Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 20, 2022
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for Jan. 20, 2022. 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 (Jan. 20).
****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: A member of the Haylee family from Wisconsin, all of whom were fishing out of Blackburn’s Resort on Norfork Lake last week, shows off some outstanding stripers caught on Norfork. Stripers, crappie and more are active on the lake these days, even with the chilly temperatures. Photo provided by “Scuba” Steve Street.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 1-20-2022) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake has the normal Lake Conway stain and the water level is teetering between normal and low. No surface temperature was recorded. Bream are good mainly on redworms, but crickets also will work. Crappie are good. Try minnows or use jigs (Monkey Milk and white/chartreuse colors are best). Crappie catches most prevalent on the north end of the lake. Black bass are fair. Use swimbait (dark and green pumpkin colors) or anything resembling baitfish. Catfish are still good. Use stink bait, nightcrawlers, dough bait, bass minnows and trotline minnows.
Little Red River
(updated 1-20-2022) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip’em All Guide Service (501-230-0730) said that with both generators at the Greers Ferry Dam down for maintenance, the Army Corps of Engineers is using the spillway to release water into the Little Red. Currently the release is approximately equivalent to one generator water release. This water release could change any day. San Juan worms, weighted egg patterns and streamers are recommended for fly-fishing. For Trout Magnet fishing, pink-colored body on chartreuse or gold jigheads is recommended. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwestern Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule.
(updated 1-20-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said trout are good on LiveScope and olive marabou jigs and Rooster Tail.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 461.42 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 462.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 1-20-2022) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said Thursday the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 462.41 feet msl and staying about the same as the Army Corps of Engineers have five spillway gates open about 1 foot apiece while maintenance is being performed on the two turbines. This will continue until sometime in February; the Corps is just trying to keep it around normal pool and will raise or lower gates to keep such, as it is 0.37 feet above normal pool of 462.04 feet. Remember, if you are on the water, wear your life vests and kill switch – an accident can happen at any time.
Crappie are in winter mode and eating 30 feet or so. Some days they are higher in the water column; use jigs, minnow or spider rigs around or over the top of brush.
Most walleye are on the move and trying to get set up as our days are getting longer and they know it. The lake fish will just hang out in lake points, humps, rip-rap, etc., moving up and down in the water column off and on to feed. Crankbaits, grubs swimbaits or a crawler are working for all walleye, just get bait in front of fish, trying in 18-60 feet, while some are on river shoals super shallow. No reports on bream.
Hybrid and white bass are eating spoons, grubs, Alabama rigs and inline spinners as a whole all over the lake and rivers. Stay with shad, try looking in 25-80 feet. Catfish are around shad for the most part as well; use your own favorite ways of catching cats as this is a much untapped fishery for catfish anglers. Black bass are eating at will deep to shallow – Wiggle Warts, Rock Crawlers, Rat-L-Traps, jigs, Carolina-rigs, spinnerbaits, Alabama rigs, grubs, crappie jigs, all are working. Even try a float and fly, or wacky rig with patience. This is a great time of year to dial in anything you’re not good at using and get good at it, there is very limited pressure on fish.
Tommy adds, “Remember the 40th annual Marine Expo at Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center on Jan. 28-30. Times are 1-8 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Come out and visit your local vendors. Boats, lots and lots of boats, and fishing tackle for sale at discounted rates, plus accessories. Please social distance, wear a mask if possible, as we are all fishing for survival and trying to bring you opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. I will be offering discounted rates on guide trips if you book and pay at the show. It’s just one way we all try and give back to the community that supports us all. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s large fish tank will be with us once again as well – a big shout out to them, and you might get to catch a fishing seminar off of the tank as well. Enjoy.
(updated 1-20-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said bass are good on Rat-L-Traps and Alabama rigs.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 1-20-2022) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the water is clear and at a normal level. Bream went back into hiding with no reports this week. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. No reports on black bass or catfish.
(update 1-20-2022) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-289-2210) said the lake is still clear and is low by about 1 foot. Bream fishing has been fair with smaller bream going for the hook near the shoreline. Larger bream are being caught in deeper areas around brush. Redworms and crickets are best. Crappie are good and being caught in deeper water. Try minnows, jigs or live bait. Black bass are fair. They’re also active in deeper. The usual deep-diving bass lures and live bait are best. Catfishing is good using stink bait and live bait.
Dad’s is a 24/7 self-serve bait shop.
(updated 1-20-2022) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) reported that water temperature continues to hover in a range of 50-52 degrees. Crappie are excellent. Reports this week of the crappie being found deep and stacking off the bottom deep around 25-30 feet of water. They were still deep this week over brush. They’re bitring better on jigs as well.
Fishing for largemouth bass is good. Some reports of the bass being found scattered at all depths and some are deep. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits or drop-shots. As for other black bass, Kentucky bass (spots) are also good. Some reports of 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 Texas rig on the brush, or go with a jig. Heads up: WestRock Landing will host two tournaments on Lake Maumelle this Saturday, the Southwest City and the Lake Maumelle Classic. Call WestRock for more details.
White bass are slow; there were no reports this week, but maybe they will hit your swimbait.
Bream were fair. Reports this week of the bream being found off the bottom in deep water around 30 feet. They were biting on minnows and jigs. Still no reports coming in on catfish, but try using chicken liver, worms and crayfish in case they kick into gear.
(updated 1-13-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said crappie are good on Monkey Milk crappie jigs and Bobby Garland Jigs in 10-15 feet depth around underwater brushtops.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 29,125 cfs. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 30,634 cfs.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 1-20-2022) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said the river is clear and at a normal. Water level is normal. Bream are good. Fish with redworms or crickets. Bream are near the bottom. Crappie are good and being caught in 8-10 feet deep. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good, and like the crappie they are in 8-10 feet depth; crankbait has been the bait of choice of late. Still no reports on catfish.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 33,495 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 23,211 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 24,403 cfs.
(updated 1-20-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said bass are good in 4-6 feet depth on mid-diving crankbaits.
(updated 1-20-2022) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said conditions are not good for fishing this week. Last week, crappie were good on the river on minnows and jigs in the backwaters around Burns Park and White Oak Bayou and around the old Cajun’s Wharf area. A few white bass were caught below the dam on white swimming minnows. Catfish were fair below the Murray Lock and Dam and hydroelectric plant on shad and skipjack.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 1-13-2022) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says the water is low and anglers are having trouble getting boats in an out. The river is muddy, and fishing is slow.
(update 1-20-2022) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) 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 1-20-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the lakes in the White River watershed are all at desired power pool levels – Bull Shoals, Norfork, Table Rock and Beaver Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring increases due to runoff and is continuing sporadic releases through the dams. Those releases usually require some quick changes in angling techniques and baits. The mornings often start out with 2,500 cfs and gradually increase to 8,500 cfs or more for an hour or two by late afternoon, then dwindle back to nearly wade-able levels by late evening.
During the winter spawn of the browns, orange egg patterns work well, with our without the shrimp nugget. “We’re still having success with the black and gold spinners (one-sixteenth-ounce to quarter-ounce depending on water levels). For a couple of days this week, we were treated with a full moon in a clear sky which made the brown trout catch somewhat slow – browns are night feeders and use the extra night light for hunting, causing daytime anglers have to try harder.
“Those bright yellow golden rainbow trout are still being evasive, but once in a while we’re treated to a good bite. If you spot one, be ready to change your bait numerous times during the “hunt.” We see them following (but not biting) all sorts of baits for long periods of time. Then, finally, you might feel the tug with PowerBait/shrimp or a red wiggler worm or even a purple Trout Magnet grub at the end of your line. Work them slowly and you may be rewarded with an opportunity for a photo shoot.”
Expect the daytime temperatures to be as fickle as the water level, with expected highs from 30 to 50 degrees, but the nights will be very cold. Traffic on the river is slower in January than any other time of the year, so you should brave the weather and have the river to yourself for a few hours. “Come on in, warm up, and share your fishing stories with us; we look forward to seeing you.”
(updated 1-20-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says there haven’t been many people fishing the river this last week. The crazy temperatures with the snow last weekend, the mild day on Tuesday and back to freezing on Thursday have made fishing on the river interesting. Layer your clothes so you can add or remove layers as needed. Power Eggs with shrimp, worms or corn continues to work well. Rooster Tails and Rapala Countdowns have seen some success. The changing river levels can make fishing challenging at times but hang in there the conditions will change again. If you are bank or wade fishing pay attention to the water levels.
(updated 1-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had snow (3 inches in Cotter), frigid temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool and 16.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool or 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had a bit more wadable water.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are at or slightly above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect more generation.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 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 February 1, 2022 this section will open to fishing.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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).
(updated 1-6-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood water is clear. Trout are good when the Corps is running water; use a jerkbait and a No. 7 Rapala Countdown. When water is lower, use Trout Magnets in pink, white or mealworm gold colors on top and below shoals. Trout are also good on quarter-ounce and eighth-ounce spoons in trout or silver colors.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 658.41 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-20-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said bass fishing has been fair. No need to get out early, especially if it’s cold. There’s been a good afternoon bite one-half to three-quarters of the way back, 70-85 feet into the guts of creeks. Graph to look for shad and look for loons. Active diving loons will trigger feeding activity. Offshore shade structure seems to be the predominant bite. The shad have moved even deeper as of late. Some of the fish have left the shad, so power fisherman can grind it out. Key in on wind ledges, transitions, channel swing banks with chunk rock. Jerkbait has started catching a few under a little sun and wind, and use the Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart on windy days and cover water. You can always catch them on a jig. Fish the conditions. Clarity is good, the surface water temperature is 49 degrees. Water level is 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 553.75 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 1-20-2022) Lou Gabric, at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Winter arrived in our area this week with a little of that white stuff and cooler weather, which has dropped the lake surface temperature a few degrees. The bait is starting to move out to deeper water due to the cooler water and has suspended 40-60 feet down in 70-100-plus feet of water. When the bait moves, so do the predator fish. The striped and hybrid bass are following suit. I have been finding quite a few striped bass in pairs, up to large schools. It appears the fish that have moved under the bait are not feeding, but the fish on top of the bait have been feeding aggressively. The areas to start finding them is anywhere from the mid-lake creeks around the Robinson area to the bridges, then farther north toward the 101 Boat Dock area and anywhere in between. Concentrate your search to areas close to the deep river channel, especially on channel swings. Live bait is working well set at about 38 feet. Artificial baits are working as well. Vertical-jigging a spoon, larger ice jigs and plastic jigs have been the best. Find the depth the stripers are feeding at and drop your bait to that level.
“Largemouth and spotted bass fishing has been really good for me. My best areas have been bluff line points in 33-38 feet of water. The fish are hugging the bottom. I have been dropping a 1-ounce spoon to the bottom and slowly jigging it up and down just a little. When the jig is falling is the time when the bass have been sucking it in. Once you start to lift the bait off of the bottom, you feel the fish and the fight is on. With the cooler water temperature, the bass will also move into shallow water early and late in the day to feed. Use crankbaits for these shallow fish or jigs worked slowly along the bottom.”
Crappie fishing has stayed about the same. The best areas have been on brushpiles in 20-25 feet of water. The fish will typically be toward the tops of the brush. They may move inside the brush to shallower water early and late in the day. Jigging a spoon on top of the brush is working, or dropping a small soft plastic with a one-sixteenth or one-eighth-ounce jighead. You can also cast out the plastic jig to the shoreline and let it sink to your desired depth and reel it back to the boat, making sure the jig crosses over the top of the brushpile. Live bait is typically always a great way to catch crappie.
Norfork Lake level currently sits at 553.82 feet msl. The lake has risen roughly a half-foot since last week. The surface water temperature is around 48 degrees. The lake is slightly stained. “Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
(updated 1-13-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort reported Wednesday that the lake level was 553.30 feet msl and had dropped a half-inch in the last 24-hours with just a few hours of generation. The White River at Newport was at 19 feet, which limits the discharge. “I just got back in from fishing and the conditions have changed with the warm weather. The surface water temperature has risen a little in the last couple of days and is now about 51.5 (degrees) and the lake is clearing and it needed to. It is now stained green and you can see your lure down 3-4 feet, and the brown water is gone but it is now a good color for fishing.
“Blackburn’s has several fishermen in now and they are doing well and it is improving. Today the striper fishermen caught some nice ones trolling, the bass fishermen caught some near the bank this evening and the crappie fishermen did the best using Bobby Garland Blue Ice Baby Shad on main lake brush at 25 feet. It was busy here this evening and everybody caught fish. It was a great day and a beautiful sunset. It makes life almost worth living. A great January day on Norfork. Thanks Arkansas Game and Fish for managing the lake so well.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.
(updated 1-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had a bit more wadable water. The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are at or slightly above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect more generation.
There has been some 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 eighteen 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. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are still navigable. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are not 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 1,120.09 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-20-2022) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake remains at a steady level. Weather last week was up and down with a fair amount of snow this last weekend. Those who did get out did fair on the catching side but witnessed some beautiful scenery for sure. Stripers are fair and mostly found around Horseshoe Bend and are being caught on slow-trolled brooders. Walleye are still somewhere in the lake but have yet to be located in numbers, but that should change in next few weeks as they move up river arms to spawn in March. Crappie remain bright spot. Look around any structure in 15-25 feet of water. Jigs and minnows are working fished over the top of brush.
“Another cold Arctic air mass pushes in Wednesday, but warms next week some. Get out and dress for the weather and put some fish in the boat. Good luck. Spring fishing is within site!”
Check out Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 1-20-2022) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) reported Wednesday afternoon fish are “not biting great. We’re about to get more weather.” The lake is clear and is high by 2 feet. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs; work those brushpiles. Black bass are fair. Use jerkbait or Alabama rigs. No reports on bream or for catfish.
(updated 1-13-2022) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said fishing has been hit or miss this past week, but if you can drift the flowing water, you should do pretty well. Most trout are being caught between Parker Bottoms and Spider Creek. “We have had great success with quarter-ounce spoons coated in Fire gel. Light terminal tackle, fished with various PowerBaits, has also done nicely as well. You will need to cover water to stay on the bite.
“This past week we only focused on the trout. In about a month, I will have a better idea how them walleye are doing! Try to stay in the deep pockets and you should do just fine! This weekend might have some winter weather, so try to get out Friday. Good luck and catch some fish!”
Visit Austin’s fishing Facebook Page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for fishing videos and tips on the tailwater.
(updated 1-20-2022) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed for the holiday break.
(updated 1-20-2022) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reopened last Sunday, but the best and only real successful fishing for anglers this week was for bass. The black bass are biting well, though, and being caught in shallow water. Try a crankbait, white jerkbaits or Alabama rigs. No reports on bream, crappie or catfish. The lake is clear and at a normal level.
(updated 1-13-2022) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said the water at Lake Charles is back up to normal (Lake Charles water is used to help flood the nearby Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA for waterfowl season) but the fish bite is not normal. There was no bite this week, she reports. Nothing from any species, or at least no reports from any anglers. The water temperature Monday afternoon was 47.1 degrees. Clarity is murky. Based on moon times, though, there should be good fishing through Jan. 17, she notes, if the weather holds up.
(updated 1-20-2022) 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 a year ago, 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 this year.
(updated 1-20-2022) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) has closed for the season and will reopen in mid-February.
(updated 1-20-2022) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are at 340 cfs at the Spring and water clarity has been clear. The river has been looking great for the last few weeks. Just below average flows.
The trout have been slow on the bite, hitting Woollies and Y2ks on good days and nymphs on slow days. This is the time to catch big rainbows and browns on the Spring River. On the cloudy overcast days, streamer fishing with an olive Woolly or white Woolly can be a lot of fun. Most days tight-lining has been most productive, hitting the bite at the end of the swing. “Make sure and let the fly swing out!” Mark says. “We caught the brown with this report on a white lightning fly sold in the fly shop. It has been very hot for bigger trout this year.”
With spin fishing a hot pink or white Trout Magnet has been hot. Got to get that Trout Magnet just off the bottom of the river and they will eat it up. Trout cranks on the bitter overcast days might produce a walleye this time of year, too!
“The only problem lately has been freezing temps on the water,” Mark added. “Got to be safe out there! If you get wet, find a dry warm place immediately! The Spring River has a very slick rock bottom that will help you go for a swim whether you want to or not. Be safe!”
(updated 1-20-2022) 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. 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 9.16 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was at 15.69 feet, a drop of almost 3 feet from this time last week, and more than 10 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta down as well to 28.53 feet, which is almost 2 feet below last week’s reading and 2.5 feet above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 1-20-2022) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no reports. Water is high.
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 30,412 cfs. Further upriver at the Maynard Lock and Dam near Redfield, the flow was 27,296 cfs.
(updated 1-6-2022) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team says water temperatures around 60 degrees, visibility about 1 foot in protected areas. Black bass were very active in December with the warmer weather. Lipless and shallow-diving crankbaits, spinnerbaits and bladed jigs have been producing well on sand flats where bass have schooled and around brushpiles near drop-offs during cloudy/windy weather. In calmer, clear weather, jigs in the same areas have done well with more emphasis on woody cover and docks. The cold snap this week will begin the significant reduction in black bass activity common for this pool this time of year. There should still be some decent fishing left, but when the water starts dipping into the upper 40s here it’s usually best to go somewhere else for black bass.
(updated 1-20-2022) 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. The gates on the dam are now closed and the lake refilling is underway. 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 began.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.36 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-20-2022) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was near normal pool, at 259.23 feet msl and steady, and clarity is good to fair stain in a few areas. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation is near 224 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 780 CFS in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.
Surface temps stable this week, ranging 42-47 degrees, depending on location and the day. Current along Little River improved this week with discharge release at the dam, and river clarity ranges 5-10 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows was at 10-20 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain or thunderstorms.
Mike says, as far as fishing specifics:
* Not much change over the past several weeks, with the largemouth bass being hit or miss depending on daily conditions. The largemouth activities slowed with the colder water temperatures; best feeding cycles shifted to midday and afternoon. Threadfin shad were still roaming in and out of the shallow flats with any remaining lily pads, other times over drops from 9 feet to around 15 feet of depth. The black bass appear suspended near large pods of threadfin shad in the oxbows along Little River and in mouths of the creeks that junction and dump into the river. Keep an eye peeled for egrets and herons feeding on the shad. Bass will continue to suspend with current water temperatures, roaming shallow on warm afternoons up onto flats for a few hours, albeit sluggish with the cooler water temperatures. The shad schools have moved onto primary and secondary points and into the deeper depths of creek channels. Their feeding cycles have seemed to fluctuate widely over the past several weeks.
Warmer days with blue skies have been best near vertical structure and deeper drops with 6-9 feet deep flats in close range. Over the past couple weeks, bass were fair on swim jigs with thumper-tail trailers, Chatterbaits, jigs and heavy thumping 1-Knocker Rat-L-Traps. Most bass we are finding continue randomly roaming shallow on full sun and bright skies into the 6-10 foot depths of flats adjacent to deeper drops into 9-15 feet depth ranges. The largemouths, have continue randomly turning on during the heat of the day, better on bright, sunny, clear days when water temps will rise a few degrees in mid-day. Square-bill crankbaits, Chatterbaits and spinnerbaits will randomly connecting with the shallow roaming Bass. MR-6, Echo 1.75, and Little John cranks, have been getting fair responses over the past week. Anywhere a creek channel runs into the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decent sized bass over the past week. The best bite continues during heat of the day from noon-3pm.
Before the last cold snap and frontal passages, the past few weeks, we were finding schools of shad staging on creek channel points and in deeper creek channels, and began moving deeper into creeks that junction Little River and the oxbows. Watch your electronics for huge shad pods ranging 6-14 feet deep on primary or secondary points. The screen will go completely solid mass when you locate the shad schools. Bass are holding and suspending near and underneath these huge shad schools. Some days 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. Snake Creek, Hurricane Creek, White Cliffs Creek, all the way up to Brown’s Slough have been holding shad schools over the past several weeks.
Swim jigs with a Bang Die Dapper, and vertical-jigging Cordell or Kastmaster spoons, are finding vertical suspended bass from 10-15 feet on ledges or deep creek, outside bends, with stumps present.
The best reaction bites over the past few weeks continue to be on custom painted Little John Crankbaits in shad colors, Bomber Flat-A’s in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, and H&H Spinnerbaits in yellow/black, white/green or white/chartreuse continue drawing a few random reactions on flats with the remaining lily pads.
When fishing the points dumping into Little River, the Rat-L-Trap 1-Knockers in three-quarter-ounce size will get down deeper on the points with stumps present, and drop off into the river with a different vibration and presentation than the smaller Rat-L-Traps, and connect with larger schools. One point may hold all largemouth bass, the next point may hold all white bass. Both species are following the shad all along Little River and they are staging on the points, with some of the largemouth bass pulling into the creek channels where deep access to the river, stumps and points, are attracting the shad.
* The white bass continue roaming all along Little River and have been heavily schooled up all along Little River for several weeks now, found from White Cliffs campground all the way up to U.S. Highway 71 bridge, and where the Cossatot River intersects and dumps into 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 all have been working catching whites over the past several weeks.
* Crappie have been slow for us, as well as everyone we spoke with on the lake, for the past 3-4 weeks, with nothing consistent to report. Scattered and random bites on jigs in black/chartreuse, or Southern Pro Little Hustler tubes in Cajun Cricket or Tennessee Shad with Chartreuse tail.
* Catfish are good to fair, over the past couple weeks with an increase in current along Little River. Trotlines, yo-yos and limb lines were working randomly, slow one day and good the next over the past few weeks, with best results from using Punch Bait, chicken hearts, livers, and cottonseed mill dough cake. Trotlines seemed to be working best, along Little River set from 14-18 feet deep in remaining river current.
(updated 1-20-2022) Lake Erling Guide Service (870-904-8546) reports that the lake is still low by 7 feet, 3 inches but the clarity is good. Surface water temperature is 49 degrees. Crappie are moving to a little bit deeper water, but the bite is good. Use minnows, jigs (especially white and silver hand-tied jigs). Catfishing is excellent. Any kind of catfish bait is working.
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 536.80 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 398.68 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 437.35 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 526.13 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake Area
(update 1-20-2022) Curtis Willingham at River Rat Bait in Camden (870-231-3831) had no report.
(updated 1-6-2022) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake is clear and low by 3-5 feet. Crappie are good. Best success is coming in the bay area, he said. Use minnows or jigs. Anglers are trying for bass but reports are poor. No reports on bream or catfish.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 1-20-2022) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 49 degrees with slightly stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Jan. 21, that extends through Thursday, Jan. 27. 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 continues for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine, with each lake lowered 5 feet until March 1. The Carpenter Dam tailrace is very dangerous to navigate with numerous underway obstructions exposed. Wade fisherman and boaters alike must use extreme caution when attempting to use the area. Flow from the dam hides many of the shallow water dangers so boating becomes increasingly more treacherous as boaters approach the dam. Extremely slick rock structure all over the tailrace further complicates matters.
Rainbow trout are everywhere in the Carpenter Dam tailrace and thriving in the nutrient-rich waters of Lake Catherine. Wade anglers can now easily access areas that are holding schools of trout. PowerBait and waxworms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are working 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 and December stockings of trout were difficult to pattern with rapidly changing weather patterns and low water levels. January’s stocking of trout was scheduled to be 9,300, so opportunities are much more likely for fishing success. Bank anglers should stick to basic patterns of live bait and PowerBait, while fly-fishermen should cast egg patterns in white or yellow under a strike indicator. Micro-jigs and Woolly Buggers have taken trout over 15 inches this week, although there has been a huge influx of smaller trout. The San Juan worm in hot pink has accounted for nice catches of trout this past week in a slow bite pattern.
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 week. 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 winter months as these fish prefer colder water temperatures than other area game fish.
While this information has been reported for several weeks running, anglers will experience dramatic changes in bite patterns as cold fronts move in and out of our area. Temperatures can change as much as 30 degrees or more in less than a day. Rapid temperature change shuts down many fish species until consistent weather resumes. The arrival of rainbow trout to Lake Catherine in November and December has brought life to the Carpenter Dam tailrace and kicks off the trout fishing season. Quality fishing for rainbow trout is now happening and anglers need to take advantage while the bite is solid.
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 30,634 cfs. Elevation was 337.49 feet msl, with the tailwater at 288.30 feet msl. (Top navigation pool is 338.2 and bottom pool is 336.0.)
(updated 1-13-2022) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water temps right at 50 degrees and water clarity stained in all areas north of the Highway 7 South bridges. All species are turned off due to the heavy rains, cold temperatures and bluebird clear skies.
The fish will normalize by next week, but right now they are messed up and have lockjaw. Fish are scattered at all depths. This would be a good week to clean the boat or do something else. Eight hours on the water and one tiny bite – no report!
(updated 1-6-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood ventured over to Garland County to check out the post-holiday fishing and said creeks are muddy but main lake is clear. Bass are good on jigs and on Alabama rigs on top of brush in 10-20 feet of water, as well as on the flats on crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in red crawfish color.
Crappie are good in 15-25 feet of water on Monkey Milk crappie jigs and pink and chartreuse crappie jigs around any brush or drop-offs
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.57 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 1-20-2022) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said Wednesday afternoon that the lake is clear and the water level is normal. Crappie fishing continues to be good. Crappie are in 5-10 feet depth over the brushpiles and below the dam. Use minnows and red/chartreuse jigs. Crappie are mostly in and over brush.
Black bass are good. They’re still biting shallow, Crankbaits, jerkbaits and short worms have been working this week. Catfish have reappeared with a fair bite this week. They are in 8-12 feet of water on the bottom. Bream reports are poor.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 569.88 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-20-2022) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) said that fishing for black bass is fair. Try a three-quarter-ounce CC Spoon or a jig for these fish. No reports on walleye. Stripers are fair on live bait or trolling an Alabama rig. No reports on bream or catfish. Crappie are fair on small jigs or minnows. Try brushpiles in the 15-25 feet depth range. The lake clarity is clear and the water temperature is ranging 46-50 degrees. Lake level is 569.88 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.59 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 slightly up from last week to 26.98 feet, almost a foot above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 1-20-2022) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said anglers are Bear Creek report having success catching crappie at depths of 12-18 feet using mainly artificial bait. At Storm Creek lake on the south end of the park, very little fishing activity is going on.
(updated 1-20-2022) The lake at 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.
Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Waterfowl Report
Dec. 6, 2023
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