Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
March 25, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for March 25, 2021. 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 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 9 a.m. the day of publication (March 25).
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Quick links to regions:
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 3-25-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is “a little cloudy” and surface temperature as of Wednesday morning was ranging 56-58 degrees. Water level is normal. Bream are starting to appear. The bite this week on redworms and crickets has been fair. Crappie are good. THey are moving to shallow water with the warm-up. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good and are also moving into shallow water. Try spinnerbaits and topwater baits. Catfishing is good on trotlines.
(updated 3-25-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) reports that crappie are “really good” off the Highway 89 bridge. Use minnows and jigs.
(updated 3-25-2021) Angler Dennis Charles checked in from Beaverfork and saidanglers are catching a few bass in the shallows and grass. “On the scanner we saw very few fish,” he added. Dennis also went to Lake Cargile by Hattieville on March 25. “We cough a few crappie and bass, using jigs and chatterbaits. 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 3-25-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the river is now back up this week, running a little high with slightly colored water. The trout have been “pretty good” on a Trout Magnet, jerkbaits, Rapala Shad Rap and Bouyant Spoons.
(updated 3-25-2021) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is muddy below Sulphur Creek due to the rain Wednesday night. “I have not been above this area, but I would think the clarity of the upper section of the river is better. The Corps of Engineers is still running one unit plus approximately 600 cfs through the floodgates. This amounts to a flow of about 3,400 cfs around the clock. This generation will help clear the lower section in the next day or two,” Greg said.
The lake is again rising into the flood pool so this generation schedule will probably continue for the near future.
Large nymphs drifted deep or streamer fishing are the best options for fly-fishermen at this time. Remember to be careful of the docks and downed trees along the shore during this higher level of flow. Avoid drifting against the upstream side of these objects.
(updated 3-25-2021) 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 463.04 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.02 feet msl. It is 0.98 feet above normal pool and is rising. “Generation has been keeping it at bay and also has lowered it some, but it is on its way back up. The fish are changing by the hour, lots of movement, here one minute, gone the next, so to speak,” Tommy said, “with all these pressure changes, water temp changes up and down, discolored water, etc. So, if you find bait and fish, stay with them. If you don’t, move until you do and do not leave fish to find fish; just figure those out. And it helps learning the process as well for down the road.”
Crappie are eating in river channels or creek channels, flats, in bushes or out in front of bushes. Jigs, minnows and crankbaits working, super shallow out to 30 feet.
Walleye will eat when water color is right in rivers. A lot are trying to spawn, some have, and the rest are traveling. The lake fish have just not heeded the call of spring yet. Lots of baits will work and, of course, live bait, but storm after storm is keeping the water muddy.
Some bream have shown up shallow; try crickets and crawlers. Black bass are scattered all over out to 40 feet. Alabama rigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits out deeper, Texas-rigged lizards and jigs working shallow, and there is some topwater action as well. Hybrid and white bass are scattered as well super shallow out to 45 feet and moving all the time. Try Road Runners, spoons, inline spinners, grubs and Alabama rigs for best action. No report on catfish.
(updated 3-25-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says bass are good on the north end of the lake, hitting jerkbaits, jigs and Alabama rigs. Crappie are good in 15 feet depth around standing timber. Try a monkey milk crappie tube.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 3-25-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake has mostly cleared and the water is high. Crappie remain good. Use minnows and jigs, and the crappie will also bite the minnows on trotlines. Black bass continue to bite well; try crankbaits and topwater lures. Catfishing is fair on nightcrawlers or shad. Still nothing reported on bream.
(updated 3-25-2021) New owner Phil Thomas at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the lake is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are good on minnows (try bass minnows for best bite) and black/chartreuse jigs. Bass are good on a variety of baits. A 34-pound catfish was caught this week, and overall the catfish bite is good on usual catfish baits.
(updated 3-25-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said he ventured to Brewer Lake recently. Crappie and bass both were good along the grass lines.
(update 3-18-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303) said the lake is mostly clear though there is a little cloudiness. Lake level is normal. Surface temperature has been in the low 60s. Crappie fishing continues to be good. The crappie seem close to the bottom, but in some places they are moving up around structures at about 6 feet deep, David said. Minnows and jigs are being used, but David suggests using spider-rigs down deep to catch a limit. Black bass are fair; they are moving around the shoreline. Use minnows. Catfishing is fair; they are also moving around the shoreline and biting minnows. Bream haven’t reported.
David wanted anglers to note that Dad’s Bait Shop is now 24/7 self-serve.
(updated 3-25-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501-758-4958) hears that crappie are biting well on yo-yos at night time.
(updated 3-18-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported Wednesday that water temperature is ranging 53-55 degrees. Largemouth bass are good. Some can be found in the grass on the banks and around the grass in 8-12 feet depth biting a variety of lures. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits or swimbaits. Kentucky bass are fair. Some reports 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. Try using jigs. White bass are great. Reports of the white bass being shallow by the west bridge. They’re making their annual run toward the creek. Try using swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps and minnows. Crappie are fair. Some reports of the crappie moving in. They can be found in the coves about 20 feet and some are headed toward the shoreline. Others are saying the females can be found deep. Try using minnows and jigs. No reports of bream or catfish this week. If you want to try for a bream, toss a cricket or redworm. Catfish will favor chicken liver, worms and crayfish now.
(updated 3-25-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (501758-4958) says that fishing is good in small bodies of water in the backwaters. Bass will go for any kind of moving bait — spinner, crank, Rat-L-Traps. Crappie are biting minnows and jigs. Bream are starting to move up shallow.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 3-25-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says clarity is slightly stained; the river level and current are normal. Crappie are good and have been found even closer to the surface compared to last week, biting in 3-4 feet depth of water; use minnows and jigs. Black bass continue to bite better with good reports this week. They still lean toward spinnerbaits, soft-plastic worms and swimbaits. Catfish started biting yo-yos baited with minnows at night. No reports on bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 149,920 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 155.885 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 157,123 cfs.
(updated 3-25-2021) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said Wednesday that there is still a craft advisory out on the Little Rock Pool with 140,000 cfc flow. Bass are good on crankbaits along the main channel off jetties. Try red crawfish colors. Bass also are good at entrances to the backwaters. Z-Man Jackhammers and jigs were working there.
(updated 3-25-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said white bass are “really good” on pearl-colored Lil’ Fishies below Terry Lock and Dam and Murray Lock and Dam. Crappie are good below the dams in 8-10 feet depth on regular minnows and red/chartreuse jigs. Catfish are biting well on skipjack below Terry Lock and Dam and Murray Dam, and snagging starting to pick up below the hydroelectric plant at Murray. Stripers are being caught below both dams usings chartreuse flukes.
(updated 3-25-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) reports that catfishing is slow. However, white bass are good below the Murray Lock and Dam when the flow rate falls below 60,000 cfs.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 3-25-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake remains slightly stained and the water level is normal. Anglers are catching good amounts of crappie on minnows and jigs. Catfish are beginning to bite, with skipjack working. Nothing was reported on bream or bass.
(update 3-25-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake clarity is still little dingy and the water level is high. Crappie are biting well on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on jigs. Catfish are good and still going after yo-yos, as well as jigs and minnows. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-25-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the warm weather is here and the fishing is hot on the rivers here in the Arkansas Ozarks. We have been provided with all types of water levels over the past seven days, fluctuating between low, shallow water to high, deep water, so our professionals have been creative in ensuring guests to the river continue to catch a good share of rainbows and a number of trophy trout for pictures and bragging rights. Be prepared to change your fishing tactics in the middle of the day as the water rises. Worms work very nicely as the water level increases. The brown trout have been biting anything from minnows to sculpins and some silver flash lures. Some browns have even been caught on the old standby of PowerBait and shrimp. With spring break continuing, the kids are staying busy catching rainbows with shrimp and bright fluorescent orange or yellow eggs. We’re sending them back to school with some great fish tales.
(updated 3-25-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said it has “been a great week for fishing.” Anglers caught a lot of brown trout, with the biggest being 27 inches. The river clarity is a little stained, and the generation from the dam has been up and down a lot, they report. Overall trout bite is good.
(updated 3-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that during the past week they have had two rain events (combined for just a trace in Cotter), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 5.1 feet to rest at 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 28.9 below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 foot to rest at 2.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Due to recent rain all of the lakes in the White River system are now above the power pool.
On the moderate flows, the White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge).
John also gives an update on the Sowbug Roundup, an annual event in Mountain Home. “As many of you know, the Sowbug Roundup is the premier fly-fishing event that is organized and held locally. The event is hosted by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (our local fly-fishing club, affiliated with Fly Fishing International). They have been putting on this event for over 20 years and it is arguably the finest show of its kind in the United States. It draws fly-tyers and attendees from all over our country and some foreign ones, too.
“Unfortunately, it was canceled at the last minute last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am a member of the Sowbug committee. We made a serious attempt to develop protocols to protect attendees but the impact of the virus overpowered us. We had been planning the 2020 Sowbug Roundup for 11 months and we were ready to go. Like many other events, a substantial portion of the financial investment was lost and much of the work was for naught.
“This year we were still reacting to the pandemic and we were forced to cancel the Sowbug Roundup for 2021. That is two years without our beloved event.
“Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many members of the Sowbug committee have gotten their coronavirus vaccine and we feel that the remaining members will be vaccinated soon. We have scheduled our first committee meeting for July, which would give us plenty of time to prepare for the Sowbug Roundup in 2022. The scheduled date is March 24-26 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds.
“There is a great deal of work to be done. We have to send out invitations to the 100-plus tyers we expect to attend and tie. We have to schedule and manage the Fly Tying Contest (this is where I get involved). We had a successful contest before the 2020 Sowbug that got canceled. We want to acknowledge the winners and auction off the related fly plate. This is possibly the best fly plate we have ever created. It features some incredible flies and a spectacular work of original art from local artist Sandy Barksdale. It will compete with the fly plate for the 2022 fly-tying contest.
“There are always a lot of great items included in silent auctions, live auctions and raffles. We still have all of the incredible merchandise that we collected for the 2020 event, but also have even more quality items to add to the collection. I know that I have some great items to contribute. We have to recruit vendors, program presenters, featured fly-tyers and volunteers to help us put on the event.
“I cannot wait. This event has been sorely missed and there is a lot of pent up demand for it. I hope to see you there!”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 667.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says to “look for debris.” He says fishing is now in the spring transition with fish showing signs of early pre-spawn. “There has been a wave of pale fish moving up,” he said. “Target south-facing creeks, secondary points and pockets with a little warmer water. Dirty water has some warmer temps.”
He says the shad are breaking up. “Look for loons and gulls. That bite is all about timing.” Del says he’s using a Megabass jerkbait. “The deep bite is going away. If it’s windy or cloudy, use powerfish, spinnerbait or Chatterbait shallow. If it’s flat, use McMinnow.
“Shad are up high in the water column. Use jerkbait early on bluff ends and points with shad or close to them. Shaky head and a Ned rig as well. The backs of creeks have a little color change. There is a crankbait bite, he said, and Wiggle Wart, and Rock Crawler are working. If it’s windy fish the steeper banks with nasty rock in 4-10 feet. Match the colors with water clarity. Red and green Craw are working in the clear water. “Beaver flipping is becoming a player. Fish the conditions.”
The lake is murky and the surface temperature is getting up to the upper 50s. The water is 9 feet above normal pool and rising.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 559.81 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Due to recent rain all of the lakes in the White River system are now above the power pool.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the 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 (size 18, 20, 22)like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14, 16) like the Green Butt. “Egg patterns have also been productive. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a pheasant tail size 14 with a root beer midge dropper. My wife, Lori, recently did well with an olive Woolly Bugger. Fishing is better in the morning,” he says.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is increased pressure with warmer weather. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds (the creek is open to fishing from sunrise to sundown). 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 3-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are clearing. With the cool temperatures the bite is still slow. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,120.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is warming back up nicely. The lake is primed and ready to go. River arms are loading up on white bass in the usual spawning areas. Crappie moved up again after backing off a bit last week. Look in 10 feet or less on structure, and if you have Livescope you can pick off big suspended females. Jigs are working; also minnows. Stripers are very hit-and-miss, look from Point 12 down to Prairie Creek. Brooders and shad are working. Walleye are fair. Lots of short males are available and some good females are showing still. Troll Flicker Shad at 2 mph in 8 feet or less of water. Bass are doing well on Alabama rigs and cranks. River arms holding lots of bass. Good luck and be safe.
(updated 3-25-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reports that white bass are biting fair in the river on grubs, Alabama rigs and Rooster Tails. Walleye are fair in the river on grubs, nightcrawlers and crankbaits. Crappie are good; look in 6-10 feet depth and use minnows and jigs. Focus on brushpiles or any wood as target areas. Black bass are fair; crankbaits, grubs and jerkbaits are working. No reports on catfish or bream. The water is slightly stained in the rivers, while the surface temperature is in the low 50s. Water level is normal.
(updated 3-18-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said, “With the rain we are getting, this should bring the water levels up a bit, hopefully the temperature as well. The trout bite has been great over the past few days. Most are being caught with various PowerBaits, along with Pautzke Firegel, coated on ¼-ounce spoons. Fish with light terminal tackle in the deeper holes for a better bite. As the water temperature starts to rise, we should be seeing an increase in other species. This week’s hot spot has been between Parker Bottoms and Spider Creek. Reports of white bass being caught around Beaver town. Fish an A-rig with white grubs, that should bring a few into the boat. Try looking for the schools on your graphs.
“Hope you all can get out and catch some fish. Remember to follow my Fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Guide Service) for daily and weekly updates.
War Eagle/White River
(updated 3-18-2021) Loy Lewis of War Eagle Creek Outfitting LLC says white bass fishing will really be great when water clears up from the War Eagle Mills area down to the confluence of White River by Nob Hill and then up to the Twin Bridges of White River. Bass boats and motored flat-bottom boats can usually motor up to Mills Dam, so kayaks and canoes will be better with bright colors and close to the bank. All Beaver Lake fish species will be held up by Mills Dam back down to Beaver Lake – awesome fishing!
Smallmouth bass fishing is great from Huntsville War Eagle accesses downriver to the War Eagle AGFC access, to Smallmouth Rapids north of Hindsville to the War Eagle Mill area – 38 miles of options for kayak and canoe floating with 24 miles of great smallmouth bass fishing!
Follow War Eagle Creek Outfitting LLC on Facebook for water conditions, and don’t forget the valet shuttle service offered to make floating easy and give you more time for fishing and have your vehicle at landings!
(updated 3-25-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water has cleared. Surface temperature Wednesday morning was in the low 50s. The level is back up to normal. Bream have shown up with fair catches this week. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass keep biting well on crankbaits, and jigs caught some this week. No reports yet on catfish.
Lake Fort Smith
(updated 3-25-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said Wednesday that water is slightly stained and at a normal level. Crappie are good in minnow and crankbaits. Black bass are moving to the shallows. They’ll bite crankbaits in the shallow water now. Swimbaits will work elsewhere. Channel catfish are starting to move in and be active. The catfish bite is fair. No reports on bream.
(updated 3-25-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said water is back up. They had a 48-pound flathead catfish caught on a crappie jig by Frank Bradley. Also, she says, the water temp is on the rise. Monday’s water temperature was 56 degrees. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Bass are fair using plastic worms. Catfishing is good, with anglers using worms, blood bait, stink bait and chicken liver, asFrank Bradley showed, see what happens with a crappie jig and 6-pound line.
(updated 3-25-2021) Seth Boone, the superintendent at the Lake Poinsett State Park visitor center (870-578-2064), says Lake Poinsett is filling up right now. 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 3-25-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports that the lake is “relatively clear” and the surface temperature Wednesday midmorning was 50 degrees. The lake is high by about 8 inches. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are goodon crankbaits and jerkbaits. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 3-25-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said that over the last week the recent rain has had river levels up at 460 cfs (350 cfs is average) at the spring and water clarity has been poor. On Wednesday the river was starting to clear up and the trout were biting well on streamers in white and black. At times, egg patterns with a little extra weight to get the fly down have worked well. With the river flow up, it’s all about getting down to the fish.
Stocking has ramped up with Jim Hinkle State Fish Hatchery stocking some really good-sized trout lately and higher numbers for the summer season. “A big thank-you to everyone at the hatchery for helping make the Spring River the great fishery it is. Weekly stocking keeps everyone happy with plenty of trout in the river,” Mark said.
Wading is tough at this time with the river flow up. Be careful out there. Places like Dam 3 access and Riverside Resort have easy wading areas this time of year. All campgrounds will open April 1 for the summer season. River conditions can change overnight with rain this time of year. On springriverfliesandguides.com the blog page has daily updates on river conditions. Be safe!
(updated 3-25-2021) 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 8.76 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 20.76, about 5 feet below flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is still very high at 31.17 feet, more than 5 feet above flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 3-25-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water has cleared and is at a normal level. Walleye reports have come in, with anglers reporting a fair bite using jigs, minnows and crankbaits. Bass are fair; try plastics, jigs and Baby Brush Hogs. No other reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(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 3-25-2021) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam by the City of Monticello and the AGFC is making improvements to the fish habitat while the lake is currently drawn down for the dam work.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.67 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, Millwood Lake clarity is drastically improved, and the level is about 5 inches above normal pool and falling; oxbows’ water clarity is excellent, Little River has increased stain from current. Gate discharge at the dam is around 3,200 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates is about 241 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 remained consistent this week, ranging 58-67 degrees. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood, watching for random broken or floating timber. Lots of Little River buoy markers are missing along the main lake channel. Use extreme caution in navigation on main lake.
As for the fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: They continue in a full-blown spawning mode this week on Millwood. Numerous bass beds are being seen with pre-spawn females staging and spawning. Largemouth bass are improved a little more this week with warmer daytime highs and warm southern winds.B razalo Spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse, Millwood Mayhem Bream and Spot Remover caught decent bass this week, and Chatterbaits picked up some healthy 3-5 pound largemouths this week. Most bass we are finding continue randomly roaming shallow on full sun and bright skies in the 3-6 foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 7-10 feet depth ranges. The best period this week is during the late morning. Anywhere a creek channel runs into the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, has held some decent-sized bass over the past few weeks.
Bass Assassin Shads are beginning to draw good reactions this week, with Houdini, watermelon and salt and pepper Silver Phantom being the best colors. Best colors of Bugs and Beavers for the last couple weeks were Black Neon, Grasshopper, Blackberry and Pearl Bream. Custom-poured Senkos are working on stumps and cypress trees in 3-8 feet depths. Heavy thumper tail swimbaits on a Jackhammer Chatterbait in Spot Remover or Blue Glimmer are working, and Zoom Trick Worms in black/blue, Blue Ice and Purple Smoke are catching bass. Bulky lizards in Blackberry, Blue Bayou, black/blue tail and Watermelon Candy continue taking a few good bass on flooded cypress trees, stumps, and along vegetation lines in ditches, creeks and flats from 3-8 feet deep; those bass were exploring new bedmaking locations near flooded timber and cypress trees.
* White bass: They are running a little further upriver, near mouth of McGuire and Cemetery Slough along Little River this week. Numerous white bass anglers are connecting in the 3-pound class, between Cemetery and McGuire oxbows, along the river on Rocket Shads, Little Georges, Chuck’n Spins, Rooster Tails, spoons and crankbaits. The white bass have begun their annual spawning run up Little River over the past week and are staging and moving up Little River to headwaters.
* Crappie: Much improved this week, biting minnows and jigs in oxbows of Mud and McGuire oxbow lakes up Little River. Crappie are holding in the 8-9 feet depths this week, and have not yet pulled up to spawn, but are staging to move shallow over the next week or so.
* Catfish: Continue to bite consistently in Little River on trotlines, yo-yos and limblines in the oxbows using King’s Punch Bait, chicken livers, gizzards and hot dogs.
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 542.85 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.79 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said the crappie are moving in for spawn, and now is the time to go get them.
(update 3-18-2021) Local angler Charles Abernathy says the water is warming up quickly and this is the moment that most everyone has been waiting for. Best places to start searching for spawning crappie are small protected pockets along the main river channel and main creek channels. Take one of those 2-inch grubs/Baby Shads and start chunking shallow pulling it back very slow. Fishing shallow is also a good time to use a float. This really allows you to slow your bait down and will help you be more successful. Cover some ground. When you pick one up, slow down and fish the area thoroughly. Also keep an eye on that staging brush that is shallow in the middle of those pockets (less than 10 feet). Some fish will use this brush coming in and out. Also, you have to remember all fish don’t spawn at the same time and they all don’t do it in the same place. Some fish will even spawn in the tops of shallow timbers that are unseen under the surface. You can fish brush this time of year and not even hit the bank and still be successful (I call it fishing conservatively. You’re not as likely to get skunked, but on the other hand you may not fill your lunch box, either). Just because your neighbor says they caught some up shallow and they tell you “man, they are shallow”, that doesn’t mean all of them are shallow. You still need to monitor that brush in 5-10 feet. If you have forward-looking sonar, you need to watch the open water in those spots, too.
Fishing for spawning crappie can sometimes be feast or famine depending on if you find where they are socializing. You can use that forward-looking sonar to find them in 2 feet of water. It’s harder to see but it can be done with the right settings. If you go back and review some locations in my winter reports and find the shallows in those areas you will find spawning crappie. Lennox, Cox Creek, Point Cedar, Shouse Ford and Brushy are all good starting spots. Pick one of these areas and spend the entire day fishing the area thoroughly and you will find spawning crappie.
“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 email@example.com for more info.I have a YouTube channel where I share some fishing content. Look me up. Good luck out there and be safe and be nice. With spring break here, there will be a little more traffic on the water, which may require a little more patience than normal.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 440.20 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 530.46 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 3-25-2021) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said water clarity remains muddy and the level is high. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair using minnows, jigs and shiners. Bass are good on spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Catfish are fair; use worms.
(updated 3-25-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said Wednesday the water is clear and the level is normal. Crappie are good, with anglers noting success with minnows and with Bobby Garland Jigs. Black bass are good. Try plastic worms in size 10 and 12. Catfish have produced good reports. Worms and hot dogs will work best. No bream reports.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 3-25-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 51 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has issued a 12-hour flow pattern this week to start on Friday at 10 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. 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 now refilled to normal summertime pools and will remain at these levels until mid-November. Thousands of rainbow trout are present and feeding 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. Trout are extremely difficult to catch in muddy water, and the refilling process shut down the bite for weeks. Local guides are still experiencing low catch rates of trout. It may take until April for the effects of the lake being refilled to fade.
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 in red or hot pink 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 were 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. White bass have migrated into the tailrace and are being caught on small jigs and minnows fished under a bobber. Anglers need to concentrate their efforts below the bridge in the main channel. The crappie spawn has gotten off to a slow start this season, but small catches have been reported this past week. The white bass and crappie are crowded close together in the tailrace with both species caught over sandbars and rock structure. A small minnow fished under a bobber has been the most effective method used in the early morning before the turbines come on. Larger females will migrate into the area, as the males have been present to prepare the spawning beds.
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 3-25-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said the lake is full to summer pool. “Don’t let the foul weather and water conditions stop you, the crappie bite is on and they are moving in to make babies,” he says.
(updated 3-18-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels are back to normal pool and temperatures in the mid- to high 50s. Water clarity is about 1 foot at the bottom of the lake with the warmer water, and cooler at the top end with excellent visibility of 6 feet or more. Some really heavy bags have been weighed in lately following tournaments! Bass are very scattered right now trying to adjust to the lake water levels and pre-spawning activities. There is no set pattern to the fish right now and spotted bass are mixed in with the largemouths. Our recommendation is to pick your poison and stay with it until your arm falls off. It’s classic “junk” fishing right now in most respects. Deep-diving crankbaits in shad or chartreuse have crushed many good bass over the last week. “Burning” these baits just as fast as you can reel gets reaction strikes! Others may choose a white Chatterbait or spinnerbait using the same technique. Jigs are always good in brushpiles in black and blue colors, and the white swim jig is also playing a factor.
Crappie have been good and hungry! You can find these fish absolutely piled up around bridges and in channel swings with brush on the bottom. A white or pink jig and live minnow are working wonderfully in depths of 25 feet.
Use caution when navigating the lake. Debris and trash are everywhere and especially in the main channel and back creek pockets. “Good Luck and Go Greeson! Gogreeson.com.”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 346.09 feet msl (normal pool: 342.0 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is fairly clear overall but a little muddy in the Porter Creek area. Surface temperature on Wednesday morning was 56 degrees. Lake level was normal. Crappie are good. THey are moving up toward the shoreline and biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits, with white spinners working well. Catfishing is fair on nightcrawlers and yo-yos. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 577.80 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-25-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still very good. Trap time is here, and floating worm bite is starting to pick up. Walleye are fair and being caught on Shad Raps and jerkbaits over points on the river channels. Stripers are excellent. These fish are being caught on live bait and Alabama rigs.
Bream are fair and are picking up on worms and crickets. Crappie are fair to good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 12-20 feet of water. Catfish are fair and being caught on limblines and trotlines with live or cut bait. Water temperature is ranging 52-60 degrees. The clarity is stained. Lake level is 577.80 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 388.23 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge at 27.21 feet, more than a foot above flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 3-25-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) says crappie fishing has been tough as the crappie have scattered with the recent rise in water temperature. Crappie are still being caught in the deep water. Look at 10-12 feet depth. The fishing is slow for bass. A few catfish are being caught shallow.
(updated 3-25-2021) 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, but the parking lot is flooded and the White River at Clarendon remains over flood stage. Check in with the Education Center to see when it reopens, when water has receded. In the meantime, Wil urges anglers to “go catch some fish” at another public pond or lake near you.
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 report 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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