Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
April 15, 2020
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for April 15, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter 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
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 4-15-2020) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake remains the expected stain and is at a high level after the rains. Bream are good on redworms, crickets, jigs and nightcrawlers. Save those redworms also for the crappie, which are biting well, too. Minnows and jigs also will work. Black bass are good using spinnerbaits, topwater plugs, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and bass minnows. Catfish are biting well on trotlines with minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 4-15-2020) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said, “I hope all are well and adapting to these different times. During these trying times, I hope all are doing their part in preventing the spread of this virus. This seems the only way we can control this disease and return to normal. It is impossible to practice social distancing while guiding, so I have suspended my guiding until such time it is safe for me and my clients. No one wants to spread this disease to others, but social contact is unforgiving and doesn’t distinguish strangers, friends or relatives.”
Greg adds, “Times are different on the Little Red. Arkansas is still under restricted travel, limited gatherings of 10 people or less, social distancing and no recreational lodging rentals. Rentals can be for business or medical personal only. It is my hope that this situation improves soon and we can begin to get back to normal. As soon as this happens, I will be posting the good news and reopen my guide business. I am missing all my regular fishermen and meeting new ones.
“The river is clear and high. They are generating round-the-clock with either one or two units. The lake is still 2½ feet above normal. We can hope that when the water levels return to normal, our daily routines are also closer to normal and we can enjoy the river. It is best to check each afternoon for the next day schedule. Stay safe, good health and see you soon.”
(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.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 465.90 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 465.89 feet msl, 3.85 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet for this time of year and is still on the rise. It great news for our spawn, and nest and eggs will not be left on dry ground for the most part. Crappie are at some stage of spawn all over the lake and rivers and can be caught dunking a minnow or jig around the bushes even out to 15 feet. Catfish are being more and more active feeding in the rivers and lake. Bream are up for the most part feeding well for their spawn coming up, use crickets, crawlers, small crankbaits, small inline spinners. Walleye are eating in the lake well, lots of bites and wading through smallmouth, to catch limits. River walleye are on move but can be caught a variety of ways; try dragging a crawler, fluke or using a crawler or plastic worm on a crankbait. Catching can be done from super shallow out to 30 feet of water. Black bass are like crappie in all stages in lakes and rivers, still some fish out deeper that have not had the urge to come shallow yet. A variety of baits are working. After you figure out where they are, try different baits to see how they will react and build confidence in yourself using different baits catching them. Hybrid bass and white bass catching can be done from super shallow out to 30 feet of water on spoons, grubs, inline spinners, hair jigs, swimbaits and some topwater action going on as well
(updated 4-15-2020) Fish ‘N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says crappie are good on Roadrunner, pink/chartreuse jigs, pink/white jigs in the buckbrush. Smallmouth bass are good in 5-8 feet depth using flukes, floating worms, and Gitzits in the buckbrush. Largemouth bass are good, with floating worms, Carolina rigs, jigs (in green pumpking and peanut butter and jelly colors) working best in the buckbrush.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 4-15-2020) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) reports the lake is muddy. The surface water temperature is 60-61 degrees as of Tuesday afternoon. Water level is high. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair. They’re biting at 11 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good close to the shoreline. Catfishing is good on trotlines baited with goldfish.
(updated 4-15-2020) Johnny “Catfish” Banks of Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) had no new reports. Visit Johnny’s Facebook page (Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park) for the latest updates and photos.
(updated 4-15-2020) David Hall, owner of Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303), said the lake is stained and is 3 feet above normal. Bream fishing has been good during the warm afternoon. Use worms. Crappie are good. They’re being found in 12 feet depth in the channel. Minnows, jigs, spider-rigging and the Bobby Garland Purple Monkey are working best. Black bass are good, with catches mostly from 5-6 feet deep in the evenings. Go with a No. 12 bass minnow. Catfishing is good on jigs, noodles, and trotlines baited with goldfish or black salties.
(updated 4-15-2020) Westrock Landing (501-658-5598) on Highway 10 near Roland had no fishing reports. The shop is open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(updated 4-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting really well on chicken livers, nightcrawlers and minnows. Crappie fishing has been fair with No. 6 minnows and pink minnows and Kalin’s Grubs. Bass are biting wacky-rigged Zoom Trick Worms, Baby Brush Hogs and live minnows. Bream are hitting redworms and crickets.
(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.
Bishop Park Ponds
(updated 4-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie and bass fishing are good with No. 6 and No. 12 minnows, Trick Worms, Kalin’s and Bobby Garland Jigs and Zing Tail Spinners. Bream are hitting the Zing Tails, too, as well as crickets and worms. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows, worms and chicken livers.
Saline River Access in Benton
(updated 4-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) says bass fishing has been good on the river this week. Smallmouth bass, Kentucky bass and largemouth bass have been biting well on No. 12 minnows and brooder minnows, Trick Worms, lizards, Baby Brush Hogs, anything resembling a crawdad, and small spinnerbaits. Pumpkin, green pumpkin, watermelon/red and watermelon candy are good colors. Walleye fishing has been slow with only a few reports of catching one or two fish. Crappie have been biting well in backwaters and bigger holes with weak current. No. 6 minnows and Kalin’s Grubs in several colors have been catching them. Catfish have been biting fair at night and early in the mornings on minnows, goldfish, black salties and chicken livers. Bream fishing can be fun almost anytime you can fish on the Saline. Light line and tackle, plenty of crickets or redworms or even a small Zing Tail spinner will catch them all day long. Use heavier line and tackle and No. 12 minnows for a tougher battle by casting close to visible gar when the water is clear enough to see them. Often you can see them take the bait and the fun begins before the line gets tight.
Lisa adds, “Where ever you’re fishing and whatever you’re fishing for, Lisa’s Bait Shop has what you need to catch ’em and we have since 1985. Have fun, stay safe and please don’t litter our beautiful outdoors.”
(updated 4-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie fishing is still good and getting better. No. 6 minnows and/or Kalin’s Arkansas and Tennessee Shad Grubs have been the baits to use. Bass are hitting wacky-rigged worms, Carolina-rigged lizards and Brush Hogs, spinnerbaits and live minnows. Catfish are biting in the early evenings and at daylight on minnows, nightcrawlers and chicken livers. Bream fishing has been fair, and when the water gets a little warmer we know the big ones are there. Crickets and redworms fished on tight lines around fairy deep cover works well on Norrell for big bream.
(updated 4-15-2020) Lisa Spencer at Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said No. 12 bass minnows have been catching some slab crappie. Customers report catching them at different depths right now from less than a foot of water to 20 feet deep. Bass have been typical for this time of year and are biting plastic worms, lizards and creature baits like Brush Hogs, rigged in various ways. Just use your favorite rig. Minnows, crankbaits and spinnerbaits will get bites as well. Catfish have been biting better from dusk until an hour or so after dark. No. 12 minnows, nightcrawlers and chicken livers have been working for cats. Bream fishing has been good for some customers tight-lining with redworms in water from 4-12 feet deep in places that get plenty of sun during the day.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 chicken 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 4-15-2020) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reports the Little Rock pool is muddy and high. Below Terry Lock and Dam near the Willow Beach area, they have heard good reports on black bass. Whopper Ploppers are working best; fish there in the early morning. Also, catfish are good below the hydroelectric plant. Use cut skipjack or cut shad. White bass are fair by the Terry Dam using chartreuse Sassy Shads.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas-River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 4-15-2020) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake clarity is cloudy and the level is high. Bream are good on worms and crickets. Crappie are good using minnows or jigs. No reports on black bass or crappie.
(updated 4-15-2020) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) said the lake is dingy. Water level is high. Bream are good on worms and crickets. The crappie bit is good, too; try minnows and jigs, and crappie will also bite the baited yo-yos. Black bass are good. Anglers are catching them with topwater baits and jigs. Catfishing are biting limblines and yo-yos with minnows, worms and hot dogs, and results have been good.
(updated 4-15-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River watershed is carrying a lot of surplus water from recent rain across northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, which explains why, during the past couple of weeks, all three dams have occasionally added spillway releases to the already high generation from Beaver, Table Rock and Bull Shoals dams. Traffic on the Bull Shoals tailwater has been very light due to coronavirus travel restrictions and stay-in-place orders, and it’s a sure bet the other trout streams are missing their fishing friends, too. We trout anglers are aching to get back to the rivers but may have to wait until the governor’s executive order banning out-of-state overnight stays for recreational visitors is lifted, which could be at any time, or it may be in place until sometime in May (or longer). So we wait, practice social distancing, keep our hands clean and keep our rods and reels in perfect form. As we pointed out last week, river conditions are working in our favor to create a fantastic fishery when restrictions are lifted. High water often aids in growth patterns of trout, few fishers on the river create an abundance of unsuspecting fish just waiting for something to excite them to bite, and warmer temperatures lure us to the outdoors. There’s no better place in our great country to enjoy God’s nature than the Natural State: Arkansas. Hoping to see you soon!
(updated 4-15-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is muddy and high. More than 8 generators have running at the dam, as well as water running at the spillway. Trout fishing is poor. “We finally had some guest this weekend and no one caught anything,” they report.
(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had two rain events (combined for a little less than 2 inches), cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 foot to rest at 22.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.1 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 deep-water worm with a weighted egg suspended below it).
Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
John also said, “Last week I had one of my regular clients cancel his scheduled guide trip due to fear of the coronavirus (his wife would not let him come). Based on what is happening in our country it was the best thing to do. I can honestly say that I was a bit concerned about the trip. I am 73 years old and am in the group of people most at peril with the disease.
“This has been a common occurrence over the past few weeks as I have had almost all of my trips this month canceled. When I talk to other guides (carefully maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet), they all tell me they are in the same boat. I still have a few trips scheduled for May that I fully expect to lose any day. To make things tougher, Gov. Hutchison has closed the state to temporary visitors from other states. Anybody that would want to fish here now has nowhere to stay. I do not disagree with his decision.
“Guides are in financial trouble. If we don’t work, we don’t eat. We are all independent contractors, not employees. We work for ourselves. If we do a guide trip for a lodge, trout dock or fly shop, they take a percentage of the fee but do not provide any benefits. We are not provided health insurance, retirement or sick pay. If we do not have any trips, we cannot draw unemployment. It is our responsibility to pay for our health insurance, retirement and plan for hard times. Some do this better than others.
“I see a radical change in our business. I do not see a return to normal for a long time. The coronavirus will have to run its course so that our citizens can move freely.
I am fortunate. I am a conservative, retired CPA who was raised by parents that survived the Great Depression and World War II. I have been taught to live a simple life and save money for hard times. I live in a small house, drive a used 21-year-old Suburban and work out of a used 15-year-old Supreme with a 15 hp motor.
“The reality of the situation is that we are not alone. Everyone that I know is feeling pain. I know a lot of people that have lost their jobs. Local businesses are closed or offering very limited services. There is no rainbow in sight. I can only recommend that we all hunker down and survive this plague and be ready to get back to work on the other side.
“We are all in this together. I look forward to fishing with my friends and clients again.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 682.75 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that the lake clarity is cloudy and the lake is 23 feet high as of Tuesday midafternoon. He heard no reports on bream. Crappie are good and are spawning in the shallow water. Black bass also are spawning in the shallow water and the bite is fair. Catfishing is good but you’ve got to go deep. Try 35-40 feet depth halfway back in the creeks. The cats are biting on shad. White bass are mainly done and have moved on. They’re biting on jerkbaits and swimbaits. Walleye are good at the main and secondary points, biting jerkbaits in the evening. 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 570.51 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Fishing for Norfork Lake stripers, bass, and crappie continues to improve. The crappie has moved off the banks due to the cold weather but are being caught over the deep brush piles. Slow trolling small crank baits in 20-30 feet of water near the shore will produce. Another method is to dip a minnow in debris along a deep shoreline. This coming week will slow down the spawn as we are expected to have cold nights and rain for a few days. Once we start having some warm nights and south winds we will see the spawn for crappies, bass and shad. That will be a great time to be on the water as the fish will be very active chasing bait food in the buck brush.
The best striper bite this past week was the late afternoon. With the full moon the stripers feed at night so very early mornings and later evenings usually produce the best. My son Sean fished several evenings and had some great success. He fished Crystal Cove above Blue Lady Resort and caught several good size stripers with the biggest being 32 pounds, which was released. Sean was using 10-inch gizzard shad. This time of year the stripers want the really big baits. As the saying goes “big baits big fish”. Now that the full moon is over, you should resume our normal spring pattern, fishing the main lake points early and later in the morning if you have a west or south wind. I usually fish Big Creek from Wood’s Point up to 1C early then move to the windy banks later in the morning. My best baits are 5 to 8 inch gizzard shad. I use long lines and planner boards to cover a large area of water. Another trick is to fish the deep water buffs but keep your baits shallow, the stripers love cruising those areas feeding on threadfin shad.
(updated 4-15-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good over the last couple of weeks and will continue to get better and better as the weather and the lake stabilizes. Crappie and bass fishing have been the best bite with the striped bass bite not far behind.
He says, “There have been two different methods that I and others have been using to catch crappie. Trolling small crankbaits, such as the Berkley Flicker Minnow size 7, that dive 10 to 15 feet have been working very well. I have been slow-trolling these baits at 1.2 mph. Colors have varied, purple has been working the best as of late, but the firetiger and shad color patterns have also been doing well. Best areas have been part way back in creeks and coves, especially if there is a lot of sunken brush in 10 to 30 feet of water. The crappie are schooling and moving between brush piles. I have mainly been staying in 18 to 30 feet of water and am working the whole area. The other method of fishing for crappie is to vertical jig a small jig over brush that is in 20 to 30 feet of water. The crappie have been suspended above the brush about 15 feet down. There is actually a third method. Crappie are still spawning and will be for some time. They will be up in shallow water, so casting a jig into shallow water or live bait on a slip float will catch you some fish. This last method is the toughest as there is a lot of sunken brush along the shore line so they could be spawning anywhere.
“Bass fishing has also been very good. Largemouth and spotted bass are up in the sunken brush from the shoreline out to 20 feet of water. Top water baits, swimbaits, spinners and crank baits are all working at times. Keep your bait at the top of the brush and the bass will come out and ambush it. Main lake points on both the shallow and deep side are holding fish. If you want to get into some topwater action head back into creeks and coves and find some bait. The bass are coming up and feeding at sunrise and then again at sunset. They move a little deeper after the sun comes up.
“The striped bass bite has had its ups and downs with the ever-changing weather patterns and lake level changes. At this time this species is feeding early in the morning on some of the main lake points in the sunken buck brush. Live bait is working the best, but casting out swimbaits or suspending jerkbaits are catching a few. They will be up in very shallow water feeding out to 30 feet of water. I used live bait with no weights the other day. I was letting the baits swim free just outside of the brush. The fish were cruising and attacking the bait right on the surface. Don’t hesitate to check out coves and creeks where the wind is blowing directly in. Many times in this situation the wind will blow in the bait and the stripers will follow. I found fish in the back of one cove in 20 to 30 feet of water. This species is continually, looking for their next meal. Find lots of bait and the stripers will be nearby.
Over the last week the lake had dropped slowly about a foot, but with the rains the other day it is slowly rising again. The lake currently sits at 570.45 feet MSL. The lake surface temperature is hovering around 60 degrees plus or minus a degree or two. The weather is going to change for the better and is warming up again. The lake is slightly stained to clear. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals 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 there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole due to flooding. 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 (size 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. With the coronavirus there is little pressure. 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.
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 4-15-2020) 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 1,128.40 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) says Beaver Lake was warming nicely until this week. The bottom dropped out early this week with some snow flurries happening. If you’re new to the region, welcome! This is very normal but frustrating weather. Temperatures were in the 90s last week and, well, now mid-30s.The cold will push back fish that were coming onto the shoreline fast last week. Bass were really good in backs of main arms on plastics, jerkbaits and flukes. Stripers have been good and remain good. Stripers respond well to cooling temps usually. Look in mid-lake areas and around Point 12. There are huge schools of gizzard shad in Piney Creek, Friendship Creek and Blue Springs. I have seen some explosive topwater in a few of those areas.
Crappie were moving up nicely. “We caught lots of fish in buckbrush before this cold showed up. Look for flooded buck brush. On that note, the Army Corps of Engineers opened floodgates again and, on cue, right when spawn is coming on. I hope they can keep water stable throughout the next months. I do not know how many times the spawn starts and they drop the lake, leaving beds exposed. I understand Beaver is a flood control project, but it is hard to watch them pull the plug and really mess up the spawn. Beaver needs all the good spawns we can put together.
“White bass are good, finishing their spawn in major river arms. Walleye are moving back and still are being caught in same areas as white bass. Troll Flicker Shads and you can pick up both. Hybrids will start to show in river arms this month. Catfishing is good throughout the lake. Lots of debris, so be safe.”
(updated 4-15-2020) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said there is some stain the Beaver Lake and the level remains more than 7 feet high. No reports on bream. Crappie are excellent and are shallow. They are “biting really whatever you want to throw. Black bass are good. Try spinnerbaits, crankbaits and chatterbaits. No report on catfish. White bass are good with live crawfish or Little Fishy. Walleye are spotty in the river arms; use live minnows.
(updated 4-15-2020) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says fishing this past week has been a little tricky with the water being released from the dam. Not so much the bite, but the different methods employed to catch fish. “I personally like fishing with flowing water. The trout bite has been good. Most have been biting on various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. Jigs and spoons have done the trick as well. White bass are starting to make their move up the river. Try fishing for them in 14-20 feet of water with U-rigs; various hard baits are catching them as well. Most of this action is between Beaver and Holiday Island. Kentucky bass are being caught in chunk rock and around structure. Soft plastics and hard baits have been working well for these guys.
“The striper bite has been decent. Most fish are being caught mid-lake, in 30-50 feet or water with live bait. This week’s hot spot has been toward Beaver with the various species. If you would like further information, please contact me through my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service). Have fun, stay dry BUNDLE UP and be safe!”
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) Ralph F. Donnangelo, park superintendent, had no new reports.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the lake is murky and high. Surface water temperature on Sunday morning was 51 degrees. The visitor center is closed until the end of April because of coronavirus. There is still access via the boat ramp off Arkansas Highway 25; also the boat ramp in the park is open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Best moon times for fishing this month are during April 20-26, she said. Crappie fishing is good using minnows and jigs, as well as worms and lipless crankbaits in black/orange or silver/blue. Bass are good. Anglers are catching bass on spinnerbaits, topwater lures, plastic worms and lipless cranks. Catfishing is good. Use worms, blood bait, stink bait, goldfish or minnows. No report on bream.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) Walcott Lake (Crowley’s Ridge State Park) had no reports.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) Austin Davidson, park interpreter at Cane Creek State Park, had no report.
(updated 4-15-2020) Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-5480), had no reports.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 260.33 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday, Millwood Lake is back on a slow rise from recent 2-3 inches of rain and thunderstorms. Millwood Lake is about 10 inches above normal conservation pool, near 260 feet msl, and the discharge is round 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 245 feet msl with discharge. Be sure and check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake 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..
Wilton Landing on Little River U.S. Highway 71 and White Cliffs boat ramp on Little River, along with Saratoga boat ramp, were recently reopened by the USACE after recent flooding. Millwood State Park and 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.
Surface temps dropped this week with arrival of late cold fronts and, as of Monday, ranged 55-63 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is improving. Little River stain is consistent, muddy in locations near Cossatot inflow and Wilton with increase of current and with random broken timber and debris.
As for fishing details:
* Largemouth bass: Millwood is back on a slow rise from the recent thunderstorms, and a lot of the largemouth bass are post spawn in many locations, especially upriver where they typically spawn first. A few males are still being seen near spawning flats, roaming in and out of flats near vertical structure in the oxbows however. Brazalo Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, Trick Worms, Tricky Sticks, 6-8-inch lizards, and twitch worms continue working over the past few weeks. Echo 1.5 crankbaits, chatterbaits and custom painted Little Johns were getting fair responses over the last week from roaming Bass on flats. Anywhere 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 sized 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/no river current present.
The best responses from bass continue hitting on Rat-L-Traps are on the Toledo Gold and Red Rayburn Craw. Mike says they have been seeing a few decent 2-3 pound male bass roaming during the heat of the day, if near to a quick creek bend drop into 8-12 feet structure. South Hickory Golf Course pockets and the Millwood State Park coves continue warming up, and seeing bass run in and out of cuts with grass and near stumps and vegetation, as well. We continue to see good reactions from 2-3lb males over the past couple weeks, pitching lizards and baby Brush Hogs, Pit Bosses, and Beavers around cypress trees, flooded buck brush, bushes, and back of pockets. Millwood State Park pockets continue fishing well this week, and several nice 5-9 pound Largemouths have been caught near the Millwood State Park over the past week. Dead-sticking Bass Assassin Shads on a light wire hook near cover and stumps have been catching some decent 15-18″ Largemouths. A slow fall to the shad Assassin is critical, and too large/heavy a hook will kill the action. Line watching is mandatory, and many times, dead-sticking, the line will just start taking off when the Bass hit it on the fall and swim off with it, like a stick or trick worm. Best colors of Shad Assassins as of late, are the Salt-N-Pepper Silver Phantom, Pumpkinseed/chartreuse, and Houdini colors.
Best reaction colors of Chatterbaits and Spinnerbaits as of lately, continue to be chartreuse/white, Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover or Arkansas River Shad. Best depth zones targeted are cypress tree knees from 6-10 feet, with 12-15 feet of depth nearby. “We continue seeing the male bass roaming the flats from 2-4 pounds each, moving in shallow 3-5′ deep bedding areas. The larger females are beginning to move up, near points or creek channel bends and vertical structure drops where broken timber and stumps are present, toward the spawning flats and several have been observed on beds. 6″- 8″ Lizards in black/blue tail, June Bug, blackberry and watermelon candy have been picking up some cruising Bass near stumps, on drops into 10 feet of structure. Dipping the tail in chartreuse dye will also get you bit in the stained water clarity.” Trick Worms, Trick Sticks, and twitch worms in watermelon candy, black/blue, blue ice and blue/purple ice continue working over the past several days in 5-8 feet depths on stumps and cypress tree knees. Several nice-size pre-spawn female largemouth were hitting jigs using Texas Craw, Millwood Mayhem Bream and black/blue, using a black frog plastic trailer over the past few weeks upriver.
* White bass: Whites continue finishing up their annual spawning migration along Little River’s headwaters, upriver near U.S. Highway 71 and Patterson Shoals. Random schools have been caught between McGuire and Cemetery Slough over the past week, migrating back down river. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along primary points extending into 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 2-3 past 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 sized 2-3 pound Whites over the past several weeks. Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few White Bass 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 swim-baits, 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 over the past couple weeks. 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 we did pick 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: They have been biting consistent over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River. Channel cats and blues remain good on Punch Bait and cut shad on trotlines from 9-12 feet of depth in current.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 547.01 feet msl (normal pool: 548.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) said the lake level is 547.08 feet msl, or 0.92 feet below full pool of 548 feet. Water temps have warmed up to the mid 60’s and the upper portion of the lake has some color. Fishing is good in general right now. Bass are in all 3 phases of the spawn now. Suspending Super Rogues and Super Rogue Jr’s are also working very well on windy points. Chrome/Blue and Clown colors are working well. Wacky rigged YUM dingers, shaky head YUM finesse worms are working well in green pumpkin and watermelon colors. Carolina rigged YUM Christie critters are also producing some good catches in the same colors. Crappie have been good lately. They can be caught in brush 15-25 feet deep on minnows and Bobby Garland jigs.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 407.11 feet msl (normal pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said of the recent weather and drops in temperatures, “Welcome to Arkansas. I have to admit that all this information that follows came prior to Easter storms. I had visited with many bass fishermen in the previous week. They were fishing pretty well, with everything you can use in shallow water: wacky worms, spinnerbaits, worms, jerkbaits and more. Lots of bass are in the brush right now. Kentucky bass are stacked up in 3- to 4 feet of water. Even seen people sight-fishing females on the beds.
“The lake is at 407.16 feet msl. With the recent rains the lake has been up and down like a yo-yo. Water temperature was up to 69-70 degrees on north and shallow shoreline. Bream are in the brush and crappie are, too. The crappie have been on the beds in shallow one day and then water pulled own 6-7 inches overnight and the water temperatures dropping to mid- to low 60s, so they are moved out in the morning. Some fish are being caught in front of brush when this happens. Minnows, I think, are best, but jigs are producing, too. The brushpiles in the 20s are loaded with crappie but there are lots of small ones. This also depends on water temperature, as I previously explained.
“So, if your water temperature is mid- to high 60s, check the brush. If not, move to shallow brushpiles and work deeper if needed. As usual for spring, Point Cedar to Arlie Moore is best this time of year along with the Brushy area. The brush is full of active fish, so start shallow and work deeper. Stay safe and practice social distancing.”
(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 443.54 feet msl (normal pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 543.17 feet msl (normal pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 4-15-2020) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said due to the weather, he had to no reports to pass along. The lakes are muddy and high.
(updated 4-15-2020) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.
(updated 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) 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 4-15-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said that since last Tuesday (April 7) they had several mild days of sunshine followed by a severe storm on Easter Sunday. For this week, the initial forecast calls for sunshine until rain returns leading into the weekend. Then partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures return Sunday. Recent rains and high river flow has kept the water muddy. Surface water temperature is 64 degrees.
As of Tuesday (April 7) the Corps of Engineers reported river flows near 150,000 cfs at both Ozark and Dardanelle last week. Flow at both dams dropped to below 100,000 cfs over the past weekend. But recent rains have caused the flow to rise above 120,000 cfs.
As for fishing, Jason says, “With water temperature in that prime spawning window for several of our fish species, fishing should be getting better. Last week I found the crappie were still a little deep but were moving up into the tributaries. We also netted several small shad near the bank a few days ago. I have been finding lots of mayfly nymphs in the rip-rap along the bank. Hopefully, all these signs point to good fishing. Now is a great time to get out there and try to catch some crappie, catfish or bass.
“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 federal recommendations for social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus. 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 365.78 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake is muddy, while the surface temperature ranges 58-63 degrees. Water level is “really high” again this week, nearly 24 feet over normal conservation pool. Bream are fair in the rea, but not at Nimrod right now, they report. The high water is affecting the bream bite there, but bream are biting on watershed lakes, they report. Use redworms and crickets. The high water is not hurting the crappie bite, though. Crappie are good and being caught 6-10 feet below the surface on Bobby Garland Jigs, black/chartreuse jigs and red/chartreuse jigs. Black bass are fair. Use spinnerbaits with gold willow leaf. While bass are “not doing great, they are back in the brush.” Catfishing is good, with a 65-pounder being caught there this week. They’re being caught on trotlines baited with minnows or goldfish.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 578.66 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are very good. Floating worms, Ned rigs and Carolina rigs are producing very good stringers. Walleye are good. Shad Raps and jerkbaits seem to be the go-to baits right now. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on topwater C-10 Redfins and live bait on the west end of the lake. Bream are excellent with crickets or PowerBait in 5-15 feet of water. Crappie are 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. Lake conditions show a water temperature ranging 62-70 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level Tuesday was 578.72 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 403.87
feet msl (normal pool: 387.00 feet msl).
(updated 4-15-2020) Professional fishing guide Ronnie Tice (901-687-6800) said that due to the weather, things have slowed way down. He had poor reports on the bream, crappie and black bass. Catfishing was good using shad, stink bait and crawfish. Horseshoe is muddy and high, he said Tuesday afternoon. 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
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