Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Nov. 18, 2021
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Nov. 18, 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 1 p.m. the day of publication (Nov. 18).
****Buy an Arkansas Fishing License by clicking here. Your purchase of a Fishing License helps support the AGFC’s work in maintaining the fishing resources throughout the state.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
TOP AND LEFT: Collin Hodges was fishing for crappie with minnows on the Saline River last Sunday with Tom Snyder when he accidently caught a very nice bass instead. It looks like it was a good day all around on the Saline. Photo provided by Tom Snyder.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 11-18-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said that the lake has the normal stain and is a little low in water level. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie continue to provide an excellent bite. Anglers are using pink or medium minnows and jigs. Black bass are good. Try white spinnerbaits, white swimbaits or a Whopper Plopper. Catfishing is good on trotlines and pole fishing with stink bait, shad, nightcrawlers and trotline minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 11-18-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said water is very low, so be careful with boats. Water is clear. Trout are good on 1/16- or 1/32-ounce marabou jigs, small Rooster Tails and Trout Magnets.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 455.92 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 11-18-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 455.88 feet msl, which is 6.16 feet below normal pool of 462.04 feet msl and falling with generation, on and off. Crappie are eating well in 10-30 feet on a variety of baits; stay around the baitfish. No reports on walleye other than they are still showing up deep, 38-58 feet. Bream are still eating well on crickets and crawlers, dragged around on a piece of metal. Black bass are eating pretty well all over the water column as well — a super variety of baits are working and will work. Catfishing is good all around lake and rivers. Hybrid and white bass are roaming a lot and eating at will most of day on a super variety of baits at a variety of depths, from 20-80 feet.
(updated 11-18-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said water is really low and clear. Bass are good on crankbaits (shad or crawdad colors) in 9-10 feet of water and on single swimbait or Alabama rigs on channel swing banks and in the middle of creeks and coves. Crappie are good in 15-20 feet of water on gray, white or silver crappie jigs.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 11-18-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water is a little stained and is low with stumps showing. The AGFC uses some of the water to help flood the nearby Harris Brake waterfowl hunting area, and without the lake’s water the area is dry. Crappie fishing has been good this week around the shoreline in the early morning as well as in the evenings. They’re biting at 2-3 feet depth. Use minnows or jigs. They are also still biting well around Crappie Cove. Black bass have moved into deeper areas and the bite is fair. Catfishing is poor. Bream aren’t biting.
(updated 11-11-2021) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is about 1.5 feet low, and surface temperature is around 62 degrees. Clarity is a little murky. Bass are doing well on crankbaits. They are chasing the shad. Bream are slow with the cooler weather. Catfish are doing well with yoyo’s using large crappie minnows at night. Crappie are picking up some. Anglers are catching some on minnows and jigs — more on minnows here lately. “Come see us at Overcup Bait Shop off Arkansas Highway 9 for all your needs. Thank you for your business.”
(update 11-18-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake clarity remains cloudy and the level is normal. Bream fishing is good with crickets. Bream are still on the banks and around brush. Crappie are still good, with the best baits being No. 6 crappie minnows and jigs. They are around brush. Black bass are good in the evenings but now in the shallow water. Use Rooster Tails. Catfishing continues to be good on the bottom using live bait.
(updated 11-11-2021) Hatchet Jack’s Sports Shop in Crystal Hill off I-40 (758-4958) says crappie are good here on minnows and jigs.
(updated 11-11-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reports that water temperature is in the upper 50s. Largemouth bass are fair. Some reports have the bass being found inside the grass at 4-12 feet early in the morning, and going deep after the sun comes out. Use crankbaits, spinnerbaits or a drop-shot rig. Kentucky bass are fair. Some reports of them are being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks and other reports of them being found on brush piles. Try using Texas rig on brush, or jigs White bass are slow. Reports of them being found shallow chasing shad. Try using swimbaits. Crappie are great. Reports this week of the crappie being found suspended 22-28 feet deep on the move and aren’t stacking up yet. They’re chasing shad, so if you find the shad, they’re there. Try using one-eighth-ounce jigs. Catch 6-8 and move on. They’re easily spooked.
Bream are slow. No reports this week. Try using worms. Catfish are slow. No reports this week. 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 13,867 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 9,532 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 11-11-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal level. The crappie bite is continuing to pick up. Anglers had good reports using minnows and jigs. Black bass fell off some to fair, with spinnerbaits and plastic worms being the best baits of late. Catfishing has been good chicken liver and minnows. 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 14,417 cfs.
(updated 11-18-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said Wednesday that crappie are good at Maumelle Creek in 10-12 feet depth off the rocks.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 15,545 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 13,830 cfs.
(updated 11-18-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said water is muddy and at a normal level. Bass are hit or miss, but when it’s good, then it’s worth it. Biting mostly on square-bill crankbait (chartreuse or black colors), black/chartreuse spinnerbait and white spinner and black/blue jigs. Crappie good on blue/chartreuse, white/chartreuse, and solid chartreuse jigs behind the jetties in 10-15 feet of water around grass areas.
(updated 11-18-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said Wednesday that crappie are good at Maumelle Creek and on the main river in 10-12 feet depth off the rocks. Catfishing is fair below the Murray Park dam. White bass and stripers are good below the dam on white crankbaits and white jigs.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 11-11-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says the water is coming up, so fishing is picking up some. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs about a foot off the bottom. Bass are good on topwater baits and plastic worms.
Clear Lake is a private lake with public pay access just off Highway 161 west of England.
(update 11-18-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) says Herman’s Landing is closed for the season, as private Peckerwood Lake is turned over to waterfowl with the upcoming season. Herman’s will reopen in February.
(updated 11-18-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the White River tailwater have remained steady and lower, with an average output of about 2,000 to 3,500 cfs (two-thirds to one power unit) and the lake is sitting at 6 feet below power pool (653.2 feet mls). At these levels, an angler can carefully put an anchor down and fish a favorite deep spot, or drift downriver keeping your line tight and near the bottom without having to use too much weight.
The brown trout bite has been iffy because the annual spawn is on, but we’re still seeing some action with sculpin. Be careful not to disturb the spawning beds (the redds) if you motor through spawning areas around Rim Shoals and either side of the catch-and-release area. The rainbows have been feisty and paying most attention to orange baits. XFactor steelhead orange eggs are a favorite for two weeks running paired with a bead of shrimp or alone. Shrimp and crawdad tails added to the size of the rainbow. Standard zebra midges attracted some attention and flashy brown Woolly Bugger called several rainbows to the boat.
This November has been spectacular for fall colors and warm, shirt-sleeve days, and, although we expect a cool front to move in later this week, we’ve been promised more sunshine and temperate days to continue for a while. Come visit Cotter; catch your share of rainbows and enjoy the beauty of our Natural State.
(updated 11-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a bit over an inch and a half of rain, cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.2 foot to rest at 4.1 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.4 feet at 1.6 feet below power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.4 feet below power pool or 11 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 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 had less wadable water during the day.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31, 2022, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. On the low water the bite was excellent! The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, Copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, Copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise).
Some anglers have been fishing large streamers on the heavy 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.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. 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, “On our last fishing trip (a few weeks ago just before she broke her arm), my wife, Lori, broke a fly rod while we were fishing. It was one of our client rods that I keep in my Suburban. Though we have expensive Sage, Winston and Orvis rods, we often grab our inexpensive client rods when we go fishing. They are readily available, usually already rigged and fish well. In fact, I cannot tell the difference between the way the client rods and our personal rods cast.
Our client rods are Temple Fork Outfitter professional series rods. Brand new they cost $129. Mine are about 15 years old. These are the rods I loan to clients who don’t have or didn’t bring their own rods. We also regularly use them on Dry Run Creek. Because of this they suffer a lot of abuse. They are really beat up. Their best feature is that they have a lifetime warranty.
“When I got home, I remembered that I had another client rod that was broken. It was time to send them back to TFO to be repaired. I gathered the rods up and put them in the box they came in (I had kept the box in the garage for this purpose). I enclosed my address and a check for $80. That is $40 for each rod. I sent the box to TFO.
“Two weeks later I received a box from TFO. In it there were two brand-new fly rods. I can only assume that the people at TFO were so impressed that I had used the rods so much or felt sorry for me because the rods I sent in for repair looked so beat up.
“I used the rods the next week. My clients were so impressed with the way that the rods cast and fished they decided to buy the same rods for themselves.
“At the same time that I sent the TFO rods in for repair, I returned an Orvis rod. This was an expensive ($800) rod that I use for fishing streamers. Orvis comes with a 25-year warranty. I had to get a return authorization from Orvis. I enclosed the broken rod, my address and a check for $60. I mailed everything the same day as the TFO rods. I have not received the rod back yet.
“While the best idea is not to break a rod, the reality of the situation is that rods are broken in doors, in ceiling fans, fighting huge fish and a thousand other places. Most rod manufacturers offer some sort of warranty. TFO has one of the best; it is quick, inexpensive and easy to do. The idea of receiving new rods was a definite plus. The Orvis warranty is limited, cost more and takes longer.
“I have long been a TFO fan and this just reinforces it.”
(updated 11-18-2021) 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.
(updated 11-18-2021) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, reports that on Tuesday, with the low water on the White, gold-colored spoons worked well on the gravel bars and sunrise Power Eggs with shrimp worked well in the deeper holes. Dave added, “My dad caught a 5-pound rainbow, and one of our guests caught a 19-inch brown trout.”
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 653.07 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 915.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that “give or take, bass fishing has been fair. Fall turnover of the lake is over one-half to three-quarters of the way in the creeks, shallow. Look for wind and shad-surfacing action. The deep bite is hot. Bass are getting keyed in on the shad in stormy, windy conditions on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. On windy days, a Rock Crawler, square bill or Wiggle Wart work on the windy transitions. Offshore shad are starting to group up a lot better. Try a Jewel Scuba Spoon, drop-shot or Damiki Ice Jig. Fish the conditions.
Bull Shoals clarity is good, the surface temperature is 62 degrees. Water level is about 5 feet low.
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 553.62 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 11-11-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing really has not changed a lot since my last report two weeks ago. The lake temperature has dropped a little and the thermocline has dropped to basically the edges of the old river channel. The deep water will eventually become totally oxygenated and the water temp will be consistent from surface to the bottom.
“I have mainly been fishing on the various flats in the mid to northern parts of the lake. Heading west of my resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, the flats are near Mallard Point, Cranfield Island, Cranfield Campground, Seward Point, Briar Creek and then up around the Red Bank area. Heading east of our resort are the 101 Bridge Flat, Big Sandy which is a little past 101 Boat Dock and the Cow Pasture, which is the area right before the 6B marker. (A few of the names have been given by local fishermen.) Striped and hybrid bass, white bass, largemouth and spotted bass, catfish and walleye can all be found on these flats at some point during the day and sometimes multiple times during the day. The bait moves onto the flat and the predators move in to feed. The best fishing depth seems to vary based on the time of day. But it seems that 30-40 feet of water has been the most productive depths during daylight hours. As the lake water cools the bait and fish will continue to move a little deeper. In the dark, the fish seem to move up shallower following the bait. My bait of choice for flat fishing has been to vertical jig a ½- to a 1-ounce spoon. The fish are currently feeding on 1½ inch to 2-inch thread fin shad. This does not mean they won’t attack a bigger bait and at times they may prefer a little heartier meal. I have also been casting out a 5-inch swimbait, as well as, my ½ ounce Kastmaster. Other styles of blade baits, such as a cicada, are working very well. Trollers are also picking up some nice striped bass by trolling umbrella or Alabama rigs. Other areas where these species are showing up or will very soon, are back in the major creeks, such as; Big, Brushy, Float, Panther and Fall Creeks, as well as Bennett’s Bayou and up river around the state line.
“I cannot personally talk about crappie fishing as I have been spending the majority of my time locating and catching the species talked about above. From what I have been told by the crappie guides is that the bite has been good. The bigger slabs are starting to move into the brush and small jigs and minnows are working very well. I will take some time off from my striped bass fishing and check out the crappie bite myself before long.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature this morning was in the mid-60-degree range. The lake has become fairly stable with just slight variations either up or down and currently sits at 553.62 feet msl. The lake is slightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north, but there has been a slight clearing starting to happen. The lake continues its slow progression to a total lake turnover. “I am starting to mark bait and a few fish 75-80 feet deep, which tells me the good cool oxygenated water is continuing to fall lower and lower until eventually it will reach all depths and the lake will be totally turned over. This year the turnover process has been virtually unnoticeable.
“Happy fishing, and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
(updated 11-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 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 had less wadable water during the day.
There has been less wadable water on the Norfork 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.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 11-4-2021) 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. 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 1,118.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake remains 3 feet below normal pool levels. Water temps are in mid-50s. The lake has turned over and is stained in the river arms, and good visibility is from Prairie Creek to the dam. The fall migration is in for the stripers. This time of year they move from the far north end to set up shop anywhere from Prairie Creek up to both river arms. Lots of bait in the Monte Ne area and further south. “Stripers have still been hard to pattern. I have had some fairly good trips last week. Brooders and shad will work.
“There has been some sporadic topwater early. Have a Spook or some other lure ready because when it happens it is over fairly quick.
“Crappie are good on brush and structure located anywhere from 7-20 feet deep. Jigs and minnows are the ticket.
“I look for Beaver to continue to get better in the next few weeks. If cold would set in, I believe the bite will get hot! White bass have been schooling around Point 12. Walleye have been tough. Good luck and be safe!” Check out Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 11-18-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported that fishing is inconsistent. Stripers are good, though, on brood minnows trolling behind the boat. Crappie are fair in 10-12 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Try around brush. Black bass are fair and are deep; try a CC Spoon or a topwater bait. No reports on bream or catfish. The lake is clear and has a surface water temperature of 59-60 degrees. Water level is normal.
(updated 11-18-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said that this past week has been an active one. Most of the trout are being caught between Houseman Access and Highway 62 bridge. Quarter-ounce spoons have really helped with the bite. Add a little Fire Gel and that increases the bite. Furthermore, various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle are producing nice numbers. The walleye bite has slacked off a little, so targeting those pesky fish may take some time. If you happen across a few, work the entire area. The best method so far has been jigging with live minnows, if you can find them.
“Winter is just about here and the days are becoming colder. That doesn’t mean the bite will slow, so get out and catch some fish!” Check out Austin’s fishing Facebook Page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for fishing videos and tips on the tailwater.
(updated 11-18-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported that the lake is a little stained and at a normal level. Crappie are good on minnows and hair jigs. Black bass are good on plastic worms. Catfish and bream are poor.
(updated 11-18-2021) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the lake is clear and at normal level. Surface water temperature was not reported. Bream have picked back up with fair results on redworms and crickets. Crappie also have started biting again. Use minnows, jigs and plastics. Best location has been off the bridge. Black bass are good, particularly below the dam. Catfishing is poor.
(updated 11-18-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the surface water temperature on Sunday was 56.4 degrees and the level is normal. The clarity is the usual murky. But for the second straight week, Shelly had no fishing reports. Two weeks ago, anglers were catching some “pretty nice” black bass, she said, though they didn’t report the bait used. Bream and crappie were fair, and there were no reports on catfish or white bass. Anglers should experience good days based on the moon forecast for through Nov. 23, she said. Waterfowl season is starting around the area, but give Lake Charles a look. Some of the water there is used by the AGFC to help flood nearby Shirey Bay Rainey Brake, a popular duck-hunting destination.
(updated 11-18-2021) t Lake Poinsett is in the process of refilling, but is rainfall dependent and the region hasn’t had a lot of rainfall lately. 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 11-18-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has closed for the season and will reopen in mid-February.
(updated 11-4-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are at a very low, 290 cfs (350 cfs is average) and water clarity is clear. Very dry conditions have the river very low. Low water can make for easier wading, but be careful — the Spring River has a very slick bottom.
On the sunny days with heavy hatches of tan caddis and blue wing olives makes for great nymphing and, at times, dry-fly action. Still catching some browns on hopper dropper setups. Streamer action on cloudy days in the deeper pools can be a lot of fun.
“For spin-fishing, I’m still using the Trout Magnets and they are doing great in this low clear water. Hot pink is the go-to color, and white and red doing well some days. Ran across a guy doing well with little Cleo’s, a spoon lure, the other day.”
Mark says most of the campgrounds have closed for the season, with Riverside Resort remaining open. Saddler Falls Resort has a pay box, also. Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery is stocking weekly, lower numbers during the winter season and that is because of less pressure. Cold temps gets the big fish in the Spring moving. So bring on the cold!
(updated 11-4-2021) 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 6.58 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at its lowest point on a Thursday morning this year, 4.16 feet, also well below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is fairly steady at 15.44, more than 10 feet below flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 11-18-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville reports that fishing is slow. The river is at about 6 feet. A few anglers are catching walleye.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Emmett Sanders Lock and Dam at Pine Bluff was 18,354 cfs. Further upriver at the Maynard Lock and Dam near Redfield, the flow was 17,932 cfs.
(updated 11-11-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team says water temperatures are around 60 degrees, and water clarity up to 1.5 feet in some protected backwaters. There is low flow on the main channel. Black bass are biting well on the main channel and within backwaters like Lake Langhofer. Spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, single swimbaits and shallow- to medium=diving crankbaits in shad colors are getting bit along wind-blown banks with riprap and/or woody cover. The same lures are working along current-impacted jetties and points on the main channel. Jigs and soft plastic creature baits/worms will get bit in dense woody cover and brushpiles too thick for moving lures. November and December are consistently a couple of the best months to fish this pool for black bass thanks to more active fish and reduced fishing pressure.
(updated 11-18-2021) 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, which will mostly be done by rainfall collection. Many artificial fish habitat structures have been created and put in place, and the AGFC has pumped several of the small ponds and has added rotenone to those areas for the elimination of unwanted species (i.e. grass carp, yellow bass), before the refilling of the lake begins. The city will determine when the gates are closed on the dam to begin refilling.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 258.80 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday the lake was near 6 inches below normal conservation pool and on a slow rise through Saturday. The lake was at 258.7 feet msl and rising; Little River water clarity is heavy stained. Oxbows are stained clarity at 5-10 inches. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation near 225 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 160 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, Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Use EXTREME CAUTION DURING LOW POOL CONDITIONS, and any time high gate discharge conditions exist.
Surface temps dropped slightly this week, ranging 55-61 degrees depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood, watching for random broken or floating timber in Little River.
As for this week’s fishing specifics:
* Largemouth bass are still feeding randomly as they have over the past few weeks, sometimes surface breaking on threadfin shad in the shallow flats with pads, other times over drops from 9 feet to around 15 feet of depth. The black bass are continually roaming and following the huge pods of shad in the oxbows along Little River from White Cliffs campground to Cemetery Slough and Browns Creek. Shad have been surface-breaking randomly with the bass pushing the huge schools and pods of shad to the surface. Watch for egrets and herons feeding on the shad. Bass will be roaming with the cooler water temperatures, following the shad schools and randomly breaking on surfacing shad near stumps and grass and lily pad lines. Their feeding cycles seem to fluctuate widely. “Some days we are catching over 40-50, other days it’s like they’re not feeding at all, and catch less than a dozen,” Mike said.
The threadfin shad can simply break anywhere, from the flats and into over 14-16 feet of depth, then chasing and breaking inside lily pads and grass and stumps. Watch your electronics for huge shad pods ranging from 6-14 feet deep. The screen will go completely solid mass when you locate the shad schools. Bass are holding near and underneath these huge shad schools. Somedays, with lots of wind gusts, the shad will drop vertically into the 10-15 foot depths, and the surface activity will diminish. Other days, it’s like the bass are flipping a switch on and off again when it’s time to feed. The feeding binges can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and they flip the switch off again.
The best responses over the last couple weeks have been on custom painted Little John Crankbaits, Flat-A’s, Rat-L-Trap Echo 1.75 and Bill Lewis Lure’s MR-6 Crankbaits in Millwood Magic, Ghost Shad, Chrome/Blue (sunny days) and Splatterback colors. Johnson chrome Silver Minnow Spoons with a white 3-inch curly tail grub trailer are still getting a few blowups and reactions in the pads by rumbling over and pausing in gaps between lily pads. Rat-L-Traps in quarter-ounce-size Spin Traps and half-ounce-size Traps in Millwood Magic, Chrome/Blue Back and Chartreuse Silver Shad continue to catch random fish roaming and following the shad schools over the past couple weeks. “Whenever the largemouth push the shad to the surface, we found a Bill Lewis 4-inch Stutterstep to be extremely effective on surface feeders near pads and grass lines from 6-8 feet of depth underneath pads near vertical structure,” Mike said. “Best colors of the Stutterstep getting reactions this week has been the Millwood Magic Silverado, Ghost Shad or Pro Blue. The Stutterstep has caught good numbers of dual Bass hookups simultaneously.”
White Chatterbaits with a Bass Assassin 3.5-inch Little Boss trailer in Crystal Shad, Snow Storm or Silver Ghost colors are randomly catching bass in the remaining lily pads and stems, and a Bass Assassin 3.5 Little Boss in a Houdini color on a swim jighead will draw a reaction randomly through the pad stems seems to be better on cloudy days. Baby Brush Hogs in California 420, Black Sapphire, chartreuse pumpkin and Blue Fleck were working slow and randomly over the past 2-3 weeks near pads, grass lines and stumps from 5-9 feet deep in Little River.
*White bass just continue randomly roaming along with the largemouths for the past few weeks. The whites were assembled and schooled up Little River this past week and were found from White Cliffs campground all the way up to U.S. Highway 71 bridge over Little River, and where the Cossatot River intersects Little River. The white bass are continuing to randomly roam the oxbows and Little River. Hammered Cordell Chrome Spoons with a red bucktail, Rocket Shads, Fat Free Shads in Tennessee Shad and Citrus Shad, half-ounce Rat-L-Traps, Bill Lewis’ MR-6 Crankbaits and Spin Traps in chrome/blue, Millwood Magic, Tennessee Shad and Threadfin Shad colors were all randomly catching whites over the last week, with four anglers boating over 50 whites in around an hour or two in fishing time. “Great time to TAKE A KID FISHING in these hard fighting, late-freight charging, locomotive slamming white bass,” Mike noted.
* Channel cats improved on yo-yos along Little River using King’s Punch Bait, cut shad or buffalo, and homemade blood bait. “Two anglers we spoke with were catching some 2.5- to 4-pound channel cats on yo-yos and trotlines near White Cliffs campground this week, and had a few healthy specimens in the boat to show us that looked to be around 4-5 pounds each.
No reports on bream, and crappie have been slow over the past few days; nothing consistent to report.
(updated 11-18-2021) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reports that the lake is clear and is low by 7-8 feet. The lake has been in a partial drawdown for several weeks. Fishing is still good for crappie, though, and excellent for catfish. Crappie are good on bonehead tackle and hand-tie jigs. The great catfish bite can be enjoyed with just about any kind of typical catfish bait. Erling has a nice array of channel, blue and flathead catfish, including some very large specimens taken in AGFC sampling efforts, then returned to the water.
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 534.26 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 396.52 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says crappie are moving into their winter pattern. Fish with live bait or jigs over brushpiles near deep water channels.
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 436.98 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 525.03 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 11-11-2021) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) reports that crappie are good on minnows and jigs. The river is still down a lot, Curtis reports.
(updated 11-18-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said shad are moving into the cold area. The lake is clear and the lake level is low. Anglers are getting good crappie catches, some between 1-2 pounds and a few even 2-3 pounds. Minnows and jigs are being used. There are no reports on bream, bass and catfish.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 11-18-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 58 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Nov. 19, that extends through Thursday, Nov. 25. 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 was completed Nov. 10. Each lake has been lowered 5 feet and will remain at that level until March 1, 2022. The Carpenter Dam tailrace will be very dangerous to navigate during this time with numerous underway obstructions now present. Wade anglers and boaters alike must use extreme caution when attempting to use the area.
Rainbow trout are now present in Lake Catherine and being caught. 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. As a general rule, these early fall rainbows are quality fish and will provide anglers solid action and table fare. Wade anglers can now easily access areas that are holding numbers of trout. PowerBaits and waxworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are working well along with nightcrawlers and redworms presented in the same manner. Trout Magnets fished shallow in moving or still water can produce excellent results while the drawdown is in effect. The November stockings of trout are difficult to pattern with rapidly changing weather patterns and low water levels. Bank anglers can stick to basic patterns of live and PowerBaits, while fly-fishermen should cast egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. Microjigs and Woolly Buggers have taken trout over 14 inches this week.
White bass have been observed breaking in the early morning hours chasing threadfin shad below the bridge. Casting spinnerbaits and jigs in one-eighth=ounce weights has been the best presentation to catch these fish the past several days. 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 2-pound class. Walleye thrive in the tailrace in the summer and early fall as these fish prefer colder water temperatures than other area game fish. The arrival of rainbow trout to Lake Catherine in November brings life to the Carpenter Dam tailrace and kicks off the trout fishing season.
Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations.
As of Thursday at noon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s flow at Dardanelle Lock and Dam as 9,532 cfs. Elevation was 337.47 feet msl, with the tailwater at 285.74 feet msl.
(updated 11-18-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says crappie are moving into their winter pattern. Fish live bait or jigs over brushpiles near deep water channels.
(updated 11-11-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water level down 3 or more feet so far for the annual drawdown. Water temps remain in the low 60s throughout the lake. Water clarity is good but slightly hazy. Bass have been a struggle over the last few weeks with the drastic temperature drop and the drawdown. The best approach for catching numbers has been to target breaking fish. Breaking fish can be found consistently around all bridges and narrowing of the channel at daybreak and dusk, give or take an hour. A Zara Puppy in a shad color or a small white Whopper Plopper have been excellent choices for breaking fish. Two other ways to grab a few bass are to throw a frog up and around shallow docks during the day and to use a jigging spoon in ditches and against hard cover like bridge piers and deep docks. White or chrome are the colors to use.
Hybrid bass have been very active throughout the day in the mouths of pockets where a creek channel enters the main lake. These feisty fish are way too much fun to catch, and eating is excellent! A small Spook or shad-colored Rat-L-Trap will get the paint knocked off when these fish get to eating. They break throughout the day but especially in the morning and evening in dim light conditions. Crappie have been good over brushtops in 30 feet of water in the lower lake areas on minnows with a slip cork rig, white fluke-style jigs and small flutter spoons on the “drop.” Good luck and go Greeson!
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.01 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 11-11-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake is clear while the surface water temperature has tumbled to 58 degrees. Water level is low by 1 foot. Bream fishing picked back up, with fair results reported. Use redworms or crickets. Crappie are good. They are up in the river and being caught over the brushpiles in 3-5 feet depth. Use minnows or chartreuse jigs. Black bass are good. They are being caught shallow around the shoreline. A War Eagle Spinnerbait with gold willow leaf and chartreuse colors, and a red shad Monster Worm are working best. Catfishing is fair; they’ve been caught on noodles baited with shad.
(updated 11-11-2021) 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 crappie are good on minnows and jigs.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 567.86 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 11-18-2021) 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. Stripers are still good on live bait. Crappie are good on small jigs or minnows. Try brushpilies in the 15-25 feet depth range. No reports on walleye, bream and catfish. Water temperature is ranging 58-62 degrees. Water clarity is clearing. Lake level is 567.84 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 11-11-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says crappie are doing well on live bait. Watch for them to be transitioning toward deeper water for the winter.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.40 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 11.79 feet, more than 14 feet below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 11-18-2021) The lake at Potlatch Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) is closed November through February to serve as a waterfowl rest area, and will reopen in the spring when the water levels permit. For information, call the center at 870-241-3373.
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