Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
May 27, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for May 27, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 9 a.m. the day of publication (May 27).
****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.
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
TOP AND LEFT: Nick Harris of Little Rock found the bream bite on fire Sunday afternoon at Lake Maumelle. He holds two of the 20 or so he caught in just the first hour of fishing. WIth the full moon upon us and June around the corner, these next few days will mark a major bream spawn and a great time to be fishing for bream not just ast Lake Maumelle but all over the state, Ini fact, what better time than now to take a child or two out with you fishing and let them experience the thrill of the catch. It will be a memory they’ll always hold. Photo by Randy Zellers.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 5-27-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said that after unusually high water last week, the water level on Wednesday morning was back to normal. The clarity is slightly stained. Bream are active and anglers are recording good catches in 2 feet of water, using redworms and crickets. Crappie have moved off their beds and back to deeper water after spawning, and this week’s bite has just been fair. Black bass are good; it’s definitely topwater time, and plastic worms also are working. Catfish are good on chicken liver and nightcrawlers.
(updated 5-27-2021) Angler Dennis Charles visited Beaverfork as well as several other lakes in the area with similar conditions (Lake Brewer, Lake Cargile). There have been a few tournaments in the area and even those guys had trouble finding the bass. He says the bite has slowed over the past two weeks. Water temperature is around 75 degrees and the crappie are slow in mid-level water; use floating lures with dive, as well as jigs. Bass are slow and in the shallows and in the grass. “Use plastic worms, topwater poppers and Chatterbaits. Bream are much better on crickets and worms. Catfish are chasing plastics and almost anything in your box and can be found anywhere.” Visit Dennis’ Facebook page (Arkansas Fishing Adventures) for more information – send Jim Harris, the AGFC managing editor, a photo of your catch and Jim just might post it here with the other photos.
Little Red River
(updated 5-27-2021) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is clear with 12-hour generation schedules. The generation has been mostly from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. This schedule is subject to change, so one should check the forecasted generation each evening before planning a trip.
“We missed the heavy rains that went west of us on Tuesday evening. The forecast is for rain on Thursday evening and Friday morning. Hopefully the rain won’t be heavy and the river will remain clear over the weekend.”
The rainbows and browns are still looking for caddis, so caddis emergers and pupa are good choices.
Greg adds, “This is Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of the summer season with more people wanting to enjoy the lakes and rivers. Please use good river etiquette and safety. Common courtesy goes a long way, so pass it on.
“With the two-unit generation each day, plan your canoe, kayak and raft trips so you are off the river before the increased flow gets to the section of river you are floating. Last weekend and another day this week, I noticed people drifting in plastic inflatable rafts during the high water. This is very dangerous due to the current. If the raft or any small watercraft is pushed against the upstream side of a dock or other obstacle it will be sucked under the dock before the person can get out of the craft. Life jackets will not help in this circumstance, so don’t think you are safe depending solely on the life jacket. Also, sharp rocks, limbs and sharp edges on docks can puncture these lightweight plastic inflatables. The lake seems a better choice if the river is high and fast. Enjoy our state’s lakes and rivers but respect dangerous water conditions. STAY SAFE and have HAPPY summer weekends!”
Check the Southwestern Power Administration (swpa.org) or the Army Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) or by phone (501-324-5551) each day for the generation.
(updated 5-13-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says water is fairly clear. Trout are really good on marabou jigs (olive color is best now), jerkbaits, Rapala Countdowns (rainbow trout or brown trout colors). Rainbow trout are good on Trout Magnets in pink, white and moleworm gold colors and on Rooster Tails.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 470.14 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 463.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said Wednesday the water level at Greers Ferry is at 469.94 feet msl and on its way higher. It looks like it may go to 10 feet high. The current reading as of Wednesday is 6.9 feet above normal pool of 463.04 feet msl; it is still coming up with generation going on. “With the holiday weekend, PLEASE wear your kill switch and life jackets and try to be super safe as anything can happen the instant you do not pay ATTENTION while on water.’
Crappie, like all species, are good and bad right now. Try trolled baits, or minnows and jigs straight up and down, in 12-30 feet. Catfish are eating all over a variety of baits. Black bass are still chewing good, with good fish showing back up in 30-45 feet now. Fish are still on the shoreline and the old bank as well eating a variety of baits a variety of ways.
Bream are spawning and doing so a little deeper this year, and hanging out a little deeper even; try crickets, crawlers, inline spinners or a bare hook. Walleye are scattered all over. Drag a crawler or crankbait until you get bit and fish slow to see if more are around; if not move on, and fish in 12-43 feet. Hybrid and white bass are eating when they want. Lots of factors are involved. To help get you dialed in, try spoons, inline spinners or swimbaits. Also fish topwater baits over 25-45 feet of water. A lot of mental work involved, just try and keep learning and you will win the race.
(updated 5-13-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is still 5-6 feet high after last week’s big rise. There is a slight stain. The surface water temperature is in the mid- to high 60s. Bass are excellent on upper and lower end around windy areas and brush on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwater (wake bait or Zara Spook). Up the river in dirty water, a Texas-rigged creature bait in green pumpkin colors with some flake in it on 3-ounce weight is a great way to fish, and they’re also having success using buzzbaits. Crappie are good in 15-20 feet depth on any natural-colored jigs (Tennessee Shad, blue/white or blue/silver colors). The walleye bite is good on points drop-shotting a nightcrawler or a blue/chartreuse swimbait.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 5-27-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake clarity still is muddy but the level has dropped back to normal. Bream fishing is EXCELLENT. Anglers are catching good-sized bream “bigger than your hand.” The usual redworms or crickets are the bait to use. Crappie catching has fallen off. They have moved back into deeper water and aren’t biting after the spawn. Black bass are fair, mostly biting jigs. Catfishing is good on trotlines baited with baby bream or goldfish.
(updated 5-27-2021) Owner Phil Thomas at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the clarity is very clear and the lake level has returned to normal. Bream are good using redworms or crickets. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass have been fair this week using Live Action rubber worms and 3-inch live bream. Catfish are good. Some big albino fish have been caught this week. Try black salties on trotlines.
(update 5-27-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303) said the lake is fairly clear overall, though cloudy in spots. Water level is high. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass continue to bite well; bass minnows and goldfish are the best bets. Catfishing is good using “live stuff,” David says, as well as Catfish Charlie bait, goldfish on trotlines, and bass minnows.
(updated 5-27-2021) The AGFC’s Randy Zellers reported from Lake Maumelle that over the weekend the water was 1.5 feet high. With water at that level, bass will run up in the shoreline brush. Anglers were fishing in that brush, typical when the lake floods up like it has. A lot of people went up shallow on Sunday.
There was a high school tournament held on the lake on Saturday, with about 12 pounds of bass winning the tournament.
Temperature was in the mid-70s and the water is fairly clear, settling out quickly. Most of the water willow was submerged. If the fish are under the surface in the water willow, anglers have to use their electronics. Lily pads were still visible, however.
He didn’t hear much about a crappie bite, but bass were biting pretty well. Topwater frogs worked in the lily pads that remained, and Zara Spooks fished over the submerged water willow were getting hit. Also, Texas-rigged soft plastics getting bit on the first drop to deeper water.
Bream were getting ready to bed up, the story for most all Arkansas lakes coming up on the first full month before summer. This should mark the best time of the year for adult anglers to take a kid out fishing this Memorial Day weekend.
Take note that at Lake Maumelle, bream will bed deeper than in the normal, dirtier water of other lakes such as Lake Conway. Here, start at 6 feet and go deeper all the way down to 15 feet for the bream bite.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 104,862 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 120,745 cfs. Small craft advisory on the river.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 5-27-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says clarity remains clear. Water level is low. Bream continue to improve in response as we close in on the full moon, with excellent reports this week. Use worms of cricket. Crappie action is poor. Black bass are good. Look for them in 2 feet depth and try a spinnerbait or worms. Catfish are good; use chicken liver or shiners.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 118,519 cfs. Small craft advisory issued.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 122,980 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 120,635 cfs. Small craft advisory issued.
(updated 5-27-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says water below the Terry Lock and Dam remains a little muddy, and the river current and level are high. Bass reports remained in the fair range, with reports of catches on crankbaits and worms. The best action will come around the jetties. Catfish have a good bite, but no baits were revealed. Bream and crappie remain poor in this portion of the river.
(updated 5-20-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said catfish are excellent below the hydroelectric plant at Murray Lock and Dam and below Terry Lock and Dam on cut skipjack, while snagging is good as well below the hydro plant and Terry Lock and Dam. White bass are good in the Little Rock pool on white Rooster Tails and white Sassy Shad below the dam. Bream are excellent in 3-4 feet deep around the Willow Beach area on crickets and waxworms. Crappie are excellent 8-10 feet deep on minnows in the main river around the rocks.
(updated 5-13-2021) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said Wednesday afternoon that the river is “borderline fishable.” They suggest anglers put in at the backwaters, the main river is still high. Water is muddy. Bass are good in the backwaters on black/blue jigs and black/blue Chatterbaits, chartreuse square bills around wood or grass areas. Bass are good in the main river on white/chartreuse spinnerbaits, chartreuse and black crankbaits and buzzbaits early in the day and late in the evening. Crappie are good behind the jetties in 7-8 feet of water; try orange/chartreuse or solid chartreuse crappie jigs around any wood or timber.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 5-27-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake is clear and back to a normal level. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass remain fair on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and worms. Catfish still haven’t bit much at all in the past couple of weeks.
(update 5-27-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake has cleared and the level is normal. Bream are excellent on redworms or crickets. Crappie aren’t quite as active now, and results were fair this week on minnows and jigs. Anglers are getting them trolling and spider-rigging. Black bass are good on jigs. Catfish are excellent on yo-yos, and using baits such as minnows and hot dogs, or fishing them with jigs. Donna suggests trying a little bit of everything to catch the cats.
(updated 5-27-2021) With the high water still making access to Cook’s Lake at the impossible for anglers where he’s based, the AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) made another trip to Peckerwood and reports that he filled out a limit of bluegill along with some bonus catfish in just a couple of hours. “I searched for beds in about 3 feet of water around grassy points. The rig of choice was a drop-shot, 3/16-ounce weight, No. 6 hook, and a redworm. I am sure crickets would be working great as well. This full moon has them in full spawning mode.”
(updated 5-27-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Memorial Day signals the start of summer with all the fun family traditions of picnics, fishing, camping, fishing, barbecues, fishing and … more fishing, and fishing the White River for a boatload of trout makes memories for all ages. “It’s been a great week on the White – the water level has been low and the fish have been snapping at a variety of baits. Bull Shoals Lake elevation has reached 683 feet msl and is continuing to rise. We’ll enjoy the lower flows while they last.
“The rainbow pattern on spinners and spoons is still attracting a lot of like-colored trout, or try a Rooster Tail with a white, fluorescent yellow or chartreuse body and gold blade, or same-colored eggs or egg patterns. Tie on a red wiggler or a juicy nightcrawler in the afternoon if generation flow increases. Low water levels on some mornings have made it easy to catch a sculpin or two to put at the end of your line and lure the larger browns. There have been numerous days with catches of 10 browns or more.
“Remember, the lower water means a narrow channel that everybody needs to traverse. Don’t rush; take your time; enjoy the whole gamut of your fishing experience in our great Natural State of Arkansas.”
(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Tuesday that during the past week they had several rain events combining for a bit over half an inch in Cotter, cool temperatures and, at times, heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.2 feet to land at 20.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 12.2 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.3 feet below the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 7.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 11.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains, with more coming! Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
On the lower flows, the fishing on the White River has been moderate! The top spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper).
John also said, “I don’t know about you but I am getting tired of our near constant rain. This year we are above average on our rainfall. I am starting to have flashbacks of my time in Vietnam during the monsoon season, where it rained nonstop for months.
“The main differences are that no one is shooting at me here and I have much better rain gear. There I had a leaky poncho and self-draining jungle boots. Here I have a deluxe Gore-Tex rain suit with bib rain pants. I also have some nice L.L. Bean gumshoes that are quite waterproof. I always keep an additional rain suit in my boat in case I forget to wear mine or if a client does not have one. This better rain gear gives me an advantage as I guide, as I am better able to handle wet weather.
“Fly-fishing is a rain-or-shine sport. I never cancel a trip due to rain. I always say that nothing thins the herd like a little rain. I also say that the trout do not care because they are already wet. There is one exception and that is lightning. It is my understanding that NASA uses graphite (the material that most fly rods are made from) for its lightning rods. I will pull off the river, seek shelter and wait for the lightning to quit.
“For me the main problem is the aftermath of a heavy rain. My boat is full of water and I have to pull my plug to get the water out. There is always a bit of water left after doing this and I must use my bailer and sponge to get my boat completely dried out. If the rain is heavy, I might even get water in my lockers that must be removed.
“My rain gear is soaked. I hang it in my garage and let it dry thoroughly to prevent mildew. I inspect it and make any repairs that are necessary. After a guide trip in the rain last Saturday I noticed a seam that was coming undone that I repaired with UV wader repair. I carefully fold my rain gear and store it in my wader bag. My life jackets are wet and must be dried out before they are returned to my boat. Then there are my fly boxes. I have to open them during the rain to replace a lost fly or try a new one. The box is then wet and the flies are soaked. I have to carefully dry them out to keep my hooks from rusting. Rusty hooks are weaker and prone to breaking.
“Rain can be problematic, but cannot be avoided. The only thing to do is to grin and bear it. My real concern is that this unending rain is filling the lakes and will result in yet another high water year.”
(updated 5-13-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the fishing is going really well this week. Anglers are having good success catching rainbows and browns. The river is clear and at a normal level, and the Army Corps of Engineers is running 3-4 generators.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 683.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.86 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 918.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.42 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that there is limited parking and boat ramp access is an issue due to high water. Bull Shoals is 24 feet above normal pool and rising as of midday Wednesday. Temperature of the water is 67 degrees in the main lake and 70 degrees in the backwaters. Clarity is good. Plan ahead especially on weekends. The fishing is good. They are moving up with water capitalizing on the perch spawn and some on the old shoreline and the backs of creeks. Smallmouth bass are mostly in mid-lake area target points and secondary swings close to the main lake. The shad are moving. Fishing in the shad, try a fluke or swimbait 2.8. The topwater bite has been good on a popper or small walk-the-dog baits, Zara Spooks or Lucky Craft and smaller profile. Powerfish windy, cloudy days with Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait, a bright spinnerbait, or Chatterbait in dirty flat winds shallow. If it’s clear, use flat Blue Birds, or also use Senko green pumpkin shaky head and ol’ Ned rig Carolina tube. Green pumpkin or watermelon red colors are best in clear conditions. Target points and humps, and keep the boat off the old shoreline, 25 feet off. The backs of creeks have a little color change. You can always catch them on a jig in channel swings. Also go with a green pumpkin Beaver flipping the shallow laydowns and bushes in the right area. Fish the conditions. Visit Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing the lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 568.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.61 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 5-27-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 11.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains, with more coming! Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the flooding in recent years. 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. John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is increased pressure with warmer weather. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds (the creek is open to fishing from sunrise to sundown). The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms remain closed. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10), mop flies and egg patterns.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 5-27-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high. With the warm temperatures the bite is better. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,128.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said, “Well, we had a week of rain here in Northwest Arkansas, but the good news is it came in small amounts and did not add a whole lot to the system. The lake is still very high and a lot of floating debris throughout. With a big weekend coming up, I will say keep your eyes open for logs and trees. They are from one end to the other. Water temps climbed toward 70 the last couple of days.”
Fishing is really good for all bass species. Flukes and swimbaits are producing nice-sized spotted bass and smallmouth toward the dam. Look in all major arms. Indian Creek has been really good, as have Big Clifty and Rambo arms. Stripers are scattered from Prairie Creek and again into all major arms. Point 3 and the Cliftys are holding fish. The crappie have become scattered and are a little more tough to put in the boat. That all will change when the thermocline sets up mid-June. Bream are in beds and can be caught at will right now. Catfish are good on all methods. Rough fish are up shallow, and now is the time for bowfishing if that’s your thing.
“Good luck and be safe and respectful on the lake. And let’s give thanks to all who have served and serve and to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. Thank You.” Check out Jon’s Facebook page for the latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 5-27-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) says the walleye bite remains fair this week. Bream are improving, however, with good results this week on redworms and crickets. Crappie also have picked up; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good for anglers who were using swimbaits, worms and small soft plastics. Catfish are fair using shad, cut bait and stink bait. The lake remains muddy and the surface temperature is 72-74 degrees. The water level remains high.
(updated 5-27-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said, “Fishing has been back and forth in the tailwater over the last few days, depending on the weather and the species of fish being sought after. The walleye are pretty much done. If you want to get on those guys, you need to start heading to the lakes. The trout bite has been pretty good and some days on fire. Fishing with various PowerBaits with light terminal tackle, various spoons and Flicker Shads have been the way to go. This week’s hot spot has been toward Spider Creek and Bertrand Access. If you want to fish for white bass, you need to venture towards Beaver town. If you have a graph, try locating bait; if you find the bait, you will locate the fish.
“Hope you’re able to get out and catch some fish.” Follow Austin’s fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Guide Service) for daily and weekly updates.
(updated 5-27-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water still has a stain but has fallen to normal level. The bream bite is on here! Anglers enjoyed excellent fishing using redworms and crickets. Crappie remain a little less active with fair catches on minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair; try a topwater now. Catfishing is good, with worms and basic catfish bait working.
(updated 5-27-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said Wednesday morning that the water clarity is stained, while the water level has dropped back to normal. The bream bite is on, as anglers report good catches on redworms and cricket. Crappie are doing like they are in most locations in the region: moving back into deeper water with the spawn now over. Anglers report fair results. Minnows and jigs are best. Black bass are fair; try spinnerbaits, topwater baits and Chatterbaits. Catfish seem particular this week to live bluegill as bait; results overall have been fair
(updated 5-27-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said this past weekend at Lake Charles was beautiful and lots of anglers were in the park. She received lots of reports of crappie and bream being caught. Surface temperature Monday morning was 76 degrees. The lake is murky and high.
Bream are excellent; use worms, crickets and jigs. Crappie are excellent on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good, with anglers using spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms and topwater lures. Catfishing is good; try worms, blood bait, stink bait, shad and cut bait. The full moon should provide great fishing through May 29.
(updated 5-20-2021) Seth Boone, the superintendent at the Lake Poinsett State Park, said, “Lake Poinsett is getting closer to being full! There are 4- to 7-inch redears that you can catch and release in the lake. We are about 8.5 feet from being full again for the first time since 2017 and we are so excited. I would only recommend kayaks or canoes out on the lake at this time.”
The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed on Dec. 1, following the completion of a three-year renovation projection, and the lake began to refilling with rainwater (Poinsett is rainfall dependent). The lake, at Lake Poinsett State Park, has been undergoing an extensive renovation with a new water control structure, more than 10,000 linear feet of shoreline work, more than 100 habitat structures placed on the lakebed, and nearly 100 trees anchored for fish habitat with more anchoring in the plans as the lake begins to refill.
The AGFC’s stocking of forage fish began in March, with hopes that the forage fish will reproduce in good numbers over the next several months. Predator stocking is planned for next year. Fathead minnows, golden shiners, threadfin shad, redear and bluegill have been added to the lake to build up a huge food supply for bass, catfish and other sportfish that will be added next year to give the lake a jump start after its renovation renovation.
(updated 5-27-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports that water clarity is “pretty clear” and the lake is high. Surface water temperature Wednesday morning was 73 degrees. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie action just disappeared over the week; no reports. Black bass are good; try using plastic worms.
Catfish got with it this week, biting well on chicken liver and nightcrawlers.
(updated 5-27-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are running at 470 cfs and water clarity has been clear this week. River flows are still up some, “but thankfully we have missed most of the rain lately. A heavy rain could change river conditions this time of year. Be careful wading with the higher flow.”
The trout have been hitting great on olive and brown Woollies on cloudy days and Y2Ks and nymphs on sunny days. It has been tough getting the fly down, and an extra weight may help get the fly down to the fish. Smallies have been tough in the high water but have been hitting as the water clears. Big streamers or Clousers are the ticket to get them to bite around the big rocks and rocky shore line.
For spin-fishers, Trout Cranks and Flicker Shad are working well. The crankbaits do a good job of getting down to the fish, and they’re also a good way to possibly catch a walleye.
During this time of year keep an eye on Mark’s blog at springriverfliesandguides.com for the latest conditions on the Spring River. A heavy rain can change things overnight.
(updated 5-27-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 9.00 feet, 6 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage continued to fall to 15.64 feet, now more than 11 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta has finally dipped below 30 feet, sitting at 29.37, and more than 3 feet above the flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 5-27-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water remains muddy and at a high level. No reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 5-20-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperature is in the low 70s. Visibility is up to 1-1.5 feet with good plankton blooms in protected waters. Water levels and water velocity are variable. The shad spawn is underway; watch for them early in the morning and late in the evening along rock banks. Any shad-colored moving lure, topwaters to crankbaits, will work well for black bass at this time. Back off to brushpiles along sand ledges during the middle of the day or target cover that creates shade along the bank.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 5-27-2021) Sarah Reap, assistant superintendent at Cane Creek State Park, said fishing activity at Cane Creek Lake this week has been steady. Catfish are being caught in shallow water along with crappie and bass. There have also been reports of bream activity increasing including some large ones being caught with crickets.
(updated 5-13-2021) Kris Nault, AGFC district fisheries supervisor in Monticello, says dam repair work should be underway by the city now, while the AGFC has been rebuilding the lake bottom and areas near where the shoreline will be for fish habitat when the lake is refilled.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.74 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake water level was beginning to fall from the recent thunderstorms. The lake elevation on Tuesday was 27 inches above normal conservation pool at 261.5 and falling (it was already about 9 inches lower on Thursday morning at 9 a.m.); oxbows’ water clarity was heavy stained, and Little River clarity was muddy with current discharge this week. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 250 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 25,500 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. NAVIGATION CONDITIONS ARE IMPROVED, but CAUTIONED on Millwood Lake with high discharge rates and heavy flow conditions in Little River. Debris fields are present. Use EXTREME CAUTION during current high gate discharge conditions.
Surface temps remain stable this week, ranging in 68-75 degrees depending on location. Current along Little River increased this week with discharge release at the dam, and river clarity was 0 inches visibility. Clarity and visibility of oxbows was at 5-10 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain/muddy inflow conditions. WILTON LANDING on Little River was CLOSED due to HIGH CURRENT and pool elevation. Watch for broken timber, trees, and floaters with debris in Little River.
As for fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass: Improved again slightly this week with falling pool levels, on black/blue or chartreuse shad buzzbaits and Chatterbaits. Black grape or solid black, 10-inch Power Worms caught a few bass over the past couple weeks around 2-3 pounds each. Brush Hogs and Magnum 4-inch Gitzit Tubes with a rattle inside were working, and Mike says they got a few decent bites on a custom-poured black/blue swirl 4-inch Beaver Bug. Water temperature was stable, but there was still over 2 feet of fresh water in Millwood over the past week. Largemouths are cruising through trees and brush into freshly covered vegetation. “A few decent sized 2- to 3.5-pound largemouth bass slapped at our Horny Toads and Yum Tip Toads up shallow in the pads and grass,” he said. “We missed more strikes than we landed on the frogs. It was like they were just slapping at it with their body and tails to run it off. We did foul-hook one on a hollow body Live Target frog, in the top of the head, that went around 3 pounds.
He adds that pitching a Bass Assassin Jingle Bug in black/blue tail or an Okeechobee Craw got a few reactions on stumps in 5-8 feet deep. Bass Assassin Shad jerkbaits got a few reactions up shallow early in the morning, and best colors were pumpkin seed-chartreuse tail and Black Shad in the 5-inch sizes. The Chatterbaits with a Bass Assassin Skunk Ape or 4.75-inch Bang Boss Shiner in Mama’s 14K on the trailer caught some roaming largemouths around 2-3 pounds. Best Chatterbait color was Millwood Mayhem Bream using the Bass Assassin HPC in Chico’s Red Ear, or the Skunk Ape in Blank Check. Berkley Pit Boss in black/blue, June Bug, or California 420 with chartreuse dip pinchers, got slow reactions on stumps near lily pads on receding flats from 5-6 feet deep tapering out to 8-9 feet deep.
Brazalo Custom Lures Tandem Spinnerbaits in Millwood Mayhem Bream and white/chartreuse caught some decent-sized bass over the past week using a trailer hook and burning the bait near the surface, making it wake and cause commotion at the surface, near stumps and floating alligatorweed vegetation. “Best water clarity we found over the past week was in back of Bagley Creek and Red Slough on the main lake, away from river current. South Hickory and State Park water clarity was heavy stain conditions over the past week, and we had a tough time buying a bite in those locations. Lots of floating alligatorweed mats made fishing moving baits difficult in those areas. Very large grass mats are breaking loose and floating in those areas as well as in Little River this week.”
* Bream: Appears there are a few bream in a pre-spawn mode in a few areas with random bedmaking activities being seen. The bream bite should start to be good off the shoreline or on the dock at Jack’s Isle in the next week or two.
* Catfish: Continued to bite well again this week with the increased current along Little River. Limblines, trotlines and yo-yos have been working for some nice blues and channel cats over the past couple weeks with the increase of discharge at Millwood Dam. Cut shad, hot dogs, spoiled chicken livers, gizzards, hearts and soap have been working for the past several weeks for some nice size 4- to 8-pound cats on trotlines and yo-yos from 8-10 feet deep near current flows in creek channels near the river.
No reports on white bass or crappie.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 547.78 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.35 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Lots of good news. We’re seeing the activity of surfacing fish. Still spotty but from Iron Mountain to Point Cedar. It is that time of year. Get your spoons, crankbaits and to waters ready. Several catfisher people are out. The ones I talked to were catching some 6 feet deep on stink bait and noodles.
“Bream are on the beds with the full moon. Use side imaging to locate the beds in water from 4 feet to 12 feet. Drop-shot them.
“Crappie are doing well from Brushy to Shouse Ford. Fish brushpiles in 20 to 24 feet of water. Catch the ones on top with jigs or minnows you can cast over the top. After the bite slows, move in with the minnows. Use Tennessee Shad, Monkey Milk, baby bass. Use electronics to eliminate piles with no fish and move; don’t stay when the bite ends. Good luck, the holiday weekend coming up. Be courteous and patient with other boaters and travel safe.”
(updated 5-27-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said the crappie are doing great. As they finish their spawn the brushpiles are stacking up with ample numbers of crappie. “We’ve caught nice slab crappie on both jigs and minnows fished 8-10 feet deep. If you get on a top loaded with little ones, move to another and find the slabs, unless of course that is your target size.”
(update 5-20-2021) Local crappie angler Charles Abernathy said, “I got on the water for a few hours before dark earlier in the week. The water temperature was 70-plus degrees up around the Lennox area. The water was already high before all this rain hit, so expect some floaters.
“Fish were pretty much doing the same thing from my last report. I look for suspended fish in open water. I also key in on submerged timber around spawning areas and channels (15 feet or more depth). I’m seeing a lot of small ones on the brush mixed in with some big ones. I threw a pink/chartreuse tail Slab Slanger paired with a 1/16-ounce orange head. The water was fairly clean, but the sky was pretty dreary. Worked pretty dang good.
“Warning: I’m about to insert my opinion here and it’s worth about 2 cents. If you want to catch bigger fish consistently, take your forward-looking sonar and find you a big fish suspended out in open water or hanging off a tree by itself, and certainly not around a smaller fish who is greedy, and swing you a pretty jig over its head. It works (most of the time, haha).
“Sorry it’s been a while. Life sometimes gets busy and I appreciate some of you reaching out asking, ‘Where you at?’ As always, feel free to ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. I have a YouTube channel where I share some fishing content and have already posted this trip. The lake is going to be trashy until all this rain gets out of here. Please be careful.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 455.13 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 546.87 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 5-13-2021) Angler Stephen Tyson Jr. had a big day out on Lower White Oak lake recently, landing a monster 10-pound bass. Check out his Facebook fishing page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenTysonJrFiahing
(updated 5-27-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake has cleared, while the water level is high. Crappie reports are fair. The crappie are said to be deep. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair. They also are deep and are mostly biting buzzbaits and big worms in watermelon red or green pumpkin colors. No other reports.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 5-27-2021) Slycked Back Fishing LLC, manufacturer of the finest built and tied-by-hand fishing jigs made in Hot springs, Arkansas, reports Lake Catherine’s levels up and moving swiftly at times. Due to large water releases at Carpenter Dam the lake has some good currents and semi-stained water. Temps reach from 55 degrees to 72 as the flow moves toward Remmel Dam. Bass continue to be caught well and STILL are being caught off beds. Catherine has some strong, healthy fish in it and it shows every time one takes the hook! Bed fish can be caught on the Watermelon Red Rowdy Ravager Jig and tailed with a Bandito Bug or Zoom Z Craw in watermelon. A floating worm is still a threat on Catherine due to the colder water temps. Bubblegum or white on a small circle hook and spinning tackles promotes the best action for fish. A drop-shot is the forever and always go-to on Catherine and likely will continue to grow in popularity when the smallmouth start to flourish. A drop-shot rig with a watermelon seed Trick Worm 2 feet up is the old reliable presentation and it simply gets BIT! Walleye are a regular catch on Catherine for bass anglers. These fish, targeted by trolling a spoon with live nightcrawler as a “tipper,” will get some of the delicious fish in the boat while viewing the waterway.
“Check us out on Facebook at Slycked Back Fishing LLC.”
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 5-27-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that the water temperature below the dam is 57 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has scheduled another 7,000 cfs generation schedule beginning on Friday, May 28, and continuing through Thursday, June 3. This pattern will run 24/7 and is a very fast flow of water that can be dangerous to boaters and wade fishermen alike. More than 9,000 cfs now is running below Carpenter Dam, which has made the tailrace off limits. Anyone attempting to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace is advised to use extreme caution. Lake Ouachita continues to remain into flood pool and all generation efforts at area dams are devoted to lowering the big lake back to safe levels.
In the big picture, fishing below Carpenter Dam this year for rainbow trout has been a dismal failure. Record low catches of trout from professional guides have dominated the season in an area known for excellent trout fishing. Last year was marred by constant flooding that ruined the majority of the season. This year has surpassed that in low catch rates with no concrete reason for the slow bite. The general public has also reported similar results with many anglers moving to other areas hoping for better outcomes. The Game and Fish Commission has completed the spring trout stocking schedule and no more fish are to be stocked until late November. The crappie and walleye spawn were uneventful in catch numbers mostly due to area flooding that brought on very fast flows of water below the dam for weeks, preventing anglers from accessing areas that held fish. The only bright side of things were days when white bass were caught in good numbers as they fed on threadfin shad. April and May are stormy months in Arkansas and often bring flooding to our area. Until a safer generation schedule is implemented, fishing and boating below area dams will be dangerous. Recreation activities below hydroelectric dams are much different than the main bodies of lakes and rivers and have many dangerous side effects when bad weather is a weekly event. Being aware and taking proper precautions can make the difference between an enjoyable day and one that ends in injury or death. Hopefully, the month of June will mark a more stable weather pattern and bring better fishing to Lake Catherine. Remember to wear a mask and social distance in the park area and always wear a life jacket on the water.
(updated 5-27-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 5-27-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water levels slightly above normal with large water releases from Carpenter Dam. Water clarity is good but stained. Water temps in the mid- to high 70s throughout the lake. Bass have been finicky since the rains of last week. The bite is not aggressive when and if it happens. Subtle presentations are the way to go. Baits that make lots of noise are simply being ignored for the most part. Swimbaits like the ½-ounce Slycked Back Swim Jig in white or chartreuse have been getting strikes, but if it is a Chatterbait or spinnerbait it’s ignored. Drop-shots also get some action but the bite has come by just dead-sticking the baits. Zoom seedless green drop-shot worms were the only consistent color to work. “We threw everything in the bag at them this weekend and those are the only two presentations that worked somewhat consistently. Watermelon Jigs like the Slycked Back Rowdy Ravager in ½ ounce also had some bites, but all in all very frustrating. We are obviously in a transition phase and it will settle out, but for right now it’s ‘junk fishing.’”
Crappie have been fair in the early mornings on minnows in deeper depths of 15-25 feet on bridge pilings and brush in current.
Bream have been fantastic on deeper docks and rocky steep ledges. A live worm is the ticket! Catfish have been excellent on cut bait and cheese on current drop-offs.
“The summer crowds are out in force! Anglers need to be prepared to be waked and crowded, but try to keep cool out there. There is room for everyone. Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 355.92 feet msl (normal pool: 344.95 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake clarity is muddy and the water level is high, rising about an inch an hour was of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. Surface temperature is 75 degrees. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs (last week’s favorite color patterns were black/chartreuse and red/chartreuse are best colors). Black bass are good, with spinnerbaits and plastic worms continuing working best, and Chatterbaits also getting lots of action. They suggested using the white War Eagle spinner with gold leaf skirt. Catfish are good. Cut shad, whole shad, minnows, hot dogs, using noodles, limblines, just about anything is working for cats.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 578.56 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-27-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still good. Jighead worms and shad-colored swimbaits seem to be working best. Walleye are very good and are being caught on Shad Raps and Flicker Shad when trolling near/over points. Stripers are still good. These fish are being caught on jerkbaits and live bait in the central part of the lake near Bird Island and the Cedar Fouche mouth. Bream are still excellent and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are on beds 6-10 feet deep. Crappie are very good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 10-20 feet of water. Catfish are still very good and are being caught on juglines and trotlines with live or cut bait. Water temperature is ranging 70-74 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level on Wednesday was 578.47 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 5-13 2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said crappie are doing great. “We’ve caught them as shallow as 6 feet and as deep as 15 feet. Live bait works best, but jigs do their part, too. We’ve also seen large schools of white bass and small striper surface-feeding on threadfin shad early at first light. Spoons and 3-inch swimbaits landed a single limit in short order.”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 395.00 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2021) Angler Bennie Goodman fished Blue Mountain this week and said the water level is up 9-11 feet. In open water you can find the crappie 5-10 feet down, and the flooded willow trees are loaded like crappie Christmas trees with good-size crappie. Any color jig is working, but they did like the minnow around the flooded willow trees
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge had dropped slightly from last week to 27.21 feet, more than a foot above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 5-21-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said anglers at Bear Creek Lake report having success catching crappie, blue catfish and bluegill. Crappie and bluegill have been reported to be biting at depths of 3-4 feet, while catfish have been reported to be biting at 6-8 feet. Anglers report having success catching crappie by fishing with minnows, while using redworms to catch bluegill. Anglers report catching blue cats with different types of homemade baits. Meanwhile, there has been very little fishing activity taking place at Storm Creek Lake.
(updated 5-27-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) reports that high water from the White River will not allow Cook’s Lake to be open for Memorial Day weekend, and it will remain closed until water recedes enough. Wil did make a successful return visit to Peckerwood Lake this past week; see his report under Central Arkansas.
(updated 5-6-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) had no new reports.
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
Nov. 30, 2023
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