). Crappie are good and are being found at 6 feet depth. Troll with a Bandit Crankbait for best chance. Black bass are good. A topwater bait and frogs are good choices, and a War Eagle Spinnerbait in white with a gold leaf skirt is another good one. Catfish are good on Road Runners with head colors of pink and purple. Anglers are catching catfish trolling.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 573.88 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 8-19-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still slow to fair. Big Texas-rigged worms and jighead worms continue to work best. Try red bug, plum or blood line colors. Walleye are still good. Spoons and bottom bouncers with small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best. Stripers are fair to good. They’re being caught on live bait on the east part of the lake. Bream are good with crickets or worms in 15-25 feet of water. Crappie are slow. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are fair and being caught with trotlines and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature is ranging 80-85 degrees and the clarity is clear. The lake level Tuesday was 573.95 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 386.55 feet msl (normal pool: 386.36 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon gauge at 20.83 feet, well below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 8-19-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the catching has slowed down but anglers are still making memories. Black bass are being caught around the dead and hollow cypress trees as well as any running water. Most are being caught flipping black and blue tubes or jigs. Some bass are being picked off with crappie jigs. Bluegill have slowed down but success can still be found using crickets near laydowns. No report on crappie or catfish, but they are there and ready to be caught!
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. Due to current guidelines, Cook’s Lake will be open to fishing during normal business hours Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., water level pending. Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youths under 16 or mobility impaired, and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat, but we ask for trolling motors only. To comply with current guidelines, please call ahead at least a day in advance to register to fish. Before launching, please check in at the Conservation Education Center, and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, call the center at 870-241-3373.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 8-5-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said Bear Creek Lake has seen some good catfish activity over the last few weeks. They are biting on stink bait or homemade bait, mostly in the cooler hours of the day (early morning or evenings). With the increase in air and surface temperature, most other species have moved into deeper water.
Storm Creek Lake has not had any substantial reports of successful angling.
Remember, the Mississippi River State Park Visitor Center is OPEN and stocked with your fishing needs. Live and artificial bait, hooks, line and other accessories are available.
(updated 8-19-2020) Fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said had no report.
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