Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
Sept. 30, 2021
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Sept. 30, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 11 a.m. the day of publication (Sept. 30).
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Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 9-30-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Wednesday that the lake is the normal stain and the lake level, while low in some parts, is normal in most areas and boat lanes. Bream are still good on redworms and crickets. Crappie, however, have turned hit-or-miss, and results have been fair on average. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good; it’s best to try a 7- to 10-inch curly tail worm, or swimbait or a frog now. Catfishing is good using stink bait, nightcrawlers, dough bait and trotline minnows.
(updated 9-30-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) says it has heard that things are picking on bream here.
(updated 9-30-2021) Angler Dennis Charles said there has been little to no change from last week. The lake is 3 feet below normal and very clear, and the fish are becoming more active. “Follow the lake edge and use your imagination. I am getting reports of anglers catching fish on nontraditional lures and modified lures.
Crappie: Typical locations around the lake, they are active around 10 feet, use normal stuff. Some folks have been discreetly dropping fish habitat Keep your eye on your sonar.
Bream: Look for their beds and try normal baits; they are being caught a bit away from their beds.
Black bass: They are following their food.
Yellow bass: Look for them schooling and largemouth bass below them.
Catfish: Look for deep spots and around the docks.
Dennis suggests checking out the Arkansas Bass Fishing Facebook page, as well as https://www.facebook.com/Conways-Lake-Beaverfork-Fishing-Reports-111202737334235. Also, visit Dennis’ Facebook page (Arkansas Fishing Adventures) for more information from lakes around the area.
Little Red River
(updated 9-30-2021) Guide Mike Winkler, operating Little Red River Guide Service (501-690-9166, 501-507-3688), says the generation schedule at Greers Ferry Dam has been consistent on Little Red River with Southwestern Power Administration and the Corps of Engineers running 2-4 hours a day on weekdays, usually starting around 2 p.m. The weekend’s generation schedule has been minimal. Try fishing the deep holes and oxygenated shoals while nymphing under an indicator, with pheasant tails, sowbugs, hare’s ear, nymphs, eggs and midge’s all being effective. Or try stripping Woolly Buggers and Cracklebacks.
(updated 9-30-2021) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said the Little Red is receiving 1-3 hours of afternoon generation on weekdays with less on weekends. “We seem to be settling into a fall generation pattern. Midges, pheasant tails, hare’s ear and Woolly Buggers are recommended for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing try pink and white-colored bodies on chartreuse or gold jigheads.” Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 9-30-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said water is running later in the afternoon and is clear. Trout are good on Marabou Jigs in olive color, along with sixteenth-ounce Rooster Tails and No. 5 and No. 10 Rapala Countdowns working best.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 457.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 9-30-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 457.88 feet msl, which is 4.66 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet msl and falling with generation. Lots of big black bass are being seen on the shoreline chasing bream, and they are scattered from shallow to 60 feet, biting on a variety of baits top to bottom, points and secondary points best. Crappie are 15 feet down to 50 feet scattered as well; stay with bait and use jigs, minnows or crankbaits. Some walleye are roaming with other species of schooling fish and the rest are on structure in 18-60 feet. Crawlers are working as well as spoons. Bream are being caught shallow out to 25 feet on crawlers and crickets. Catfish are eating a variety of stuff all over lake and rivers. Hybrid and white bass are eating all over lake and rivers on spoons, inline baits, swimbaits and topwater baits in 25-60 feet. Stay around the shad.
(updated 9-30-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said the lake is a water is low and clear. Bass fishing is getting better, and they are catching schooling fish on the lower end of the lake on CC Spoons and topwaters like Zara Spooks and Rebel Pop-Rs. Also there is an improving bass bite on Carolina rigs in 10-15 feet of water around points. Crappie that are relating to the standing timber are biting well on Crappie Magnets in natural shad, pink or purple colors in 15 feet of water,
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 9-30-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake has improve in clarity to slightly stained, but the level remains low. No surface temperature was reported. Bream continue to bite well on redworms or crickets. Crappie are good as they move closer to the shoreline with October around the corner. Use the ol’ minnow or jig, naturally. Black bass remain active around the shoreline with anglers appearing to catch good numbers and in decent sizes, but they’re not suggesting any specific baits (like we said last week, this time of year seems good there for a topwater like a Zara Spook or Rebel Pop-R around the bank). Catfishing is good using worms or chicken liver.
(updated 9-16-2021) Phil Thomas at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the water level has tumbled to low, and the water clarity is dingy. The conditions still have set up well for bream, with anglers saying they’re catching good numbers on redworms and crickets. Bream are biting off the docks and in slips in the shade, he said. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish are good but no baits were mentioned. No reports on black bass.
(update 9-16-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210) said the clarity of Brewer Lake is normal, as is the level. Bream fishing is good, with bream found around the shoreline. Use redworms and crickets. Crappie are good, with fish being found at 3-6 feet depth. Use Bobby Garland Baby Shad jigs, or try minnows. Crappie are relating to the brushpiles. Black bass fishing is good, particularly in the afternoons. Try your basic topwater or try a just-below-the-surface bait (Texas-rigged floating worm, perhaps) in the shallow grassy areas. Catfishing is good using stink bait and fishing it near or on the bottom.
(updated 9-30-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) said Thursday morning that water temperature is in the upper 70s. The lake level is low and the lake has not turned over yet. Largemouth bass fishing is fair. Anglers report some bass have headed into the coves due to the cooling water temps. Try using a Texas rig on brush, or a drop-shot. Kentucky bass (spotted bass) are good. Some spots are being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks, while other reports have them being found on brushpiles. Use jigs. White bass are poor. The ones being found are on the sides of the channel in 15-18 feet depth. Swimbaits are your best bet.
Crappie were good over the weekend but slowed down by midweek. Reports came in this week of crappie around 20-25 feet depth above structure. Use jigs or minnows. Bream are slow. Big ones still can be found around 10-15 feet around the beds, some anglers report, while others are being caught in 14-16 feet off of windy points. Even more anglers are catching a bunch of small bream from the shoreline. Use crickets and worms.
Catfish are fair off the shoreline at about 12-15 feet. Chicken liver, worms and crayfish are the baits of choice.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 3,004 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 9,504 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 9-30-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said black bass are good. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish are biting well on chicken liver. The river is green with algae bloom but still clear. The water level is normal.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 2,750 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 3,851 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 2,274 cfs.
(updated 9-30-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said water is stained and normal level. The bass bite is getting better. They’re biting in the early morning on topwater baits. During the day, the action is coming on crankbaits, Carolina rigs and shaky head worms around the sandbar drops and off the ends of jetties. Catfish are good below the Murray Lock and Dam on nightcrawlers, stink bait and cut bait. Crappie are good on white/chartreuse and black/chartreuse jigs in 10 feet of water behind jetties on the main river.
(updated 9-30-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said Thursday morning that crappie are good around the Burns Park area on minnows and jigs. They are fair below Terry Lock and Dam on pink minnows off the jetties. Bream are fair in 4-5 feet deep water around Murray Lock and Dam, just off the rocks, and in the backwater around Willow Beach; use redworms or crickets. Black bass can be caught in good numbers using a topwater lure; there is an early bite in the main river. Bass are responsive to Whopper Ploppers and buzzbaits around rocks.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 9-23-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) reports that Clear Lake is, indeed, clear and remains below normal level. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie remain good on minnows and jigs. Black bass did not reappear again this week; no reports. Catfish picked up even more this week with good results using shad or brood minnows.
(updated 9-16-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) has heard that crappie here are good on minnows and jigs.
(update 9-23-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) says the lake level is low and stumps are showing. “It’s too low to launch big boats right now,” she advises. The clarity is “pretty clear” still. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs and are relating to the stumps. Black bass are being caught in good numbers. Catfishing is good on worms and live bait.
(updated 9-30-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We’re starting to see some nip in the air – autumn’s finally popping out. Cool mornings, warm days, perfect weather for float fishing on the White for trout. Bull Shoals Lake is below power pool now, so generation has been mostly low, less than a unit (under 3,300 cfs) during the day, with increased releases in late afternoon for 5-6 hours.
“The rainbow catch has been fabulous: They’re snapping up the shrimp and egg combo, and we’re continuing to see success with X-Factor bubblegum pink worms and mousetails – good sizes among the catch, too; there were several rainbows measured at 16 inches or above.
“Keep a variety of live bait on board for the browns. Sculpins, red fin minnows and crawdad tails will work well. Baits should be kept close to the bottom and to the sides of the main channel. Stick baits and spinners saw lots of action this past week. Find a rainbow-colored bait (a Cleo or Buoyant spoon or a smaller Rapala in size 5 or 7. With the water still running about one unit during most of the day, smaller gold and nickel Colorados have been doing well off the riverbank. Just for grins, try jig fishing in the deeper holes with olive or orange jigs; fun and often victorious.
“Come out and spend some time with us on the river!”
(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had about a half-inch of rain, cooler and then warm temperatures, and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 feet to rest at 2.4 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 1.6 feet below power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.6feet below power pool or 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above power pool of 555.8 feet msl and 25.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. Expect wadable water on a daily basis.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. On the low water, the bite was excellent! The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise).
Some anglers have been fishing large streamers on the heavy afternoon flows we have been getting and having success. This requires heavy sink tip lines (250 grain), heavy rods (8 weights or better) and advanced casting skills. The hot flies have been large articulated streamers in various colors.
“Hopper season is on the wane,” he says. “These are tempting morsels for large trout. You need a stiff 6 weight rod and a 7.5-foot 4X leader. My favorite hopper patterns are the western-style foam hoppers with rubber legs and a bright quick sight patch on the back. Dave’s Hoppers are also a good choice, but be sure to dress them with plenty of fly floatant to ensure that they ride high. A small nymph dropper can increase your takes. It is not uncommon to take more trout on the dropper. My favorite dropper flies are bead-head pheasant tails or zebra midges.”
(updated 9-30-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said rainbow trout fishing overall is good. The river remains low with 2-4 generators running at the dam. PowerBait, pink worms, stick bait, Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp all will provide a good response.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.27 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 9-23-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level had dropped to just barely above normal (6 inches). The clarity is good and surface water temperature is down to 79 degrees. He says bass fishing has been good. “Get up early for topwater, popper and Zara Spooks in the creeks shallow, and look for wind/shad-surfacing action. Use Chatterbait and buzzbait or Whopper Plopper, covering water if it’s cloudy. Once the topwater bite slows down, use a jig or Beaver-style bait and a big worm. Also use a shaky head for ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. On transitions with water cropping, fish on the secondary points in 10-20 feet depth. If it gets tough, use a drop-shot off the points, bluffs and ledges in 26-24 feet depth.
“Shad are starting to group up a little better, but they are spread out and moving. Fish the conditions.”
Check out Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.77 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2021) Steve “Scuba” Street from Blackburns Resort and Boat Rental reported earlier this week the lake level was 555.92 feet msl and had dropped 1 inch in the 24 hours with 1½ generators running about one-third of the time during the day. The White River at Newport is now at 6 feet and about ready to dry up. The power pool is 555.75 feet msl and they seem to always slow generation as this approaches.
The lake overall is in excellent condition for boating and fishing and the weather has been great, except that we are getting very dry. Walleye fishing has slowed a bit, especially the big ones. They were at 30-32 feet of water on brush near the bottom, but the big ones are mostly gone and left the throwbacks. I have not looked for them again yet.
Crappie, bass, bluegill and catfish are the best bite now and are all hitting jigging spoons. “I have had better luck the last few days with downsizing the spoon to one-eighth ounce and lowering the line strength to 4 pounds and fishing a little deeper brush in the 32-35 feet range. Several varieties of fish are there. Trollers are catching a few temperate bass, but they are mostly small. There is a topwater bite early and late partway back in the creeks just outside brushpiles, but they are mostly small bass. Some bigger largemouth are being caught where earlier most were Kentucky bass. The tournament anglers are winning with about 16 pounds per day with a big bass of about 4 pounds. Crappie are nice-sized and about 11-12 inches and are on top of cover and hitting the spoon on the way down. I am catching no throwbacks. Bluegill are under docks and biting crickets.” For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.
(updated 9-30-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is trying to cool off and by each degree drop the fish become more active. I am really looking forward to a little cooler air temperature, as well as, water temperature, which will bring on the fall fishing season. It appears that Norfork Lake is trying to transition and the thermocline, or at least the good oxygenated water is starting to drop. The good water has dropped to below 40 feet and the fish are already making this deeper water their home in the slightly cooler water. I have caught walleye, bass and catfish in 40 feet of water over the last week. Live thread fin shad is surviving at this water depth, if you are a live bait angler.
“I have switched to targeting crappie over the last week instead of walleye which I had been targeting since mid-August. The crappie bite has been excellent most days, on brush piles anywhere from 24 feet to 35 feet deep. The best areas I have found are on the main lake and not back in the creeks. The best brush comes up to 15 to 20 feet and the fish I have found are anywhere from 10 feet down to 25 feet deep over and in the brush. I have mainly been using a small ¼ ounce spoon and vertical jigging it up and down over the brush. I continually change how I am jigging from slow twitches, to quick jerks or a slow 5-foot raise and then letting the jig flutter down again. The slow twitches have worked the best, but most of my fish are sucking in the spoon as it falls slowly. Watch for slack line on the fall, you will more than likely have a fish and you need to set the hook quickly. I have had 2 excellent days of crappie fishing over the last 3 days. Yesterday (9/28) I could not beg a crappie bite, but the spotted bass bite made up for it. Today (9/29) was outstanding. I landed over 2 limits of keeper size fish. The crappie size that I have been landing have mainly been in the 10 to 11 inch range with very few short fish. I did land a nice 14¾- and 13-inch crappie this morning. Hopefully this means the big slabs are finally starting to move into the brush. I have been catching and releasing with only keeping the fish that get gut hooked or the treble hook has damaged their gills. These fish will not swim away, so it’s fish sandwiches for lunch. Live bait is also working very well. Set your bait at about 15-20 feet and drift slowly over the brush. A little split shot should be used about 2 or 3 feet above the bait. If you like using a bobber, first mark the brush pile with a floating marker attached to a heavy weight. Cast your bobber (using a slip float is the best) over the brush and wait for the float to disappear.
Walleye fishing is still very good. I had been catching walleye in 30 to 32 feet of water, but when the oxygen level dropped down to 40 feet the walleye migrated to that depth. I was fishing on large rounded points that tended to have a large flat on one side of the point. I was using 2 methods of fishing to catch this species. I was vertical jigging a ½ ounce spoon touching the bottom each time I jigged the spoon up. I used this method in the dark until sunrise. At sunrise, I switched to slow trolling with my trolling motor using size 7 Berkley Flicker Minnows. To get my bait down to 30 feet I added a 1 ounce weight 50 feet from the bait then let out another 50 feet of line. To get my bait down to 40 feet I had to add a 2 ounce weight. White colors were working the best as of late. I try to keep my speed at 1.2 to 1.4 MPH. I suspect the walleye bite will be the same until the lake turnover. Once the lake turnover happens, the fish will move to all depths, while still keying in on their food source. Find the bait you will find the fish.
The bass bite continues to be very good. The best places I have found have a lot of bait in the area. The largemouth bass have been feeding up tight to the shore line (I mean tight) and then move back in to 15 to 20 feet of water when the sun gets high in the sky. I have also found a few nice sized largemouth hugging the bottom out in 32 to 40 feet of water. These fish are still relating to the colder water as their coloration is a light green, but the shallower fish are a dark green. The spotted bass are relating to brush piles or areas that have bait in 28 to 32 feet of water. Yesterday when the crappie did not want to bite, I found schools of spots feeding on the bottom. I must have vertical jigged up 20 spots in the 12 to 14 inch range with a ½ ounce spoon. It was a blast. Largemouth are coming up for poppers and shallow running crank baits early in the morning. Deeper diving crank baits are working when the fish go a little deeper. Windy days go to the wind-blown banks and throw spinners or chatter baits.
“The catfish bite has also been fairly good. You will find then on the bottom in or near brush, as well as out in deeper water chase bait fish. I have caught some nice size cats vertical jigging with a spoon, as well as on the Berkley Flicker Minnows while I have been trolling for walleye or fishing for crappie. Live bait is always a good choice in these types of areas.
“I have not started to look for striped bass since they scattered to the 4 winds mid-September. You will start to find this species partway back in the major creeks early in the morning especially if we get some more cold early morning temps. Stripers will be feeding in shallow water in the early mornings back in the creeks. As the day wears on they tend to move out to deeper cooler water. This is very normal for this time of year until the lake totally turnovers with the water temperature being more constant in the 70 or less degree range.
“The surface lake temperature is ranging from 78 to 81 degrees depending on time of day. The lake level is slowly dropping and currently sits at 553.85 feet msl. The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks and coves are slightly stained.
“If you are looking for a daily fishing activity report, go the Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. I post almost daily what is being caught on the lake either by me or some of my guests.
“Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above power pool of 555.8 feet msl and 25.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. Expect wadable water on a daily basis.
There has been wadable water on the Norfork and it fished well. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. School is back in session and now is a great time to fish it, particularly during the week. Weekends can get a bit crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net as most fish are lost at the net.
“My friend, Doug Berry, gave me a phone call a couple of weeks ago. We think that we are distantly related though we are not physically similar. He wanted to take his grandson, Paxton, fishing on Dry Run Creek. He had previously taken his two other grandsons there. He takes them individually in order to bond with him. They always enjoy the outing. He usually just brings the boys but this time he brought his son, Cole (Paxton’s father), with him.
“I picked them up at River Ridge Inn at 7:30 a.m. and we drove to Dry Run Creek. There were no other anglers there and we had the place to ourselves. Paxton and I donned waders. I always wear waders to assist me, in netting big trout. I like my young clients to wear them so that they can fish spots that cannot be effectively fished, from the bank. I have several spare sets of wading boots and waders that I frequently loan to clients, if they do not have their own waders.
“We began fishing and encountered the usual problems. Paxton had never fly-fished and it took a few minutes for him to get the hang of casting. By the end of the morning he was casting effortlessly. The other situation that we worked on was for him to set the hook quickly. This is another procedure that is challenging for any new fly-fisher. Here again he was quite proficient by mid-morning.
“He was quickly into a trout and then another. He was a natural when it came to fighting them. We kept moving from place to place, whenever the catch slowed. He had about 10 trout under his belt when he hooked a big brown. It was a male about 24-inches long. It took a while to get in and we took a photo and then carefully released the big fish.
“A few minutes later he hooked a really big rainbow. It actually gave us a better battle than the brown. It took several minutes before it finally surrendered to the net. While it was the same length, this trout was much stouter and had a much larger girth. Most of a trout’s weight is in its girth.
“At lunch we took a break and went back to River Ridge Inn and had lunch on the deck of their cabin. Paxton was interested in getting a souvenir of the trip, so I took everyone to the nearby Twin Rivers Fly Shop where he selected a nice fly box and a dozen flies. Dominic Zametto, the shop owner, also gave him a couple of shop stickers.
“We returned to the creek and continued fishing. We landed a nice 19-inch cutthroat, which gave us three of the required species for the grand slam. We needed a brook trout to complete the grand slam, but never caught one. We finished the day with over 30 trout, which included two trophies. It doesn’t get much better than that. Granddad was pleased.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and gin clear. Both are receiving a lot of pressure. With summer coming to an end, the smallmouths are still active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,119.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 9-30-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake remains about 2 feet under normal pool levels. The water is cooling each week and now is in the upper 70s, low 80s as the day heats the surface daily. Fishing is stuck in a fair pattern and will turn on in a couple more weeks with cool fall temps. Summer is trying to hold on but that will change. Crappie as of late are starting to move to brush and other structures in and around 15 feet deep. Jigs and minnows will work. The White River arm is starting to get that brown tinge to it, which means the turnover is near. The War Eagle arm is much clearer water until you get past Camp War Eagle, then it gets more stained.
“What I have noticed fishing in the War Eagle arm has been better for crappie this last week. There is lots of shad up both arms and the white bass should be real close to schooling up and producing a good fall topwater bite in coming weeks.
“Striper are fair. They are moving towards Prairie Creek and the islands near Highway 12. They still are scattered from Point 6 down to the dam. Catfish are still good as are bream. Walleye are fair on main lake points and flats from Horseshoe Bend to Point 5. Deep-diving cranks and crawler harnesses will produce a few bass. Stay safe and enjoy beautiful Beaver Lake.” Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 9-30-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported Wednesday afternoon that those tasty walleye are just sporadic right now, being found on the long pea gravel points. Bream are fair using redworms or crickets. Crappie are fair and being caught in 12-15 feet depth on jigs or minnows. Crappie are relating to the brushpiles. Black bass were just fair this week. Anglers are having best success fishing topwaters early in the day and late in the evening; they’re also fishing in 22-30 feet depth with drop-shots and spoons. Anglers going into the backs of creeks are having success using Rat-L-Traps and square bills. Catfish went into hiding this week or few anglers looked for them; no reports. Beaver Lake is clear and has fallen about a foot below normal pool. The surface temperature has taken a nice tumble to the mid- to high 70s.
(updated 9-30-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the fishing the tailwater this past week has produced some very nice fish. Most are being caught fishing with Fire baits and light terminal tackle. When the water is shallow, try to hit the deeper pockets for the rainbows. This week’s hot spot has been between Highway 62 bridge and Houseman Access.
“Another good method that has produced quality fish has been casting spoons. I apply Fire gel to the spoon for that extra attractant.
“A few walleye are still being caught below Beaver town. Try fishing in 10-15 feet of water pulling Flicker Shad. Casting Flicker Shad early in the morning toward the shoreline has also produced a great response. Remember to check the water temperature to find the walleyes; also look for the bait. I hope you all get out and catch some fish.”
(updated 9-30-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported that the lake is stained but has jumped back up to normal level. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie improved to good minnows and jigs. Black bass are good; the most consistent bites are coming on crankbaits and plastic worms. No reports still on catfish, which have gone into hiding over the past two weeks.
(updated 9-30-2021) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the lake has “a pretty clear” appearance and is low; it’s draining more over the next couple of days due to dredging, so expect it to go even lower, they report. Overall, the fishing has turned very slow. Black bass produced fair results, though the fish were small. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are working best. Catfish are in shallow areas and are biting fair on worms. Poor reports on bream and crappie this week.
(updated 9-30-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said they have had some nice black bass caught that were in the 3- to 4-pound range in the pass week. Most fishing for all species has been good, though crappie were only fair the past week. Bream are good on worms and crickets. Catch your crappie with worms, minnows or jigs. Bass are biting plastic worms in white colors or topwaters with some white, and the bass have moved shallow and around the docks. Good reports all around on the bass. Catfish also are good, with worms, blood bait (Catfish Pro Blood is a recommended one) and stink bait working as bait. The best days for fishing in October, according to moon times, should be Oct. 3-9, Shelly notes. Also, the week of Oct. 17-23 looks good as well.
(updated 9-30-2021) Seth Boone, park superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reports that Lake Poinsett is still in the process of refilling and is only about 56% full. Fishing is catch-and-release only for the most part, but there are no crappie or bass in the lake currently. Kayaks and canoes are recommended at this time. The lake refilling is dependent on rainfall.
The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed last Dec. 1, following the completion of a three-year renovation projection, and the lake began to refilling. The lake 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.
Other forage species that were stocked this spring include fathead minnows, golden shiners and threadfin shad have been added in huge numbers to the lake to build up the food supply for the predators, which will be stocked in 2022.
(updated 9-30-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports that lake clarity remains murky and water level is low (3-4 feet). They received no catch reports again this week.
(updated 9-16-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are low running at 320 cfs (350 cfs is normal) at the spring. Water clarity has been clear. The area is badly in need of some rain. The river has been very low, making floating the river tough. The smallmouth stretch has become too low to get over water falls easily.
The trout have been hitting great. Small nymphs have been great for numbers. Blue-wing olives and caddis are hatching heavy most days. Anything to imitate them works. Lots of smaller browns in the river can make for some fun dry-fly action, too. “Hopper droppers have been a blast lately. For the bigger fish, a white lightning or big Woollies have been the ticket for us. Only problem is the small fish try to eat them, too, but just short strike. Wait for the heavy hit,” Mark suggests.
“We are catching smallmouth on hourglass lead-eye streamers like Woollies, sculpin and crayfish patterns. Drag it slow along the bottom. And, yes, if you’re fishing for smallies right, you will lose a lot of flies.”
Spin-fishing has been hot with Trout Magnets with the low, clear water. Doing a little better without a float, with a cast across letting it bounce along the bottom with a small split shot foot above. Hot pink, white and orange have been hot colors.
“Groundbreaking at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery is scheduled for next week and work will start on rebuilding the hatchery. This should not affect the river as it will be done in stages,” Mark said. “The hatchery has been at 40 percent or less capacity since the flood of 2017. Jim Hinkle hatchery stocks rivers throughout Arkansas with trout. It is vital for the trout fisheries in our state. We have been waiting for this to happen and it will be completed over the next year.”
He adds, “The river is slick so be careful wading and have fun. Tight lines and good luck!
(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is coming to an end but canoeists can still be a problem. Fish the upper river at the Lassiter Access to avoid them, or fish Dam 3 late in the afternoon, after they have left the area. 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, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 7.42 feet, about 7.55 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 5.97, well below the flood stage of 26.0 feet and its lowest level of the year. The stage at Augusta way down now, to 16.23 feet, nearly 10 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 9-30-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new report.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 9-30-2021) Cane Creek State Park had no new reports.
(updated 9-30-2021) Dam repair work has been completed by the city of Monticello’s contractor, 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. Many artificial fish habitat structures have been created and put in place, and the AGFC is pumping several of the small ponds and planning to add rotenone to those areas for the elimination of unwanted species (i.e. grass carp, yellow bass), before the refilling of the lake begins.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 257.26 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
NOTICE: The Army Corps of Engineers at Millwood Lake began a 2-foot drawdown of Millwood Lake Sept. 15, and it is expected to run through Oct. 1, dependent on rainfall and concrete repair. Use extreme caution while navigating the lake during the drawdown, as stumps and obstacles will be near or at surface pool. Boat lanes on open water may be dry ground or mere inches in depth with stumps and hazards in some places. Drawdown work includes boat ramp repair near Beards Bluff, shoreline abatement/erosion replacement, and other related maintenance. For more information, call the Army Corps of Engineers Tri-Lakes office at 870-898-3343.
(updated 9-30-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was about 27 inches below normal pool level for an ordered 2-foot drawdown of the lake that will last through Oct. 1. Little River water clarity is heavy stained, low current flows. The oxbows’ clarity has improved with light stain and pollen and surface film. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation is near 224 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 157 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 Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temps dropped this week, ranging in 75-79 degrees depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood watching for random broken or floating timber, as well as stumps and obstacles that are near or at surface pool during the 2-foot drawdown.
As for the fishing details:
* Over the past week, the largemouth bass have slowed again considerably for any topwater bites, but prior 3 weeks found various Largemouth and Kentucky Bass randomly schooling at daybreak in the oxbows up Little River for a few hours in early mornings, but topwater action slowed down again this week. The best feeding periods were early, from daylight to around 8-9am, slowing in the heat of the day. Now that the daytime highs are dropping and the water temperatures are falling, the Bass are still trying to figure out what’s going on, and have slowed their schooling and topwater activities since the prior 3-4 weeks. When schools of Shad were being broken up by juvenile and adolescent sized Bass, the melee can be awesome for several minutes.
When good schools were surface breaking for several weeks ago, we were getting decent reactions using the Bill Lewis Stuttersteps, Cordell Boy Howdy’s, Clear Baby Torpedoes, Heddon Dying Flutters and Cordell Crazy Shads in chrome/black back. Blow up reactions slowed also in the lily pads, but were good on plastic Frogs in June Bug, white, or pumpkinseed/pearl belly, were working near pads with timber and stumps until just recently over the past week. The schooling Bass have been chasing large pods of Threadfin Shad to the surface and blowing them out of the water at daylight in the oxbows near vertical structure where the flats drop off into 8-15 feet of depth until this past week.
Reaction strikes were getting good responses on Arbogast Jitterbugs & jointed-Jitterbugs in Cricket Frog, Coach dog, and Perch colors. Moss Bosses in White, and Rattling Zara Mouses in Gray, were also working randomly in the Lily Pads. Johnson chrome Silver Minnow spoons with a white 3″ curly tail grub trailer are still getting a few slow reactions in the pads by rumbling over and pausing in gaps between lily pads.
Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly, Black Grape, and June Bug Red 10″ worms caught a few Bass up to 3 pounds near stumps and pads on flats near vertical drops from 4feet to 10 feet of structure. Brush Hogs in watermelon candy, chartreuse pumpkin, and Blackberry were working slowly over the past 2 weeks.
Last week, anywhere the creek mouths dump into Little River, near Snake Creek, Jacks’ Isle, and White Cliffs Creek, the Kentucky bass were stacked up inside the main creek channels, just out of river current, and were hitting hammered chrome Cordell Spoons with white/red bucktail, Custom painted Little John cranks, and Fat Free Shads, and behind points extending into Little River above Jack’s Isle. Vertical jigging of the spoons near standing timber and stumps that were working for some 2-3 pound largemouth and white bass have been slow this week.
* With a third mayfly hatch over the past 2-3 weeks, the bream were active again under willow trees. Bream were fair to good at Millwood State Park and Jack’s Isle over the past week on red worms, crickets and mayflies.
* White bass disappeared over the past week. Johnson Beetle Spins, Hammered Cordell chrome spoons with a red bucktail, Rocket Shads, 3/4oz 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps, and Little Cleo’s were all randomly catching Whites, over the last 3-4 weeks in McGuire and Horseshoe Lake oxbows, but slowed this week.
* Crappie improved over this past week, best bite seems to have shifted from jigs back to Southern Pro tubes and minnows, in planted brush piles in the oxbows up Little River and on main lake, (see photos above) from 9-10 feet of depth. Vertical jigging seemed to work best for the tubes and minnows this week. Best reaction time shifted to mid-morning for Crappie, and best Southern Pro tubes have been the Little Hustler in the 1.5, and the Pro Series Little Hustler in the pumpkinseed/chartreuse, orange core/chartreuse pepper, Tennessee Shiner, and Blue Shiner.
* Nothing consistent for reporting on catfish since the current was reduced to less than 50 cfs over the past week. Blues and channel cats up to around 3-4 pounds were good and more active last week than this week.
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 535.00 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 397.87 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 436.18 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 525.04 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(updated 9-30-2021) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) had no new reports.
(updated 9-30-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said Wednesday that fishing has picked back up there. The lake is clear and still at a low level. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are fair and favoring 10-inch worms. Catfishing is good on jugs baited with goldfish or black salties. No reports on bream.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 9-30-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 67 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Oct. 1, that extends through Thursday, Oct. 7. Anyone planning on navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to view these flow releases and plan accordingly. This schedule is posted weekly on the Entergy website for public viewing normally on Wednesday evening. Now that Lake Ouachita has been lowered almost 10 feet below flood pool, weekly flows from area dams are now at a level where fishing and boating are safe but being aware of the flow releases are always advised.
Catfish had been caught on a regular basis this summer in the tailrace, but that action has slowed considerably in the last week. The majority of fish caught had been in the 4- to 8-pound range. Blue catfish are the dominant species in the tailrace area. White bass have been observed breaking in the early morning hours chasing threadfin shad. Huge schools of threadfin shad can be observed moving in and out of the tailrace. Casting spinnerbaits and jigs in eighth-ounce weights has been the best presentation to catch these fish the past several weeks. Hybrid bass school alongside white bass and are being caught on the same techniques. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current has been productive catching white bass and hybrids, as well as walleye in the 3-pound class. Walleye thrive in the tailrace in the summer as these fish prefer colder water temperatures than other area game fish. The summer is dominated by these fish species with migration in and out of the tailrace a weekly event. This pattern will be repeated almost every week until the summer heat is replaced by fall temperatures.
Rainbow trout fishing will pick back up when the AGFC’s stocking program begins again in mid-November.
Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations.
(updated 9-30-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 9-30-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton at normal water levels with excellent clarity throughout the lake and temps in all areas except the river channel below Blakely Dam at 75-78 degrees. Pleasure boat traffic continues to be heavy all times of day due to the never-ending summer heat. Bass fishing is trying its best to transition to the fall patterns, but the ongoing warm temps are not letting that happen effectively, so we would call fishing “fair.”
Bass have slowed down during daylight hours and have become hesitant to bite much at all. Drop-shot rigs with small worms in Watermelon Seed and Watermelon seem to work best in luring fish out of brush and main lake points in 18-25 feet of water. White Zoom Horny Toad Frogs skipped under docks and retrieved in or around shady grass lines will work. Typically, this time of year the “Frog is King” but it’s just not cool enough yet.
Night fishing for bass is good to excellent right now, however! During the nighttime hours bass really pick up and can be readily caught in very shallow areas near main lake creeks and channels. Buzzbaits in dark colors with a large profile trailer bait like a Craw- or Beaver-style bait. Run this or a Chatterbait down dock edges and let the fun begin. Good fish and good numbers can be caught right now!
No crappie report, but we have seen good packs of crappie on the electronics hovering on or near brush piles or dock pilings at 14-22 feet in the main channels and mixed in with Bream.
Hybrid bass are being caught regularly now when they break in the opening to creek channel pockets. Spooks, spoons and crappie jigs in white/chartreuse slow rolled under a cork at a depth of 5 feet will get a nice mess in the cooler at certain times of the day (usually early morning and an hour before dusk). “Good Luck, and Go Greeson!”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.37 feet msl (normal pool: 343.93 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 9-30-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Thursday morning that the lake is clear and at a normal level. The surface water temperature slowly eases toward cooler temps, with this week’s reading at 84 degrees. The bream has fallen off, with not a lot of anglers fishing for bream anymore and the bite being poor. You can still catch a few with redworms below the dam, they say.
Crappie are good. Baits being used are minnows, hair jigs in pink and white, Arkie Crankbaits and Bandit 200 Series in chartreuse color, fished at 5-8 feet depth.
Black bass are continue biting well. Try a topwater bait such as Zara Spook, as well as worms and buzzbaits.
Catfishing picked back up some with good results this week. Noodles baited with nightcrawlers were hooking hungry cats.
(updated 9-30-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) says its anglers who stop in on the way to Lake Nimrod report that bream and crappie are doing well.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 568.25 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-16-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are fair. Topwater bite has slowed a little, but a drop-shot rig is still working well for spots. No reports on walleye, stripers or crappie. Bream are still good and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are 15-20 feet deep on brush. Catfish are good and being caught on rod and reel using nightcrawlers for bait near brush. Water temperature has dropped and is ranging 80-84 degrees. Water clarity is clear. Lake level is 569.01. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.44 feet msl (full pool: 386.36 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge was still dropping noticeably and was at 14.27 feet, almost 12 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 9-30-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said, “We have had very few anglers in the last week; therefore, not much to report. The lake is still low but stable which historically produces great fishing conditions. The cooler temps in the forecast might be just what we need to get the fish fired up.
“Hopefully we will have a few more take advantage of the lake before we close at the end of October.”
Cook’s Lake is a 2-mile long oxbow off of the White River, nestled in the heart of the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge near Casscoe in Arkansas County. This fertile oxbow receives very little fishing pressure due to being used only for education purposes and youth and mobility-impaired fishing. The scenic lake is full of slab crappie, giant bluegills, largemouth bass and catfish of all species. Due to current guidelines, Cook’s Lake will be open to fishing during normal business hours Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., water level pending. Cook’s Lake is open to fishing for youths under 16 or mobility-impaired anglers and up to two helpers (who may also fish). Fish from the 140-foot mobility-impaired accessible dock or launch a boat. To comply with current guidelines, please call ahead at least a day in advance to register to fish. Before launching, please check in at the Conservation Education Center, and report back before leaving. For information or unscheduled closures, call the center at 870-241-3373. Cook’s Lake’s fishing will continue until waterfowl season opens in November.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 9-30-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), reported that anglers at Bear Creek Lake say they’re having success catching largemouth bass. Bass have been reportedly caught at depths of 4-6 feet, using mostly artificial baits.
Blue catfish are also still on the menu! Reports show that catfish are being caught by the use of free-floating devices at depths of 6-8 feet. Anglers have had the most success from the use of manmade baits to catch catfish. Updates from the U.S. Forest Service: Plans to fix the spillway at Bear Creek Lake are still underway, the USFS has reported the approximate date of completion will be 2023. Water levels have stayed pretty consistent. It is still safe to launch from the boat ramp at this time.
Meanwhile, at Storm Creek Lake, anglers report having some success in catching blue catfish with the use of free-floating devices. Reports have shown success in catching catfish at depths of 6-8 feet, using mostly manmade baits. Overall, there is still very little fishing activity present within this lake.
Northeast Arkansas efforts highlighted at AGFC meeting
Nov. 30, 2023
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
Nov. 30, 2023
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