Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
April 8, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for April 8, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Latest AGFC Work Enhances Opportunities
The coronavirus pandemic may have all but emptied the Little Rock headquarters of employees for the time being, but work by AGFC technicians and biologists around the state continues on to make fishing excellent in The Natural State.
Quite a bit of news has come by the Fishing Report editor’s desk lately concerning efforts by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Division, including work that will enhance the fishing in various spots around the state:
* The fisheries staff sprayed herbicide at Lake June in southwest Arkansas this week to combat alligatorweed and other aquatic vegetation crowding the shoreline. This will open up more bank fishing opportunities in the coming weeks, especially around the boat launch and Dr. Maya Angelou Memorial Park.
* The Rural Development Authority of Columbia County, taking the technical advice of AGFC Fisheries and with approval from the Arkansas Department of Health, sprayed for giant salvinia in Lake Columbia last week. That effort, which took two
days, will not be a problem for the fishing and, in fact, fishing is reportedly going great at Lake Columbia. South-central fisheries staff spent the last few
days of March sampling at Lake Columbia. Recent electrofishing catch rates were slightly above the 10-year average. Over 5 percent of the bass collected were longer than 20 inches and one out of every three fish was over 16 inches long (photo right). Fish were very scattered, which was similar to what AGFC biologists saw on Lower White Oak Lake. Staff also noted several large redear (photo left) had moved up into shallower water, which is earlier than normal. Reports from local anglers suggest the fish are biting well at Columbia right now.
* Speaking of Lower White Oak Lake, early last week AGFC biologists were able to conduct an electrofishing sample there. Catch rates were lower than average since the renovation, but over 10 percent of the fish collected were over 20 inches long. This lower catch rate likely can be attributed to the constantly changing weather conditions of this spring, leading the
AGFC staff to see slightly fewer fish than in a normal spring. Fish were extremely scattered, with some appearing to have spawned weeks ago while others were just starting to pair up on beds. Don’t worry though, Lower White Oak is still offering plenty of big fish like these two (photo left).
* AGFC Fisheries District 1 in Northwest Arkansas reports that white bass fishing is on fire in tributaries of Beaver Lake. White bass can be found in good numbers in the upper White River (above Arkansas Highway 45 or Twin Bridges Access), and on War Eagle Creek by War Eagle Mill on Beaver Lake. Don’t forget that the smaller tributaries can have a white bass run as well (Prairie and Indian creeks).
Did you know that white bass spawn on larger rip-rap by the dam? Biologists have observed white bass actively spawning in this area of the lake. The white bass population in Beaver Lake continues to provide great fishing opportunities, and there is no creel or length limit on white bass in the lake.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 4-8-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake is its normal stain and the water level remains “a little high.” Bream continue to bite well. Anglers are having good success with redworms, crickets, nightcrawlers and hand-tied jigs. Crappie are good. Minnows, artificial jigs, crankbaits, bass minnows and worms all are working. Black bass are good. Try crankbaits, topwater lures, buzzbaits, chatterbaits, bass minnows and nightcrawlers. Catfishing has been good for anglers baiting with stink bait, dough bait, shad, skipjack, trotline minnows, bream and nightcrawlers.
Little Red River
(updated 4-8-2020) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) says the Greers Ferry Lake level is still above normal seasonal pool due to recent rains. Right now the generation pattern is unpredictable. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see the forecasted generation schedule. For fly-fishing, Lowell recommends San Juan worms, egg, hares ear, sowbugs and streamers. Hot pink and white bodies on chartreuse jigheads are recommended for Trout Magnet spin-fishing. Be safe while enjoying the river.
(updated 4-8-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) had no report this week. Greg has suspended his guide business until further notice because of the coronavirus situation. “As soon as we get a better handle on this issue, I think everyone can make more accurate decisions. Until that time, I feel calm and caution should prevail,” he said.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 465.69 feet msl. That is 3.65 feet above normal pool of
462.04 feet msl for this time of year and falling with generation. The hybrid and white bass catching is off the charts and will continue to be until sometime in June; use grubs, inline spinners, Road Runners, topwater baits. They are all over rivers and the lake from super shallow out to 30 feet. Crappie are in all three phases from super shallow out to 30 feet and all in between; use grubs, jigs, live bait and crankbaits. Walleye are scattered as well eating good all over. Try live baits, crawlers, minnows, grubs, flukes and drop-shots. They’re found from super shallow out to 25 feet. All species of black bass here are on same trend; use what you are comfortable catching on and/or use something you’re not good at catching on and learn, Tommy suggests. “The good bite will continue until late June as well,” he says. Bream are really heating up all over on crawlers, crickets, small crankbaits and inline spinners. Catfish are real good all over as well. In the photo, Bret Ballard of Edgemont, Arkansas, is shown late in the day with a couple of the nice white bass he caught on the lake with Tommy recently.
(updated 4-8-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is 3 feet high, and the water is stained to clear. Crappie are excellent. They are being caught in shallow water, around 5-8 feet depth. Best baits to catch them have been 1/8-ounce Blakemore Road Runners in white/chartreuse and pink/chartreuse colors. They’re biting around the brushpiles. Bass are excellent. They’re catching them with Carolina rigs in green pumpkin color in 10-12 feet and with peanut butter and jelly jigs at 7-8 feet. No reports on catfish or bream. Walleye are doing well on the humps using drop-shot nightcrawlers.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 4-8-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reports the lake clarity as muddy and the water level is “very high.” Bream are biting well. Anglers report good catches using redworms and crickets. Crappie reports are poor. Black bass are good. The best bait is a bass minnow. Catfish are good on trotlines baited with minnows, nightcrawlers and dough bait.
(updated 3-25-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is high by about 1 foot, clarity is good and surface temperature is around 56 degrees. Bream are slow but should start picking up any day now with this warmer weather. Bass are doing good around brushtops and structure around the banks. Catfish are being caught on jugs and trotline with shad and slicks. Crappie are being caught on yo-yos at night and poles with minnows. The males are turning black and are in shallow water. Females are being caught in 4 to 6 feet of water around stumps and creek channels. We have seen a lot of people this past week with some big crappie. Everyone stay, we are still open for business, 6 a.m. to dark. Come see me for all your fishing needs. Thanks, ‘Catfish.’” Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for the latest updates and photos.
(updated 4-8-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake level is 3 feet above normal and the surface temperature is up to 60 degrees. The clarity is “a little stained,” he said. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good. They are at 3 feet depth and biting mainly on “the real stuff,” David said. Minnows and jigs are the way to go. Focus on the brushpiles now. Black bass are good. Big bass minnows are the go-to bait; David says that like crappie the bass are biting mainly on live bait. Catfishing is good. Jugging 3-4 feet deep and using bream or goldfish will get you some catfish. David notes that all of the live bait can be found at Dad’s Bait Shop.
(updated 4-8-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no fishing reports. They note that the shop is open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. The parking lot has been full daily.
(updated 4-8-2020) B&E Outdoors Adventures reports that bass have been on fire. They are bedding up hard, and several 3- to 5-pounders have been caught on a
black Zoom Trick Worm floating it off the points of the islands. Most bedding bass that you can see won’t bite. Bream have been good on crickets and worms. Crappie are up tight in the grass but are being caught on crickets and minnows. Catfishing has been excellent on stink bait and fresh chicken livers. Several limits of catfish have been caught lately. In the photo, Em’ry
Ellis (left) and Elyn Ellis (right) enjoy a fun day at Sunset Lake with crappie catches.
(updated 4-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the AGFC stocked Sunset Lake on April 1 and the catfish have been biting great. Fresh chicken livers, minnows and nightcrawlers are catching them. Crappie fishing has been fair with No. 6 minnows, pink minnows and Kalin’s Grubs in Tennessee Shad and Arkansas Shad colors. Bass have been hitting watermelon/red trick worms and Baby Brush Hogs, chatterbaits and live No. 12 minnows. Bream fishing is just starting to pick up, and crickets and redworms are your best bet for some perch jerkin’.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 4-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting No. 6 and No. 4 minnows, as well as Kalin’s Grubs and Bobby Garland Jigs in various colors. Bass are hitting green pumpkin and watermelon/red wacky rigged trick worms, Carolina-rigged lizards and live minnows. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows, chicken livers, nightcrawlers and bait shrimp. Bream are biting redworms and crickets.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 4-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says smallmouth, Kentucky and largemouth bass are biting great on No. 12 and brooder minnows, green pumpkin and watermelon seed 4-inch lizards, trick worms and Baby Brush Hogs, or anything that looks like a crawdad. Crappie fishing has been fairly good with No. 4 and No. 6 minnows or Kalin’s Tennessee Shad Grubs. Catfish are biting No. 12 minnows and brooder minnows, goldfish, black salties, chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Walleye fishing has been fair with No. 12 and brooder minnows. Put a cricket or a redworm on a small hook with light line and catch a bream almost anywhere in the river. “Expect to catch a lot of small ones and a good keeper now and then, but if you stay with it you’re likely to lose count and have hours of fun while you do,” she said.
Lisa adds, “Anywhere you fish, stay safe, have fun, don’t litter – if you see trash pick it up if you can do it safely – and remember to practice social distancing. If you can touch someone with your fishing rod, you might be too close.
(updated 4-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been good. No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Triple Threat Grubs are doing the trick. The colors to use are Tennessee Shad, Arkansas Shad and Rainbow Trout. Bass are hitting trick worms, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and No. 12 bass minnows. Bass fishing has been best at daylight and dusk. Catfish have been biting fair on chicken livers, nightcrawlers, bait shrimp, goldfish and minnows. Bream are starting to bite well on redworms and crickets.
(updated 4-8-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing has been good with No. 6 and No. 12 minnows and jigs. Bass are hitting minnows, wacky-rigged trick worms and Carolina-rigged lizards and Brush Hhogs. Catfish are biting fair on chicken livers, nightcrawlers, minnows and stink baits. Bream are biting crickets and worms.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 4-8-2020) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Arkansas River (Cadron Pool)
Little Maumelle River
(updated 4-8-2020) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the water remains clear but has dropped some; he termed it low as of Monday afternoon. The bream bite is good. Bream are being found at 3-4 feet depth and are biting worms and crickets. Crappie reports are fair. They’re shallow and biting minnows and jigs. Black bass are good. They all are shallow, biting at about 3 feet depth. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastic worms all will work. Catfish are good, with the best catches coming on yo-yos and trotlines baited with minnows or cicken liver.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
(updated 4-8-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) says fishing has picked up in this pool and off the Little Maumelle River. Bream are good. They’re in 3-4 feet of water and biting crickets. They are bedding up in the backwaters and also biting waxworms along with the crickets. Crappie reports are fair. The crappie are biting at 4-6 feet depth, with pink minnows working best. No reports on black bass or catfish. White bass are good using Rooster Tails.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-8-2020) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) says the river remains high and muddy, as it’s been for a while. They had no fishing reports from the Little Rock pool. With the river in its current condition, they are fishing and providing reports from Greers Ferry Lake (see Greers Ferry Lake listing above).
(updated 4-8-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports the river is muddy and high. They have heard fair reports on crappie from anglers fishing around Murray Lock and Dam and Terry Lock and Dam. Cut shad is attracting the crappie. Also, white bass are good around Murray and Terry dams. Use Road Runners in pink with a white tail.
(updated 4-8-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-1-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake is “pretty clear” while the water level is high. Bream are fair on crickets. Crappie are good. They report that it’s getting pretty crowded at times on the lake and “it’s hard to find a good place to fish right now.” Reports have crappie at 5-6 feet depth and biting minnows. No reports on black bass or catfish.
(updated 4-8-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the lake is murky and the water level is normal. The crappie bite continues to be good. Minnows and jigs, whether at the end of a pole or on yo-yos, are getting bit. No report on bream. Black bass are good. Anglers are having best success throwing topwater baits or jigs. Catfishing is good on limblines and yo-yos baited with minnows, worms and hot dogs.
(updated 4-8-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks rewarded anglers over the last week with some beauties. Sculpins were the big favorite of the browns running the 18-mile stretch between Wildcat Shoals and Ranchette Access. Naturally, traffic on the river has been low and slow due to the coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions, but conditions are working in our favor for a fantastic fishery when restrictions are lifted. Current lake levels in the watershed are high, requiring near-maximum water releases from Bull Shoals, Norfork, Table Rock and Beaver dams, causing higher than normal river levels. “With fewer fishers and the possibility of good feeding waters for growth, catching is going to be at an all-time high when everybody can bet back to the river with rods, reels and creels. “Bank anglers have been trolling nightcrawlers for a healthy bite, and multicolored PowerBait (in sunrise, lemon lime and rainbow) has been flying off the shelves onto No. 6-size Aberdeen bronze hooks, barbed and barbless, to nab those multicolored (rainbow) trout. Can’t wait to welcome you back. Stay s afe and please follow guidelines for good health.”
(updated 4-8-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Tuesday that no one had been fishing the river in a week. The previous week, the trout bite was good. Some anglers had caught some rainbows, they said, but hardly anyone is fishing.
(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had During the past week, we have had several rain events (combined for about 1.25 inches), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 4.3 feet to rest at 22.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 13.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.1 feet to rest at 5.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 10.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 8.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 4.9 feet to rest at 17.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavier flows and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been Rim Shoals on lower flows. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, #12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is pheasant tail nymph worm with a ruby midge suspended below it).
John also said, “Like the rest of you, my wife, Lori, and I are trying to survive this pandemic. We have been cooped up in our house. With the exception of working in the yard, our only road trips have been to the grocery store, the bank, the pharmacy and to restaurants to pick up takeout food. We needed something different to do. I read an article online where Gov. Asa Hutchinson mentioned that fishing was a safe pastime, if proper social distancing was maintained. Fresh air and sunshine were calling. As an avid fly-fisher, that was music to my ears.
“Lori and I were ready to go. I checked the conditions and noted that there were some moderate flows on the White River that were perfect for drift-fishing from a boat. The weather was to be sunny and warm with light winds.
“I woke up at 5 a.m. and left the house about 7 a.m. I was the third boat on the ramp. When Lori and I fish I always go early. I rig the rods, launch the boat and begin fishing to figure out what is working. Lori feeds our dogs and walks them and gets to the river as soon as she can. I was on the water by 8 a.m. I met a few fishing buddies on the ramp. We talked about fishing but kept our distance.
“I had started with the rig I had used on my last fishing trip. That consisted of a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. I had an AB split shot and a strike indicator above them. The distance from the dropper to the strike indicator was 5.5 feet.
“I caught a nice trout almost immediately. The next came quickly. Over the next hour I netted six and missed a few others. About that time, Lori called me on my cell phone to tell me that she was on the ramp. I boated over to pick her up. I noticed that the ramp was busy. It seemed that everyone had the same idea. There were no parking spaces left in the ramp parking lot and some cars with trailers were parked along the road. I saw several anglers that I knew. We all talked, kept our distance and safely enjoyed the day.
“Lori and I began fishing. It turned out to be a stellar day. We were catching trout after trout. We had no less than six doubles (where we both caught a fish at the same time). When Lori and I fish together, I put two boat nets in the boat. We both net our own trout. We fished until noon and ended our day with between 40-50 trout.
“We caught a nice day, enjoyed a safe trip on the river and caught plenty of fish. It was just what the doctor ordered.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 681.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that the lake clarity is very clear and the level continues to rise, now up to 22 feet above normal pool as of Tuesday afternoon. He said the fishing “is pretty good most days.” Crappie are fair. Del says they are spread out. The males are in the shallows wanting to spawn. Black bass are good. In fact, Del says, “Bass is easy fishing right now.” He recommends Ned rigs, Senkos, jigs and “pretty much anything.” Bream fishing is poor. Catfish are good, though. Anglers are catching catfish about 32 feet deep under shad balls. View Del’s YouTube videos (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for the latest in what’s biting and what Del is using, plus his tips on how to fish the various lures.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “We have not been doing much fishing due to the virus travel shutdown. Our clients are abiding to restrictions and have been postponing their upcoming trips. The lake rose up to 571 feet msl, which 18 feet above pool. Two gates at the dam are open 1 foot but this will only maintain our level. Until they get serious about reducing the lake, we will continue to see the lake rise since we are getting rain every two or three days.”
“The warm weather will improve fishing for Norfork Lake stripers, bass and crappie. The crappie is the best bite right now. They are moving closer to shore as the water warms. I would expect to see an early spawn by this weekend if we do not get much rain this week. Stripers will be in their normal spring pattern. Fish the main lake points early and wait for the wind, then fish the windy banks using shad or shiners. The other pattern is to move to the upper end of creeks in the stained water and fish the flats staying in 30 feet or less. Run planer boards next to shore and longlines along with a couple of downlines.
“Minnows and small jigs will be the most productive baits to catch crappie in the brush. The best three creeks right now are Big Creek, Bennett’s Bayouand Pigeon Creek.”
(updated 4-8-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 4.9 feet to rest at 17.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavier flows and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The Norfork is fishing better. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. The weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
NOTE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the urging of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has closed access to the Buffalo National River for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,128.58 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake is at 1,128 feet or so and the water is in mid-50s to lower 60s. Pre-spawn is in full swing throughout the lake. Look for fish staging near spawning areas. Crappie are good in 10 feet or less. There is lots of structure in that depth due to the high water. “We caught crappie dipping buckbrush (Monday). Crappie will be scattered, but when you find them it will be good. Move and hit as many likely spots as possible.
“There are lots of shad in the backs of main arms. Bass are hitting all sorts baits, from spinnerbaits to stick baits to plastics. Stripers are still good. Look around Prairie Creek, Rocky Branch and Point 12. Walleye have been caught in numbers in both the War Eagle and White River arms. Spawn is done for the most part. White bass are good in the river arms, and if you can get up Richland Creek, they are thick in that area. Catfish are good.”
(updated 4-8-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said about half of Beaver Lake is stained. The surface temperature Monday afternoon was 61 degrees. Water level remains high, 9 feet above seasonal pool. Bream are fair on crickets. Crappie are shallow and the bite is good; try minnows or jigs. Black bass have also moved shallow and the bite is fair. Anglers are having best success with spinnerbaits and jigs. White bass are good on Little Fishy’s and Rooster Tails. Walleye are biting tiny swimbaits and bigger minnows. No reports on catfish.
(updated 4-1-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing has been good in the tailwater, if you can locate the fish in the high water. Trout are biting on various jigs and PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. The white bass are making their move up the river as well; look for them in coves and 20-40 feet of water. Look for them between Holiday Island and Beaver town. Umbrella rigs and jigs have been doing the trick. Kentucky bass can be found around structure and chunk rock. Various soft plastics and hard baits are the way to go with these guys. The walleye bite on the lake has been good. “A lot of reports coming out of War Eagle Mill; however, on our end, you can catch the trolling contour lines around buckbrush and drop-offs. If you have a graph, look for humps and saddles and focus on those areas. Also, got a report of stripers being caught from (Arkansas Highway) 12 bridge to the river. Look for the mudline in 15-50 feet of water. Live bait is the way to go with these guys.
“Well, hope you all are staying healthy. There is plenty of river and lake to practice ‘social distancing.’ Have fun and catch some fish!”
(updated 4-8-2020) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lake is open to fishing.
Lake Fort Smith
(update 4-8-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, had no new reports.
(updated 4-8-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) is closed until further notice. Fishing is allowed on the lake, however. Water is muddy and high.
(updated 4-8-2020) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) is now closed until the end of April because of coronavirus. There is still lake access via the launch ramp. There is a deposit box set up for the launch fees. The bass tournament that was scheduled for April 18 has been postponed.
(updated 4-8-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park had no report.
(updated 4-8-2020) Seth Boone, the park superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, says the lake remains drained for the ongoing repair work; however, the state park has “continued being the light in the dark for bait. We are looking forward to the lake coming back in about a year for guests to enjoy.” The park’s bait shop is in close proximity to many other fishing destinations in northeast Arkansas while Lake Poinsett is repaired.
(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is navigable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. 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).
(updated 4-8-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 4-8-2020) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no report.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 4-8-2020) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the low to mid-60s. Water clarity is up to 1.5 feet in protected backwaters and only inches on the main channel and tributaries. Regional Park and Island Harbor boat ramps are open, St. Marie Park is closed. Island Harbor ramp is almost flooded, Regional Park can handle another foot or so of rise. The main channel is dangerous right now; most jetties and some navigational buoys are completely submerging from the current; please stay off the main channel for now. No report on fishing.
Arkansas River (Pool 2)
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 4-8-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 3-25-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), said the word at Chicot is that catfish and crappie are both biting, although this rain has stalled things the last several days.
(updated 4-8-2020) The lake is undergoing a repair to the dam and improvements to the fish habitat and is currently drawn down.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.25 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday the lake continues a slow fall. Millwood is about 12 inches above normal conservation pool, near 260.2 feet msl, and the discharge is around 17,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday remains around 247 feet msl 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, especially during high flow river conditions. Wilton Landing on Little River U.S. Highway 71 and White Cliffs campground and boat ramp, along with Saratoga boat ramp have recently reopened by the Corps from recent flooding. Millwood State Park and the marina are also open for day use. Continue to use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and floaters may be present this week.
Surface temps Monday ranged 56-65 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is improving. Little River stain is consistent this week, muddy in locations near Cossatot inflow and Wilton, with increase of current, and with random broken timber and debris. Clarity is consistent in the back of the oxbows, slowly improving this week.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: With the lake back on a slow fall from the recent flooding, the largemouth bass are post-spawn in many locations, making a tough bite for a few days. A few males are still being seen near spawning flats, roaming in and out of flats near vertical structure. Brazalo Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, Zoom Trick Worms , Tricky Sticks, 6-8-inch lizards and twitch worms have been working over the past few weeks. Rat-L-Traps were getting fair responses over the past couple weeks from these active roaming bass. Any areas where a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent-size bass over the past several weeks. The largemouths continue to be much more reliable in the oxbows of McGuire and Horseshoe lakes where the water clarity was drastically better, water temps were warmer and calm or no river current was present.
Best Rat-L-Trap colors are Red Chrome, Toledo Gold, Ozark Craw and Red Rayburn Craw. Baby Brush Hogs and lizards continue taking some decent 15-18-inch bass roaming flats in the clearer water sections of the oxbows, away from river current. With the water temps continuing into the upper 50s and low to mid-60s the males are active and females continue staging, with a few seen on beds on top of flat cut or broken tree stumps. You can find a few decent 2-3-pound male bass roaming on warm afternoons where you find shallow 5-8 foot depth flats, if you’re also near to a quick creek bend drop into 8-12 feet structure. More bed-making activities are being observed. South Hickory Golf Course pockets continue warming up and seeing pre-spawn male bass run in and out near stumps and vegetation. Mike says they continue to see good reactions from 2-3-pound males over the past couple weeks by pitching lizards and Baby Brush Hogs, Pit Bosses and Beavers around cypress trees, flooded buckbrush, bushes and back of pockets. Millwood State Park pockets continue fishing well this week, and another 7-pound Largemouth was caught near the Millwood State Park.
Best reaction colors for chatterbaits and spinnerbaits have been chartreuse/white, Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover and Arkansas River Shad. Best depth zones being targeted are cypress tree knees from 6-10 feet, with 12-15 feet of depth nearby.
* White bass: Whites are wrapping up their annual spawning migration along Little River’s headwaters, upriver. Random schools have been caught between McGuire and Cemetery Slough over the past week, migrating back downriver. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along upper reaches of Little River will pick up an occasional white bass. Heavy thumping ¾- and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points, caught some decent, 2-3-pound whites over the past two-three weeks from 9-16 feet deep. A chrome ¾-ounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail – vertical-jigging behind primary points near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points – were connecting with a few nice-size 2-3-pound whites over the past several weeks. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few whites in 10-14 feet swimming and dropping the bait. Deep-running Fat Free Shad cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, H&H Spinnerbaits, red/white Rooster Tails, Little Cleos, Little Georges, War Eagle Underspins and swimbaits all have been catching the white bass over the past two weeks. The white bass are still being caught in the same areas as last few weeks, but the bite has become more scattered.
* Crappie: Crappie continue moving and biting well this week. Increased surface temps have the crappie on the
move shallow to spawn. Minnows and jigs have been working away from current and flow of Little River, in the clearer sections of the oxbows and golf course pockets, from 3-5 feet deep. The crappie responses continue to improve, and Mike says they picked up a few decent crappie caught near cypress trees in South Hickory hitting small jigs in chartreuse/white, chartreuse/blue and black. Small, 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits, like a Rocket Shad or Little Cleo and Blakemore Roadrunners in white/chartreuse, continue getting reactions from crappie near cypress knees as they move shallow to spawn. Millwood State Park is seeing good activity in the pockets and coves near cypress trees and grass from 4-6 feet of depth. Best responses were on jigs and minnows over the past couple weeks.
Catfish: Cats continue biting consistently over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel cats and blues remain good on Punch Bait and cut shad over the past few weeks on trotlines from 9-12 feet of depth in current.
(updated 4-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no report.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyflishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.71 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no report.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 406.92 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
Above and at the top of the Fishing Report: Dale Garlin took his son, William, and dad, Troy (in the background), to the lower end of DeGray Lake recently for a guys getaway. “We didn’t catch a whole lot but we hads a lot of fun,” Dale reports.
(updated 4-1-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well it ain’t rain, it ain’t tornados, and it ain’t snow! It’s a virus! Wow. There are many boats on the water quarantining. Things have been happening. The water temperature in the shallows got up to mid- to high 60s for a short bit and then it rained. Water level is at 407.78 feet msl and they were drawing water Tuesday. That is up about 0.75 feet. That changes the variables. The rain has lowered the water temperature and, with higher water levels, that changes things. The crappie and bass were in the buckbrush before this rain. Crappie were anywhere from 18 inches to 42 inches deep from Arlie Moore all the way to Point Cedar. Minnows were prevalent. White bass have been making a good showing. Use swimbaits upriver or above Arlie Moore. Good whites reported. They were catching lots of good black bass prior to all the rain. No info on baits but I will say that the bass were in the shallows like pigs. Best advice is to check water temperature, color and depth. No report on bream or catfish. It’s spring, we just gotta fish between rain and weather.”
(updated 3-25-2020) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says it’s that time of year where crappie are moments away from laying their first eggs. The warmer nights this week are the key to warming the water for spawning temps. For greater numbers than size, fish 4-8 feet deep on the staging brushpiles. Pitch minnows or jigs around the shallow buckbrush, but don’t expect to catch that wall-hanger everywhere. Casting jigs around shallow flats and points can produce, too.
De Queen Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 442.93 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 540.34 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 4-8-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said White Oak Upper and Lower are still high and the clarity is murky. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Crappie fishing is poor, he said. Bass also are poor. Catfish rated poor as
(updated 4-8-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
(updated 4-8-2020) Donald Ramirez, the new owner of Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) on the southeastern end of the lake, said the shop will be closed until further notice. There are access points to Lake Atkins and fishing from the shoreline.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 4-8-2020) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park had no report.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 4-8-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that heavy flows have been the norm as continued rainfall kept Lake Ouachita slightly into the flood pool. Open flood gates and high generation have created a treacherous situation in all area dam tailraces. All boaters and anglers alike should use extreme caution if attempting to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace. People should remain off the water until conditions stabilize. Thousands of trout are present and thriving in Lake Catherine. When lake conditions stabilize, anglers can begin to catch limits of trout using redworms or nightcrawlers under a bobber or fished just off the bottom. Worm presentations are often overlooked and will consistently produce results when other baits fail. Other live baits such as waxworms and mealworms will also perform well used in the same manner. Live minnows tend to catch larger trout that search for bigger prey. PowerBait and Trout Magnets in basic colors are two of the best methods known to man of catching rainbow trout and should never be forgotten by anglers who are serious about catching fish. Fly-fishermen that cast San Juan worms or micro-jigs in black or white under strike indicators can expect a solid bite. Egg patterns in white or yellow will also work very well in slack or current flow. Woolly Buggers have to be included in the best-of fly patterns and should be present in every fly angler’s tackle. The walleye spawn is on in the tailrace with fish spotted in the shallows at dawn and dusk. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current will draw strikes from hungry walleye guarding their beds. A Carolina rig tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers is a proven technique in current or slack water. Vertical-jigging spoons in deeper water is often a forgotten method of catching walleye and will outperform many other efforts. Trout will be king for the next few months, but the crappie spawn has been hampered by the heavy flows. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace must always wear a life jacket and should be aware of the generation schedules.
(updated 3-25-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that since last Tuesday (March 17) they have had frequent rain and overcast skies. For this week, a nice warmup was expected Wednesday and Thursday before rain chances returned Friday. Then partly cloudy skies and seasonal temperatures return Sunday. Recent rains and high river flow has muddied the water. Surface temperature earlier this week was 58 degrees. As of Tuesday (March 24) the Army Corps of Engineers has reported river flows near 200,000 cfs at both Ozark and Dardanelle. Currently, online USACE water level reports are not accessible.
Lake Dardanelle State Park’s goal is to deliver the services you need while keeping the health and safety of our staff and guests at the highest levels. We are complying with state and recommendations for social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Reservations for the use of our tournament fishing facility have been canceled through May 31. Tournament participants are advised to contact their tournament event directors for details specific to their tournament.
(updated 4-8-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred X-press all-aluminum, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton at normal pool with water temperatures in the low to mid-60s throughout. Lake clarity is on the better side of fair with a slightly stained appearance. Bass have been on fire lately! We are not in full spawn mode yet but the fish are feeding very heavily on the insides of points that lead to spawning pockets. Basically what we are doing right now is intercepting the fish on their way to the spawning areas. Male bass are protecting their territory in the shallows and especially under docks and overhangs. Poppers, frogs and especially floating worms and wacky-rigged Senkos in pumpkinseed, June bug and black colors are hammering some good fish! The other technique is to target the larger females in the guts of the pockets. These fish are staging and can be caught with the drop-shot rig and Carolina rig using the same baits, but in 10-15 feet of water. Crappie reports have been strong, with crappie starting to spawn in around 5-10 of water. We have hammered some large aggressive crappie on the way to these areas by fishing the gut of the pockets in 20-15 feet on jigs, fishing the vertical presentation and using Sonar to see the fish in real time. Catfish are good in 20-25 feet of water on drop-offs to deep water and in the guts of creek channels. “Good luck and GoGreeson!”
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 363.77 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is starting to clear up. The surface temperature is up to 58 degrees. Water level remains “really high,” they report. Bream fishing is excellent. Worms and crickets are working along with jigs and Rock Hoppers. Crappie are good. They are at 8 feet depth and biting minnows and jigs. Work the Brushpiles. Black bass also are good. There was a bass tournament Sunday morning in which the winner caught five bass weight a total of 23 pounds. Spinnerbaits are working best right now. Catfishing is good. Most cats are being caught on trotlines at the flats in shallow water.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.39 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are excellent. Floating worms, Ned rigs and Carolina rigs are producing very good stringers. Walleye are still good. Shad-colored crankbaits fished on river and main lake points are producing quality sacks. The striper bite remains excellent. These fish are being caught on topwater C-10 Redfins and live bait on the west end of the lake. Bream are good with worms, crickets or PowerBait in 15-25 feet of water. Crappie are very good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 4-15 feet of water. Catfish are good and being caught with trotline and jugs. Cut bait and live bait are working best. Water temperature is ranging 62-67 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level was 578.39 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 Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 402.72
feet msl (normal pool: 387.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-8-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said the lake’s clarity is “perfect for fishing, a little murky.” Surface water temperature Tuesday reached 65 degrees. Water level is high. “Everything is spawning around the cypress trees,” Ronnie said. Bream are excellent around those cypress trees; use worms and crickets. Anglers are limiting out on crappie daily. The crappie are in 2-6 feet depth and are hitting jigs around the cypress. Black bass are excellent and milling about the cypress. Catfishing is excellent. Ronnie says the trolling bite is “really awesome (yes, we’re also catching them around the cypress tree) at 13-15 feet depth.” Check out Ronnie’s Facebook page for the latest information, recent photos when the fishing was, and more on the old Mississippi River oxbow not far from Hughes.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 4-8-2020) Natalie Faughn, assistant superintendent at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), had no report.
(updated 4-8-2020) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) says Cook’s Lake is still closed due to AGFC facility closures due to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact the White River is approaching 29 feet at Clarendon. “Hopefully by the time we can reopen, the lake will be back inside in its banks!” Wil said.
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails
Don't miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!