Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Oct. 21, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Oct. 21, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email email@example.com with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 11 a.m. the day of publication (Oct. 21).
****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 10-21-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake is the normal stain and is at a normal level. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are fair, with anglers catching them in pink minnows, small minnows and medium shiners, along with jigs (the best are white/chartreuse or Monkey Milk colors). Black bass improved some this week to fair with crankbaits, swimbaits, poppers and worms recommended.
Catfishing is good on stink bait, large minnows, dough bait and nightcrawlers.
Little Red River
(updated 10-21-2021) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said this past week they had several consecutive days without any water release/generation from Greers Ferry Dam, creating low water conditions. With the lake level below pool and cool air temps, expect a pattern of only small amounts of generation weekly. Midges, pheasant tails, hare’s ear and Woolly Buggers are recommended for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing, use 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 SouthwesternPower Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 10-21-2021) Guide Mike Winkler, operating Little Red River Guide Service (501-690-9166, 501-507-3688), says that after Oct. 15 the Southwestern Power Administration dose not have to run a minimal amount of water per day. Look for low flows and sometimes multiple days without generation. Always check the generation schedule daily to see if they are running power for the day. When they are running power for the day look for SWPA to run maybe 1-4 hours per day, starting around 3 p.m.
Weekends generation schedule has been minimal. With the low flows, the fish are concentrated in the deeper holes and in the oxygenated shoals. Fishing under an indicator using pheasant tails, hare’s ears, sowbugs, midges and eggs have been producing. A two-fly rig with a midge dropper has been consistent, along with apricot or peach egg patterns.
If you like to strip flies, a small Woolly Bugger or a Crackleback has been effective on an intermediate sink line fishing the deeper holes.
(updated 10-21-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout are good on marabou jigs and floating nightcrawlers.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 456.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 457.01 feet msl, 5.03 feet below normal pool for this time of year (462.04 feet msl). Anglers on the lake are experiencing generation for about 3 hours every afternoon, and on weekends 1-3 hours during the middle of the day as of right now. Remember, wind is your friend but anything over 20 mph should be considered to be hazardous, so be safe. The wind helps reoxygenate the water as the fall breakdown of matter in water robs it of oxygen and wind and rain are the only things that will replenish it.
Crappie are eating if you can stay with them or over them; use jigs, crankbaits and live bait and fish in 16-45 feet of water. Black bass are eating well from super shallow out to 60 feet on a variety of baits, on points, secondary points, guts and creeks, and major flats. Catfish seem to be going better with hot dogs for bait at this time. Walleye – a lot are scattered swimming around other schools of fish and eating what they regurgitate; the rest can be caught on a drop-shot with crawlers, on points, humps, etc., in 18-60 feet. Bream are eating crickets super shallow out to 25 feet. Hybrid and white bass are eating at will; stay around the shad, keep eye out for birds as well, and use topwater baits, spoons and inline spinners. Those are working best in 25-60 feet.
(updated 10-21-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass are good on topwater walking baits or buzzbaits this week.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 10-21-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake has cleared but it remains low with stumps showing. Bream fishing is poor. Crappie are in the early mornings; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good using plastic worms. Try fishing around Crappie Cove for the bass. Catfishing is good using chicken liver or nightcrawlers.
(update 10-14-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210) said Wednesday the clarity is slightly stained and the water level is normal. Bream fishing continues to be good around 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 being found shallow in the afternoon and are going after live bait with good results. Catfishing is good on the bottom on live bait.
(updated 10-14-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) said surface water temperature is in the mid- to low 70s. Largemouth bass are fair. Some reports have come in of the bass being found in the coves due to the cooling water temps. Try using at Texas rig on brush, or drop-shots. Kentucky bass (spots) have been slow this week.Some anglers report them being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks, while other reports have them being found on brushpiles. Try using jigs. White bass are poor. There are reports of them being found chasing shallow shad. Try using swimbaits.
Crappie are good. Reports from the last two days (Monday and Tuesday of this week) have the crappie being found suspended on the brush with anglers fishing in depths of 17-22 feet. They’re catching a few and then the bite stops, so keep moving to find them. Bite is best early and in the evening. Try using jigs.
Bream are slow. Some are saying they can be found 7-15 feet around the beds and others being found 14-16 feet off of windy points, while others are catching a bunch of small ones from the banks. Try using crickets and worms. Catfish are good. Trotlines are being set at 12-15 feet depth. Try using chicken liver, worms and crayfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 14,442 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 19,495 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 10-21-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal level. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing is good on cut bait or bream. 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 14,122 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 13,988 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 12,907 cfs.
(updated 10-21-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said bass are good on shaky head off the ends of the jetties, and are good also in 4-10 feet of water hitting deep-diving crankbaits.
(updated 10-21-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said Wednesday that fishing is slow now on the river and they had no reports.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 10-21-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) reports that the lake is living up to its clear name, but the water level is low. Crappie is all that is being caught, but anglers report good results in the past week. Try minnows, jigs and black worms.
(update 10-21-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) says the lake level is low and the water continues to be 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. Get to Peckerwood lake before waterfowl season arrives and the lake is closed to fishing.
(updated 10-21-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the tailwaters for Bull Shoals Lake have dropped to 4 feet below power pool; the lake currently is sitting at 655.20 feet msl. The brown trout bite is getting tricky; more patience is required to get their attention; soft shell crawdads are a favorite. Consistent water levels have allowed the trout to settle down into a normal feeding routine, so early morning and early evening are the best times for easy catches. If fishing within a few miles of the dam down through the Wildcat Shoals area, tie on a bright green jig or try a blue/silver Smithwick with a touch of orange on its belly.
Nearer to Cotter, the rainbow catch has been exceptional. Bubblegum pink eggs (Berkley or XFactor), in conjunction with shrimp, will pick up the pace as will a live and kickin’ red wiggler. Keep your midges tied on if you’re casting flies: ruby midges and others (red/silver, black/silver), and copper Johns were a hit over the last week or two. Egg patterns, peach or soft yellow, tied to a No.10 or 12 hook, have also served well.
“October has brought a lot of anglers to the Arkansas Ozarks and our natural resources remain strong, with AGFC’s trout management program working alongside. The rainbows have been healthy and brightly colored … and growing! Join us. The river will capture your heart.”
(updated 10-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they have had several rain events (combined for about 2 inches in Cotter), cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to rest at 3.6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at at 1.6 feet below power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.5 feet below power pool or 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 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 and there is wadable water on a daily basis.
On the White, the hot spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. 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,” he said.
John also said, “I got an email from Mary Nell. She wanted me to take her and three friends on a guided fly-fishing trip. They were all retired professionals. I had guided her previously and looked forward to the trip. With four anglers, I would need another guide to help me. I gave Danny Barker a call and fortunately he was available. We met them at their chosen lodge, River Ridge Inn.
“Mary Nell and Lynn are experienced anglers, but Leila and Jan were first-timers. It was best to put an experienced angler and novice in each boat so that the guide could concentrate on the novice angler. We decided that I would take Mary Nell and Leila on the first day and fish at Rim Shoals. Danny took Lynn and Jan to Buffalo Shoals. On the second day, we would swap around. That way the ladies would get to see more locations on the river and get to fish, with two different guides.
“I drove to Rim Shoals. It was a cool start but promised to get warm in the afternoon. The water was fairly low with about 3,000 cfs or less than one full generator. I began with a short casting lesson for Leila. She picked it up quickly. I then rigged a couple of fly rods. I used a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper. We motored upstream and began fishing. We were into trout almost immediately.
“The fishing was really good. Mary Nell is an accomplished angler and caught several nice trout on the first drift. Leila picked it up quickly and soon had several trout to the net. At noon we broke for lunch and rested for a few minutes. We were all eager to return to the river. Usually the fishing slows a bit in the afternoon. On this day, the catch was good even later in the day. We finished with about 35 trout. We returned to the lodge.
“The next day we started early. On this day I had Lynn and Jan. The conditions were similar to the previous day. I began with the same flies. The catch was not as good. I tried all of the usual spots, but the fish were not biting as well as they had on the day before. Danny motored up from Buffalo Shoals to meet us for lunch. His day had been a bit slower, also. We discussed flies, and on his suggestion I changed out the pheasant tail nymph for an egg pattern.
“We returned to the river and caught a few but it was still slow. We finished the day with a dozen trout.
“Some days are just better than others. The ladies did not mind. They just loved to be on the river. The trout were a bonus.”
(updated 10-21-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said nothing much has changed in a while. The river continues to run mostly low. Rainbow trout fishing overall has been good. Just 2-4 generators are running at the dam on average. PowerBait, pink worms, stick bait, Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp all will get a good response from the trout.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 655.21 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 915.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that bass fishing has been fair. The lake level is normal and clarity is good. Surface water temperature is down to 70 degrees. He says the lake is in its fall transition to junk fishing. “Shad are moving up and so are the fish,” he said. Get up early using topwaters, poppers and Zara Spooks one-half to three-quarters of the way into the shallow creeks, and look for wind and shad-surfacing action, as well as the birds. Use Chatterbaits, buzzbaits 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 sunne use a shaky head on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. Rock Crawler, square bill or Wiggle Wart is good on windy transitions. Shad are starting to group up a little better, but they are spread out and moving into the creeks. Fish the conditions.
See 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 553.11 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 10-21-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he bite for all species on Norfork Lake continues to improve as the lake temperature drops. This morning the lake temp was about 72.5 degrees. Currently the largemouth bass bite has been best for me. You can find this species in several different areas. My best location is in 28 to 36 feet of water, on the outside edge of large shallow flats. The fish are schooling and when you find the school you can catch multiple fish in the same area, as they are in a feeding frenzy. My preferred method to catch them is to vertical jig with a ½ to 1 ounce spoon. They seem to hit the spoon on the fall or when it hits the bottom. Be ready to set the hook. The other location is up shallow either on the shallow shore lines or up close to the deep bluff lines. The best bite for these shallow fish is either right after sunrise or before sunset. Shallow diving crank baits long plastic worms have been working the bests. Spinner baits and buzz baits are working on the windy days.
Walleye are still biting, but seemed to have scattered out a bit. I am still catching a few on the bottom in 30 feet of water on main lake points or along a shallow shoreline. I am catching this species by vertical jigging a spoon or by trolling a #7 Berkley Flicker Minnow. Either way you need to get the bait down to the 30-foot depth.
Striped bass fishing is starting to pick up. These fish are beginning to feed heavily again after a long hot summer. They are showing up in several different types of areas and at different times of day. I am finding them scattered out feeding along side of the largemouth bass, either after sunrise or before sunset. If it is a cloudy, windy day, it seems like you can find them all day long. I will find small schools cruising along the bottom feeding on shad. My 1-ounce spoon has picked up some nice fish. Hang on as they are getting energetic. If you are an in the dark type of fisherperson, this species is starting to feed after sunset and all night long. Several of our guests are having good success trolling crankbaits that dive about 16 feet. They are trolling on large flats but trying to stay in 20 to 35 feet of water. The best times have been about 2 or 3 hours after sunset. This morning I caught a nice striped bass before sunrise trolling a # 7 flicker minnow. This bait dives about 13 to 15 feet. I caught one and missed another in about 20 feet of water off of a shallow sandy shoreline. Another area where striped bass are showing up is back in the major creeks. Look at very shallow water early in the mornings, then out in a little deeper water as the sun gets high in the sky.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature was slightly less than 73 degrees this morning. The lake has become fairly stable with just a very slight drop and currently sits at 553.15 feet msl. It is lightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north. The lake is currently in its slow progression to a lake turnover. The water temperature is the same down to 50 feet with great oxygen. The water temp cools off below 50 feet and the oxygen level basically is non-existent below this level.
Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.
(updated 10-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 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 and there is wadable water on a daily basis.
There has been wadable water on the Norfork tailwater and it fished well some days and poorly on others. 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.
Remember that the White and Norfork 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-21-2021) 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 1,118.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is staying steady with a slow drop. Water temps upper 60s for the most part. Slowly but surely turnover is progressing. Fishing will continue to get better. Stripers are still hit and miss. They are moving towards the Arkansas Highway 12 bridge and further south. Crappie are getting better daily. Look for structure in 15 feet of water; minnows and jigs are working. White bass are moving up the War Eagle arm. Should start to see some topwater action soon. Bass action should also start to fire up with temps lowering. All in all fishing is fair, but soon should be on! Stay safe and enjoy this good weather. Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 10-21-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported Wednesday that stripers are fair on topwater baits early in the day and then late in the evening. Anglers are trolling for stripers with big brood minnows. Crappie are good and being caught in 10-12 feet depth on minnows and jigs; they are relating to the brushpiles. Black bass are fair. Fish topwater baits early in the day and late. The bass are moving into deeper water around brush during the day. No reports on catfish or bream.
(updated 10-14-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said the trout bite has been great both above and below the U.S. Highway 62 bridge this past week. The method of choice has been light terminal tackle, fished with Firebait and Fire Balls. With that being said, hit it early on those clear, sunny days. When the sun starts to get high in the sky, start focusing on the deeper water.
If your still hunting the walleye, you need to be down toward Holiday Island. Pulling Flicker Shads in 10-15 feet of water has produced some nice numbers. Also, jigging live minnows has been hot as well. If you have a graph, locate the fish and start working that area. This week’s hot spot for the trout was around Houseman Access.
“I hope you able to get out and catch some fish!”
(updated 10-21-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported that the lake is clear and at a normal level. Bream are poor. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass remain good on topwater baits and plastic worms. Catfish turned hungry again and are biting on everything, even jigs, they said.
(updated 10-21-2021) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the lake is slightly stained and has jumped up in the past week, and it’s sitting 6 inches above normal level. Surface water temperature on Wednesday afternoon was 63 degrees. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are poor. Black bass are fair, with spinnerbaits working best. Catfish are being caught in good numbers; they are biting in shallow water on chicken liver or nightcrawlers
(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 10-21-2021) Seth Boone, park superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reports that Lake Poinsett is still in the process of refilling. The fishing now is predominantly catch-and-release for bream. They seem to be biting on crickets and worms. Small boats, kayaks or canoes are the only watercraft that can launch at this time.
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 10-21-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports that lake clarity is clear and the surface water temperature is 70 degrees. The water level creeps lower, now at 2 feet below normal. Bream are still good on redworms and cricket. Still no reports on crappie. Black bass fell off drastically this week with poor reports. Catfishing is good using stinkbait.
(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 10-21-2021) 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 6.84 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 4.65 feet, also well below the flood stage of 26.0 feet and the lowest Thursday mark seen all year. The stage at Augusta is down to 15.78, more than 10 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 10-21-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team says water temperatures around mid-70s, visibility 1-1.5 feet in most places. Light current on the main channel. Black bass are pretty slow right now without wind or cloudy weather. Focus on the main channel jetties, wooden structures and laydowns on calm sunny days while there is still current. Spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, lipless crankbaits and square to medium-diving crankbaits and jerkbaits in shad colors will get bites. Keep an eye on shallow flats for baitfish activity as schoolers should be roaming those areas until the water cools substantially. Finesse jigs and shaky head/Texas-rigged worms in green pumpkin to darker colors will produce when a tight-cover application is needed. Fishing will improve here as boat traffic and water temperatures continue to decline going deeper into the fall.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 10-21-2021) Cane Creek State Park had no new reports.
(updated 10-21-2021) 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 257.86 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the Army Corps of Engineers’ 2-foot drawdown of Millwood Lake has ended, and the lake is slowly making its way back up to normal conservation pool. As of Wednesday it was still about 15 inches below normal pool. Use caution at boat ramps and in navigation with the lake pool still low. The water temperature is running 69 degrees early to 74 later in the day, depending on location. Clarity recently stained up along Little River and oxbows due to recent wings (which brought on lake wind advisories). Oxbows are ranging 5-10 inches depending on location. River clarity ranges 3-5 inches with heavy stain to muddy from White Cliffs to U.S. Highway 71 at Wilton Landing.
As for fishing specifics:
* Over the past several weeks, the largemouth bass have been slow to fair for any topwater bites. Several weeks ago, along points and ditches connecting Little River, oxbows and back flows, we 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, 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. Blowup reactions slowed also in the lily pads, but were good on plastic frogs in Junebug, 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 month, 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- to 3-pound largemouth and white bass has been slow this week.
* Bream were fair at Millwood State Park and Jack’s Isle over the past 2-3 weeks on grass oppers, 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 3-4 weeks in McGuire and Horseshoe Lake oxbows, but slowed again this week.
* Crappie improved over the past couple weeks. Best reactions 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 reports over the past couple of weeks on catfish.
(updated 10-21-2021) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reports that crappie are really good in 10-12 feet of water on hand-tie jigs. Catfish are good on any live bait. Black bass are and being caught schooling on top with Brush Hogs. Erling is clear and continues to be low (8 feet) during the drawdown.
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 534.18 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 396.81 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says, “We’ve been catching double limits of small/medium crappie on live bait fished 8-12 foot deep on brushpiles in 16-24 foot of water.”
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 435.59 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 524.95 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 10-21-2021) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) reports that crappie are good on minnows and gray jigs in shallow water during the evenings.
(updated 10-21-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said Lake Atkins on Wednesday that the lake remains clear but continues to drop, sitting at 4 feet below normal. Crappie are good on minnows and chartreuse jigs. Black bass are good on 10-inch worms. Catfish are good on salties, worms and goldfish. No reports on bream.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 10-21-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 68 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Oct. 22, that extends through Thursday, Oc. 28. 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. The winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine will begin next month, on Nov. 1, and be completed on Nov. 10. Each lake will be lowered 5 feet and will remain at that level until early March 2022. Rainbow trout fishing will resume below Carpenter Dam in early November as the AGFC trout stocking program is scheduled to begin. In past years, the fall stocking was placed in the lake for the week of Thanksgiving; however, the AGFC has moved that date up in recent times to the first two weeks of November. Currently, catfish have been caught 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 one-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 and early fall months 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. Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations.
(updated 10-21-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 10-21-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water levels slightly lower than normal by a few inches and water temps that have dropped to approximately 72 degrees in the heat of the day. Water clarity is 4-6 feet and the water was a slight stain to it. Bass have been poor to fair with some small exceptions. Breaking bass can be found at all major creeks to main channel intersections in the early mornings and sometimes in the evenings. A silver or pearl-colored Spook Jr. or a Strike King Sexy Dawg in shad colorations is a great bait to go after these fish. You can also simply hang out around the bridges all day and bass will break sporadically, also. Other than breaking fish the bass bite is near nonexistent. They simply don’t have to eat a dang thing other than small baitfish at certain times of the day, and believe us they eat heavy.
Hybrid bass have started to move into the main channel to creek channel pockets. The hybrids have not moved in mass numbers yet due to the warm water, but their food has. Bait fish are piled – PILED – up in the mouths of pockets. It’s only a matter of time, and most likely next week, before it will look like golf balls splashing all over the water when the hybrids eat. It’s way too much fun, folks! Grab some kids or a buddy who has never been fishing, and get them hooked! Small Spooks, Rooster Tails, spoons and swimbaits are the way to go after the hybrids, but remember that bybrids have small mouths, so downsize your baits.
Crappie have been spotted on treetops and old bridge structure at 20-25 feet. Crappie, like other fish, have only been eating a certain times of d anay. Try getting up early and targeting these fish with a live minnow on a drop-shot presentation. It’s about to get good, folks! It has taken forever, but it’s so close! “Good luck and Go Greeson!”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 341.99 feet msl (normal pool: 343.93 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake remains clear and is back up to normal level. Surface water temperature is 70 degrees. Crappie are good and have moved into the 6-10 feet depth range. Use minnows or black/chartreuse jigs. They’re also being caught by trolling in that 6-10 feet depth. Black bass are good. The bass are in 3-5 feet depth. A chartreuse War Eagle Spinnerbait will work well. Catfishing is fair on cut bait and shad. Bream fishing is poor.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 567.84 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 10-21-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are still good. Try a Carolina-rigged finesse worm or a drop-shot rig for these fish. Walleye are fair and being caught with bottom bouncers tipped with crawlers on main lake points and humps 18-22 feet deep. Stripers are fair on live bait. These fish are primarily on the east end of the lake. Bream are fair and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are 15-20 feet deep on brush. Crappie are very good on small jigs or minnows. Try brushpiles in the 12-20 foot depth range. No report on catfish. Water temperature is ranging 70-74 d egress and the clarity is clear. Lake level Wednesday was 567.81 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 10-21-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says, “We’ve been catching half to full limits of nice crappie on live bait fished 8-12 foot deep on brushpiles in 16-24 foot of water. We’ve also been trolling Bandit 300 Crankbaits later in the mornings and catching some spotted bass and a few scattered walleye.”
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.41 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 down this week to 14.15 feet, almost 12 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 10-21-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) said it appears the fish have gone into hiding, creating slow fishing action. There are only two weekends left for fishing at Cook’s Lake, before the lake closes until spring for waterfowl season, so now is the time to try. Surely the crappie are somewhere!
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.
(updated 10-14-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) said this week found water at Horseshoe in the low to mid-70-degree temperature range. The water is somewhat clear but is showing signs of turnover. We should see some falling water temperatures with the strong cold front that is forecast to move in this weekend. As the water temperatures fall, look for fish to start feeding heavily on the abundant shad in the lake.
Kenty said he found a few bream in 3-7 feet of water but he was searching for crappie and didn’t satay with them. Crickets or a worms should entice a bite from a bream pretty quick.
No reports on bass. No reports on catfish.
Crappie were found 9-12 feet deep in 10-14 feet of water. These were in open water and suspended near the bottom of the water column. Hand-tied deer hair jigs were the bait of choice. Look for fish to follow shad onto the shallower flats as the water cools.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 10-14-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said that at Bear Creek Lake, anglers have reported having great success catching bream and black bass. The numbers of bass being caught has increased over the past few months. Bass have been mentioned being caught at depths of 6-8 feet using various artificial baits. Bream have been reported at 4-5 feet while using mostly red worms.
In the south end of the state park at Storm Creek Lake, anglers are having success catching striped bass! This is great news, as it has been kind of slow all season, Tyler said. The bass are reportedly being caught at depths of 6-8 feet, mostly using redworms.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails
Don't miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!