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Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fish Report

Courtesy of Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine

Fishermen, it’s a new week. That means its time to get out on the water and catch some big ones. Here’s this weeks fishing report.

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White River
(updated 9-1-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River watershed has seen some rain this week, usually less than predicted in the Cotter area and mostly much appreciated. River clarity has remained very good and trout catching has been phenomenal. Water levels have continued to fluctuate as they have over the last month with very low water levels in the morning hours, much higher generation in the late afternoon. Bull Shoals Lake is slightly below power pool at 660 feet msl. “When the channels are narrow due to limited generation, please share the space. Regardless of experience or technique, we’re all part of the family of trout-loving fishers.”
The rainbow catches were lured in mainly with sunrise or pink PowerBait tipped with shrimp on a size 8 Aberdeen or bait holder hook. It’s a good idea to use bronze hooks to decrease harm to the trout. Another favored bait for a great catch has been fresh, soft-shell crawdads – when drifted mid-depth you’ll likely increase your catch count. Dangling a redworm or a nightcrawler near the bank during rises in the water level is most always a sure catch, too. Then return to tying on a heavier spoon or a favorite jerkbait when the rise levels off.
Reminder: It’s late summer so hopper season is upon us; pull out your hopper flies and make your way to the river. September fishing is so laid-back compared to the hectic spring and summer months. The river provides even more of an escape now than at any other time. All the first-day-of-school preparation is behind us, no demanding holiday schedules yet. Life is good. Come share it with us.

(updated 9-1-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says he feels “like I’m a broken record saying the same thing each week but it isn’t a bad thing when I’m reporting the fishing has been very good. We are seeing water cresting in the morning at approximately 8 feet and dropping throughout the day to 4-5 feet. The water has some dinginess in the morning but by noon the water clears. Drift-fishing with inline spinners with a silver-colored Colorado spoon and sunrise or orange Power Eggs and shrimp continues to work best. With the low water, quarter-ounce gold-colored spoons, Rapala Countdowns and Blue Fox lures are working well when fished over the gravel bars. There were two stockings for a total of over 2,700 rainbow trout. The river will be busy this weekend. Be careful and respectful of other anglers and boaters on the river.

(updated 8-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Monday that during the past week they had an inch and a half of rainfall, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.2 feet to rest at 0.4 foot above power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 33.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 4.2 feet below power pool and 18.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool or 9.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. “We have had lower flows in the morning that have been fished well. 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 cerise San Juan worm with a pheasant tail nymph.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 660.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at 2 p.m. Thursday was 9,866 cfs, with release on Wednesday between 1 and 7 p.m. of 11,000-23,000 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 911.83 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,552 cfs.

(updated 9-1-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake is almost back to normal water level. The constant generating has stopped. Water temperature is 84 degrees, give or take a degree. The typical summer patterns are working. The cooler nights have the shad starting to move. There are always shallow fish, especially with recent rains. Target channel swings, points and ledges close to deep water. Whopper Plopper, buzzbaits and topwater Lucky Craft Gunfish are working early in the day. When the topwater bite slows, use a half-ounce flutter spoon in a shad pattern and a small swimbait. Then move to a Mooneye Tater shad or drop-shot a Jewel Spoon.
Most of the shad are suspended at 30-35 feet. Almost all species are present. A lot of fish have moved up into the brushpiles and are coming into play with lowering water levels. The creek fish have pulled back with the water coming down. The morning topwater bite will slow down when the sun starts getting high. Move out with a Jewel Special Ops Football Jig in green pumpkin-orange variations and keep the boat out around 40 feet. Fishing is good around channel swings, standing timber, ledges and laydowns. Use Beaver or a Big Worm Ole Monster in green-pumpkin red or red shad plum. Fish the conditions.
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 555.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at 2 p.m. Thursday was 486 cfs. Heavier generation was seen Wednesday (over 5,000 cfs) between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.

(updated 9-1-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 555.13 feet msl and is dropping slowly with less generation since reaching the power pool level. The water surface temperature is 84 degrees and the main lake water is clear down to and below the thermocline of 30 feet. The creeks are stained. There are a lot of fish on brush in the 27-feet range on main lake brush, including Kentucky bass, black bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Catfishing is getting better on jugs and throw lines baited with live bluegill with the slower water level drop and the small moon. Some are also biting off docks on prepared bait. The other fish are biting small spoons and jigs dropping them right in the brush.
Crappie fishing has shown the best improvement with some large ones starting to show up. There are some big schools roaming from brushpile to brushpile but they are spooky and do not move far.
“I have no reports of temperate bass being caught except for small ones. Overall fishing has improved this week and the lake is in very good condition going into to the holiday weekend. It looks to be very busy and the water will get stirred up again but will clear quickly. After that, fall fishing is full speed ahead.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.

(updated 9-1-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “I fished two different types of areas (Wednesday) morning. I started in the dark about|5:30 a.m. on a main lake big rounded gravelly point. I was marking fish in 28-35 feet of water. I trolled two Flicker Minnows, size 7, with a 1-ounce snap weight set 50 feet behind the bait and added another 50 feet line. I was getting the bait down to about 27 feet traveling 1.2-1.4 mph. I use 8-pound monofilament line. I started on the outside of the point and traveled around to the inside of the point.
“I caught a little of almost every species in the lake. The most plentiful was spotted bass. I also caught crappie, walleye, a catfish, bluegill and white bass. They liked baits in chartreuse or a bright green color. Both baits also had a lot of white on them.
“The big crappie was a 15-inch fish. The spotted bass ranged from 13-16 inches long. One walleye was a keeper, but only 18 inches and so was released.
“At around 7:30 I moved to a large flat. I trolled and vertical-jigged a purple Monkey Tater Shad. I started out in 35-40 feet of water, but marked nothing. I moved in shallower 28-35 feet and found fish. Everything caught in this area were walleye. The big walleye was a little shy of 19.5 inches long. For whatever reason the fish that were out in deeper water for the last two weeks moved into the shallower water and were plentiful. Fun morning.”
The lake conditions have remained stable with a very slight drop in level. Surface water temperature was in the mid-80s. The current Norfork Lake level is 555.04 feet msl. The lake is in great shape. “Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
Lou posts nearly daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 8-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 0.7 foot above power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 23.5 feet below the top of flood pool. There has been more wadable water on the Norfork tailwater in the morning. 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 moderately. School is back in session and the creek is not as busy. Weekends can still get quite crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs, various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white mop flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “As a working fly-fishing guide and avid angler, I am constantly going online to check water conditions. The White River system is considered to be the sixth most dangerous body of water in the United States. Since many of our rivers are tailwaters, our river levels are subject to fast and substantial changes in water flow. In order for me and my clients to be safe, I need to know what is going to happen.
“The prediction that I am writing about is the projected loading schedule of the Southwestern Power Administration. I go to my cell phone to obtain this. It is generally available late afternoon (3:30 p.m. or later) Monday through Friday for the next day. On Friday, you get the information for Saturday, Sunday or Monday. I find this on the USACE Little Rock app.
“Last Friday afternoon (5 p.m.) I consulted the SWPA projected loading schedule for Saturday. I was interested in wade fishing the Norfork tailwater. There had been wadable water there for several days in the morning. I was seeking the generation schedule for two reasons.
“First, I did not want to needlessly drive from my house in Cotter to the Ackerman Access on the Norfork. This drive takes me about a half-hour and in these days of expensive gasoline I did not want to make the trip unless I knew the water was down. I have done that before only to look out my windshield to see rising water as I arrived. Second, I wanted to know when conditions were to be safe for wading. It is approximately four miles from the Norfork dam to the confluence of the White and North Fork rivers. The water moves about 4 miles an hour. It would take about 30 minutes for the rising water to travel from the dam to the area I would be fishing (the catch-and-release section).
“This area is a couple of miles downstream of the dam. The Army Corps of Engineers sounds a loud horn a few minutes before beginning generation. You cannot hear the horn this far from the dam. Therefore it is imperative that I know when generation is scheduled to start, so that I can safely leave before the water rises.
“When the USACE Little Rock app came up on my iPhone, I noted that the SWPA had not updated the projected loading schedule for the following Saturday, Sunday or Monday. I had no reliable information to help me safely plan my trip.
“I could have called the Corps of Engineers generation number (870) 431-5311. I have found this to not be useful. They give you information on what they are doing now. Not what they are going to do. I kept checking the app all weekend. It was never updated until Monday afternoon for the next day. It was never updated for Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
“We need updated generation information in order to safely fish our rivers!”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 8-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low. With hot temperatures, the smallmouths are less 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.


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Beaver Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,120.25 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl). The release at the dam as of 2 p.m. Thursday was 3,815 cfs. The Corps released about 3,800 cfs between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

(updated 9-1-2022) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is sitting a tad below normal levels and the water is hovering in low 80s. “Fishing has seem to hit the dog days and the fish are really off and on right now. One day the bite is good and the next it gets really tough. I expect this for the next four to five weeks and as water cools and lake turns over. Once turnover happens we will be on to fall fishing. Just need to ride this out for a bit.”
Stripers are spread out from Point 6 to the dam. Look for bait and fish should be nearby. Walleye have been picked up on crawler harnesses. Look from the rocky point up to islands at Prairie Creek. Crappie are suspended and on brush. Look in 15-25 feet depth. Jigs and trolled cranks will work. Catfish are good “and we are picking lots on crawler harnesses. Be safe and good luck!”
Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.

(updated 8-25-2022) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said fishing is fair. Water is normal and clear. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs around brush. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Walleye are good dragging bottom bouncers and spoons in deep water. Bass are fair at night on spinnerbaits, plastics and jigs around brush and rocky banks. Stripers are fair. Catfish are fair on jug lines and rods-and-reels on chicken liver and worms.

Beaver Tailwater
(updated 8-25-2022) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said that nothing much has really changed from last week except for the weather. This week has been good on the tailwater. The Army Corps of Engineers generation into the evening has not stopped the bite. “In fact, it increases the bite in most cases,” Austin said. “Most of our fish were caught using light terminal tackle and Pautzke Fire Bait. When the sun moved higher in the sky, we would switch it over to quarter-ounce spoons and coat the spoons using Pautzke Fire Gel. Try letting the spoon sink a bit before retrieving due to the water still being a little deep.”
The hot spot for trout has been above Spider Creek. Try hitting the deeper holes, looking for slack water during generation. The white bass and walleye are still up toward Holiday Island, but you need to look for them. Jigging live minnows off of points and humps have done the trick. There are still quite a few males in the river, so get after them.
“Remember, for additional tips, visit my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service). Hope you all are able to get out and catch some fish.”

Lake Fayetteville
(updated 9-1-2022) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said Wednesday that the water is murky. Crappie are good mainly on jigs but also biting minnows. Black bass are good on topwater lures, frogs and plastic worms. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Catfish are fair.

Lake Sequoyah
(updated 9-1-2022) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) has had no recent reports. With school beginning at Fayetteville and temperature dropping, they expect more anglers out.


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Lake Charles
(updated 9-1-2022) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) saidthe bream bite continues to be good. Worms, crickets and jigs are all working. Catfish are good on worms and blood bait. She’s heard no reports on other species (crappie, bass et al.) Water temperature was up a little from a week ago, recorded at 80.7 degrees on Monday. The lake is its usual murky and the elevation is high. Shelly says that Sept. 6-10 should be “good” days based on the moon times.

Lake Poinsett
(updated 9-1-2022) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, had no reports from this week. Recently, though, he had said that the renovated lake was seeing bream biting well on crickets and worms, catfish biting on nightcrawlers and other smelly things, and bass biting on spinnerbaits (they are still catch and release). Any crappie caught are also catch and release.

Crown Lake
(updated 9-1-2022) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that bass are good on topwater baits and plastic worms. Bream are good on crickets and redworms. Catfish are fair on chicken liver and shrimp. Water is pretty clear and the level is about 1 foot low.

Spring River
(updated 8-25-2022) 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 in full swing and the boats and rafts are here. 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.

(updated 9-1-2022) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) had no recent reports. Visit Mark’s website for any updates at springriverfliesandguides.com; his blog is at springriverfliesandguides.com/blog.

White River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 7.54 and falling, and about 8 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was up a half-foot to 8.10 feet (flood stage was 26.00 feet). The stage at Augusta was down significantly from last year, at least 3 feet, at 18.83 feet (flood stage is 26 feet).

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