Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 21, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 21, 2021. 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 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 (Jan. 21).
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Quick links to regions:
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 1-21-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is in its normal Lake Conway stain and is at a normal level. Bream are good on redworms, crickets and hand-tied jigs. Crappie are good. Medium and pink minnows are working, along with jigs (preferably 1-3 inches). Black bass are good on crankbaits, swimbaits and 7- to 10-inch worm baits. Catfishing is good with stink bait, chicken liver, trotline minnows, nightcrawlers, shad and dough bait.
(updated 1-21-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said water remains clear and cold. Crappie very slow. Catfish are deep and hiding. Black bass are roaming all over and all depths, but the bite is questionable. For more information, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/arkansasfishingadventures
Little Red River
(updated 1-21-2021) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said, “First of all, Happy New Year! I hope 2021 brings a more normal year health-wise to all. 2020 was a stressful year for most and I hope the fishing trips on the river helped ease this stress. Sorry I have not posted a report in a while. I have excuses, but you don’t want to hear them. Getting busier in December, more than normal, and not fishing much in early January are the main ones.
“After no generation for a majority of the time during December and early January, the schedule has returned to a more normal winter generation. Mostly early morning generation for 2-4 hours. There has also been a slight bit of generation in the evening hours. This should continue until the temperature warms or we get a large amount of rain to put the lake into the flood pool. As always, this is not written in stone so please check the schedule before planning your trip.
“The app, USACE Little Rock, is a good source and is free to download to your mobile phone. The current generation and past 24 hours are found by pressing the ‘Releases’ icon on the upper left corner of the home page. The predicted generation is found by pressing the SWPA Forecasts icon on the third row of icons on the home page. Select the day and scroll to the GFD row to view Little Red River (Greers Ferry Dam). Be sure the date is correct because the postings occur after 4 p.m. each day for the next day. After 4 p.m. on Friday, they are posted for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”
Greg says the river is clear with rainbows taking midge pupas, size 16 hare’s ear nymphs and small emergers. There is a midge hatch daily with some winter caddis coming off as the temps warm in the afternoons. The browns are ending the spawn and a few are being caught above and below the shoals. Reports show the spawn was successful with a lot or redds being seen.
(updated 1-21-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the river is clear and at normal level. Trout are good on jerkbaits, ShadRaps, Rooster Tails, maribou jigs and PowerBait.
(updated 1-14-2021) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.77 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 461.70 feet msl and falling with generation, is 0.25 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. “Bass catching is good if ya want to slow down and drag something or move fast and catch reaction fish shallow on crankbaits, traps, spinnerbaits, etc., football heads, rigs for dragging, Alabama rigs, swimbaits for suspended fish from super shallow out to fish suspended in 80 feet.” Crappie are eating well at about 30 feet. Some can be caught in 18 feet on down but the better fish are deeper; use jigs and or minnows. Some bream can be caught suspended at 15-20 feet, the rest are on bottom in 30 feet; use crawlers. Hybrid and white bass will eat swimbaits, spoons, inline spinners and the basic tools in 25-80 feet. Walleye are traveling, and some have made it. Warmer nights are helping the river fish, while the lake fish are grouped up tight in 30 feet and deeper. Use jerkbaits, crankbaits or minnows.
(updated 1-21-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is clear and at normal level. Bass fishing is good on red crankbaits, green pumpkin Chatterbaits, jerkbaits and Alabama rigs.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-21-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake clarity is clear and the water level remains low. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bream fishing was poor this week. Bass are fair on topwater baits and crankbaits. Catfishing is fair; use chicken liver.
(updated 1-21-2021) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said Wednesday the bream are biting a little but have slowed down the past couple of days. Crappie have moved to deeper waters; some people have been able to find them but it’s hard. Overcup has started to clear up. The lake is high by about 1 to 1.5 feet over normal level.
(updated 1-14-2021) The Dirty Worm (501-317-5046) on Highway 5 at Crows Station in Saline County reports that crappie fishing is excellent in 35-feet or more depth of water. Crappie are being caught around structure on No. 6 crappie minnows with ⅛-ounce jighead. Crappie are also being caught on Kalin’s Triple Threat Grubs in assorted darker colors. The Dirty Worm opened late in 2020 near the intersection of Arkansas highways 5 and 9; the store’s address is 17572 Arkansas Highway 5, Lonsdale, AR 72087.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 1-14-2021) Charlie Hoke at Charlie’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-21-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says the water is very clear and the level and current are back to normal. Both black and white bass fishing have been excellent the past week, Ray says. Throw crappie jigs and target 7-10 feet depth of water while you’re crappie fishing and you’ll probably also snag a black bass or white bass. Crankbaits are also getting bit by the bass at that level. Crappie will bite those crappie jigs too, also at 7-10 feet depth of water. Anglers report catching them early or late in the day, and they say catches are good. Minnows also will work along with the jigs. No reports on bream or catfish.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 32,106 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 37,486 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 32,832 cfs
(updated 1-21-2021) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said is stained and at a normal level. Crappie fishing is fair behind the jetties in 8-10 feet of water. Use white/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse and black/chartreuse crappie jigs. Bass are fair in the backwaters on black and blue Chatterbaits and black and blue jigs, as well as red crankbaits.
(updated 1-21-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie fishing is good in 6-8 feet depth around the Willow Beach area using Shad Slayer jigs (powder blue and pearl white colors) and on Bobby Garland Baby Shad (pearl and chartreuse colors). Also, the crappie fishing is good below the Terry Lock and Dam in 8-10 feet just off the rocks using regular crappie minnows. Some white bass are being caught below both dams on 3-inch chartreuse grubs. Catfishing is fair below the hydroelectric plant by the Murray Lock and Dam. Use cut shad.
(updated 1-14-2021) The Dirty Worm (501-317-5046) on Highway 5 at Crows Station in Saline County fishing in the Arkansas River is fair with largemouth bass being caught in 2-to-3-foot deep stumpy water on white Indiana Blade Spinnerbaits.The Dirty Worm opened late in 2020 near the intersection of Arkansas highways 5 and 9; the store’s address is 17572 Arkansas Highway 5, Lonsdale, AR 72087.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-21-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said Clear Lake is living up to its name as clear and a normal level. Crappie reports are fair on minnows or jigs. No other catches have been reported.
(update 1-21-2021) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) is closed for the season and will reopen in February after duck season closes.
(updated 1-21-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is currently at the stated power pool goal of 659 feet msl, and it appears that generation flows will begin to slow. Predicted levels for Thursday are at minimum flow, which is less than less than 1,000 cfs, the first really low water level for several weeks. That means wading opportunities will abound, great anchor fishing is in store, and the use of floating stick baits instead of diving or sinking baits. Use a smaller hook than you might be used to: a No. 8 or 10, and stick to bronze hooks; leave the gold hooks on the shelf. We’ve had success with orange and peach egg patterns placed just above the knot at the eye of the hook. If you don’t get a rapid response, add a sliver of shrimp to the barb. The supply chain for all types of fishing gear dried up during the last six months, but we’re finally able to get our hands on some baits and are finding some good looking Mepps spinners.
Try the new Aglia streamer with a long white skirt with flash and a gold or bronze blade. Perfect time of year for white baits, as they imitate the White River minnows that are a favorite trout meal and lure the bigger trout as they’re coming off the spawning beds. Spring is still a ways away, so make sure you bundle up for early morning trips to the river; the temperature can be 5 to 10 degrees colder on the river than the thermometer reads. Stay warm and keep anglin’.
(updated 1-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service says that during the past week, they had no measurable precipitation, very cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.3feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had variable generation with little wadable water. Norfork Lake remains steady at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or near power pool. Expect to receive wadable water in the near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is through Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
On the moderate flows for a few hours a day, 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 an egg pattern with a size 18 ruby midge).
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and 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.
(updated 1-21-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported that anglers are catching a lot of rainbows now. Those drift-fishing were catching them on little frozen shrimp, Power Eggs and Power Worms. The water is starting to come down a little bit every so often. Brown trout are starting to pick up after the spawn, but nothing trophy-size has been hooked. Browns are biting mainly on stick bait. The clarity is clear, the river level is high and eight generators are turning at the dam. Overall fishing outlook: good.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the baitfish are on the move again in the creeks and main lake pockets. Spend your idle time on the graph looking for loons and video gaming, and that will pay off. Fish 50-80 feet in the guts. Most of the shad are suspended over the old creek channels. A Rapala Ice Rig or a Jewell Spoon is useful if it’s windy. Use a Damiki drop-shot or McMinnow if it’s flat. Go powerfishing shallow if there’s wind, cloud, bushes/snags with deeper water close and shad. Rock Crawler, Wiggle Wart and square bill are all working with some wind on 45-degree banks with nasty rock transition. Moss is becoming prevalent and is a pain. As the sun comes up, or after a front, change tactics and slow down. Use jigs and shaky heads on channel swings. Follow the shad regardless of the depth and you’ll find the fish. Fish the conditions. Bull Shoals is clear with a surface temperature of 47 degrees. The lake is at normal conservation pool.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 1-21-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports in March.
(updated 1-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remains steady at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or near power pool. Expect to receive wadable water in the near future.
The Norfork is fishing well on the wadable flows. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during from flooding over the past two years. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a pheasant tail size 14 with a root beer midge dropper. John says, “My wife, Lori, did well with an olive Woolly Bugger. The fishing is better in the morning.”
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is less pressure with the colder weather. 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), mop flies and egg patterns.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and 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.
John also said, “Last week I wanted to go fishing. The erratic pattern on the White, (moderate flows for a few hours followed by a few hours of heavy water then more moderate flows that were followed by heavy water again), did not appeal to me at all. I have not had much success on these erratic flows. About the time the trout are acclimated to the water, it changes. This makes for a slow bite.
“What I wanted to do was wade fish the Norfork. I studied the prediction for several days and saw my opportunity last Sunday. The water was to be off from midnight until 4 p.m.. The weather was cold. It was 27 when I got up but was scheduled to warm up to 40 degrees. It was sunny with light and variable winds I figured that the afternoon would be warm enough for me to be reasonably comfortable.
“I left the house about 11:30 a.m. and arrived at the Ackerman Access about noon. It was 32 degrees. I got out of my Suburban and walked over to the river. I looked upstream. I saw low water and a few anglers. The conditions looked perfect. I was stoked.
“I walked back to my truck and began getting ready. I was dressed warmly with various layers of wool, fleece and down. I pulled my waders out of my wader bag and pulled them on followed quickly by my wading boots. I added my fishing vest and net. I reached for my favorite cold weather hat and realized it was at home. Luckily I had a backup in my wader bag. I put on my wool fingerless gloves and opened a package of disposable hand warmers that I put in my wader pockets. I grabbed my fly rod. It was still rigged for fishing a partridge and orange soft from my last trip to the Norfork a few weeks prior. I was ready to fish.
“Once again, I looked upstream. The view was very different from my previous one. I saw all of the anglers scurrying back to the access. I quickly noted that the water was rising fast. I was, of course, disappointed. I looked at my watch. It was 12:15 p.m. The Corps of Engineers were supposed to start generation at 4 p.m. The Southwestern Power Administration’s prediction called for it to begin then. Once again, the prediction was grossly inaccurate.
“Luckily, no one was caught on the wrong side and everyone was able to safely get out. A fellow angler told me that had not happened on the previous Thursday, when a nice couple was on the wrong side of the river. They were both swept from their feet and went swimming. As luck would have it, another angler in the parking lot was able to get the lady out. Her companion was able to make it to the bank on his own. This could have been catastrophic.
“Unreliable information on rising water is a danger to all anglers, particularly waders. Do not rely on the prediction. Keep a sharp lookout for rising water and leave the stream as soon as you detect it.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. With the cooler temperatures the bite has slowed. 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,120.16 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is steady at normal level. Water is clearing and remains cold. Water temps are in the lower 40s to upper 30s depending on location. Stripers have started to bite really well the last couple of days. Troll brooders or A-rigs . Look in the mid-lake areas. Watch for birds. Walleye are starting to be caught and the annual migration up river arms will start in the next three weeks. Trolling cranks and throwing swimbaits will be productive. Crappie are fair/good on jigs fished in 15 feet of water. Look along any main river or creek channels. Fishing will continue to get better as we enter into February. Bass are starting to hit jerkbaits and A-rigs all throughout the lake.
(updated 1-21-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said striper fishing is good around Rocky Branch and toward the White River on topwaters, Alabama rigs and minnows. Crappie are fair in 10-12 feet of water using minnows and jigs; fish around the brushpiles. Black bass are fair, with best success coming off drop-shots, A-rigs and jerkbaits. No reports on catfish or bream. Beaver is clear and the surface temperature has been ranging mid- to low 40s. Water level is normal.
(updated 1-21-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing for trout has been good this past week. Most are being caught on various PowerBaits and Pautzke bait products, fishing light terminal tackle. The Army Corps of Engineers has slowed a bit on the generation, so early-morning fishing should produce some nice numbers. “This week’s hot spot has been Parker Bottoms, up toward the dam. I have also caught some nice fish using ¼-ounce spoons of various colors. Most of the fish near the dam are in the 16- to 2-inch range. Let’s hope for nice weather next week. Get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 1-21-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed until classes resume at UA.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 1-21-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reports that the clarity is clear and surface water temperature is 40 degrees. Water level is normal. The only fishing of note has been for crappie, with fair catches reported using minnows and jigs.
(updated 1-21-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said surface water temperature Monday morning was 46 degrees and the lake remains lower than normal, as water from Lake Charles is used to help provide water for habitat in Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA during waterfowl season. Clarity is murky. Anglers have her a good report on their crappie catches over last week. Using minnows and jigs, they were catching good hauls of small to medium-sized crappie. No other species was reported. Shoreline fishing for crappie has been best with the minnows or jigs.
(updated 1-21-2021) The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed on Dec. 1, allowing the lake to begin refilling with rainwater. The lake, at Lake Poinsett State Park, has been undergoing a three-year renovation with a new water control structure, more than 10,000 linear feet of shoreline work, more than 100 habitat structures placed on the lakebed, and nearly 100 trees anchored for fish habitat with more anchoring in the plans as the lake begins to refill.
When the lake has enough water for stocking, channel catfish will be stocked to give anglers target fish to seek, while prey fish such as shiners and shad will be stocked. After the prey fish have established a base over the next year or so, predator fish such as largemouth bass and crappie will then be stocked.
(updated 1-21-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) remains closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances.” However, they are still accepting RV and cabin reservations.
(updated 1-7-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are at 340 cfs (350 cfs is average), and water clarity has been clear. Rain last week has got river levels up to average flow. Water was lowered this week above Dam 1 to clean out vegetation on Tuesday. This is done once a year during the dead of winter. The river had a surge Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. and got cloudy, but cleared up through the day on Wednesday.
The bite lately has been tough. Few easy days and some really tough ones. Nymphs in sizes 10-16 have been hot dropped below a Y2K or fished Euro-style. On the good days, White Lightning (big white streamer) has been hot, and there are still big fish moving around. Over the next few months brown trout and smallmouth bass should start hitting well. The smallies move up the river looking for warmer water. The Spring is 58 degrees year-round. Cold during winter makes the upper part of the Spring River warmer.
For smallies this time of year a White Lightning floated below an indicator is the ticket. The bass are moving slow, so a slow presentation is the ticket. Soft plastics for spin-fishing. It takes many years for a smallmouth bass to get big so please catch and release these great fighters.
Brown trout get active and start hitting streamers. Casting downstream toward the far bank and short fast strips back is the ticket. Aggressive smallies will hit this, too.
Mark adds, “Check out our blog on our website for the latest fishing conditions!”
(updated 1-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is off-color. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. 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 Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 8.72 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 9.89, more than 16 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is 21.58 feet, below the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 1-21-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 1-21-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 1-14-2021) Jeff Shell, superintendent at Cane Creek State Park, said fishing remains slow for Cane Creek Lake. Water clarity is around 1 foot. Bass are suspended and the bite is slow. They can be caught by fishing bass jigs over structure. Crappie can be found around docks and structure fishing with minnows and jigs; the bite is slow and they can be found from 5 to 8 feet. Bream and catfish are slow but can be occasionally caught after rains in the mud lines where creeks feed the lake. For winter fishing at Cane Creek, overcast days will produce the best results. The bite generally slows down on cold clear days.
(updated 1-21-2021) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no report.
(updated 1-21-2021) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam by the City of Monticello and the AGFC is making improvements to the fish habitat while the lake is currently drawn down for the dam work.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.28 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that not much has change at Millwood since last week, although visibility has improved. Water temperature is ranging 42-45 degrees. The lake level has dropped to about 4 inches above the normal conservation pool, while discharge fell to around 14,000 cfs.
Millwood State Park Marina is closed for its annual winter shutdown through the end of February. The Millwood State Park Office is open and can be reached at 870-898-2800 for additional information. The Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of evaluation and replacing Little River buoy markers that have been shifted or moved from recent high flow conditions. Beware of missing/broken telephone pole lane markers at the upper end of Little Gas Line Cutoff boat lane! Navigation is cautioned with high discharge rates at the Millwood Dam and high river flow conditions with debris!
As for specific fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Random bass near vertical structure on deeper drops or creek channel swings in the oxbows were fair on Chatterbaits, jigs, heavy thumping 1-Knocker Rat-L-Traps and cranks. “Most bass we are finding are roaming shallow on full sun and bright skies into the 3-6 foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 9-15 feet depth ranges. The largemouths have been turning on during the heat of the day, better on bright, sunny, clear days when water temps will rise a few degrees in mid-day.” Square-bill crankbaits, Chatterbaits and spinnerbaits will randomly connect with the shallow roaming bass. MR-6, Echo 1.7 and Little John Cranks have been getting fair responses over the past week. Anywhere a creek channel runs into the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-sized bass over the past week. Seems like over the past few days, the feeding mechanism turns on like a light switch and shuts off almost as quickly during the heat of the afternoon, best from noon to 3 p.m.
Rat-L-Trap MR-6 or SB-57 medium-diving cranks in Millwood Magic, Sunburst Shad, Red Shad or Red Chrome and Craw colors continue getting best reactions over the past several weeks, and anglers should be patient this time of year. McGuire Lake and Horseshoe Lake oxbows up Little River have the clearest water conditions. Majority of these roaming, mid-day bass are suspended near vertical structure for many hours of the day, and turn on like a light switch for a few hours under the warmest 2-3 hours of daylight, from 5-9 feet depth with 12-18 feet of depth nearby.
Swim Jigs with a Bang Die Dapper, and Cordell or Kastmaster Spoons, are finding vertical suspended bass from 10-15 feet on ledges or deep creek outside bends with stumps present.
* White bass: Whites continue to be scattered with the muddy rise in Little River. No consistent bite to provide/update.
* Crappie: They were holding near standing timber and planted brushpiles in the oxbows before the rapid 3-foot rise last week and muddy current. But for the past week, crappie were slow due to poor water clarity from all the recent rain and runoff. “We searched where they were biting jigs and minnows near standing timber two weeks before but didn’t connect with anything consistent over the past few days, and the bite was considerably slower. Chartreuse/black jigs were working a few weeks ago, but as the clarity has worsened, vertical-jigging near standing timber in Horseshoe was markedly reduced.
* Catfish: Channel cats and blues improved in Little River on trotlines as well as in the oxbows on limb lines using Punch Bait and chicken livers/hearts.
(updated 1-21-2021) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 544.95 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.06 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(update 1-14-2021) Local angler Charles Abernathy says, “If you haven’t read my previous weeks reports, check them out. Those reports contain info that will carry you through the winter season. When I hit the lake this time of year, I’m always close to the river channel or some major creek channel. It doesn’t matter if I’m downlake or uplake (although I do prefer to be upriver). I’m always close to a channel. I focus on the deep pockets that are right alongside those channels. I look for deep brush and/or deep standing timber. If you are close to the river channel and you see timber, there is going to be fish there and most likely if you keep your eyes on your graph you will find brush or other structure along the way. Look for bait balls on your graph when you are checking for fish. If I’m not seeing food on my graph, I’ll go somewhere else. Once you find a place like that in the winter you can pretty much count on them to be there the next trip out.”
Hint: There are tons of bait profiles and colors to select from. It can be pretty overwhelming. I try to keep it simple. I’m 2-inch or smaller during the winter regardless of the bait profile I use. If the water is clear, use something like monkey milk or maybe something clear with silver/black flake. I like whites with chartreuse a lot too. Something that looks like a real bait fish. If it gets dirty, use something dark with bright accents. If you know there are fish there and these aren’t doing it, change something minor and see if it helps. Many times, I have pitched a Bobby Garland Shad in a color like monkey milk and changed only the profile of bait (like switching to a Mr Crappie Slab Slanger) and achieved better results. Sometimes it ends up being as simple as dying the tail chartreuse. I know … these creatures can be finicky. If these go-to colors don’t work, then I move on to the million other different colors. In my experience, the profile has ended up being the major difference. Remember, keep your line tight and that bait slow.
“I’ve appreciated receiving emails regarding this body of water. As always, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Good luck out there and be safe and be nice! Hope to see you on the water.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.70 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 535.92 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(update 1-21-2021) Angler Charles Abernathy said, “I had a chance to visit this lake over the last week. The water was muddy and high but the crappie were biting. The majority of the fish I caught were suspended out in open water and were very scattered. Ninety-five percent of them were caught on a Mr Crappie Slab Slanger (black body with chartreuse tail). I paired it with a plain bright orange 1/16-ounce head. The crappie were suspended anywhere from 5 feet from surface to bottom, but the majority seemed to be around 15 feet or so. The larger fish were singled out or in groups of two or three. I did see a few good schools of smaller fish.”
Hint: I had never fished this lake much in the past and did not have a lot of information about it. Crappie seem to behave similarly from lake to lake. Take what you know from one lake and use it in the next. If you have followed my reports on Degray, you know I love standing timber. I pulled up my Navionics maps at home the night before and took note of where the timber was. This was going to be my starting point. When I got to the lake, I headed up the river channel until I hit timber. I set down and started looking for fish. It didn’t take long to find them. They were close to the river channel and some of them were hanging on timber but the majority were just out in open water in the mouths of pockets. These are the ones that I ended up targeting. You can find these with side scan but it is much easier to target these with a forward-looking sonar. When selecting a bait to use, I first looked at the water. It was really muddy due to all the rain that had hit the area, so I chose a bright head with dark body and chartreuse tail. This bait worked pretty much all day.
Arkansas is very blessed with a lot of little gems when it comes to crappie fishing and this one is no exception! What a pretty little lake. Reach out at email@example.com for more info. Good luck out there and be safe and be nice!
White Oak Lake
(updated 1-7-2021) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said the water is muddy and at a high level. Crappie are biting well on both crappie minnows and pink minnows, as well as jigs. Black bass are good on minnows and jigs. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 1-21-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake is low by about 1 foot, while the lake clarity is clear. Crappie have moved to deeper water and the reports on catches is fair. Minnows and jigs will work. No reports on bass, bream or catfish.
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 1-21-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that open flood gates and heavy generation continue on Lake Catherine in an effort to stabilize area lake levels. Lake Ouachita has fallen just below flood pool and Entergy continues to run large amounts of water through the dam system to get the big lake down to a more manageable level for this time of year. With more rainfall in the forecast on Sunday and Monday, flows are going to fluctuate in the next week so anyone planning on fishing or navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should look at the Entergy Hydro website page to see firsthand what conditions are scheduled to be for that day. The rainbow trout stocking program continues with 9,300 rainbows scheduled to be put in the lake this month. The November and December stockings were a success and January numbers are being delivered as planned. Trout can contend with very fast water much better than most species of game fish and will thrive in the cold waters below area dams. Thousands of threadfin shad are drawn through Carpenter Dam during the heavy flows, injured from the frigid night temperatures. Trout are feeding on these baitfish daily and will easily adapt to the fast water conditions. As soon as the lake stabilizes, good fishing will return to the area with the original 5-foot drawdown in place through March 1. Remember to social distance and always wear a mask when coming into contact with others. Always follow all park regulations as local law enforcement patrols and strictly enforces the rules.
(updated 1-14-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels on the rise (at least 2 feet over the last week) and water temps in the mid-40s. The weather and especially the air temps and rainfall have really been all over the place this winter and it has the fish doing things a bit differently this year. Bass have been doing very well in ditches and in between lake points at 25-30 feet in depth by vertical-dropping a Damiki rig, Ned rig or drop-shot with a tiny craw on it. Slowly dragging an olive and blue ½-ounce football or finesse jig like the Slycked Back Hammer Slammer is getting bites in brush and timber in the shallower depths of 15-20 feet.
“What’s really standing out this year that is unusual is the drop-shot presentation. Dragging a blue Zoom Meathead Worm (wacky rigged) in green pumpkin (clear water) or sapphire blue (dirty water). Dragging this presentation in gravel flats of 20-30 feet of water is incredibly effective! Spotted bass especially can’t stay away from it.”
Crappie are suspended over or right next to standing timber and brush in the 25-45 feet range and can be caught early in the morning on jigs and minnows but really turn off when the sun comes up. No catfish report but look for them in depths of 25-30 feet right in the trough of ditches. “Get in an Xpress boat from Greeson’s and get out there!”
(updated 1-14-2021) The Dirty Worm (501-317-5046) on Highway 5 at Crows Station in Saline County reports that crappie fishing is good on live bait and small plastics in deeper water surrounding brush and cover. Bobby Garland Baby Shad in electric chicken, ghastly minnow and bleeding shad have been working well. The Dirty Worm opened late in 2020 near the intersection of Arkansas highways 5 and 9; the store’s address is 17572 Arkansas Highway 5, Lonsdale, AR 72087.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 344.21 feet msl (normal pool: 342.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is clearing up and is at a normal level. Surface water temperature is ranging 38-42 degrees. Crappie reports are good. They’re being caught 6 feet deep up in the river and on the shoreline. Use minnows or jigs. No other species or catchers were reported.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.50 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-14-2021) The Dirty Worm (501-317-5046) on Highway 5 at Crows Station in Saline County reports that fishing is decent. Spotted bass are biting well on small spinners and live bait in 30-40ft of water off of points. Crappie fishing is good with #6 Crappie minnows and small jigs in 25-35 ft deep water around cover. The Dirty Worm opened late in 2020; the store’s address is 17572 Arkansas Highway 5, Lonsdale, AR 72087.
(updated 1-14-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports black bass are still fair to good. Try a small ⅜-ounce spoon in submerged schools 40-50 feet deep off main lake points. ’Bama rigs and Pig-n-Jigs will work for large mouths around brush 25-40 feet deep No reports on walleye. Stripers are fair. These fish are being caught on live bait and ’Bama rigs. No report on bream. Crappie are fair. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No reports on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. The level is high at 579.57 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 385.78 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge at 21.60 feet, more than 4 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 1-21-2021) Fishing is closed at Cook’s Lake during waterfowl season while it serves as a waterfowl rest area through February. It will reopen to fishing in March if the water level permits. For more information please call the center at 870-241-3373.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 1-14-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says, “We are getting reports of anglers catching large amounts of crappie at Bear Creek Lake! Anglers report catching crappie anywhere between the depths of 6-8 feet. Anglers report that artificial baits such as jigs have contributed to their success. As we move through the cold months, the fish tend to travel into deeper waters. The spillway is still awaiting construction at this time, we are patiently waiting for COVID to dissipate so that this project can be coordinated. Funding is still an issue as well due the total costs for repairs. We are still patiently waiting to hear more information at this time from the U.S. Forest Service. The water is still high enough to operate a vessel from the launch ramp.”
He says that they are experiencing very little fishing activity at Storm Creek Lake at this time. “We are hoping that this changes during the spring and summer months.”
No reports. The AGFC is in search of a new supplier of information from Horseshoe Lake and the region. Any interested parties wishing to provide a weekly fishing report from here should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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