Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 11, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 11, 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 10 a.m. the day of publication (March 11).
****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.
Quick links to regions:
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: 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 3-11-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Wednesday morning that the lake is “mostly clear.” Surface water temperature ranges 52-54 degrees, and the lake level is normal. They hear good reports on crappie; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are in the shallows and have begun biting well. Catfishing is good using stink bait, nightcrawlers and using trotlines. Bream are poor.
(updated 2-25-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said the lake had no ice by midweek but no one caught any fish. Also, he heard no reports from Brewer Lake. At Lake Conway, he said, it was still frozen over “but we found some holes to jig through.” For more from Dennis’s fishing excursions around the central Arkansas region, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/arkansasfishingadventures
Little Red River
(updated 3-11-2021) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the bite has been good the last couple of days with warmer temperatures and low water. The river is clear and low. The lake has returned to the normal pool level and this means generation has been for power demand only. With the mild temps, this has been a minimum amount with no generation on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursdays proposed generation was for about three hours beginning at 7 a.m.
“The weather is forecast to change by the weekend with rain and some thunderstorms expected,” Greg said. “We’ll just have to wait and see about the amounts as this can affect the river. One should check the generation forecasts and clarity of the river before planning weekend trips and early next week. USACE Little Rock is a free app for your cell phone showing current releases and next day proposed generation (SWPA Forecasts).”
Rainbows are taking small nymphs, midge pupa and micro jigs (in deeper water). A few browns are being taken on the same flies. Caddis flies and March Brown hatches should start soon if the warmer weather continues. There are a lot of caddis pupa in the river and this should mean a large hatch this spring.
(updated 3-11-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the river is running a little low – the Army Corps of Engineers haven’t run water in a few days, they report. The clarity is clear. Trout fishing is good; try using Rapala Shad Raps, marabou jigs, pink/white Trout Magnets and Rapala CountDowns in size 3 or size 5.
(updated 3-11-2021) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) reminds anglers to 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 461.86 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl).
(updated 3-11-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 461.86 feet msl and on a slow rise. It is 0.18 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. There is still a winter pattern for most species at the moment with new movement everyday, and things changing by the minute. “After this warm rain there is going to be lots of catching going on – that’s a lot easier, or should I say will be easier, to get bait in front of fish for better success,” Tommy said.
The crappie have been good, even with ice a few weeks back. Look 12-40 feet, with minnows and jigs working well. Black bass are eating a variety of baits. “Don’t lay down a jerkbait or Alabama rig until April 1. At least they are really gonna shine this spring.” He said the bass are shallow out to 60 feet.
Bream have not made a big move yet; try crawlers in 15-20 feet. No reports on catfish, but now is time for the big blues to eat shallow on points, humps, etc. Walleye are scattered and waiting as well to slide on to upper reaches of rivers to spawn; lake fish still not doing much yet. Hybrid and white bass are ganged up eating and are in the main lake and rivers moving with shad, in 25-60 feet of water. Use spoons, inline Largo Spinners and hair jigs.
(updated 3-11-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is at normal level and is clear. The surface water temperature on Wednesday was ranging 47-50 degrees. Bass are spotty. Some days they are good and some days not as good. Anglers report best catches coming on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Chatterbait and jigs fished in shallow water. Meanwhile, in the deeper water try jerkbaits, Alabama rigs and single swimbaits.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 3-11-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake clearity remains muddy and the water level has risen past normal. Crappie remain in the deeper areas of the lake. Minnows and jigs are working for the boat anglers, while trotlines are also catching them. Anglers have begun catching some large bass, they report, and the overall bass bite is good. Try a crankbait or topwater lure for best success. Catfishing has been good using nightcrawlers. Hook up a trotline with a few. No reports on bream; it’s just not that time yet.
(updated 3-11-2021) Randy DeHart at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said Overcup is “pretty much clear” now and is high by about 1 foot. Now’s the time for crappie fishing at Overcup, it appears, with crappie being caught in excellent numbers. Fish for them in 14-16 feet depth of water on minnows and jigs. No reports on bass or catfish. Bream are biting in fair numbers on redworms and crickets.
(updated 3-11-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said he ventured to Brewer Lake on Sunday. Bass were hitting everything for some anglers, while other anglers got nothing.
(update 3-4-2020 ) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303) said the lake is clear and at a normal level. Crappie fishing is good. The crappie are being found 15 feet deep. Minnows and Bobby Garland-style jigs are working best along with “live stuff,” he said. Focus on the brushpiles. Crappie was all that was reported. David adds that the baitshop is now 24/7 self-serve.
(updated 3-12-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported Wednesday that water temperature at Lake Maumelle was in the upper 40s to low 50s. The bite is picking up significantly in the past few days, and it’s nearly white bass run time with that bite becoming excellent. Largemouth bass are good. Some can be found in the grass and around 8-12 feet biting a variety of lures. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Chatterbait and swimbaits. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are fair. Some reports have come in of them being found in 10-15 feet of water outside the grass line. They can also be found near drop -offs and rocky banks. The white bass are great! We’ve heard reports of the white bass shallow by the west bridge. They’re staging to make their annual run, which could happen any day. Try using Rooster Tails, Rat-L-Traps and jerkbaits. Crappie are good. With the warmer nights the crappie have moved into the banks. Other reports earlier in the weeks had them being found near humps or in 20-25 feet depth. Bream are slow. No reports this week, but try throwing crickets or worms just to be sure. Catfish are fair. Use chicken liver, worms or crayfish.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 3-11-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says clarity is clear and the water level and current are normal. Crappie are being found in 5-6 feet depth of water with a good bite on minnows and jigs. Black bass are being caught in fair numbers for anglers throwing crankbaits or plastic worms. Catfish and bream fishing appears to be poor for the time being.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 21,139 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 24,275 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 22,561 cfs.
(updated 3-11-2021) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said Wednesday that the river is at normal level and current and the clarity is stained, and even muddy in a few places. Bass are good on crankbaits that are shad-colored or red, as well as on white/chartreuse and black/blue Chatterbaits and black/blue jigs. Anglers are catching them just before they get into the backwaters and also on the main river on the jetties. Crappie fishing has been good using orange/chartreuse and white/chartreuse crappie jigs fished in 10 feet of water behind the jetties. There were no other reports.
(updated 3-11-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said they have heard that below the Terry Lock and Dam (below the Little Rock pool), white bass fishing is good. Use white grubs to get a bite. Also below that dam, crappie are fair in 10-12 feet depth of water. Regular minnows and black/chartreuse Super Jigs are working best. In the Little Rock pool, reports had catfish biting fair on skipjack below the hydroelectric plant at Murray Lock and Dam.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-11-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake is slightly stained and the water level has dropped to low. They heard no reports of catches in the past week.
(update 3-11-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake is a little dingy and is at a normal level. Anglers have returned to Peckerwood with the better weather, and with the lake resting from fishing over the waterfowl season, and there are some hungry fish. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass will also bite a jig, and there have been good catches. Catfish are biting in good numbers on the yo-yos, on any minnows throw their way, and on jigs. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-11-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Feels like spring; warmer weather is here and the fishing is strong on the rivers here in the Arkansas Ozarks. Bull Shoals Lake has reached the desired power pool level – a decrease in the output from the dam is anticipated although we have seen some unusual releases since reaching the desired water level at the lake.”
Trout can adjust to water level changes without too much trouble but it might take a little time, so be ready to try several baits. The brown trout have been biting mid-sized to oversized sculpins and will chase a No. 5 Rapala Rainbow Countdown. March sees a great catch of browns, some even biting on the old standby of PowerBait and shrimp. The rainbows seem to be fond of white, ⅛-ounce jigs, but several large rainbows have taken sculpin bait, too. The annual stocking of the cutthroat trout occurred last month, and several have been reeled in on yellow and/or peach egg patterns owing to its resemblance to fishery food. Even these small ones are aggressive and will try to capture a minnow more than half its size.
“Keep your rain gear handy; springtime in the Ozarks can be wet, but don’t let that stop you from some all-round great fishing.”
(updated 3-11-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported Wednesday midmorning that there was an apparent shad kill Tuesday. One of their guides, though, reported over 15 brown trout caught. Rainbow trout are doing well on drift-fishing. Water clarity is clear and the river level is normal, even with 6-8 generators generating some of the day from the dam. Overall fishing grade, they say, is good.
(updated 3-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that during the past week they had about one and a quarter inches of rain, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.6 feet to rest at seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.8 foot to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.2 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 0.7 foot below seasonal power pool and 10.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had abundant wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below or near power pool. With the severe weather past us, expect lower levels of generation.
On the lower flows, the White has waded 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 pink San Juan worm).
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also mentions fishing after a huge snowfall: “Last Monday, after a couple of weeks of bad weather (we had cold rain followed by heavy snow) we had a break in the weather, where I actually observed what I can only guess was the sun. My wife, Lori, had braved the elements for the previous cold and snowy days to walk our two Labrador retrievers in tough conditions. I was also out there shoveling snow and chipping the ice from our back steps.
“Other than that, we were hunkered down in our house in Cotter hoping that the pipes did not freeze. Luckily they didn’t. Once the weather began to clear, I could only think of one thing: going fishing. Lori felt the same. We generally try to fish together once a week. It had been a while and we were ready to hit the river.
“I checked the conditions and noted that the White River was on the bottom and promised to be so for the rest of the day. The weather was predicted to be quite mild with highs in the mid-50s and abundant sunshine. The only potential problem was the possibility of winds from the west at 10-15 mph.
“Following our usual procedure, Lori walked the dogs while I loaded up the boat and drove to the river. I had just finished rigging our two rods just when she showed up at the ramp. I had rigged them differently. On the one I fished I had a pheasant tail nymph below a fluorescent pink worm. The other rod had a ruby midge below an egg. This gives us four flies to test to see which one will produce trout.
“I launched the boat and motored upstream. It felt good to both of us to be back on stream. The going was a bit slow, but on the third drift I picked up a fat and sassy 21-inch rainbow. The trout was hooked on the pheasant tail. Now when I study this, I consider one fish to be a fluke, two to be a coincidence and three to be a trend. Despite this, Lori’s rig was not producing and she eagerly changed over to the flies that I was fishing. It had an immediate effect and she began picking up fish.
“The problem was that the wind came up and began affecting our drifts. It is difficult to catch trout without a perfect drag-free drift. When the wind is blowing this hard, it can easily make the boat go faster than the river. As it changed direction, it would move us from side to side, which would push up from the most productive water.
“When we fish together, I prefer mild winds so that we can both fish together. When the winds are this heavy I have to concentrate on steering the boat and not fish myself. I laid down my rod and picked up the paddle. Lori got into the zone and caught several nice trout. I didn’t mind not fishing. It was a great day and I was with Lori watching her catch trout.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 913.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “Moss alert. Spring transition. Late winter early spawn. There has been a small wave of fish moving up. Target south facing creeks and pockets with a little warmer water. The shad are breaking up.” Spend your idle time on the graph looking for loons and gulls. The bite is all about timing. You’re either going to hammer them or have a day of fishing around shad.
“The shad kill was the biggest I have seen on Bull Shoals,” Del said. He suggests using jigs, Rapalas or spoons.
“The deep bite is slowly going away. If it’s windy, use Damiki drop-shot with a McMinnow. Shad are up high in the water column. Use jerkbait like a Megabass early on bluff end points with shad or close to them. The backs of creeks still have a little color.”
Surface water temperature is ranging 44-48 degrees. The lake is down by about a half-foot.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 3-11-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report. Click on the resort website linked above for more information.
(updated 3-11-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports later in March.
(updated 3-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below or near power pool. With the severe weather past us, expect lower levels of generation.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding. 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.
John says, “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. 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 3-4-2021) 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.
(updated 3-11-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake sits at normal levels and continues to warm. Stripers are still hit-and-miss with some quality being caught but low numbers per trip. Look from Prairie Creek up into river arms; brooders working. Bass are good on cranks, Alabama rigs and swimbaits. Head up river arms for them. Crappie are coming on like they should look on structure close to spawning flats and coves in 7-15 feet of water. Walleye are fair look up rivers for the spawning fish. “Unfortunately, looks like we may deal with some rain, and heavy maybe. That will be the trigger for the white bass run when it clears. Good luck, stay safe. Water temps are near 50 most parts of lake.”
(updated 3-11-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said anglers report catching male white bass up in the rivers mostly. Walleye reports have been fair with a few females now being caught. Crappie are good with the fish hanging around 10-15 feet depth of water; minnows and jigs are working, while anglers also are trolling crankbaits with success. Focus on those brushpiles. Bass are hit-and-miss; they rate if fair, with crankbaits, jigs and jerkbaits getting the most responses. No reports on catfish or bream. Lake clarity is clear and the surface water temperature Wednesday morning was mid- to high 40s. Water level is normal.
(updated 3-4-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said, “Well, we seem to go from one extreme to another. This past winter storm really confused some certain species of fish, but more on that later. The trout bite has been good. Most are being caught on Pautzke Firebaits fished with light terminal tackle. With the water being low from Spider Creek up to the dam, if you are fishing from the shore you need to search out the deeper holes. Spoons and small hard plastics are also producing some nice fish as well. As for the Kentucky bass, you need to fish more toward Beaver and Holiday Island. These fish are in about 10-15 feet of water, hanging around structure and chunk rock. You can find other species in that area as well.
“This week’s hot spot for trout has been just below Spider Creek. Let’s hope we get some measurable rain or the Corps of Engineers releases some water soon. Good luck! Remember, for additional information, you can follow my fishing Facebook page at Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service. Be safe and catch some fish!
(updated 3-11-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the best news they heard this week were the white bass numbers. Good catches come on Rooster Tails. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Anglers are getting good results fishing for black bass and using crankbaits, topwater lures and jigs. They heard no reports on bream or catfish. The clarity is clear, surface water temperature is 50 degrees as of midmorning Wednesday, and the lake level is normal.
(updated 3-11-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said Wednesday that crappie fishing is excellent! Crappie are in 5-10 feet depth of water. Minnows, jigs and crankbaits all will work. Black bass are good, and anglers are finding them at 5 feet depth. Use spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Bream and catfish reports have been poor. Water clarity is clear and at a normal level.
(updated 3-11-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said they saw a beautiful weekend last week. “Lots of boats were on the water,” she said. “Catfish were biting as well as a few crappie. The water is coming up pretty fast.” Lake Charles was drawn down for the waterfowl season to provide water for the nearby WMA. It’s still lower than normal but on the rise. Sunday morning surface water temperature was 51 degrees. Lake clarity is murky. The crappie bite is fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish results have been fair with anglers using worms, blood bait and stink bait. No reports on bream or bass. She says that the best fishing days, based on moon cycles, should be over the next several days, through March 16.
(updated 3-4-2021) Seth Boone, the superintendent at the Lake Poinsett State Park visitor center (870-578-2064), says Lake Poinsett is filling up right now, though still no fish in it. This last rain really caused it to start taking form. It’s probably around 16 feet from being completely full.
The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed on Dec. 1, following the completion of a renovation, 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 3-11-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has reopened and is accepting RV and cabin reservations. They report the water being “pretty clear” and at a normal level,” but they had no fishing reports.
(updated 2-25-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 350 cfs, average flow, and water clarity has had a heavy green tint. “After last week with all the cold and snow the trout were happy to see us floating down the river this week.”
Olive and brown Woollies are working well and Y2Ks with a nymph dropper is the ticket for slower days. On spin-fishing, a gold Rooster Tail has been wearing them out. Trout cranks are working good in the deeper holes, especially below waterfalls where the water can get deep.
Mark says that starting in March the trout stocking “will increase a lot. That always makes for easier catching. For the next three months the river will be prime fishing as long as a monsoon does not move through. The canoe hatch does not begin until end of May when school lets out.”
(updated 3-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is coming and it will get busy. 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 10.21 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, is steady at 16.21, still almost 10 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is still high at 26.90 feet, almost 1 foot above flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 3-11-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water has dingied up in the past week but is at a normal level. They heard no reports of angler success.
(updated 3-11-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team reports that water temperatures are low 50s on the main channel, mid-50s in backwaters, and Lake Langhofer is upper 50s in shallow protected backwaters. Water clarity is only inches in most places, with protected backwaters up to around 6-8 inches of visibility. Black bass are biting fairly well on red- and shad-colored lipless and shallow-diving crankbaits, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs around rock and woody cover. Look for warmer, cleaner water with woody cover and you should be around fish. Smaller males are already feeding in spawning areas. Larger females don’t appear to be in spawning areas yet, but they are not far away. We should see rapid water warming this week and improvement in size and numbers heading to staging and spawning areas. If weather patterns hold, we should see spawning begin in the next couple weeks.
(updated 3-11-2021) 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.
(updated 3-11-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake is drastically improved with a level about inches above normal conservation pool and falling; oxbows’ water clarity excellent, Little River is normal stain. Gate discharge at the dam around 7,200 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates was around 234 feet msl and falling with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake 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.
Surface temps jumped this week, ranging in 55-60 degrees depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for random broken or floating timber in Little River. Lots of Little River buoy markers are missing along the main lake channel. Use extreme caution in navigation on the main lake.
Millwood State Park is opened for campers. See the COVID-19 related information, and camping reservation requirements at https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/millwood-state-park. Millwood State Park Marina has NOW REOPENED for the season. The Millwood State Park Office an be reached at 870-898-2800 for additional information.
As for this week’s fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Bass temperament improved a little more this week with warmer daytime highs and warm southerly winds. Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, or Rayburn Red Craw, ‘Lectric Red and Red Chrome, are randomly catching fish. Chatterbaits in Texas Craw, Black & Blue or Hot Mouse will draw a few reaction bites. Brazalo Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse, Millwood Mayhem Bream and Spot Remover caught a few more decent bass this week, and Chatterbaits picked up a few 2- to 3-pound largemouths this week. “Most bass we are finding continue randomly roaming shallow on full sun and bright skies in the 3- to 6-foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 7-10 feet depth ranges. The best 3-4 hours are during the heat of the day, best on bright, sunny, clear days when water temps will rise a few degrees after lunch. 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 few weeks.”
Heavy thumper tail swimbaits on a Jackhammer Chatterbait in Firecraw are working, and Zoom Trick Worms in black/blue, Blue Ice and Purple Smoke are catching bass, with Beaver Bugs, Brush Hogs and lizards taking a few good male bass this week on flooded cypress trees, stumps and along vegetation lines in ditches, creeks and flats from 3-8 feet deep. Those males were exploring new bed making locations near flooded timber and cypress trees. “We have not observed any fresh beds or females moving shallow this week, but it’s coming in the next few days.” Best colors of Bugs and Beavers were Black Neon, Grasshopper, Blackberry and Chartreuse Pumpkin.
* White bass: We talked to a pair of white bass anglers between White Cliffs and McGuire oxbow along Little River that said they had caught some decent white bass in the 2- to 3-pound class along the river on spoons and crankbaits. Apparently, the whites have begun their annual spawning run up Little River. “We did not investigate the Saline River this week, but if the whites are running up Little River, we have to assume they are doing the same thing in the Saline River, too. This bears further investigation this week or next!”
* Crappie: improved this week on minnows and jigs in oxbows of Mud Lake and Horseshoe. Crappie are holding between the 10- to 15-foot depth zones this week, and have not yet pulled up to spawn, that we have seen.
* Catfish: Continue to bite consistently in Little River on trotlines, and in the oxbows on yo-yos, using King’s Punch Bait, hot dogs, and chicken livers and gizzards.
(updated 3-11-2021) 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 541.96 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.25 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(update 3-11-2021) Local angler Charles Abernathy says water is around the mid-50s as of the weekend. “The water seems to be cleaning up some. I’m still chasing fish in open water in the major creek areas. What little shallow brush I have checked, I didn’t see much fish on (start keeping an eye on it). Fish will use that shallow brush or structure when they move up in that area to spawn. Most everyone knows this, but the males will put their tuxedos on and move up shallow first to make a bed. The pretty ladies will come in “to say hi” and they will head right back out, while the men stay behind. You can catch fish going in and coming out on that shallow brush or you can hit the banks.
“I only had an hour to fish over the weekend and was up in some pretty muddy water. We did pretty good on an orange-headed black/chartreuse Slab Slanger from Mr Wally. These crappie were in open water and mixed in with a lot of hybrids. They were feeding very aggressively and very shallow in the water column (10 feet or less). The bite had previously been a ‘you may have to finesse them a little,’ but this was a ‘just get it close.’
“I can’t tell you exactly when this magic is going to happen but I can tell you they don’t all do it at the same time and they all don’t do it up a creek. With the water at 55 degrees and the fish having their eggs ready, it’s going to start soon.
“I get quite a few emails and I enjoy reading/responding to every one of them. Thank you so much for reading these and thanks to everyone for letting me know. As always, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. I have a new YouTube channel where I share some fishing content. Look me up. Good luck out there and be safe and be nice.”
(updated 3-4-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said, “I’ve been scouting around for crappie. The water is slowly warming up. They are still scattered and suspended in the deeper channels, so a slow trolling technique works best. As the water warms, they’ll stack up on the brushpiles better for a hovering, vertical presentation.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.43 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 528.55 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said Wednesday the water is clear but the level is high and there has been on fishing reports over the last few days.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visi www.entergy.com/hydro
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 3-11-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 48 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy is currently scheduling generation in the afternoon hours on a minimum flow pattern, which has enabled the public to take advantage of fishing opportunities and much safer boating. The weekly generation schedule is posted on the Entergy website each Wednesday afternoon, and anyone planning on using the Carpenter Dam tailrace is advised to check out the report. Both lakes Hamilton and Catherine are being refilled to their normal summertime pool after the winter drawdown. Each lake has risen about 6 inches per day and nearing completion at the time of this report.
Very good numbers of rainbow trout are present and feeding heavily on injured threadfin shad drawn through the dam from Lake Hamilton. Because of the huge influx of prey items, these fish are harder to catch and patience must be used for success. Rising water greatly hampers the trout bite and in many cases eliminates any chance of catching numbers of rainbows. Fly-fishermen can still wade to areas that hold numbers of trout and should use a fly that imitates something other than a shad. Worm imitations such as the San Juan worm can produce good catches of rainbow trout in current or slackwater conditions. Woolly Buggers in green or black are a time-honored fly that will produce results casted with a strike indicator. Egg pattern flies in orange or white have drawn strikes from finicky trout that are stuffed from threadfin shad feeding. Bank anglers have a chance at catching limits of fish by using PowerBaits and redworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Much larger trout are scheduled to be released this month below area dams as the springtime approaches.
The walleye spawn is in full swing and has not been adversely affected by water levels or clarity. Anglers can catch these fish by trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current effectively now because lake levels are back to normal. Tipping jigheads with live minnows over and around sandbars and rock structure is another proven technique to catch spawning walleye.
An important note to remember is that the rainbow trout bite will improve dramatically a few days after the lake has been completely refilled. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and wear a mask and observe social distancing when encountering others.
(updated 3-11-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) reported the water temperature is 51 degrees. The river is in good shape for now, he said. Creeks are fair to dirty. Bass fishing has picked up and they are starting to chase Chatterbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits and plastics. Crappie have improved a lot,with some quite shallow. Jigs and minnows are working deep and shallow; bright colors have been working well. White bass and stripers are migrating to the creeks. Swimbaits, Rat-L-Trap topwater baits all working well. Catfishing has been fair; use cut bait, shad and skipjack. Bream have been good with worms and crickets.
(updated 3-11-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reported lake levels continuing to rise rapidly and full pool should be reached by the weekend or early next week. Temps are in the low 50s and climbing with fair to poor visibility of a foot or so. Bass have already been spotted in the shallows in creek channels and around boat docks that were previously sticking out of the dirt. It’s too soon to tell but the weather is looking good for pre-spawn right now and it should move quickly into spawn this year.
With the bass moving it’s important to remember that just because little fish are seen shallow it doesn’t mean the bigger bass are moved up yet. Seek out intersections offshore. Ditches and creek channels that lead up to shallow water are usually where keepers are found FEEDING before they move shallow. Carolina rigs, spinnerbaits and deep-diving crankbaits are great search-and-locator tools to cover lots of depths and lots of ground. Once activity is seen, switch to a drop-shot, Texas worm or jig and slow down. The water is dirty right now, so use dark or white color patterns.
Crappie are still biting well everywhere suspended off brush piles in 25-45 feet of water. These predators are about to start moving shallower, also. It’s important to find them NOW if you have not already. You can use their position as a starting point and birddog them all the way to the shallows by using your electronics. Just draw a straight line from current position to destination, and fish the “bus stops.” Use live minnows and pink and white jigs.
“The water is still cold, folks. Cold enough to kill if exposed long enough. Wear those life jackets for a few more weeks! Good luck and Go Greeson! Gogreeson.com.”
(updated 3-4-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said, “I’ve been scouting around for crappie. The water is slowly warming up. They are still scattered and suspended in the deeper channels, so a slow trolling technique works best. As the water warms, they’ll stack up on the brushpiles better for a hovering, vertical presentation.”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 346.08 feet msl (normal pool: 342.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-11-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake clarity has improved to “pretty clear.” The surface temperature Wednesday was 47 degrees and the lake was a foot above normal. Crappie fishing has been good. Anglers are finding them close to the bottom, biting minnows and chartreuse/black or chartreuse/blue jigs. Nimrod was host to a large bass tournament on Wednesday, they said, and leading up to that the black bass bite was good. Spinnerbaits and jigs were working best. Catfish are good using live shad either on rod-and-reel or on trotlines and yo-yos. Bream reports were poor.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.24 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-4-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood reports that Lake Ouachita is a little high with a clear clarity, though there is slight stain in the creeks and up the river. As for black bass, there was enough bite for a team to win a tournament there last weekend with a stringer totaling 23 pounds. Anglers report catching fish on Chatterbait, Alabama rigs and Rat-L-Traps in 15 feet of water.
(updated 3-4-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said, “I’ve been scouting around the Shangri La resort area for crappie. The water is slowly warming up. They are still scattered and suspended in the deeper channels, so a slow trolling technique works best. As the water warms, they’ll stack up on the brushpiles better for a hovering, vertical presentation.”
(updated 3-11-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) had no reports. 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 388.33 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge at 26.12 feet, slightly above flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 3-11-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) says the water temperature as of Sunday was 49 degrees at the surface. Crappie were holding over deeper water 12-14 feet deep. The fish are biting both jigs and minnows, with jigs producing larger fish. Color did not seem to be overly important as the females are on a feeding pattern as they prepare to move toward the shallower water to spawn. Fish were caught on green/white, purple/pink, red/yellow and brown/orange combinations this past week. Look for the bite to continually improve with the water temperature rising.
No reports on bass, catfish or bream, however.
(updated 3-11-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) reports that Cooks Lake was set to reopen for youth and mobility impaired fishing Wednesday, March 3. The lake is stained; however, the large rain event at the beginning of March has caused the White River to rapidly rise. The high water conditions have closed the access and the lake will open when the water recedes to safe levels. “There has been no fishing since last fall, therefore no updated report. We hope to have some anglers fish so we can let others know how to tackle this lake,” he said.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 3-11-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said that at Bear Creek Lake, anglers reorts success in catching largemouth bass between depths of 4-6 feet within specific coves. Anglers are reporting catching those largemouths with various types of artificial baits. A few blue catfish have also been reported by a few anglers. Anglers mentioned catching them off free-floating devices within 6-10 feet. They report using liver and homemade baits to catch the blues.
At Storm Creek Lake, a few anglers have reported catching blues as well. They’re using free-floating devices within depths of 6-10 feet. Anglers report using homemade baits and slicks to catch the blues.
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