Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Oct. 7, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Oct. 7, 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 10 a.m. the day of publication (Oct. 7).
****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 10-7-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Wednesday that the lake is the normal stain, but the lake level has taken on a rise in the past week to high. A rise here often sparks a good response for the fish. Bream are still good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are more consistent this week, as anglers reported good results. They have pink minnows in stock at baits, and they make a good choice now. Also use jigs. Black bass are good; try a spinnerbait, crankbait, curly tail warm, frogs or a popper. Catfishing is good using stink bait, shad, skipjack, dough bait, nightcrawlers and big 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 10-7-2021) Guide Mike Winkler, operating Little Red River Guide Service (501-690-9166, 501-507-3688), says the generation schedule on the Little Red River has been consistent with the Southwestern Power Administration (swpa.com) and the Army Corps of Engineers running 2-4 hours a day on weekdays, usually starting around 3 p.m. and concluding at 6 p.m. The weekend’s generation schedule has been minimal, creating excellent wading opportunities for the entire river. Nymphing a two-fly rig with a midge dropper has been effective. Sowbugs, pheasant tails and hare’s ear nymphs fished alone or with a midge dropper have been productive, along with egg patterns.
Try fishing the deep holes and oxygenated shoals. If you like stripping streamer patterns, try Woolly Buggers, small bunny leech and Cracklebacks. They all have been producing.
(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 457.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.54 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 10-7-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 457.62 feet msl and falling with generation. It is 4.42 feet below normal pool for this time of year (462.04 feet msl). The water temperature varies from low 70s to low 80s. As it’s cooling, a lot of shad are moving, so the fish are moving as well. Black bass — some are super shallow, some are roaming, some are on structure; a variety of baits working from A-7. There’s not a lot of pressure on them, so you can practice techniques you don’t understand or know and master them for later: topwater, mid-level out to 60 feet, all species eating pretty well with the best to come with cooler weather in couple of weeks.
Crappie can still be caught several ways: trolling, jigging or casting; find the shad, the pole timber is holding lots of fish. Bream are shallow out to 25 feet eating drop-shot crickets or crawlers pretty well. Flies working as well. Catfish, it seems maybe hot dogs are working better than live bait now all over lake and rivers. Walleye, some are on structure in 18-60 feet and some are roaming with other schooling fish; drag a drop-shot with crawlers or fish crankbaits or spoons on main lake or secondary points for best results. Hybrid and white bass are eating on and off all day and night; spoon and inline spinners working from the surface down to 55 feet.
(updated 10-7-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass are good on spinnerbaits in the buckbrush on the main lake, and are also good in the backwater creeks using a three-eighth-ounce jig.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 10-7-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake remains slightly stained with a level that has returned to normal. No surface temperature was reported. Bream have gone back into hiding with no reports this week. Crappie, which were moving to the shoreline last week, are biting well on minnows and jigs. Black bass are also good around the shoreline, but anglers are secretive about what they’re using. Catfish catches were not reported.
(updated 10-7-2021) Phil Thomas at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) had no new reports.
(update 10-7-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210) said the clarity of Brewer Lake is slightly stained and the level is normal. Bream fishing has been good around the shoreline and brush. Use redworms and crickets. Crappie are shallow in about 5 feet depth and the bite is good over underwater brushpiles. Minnows and jigs are being used. Black bass are moving shallow in the afternoon and that’s when the fishing for bass is best, with good results reported. Anglers are using live bait. Catfishing is good on the bottom. Use live bait.
(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 4,020 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 0 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 10-7-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal level, and the fishing is fair to good for the usual targets. Crappie are in 7-8 feet depth biting fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing is good on chicken liver. He had no reports on bream.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 2,928 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 2,721 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 125 cfs.
(updated 10-7-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said the flow jumped up some earlier this week to 14,000 cfs after a couple of weeks of light flows, and water movement always sparks the fishing. Bass are good off the ends of jetties and biting finesse jigs and shaky heads on the main river. Bass are also good around underwater jetties with Rat-L-Traps and good with any topwater lure with a break in the surface. Crappie are good on chartreuse/black jigs on rock piles just off of the 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 10-7-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) reports that Clear Lake has dropped in level to low and is clear. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass picked back up with good results on worms and crickets. No reports on catfish.
(update 10-7-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) says the lake level is low and the water is clear. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs and are relating to the stumps. Black bass are good on crankbaits. Catfishing is good on floaters and live bait. No reports on bream.
(updated 10-7-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Rainbow fishing has been excellent the past week. Lots of action from a few miles upriver of Cotter down to Crooked Creek. Bull Shoals Lake is over 2 feet below power pool level now, so generation has been around a unit (about 3,300 cfs) during the day, with higher releases coming in the late afternoon, usually around 4-5 units (12,000-16,000 cfs). Bubblegum Pink or bright yellow baits, especially under overcast skies, have been working well. Using shrimp and crawdad tails added to the size of the rainbows caught. If you fish artificial, the rainbow trout lookalikes have been helpful in getting a good bite from the browns this week as well as live sculpin and soft shell crawdads. Standard zebra midges attracted some attention and flashy olive-green or brown Woolly Buggers called several rainbows to the boat.
“The lower water level still allows experienced guides and other fishing boat operators to access their favorite fishing holes and also allows for even better viewing of the river bottom and your trout. Be generous to your fellow anglers on the river: Waders, allow boaters to move down the channel safely (that’s the only way to get past you and out of your way); boaters, stay clear of lines already in the water and be patient while waders make a clear path for you. Keep anglin’ and we’ll see you on the river.”
(updated 10-7-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had about a half-inch of rainfall in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 feet to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.7 feet below power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below power pool or 10.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water every day.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. 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 Rim 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 flows we have been getting later in the day and having success. This requires heavy sink tip lines (250 grain), heavy rods (8-weight or better) and advanced casting skills. The hot flies have been large articulated streamers in various colors.
“Hopper season is on the wane. 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.”
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “A couple of weeks ago, I had a guide trip on lower water. As you know, we have had no less than three years of constantly high water, with precious few days with lower flows. To say it was a pleasant change of pace is an understatement.
“My client, Jack, lives outside of Kansas City and is an avid fly-fisher. He fishes for numerous species, like bass, pike, walleye, salmon and trout. His travels take him all over to include all of the big rivers out west and Canada. Of course, the White is among his favorites. On this trip, he came with a bunch of fishing buddies. I was lucky enough to have him in my boat for a day.
“We began early. We met at the Rim Shoals ramp. We were to start at 7:30 a.m. I got there 20 minutes early and he was waiting for me. I had a rod ready to go (I put on a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge) and quickly prepared to boat to launch. We were on the water before our agreed upon start time. There was no one else in the parking lot, when we left the ramp.
“The weather was near perfect. It was overcast with light wind. The high was to be 84 degrees and there was a dense fog on the river. It was a cool start and I wore a fleece jacket until almost 11 a.m. The flows were about 2,000 cfs. Minimum flow is 700 cfs, so this is not a lot of water. There is some marginal wading at these flows. One of the positives with this flow is that we can use shorter leaders and much lighter weight, which makes the casting much easier. The other positive is that with water this low, the trout are more concentrated.
“We began our first drift, and a few yards downstream we picked up our first trout. A few yards further we picked up another and then another. We had a limit on the first drift. We continued fishing and we landed three or four trout on each drift. We continued this action all morning. It was one of the most productive days that I had ever had fly-fishing. When we stopped for lunch, we had brought over 50 trout to the net.
“We had a pleasant lunch on a picnic table under dense shade close to the river. We were amazed that more anglers were not on the river. After lunch, we returned to the river. It was quickly apparent that the afternoon would not equal the morning. The bite had definitely slowed. We caught enough to keep our mind in the game, but it was nothing like it had been early. My client ended the day with more trout than he had ever landed.
“Life is good!”
(updated 10-7-2021) 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 on average. 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 656.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-7-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level is normal and clarity is good. Surface water temperature is down to 75 degrees. He says bass fishing has been good. “Shad are moving up and so are the fish.” Strike out early for topwater bite using poppers and Zara Spooks one-half to three-quarters of the way up up in the shallow creeks, and look for wind and shad-surfacing action, as well as the birds. Bass are also good on Chatterbait, buzzbait or a Whopper Plopper covering water if it’s cloudy.
Once the topwater bite slows down, use a Peewee jig or Beaver-style bait on shallow ledges and laydowns, and if it’s sunny use shaky head worm on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. Transitions with water stabilizing, 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 24-34 feet depth. Shad are starting to group up a little better, but they are spread out and moving into the creeks. 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 553.54 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 10-7-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake has been a lot of fun fishing during the last week. “Nothing has really changed much since my report last week except that the lake surface temperature has dropped another degree. The best bites on the lake have been for crappie, other panfish, largemouth and spotted bass, and walleye. The striped bass are still scattered out all over the lake, making it very difficult to come up with any pattern.
Crappie fishing has been really good. You will find this species on brush in 24 feet of water out to 40 feet of water. They can be at any depth over the brush. The last couple of days, I have been catching some nice slabs 30 feet down over 40 feet deep brush. The best bait for catching large numbers of fish is live crappie minnows. Find the depth of the fish and slowly drift over the brush and hang on. Small eighth- to quarter-ounce spoons have been my choice of bait and I have been vertical-jigging the spoon over the tops of the brush. A few days ago, I could only get a bite if the spoon touched the brush and as soon as the spoon hit the brush a crappie attacked it. Small curly tail or paddle tail grubs are also working and sometimes tipping the grub with a small live minnow gets the fish a little more aggressive. I have mainly been catching white crappie on the brush with only getting a few small black crappie. This morning I started fishing a few 40-feet-deep brushpiles and only found a few crappie. I then started trolling a No. 7 Berkley Flicker Minnow on a shallow shoreline with many small cuts and points. I was getting my bait down to about 30 feet and was staying in 30-38 feet of water. I only made two passes of this shoreline and landed three nice 14-inch black crappie. It appears the big slab black crappie are still scattered out, but they will move into the big brushpiles shortly.
Bass fishing has also been very good. This species is mainly being caught in very shallow water, but can also be found out in deeper water. Texas-rigged long dark-colored artificial worms have been working the best. Pitch the worm up to a shoreline that still has sunken brush. The largemouth seem to be hiding next to the brush, then come out to ambush the worm as it passes by. Other baits working in the very shallow water are square bill crankbaits, spinners and Chatterbaits. Some topwater baits are also triggering bites on occasion. Two days ago, I was scanning a large flat that had some brush out in 40 feet of water. When I got into about 28 feet of water, I started to mark large schools of fish. I dropped a three-quarter-ounce white spoon and immediately the bait got hammered as it hit the bottom. It was a nice 17-inch largemouth. For the next 45 minutes I got to land many nice largemouth bass. The fish were spitting up very small threadfin shad and crawdads. This type of largemouth schooling in a feeding frenzy out in deeper water has been historically common this time of year. They do seem to move around, but when you happen to find them, you will have a blast.
Walleye can also be found feeding very close to the shoreline out to 40 feet of water. The depth they can be found in seems to change daily so it does take some graphing to find them. It appears for me that 30 feet deep on the bottom has been the best depth. My best method to catch walleye is trolling a No. 7 or a No. 9 Berkley Flicker Minnow. You need to get the bait down to 30 feet, so either use a downrigger, lead core line or an inline weight. Each method is a learning process.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature was slightly less than 77 degrees. The lake has become fairly stable with just a very slight drop. We are currently at normal seasonal pool. The lake is slightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north.“Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake!”
(updated 10-7-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water every day.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-7-2021) 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 1,119.14 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-7-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is in the midst of turnover. “If it would just stay cooler for a spell, good fishing is right around the corner,” he said. “Striper fishing has been real spotty at best. Fish are on the move every day. One thing of note is there are massive schools of shad in and around Point 12. I would be looking for some good topwater in the coming weeks. White bass should be doing their fall schooling in that area.
“Bass fishing has been picking up as of late. All methods are producing a pretty good bite. Crappie are starting to bunch up on structure. Look in 15-20 feet depth.
“I have had some pretty good crappie trips last week. I had to use 1/32-ounce jigheads and Bobby Garland baits of various colors. The key was casting over structure and slowly — and I mean slowly — bringing baits over the top. It is a subtle tick when they hit and not a classic thump. They will get more aggressive once the turnover is complete. I do use LiveScope and I can testify that fish are loading up on brush.
“Walleye are still hit and miss with lots of shorts. Trolling deeper-diving cranks and worm harnesses are working. Catfish are good.”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 10-7-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported Thursday morning that stripers are fair on live bait and they are fairly deep. White bass are fair on live bait and fairly deep as well. Walleye are fair in deep water; use bottom bouncers with bait on them. Bream are fair and appear to be slowing down for the year; use redworms or crickets. Crappie are fair; some anglers are spider-rigging, while others are going with minnows or jigs. Target the brushpiles now. The black bass bite remains fair this week. Topwater baits work early in the day and then late in the evening. The daytime fishing indicates anglers are catching schooling fish while using small topwater baits or spoons. Catfish reappeared somewhat this week with fair results. Try chicken liver. Beaver Lake remains clear and went on the rise this past week.
(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 10-7-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported that the lake murky and low. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie continue to bite well on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on topwater baits and plastic worms. No reports on catfish for yet another week.
(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 10-7-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said fishing fell off somewhat this past weekend. She had no reports on bream, crappie or bass. The good news, though, is that catfishing was excellent this past week. Anglers were using blood bait, stink bait or chicken liver and catching nice cats. Moon times indicate a good next couple of days, though Saturday, she says. 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 10-7-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports that lake clarity has cleared up but the water level has really dropped and on Wednesday was 20 inches low. They report few anglers fishing. Surface water temperature has fallen to 73-74 degrees.
(updated 10-7-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels have been at 300 cfs and water clarity is clear. The river has been very low over the last month. Rain would be very helpful. With the low clear water, wading is at its best. It is still slick on the rocks, so be safe.
Heavy stocking from Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery over the last few months has the river full of rainbow trout lately. For the bigger bows, large Woolly Buggers are the ticket in white, olive and brown. If the bite is slow, hopper droppers rigs with nymphs works great. Lots of smaller browns that are holding near the banks love hitting the hoppers.
“Catching smallmouth bass here and there,” Mark adds. “The trick is to fish for them with heavy weighted flies. The bass love to hit the fly on the drop. Then a fast, short strip back to get them to chase it. This also works well for our brown trout.”
Mark notes that renovations at the Jim Hinkle hatchery have begun, and over the next year work will be going on there to expand the size of the silos and reconstruct them. Once completed it will allow for much higher capacity and allow for more types of trout to be raised, like the tiger trout.
(updated 10-7-2021) 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 over and the canoes are mostly gone. 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 7.38 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 7.12 feet, also well below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta rose 2 feet over last week, now at 18.44 feet, but nearly 7.5 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 10-7-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team had no new report.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 10-7-2021) Cane Creek State Park had no new reports.
(updated 10-7-2021) 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 257.21 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. 8, 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 10-7-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was still 25 inches below normal conservation pool, as the 2-foot lake drawdown continued until contractors for the Army Corps of Engineers complete concrete work. The lake Tuesday was at 257.1 feet msl and stable; Little River water clarity has heavy stain with current. The oxbows’ clarity improved, light stain with pollen and surface film. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was near 226 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 1,507 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. NAVIGATION CONDITIONS ARE CAUTIONED WITH 2-FEET ELEVATION DRAWDOWN IN EFFECT THROUGH AT LEAST OCT. 8. Use EXTREME CAUTION during this period and anytime high gate discharge conditions exist, watching for random broken, or floating timber in Little River are in effect. Lots of Little River buoy markers along the main lake channel MAY HAVE MOVED with recent gate changes at the Millwood Dam and river buoys may be out of channel from recent high winds.
Surface temps rose slightly this week, ranging 75-83 degrees depending on location. River clarity ranges 3-5 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows is 12-20 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain conditions. Clarity at Saratoga and Okay areas has improved drastically.
Numerous areas on Millwood Lake are fully choked with alligatorweed mats, and are inaccessible for navigation or fishing. The Corps was able to conduct an alligatorweed beetle release a few weeks ago and are monitoring.
As for the fishing specifics:
* Over the past couple weeks, the largemouth bass have been slow to fair for any topwater bites. For several weeks ago, along points and ditches connecting Little River, oxbows and backflows, Mike and his guides 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.
When good schools were surface-breaking for several weeks ago, they 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. Blowup reactions slowed also in the lily pads, but were good on plastic frogs in June Bug, white or pumpkinseed/pearl belly near pads with timber and stumps until just recently. The schooling bass were 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 the past couple weeks and that schooling activity has ceased again.
Over the past three weeks, 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 had been working for some 2- to 3-pound largemouth and white bass have been slow this week.
* Bream were fair at Millwood State Park and Jack’s Isle over the past 2-3 weeks on grasshoppers, redworms and crickets.
* White bass disappeared over the past week. Johnson Beetle Spins, hammered Cordell Chrome Spoons with a red bucktail, Rocket Shads, three-quarter-ounce 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps and Little Cleo’s were all randomly catching whites over the last several weeks in McGuire and Horseshoe Lake oxbows, but slowed again this week.
* Crappie improved over the past couple of weeks. Best reaction have been on Southern Pro Tubes and minnows in planted brushpiles in the oxbows up Little River, and on the main lake, from 9-12 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.
* No report over the past week for catfish. Blues and channel cats up to around 3-4 pounds were good and more active two weeks ago than they were this week.
(updated 10-7-2021) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reports that crappie are very good in the flats in 10 feet of water on hand-tie jigs. Black bass are schooling everywhere and are good from one end of the lake to the other. Catfish are good on any bait you want to use.
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 534.78 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 397.40 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 435.93 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 524.94 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 10-7-2021) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) reports that crappie are good on minnows and jigs. The lake is clear and at a low level.
(updated 10-7-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said Wednesday that fishing is OK to good for bass and crappie. The lake is clear and still at a low level. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs (chartreuse and bone white). Black bass are good and biting large worms. He had no reports on catfish or bream this week.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 10-7-2021) 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. 8, that extends through Thursday, Oct. 14. 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 is always advised.
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 during 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 months were 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 season below Carpenter Dam will resume in mid-November when the AGFC’s stocking of rainbows restarts and the water has cooled. The past season was marred by flooding, and the past three years have been adversely affected by high water as trout despise muddy conditions. Very small numbers of rainbows remain in the tailrace, which is the norm for this time of year.
Catfish were 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.
Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations.
(updated 10-7-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report. Check Charles’ Facebook page (link Classic Catch Guide Service) for updates and recent photos.
(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 342.23 feet msl (normal pool: 343.93 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-7-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Thursday morning that the lake remains clear and at a normal level. Anglers are trying to bream fish still, they report, but few are being caught. Try your luck with redworms or crickets.
Crappie continue to bite well. The best success is coming at 8 feet depth using minnows, jibs, Arkie crankbaits and Bandit 200 series in chartreuse/black. Black bass also continuing to bite well, but this week the hot baits have been gold willow leaf spinnerbaits and worms. Catfishing has been good on 13-foot poles while fishing for crappie.
(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 568.14 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-10-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are good. Try a Carolina-rigged finesse worm or a drop-shot rig for this fish. Walleye are fair to good and being caught with bottom bouncers tipped with crawlers on main lake points and humpts 18-22 feet deep. Stripers are fair to good on live bait. This fish are primarily on the east end of the lake. Bream are good and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are 15-20 feet deep on brush. Crappie are fair on small jigs or minnows. Try brushpiles in the 12- to 20-foot depth range. Catfish are fair and being caught on rod and reel using nightcrawlers for bait near brush. Water temperature has continued to fall and is ranging 72-76 degrees, about an 8-degree drop from two weeks ago. Water clarity is clear. Lake level is 567.98. 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: 384.00 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 15.30 feet, almost 12 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 10-7-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said earlier this week, “I wish I had something to report but we have not had any anglers in the last week. I would think these cooler temps and low water would have the fish up close to the dead hollow trees. There is only one way to find out!”
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.
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