Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Nov. 9, 2023
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
Juan Rodriguez was fishing the White River east of Springdale on Saturday, Nov. 4, when he caught this striped bass. Rodriguez reports that it weighed 21 pounds and measured 30 inches in length.
Reports are updated weekly, although some reports may be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news.
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
Download the Fish Brain app and follow AGFC at: https://join.fishbrain.com/agfc-page
For the most up-to-date lake level, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Conway water level site.
(updated 11-9-2023) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) is back open Thursday (Nov. 9) after 11 days being closed with no power at the store from a fallen pole. All is well now, though. And there is still a lot of water left in the lake. “Whatever you want to catch you can come catch right now. Plenty of them, too,” they say.
Crappie are biting on jigs, while some anglers are catching them on minnows. Some anglers report catching 70-80 crappie. Anglers can still put in at the dam or launch from Adams Lake. Bass are biting on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Catfish will bite anything you throw in the water.
Little Red River
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Greers Ferry Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website or by calling (501) 362-5150). Also check the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecast generation schedule.
(updated 11-9-2023) Mike Winkler of Little Red River Fly Fishing Trips/Little Red River Fly Guides (501-507-3688) said the Southwestern Power Administration has not been running any water this past week. The river is extremely low. The river has been fishing well even with no flow to it. “I’ve been launching the boat at Lobo Landing and fishing the deeper sections of the river. With no generation, try fishing the deep water that has moss beds in it. The fish have been concentrated near the moss beds; cast near the moss. Give it time to fish, and if nothing bites, then cast every 6-8 feet and keep the boat moving to cover more ground.
“The bite has been light so set the hook on anything that looks like a bite. I’ve been fishing pink San Juan worms and egg patterns. Midges have also been working well.”
(updated 11-9-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said little water is being released from the dam lately, and none had been moved in the last four days up to Thursday; with very low water, the bank fishing and wade opportunities have been good. There is little to no water to access by boat. But there has been rough water to set up for great wade fishing opportunities using the AGFC walk-in areas such as JFK Park, Libby, Swinging Bridge and Cow Shoals, all the way to Pangburn bridge.
Trout anglers are mostly catching them on Carolina-rigged PowerBait or on a small Rooster Tail or a small Little Cleo (or small spoon) and a Maribou Jig (anything in olive or white has worked well lately).
(updated 10-26-2023) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-250-0730) had no new reports. Always check the generation schedule and be aware of unexpected water release. Check before heading to the Little Red River for Greers Ferry Dam water release by downloading the USACE Little Rock app, 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
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Greers Ferry Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 453.99 feet msl, which is 8.05 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl. Right now is a great time to check out the lay of land that’s usually underwater — film it or mark it for later when water gets back up so it can help you understand how the fish set up on the lake for you to catch later. Also, stay away from the tannic-colored water as it is probably in process of turning over and usually it is about two weeks before the fish will settle and eat well again. While out, wear your life jackets and be safe.
A lot of baitfish have gathered up in the mouths of certain creeks and rivers, while some are in the backs of them. It will not be the same place every year, so check different ones each year for best results and stay around shad for best catching.
Crappie are as high as 4-5 feet, floating around the surface in places, while in other places they are still in 40 feet. Pick your favorite way to catch them and stay with the program with jigs or jigs tipped with minnow. Crankbaits are working as well. Still no reports on catfish other than they are following baitfish around, eating what other fish spit up all over the lake and rivers. Jug fishing is a good way to go. Black bass are super shallow out to suspended over 80 feet or sitting on structure in 43 feet. The top, middle and bottom of the water column are working with a lot of different baits. Walleyes are still eating — finding them is the ticket now. Drag crawlers in 15-45 feet for best results, or use a spoon. Hybrid bass and white bass are scattered all over the lake and rivers feeding pretty well, and it will be even better soon. They are on top at times, while some are trying to get settled in at 33 feet and most are trying to reach 43 feet depth. When they first get out of deep water they will act kind of crazy for a while until they get settled down on structure they like, close to bait and in the right water conditions. Use spoons, inline spinners, swimbaits and hair jigs for best results and stay around baitfish.
(updated 11-9-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said fishing patterns seem to be the same as they have been for a few weeks. Bass are hitting topwaters mostly. They’re starting to move into the creeks. They’re being found mostly on secondary points and biting there on topwaters and shad-looking baits. Also try a drop-shot around brush for some response. Crappie are also hungry around the brush in 15-20 feet. Some anglers are catching crappie by trolling Bandit crankbaits. No reports on walleye.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 10-26-2023) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says crappie are moving in and the bite is fair, with the good bite probably still two weeks out, according to anglers. Crappie are being caught before daylight on minnows and Bobby Garland Crappie Jigs. Some catches have been nice-sized, around 14.5 inches. They are being caught just off the shoreline or off the dock next to the bait shop. Also, some boating anglers are catching a few out in the lake.
Catfish of all species are pretty good right now. Most people are catching cats on trotlines baited with minnows or baby bream. The biggest catfish brought in was around 12 pounds. Also, anglers who were trying for crappie off the shoreline were also hooking white bass. Largemouth bass are slow but also should pick up in a couple of weeks. However, one angler did have good success this week using soft-plastic purple worms at night.
The water level is a little bit low.
(updated 10-26-2023) John “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Landing off Arkansas Highway 9 said the water level is about 2.5 feet low. Clarity is murky and the surface water temperature is around 78 degrees. Bream are being caught on redworms and crickets. Bass are doing well on crankbaits and plastic worms off the pier and shoreline in the early morning. Catfish are being caught on yo-yos and jugs using minnows. Crappie are slow but anglers are catching some good ones in 8-10 feet of water using small and medium-sized minnows. Some rain and cooler weather should pick things up.
“Come see us at Overcup Bait Shop off Highway 9,” he said.
(updated 11-2-2023) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported Thursday that fishing has been slow this week on Lake Maumelle and there hasn’t been anyone to ask about how their fishing went. The only word around the dock is that everything is slow and the fish are scattered. Water level is 4.5 low, too. Water temperature has dropped into the mid-60s.
Before this cold spate this week, the largemouth bass bite had slowed down to fair, with the best bite in the mornings and evenings. The bass were found shallow but scattered, with some hitting topwater baits. Also try using crankbaits, Rat-L-Trap-style baits, square bills and shaky heads. Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) were also fair with reports of them being found at all depths and scattered. Some anglers reported catching them in 10-15 feet off rocky points. Shaky heads and jigs were best baits to use. White bass were slow but are reported chasing balls of shad. Crappie were good before the cold chased anglers off the lake; they were around brush in 16-18 feet on jigs and minnows. Bream were slow, but the ones being caught are anywhere from 8 to 15 feet deep on crickets or redworms. Catfish were slow but still were taking to bream, liver and worms.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
For the real-time water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam and Morrilton stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 11-2-2023) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) reported, while he was fishing from the dock for crappie, said the crappie were biting well. Anglers are catching quite a few. One group went out and caught some bass. But crappie is the main thing right now, he said. The water has cooled off a bunch. Ray personally was using a blue/white jig and some of the Bobby Garland jigs in pink colors, but most anglers he spoke with were using minnows. The crappie are biting at 6-8 feet.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
For the real-time water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
For the real-time water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam and David D. Terry Lock and Dam, as well as the Little Rock pool stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) says fishing in the river has not changed in weeks. The colder weather coming will change things. For now, though, bass fishing has been good for catching numbers of bass — not the biggest fish in the world, but lots of numbers — most are being caught on a topwater like a buzzbait or Whopper Plopper. It’s kind of more of a midmorning/midafternoon bite now (not early morning as before). The majority of the day, anglers are throwing something like a square bill crankbait in a shad color around rocks. Also, a chartreuse/white or white spinnerbait will work around rocks, and a Texas-rigged creature bait and a finesse jig also are having success. All of the fishing is focused on the main river now, with fish relating to rocks and wood. There is no particular area of focus right now, though.
Crappie have been biting pretty well on the backside of jetties on white/chartreuse and chartreuse crappie jigs. Anglers are catching them in around 8 feet of water.
When the water drops below 60 degrees, fishing patterns will change like a light switch, they say.
(updated 11-9-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “After the arctic snap passed through last week, we had a gorgeous second summer with beautiful mild days, cool nights and amazing creel fills of colorful rainbow trout. The next few days will remain relatively mild but the nighttime lows will begin to feel more like November. Bull Shoals Lake is 6 feet below the targeted power pool of 659 feet msl, and releases from the dam are reflecting the lower lake level with less than one unit flowing around the clock.
“Low water means fewer places for our trout to hide, but it is also a little tougher to get to their hidey-holes and motoring requires more finesse. Even though November sees a significant decrease in traffic on the White River, all anglers — boaters and waders — will need to add patience to their river tackle and give each other space to maneuver.
“Successful catches this week started with mid-action spinners (Vibrax Blue Foxes were a hit, sliver with a blue blade or standard gold) and spoons (the always popular blue-silver Thomas Buoyant). If you prefer bait, the guides are using lots of nightcrawlers and backing them up with shrimp and orange or sunrise egg patterns. Pink and or red scented worms attracted a fair share of rainbows. We’re seeing healthy, good-sized rainbows with a lot of color, red cheeks and bright pink stripes.
The browns are not immune to bait now even during the spawn season, but they’re mostly striking in an attempt to get rid of the annoyance. Dangle a sculpin and you’ll get more attention.
“Thanksgiving weekend is just around the corner so we’ll be seeing more visitors to the area and an increase in river traffic. Additional care is called for along with those open arms welcoming visiting family and friends. We have a big river, wonderfully tended by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with lots of trout, and enough room for every type and size of angler who visits. We look forward to seeing you and sharing fishing stories.”
(updated 11-9-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that after the muddy water early last week the river cleared up nicely and fishing has been good. For most of the week we saw water slowly dropping as low as 3 feet Tuesday morning then rising again to 5 feet Tuesday evening. The water dropped again to around 3 feet between Tuesday and Wednesday. When the water was low and clear we saw a lot of fish caught using quarter-ounce nickel/gold Colorado Spoons. Rapala Countdowns CD7s in rainbow trout or silver also worked well where gravel bars dropped off into deeper holes. We have heard from some of the anglers of some very nice rainbows and brown trout being seen. Uncommon Baits Ultra Violet neon pink eggs with shrimp worked well.
“The weather has been nice but going into the weekend expect to see lows in the upper 30s with highs in the lower 60s. Deer modern rifle season starts this weekend and it would be good to hunt in the morning and then take advantage of the warmer afternoons to catch some trout.”
(updated 11-9-2023) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said that during the past week they had no rain events, cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) changing into warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 foot to rest at 6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 4.2 feet below power pool and 18.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 6.6 feet below power pool and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had less wadable water with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31 to protect the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
John said, “On the White, the hot spot has been Buffalo Shoals. We have had lower flows that have fished well. The hot flies were Y2Ks, Prince Nymphs, Zebra Midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan Worms, gold ribbed Hare’s Ears and Sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a pheasant tail (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).”
John also said, “Frugal is defined as the economical use of one’s money or resources. My heritage is Scots-Irish, which is noted for being frugal. My previous career as a certified public accountant is well known as a frugal path of life.
“Twenty-three years ago I decided to change my career from accounting to trout guiding. I therefore implemented a plan to sell my house in Memphis, quit my job at Ducks Unlimited and relocate to Cotter to be a professional trout bum at the tender age of 53. I bought an old fixer-upper craftsman bungalow for $38,000 and set about restoring it, doing most of the work myself. I also decided to do as much as possible of the ongoing maintenance, like grass mowing and painting.
“I drive my automobiles as long as possible. When I moved here, I had a Volvo station wagon that I had bought used for $7,000. I put 380,000 miles on it before I sold it for $1,000. The word in Cotter is, don’t buy a used car from John Berry. I then acquired a used Suburban that I got 250,000 miles out of it before I sold it. I am now driving a new-to-me Suburban with over 200,000 miles. I buy good used cars and take care of them.
“I acquired most of my fishing gear through pro purchase programs. My best buy was my Temple Fork Outfitter signature two-piece, 5-weight, 9-foot rod. I bought four of them ($36 each) and have used them continuously for over 20 years as client rods. They cast as well as any of my high-dollar personal rods. They have a lifetime warranty that I have tested several times over the years. I keep them in my car, and my wife, Lori, and I use them more often than we do our fancy rods. They have landed innumerable big trout on Dry Run Creek without a problem. Never buy a rod without a warranty or you personally casting it for a while.
“I paired these rods with Orvis Battenkill reels made in England. They were spectacular buys at $80. When Orvis quit producing them, I acquired more at fishing shows or eBay. They are tough and reliable with a good disk drag system that will turn a brown. They come with a lifetime warranty.
“When I first started guiding, I applied for pro purchase programs for the big outdoor clothing companies. I was included in Patagonia, Mountain Khaki, Orvis and Simms programs, which allowed me to buy all of my fishing clothing at a significant discount. I then discovered that I could buy all of this gear much cheaper slightly used on eBay. I quit most of the pro purchase programs and now buy almost all my clothing there.
“Being frugal is a good way to save money that could be used for a deluxe fishing trip.”
Bull Shoals Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Bull Shoals Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level was 652 feet msl, some 7 feet below normal pool, and water temperature was back up to 65 degrees. “Bass fishing has been up and down like the weather. Be sure to fish the conditions. It’s a mixed bag; you can catch ’em a bunch of different ways without one being better than the other! Powerfish if it’s cloudy and windy. I’m gonna with Chatterbait, spinnerbait and square bill in the stained water. I use a red Rock Crawler to target windy, steep transition banks. If it’s sunny, flat and bluebirds, pull the Robo drop-shot back out.
“Or target the shad eaters. They were getting grouped up in the creeks, then the water warmed up and they spread back out. There are wads three-quarters back out in the channel. I have found groups busting the surface down to 40 feet.
“Graph, graph, graph! Graphing can pay off. Get around bait and fish whatever is available: piles, ledges, swings, etc. A Beaver, A Texas Cowboy on a wobble shaky head worm in green pumpkin, and a Jewel Jig in green pumpkin orange with red highlights are working for me. I seem to need to have some color in the water for this bite to be good. They seem to be holding on ledges shallow if it’s cloudy, or in the 15- to 20-foot range while not munching shad.
“Most days you’re gonna have to work for them. There are mega schools of fish grouping up demolishing shad, but videogame fish can be tough to fool. Try a small shad swimbait, or a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad. The Jewel Scuba Spoon or Rapala Ice Jig is also working for me if the shad are on the bottom. Every day is different, so fish the conditions.
“Walleye are in the deep trees and humps around 50-60 feet. Crappie picking up. Anglers are hopping brush piles working for them; stay off of them and try a crappie minnow under a float.
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Norfork Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort and Boat Rental said Wednesday night that the lake level was 553.33 feet msl and creeping up slowly with no discharge but minimum flow for over a week. The White River at Newport is 3.83 feet and dropping, indicating not much water is being released anywhere on the area lakes. “The surface water temperature was 67 degrees at dark (Tuesday) evening and I could see my lure down about 6-7 feet in the sunshine. The lake overall is in excellent condition and at a good level and fishing is improving.
Walleye are starting to bite in the late evening on a swimbait on shadowy banks, and the temperate bass are schooled and starting to feed in open water on spoons. A few crappie and black bass are still on the main lake brush in 18-25 feet of water but a little slow biting.
“It still looks good for a Thanksgiving fishing trip on Norfork Lake with the full moon on Nov. 27, which should move the stripers to the banks in the Cranfield Area and near the walleye rearing pond entrance at dark on the stick bait. Also try on the bank north of Thumb Point. Fish for walleye before dark and switch to stripers at dark. Make sure your 5-inch stick bait is running true before it gets too dark to see. The water is not cooling yet, but will with the cold front moving in; the fish sense when it is going to do so and start feeding. Cold water does not make the fish start feeding. It is not great yet, but is getting better — and it needed, too.”
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily update.
(updated 11-9-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he posts fishing reports almost every day on Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page, and what follows was published on Nov. 8:
“It looks like the beginning of the fall bite has begun. All species are starting to feed heavily as they typically do before the cold winter season. Our guests can see the fish activity getting better each day. The striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass have started to school up and can be found in shallow water out to about 50 feet of water. If you are out fishing very early in the morning, start checking out shallow water, less than 20 feet, and as the sun gets higher overhead the fish move out into deeper water. This whole pattern is based on where the bait is located. Check out large flats and also big round main lake points. If you are fishing in the afternoon, the fish will still be out in deeper water. The current magic water depth appears to be around 50 feet. At sunset the fish typically move up in the water column and also toward the shore following the bait. Fish will also be back in the major creeks, assuming the bait migrates into them.
“This is the time of year that the fish can and will be in many different types of locations. It takes a little time graphing, but once you find them you will have a blast. John and Joe, a couple of our guests, caught over 25 jumbo white bass Wednesday morning vertical jigging a 1-ounce spoon. Mike and Craig, two guests, told me they have caught all the predator species in the lake except for a smallmouth.”
The surface water temp is around 65 degrees and the lake is holding stable at normal seasonal pool of 553.3 feet msl. The lake is fairly clear to slightly stained back in coves. “It is going to be a lot of fun fishing Norfork Lake over the next several months. If you are needing a place to stay, give us a call at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, 870-492-5113 for reservations. Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
(updated 11-9-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
The most productive flies on the tailwater have been small midge patterns like Zebra Midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-head nymph (Zebra Midge, Copper John or Pheasant Tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan Worm and a Ruby Midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better despite a lot of fishing pressure. School is in session and weekdays are not as crowded. The hot flies have been Sowbugs, various colored San Juan Worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white mop flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 11-9-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing well but are very low. With moderate temperatures, the smallmouth bass are more active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Beaver Lake Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake sits at 1,113.89 feet msl and continues its slow drop. Water temps as of Tuesday were in the low 60s. “Fishing has kind of sputtered a bit. That, I promise, will change. When the water drops into the mid-50s, that fall bite will resume.
“As you know it has been record warmth these last five days. Lake color is getting to that good greenish color that I love. Stripers are scattering from one end to the other. Fish have been caught as far north as Point 2 and south to Camp War Eagle. So, that being said, if stripers are your target you must move and rely on your electronics. Walleye are doing their disappearing act that always happens this time of the year. Crappie are still on flats suspended and on brush in 5-15 feet of water. The mid-lake area to upriver arms are producing. Jigs and minnows will work. Bass are hit and miss.
“Again my warnings to all boaters that there are lots of hazardous areas you may have forgotten. Be careful and good luck!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 11-9-2023) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said activity is all right if you like deer, saying jokingly that anglers are carrying crossbows in their boats for the deer, and this weekend they will move to rifle.
Seriously, for fishing, it’s only about fair on Beaver Lake, they report, and there is very little pressure on the fish with outdoors folks seemingly more focused on hunting. “Pressure is very light and it has been all fall,” they tell us. “Nothing is really exceptional with the fishing.”
Crappie are fair and are right around brush piles. Stripers have moved into the river arms and they’re being caught on live bait. There are reports of a little topwater action; it’s a hodge-podge of patterns but again, it’s all been very light. Bass fishing is also fair, but there is a bite at 15-20 feet on jigs. “We ought to get a really good spinnerbait bite soon for a couple of weeks and then they will go deep and silent, staying under the shad.”
When the temperature gets around 60 degrees, the bass in Beaver Lake will get very active on the shad like they are feeding up for the winter, they say. But for now, anglers are just throwing various baits, with some resembling shad and others being jigs.
“You can catch fish, but nothing is really on. That’s typical for the fall here. There is low interest.”
(updated 10-26-2023) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says the fishing this past week has been off and on. Water temperature has been around 50 degrees and the water level has dropped a little. Trout have been really responsive to Pautzke Fire Worms and Fire Baits, fished with light terminal tackle. The Fire Worms have done best with drifting. The walleye bite has been up and down as well, but it is still there, mainly between Beaver town and Holiday Island. Pulling mid-diving crankbaits, coated in Pautzke Fire Gel, has been the preferred method.
Remember to follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for day-to-day updates between reports. Have fun, stay safe and catch some fish!
(updated 11-9-2023) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) had no new reports.
(updated 11-9-2023) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said guests saw some nice bass coming out of the lake over the weekend, but she was not told of the baits used. The November weather so far has been amazing and great for fishing, both in fish responding and anglers getting out on Lake Charles before winter arrives. Sunday’s water temperature was 56.4 degrees and the lake level was high. Bream are fair on worms and jigs. Shelly suggests jigs or stick worms and soft plastic worms for bass bites. No reports on crappie or catfish. Look for best “moon times” to be running now through Nov. 16. There should be some good days based on those forecasts Nov. 29-30.
(updated 11-9-2023) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, had no new report this week, but had reported lately that Lake Poinsett was doing well with black bass and some crappie. The bass were biting well around the lily pads and the crappie are a bit deeper with live bait. Bream were still biting, but have been more active early in the morning and right before dusk. Catfish were doing outstanding on just about anything at night.
(updated 11-9-2023) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been running at 250 cfs and water clarity has been clear. The river has been very low and clear for a while now, making for a little more technical fishing on some days. Lighter tippet and sometimes smaller flies can be the trick on the tough days. Hopper droppers are working with eggs and nymphs as droppers. Leaves in the river can still be troublesome this week. They should all fall through this week.
’Tis the season for the big fish of the Spring to start moving with the cold weather moving in. “And we have been catching some bigger rainbows and browns with the cooler temps. Minnow patterns and eggs patterns have been working for the browns and bigger ’bows. Wading has been easier with the low water conditions. It has been difficult floating the river in some areas; we could really benefit from some rain.”
The spotted bass and smallmouth bass have been biting great in the clear water conditions. Streamers/Clousers have been working for the bass, with smallies hitting the streamers and at times biting on nymphs below a Hopper Dropper.
This time of year is nice on the Spring with little pressure from fishers and the canoe rentals are closed for the season, except for Riverside Resort that is open year-round for camping through the fall season. Be safe wading, the rocks are still very slick.
(updated 11-9-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff; there is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash, cerise and hot pink San Juan Worms and Y2Ks.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time gauge level and flow from the White River stages at Batesville, Newport and Augusta and all other sites within the White River basin in Arkansas, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
For the real-time water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam and Maynard Lock and Dam, as well as the Pine Bluff pool stage level, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no reports this week. The most recent word they had from the Pine Bluff Pool in recent weeks was that black bass were biting well on spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, shallow-running crankbaits and lipless crankbaits in shad/chrome colors, especially near woody cover and docks/piers. Windy banks tend to produce better than slack ones.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 11-9-2023) Stephanie Clingenpeel, seasonal park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no new reports.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Millwood Lake Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Wednesday, lake elevation is 5 inches above normal pool due to recent rainfall, but is falling. Gate release at the Millwood Dam is about 3,875 cfs. Up Little River from White Cliffs to Cossatot inflow from Wilton Landing remains more heavily stained. There is increased river flow rate and current. Tailwater elevation is near 239 feet msl and rising with gate discharge at the dam. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s webpage linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website (linked under Millwood Lake above) for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Watch for random floaters and broken timber during any navigation on Little River and Millwood Lake.
Surface temps rose this week, ranging 65-69 degrees along Little River depending on location and the time of day. Clarity along Little River heavily stained to muddy in many locations, and is worse further up Little River, with river clarity ranging 5-10 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity of oxbows will vary widely from heavy stain to good clarity; visibility ranges 10-15 inches, up to 3 feet visibility in a few locations away from river flow.
NOTE: The Millwood State Park MARINA HAS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON; Marina and will reopen in March 2024. The Millwood State Park IS OPEN for camping, and the State Park Office can be reached at 870-898-2800 for availability or additional information. USACE Campgrounds ARE OPEN for camping. USACE parks/campgrounds current status, information and reservations may be made by calling (877) 444-6777 or the Millwood Tri-Lakes office at 870) 898-3343.
Mike had these specifics on the Millwood Lake fishing for this week:
* For several weeks the juvenile and adolescent/young adult black bass have been randomly schooling and surface-breaking in numerous locations along Little River and the oxbows. Bass feeding periods continue to shift to later in the day from mid-morning up until noon, but they continue randomly schooling into the early afternoon, mainly in the oxbows along Little River from Mud Lake all the way upriver to Brown’s Slough. We found several schools of adolescent-aged largemouth and yearling spotted bass schooling over the past few weeks in Mud, Horseshoe and McGuire oxbows on shad. These schooling juveniles and adolescents will bust a tandem-rigged Bass Assassin Shad or Cordell Crazy Shad on the surface, then alternating with a shallow-diving custom-painted Little John Square Bill Crankbait, Bill Lewis Lures Mag Trap in three-quarter-ounce, or Echo 1.75 Square Bill Crankbait, and Rat-L-Trap Spin Traps with a tail spinner.
Most bass are ranging 2-3 pounds, and schooling activity continues. We connected with some largemouth, spots and white bass in the early morning on Cordell Jigging Spoons all in various groups following shad schools along the river. Anywhere a creek channel dumps into Little River, the mouths of the creeks are holding various-sized schools of largemouths or spots. Along Little River just north of Hurricane Creek dump, there have been a few good schools of schooling largemouth and juvenile spotteds chasing shad. These schooling bass were hitting chrome/blue or Millwood Magic Spin Traps, Sexy Prism, Millwood Magic and Silver Tennessee Shad-colored Rat-L-Traps after the surface-breaking slowed for another 5-10 minutes at a time.
Best color of Shad Assassins with current water clarity is Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom in the lily pads when bass are busting shad on the flats. We were able to catch several nice bass over the past few weeks by finessing a short-arm H&H Spinnerbait and a Rocketshad in the lily pads on flats near vertical drops into 9-12 feet of depth.
Small Bill Lewis Lures Spin Traps continue working on randomly schooling juvenile bass at various locations. After about 10-11 a.m., bass will randomly respond to Little John custom-painted Millwood Magic crankbaits, a Bill Lewis ATV Square Bill, Echo 1.75 Crankbait and three-quarter-ounce Mag Trap Rat-L-Trap. The oxbows continue providing best water clarity in many locations. Flats next to deep creeks and secondary points with any fresh grass growth, new lily pad blooms and vegetation will coax an ambush bite on an ATV Square Bill or Echo 1.75 Square Bill after the topwater bite subsides late in the morning.
In McGuire oxbow up Little River over the past few weeks, we tied into a few decent 12- to 15-inch bass on a Bandit 200 or Bandit 300 Crankbait in Splatterback yellow belly colors, while a Rat-L-Trap with a tail spinner and an MR-6 crankbait picked up a few random bites. Best colors of Traps and MR-6 Crankbaits were Millwood Magic, Ghost Minnow and Sneaky Shad.
* White bass continue random schooling and surface-breaking chasing threadfin shad in oxbows with the Kentucky bass and largemouth bass near grass mats and extended points breaking off into deep water, where the points drop into 12-20 feet depth with stumps present. These whites were hitting our custom-painted Little John Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Bandit 200 or 300 Crankbaits in Splatterback yellow belly, or Rat-L-Trap Spin Traps. Several different schools of whites were feeding in oxbows from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., breaking on shad at the surface, and the biggest part of the school was between 5-10 feet of depth while we were casting to them. Once the surface-breaking subsided, we were able to coax another 5-10 good bites from the school by switching to a Rat-L-Trap MR6 Crankbait, or a magnum-size three-quarter-ounce Rat-L-Trap in Silverado color, or an ATV Square Bill. The majority of these white bass were feeding aggressively, and ranged from around 2 to 3 pounds each.
* The crappie bite has been very good over the past week, and was best using minnows one and jigs the next in brush piles at 10-18 feet depth. Catches were up to 2 pounds.
* Blue catfish and channel cats are fair to good on trotlines in Little River using chicken livers, gizzards, blood bait and Danny King’s Punch Bait with cottonseed mill cake. Set trotlines at 8-12 feet depth, based on what catfish anglers told us.
* No report on bream.
(updated 11-9-2023) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) has not had any reports of late, but crappie should be biting well now, and catfish have been biting good to excellent all year. The Lake Erling Guide Service store is open daily, 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 p.m. on weekends. Also check out Friends of Lake Erling on Facebook for more information and photos, too.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
For the most updated Narrows Dam generation schedule from SWEPCO, click here.
For the most updated lake level at Lake Greeson, click here.
For the most updated lake level at DeGray Lake, click here.
(updated 11-2-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said crappie are still hanging around these fall season depths (12-20 feet), but slowly moving into a winter pattern deeper in the channels. Bass, of all species, can be found schooling on their morning feed. Run and gun. Don’t stay too long in one area where you don’t see surface-feeding fish. Stay warm and safe.
(updated 10-26-2023) Randy Plyler with Plyler Outdoors Guide Service (870-210-0522) said DeGray action is on fire with water temperature ranging 72-76 degrees. Bass fishing has been great on topwater. Watch for fish schooling early in the morning through midday. When they stop schooling, just watch your LiveScope and when you see them you can vertically drop a spoon on them. White bass have been schooling along with the blacks but have been below the largemouth and spots and can be caught on spoons. Hybrids are being caught on topwater out over deeper water.
No reports on crappie
Randy adds, “Book your trip today to get some of the best action you can get.”
De Queen Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from De Queen Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow report from Dierks Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
South Central Arkansas
White Oak Lake Area
West Central Arkansas
(updated 11-9-2023) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-264-0851) said that when it was cool a few days ago, anglers were catching some good-sized crappie and a few black bass. When it warmed up, however, the crappie were deep. Wednesday and Thursday, he said, it was raining all day.
“If it gets cold like they’re saying, the shad should be moving into the coves and the crappie should follow them into the coves too. It depends on getting that cold front in,” he said. He adds that the water will be up a little bit, and that will be good. “It’s a cold rain, and that is good, too.”
For catching those crappie, anglers should use minnows, or go with jigs in any combination of chartreuse.
Lake Catherine Tailwater (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 11-9-2023) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that the winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine began Nov. 1 and should be completed sometime on Saturday (Nov. 11). Incorrect information was given out on this report the past several weeks stating that no set date had been given for this annual process. The public is urged to download the new Entergy Hydro-Operations page that gives out up-to-date information on all things concerning lake news. A 5-foot drawdown has been scheduled for both lakes and will be in place until early March, when the refilling process will begin.
Water temperature below Carpenter Dam has fallen to 53 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. This dropping water level with the drawdown creates a dangerous environment for boaters, as many underwater obstructions come into play for anglers attempting to navigate the tailrace. Extreme caution is advised for boaters and wade anglers alike during this time.
Finally, the fall trout season will begin with the first stocking of rainbow trout going into Lake Catherine this week, with 1,400 fish scheduled to be released below the dam. These fish will bring life to the tailrace despite the low water conditions and will provide quality fishing opportunities for the general public as the fall season kicks into gear. Fly-fishermen can now access areas that hold hungry trout in current or slackwater conditions. Casting egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator is a proven technique early in the season as trout are searching for prey and areas to rest from the heavy current. Olive-colored Woolly Buggers are always a good choice along with San Juan Worms in red or hot pink. It’s always a guessing game early in the fall as fish move in and out of areas and prey items change according to the weather. Bank fishermen can use PowerBait in white, yellow or orange, taking advantage of the fact that rainbow trout have an inborn instinct to feed on fish eggs. Nightcrawlers cut into small pieces will also work well under a bobber or fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Using a variety of these proven techniques give anglers a big edge for success until one method proves superior to the rest. Numbers and size of rainbow trout will increase as the season moves through December and dramatically increase with the beginning of the new year.
Always wear a lifejacket when on the water and remember to follow all park and lake regulations when visiting Carpenter Dam.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ outflow and gauge level reports from Dardanelle, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-9-2023) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) reported that the weather warming in recent days put a slowdown on the fish. They were about to get on a roll and Mother Nature threw a wrench in it. But you can still catch them. Water temperatures are in the 60s. Water clarity is fair, still a lot of dingy. The upper parts of the creeks are starting to clear. Bass fishing is fair. A good Rat-L-Trap bite is found in some of the creeks, a jig bite around rocks, and bluff ends are good for a spinnerbait bite around vegetation. They are really picky about their colors that you use, though.
Crappie are scattered in some of the creeks. But in others they are congregated. “The best bite is still in around 8 feet of water. But I have run across a few trees out in the river in 20 feet of water that were also loaded. You need to make a cast at the shallow fish. On other days you can get over them. The deep river fish are the ones that you want to go after if you are dropping straight down to them. Monkey Milk and Cajun Cricket are good jig colors, as well as pink green — those have been the colors doing the best.”
White bass are on some of the main river points on the deep side. Small Rat-L-Traps, crappie jigs and spoons have been working well on them. Stripers are below the dams and on some of the jetties. Large Rat-L-Traps and swimbaits are working well.
Bream are on some of the river points on trees, but the bigger ones are on the jetties. Look for grass. Catfish have been biting really well. Several have been caught on bass jigs in and around the creeks, and along the bluff. Try fishing around a persimmon tree. Live bait is best for the flatheads, cut bait for your blue cat (skipjack is working well), and worms are working well for your channel cats in the creeks and in the backwater.
(updated 11-9-2023) Philip Kastner of Trader Bill’s Outdoors in Little Rock and Hot Springs said on the weekly “Wild Side Show” on KABZ-FM, 103.7 The Buzz that the lake is being drawn down now for its annual 5-feet winter drop, and the key for anglers is the crawfish migration and how that will get the black bass going. “Crawfish don’t have a choice but to follow the lake line as they drop (the lake).” He says that Lake Hamilton, fished now with a crawfish colored crankbait, “is a 10.”
“If you’re going to go fishing in the next two or three weeks, Lake Hamilton is it because you only get one time a year when you know a schedule when they’re going to drop the level 5 feet, so Hamilton this weekend, next weekend, is going to be an incredible time to go throw a crawfish-colored crankbait on the rocks or a spinnerbait in newly exposed brush.”
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow reports from Nimrod Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 11-2-2023) Sheila Ferrebee, owner of Carter Cove Bait-N-More (479-272-4025), said the fishing is going great, particularly crappie and catfish. Look for crappie under the shad. One catfish angler caught a 56-pounder and another caught a 52-pounder, both flatheads. They were both fishing for crappie with minnows, and one had a crappie on the line and the flathead joined in the catch —- three fish on one hook.
Carter Cove has a Facebook page and the email address is email@example.com, with photos and video of those two aforementioned catfish catches. Stop in for live bait, tackle, cabin rentals, pizza, burgers, sandwiches and more.
For the current lake level at Blakely Dam, click here.
(updated 11-9-2023) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out-of-state) said black bass are good. Try your favorite topwater bait early or late; a finesse worm or crawfish on a drop-shot will produce some nice spotted bass, too. Still no reports this week on walleye. Stripers are fair. These fish are being caught in the central portions of the lake and can be caught on live bait. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair and being caught on small jigs. Try brush and structure 20-25 feet deep. Catfish are still fair on rod-and-reel with crawlers or cut bait. Jugs and trotlines with live or cut bait are working well, too. Water temperature was holding steady in the 62- to 68-degree range. Water clarity is clear. The lake level continues to inch up, and was 568.72 feet msl on Wednesday, a little more than 9 feet below normal level. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 11-2-2023) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) said he has been fishing DeGray Lake and Lake Ouachita recently and is seeing similar patterns at those lakes. Crappie are still hanging around these fall season depths (12-20 feet), but slowly moving into a winter pattern deeper in the channels. Bass, of all species, can be found schooling on their morning feed. Run and gun. Don’t stay too long in one area where you don’t see surface-feeding fish. Stay warm and safe.
Blue Mountain Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time lake level and outflow reports from Blue Mountain Lake, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
White River/Clarendon Area
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time gauge level and flow from Clarendon, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
White River/Arkansas River (Pool 2)
(updated 11-9-2023) Webb’s Sporting Goods (870-946-0347) in DeWitt reports that crappie are biting well in the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge lakes.
(updated 11-2-2023) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said the water temperature was 68 degrees as of Saturday. The water was a little dingy, but it looked like the lake had turned over, and it should continue to clear, especially with the cold temperatures coming in this week. Crappie are being found in 10-15 feet depth and are setting up a late fall/early winter pattern. Fish are aggressive and biting hard. Electric chicken was the color used for casting or jigging.
There were no reports on bream, bass or catfish.
(updated 11-9-2023) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Nature Center (501-404-2321) says Cook’s Lake is now closed to fishing through February and will serve as a rest area for migrating waterfowl.
For information, please call the center at 501-404-2321.
Note: msl is mean sea level; cfs is cubic feet per second.
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