Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Sept. 23, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for Sept. 23, 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 11 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 9-23-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is at the normal stain and is at a normal level as of early Tuesday afternoon. Bream continue to bite well on redworms and crickets. Crappie ranged from fair to good this week. Crappie minnows worked along with jigs in white/chartreuse colors. Black bass are still biting well. Try using a plastic worm, buzzbait, chatterbait, frogs, poppers or live worms. Catfishing is good with stink bait, nightcrawlers, goldfish and dough bait.
(updated 9-16-2020) Angler Dennis Charles reports that all types of bass are excellent all hours of the day. Anglers are finding success using anything in the box. Bream are slow all over. Crappie are showing their fins along the grass lines. Catfish can be found all over; go to deep water for your best chances.
Little Red River
(updated 9-23-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river remains clear with one unit of generation round-the-clock. The generation is due to a unit being down at Table Rock. This was being used to regulate the electrical grid. This unit is scheduled to be back on-line Thursday and Greers Ferry should return to the afternoon schedule of generation. The lake level is 460.6 feet msl, which means that the generation should be for power demand only after Thursday.
The trout bite has been only fair during this generation but should improve when the schedule returns to normal.
(updated 9-23-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that the water is a little high. The trout bite is getting better. Trout Magnets in pink color and gold-colored countdowns were working best, along with the olive maribou jig.
(updated 9-23-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) had no new reports. 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 460.67 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 460.70 feet msl and falling with generation. It is 1.84 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet msl. “Pictures of feeding fish you can see if you have your electronics set up right – a great learning concept, this is cat’s meow when and if you see or can find this. It’s a mix of hybrid bass, white bass, black bass and crappie, all eating, and at this point you can just about make bet you can catch on anything you drop out of small circle of baits,” he said.
The overall catching is getting better every day. He says all species have been in a sort of funk with the prevailing east and northeast winds and changing pressure, but they are slowly coming out of it and its getting better every day. Crappie are eating jigs, crankbaits and minnows all over the water column 12-30 feet. No report on walleye. Bream are still very active and can be caught with crickets, worms, inline spinners and cranks from super shallow out to 20 feet. Catfish are eating on and off day and night on a variety of baits on jugs and trotlines, with bream for bait doing better overall. Black bass are eating, roaming some and schooling by their selves and with other fish as well. Structure fish can be caught from 25-60 feet, and can be caught dragging something. Topwater bite is good and getting better. Schooling fish are good and getting better, they could come up anywhere; lots of good fish. Hybrid bass and white bass are really starting to chew if you are in the right place at the right time; if not, wait them out as they will feed three or four times a day at least. Use inline spinners, Largo Muskie baits, spoons, swimbaits or live bait in 39-60 feet. Fish close to deep water, just stay with the shad.
(updated 9-23-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the water is a little low and clear. Bass are good on a drop-shot in 20 feet of water on main lake points. Also, they’re biting topwaters, Zara Spooks and Whopper Ploppers. Walleye are being caught drop-shotting and with nightcrawlers on the main lake points in 15-20 feet of water.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 9-23-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) termed the clarity “average” and the water level is normal. Bream reports have been good; use the usual redworms or crickets. Crappie are good. Bobby Garland Jigs in shiny shad and monkey mil colors are working well, along with minnows. Black bass were just fair the past week. Topwaters like Zara Spoons are working; anglers are also using white frog lures in the early mornings to catch them. Catfish are good on trotlines baited with shad or chicken liver.
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 9-23-2020) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the lake is clear and at a normal level, down from a half-foot or more high last week. Bass and crappie are responding well to the drop in water. Crappie are good. They’re being found suspended in 5-6 feet of water around the brushpiles and taking to minnows and jigs. Black bass were good this week on crankbaits. Catfishing is good using minnows on trotlines and yo-yos. No reports on bream.
(updated 9-11-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland reported that water temperature is in the 90s. The largemouth bass bite is fair. Some can be found in shallow water or just outside the grass line biting a variety of lures. Try using swimbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Kentucky bass are also fair. Some of them are reported being found in 15-20 feet of water off drops and rocky banks. Try using jigs. In last Saturday’s 3 p.m.-to-midnight bass tournament, Cody Bryant and Brad Lequieu caught a stringer totaling 16 pounds, including the 4.12-pound Big Bass. Also, Cameron Nesterenko and Andrew Wooley were the Tuesday night black bass tournament Anglers of the Year with 185.45 points.
White bass are biting slow. Some are reported being found in 20-22 feet in or around the channel. Try using minnows, Rooster Trails, jerkbaits and rattle-style baits. Crappie are fair. There are reports of them moving out of deeper water and being found in 12-18 feet in shallow brush. Some can still be found scattered mixed in with the white bass. Use jigs or minnows. Bream are great. They can be found on windy points by drop-offs in 12-16 feet of water. Try using crickets, worms or beetle spins. Catfishing is good on chicken liver, nightcrawlers and baitfish. Call the marina for information on fall bass tournaments.
(updated 9-23-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said it’s unclear to her whether Sunset Lake is officially open or not with renovation work going on at one end. “But I still have lots of people going there and telling me that they are catching fish,” she said. Fresh chicken livers seem to be working well on the catfish. Bream have been going after the crickets. And bass have been hitting on the brooder minnows and the black salties.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 9-23-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says bream were doing well on crickets and redworms. Bass have been doing well off of No. 12 bass minnows and brooder minnows, and spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, too. Crappie been fair on No. 6 crappie minnows and also on Kalin’s Jigs. Catfish ”are really good,” she noted, at night on nightcrawlers and chicken livers.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 9-23-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says bass have been doing well on brooder minnows and plastics, especially 4-inch lizards. “One of my customers has actually caught a few walleye on the lizards,” she said. Crappie have done well on the No. 6 crappie minnows in the deeper holes. Bream have done very well on crickets. Catfish have been being caught off of nightcrawlers, black salties, brooders and chicken livers.
(updated 9-23-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie were doing good on No. 6 crappie minnows and some crappie jigs. Bass have been good on No. 12 bass minnows and Zing Tails. Bream are good on crickets. Catfish have been being caught off of black salties and cut bait.
(updated 9-23-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says crappie have been doing well on No. 12 bass minnows. Bass have been going for the plastics, crankbaits and minnows. Catfish been good on black salties, chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Bream are fair on crickets and redworms.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 9-23-2020) Charlie Hoke at Charlie’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said catfishing is mostly what’s going on just off the river in his area. Catfish are being caught on limblines with yo-yos up the Petit Jean River and Point Remove Creek using cut bait. Also, anglers are drifting across the points, mainly the jetties, and going upstream and dropping down on the drift to catch cats, also using cut bait.
“Then, we’ve got our bass and they are weird,” Charlie said. “There is really no pattern right now.” He said anglers are catching them where you can find slackwater off the river, between 0 and 30 feet. Anglers are fishing these jetties just above his area. “What they’re doing, they’re using jigs, black and blue. And they’re using crankbaits and those will be in the shad color or pearl color still.” On up into the mouth of the Petit Jean and at Flag Lake Cutoff, anglers are getting into some white bass and fishing the mudlines with crankbaits early in the day for success. And that’s basically it, he said. No reports on crappie or bream. A little less than two weeks ago, he adds, bream were being caught on Rooster Tails and going down the grass lines.
Charlie adds that he’s not getting many anglers, but he is seeing goose hunters come in and “they’re doing real good.” Canada goose season is open, as is early teal season. “The teal are not here yet up around me. A few are getting shot but not much.”
Little Maumelle River
(updated 9-23-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) had no new reports.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 31,365 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 36,150 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 0.
(updated 9-23-2020) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said black bass are getting better with the river flow. They’re good on buzzbait sand swimbaits, square-billed crankbaits and green pumpkin chatterbaits. They’re mostly being found on the main river around the jetties. Catfishing is good on stink bait and night crawlers below the Murray Lock and Dam. The river is stained and at a normal level as of Tuesday.
(updated 9-23-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) received great reports on stripers below the hydroelectric plant at Murray Lock and dam. The bite is excellent using Zoom Super Flukes (shad and chartreuse colors). Catfish remains good below the hydroelectric plant on cut shad.
(updated 9-16-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) received reports of catfish biting well in the river on skipjack.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 9-16-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says bream are good on crickets and redworms.
(update 9-23-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reported the lake conditions as clear clarity and a low level with no stumps showing. Bream continue to be good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs; trolling still will provide your best response. Black bass are good and have taken to the chicken liver, Donna says. Anglers have a tendency to keep their baits secret here, but something tells us a topwater might work well now, as well as plastic worms. Try an assortment of things and see what works. Catfish are good on hot dogs, minnows and other live bait.
(updated 9-23-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is slowly nearing its desired power pool level (the lake is now just 10 feet above pool). “We continue to see ample generation, lots of water feeding our prime fishing spots. Average generation has been 16,000 cfs, five units, during the past week.
“While the brown bite isn’t as active as we wish it would be, we’re still seeing a number of healthy browns brought in, photographed and released for another day. Keep a variety of live bait on board for the browns – sculpins first, then minnows and crawdad tails. Place your bait near the river bottom and to the sides of the main channel when generation is as high as it’s been. The rainbows haven’t been as picky; lots of success with pink or white worms and bubblegum pink mouse tails. Garlic-scented eggs on the eye of the hook will stir up some excitement and add to your creel count.
“Cooler autumn temperatures surprised us this week; it’s time to add a layer or two in the early morning hours and prepare for warm afternoons. Thanks for sharing our love of the North Arkansas Ozarks in the Natural State.”
(updated 9-23-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says anglers are catching a lot of rainbows, and some big ones as well. Also, they caught some browns this past week, though nothing huge. Anglers reported several good-sized cutthroats caught as well. They report 8 generators running from Bull Shoals round-the-clock. River clarity “is really good,” they say, and the river level there is normal. Overall trout bite is excellent.
(updated 9-23-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Monday that over the past week they had no rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals is now 11.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be weeks away.
John says the grasshopper bite is still around. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. John’s favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.
He says the White has fished well. 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 girdle bug suspended below it).
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 671.24 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 915.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that even though Bull Shoals Lake has dropped considerably since the summer, there is still limited access to the ramps. He says it’s “September junk fishing right now.” The Army Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out, which has some of the fish moving out on the points, and there’s baitfish suspended deep off the points. Target 10-15 feet depth in the early morning, then 22-28 feet with a drop-shot later in the day. “Find the bait, find the fish,” Del says. If it’s hot, go deep. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow. He’s been getting up early for the topwater bite with poppers, and Berkley Wake Bait has been good. Try Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait or chatterbait for power fishing “shallow” if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. Work major creeks halfway back and out to the main channel. As the sun comes up, change tactics. Smallies and Kentucky bass (spots) are stacked out oblong main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends, but are closer to main lake points in 26-32 feet. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue. Smallmouth are on gravel banks. Del notes that at least the big crowds are thinning on the lake, making angling better.
He says the clarity there is dingy to clear and the surface temperature is 87 degrees. At his last check, the lake was 14 feet high and falling (10 feet and falling on Wednesday).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 561.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for all species on Norfork Lake is getting better and better. September fishing can have its challenges due to the changing water temperatures, changing lake levels, and frontal systems, but all species are biting. “Not necessarily every day,” he says, “but I believe they call that fishing. The striped bass bite is getting pretty good. Crappie are moving back to the brush, so at least you know where to find them. The walleye bite has been good, but it does take some work to locate them. The bass bite is almost always good whether you like to catch them in shallow or in deep water.”
He says striped Bass fishing has really improved over the last week in various parts of the lake. “I have found two different patterns for this species, but time of the day may have something to do with it. Early in the morning, occasionally starting before sunrise, I have found stripers on large flats feeding heavily on shad. They can be anywhere from 20 feet of water out to 40 feet towards the bottom. They are starting to school and when you find that large school of fish it is a fantastic bite. Other times the fish are scattered out and it takes a little bit more effort to catch them. The early morning bite seems to last no later than 8 a.m. or so. This morning after the bite slowed on the flat where I was fishing, I decided to check out a different type of area for the striped bass. I have caught fish out in deep water along a bluff wall in past years, and this year appears to be the same. I was in 120-150 feet of water and the fish were suspended down 35-40 feet deep. I found a large school of feeding fish once in this area, but most of the time I was marking one to three fish at a time.
“I have been using several different methods to catch striped bass. I have been slow trolling a Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9, with a 1-ounce snap on weight about 50 feet behind the bait with another 50 feet of line out. (This method is mainly for the flats.) I am also starting to vertical jig with a ¾-ounce spoon more often than I troll. I have jigged up stripers in both of these areas. The hardest part about fishing for suspended fish with a spoon is getting it down to the right depth. If you have a fish finder than picks your spoon up, this makes it simple, but if it does not, you need to either count down your bait, my rod and bait takes 8 seconds to get down to 40 feet, or drop it to the bottom and count the cranks up until you get to the desired depth. The stripers will continue to move around and as the water cools and the lake turns over the fish will be in many different types of area.
“Crappie fishing has been good, but has had its ups and downs, I believe due to the various frontal systems that has gone through our area. The best areas have been brush piles that are in 20-30 feet of water. The fish will either be suspended on the top of the brush or buried inside of it. Small jigging spoons or small plastics with a twister tail or a paddle tail are working great. Live minnows either on their own or tipped on a plastic jig will also work well. I have found crappie on both main lake brush, as well as, brush back in a creek.
“Walleye fishing has slowed a little, but we are still picking up some nice ones, along with a lot of shorts. Early in the morning and prior to sunrise they are being caught on long rocky points that jet out into the lake. They have typically been on the sides anywhere from 16 feet deep, down to 32 feet deep. During the day and late afternoon, they seem to be in 25-34 feet of water. Crawler harnesses with a bottom bouncer or trolling with a minnow style crankbaits are both working. Drop-shot rigs should also work with either a nightcrawler or large minnow. As the water cools, they will move up tight onto the shoreline and casting for them will start to work better, especially early and late in the day.
“Bass fishing has been good and they are being found in many different areas. Casting topwater baits, spinners and buzzbaits are working for the very shallow fish, especially where there is lots of brush still under water. There will be many shorts in shallow water, but there will also be a few lunkers. Jigs and worms are also working along the bluffs and out in 15-30 feet of water. Vertical-jigging spoons will pick up some nice fish. Work the deeper water, as well as, jigging near or on brush. Several days ago, I was trolling my Flicker Minnow out in 80 feet of water and picked up some really nice largemouth that were suspend down 25 feet. Bass are on main lake points, as well as, back in the creeks.”
Norfork Lake level is falling and currently sits at 561.18 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Tuesday morning was in the high 70s, Lou said. The main lake and creeks are stained but should start to clear as the lake continues to cool. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 9-23-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be weeks away.
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, but there is pressure 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-23-2020) 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 1,120.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said, “Beaver Lake is in fall transition. Water temps in the low 70s. Fish are moving and are tough to keep up with. Stripers are moving back towards the islands at Prairie Creek. Fishing has been fair at best. Crappie are trying to load up on brush but are still scattered suspended in 15 feet of water. Look on brush and cast jigs or minnows, and also you can troll Picos and Bandits to put fish in the boat. Black bass and white bass are schooling early and late. Main lake points and secondary points and flats. Fishing should really get going soon with water temps dropping daily.
(updated 9-23-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the clarity is clear and the lake level remains a little high but is coming down to normal pool. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair; they’ve moved deeper and are around brushpiles. Throw minnows or jigs. Bass ranged from poor to fair this week. Topwater baits are working well early in the morning and late in the day. Got with jigs and plastic worms during the rest of the day. Anglers report catching some really good-size catfish again this week. Live bait will work best.
(updated 9-23-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing has continued to be good in the tailwater. There was a few days where the water temperature was in the 70s. On those days, some very nice fish were being caught, including a few juvenile walleye. Most trout are biting on spoons in quarter-ounce and various PowerBait, fished with light terminal tackle. Throwing some hard crankbaits have also produced some fish as well. This week’s hot spot is between Parker Bottoms and the dam. “If you want to find some nice brownies, that is where I would be.”
White bass and Kentucky bass are being caught around Holiday Island. Try finding schools with your electronics or the bait fish. Fish suspended baits in 10 feet of water, around structure and chunk rock. Look for them in the back of coves or at the mouth of them.
“The water temps have back down in the tailwater, but that has not stopped the bite. Good luck, be safe and catch some fish. With deer season a few days away, I may be doing a report every other week, as I will not be on the water as often. Good luck!”
(updated 9-23-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reports the lake is murky still with a surface water temperature in the mid-70 degrees. Water level is normal. Anglers still report bream response is poor. Crappie catches, however, were good this week. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good on plastic worms and topwater baits. Catfishing is good; use nightcrawlers, glow worms and regular catfish bait, “pretty much anything,” they say.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 9-23-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the lake is clear and at a normal level. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good; they’re being caught in 10 feet depth with crankbaits. Black bass are moving more to shallow water, and anglers report a good bite. Use a spinnerbait or crankbait. Catfishing continues to please everyone, with good catches reported using cut bait, chicken liver and other “real” baits, they report.
(updated 9-23-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the lake clarity “is pretty clear.” Surface water temperature was 78 degrees on Tuesday midday. Water level is a little low. Bream are good on redworms, crickets, nightcrawlers and wigglers. No reports on crappie. Black bass are good on topwater lures, crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfish are still being caught in good numbers using chicken liver.
(updated 9-23-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the fishing turned completely around in all species this past weekend from the previous week. She said they had beautiful fishing weather and lots of boats on the water this weekend. She also notes that Sept. 28-Oct. 4 should be good days to fish based on moon times, with the best days coming Oct. 13-19. If they are anything like this past weekend, anglers need to head up to Lake Charles. Bream are good on worms and are being caught around brushpiles, stumps and rocky points. Those same areas are giving up good numbers of crappie, with minnows, jigs and worms all working. Black bass are in shallow water and biting well. Anglers were using spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms over the weekend, focusing on areas with brush and the rocky points. Catfishing its good using worms, blood bait, stink bait and goldfish. Shelly says the lake remains murky and the level is high. Surface water temperature Sunday was 73 degrees.
(updated 9-23-2020) 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 9-23-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are at 350 cfs, average flow for the Spring, and water clarity has been clear. Low and clear water has the overcast days fishing amazingly well, and there have been some very tough sunny days. On the good days swinging a Woolly Bugger and stripping back at the end has been a ton of fun. On the slow days a Y2K with nymph dropper will produce. With spin-fishing there have been some excellent days with hot pink Trout Magnets. Other times a trout crank or Flicker Shad rules. “With the rocky bottom of the river, the crankbaits are perfect to get down, but when you’re hung up, give it some slack and the bait usually floats out,” he says. For the latest river conditions and more information from Mark, visit his blog at springriverfliesandguides.com.
(updated 9-23-2020) 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).
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Wednesday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 9.63 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 12.50, slightly less than 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 24.30 feet, almost 2 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
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 9-23-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.52 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the Army Corps of Engineers has ended its 2-foot drawdown at Millwood for boat ramp repair, shoreline work, erosion abatement, dam inspection and other repair. Due to recent thunderstorms and record rainfall in the region, the Red River Basin, and in northeast Texas, Millwood Lake and the Tri Lakes of Gillam, Dierks and De Queen all saw levels jumped dramatically. Millwood Lake is currently back on the rise. Pool elevation is at 259.6 feet msl as of Tuesday and the discharge is around 3,200 cfs in Little River according to the Corps. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Tuesday was around 232 feet msl and rising. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temps dropped over the past week, ranging between 75-80 degrees. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for random broken, or floating timber in Little River are in effect. Clarity shifted dramatically over the past week with increased rainfall, discharge of current at the dam, and muddy inflow from rivers and tributary contributions. Heavy stain currently is seen in the back of the oxbows, and muddy conditions are found along Little River and main lake.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Along Little River’s tributaries and creek dumps, the bass continue shifting from creek channels to points extending into Little River. Early morning continues to be key for the best bite of the day. McGuire and Horseshoe oxbow lakes have the best water clarity, albeit heavy stain. Magnum Pop R’s in bone color, Ken Pops in bleeding bream or Smokey Joe, and Rattling Chug Bugs in chrome/blue back are working at the surface near pads and grass that are short distance from 12-15 feet of vertical structure. Bass Assassin Shad Jerkbaits, H&H Spinnerbaits and Johnson Chrome Spoons are working when bass break in the pads. Crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps are still working early in the oxbows for juvenile bass schools following shad and bait pods over 15-20 feet of depth. Best activity period remains from dawn to around 10 a.m. When the shad schools move to vertical structure, the shallow-feeding largemouths follow the shad schools.
* White bass: They continue roaming the oxbow lakes up Little River, and some days are surface-breaking on shad and willing to bite crankbaits, jigging spoons and Rat-L-Traps over the mid-channels, as well as near tributary points with stumps and grass.
* Crappie: Slowed over the past week-to-10 days with all the record rainfall and incoming muddy water with Little River current.
* Catfish: Consistent on trotlines along Little River this week with the increase of river current. Cut Buffalo, King’s Punch Baits, and sour cheese dough 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 544.31 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 402.69 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) says cooler water temps are bring the crappie into the brushpiles more and more each day, and this rain should help even more. Target brushpiles in 18-25 feet of water where you can drown a minnow, or wet a jig 14-18 feet deep. Fish ON.
(updated 9-23-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina is switching from fishing to hunting for the next few months. His reports will return in the spring, he said.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 439.85 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.19 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 9-16-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) says he had no recent fishing report with the water being high and muddy. A couple of weeks back, he said, catfish were being caught in good numbers on stink bait and nightcrawlers. At that point, water was 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 9-23-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 65 degrees with clearing conditions in the tailrace. Lake Ouachita is now out of flood pool, which has enabled Entergy to greatly reduce flow from all area dams. Extremely fast flows and muddy conditions had been the norm for weeks as flash flooding earlier in the month caused high-water problems in the state. Entergy now is running a much safer flow below Carpenter Dam and lake conditions are returning to normal. Rainbow trout fishing will return in mid-November when the AGFC stocking program begins again for the winter. Trout are normally in Lake Catherine the week before the Thanksgiving holiday. The beginning of fall finds white bass and hybrid bass still living in the tailrace and feeding on shad. Boaters trolling shallow-running crankbaits that imitate minnows or crawfish have caught these fish in decent numbers this week. Size ranges from 1 to 2 pounds with some hybrid catches over 4 pounds. Topwater action has been observed in the early morning below the bridge. Walleye still remain in the tailrace and have been caught on minnows tight-lined in deep water. A few catfish have been taken on stink baits around rock structure close to the dam. No striper activity has been reported so far, but these predator fish migrate in and out of the area frequently.
Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should always wear a life jacket and must observe all park rules. Mask wearing and social distancing are still in effect.
On Wednesday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 9,063 cfs.
(updated 9-23-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said the Hobie Kayak Bass Open Series fished on Sept. 12-13 here, and 112 anglers caught 587 bass weighing 1,111 pounds over the two days. Eighty-one percent of the field weighed a fish and the Big Bass was 5.51 pounds. The FLW Toyota Series competed last weekend, Sept. 17-19, and 121 boats and 242 anglers caught 1,004 fish weighing 2,054 pounds over the three days. The Big Bass weighed 5.44 pounds.
Anglers reported the bite was tough, which is typical for the fall transition. They used a wide range of lures, including plastics, spinners and Rat-L-Traps. Many anglers fished shallow and on hydrilla or water willow.
Over the past week, the area had several days of sunshine and cooler temperatures to welcome the fall season. The National Weather Service expects rain resulting from Tropical Storm Beta this week, tapering off Wednesday night. A cold front is expected to move through the area Saturday night with low chance of rain. Temperatures will begin below normal and may rise above normal through the weekend when highs will be near 80 and lows near 60. A colder front is expected to move in the middle of next week for a significant cool down.
The water remains somewhat turbid and visibility was little more than a foot or two. Surface temperature this week is 77 degrees.
As of Tuesday the Corps of Engineers reported river flow at Ozark Lock and Dam was near 18,000 cfs. Ozark has been flowing more water overnight and releasing less during the day. River flow there has been fluctuating between 25,000 and 8,000 cfs. The Ozark tailwater had been consistently near 338 feet msl since last report. River flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was near 18,000 cfs and has fluctuated some between 30,000 and 9,000 cfs. Dardanelle tailwater level has fluctuated between 4-6 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park has remained just below 338 feet msl.
(updated 9-23-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton at normal pool with excellent water clarity in excess of 8 feet. It’s so strange how what fish eat can vary in such a short period of time! Last week we were talking about how bass were just obliterating white spinnerbaits and shad patterns. Not this week! On the menu this week is crawfish imitations! There are three main ways that we have been going after bass with crawfish imitations. Number one is black-and-blue half-ounce (weight doesn’t matter) football head jigs with black or blue Z Craws or Bandito Bug Trailers dragged through brush in 15-22 feet of water. Number two, drop-shot-rigging a craw like plastic and dragging/shaking it on rocky steep main lake points. Number three, vertical dropping a small Gitzit (tube) in green pumpkin or watermelon seed over brush and vertical structure like dock piers in 15-25 feet of water.
There are so many different ways to approach bass right now. You can hit them at all angles and sometimes you have to show a presentation a different way. These are just our suggestions so improvise and fish to your strong points.
Crappie are showing signs of a winter/late fall pattern a little early. Crappie are suspending over brushtops in 25 feet or so of water and near current. Most of us have not pressed the issue with crappie yet and are waiting a bit longer, but if we were to a jig or vertical a live minnow, allowed it to free fall slow, it can prompt on-the-drop strikes like the bass are doing. It is a good time to try out a small spoon or crankbait, too.
Catfish are still good in all areas on cheese and cut bait in 20 feet of water near current. We haven’t seen the signs of hybrids and stripers yet, but it’s only a matter of time before they move up the river channel to the tailrace of Blakeley Dam. “Good luck if you hook one! Good luck, and Go Greeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 352.45 feet msl (normal pool: 344.31 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says water clarity is good and the water is high but falling. Bream are fair but appear to be slowing down. They’re still biting redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. Anglers are finding them suspended in 8-10 feet in open water. They’re fishing minnows and jigs; your best bet is a Charlie Brewer Slider in orange/chartreuse. Black bass are good. Try topwater baits, a white Gitzit or a black/gold War Eagle Buzzbait. Catfishing is good around Sunlight Bay using chicken liver and shrimp.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.82 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2020) 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 creek mouths and up 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 been ranging 76-80 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level, now at 580.52 feet msl, is 2.52 feet above normal conservation pool. 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 404.17 feet msl (normal pool: 386.36 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday reported the Clarendon gauge at 22.23 feet, below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 9-23-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said the action at Cook’s Lake has tremendously slowed down and is expected to slow down even more with the rain and cool weather coming through. The lake is high but still on the fall, the water is dingy to muddy. Black bass should be entering their fall pattern soon and can be caught on square-bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits around the cypress trees and running water. Flipping tubes or jigs could also produce a good stringer. Bluegill have been caught few and far between. Crappie should be moving toward the shallow brushtops in the near future.
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 anglers, 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 9-23-2020) Guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) had no report.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 9-23-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no reports.
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