Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
April 1, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for April 1, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
In the photo top and left, John Volpe displays his 5-pound bass he caught on a rubber worm at a private pond in Pulaski County. Photo provided by Joe Volpe.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 4-1-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is its normal stained) with a water level that’s still a little high. The bream bite remains good on redworms and crickets, and nightcrawlers are also working now. Crappie are good. You can use any kind of crappie jig with success, they report, while minnows and worms are also working. Black bass are good on crankbaits, topwater lures, frogs, worms and bass minnows. Catfishing is good. Use stink bait, shad, goldfish, bream and big minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 4-1-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) says, “On Wednesday, April 1, the water for the Little Red River will be completely shut off at the dam, allowing the river to completely dry up for the day. This is being done to allow an opportunity for any angler to retrieve gear lost while fishing the river this past year. So, if you have lost a rod, reel, tackle/fly box, anchor or your April fools’ sense of humor, this is a good time to find it.”
Seriously, he says, the Little Red River is in a pattern that’s providing early morning wading opportunities and excellent drift fishing throughout the day. The Greers Ferry Lake level is still above normal seasonal pool due to recent rains, so this pattern could change at any time. Be sure to check the schedule before heading out. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, egg, hares ear, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the 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.
(updated 4-1-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) had no report this week. Greg has suspended his guide business until further notice because of the coronavirus situation. “As soon as we get a better handle on this issue, I think everyone can make more accurate decisions. Until that time, I feel calm and caution should prevail,” he said.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake on Tuesday was at 465.22 feet msl and coming up. The Army Corps of Engineers is generating and it is
keeping the water at bay somewhat, “but it jumps back going up when they let off. Expect the same in the week ahead.” (This picture of Bobby Defore holding this beautiful hybrid bass caught in the main lake is showing the lake is fishing well, as well as our main rivers and creeks.) Crappie catching is going on all over from super shallow out to 15-18 feet of water. Spring craw color jigs, minnows, crankaits, inline spinners and beetle spins working. Walleye are eating scattered all over the place – main lake, up the rivers and even already up in the bushes in parts of main lake as well. Swimbaits, flukes, grubs, crankbaits, jerkbaits and live bait are working. Bream are roaming around, feeding from super shallow out to 15 feet of water on a variety of baits. Catfish will eat right now, especially in areas with lots of inflow, as spring has sprung. Use your favorite baits for the cats. Some black bass are spawning, while some a long ways to go before they do, and lots are in between. “Just keep whatever you like to throw wet and you will get bit, as baits they like are changing hour by hour now. Lots of big fish are being caught, brown ones, black ones, spots, and meanmouth as well, from super shallow out to 30 feet of water,” Tommy reports. Hybrid bass and white bass are really chewing and being caught uprivers and certain places and certain patterns in main lake – grubs, inline spinners, swimbaits, topwaters and live bait are working. Most of the fish are wanting a horizontal technique rather than a vertical one right now, Tommy says.
(updated 4-1-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is 2 feet high and “pretty clear.” Surface temperature is 55 degrees. Smallmouth bass are good on Carolina rigs, Gitzit bait in peanut butter and jelly color, and Finesses Jigs in peanut butter and jelly color. Largemouth bass are good on Senkos around the buckbrush. Crappie fishing is good on pink/chartreuse Blakemore Road Runners in 1/16-ounce weight. Fish around the bushes.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 4-1-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reports the lake clarity being murky and the water level is “very high” as of early Tuesday afternoon. Bream reports have been good. Crickets have been the go-to for bream anglers. Crappie are good. Some 13- to 16-inch crappie are being caught near the shoreline. Anglers are using minnows and pink jigheads. Male crappie are close to the shore waiting on the females to spawn. Black bass are good, with best results coming on watermelon-colored plastic worms. Catfishing is good on trotlines baited with bass minnows or goldfish.
(updated 3-25-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 1 foot, clarity is good and surface temperature is around 56 degrees. Bream are slow but should start picking up any day now with this warmer weather. Bass are doing good around brushtops and structure around the banks. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline with shad and slicks. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night and poles with minnows. The males are turning black and are in shallow water. Females are being caught in 4 to 6 feet of water around stumps and creek channels. We have seen a lot of people this past week with some big crappie. Everyone stay, we are still open for business, 6 a.m. to dark. Come see me for all your fishing needs. Thanks, ‘Catfish.’” Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for the latest updates and photos.
(updated 4-1-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake level remains high. The water is stained and surface water temperature is 58 degrees. Bream are starting to move, with anglers reported a fair bite. David reports that anglers are buying him out of worms, they are working so well with the bream. Crappie are good. They are 10-15 feet deep in the channel and appear close to spawning. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good. They’re being caught in 6 feet depth. Crawdads and minnows are working. Catfish are biting well. They’re on the bottom. Chicken liver and Catfish Pro are the baits of choice.
(updated 4-1-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no report.
(updated 3-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said, “Fishing has taken off like wildfire since vacations for everyone have been disturbed by the virus. What better thing to do than to go fishing and have social distancing, plus with the licenses being waived till the March 29.” She says crappie have been good on No. 4 and No. 6 crappie minnows around the dock and the island. Bream have been biting on crickets and redworms. Catfish are fair off nightcrawlers, bait shrimp and bass minnows. Bass have been hitting minnows as well.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 3-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said brooder minnows and bass minnows have been good for catching bass. Crappie have been good on No. 6 crappie minnows. Catfish have been doing good off minnows and frozen shad. Bream are good on redworms and crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 3-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says trotlines have been excellent using brooders, black salties and goldfish for catching catfish, walleye and bass. Crappie have been doing well on No. 6 crappie minnows. Some anglers reported doing well at the spillway and also at Lyle Park on the walleye and bass, too, off brooder minnows. Bream are good on crickets.
In the photo, Amber Fugitt and her daughters Baylee and Riley caught this nice stringer of crappie at a private lake in Benton using No. 6 crappie minnows. Photo provided by Lisa Spencer.
(updated 3-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the crappie have taken off at this lake. Kalin’s 2-inch Grubs and No. 4, No. 6 and pink crappie minnows have been doing great for people on the crappie. Fishing is best in the channel and in the brushtops around the docks. Catfish are good on black salties. Bream are good on crickets fishing them deep, she adds. “Bass, I heard, were slow on plastics and crankbaits,” Lisa said.
(updated 3-25-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said she finally got a report from Lake Winona, and the crappie have been doing well on minnows and Bobby Garland Jigs in assorted styles in the color Blue Ice. Catfish and bass have been good on minnows. Bream are biting on crickets.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 4-1-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 4-1-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water is clear and at a normal level. Bream are good. They are at 3-5 feet deep and biting worms and crickets. Crappie are good. They have moved up shallow, Ray says. Use minnows. Black bass are good. They’re biting at 2.5-3 feet depth on crankbaits and worms. Catfish are good. Use shiners. They’re biting well on yo-yos and trotlines.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 4-1-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) hears that crappie are good. They are moving into Maumelle Creek. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass also are moving into Maumelle Creek, and anglers report good catches. No other reports.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-1-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river is muddy and high. No reports. With the river in its current condition, they are fishing and providing reports from Greers Ferry Lake (see Greers Ferry Lake listing above).
(updated 4-1-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said the river is rolling hard. Water level and current are high. There were no reports. Below the Terry Lock and Dam, however, Tony reports that catfish are good, particularly snagging crawfish below the hydroelectric plant and the dam. Also, anglers report catching white bass below the hydro plant and Terry Lock and Dam with white Rooster Tails and white 4-inch grubs. They’re also snagging spoonbills below the hydro plant and the dam.
(updated 4-1-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says that on the Terry Lock and Dam end of the pool, the water is muddy and the level and current are high. No reports on bream, crappie, bass or catfish.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-1-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake is “pretty clear” while the water level is high. Bream are fair on crickets. Crappie are good. They report that it’s getting pretty crowded at times on the lake and “it’s hard to find a good place to fish right now.” Reports have crappie at 5-6 feet depth and biting minnows. No reports on black bass or catfish.
(updated 4-1-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the lake remains dingy and the water level is normal. Crappie are good on minnows, jigs and using yo-yos. Black bass are good, with anglers having best success using topwater baits and jigs. Catfishing is good on limblines and yo-yos baited with minnows, worms and hot dogs. No reports on bream.
Sara Darling of Hope caught this 25-inch brown trout near Buffalo City on White River March 25. Photo provided by Ed Darling.
(updated 4-1-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The free fishing week was a really pleasant surprise and a huge hit with fishers coming to the river for a mess of trout! Families are finding time to be together and enjoy The Natural State in the great outdoors.” Water levels have ranged from minimum flow (below 100 cfs) to upwards of 15,000 cfs as short spurts of heavy releases are experienced usually in mid-afternoon. There is plenty of opportunity to fish “the rise” with red wigglers or plumped up nightcrawlers drifted mid-depth. Over the last few days, however, generation has been more consistent during the day with flows remaining at around 4,500 cfs (a unit and a half). The water level is perfect for some jigging. Orange and brown skirted jigs have been attracting larger rainbows, they report, “or tie a black feathered jig and you’ll see some action. If you start early while the water level remains low, you can begin your catching day with a ¼-ounce silver and blue hammered spoon, and finish up with a Rapala Rainbow CD5. The shrimp/PowerBait mashup works well in between. Make health and safety as your No. 1 priority right now and keep angling for trophy trout on the river!”
(updated 4-1-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Monday the river was clear and there are 2-3 generators running at the dam, so the water level has dropped a bit. The trout bite is good. Use waxworms with marshmallows, or PowerBait. Some anglers have caught some rainbows, they say, but hardly anyone is fishing.
(updated 4-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for about 1 inch), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 6.7 feet to rest at 18.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 17.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.1 feet to rest at 7.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 8 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with a small bit of wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 12.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 13.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been Rim Shoals on lower flows. 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 pheasant tail nymph worm with a ruby midge suspended below it).
John said that the previous week they received about 3 inches of rain, and we had received several inches the week before, and we have already gotten even more rain this week. The lake levels that had recently dropped to a point where they were just a few inches from the top of power pool are now up about 8-10 feet higher than they were just a week before. When we have heavy rains like this, the Corps of Engineers frequently holds back water to prevent flooding. This is the main reason that the dams were built.
“When these holdbacks occur, it gives us the opportunity to fish lower water, when we have not been able to do so in quite some time. I check the Southwestern Power Administration prediction every day in order to identify these opportunities. I did this last Friday (the prediction that comes out on Friday covers Saturday, Sunday and Monday) and noted three days of low water predicted.
“On Saturday, I was unable to take advantage of the low water because I had to cut my grass. It had rained every day for the previous week and my grass was out of control. My sister, Ernestine, had scheduled a trip to Cotter to help me in my booth at the Sowbug Roundup. The Sowbug got canceled, but she came in for a visit and I knew that this would be my only opportunity to take care of my lawn before she came.
“On Sunday it rained. Now I will gleefully fish in the rain if I am working. I always say that nothing thins the herd like a little rain. Ernestine does not have serious raingear like my wife, Lori, and I have. She was hesitant to spend a day in the rain.
“The next day was much better and we had good, low, floatable water and some nice warm weather with no rain and gentle wind. We jumped at the chance to go fishing. We had not been outside much due to the coronavirus closures and we all had a case of cabin fever. We thought that a day on the river was just the thing. We could easily maintain a safe social distance from anyone else and maybe catch a few trout.
“I went early and launched the boat. I rigged up a couple of rods and began fishing. I had caught about a half-dozen trout when Lori called to tell me that she and Ernestine were at the ramp. I motored over and picked them up. I have not fished with my sister in 25 years, so I was excited to have her in the boat. I ran the motor while Lori and Ernestine fished. The fishing was good and they both caught several.
“We fished until noon and did well. It was nice to be outside again and was a real treat to fish with Ernestine again.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 678.79 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is clear on the lower end. The surface temperature early Tuesday afternoon was 52 degrees. Bull Shoals is 19 feet high. Access on the lake is limited at the moment, Del reports. He says the crappie bite is random and anglers have had fair results. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good. A swimbait, jig, a little Ned rig and a shaky head all will work. Look for the best bite now in the spawning pockets. Del heard no reports on catfish or bream. Walleye are still being caught at night. White bass and walleye have not started spawning yet, he added. View Del’s YouTube videos (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for the latest in what’s biting and what Del is using, plus his tips on how to fish the various lures.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “It was a great week to be on Norfork Lake. The biggest problem we had was the rising water and debris, which covered most of Bennett’s Bayou on the north end of the lake. The first half of the week, striper fishing was on fire. Lots of stripers were caught trolling and fishing with live shad and shiners. The biggest caught in the bayou was 24 pounds. The bite was both morning and evenings. Once the sun came out on Thursday, fishing slowed down. Some of that was all the boats and the fish getting use to the bright sunlight.
“My son Sean decided to fish the Big Creek area on Friday and caught a fat 24-pound striper. They practiced CPR: catch, take picture and release. The water was clearer in the southern part of the lake. He caught stripers both Friday and Saturday well into the late mornings from Point 1 to 1C. The fish are shallow even if it’s deep water. Sean is using 5- to 7-inch gizzard shad on planer boards and free-lines. Stripers are still being caught around the bluff near Blue Lady resort and the flat above it and Crystal Cove.
“I have given up on spider-rigging for crappie right now due to the high water and instead I’m using one pole flipping the buckbrush with minnows and jigs. We fished Bennett’s Bayou Thursday and caught a few for dinner. It took a while to figure out what brush and how deep the crappie were. We missed quite a few and caught some shorts. The good news is, as the weather warms and the lake levels off the crappie will start to move up to spawn. Minnows and small jigs will be the most productive baits to catch crappies in the brush. The best three creeks right now are Big Creek, Bennett’s Bayou and Pigeon Creek.”
(updated 4-1-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 4-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 12.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 13.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing better. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole from flooding over the past two years. 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 small ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. The weekends can be pretty busy. 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 4-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. 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 1,128.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is warming nicely. With all the rain, the temperatures are in the upper 50s to lower 60s, depending where you are fishing. Backs of creek arms are holding shad and the bass bite is getting better each day. Bass are being caught on square-bills, spinnerbaits and plastics. Crappie are fair, he says, “and I think if water would stabilize, the bite will explode. Fish are up shallow and will make final move, I believe, in the next two weeks.
“Walleye are winding down last week. I had clients out Tuesday and Wednesday and we caught 27 Tuesday and 23 Wednesday; only problem was two keepers each day. Lots of males in the 17-inch range.
“Stripers are still good. Look above Highway 12 bridge area, also around War Eagle Marina bluff areas. There are lots of spoonbill being snagged below Sequoia Dam on the White River. White bass are in river arms spawning and it is a good time to take kids out and have a blast catching whites. Catfish are good on the usual baits.”
(updated 4-1-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said Beaver Lake is “pretty stained” with surface temperature up into the upper 50s. Water level remains really high there. Crappie reports are good. The crappie are at a depth of 4-8 feet and minnows and jigs are good choices, or “really any crappie bait is working right now,” they say. Black bass are shallow and the bite has turned on; anglers report good catches. Use a spinnerbait, crankbait or bladed jigs. Catfish reports were fair, with whole shad, cut shad and plastic baits getting bites. White bass are biting up the river on War Eagle Spinners, white crawfish, minnows and artificial baits. Walleye are fair up in the river arms; they’re biting on bigger slider grubs on the bottom. Stripers are good on big brood shiners and live shad. Bream was the only species that was off, with poor results.
(updated 4-1-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing has been good in the tailwater, if you can locate the fish in the high water. Trout are biting on various jigs and PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The white bass are making their move up the river as well; look for them in coves and 20-40 feet of water. Look for them between Holiday Island and Beaver town. Umbrella rigs and jigs have been doing the trick. Kentucky bass can be found around structure and chunk rock. Various soft plastics and hard baits are the way to go with these guys. The walleye bite on the lake has been good. “A lot of reports coming out of War Eagle Mill; however, on our end, you can catch the trolling contour lines around buckbrush and drop-offs. If you have a graph, look for humps and saddles and focus on those areas. Also, got a report of stripers being caught from (Arkansas Highway) 12 bridge to the river. Look for the mudline in 15-50 feet of water. Live bait is the way to go with these guys.
“Well, hope you all are staying healthy. There is plenty of river and lake to practice ‘social distancing.’ Have fun and catch some fish!”
(updated 4-1-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lake is open to fishing.
Lake Fort Smith
(update 4-1-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, had no new reports.
(updated 4-1-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) is closed until further notice. Fishing is allowed on the lake, however. Water is muddy and high.
(updated 4-1-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) says it will be closed through April 5.
(updated 3-18-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park said fish are starting to bite despite cool water temperatures. Water is high, and the temperature Sunday morning was 41 degrees. Best moon times in March occur March 21-27, she said. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair on minnows, jigs and worms. Black bass are fair on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms and live worms. Catfishing is fair. Use worms, blood bait, stink bait, chicken liver and Catfish Pro Blood.
(updated 4-1-2020) Seth Boone, the park superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, says the lake remains drained for the ongoing repair work; however, the state park has “continued being the light in the dark for bait. We are looking forward to the lake coming back in about a year for guests to enjoy.” The park’s bait shop is in close proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas while Lake Poinsett is repaired.
(updated 3-18-2020) Mark Crawford of Spring River Flies and Guides says water levels are running at 514 cfs (350
cfs is average) and water clarity is poor. “We had a monsoon move through on Saturday. River got a muddy look to it. It’s starting to go back to green today (Monday). Should be good by midweek to fish if it would quit raining. Stocking the first of this month has increased getting ready for warm weather. Plenty of trout in the river and smallmouth bass were hitting great before this last rain.
“Olive lead-eye Woolies were super-hot last Friday before this rain. We had been catching big browns and nice smallies. Not many browns lately with the higher water. They are there, just not fishing the right thing.”
For spin fishing in the higher water, Mark says, trout cranks by Troutmagnet.com and Berkley Flicker Shad have been doing well getting down to the fish. “When the rain stops, the fishing will be fantastic,” he said.
Mark says he and customers are “catching really nice rainbows on Y2Ks and olive Woollies,” he says. “Doesn’t hurt to weight the flies extra when tying, or use of a split shot can help to get down to the fish. If you’re not hanging up on bottom occasionally then you may not be getting deep enough. The smallmouth have been biting well on olive with the warm up the last few days. This is a great time to get out on the water. Starting in March, stocking will increase from 1,700 during winter months to 7,000 rainbows in preparation for the summer fishing.”
He adds that hot pink and orange Trout Magnets and brown trout and rainbow trout trout cranks have been hot for spin fishers.
“A trout management plan is in the works and will hopefully be put into place this year,” Mark says. “We are all hoping for some catch-and-release areas on the river. Trout permits increased in price last year and money is earmarked for rebuilding the Jim Hinkle Fish Hatchery that was damaged during a 2017 flood. When these two things come into place it will really make the Spring River an even better trout fishery. And it is great now! Great things are happening on the Spring River.” Check out Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest river conditions.
In the photo, Carl Bedel and his curious dog, guests of Mark Crawford, had a big day recently catching rainbows, as well as smallmouth bass.
(updated 4-1-2020) 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. Wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff, as there is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
(updated 4-1-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 4-1-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 4-1-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no report.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 4-1-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 3-25-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), said the word at Chicot is that catfish and crappie are both biting, although this rain has stalled things the last several days.
(updated 4-1-2020) 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 260.47 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake was almost leveled out and now back on rise again from recent thunderstorms. The lake is about 14 inches above normal conservation pool, near 260.4 feet msl; the discharge Monday was around 18,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was about 247 feet msl with discharge. Check the most recent lake level on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels, especially during high flow river conditions. Wilton Landing on Little River Highway 71 and White Cliffs campground and boat ramp, along with Saratoga boat ramp, have recently been reopened by the USACE after closing for recent flooding. Millwood State Park and marina are also open.
Continue to use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and floaters may be present this week. Surface temps as of Monday ranged 58-65 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is stained. Little River stain is more prevalent this week, muddy in locations near Cossatot inflow and Wilton, with increase of current, along with random broken timber and debris.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Millwood Lake is back on a slow rise from the recent thunderstorms, with increased current in Little River. Largemouth Bass are being seen near spawning flats, roaming in and out of flats near vertical structure. Brazalo Chatterbaits and spinnerbaits, along with trick worms, tricky sticks, 6-8-inch lizards and twitch worms were working over the past few weeks. Rat-L-Traps were getting fair responses over the past couple of weeks from these active roaming bass. Anywhere a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-size bass over the past several weeks. The largemouths continue to be much more reliable in the oxbows of McGuire and Horseshoe lakes where the water clarity was drastically better, water temps were warmer, and calm or no river current was present.
The best responses are coming on Rat-L-Traps in Red Chrome, Toledo Gold, Ozark Craw or Red Rayburn Craw. Baby Brush Hogs and lizards continue taking some decent 15-18-inch bass roaming flats in the clearer water sections of the oxbows, away from current. With the water temps continuing into the upper 50s and low-to-mid 60s, the males are active and females continue staging, with a few seen on beds on top of flat cut or broken tree stumps. You’ll find a few decent 2-3-pound male bass roaming on warm afternoons where you find shallow 5-8 foot depth flats with stumps near to a quick creek bend drop into 8-12 feet structure. More bed-making activities are being observed now. South Hickory Golf Course pockets continue warming up, and anglers are seeing pre-spawn males run in and out near stumps and vegetation. “We continue to see good reactions from 2-3-pound males over the past couple weeks by pitching lizards and Baby Brush Hogs, Pit Bosses and Beavers around cypress trees, flooded buckbrush, bushes and back of pockets. Millwood State Park pockets continued to fish well this week, and another 7-pound Largemouth was caught near the Millwood State Park.”
Best reaction colors for chatterbaits and spinnerbaits have been chartreuse/white, Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover or Arkansas River Shad. Best depth zones to target are cypress tree knees from 6-10 feet with 12-15 feet of depth nearby. Some 6- to 8-inch lizards in black/blue tail, June bug, blackberry and watermelon candy have been picking up some cruising bass near stumps, on drops into 10 feet structure. Dipping the tail in chartreuse dye will also get you bit in the stained water clarity.
* White bass: They continue their annual spawning migration along Little River and mouths of the oxbows and creek dumps, and running up Little River. It continues this week, also, in much the same areas as last week, but the muddy, sudden inflow of rain and muddy current slowed the pre-spawn feeding. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along upper reaches of Little River will pick up an occasional white. The sudden inflow of heavy rain and runoff and muddy water has temporarily slowed the rapid-fire bite they were getting last week. Heavy thumping ¾- and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points, caught some decent, 2- to 3-pound whites in recent weeks at 9-16 feet depth. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail – vertical-jigged behind primary points near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points – were connecting with a few nice-size 2-3 pounders over the past several weeks. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few in 10-14 feet swimming and dropping the bait. Deep-running Fat Free Shad cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, H&H Spinnerbaits, red/white Rooster Tails, Little Cleos, Little Georges, War Eagle Underspins and swimbaits all have been catching the white bass over the past two weeks. With the increase of warm water temps into the upper 50s, the annual white bass spawning run continues up Little River near Patterson Shoals. They continue holding in the same areas.
* Crappie: Crappie have upped their game this week as well. Increased surface temps have the crappie on the
move shallow to spawn. Minnows and jigs have been working away from current and flow of Little River, in the clearer sections of the oxbows and golf course pockets, from 3-5 feet deep. The crappie responses continue to improve and they picked up a few decent crappie caught near cypress trees in South Hickory hitting small jigs in chartreuse/white, chartreuse/blue and black. Small, 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits like a Rocket Shad or Little Cleo and Blakemore Road Runners in white/chartreuse continue getting reactions near cypress knees as they move shallow to spawn.
In the photo, guide Mackey Harvin displays a healthy 2.89-pound crappie caught in Millwood Lake. Mackey has been guiding with Mike Siefert and Millwood Lake Guide Service for more than 12 years. Photo provided by Mike Siefert.
* Catfish: Continue biting consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel cats and blues remain good on Punch Bait and cut shad over the past few weeks on trotlines set at 9-12 feet depth in current.
NOTE: Weather permitting, giant salvinia herbicide applications will begin on Lake Columbia this week, according to the AGFC’s Black Bass Program. If you are fishing Lake Columbia and encounter the herbicide applicators, please give them plenty of room to work to address this highly invasive aquatic nuisance species. Remember to always clean, drain, and dry your boat, trailer, and gear to help prevent the spread of giant salvinia or any other aquatic invaders.
(updated 4-1-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 547.07 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.72 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well it ain’t rain, it ain’t tornados, and it ain’t snow! It’s a virus! Wow. There are many boats on the water quarantining. Things have been happening. The water temperature in the shallows got up to mid- to high 60s for a short bit and then it rained. Water level is at 407.78 feet msl and they were drawing water Tuesday. That is up about 0.75 feet. That changes the variables. The rain has lowered the water temperature and, with higher water levels, that changes things. The crappie and bass were in the buckbrush before this rain. Crappie were anywhere from 18 inches to 42 inches deep from Arlie Moore all the way to Point Cedar. Minnows were prevalent. White bass have been making a good showing. Use swimbaits upriver or above Arlie Moore. Good whites reported. They were catching lots of good black bass prior to all the rain. No info on baits but I will say that the bass were in the shallows like pigs. Best advice is to check water temperature, color and depth. No report on bream or catfish. It’s spring, we just gotta fish between rain and weather.”
(updated 3-25-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says it’s that time of year where crappie are moments away from laying their first eggs. The warmer nights this week are the key to warming the water for spawning temps. For greater numbers than size, fish 4-8 feet deep on the staging brushpiles. Pitch minnows or jigs around the shallow buckbrush, but don’t expect to catch that wall-hanger everywhere. Casting jigs around shallow flats and points can produce, too.
White Oak Lake
(updated 4-1-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said White Oak Upper and Lower are at a high level. Bream fishing is good. Use worms or crickets. Crappie reports are good, with minnows and jigs working. Black bass will hit a white spinnerbait with good results. Also throw a shiner. Catfishing is good. Chicken liver has their attention. Try line fishing in the river, use a Triple S, or Sonny’s bait.
(updated 4-1-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
(updated 3-25-2020) Donald Ramirez, the new owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, said the clarity was a little murky with the slight wind earlier this week. Water level is a little high. Crappie are good. Anglers report catching several 2- to 3-pounders using minnows and jigs. No reports on bream. Black bass are good; use jigs for best results. Catfishing is fair. The catfish are going after the minnows thrown by crappie anglers. White bass are good. They are beginning to be caught on jigs.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 3-25-2020) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 4-1-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that heavy flows have been the norm as continued rainfall kept Lake Ouachita slightly into the flood pool. Open flood gates and high generation have created a treacherous situation in all area dam tailraces. All boaters and anglers alike should use extreme caution if attempting to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace. People should remain off the water until conditions stabilize. Thousands of trout are present and thriving in Lake Catherine. When lake conditions stabilize, anglers can begin to catch limits of trout using redworms or nightcrawlers under a bobber or fished just off the bottom. Worm presentations are often overlooked and will consistently produce results when other baits fail. Other live baits such as waxworms and mealworms will also perform well used in the same manner. Live minnows tend to catch larger trout that search for bigger prey. PowerBait and Trout Magnets in basic colors are two of the best methods known to man for catching rainbow trout and should never be forgotten by anglers who are serious about catching fish. Fly-fishermen that cast San Juan worms or micro-jigs in black or white under strike indicators can expect a solid bite. Egg patterns in white or yellow will also work very well in slack or current flow. Woolly Buggers have to be included in the best-of fly patterns and should be present in every fly angler’s tackle. The walleye spawn is on in the tailrace with fish spotted in the shallows at dawn and dusk. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current will draw strikes from hungry walleye guarding their beds. A Carolina rig tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers is a proven technique in current or slack water. Vertical-jigging spoons in deeper water is often a forgotten method of catching walleye and will outperform many other efforts. Trout will be king for the next few months; the crappie spawn has been hampered by the heavy flows. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace must always wear a life jacket and should be aware of the generation schedules.
(updated 3-25-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that since last Tuesday (March 17) they have had frequent rain and overcast skies. For this week, a nice warmup was expected Wednesday and Thursday before rain chances returned Friday. Then partly cloudy skies and seasonal temperatures return Sunday. Recent rains and high river flow has muddied the water. Surface temperature earlier this week was 58 degrees. As of Tuesday (March 24) the Army Corps of Engineers has reported river flows near 200,000 cfs at both Ozark and Dardanelle. Currently, online USACE water level reports are not accessible.
Lake Dardanelle State Park’s goal is to deliver the services you need while keeping the health and safety of our staff and guests at the highest levels. We are complying with state and recommendations for social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Reservations for the use of our tournament fishing facility have been canceled through May 31. Tournament participants are advised to contact their tournament event directors for details specific to their tournament.
(updated 3-25-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred X-press all-aluminum, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels at normal pool levels with water temps in the high 50s and rising daily. Water clarity is fair with 2-3 feet of visibility in most areas. Bass have been doing pretty well lately. Brush piles in the 15 feet range near the mouths of pockets have been holding fish, along with shallow spawning areas in the backs of pockets. Jigs in green pumpkin, Chatter baits, Spinner baits, shallow running crank baits and Jerk baits have been catching some fish. White, Shad, Chartreuse and Craw colors. It’s getting into the floating worm season so don’t forget that presentation I the shallows. Crappie have been doing very well in some unusual places. Crappie are making their way into the spawning areas. Using ditches, drains and channels as the road to get to these Spawning areas the Crappie can be intercepted. 15-22 feet in the middle of these “highways” and laying close to the bottom are these hungry fish. Spider rig is the perfect choice for these fish but don’t overlook an ultralight rod and some good Sonar. (Pink/ Chartreuse) presentations and (chartreuse/white) have been doing very well with the Crappie. Reports coming in of walleye being caught everywhere near current, and by accident. Good luck, God bless and GoGreeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 359.64 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is getting dingy after the rains through Monday. Surface temperature is about 54 degrees. Water level is 14 feet high but is dropping. Bream are excellent. They are not bedding up, but they are biting really well. The shop is selling lots of crickets, and worms are also working well. Crappie are good. No matter how high the water is, the fish are biting at 10 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are working, along with Beaver Bottom Jigs in frosty mug color. Black bass are fair. Few anglers are talking about bass, they report, probably because they were about to start the Tuesday tournaments. Try using a War Eagle Spinnerbait gold willow leaf with white skirt. Focus on the brush. Catfishing is excellent on yo-yos.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.86 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-1-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are excellent. Floating worms, jerkbaits and
Carolina rigs are producing very good stringers. Walleye are still good. Shad-colored crank baits fished on river and main lake points are producing quality sacks. Stripers are excellent. These fish are being caught on jerk, topwater and live bait on the west end of the lake. Bream are fair to good with worms, crickets or PowerBait in 15-25 feet of water. Crappie are good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 15-25 feet of water. Catfish are good and being caught with trotline and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature is ranging 58-62 degrees. Water clarity is stained in the west portion of the lake and colored in the east. Lake level Tuesday was 578.37 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.
In the photo, Keller Smith holds a nice-size crappie he caught in Lake Ouachita while fishing with guide Chris Darby. Photo provided by Tom Hesselbein.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 399.73 feet msl (normal seasonal pool: 387.00 feet msl). Tailwater is 360.29 feet msl.
(updated 4-1-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said lake is extremely muddy and extremely high. But, those conditions aside, Ronnie says there is a great bite going on. “The fish are on fire. Spring fishing is great at Horseshoe Lake.” The bream bite is good on crickets. Look around the cypress trees. Crappie are good in the canals on minnows or jigs. Black bass are good, with a white spinnerbait working best now. Catfish are in a spawning mode, he says, and trolling is on and off for the cats. The bite overall is good, he said. Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for the latest information, recent photos when the fishing was hot, and more on the old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 3-18-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), says activity has been hit or miss this week on both Bear Creek and Storm Creek lakes. “Most of our anglers are fishing with minnows and are trying to attract crappie, but we are also having some souls attempt to find the bass that are hiding.”
She adds, “As of now, Mississippi River State Park and all of its facilities are open to the public. We are temporarily suspending all public interpretive programming, but our campgrounds and day-use areas remain open.” Any changes during this ever-involving situation, she says, will be listed here, and patrons of the park can call the phone number listed above.
(updated 3-11-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says the White River at Clarendon is 28.3 feet and falling, “but we still have a ways to go before the parking lot is dry and accessible. Now is a great time to get out and fish lakes that are not highly affected by large amounts of rainfall. Good luck!”
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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