Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Sept. 2, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Sept. 2, 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 10 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 9-2-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake’s clarity this week was clearer than normal. Water went up a tad above normal and the gates are open, they report. Bream reports fell off; fair catches were mentioned. Redworms, crickets and hand-tie jigs are all working. Crappie are “kinda slow,” they report. A fair bite at best could be had using crappie minnows or small jigs. Good news: Black bass are still good. An assortment of lures can be used successfully, from spinnerbaits, plastic worms and topwaters and frogs to buzzbaits, chatterbaits and jigs. Catfishing is also good, with stink bait, dough bait, nightcrawlers, goldfish, trotline minnows and small bream all being good bait choices.
(updated 9-2-2020) Angler Dennis Charles reports that bass are excellent early and late. Anglers are finding success using anything in the box. Bream are slow all over. Crappie are still poor. Catfish can be found deep in channels; go to deep water for your best chances. Lake clarity is down to 4 feet in spots due to runoff from storms; the barometer and storms are playing havoc with their feeding times.
Little Red River
(updated 9-2-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that the river is normal and clear. Brown trout are being caught on jerkbaits and maribou jigs. Rainbow trout are preferring Trout Magnets in any bright color.
(updated 9-2-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is a little high and muddy due to the storms and heavy rain Tuesday. A tornado hit the Arkansas Highway 337 area, crossed the river, and hit the Wildflower and Primrose Creek areas. There was a lot of damage and downed trees. As of the latest reports, there have been no injuries. I’m not sure if any of the debris or trees are in the river in that area, but it would be wise to motor carefully in this area.
The lake is beginning to rise, but is still about 3 feet low, so generation should stay about theh same for the next few days. If the rain stops, the generation should help clear the river over the next few days.
(updated 8-26-2020) 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. Cotton Candy-colored 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 459.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 9-2-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is a little low and the clarity is clear. Bass are biting early in the day and late on topwaters. Also during the daylight they can be caught on half-ounce spoons or deep-diving crankbaits fished in 20 feet of water.
(updated 9-2-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake has come up since last week after it had dropped to 458.17, which was 4.37 feet down from the normal summer pool of 462.54. It has steady risen with rains to 459.71 feet and will probably be back to normal pool after all the rain is said and done. All species will have to reacclimate because of water change and several other conditions as well besides the rain, so the latter part of next week the bite should really pick back up. Crappie are being caught on cranks, jigs and live bait fished all over the place, 10-30 feet depth. No reports on walleye. Catfish are eating with new run-ins and the like, on a variety of baits. Hybrid bass and white bass are around the shad, which are scattered everywhere in 15-80 feet of water; use spoons, topwater baits, Largo Muskie Brute Baits, inline spinners and swimbaits. Bream are eating and are real active up shallow. Use inline spinners, small cranks and crawlers. Black bass are scattered all over, super shallow out to 50 feet. Use topwater baits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, drop-shots, or drag something.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 9-2-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reports clarity is muddy and the lake as of early Tuesday afternoon was still low, but is up a little from where it was last week. Bream are good. Use redworms or crickets, and some bream were reported caught on trotlines. Crappie are fair; minnows and jigs are your best bets. The black bass bite picked up some, with fair catches noted this week. Crankbaits, topwaters and jerkbaits sparked some activity. Catfish reports were good; trotlines were catching them baited with shad, chicken liver or goldfish.
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 9-2-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said fishing “has not been too great” of late, and Randy just returned from vacation so he had not spoken with any anglers about any catches. The lake is clear and is at a normal level but on the rise as of midafternoon Tuesday.
(updated 9-2-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no report.
(updated 9-2-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no report.
(updated 9-2-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said Sunset Lake is temporarily closed for renovations.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 9-2-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says a few small crappie being caught off of crappie minnows. Bream are being caught on crickets. And bass are being caught off of brooder minnows, which are also drawing some catfish. Otherwise, fishing has been pretty slow.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 9-2-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says that before the rains the catfish were doing great on trotlines baited with goldfish. Bass were going after the brooder and bass minnows “pretty good.” Crappie are fair off of No. 6 crappie minnows and Kalin’s Jigs in Tennessee Shad color. Bream are great on crickets.
(updated 9-2-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the crappie were doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows in the deeper water. As for bream, the big redears are going after the crickets drop-shotting them. Bass have been good on minnows, especially the bigger ones fished around the docks. Catfish have done well off of cut baits such as skipjack and shad.
(updated 9-2-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie are biting slow on No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish have been good on goldfish, bream and bait shrimp. Bass are good on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and brooder minnows.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 9-2-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no reports.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 9-2-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says river conditions are not good. The clarity is muddy and the water level as of early Tuesday afternoon was high, with more rain coming. Fishing is poor and will remain so until the rain clears up, Ray said.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 110,210 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 101,840 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 112,121 cfs.
(updated 9-2-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said Tuesday at midday the river was at normal level and stained (Anglers and boaters: Note Wednesday’s cfs flow). Bass fishing has been tough still, but anglers are doing well using square-billed crankbaits (white/black colors) in 5-6 feet of water around jetties. Also, black/blue and white/chartreuse chatterbaits and Texas-rigged worms in any reddish color are getting hit.
(updated 9-2-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports bream fishing is good on crickets, with most being caught in 4-5 feet depth in the backwaters. Crappie are fair; look for them in 8-10 feet off rock jetties. Fish with minnows. Catfishing is good below the Murray Lock and Dam and hydroelectric plant. Anglers are using skipjack. Snagging will also get you some catfish below the hydroelectric plant. White bass are being caught in good numbers below Murray using yellow Vibrant Rooster Tails.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 9-2-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) had no report.
(update 9-2-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said Peckerwood is a little dingy but the water level is back to normal. Bream have been biting well on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair; your best bet is trolling. Black bass fishing appears to be good, but Donna didn’t pick up any tips from the anglers on baits used. Catfish are being caught in good numbers; use hot dogs, minnows and other live bait.
(updated 9-2-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) reported, “The White River watershed has seen some rain this week, usually not as much as predicted in the Cotter area and mostly much appreciated. River clarity has remained very good and trout catching has been phenomenal. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam have decreased due to the hurricane rains to the south and east of us; this morning sees the lowest generated amount (minimum flow) in several months, but I don’t expect the wade-able levels to be maintained for long.
“Favored bait for a great catch has been fresh soft-shell crawdads, little bits of meat on the barb of the hook, placed mid-depth, will add to your creel.
“It’s late summer, so expect hopper season to spring in on us soon; pull out your hopper flies and make your way to the river. September fishing always seems more laid-back and relaxed than any other month of the year to me. The rush to get a day or two of angling in before school starts is behind us, winter holiday stress is still a ways off – just a nice peaceful time to cast a line and wait for the tug. Hope to see you soon.”
(updated 9-2-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reports that the Army Corps of Engineers have “turned the river off. Bull Shoals Dam is empty until Thursday. No one is fishing.” The clarity is termed “really good.” River level is low (downstream at Newport the gauge is over 12 feet. Just a half generator has been running.
(updated 9-2-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week (before the latest lines of rains this week) they had about an inch of rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.8 feet to rest at 17.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 16.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.7 foot to rest at 1 foot below seasonal power pool and 15 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation in the morning and heavy generation in the afternoon. There were 3 hours of wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 8.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.5 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 grasshopper 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 such as a size 14 pheasant tail nymph to increase your catch.”
He says 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 (size 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 peach suspended below it).
John adds about kayaking on these waters, “I would like to preface this by noting that my wife, Lori, and I are both enthusiastic kayakers. We have floated the White River, Norfork tailwater, Spring and Buffalo rivers, Crooked Creek, the North Fork of the White and the Big Piney. Along the way we have learned a few things about etiquette.
“I always say that stream etiquette begins and ends at the ramp. The ramp is a busy place. There are many users and it is important that it remain free so that everyone can access it. When I am fishing from my White River jon boat I totally prepare it for fishing before I drive down the ramp and quickly launch my boat. My total time on the ramp is 2 minutes. I do pretty much the same when Lori and I are kayaking. We pull our boats off the trailer and carry them to the bank to the side of the ramp. We gather our gear (paddles, PFDs, etc.) and place it in the boat. We then move our kayaks to the ramp and launch. Our total time on the ramp is 2 minutes.
“My usual experience is to observe kayakers driving down the ramp and unloading their boats. They then proceed to load their gear. This can take up to 20 minutes, leaving the ramp unusable to any other users. The commercial outfitters with over a dozen boats can take longer.
“Recently Lori and I were guiding a couple and we were coming in after a busy morning on the river. As we arrived at the ramp, we noticed four kayaks on the ramp making it unusable to us. It was time to go home. We called out to the kayakers who were having lunch to move their boats so that we could put our boat on the trailer and leave. They ignored us and Lori and I had to move their kayaks so that we could use the ramp. My client said that I was a better man than he was because he said that he would have cursed them. Before I left the access, I did go over and explain that the ramp should be kept clear so that others could use it.
“There are kayakers that set the standard of etiquette for the rest of us. I first met the Whoyakers a few years ago. I was guiding near Rim Shoals. It was just about quitting time when I noticed a dozen kayaks heading for the ramp. I thought to myself that I would never get out of there. As I arrived at the ramp a few minutes later, I was impressed to see that all of the kayaks had been moved out of the way and the ramp was free for me to use. The Whoyakers are a local group of lady kayakers. I know several members. They are serious about kayaking and are respectful of others. We should all be more like them.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 677.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 916.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 8-26-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the bite is changing a little every day. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pumping water out of Bull Shoals Lake, and this has the fishing moving out on the points. There is also baitfish suspended deep off the points. Del says anglers should target fish at 10-15 feet deep dearly, then switch to 20-28 feet later in the day. If it’s hot, go deep, he says. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow. Throw topwater baits in the mornings. Berkley Wake Bait, poppers, a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait or chatterbaits are best for power fishing 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 remains dingy to clear depending on location, 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 564.40 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 9-2-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 8.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.5 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 grasshopper 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 such as a size 14 pheasant tail nymph to increase your catch.”
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during from flooding over the last 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 school starting, expect less pressure during the week. On weekends, 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.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-2-2020) 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 1,122.14 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl).
(updated 9-2-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Tuesday that Beaver Lake was cooling and still coming down, but rain was falling the last couple of days. “We’ll have to see how it affects the levels. Fishing is fair to good depending on what you are targeting,” he said. Stripers are good from Point 6 to the dam; look for points with wind blowing into them. Brooder minnows and bream are working. The bite is early from sunrise to 9 a.m. Plan your day and look at wind direction forecasts and fish points where it blows into them.
Crappie are being caught trolling Picos and Bandits. Troll at or around 2 mph for best results. Walleye are fair and being caught on slow death rigs. Look on same windblown points.
“The bright spot is some good brown bass fishing is going on using drop-shots on main lake points 30-35 feet deep. Look in Indian creek area,” he said. “We got some good Spook bites up the War Eagle for largemouth and spots and whites the last couple days towards dark. Look for blow ups and cast accordingly. It is on for about 1 hour till dark.”
Catfish are good on all usual methods. “Good fishing is on the way,” he adds. “’Won’t be long now,’ as my good friend Jerry used to say!”
(updated 9-2-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said stripers are good from the middle of the night until the sun comes up; anglers are using live bait (shad, brood shiners or bluegill). Bream remain just fair (re: “kinda slow”) with redworms and crickets getting some response. Crappie also are somewhat slow. Anglers who are catching them are trolling Arkie Crankbaits and Pico Crankbaits. Black bass reports continue to be poor, but if they are going to be caught it will come at night, they say. Try a spinnerbait, plastic worm, a topwater very early or very late in the day, or a Brush Hog. Catfishing continues to rate fair. Trotlines, juglines and limblines are getting catches; bait with live bait (minnows, perch, goldfish). Lake conditions are good. The lake level is now barely above normal conservation pool and the clarity is “good and clear.”
(updated 9-2-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Fishing this past week has been up and down with the bite. On average, I have been catching around 25 trout per outing. In the tailwater, there are a lot of slot fish, which have to be returned. Most have been caught on quarter-ounce spoons and various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The hot spot has been between Spider Creek and Parker Bottoms.”
White bass are going to be found in the warmer waters toward Beaver town and Holiday Island, he said. “The key here is, find the bait! You find the bait and you will find the fish. In the same area, you will also find Kentucky bass and a few walleye. Try fishing suspended lures in 10 feet of water, around structure and chunk rock.
“Well, as the rain starts to move in, the bite should continue to fluctuate. We should start to move into the fall pattern here in the next couple of weeks. Have fun and get out and catch some fish!”
War Eagle Creek/Beaver Lake Area
(updated 9-2-2020) 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 9-2-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) says the lake is still a little murky and is just a little high now. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie continue to bite poorly for most anglers, though they report and anglers who know what they’re doing should catch a few. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good using plastic worms, topwater baits and live worms. Catfishing is good; go with nightcrawlers, glowworms or the usual catfish bait.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 9-2-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported Wednesday morning that the lake clarity was muddy and the level was about a foot and a half high. Fishing, though, in most cases remains good. Bream fishing is good on redworms and crickets. Black bass are good and being caught on plastic worms and topwater baits. Catfishing is good; use cut bait and Punch Bait. The only species lagging is crappie, with poor reports this week after a good bite recently.
(updated 9-2-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) says that the lake is dingy and is low by about 6 inches under normal level. Bream are still biting with good results reported on redworms and crickets. No reports on crappie still. Black bass continue to bite well. Deep-diving crankbaits are working in the day. Go with topwater lures early in the morning and late in the day. Catfishing is good; use chicken liver.
(updated 9-2-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said there were no fishing reports from this past week – “the weather has been crazy,” she said. Water at Lake Charles is high, and this was before this week’s rain events. However, she says “good fishing days” based on the moon cycle should run through Sept. 5. Surface water temperature Sunday morning was 70 degrees and the lake is murky.
(updated 9-2-2020) 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 9-2-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are running at 400 cfs (350 is average). Water clarity at the moment is poor from rain on Tuesday morning. Great thing about the Spring River is it clears quickly. Always check Mark’s blog page for latest river conditions. Over the last month river levels are lower. Wading the river is never easy. Be safe out there and a wading staff is highly recommended. The bottom of the river is very slick.
The trout have been hitting olive Woolly Buggers consistently. For the browns a downstream cast with short fast strip back works well. Big nymphs and Y2Ks can work well other days when the bite is slower.
The smallmouth bass have been hitting well on Clouser-style patterns. Mark says one of his favorites is an olive Woolly tied with lead eyes. It’s got to be a quick dropping fly. Like brown trout, a cast downstream with a short quick strip back can be hot. A 5 or 6 weight with floating line makes for a fun day and use lightweight for a full day on the water. Poppers can be a lot of fun but have been inconsistent for him, Mark says.
For spin-fishing lately, it has been hard to beat crankbaits. “We like the trout cranks and Berkley Flicker Shad. Great for catch-and-release, just carry big pliers. They get down quick and work. And for a fun time catching trout, a hot pink Trout Magnet fished just off the bottom always produces.”
Mark adds, “With some dry weather the fall season is looking really good. Nice-size trout stocked weekly and the wintertime holdovers that start feeding when it gets cold out are gonna make for some great adventures.” For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 9-2-2020) 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 9-2-2020) Elizabeth Kimble at Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no report.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Wednesday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 10.13 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 14.47, more than 11 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta jumped up almost 3 feet to 26.15 feet, above the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 9-2-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 9-2-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reported that water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s. Visibility 1 to 1.5 feet in backwaters and Lake Langhofer, 0.5 to 1 feet on the main river. Water levels were up a few inches and the river was flowing strong Wednesday. Black bass were biting a bit slow but they were eating buzzbaits worked over woody cover, and dark-colored craws/jigs within woody cover. Keep an eye out for schooling activity and be ready with shad-colored lipless crankbaits or small topwater plugs, as black bass are schooling with white bass in Lake Langhofer. You can continue to catch black bass after the surface schooling has stopped by working the lipless crankbait slower along the bottom in the same area.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 9-2-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no reports.
(updated 9-2-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
Cane Creek Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.62 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 9-2-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that even though the lake is in an annual 2-foot drawdown period, due to recent thunderstorms in the region, Millwood Lake level has jumped dramatically and as of Tuesday is 5 inches ABOVE normal pool. Millwood Lake pool elevation was 259.6 feet msl; the discharge is around 13,700 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Tuesday around 241 feet msl and rising. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on our guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels, especially during current 2 foot drawdown conditions.
Note: The Army Corps of Engineers recently closed access roads to River Run East and River Run West access for dam inspection and work during the 2-foot drawdown. Continue to use caution in Little River navigation during the pool drawdown; stumps and hazards will be at or near surface pool during drawdown conditions, which are expected to run into mid-October.
Surface temperatures have been stable over the past couple weeks, ranging 83-88 degrees. Clarity is improving in the back of the oxbows and along Little River and main lake. Clarity and visibility along Little River at 2-5 inches. Further up Little River has more stain. The oxbow’s clarity is moderate stain, ranging 8-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: What a difference a week makes AGAIN! From a recent 2-foot drop in lake pool for Corps drawdown until mid-October, severe storms and copious rainfall jumped the lake up over 3 feet. Flow rates along Little River have been increased again to offset incoming rainfall and continue the drawdown pool elevation. Largemouth bass in Little River have pulled to creek channel dumps and points. Early morning continues to be key for the best bite of the day in the oxbow lakes where the best water clarity exists. Soft plastic frogs, Bass Assassin Shad jerkbaits, crankbaits, and Stuttersteps are still working early in the oxbows. Best activity period remains from dawn to around 10 a.m. Juvenile largemouth continue random surface-breaking on huge pods of threadfin shad early multiple locations, near and in lily pads. 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 there chasing shad. When the shad schools move to vertical structure and bass follow the shad schools, use ¾-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Cordell 3/4-to-1-ounce Hammered Spoons, MR-6 Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Louisiana Shad and Tennessee Shad, with Little John custom-painted crankbaits over 14-18 foot depths in the oxbows.
* White bass: They continue roaming the oxbow lakes up Little River and on some days are surface-breaking on shad. They’ve been willing to bite crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps between 12-25 feet of depth over the past two weeks.
* Crappie: Best bite of the day has been early for the past 3-4 weeks. Minnows and jigs have had the most consistent response, with minnows having a slight edge, working along Little River in planted brush, in any clearer water sections of the oxbows in planted brush piles from 8-15 feet of depth.
* Catfish: Improved on trotlines and yo-yos with increased current along Little River this week. Cut shad, Ivory soap and King’s Punch Bait have been working.
* Bream: No reports.
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 547.02 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 404.46 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-2-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “It’s been raining. Water on the rise. Water level is at 404.46 feet and rising with more rain to come. Wish I had some better news but between the hot water and now the rain, it’s been tough.
“Catfishing should be on the upswing with the rising water. They will be foraging in the shallows at night, and so will the bream and baitfish. I prefer to fish inside the cover on the rise and on the outside edge on the fall. Live bait is a must. The moon is full, which normally is the bedding trigger for bream, but it is September and lots of rain water, but may be worth a try. Use your side imaging to locate the beds. Crickets and drop-shot for bream beds.
“Crappie are about as finicky as they can get. Vertical timber holds some suspended fish and deep brushpiles and laydowns right on the thermocline are the best bet. Fish slow. The bite is so light.
“Schooling fish, that is a spin of the wheel. They are reported from Point Cedar to Iron Mountain. Topwater on the surfacing fish, crankbaits and spoons after they submerge. Trolling is getting mixed bags of fish but not large counts.”
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 448.81 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 551.90 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 9-2-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) reports catfish being caught in good numbers. Use stink bait or nightcrawlers. He said water is clear except for algae bloom. Water level is low.
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 9-2-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that record-setting amounts of rainfall the past week have prompted Entergy to release huge amounts of water below Carpenter Dam. As many as five floodgates have been opened at a time on Lake Catherine to combat heavy rainfall that began to fall again on Monday. All area dams are now working in conjunction in an attempt to stabilize both lakes Hamilton and Catherine. To complicate matters, Lake Ouachita has risen back into flood pool due to the unseasonably wet weather. Before Hurricane Laura moved inland, Lake Ouachita was a full 5 feet below flood pool. More rainfall is expected through Thursday of this week, which will guarantee that life-threatening conditions will exist in Arkansas. Many roads will be closed and dam tailraces will be off limits until conditions return to normal. This process will take weeks and no one should attempt to navigate the affected areas for any reason. Flooding in Arkansas for 2020 ruined the majority of the rainbow trout season and is now claiming the end of the summer, Shane says.
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 18,678 cfs.
(updated 9-2-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that in the past week the area has received about 5 inches of rain. Tropical Storm Laura passed over last Thursday. A few days of sunshine followed, and then widespread rain has fallen across the area, leaving the ground saturated and with the potential for flooding. The National Weather Service forecast calls for rain to move out of the area Thursday as a cold front ushers in drier, cooler air during the overnight. High pressure will set up for the weekend and another cold front is expected to arrive early next week. Temperatures will be well below normal and fall-like through the period. The water here has become turbid and less clear as rain and flows have increased. Surface water temperature is 80 degrees.
As of Tuesday the Corps of Engineers last reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam increased to 85,000 cfs. Continued rounds of rain has caused river flow to rise significantly in the past 24 hours. The Ozark tailwater had risen about 8 feet since Monday morning to 346.5 feet msl. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam rose to near 78,000 cfs Tuesday morning. Before the rains, the river would periodically flow between 20,000-40,000 cfs. Dardanelle tailwater level has risen from about 3-4 feet to over 10 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park has remained just above 338 feet msl. Most, if not all, of the flow at both dams has been through the powerhouses, which have been generating most days. Ozark had been flowing more continuous with not much interruption while Dardanelle had been flowing periodically (usually in the p.m.).
No fishing tournaments were hosted at Lake Dardanelle State Park this past weekend. For details or questions about tournaments or fishing, contact our visitor center at (479) 967-5516. Be safe while on the river and take time to put a line the water!
(updated 9-2-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton temperatures in the low 80s and water clarity at 4 feet or more. “It’s been a really strange week for bass fishing in general. The fish seemed to have lockjaw this weekend on Hamilton. It’s very likely the weather and fluctuating pressures are messing up the bass, but other species seem fired up!” Bass have been spotted busting shad under and near the Arkansas Highway 7 South bridges in the mornings and evenings. Spooks, suspending jerkbaits and unweighted fluke imitations will get strikes, most of which will be short. The same goes for drop-shot and Ned rigs. Bluegill and walleye are tearing up these two presentations but the bass are resistant to bite well.
“We took a detour over to Lake DeGray this weekend and found out quickly that black and blue half-ounce jigs are getting crushed! This may be the solution for Hamilton, also. Bluegill are outstanding on worms or crickets in 15-20 feet of water on points and deep docks. It’s easy to fill a 5-gallon bucket right now! Crappie are fair, but they are short-striking most presentations except dropping vertical on them. The fish will bite it on the fall more than anything else. Catfish are excellent everywhere on cheese and cut bluegill.
“Fall is here even though we don’t quite feel it yet. This ‘funk of fishing’ is normal before the fishing really gets good! Be patient and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 360.59 feet msl (normal pool: 344.31 feet msl).
(updated 9-2-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says flooding has ruined the fishing for now, everything is poor. A bass tournament planned for Tuesday night was canceled. The lake level is high and rising about 1.5 feet an hour, they reported Tuesday afternoon.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 580.30 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-2-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are good. The topwater bite is picking up, and spotted bass are schooled up chasing baitfish. Try a small 3/8-ounce spoon in submerged schools and your favorite topwater in those same areas. Major creekmouths and up in the rivers have had the best reports. Walleye are good. Spoons and bottom bouncers with small spinners tipped with a crawler are working best. Stripers are still fair to good. These fish are being caught on live bait on the east part of the lake. Bream are still 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 good and being caught with trotlines and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature has dropped some, ranging 76-80 degrees. The clarity is stained. The lake is 2 feet into flood stage. 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 405.98 feet msl (normal pool: 386.36 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon gauge at 23.90 feet, a 3-foot rise from last week but below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 9-2-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said Hurricane Laura has had effects on fishing at Cook’s Lake. The recent rainfall has caused the lake to become muddy and is on the rise. It is predicted the White River will jump 4 feet in a span of about four days, which will put the river back in minor flood stage and the fish will likely be scattered. Up until this weather event, black bass were being caught around the dead and hollow cypress trees as well as any running water. Most were being caught flipping black and blue tubes or jigs. Bluegill have slowed down and may be about done for the year. No report on crappie or catfish.
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.
(updated 8-26-2020) Fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said fishing is not good at this time. He’s found a real bad bite trolling or fishing under the piers, he said Tuesday afternoon. A lot of recreational boaters makes fishing on Horseshoe really rough, he said. Ronnie plans to continue fishing Horseshoe Lake through September and then plans to move to Mountain Home, where he will guide for trout fishing or guide crappie trips on Bull Shoals Lake and other locales.
The clarity at Horseshoe is clear with a surface temperature of 85 degrees. The water level is 2 feet low.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 9-2-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said had no reports.
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