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Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report

Courtesy of Jim Harris, Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine

Reports are updated weekly, although some reports may be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for current news for the lake or stream you plan to fish.

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

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White River

(updated 8-25-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The White River winds through the Arkansas Ozarks and offers an angler the opportunity to catch more trout than in any other stream in the country. After a week or two of brutal heat, we’re enjoying a week of cooler temperatures. Bull Shoals Lake has arrived at power pool (661 feet msl) after several months of high lake levels and heavy generation into the White River. Beginning this week, the river level is near minimum flow all day followed by heavy generation late in the afternoon, falling back to minimum flow before dawn.
“The release schedule makes for great wade fishing, so take advantage of the easy access. Extra skill and knowledge of the river are required to keep a john boat floating, however. Please be considerate and thoughtful of your fellow anglers. Low river levels make for a great time to catch trout and we have 60-plus miles to share.” Sunrise-colored Power Eggs have been a favorite this week for both shore fishers and anglers in boats. The browns are still biting at sculpins and soft-shell crawdads (keep the Rebel Wee Craw handy). The ruby midge has been the go-to fly to tie on. Pull out your hopper flies; the end of August, first of September, is the best grasshopper crop of the year and the trout are looking for them.
“Keep anglin’ and we’ll see you 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.”

(updated 8-25-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said fishing conditions continue to be very good, and with the expected lower water levels, fishing will get even better. Bull Shoals Lake has finally reached the power pool level of 661 feet msl and as a result, anglers on the White River will see much lower water levels. Drift-fishing with inline spinners with Power Eggs and shrimp will continue to work well. Artificial lures are very effective in low water conditions. Throw gold-colored quarter-ounce spoons, Rapala Countdowns, Blue Fox lures or any lure that creates a flash in the water. With the lower water, be aware of underwater obstacles. Rocks and gravel bars will be shallower, and hitting them can damage the lower unit of a motor.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 660.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at noon Thursday was 8,312 cfs, with release on Wednesday between 1 and 8 p.m. of 15,000-21,600 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 912.40 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 2,138 cfs.

(updated 8-18-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that the lake level is at 663 feet, only about 5 feet high, and almost back to normal. The constant generating from Bull Shoals Dam has stopped. Water temperature is about 85 degrees.

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. Whooper Plopper, buzzbait and a topwater Lucky Craft Gunfish are working early in the day. When topwater 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 25-35 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. Topwater 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 a Beaver/Big Worm Ole Monster in green-pumpkin, red or red shad, or plum as well. 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 555.69 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 noon Thursday was 495 cfs. Heavier generation was seen Wednesday (over 5,000 cfs) between 11 a.m. and midnight.

(updated 8-25-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday the lake level was 555.92 feet msl and had dropped over 3 inches in the last 24 hours with more generation than before. “We are approaching the 555.75 level of power pool and will hit that level on Wednesday but are still about 4 feet higher than what is normal for this date. The lake is in excellent condition for swimming, boating and fishing with a surface water temperature of 85 degrees. The water is clear down to the thermocline at 30 feet on the main lake but stained in the creeks.”
Several fish of different species are in 30-38 feet of water with the most being on main lake points on or near brush. The new news is that there has been a topwater bite in the mornings at about 8 a.m. for the last few days, for some reason. Stripers, black bass and white bass are all together and pushing up shad. It has been lasting for almost two hours. Casting spoons and Zara Spooks has been catching a lot of fish. The rest of the time, fish off points in 35-40 feet of water, tapping bottom with the spoon for walleye. Some crappie have moved to brushpiles at 35 feet, but not a lot. Cast the jig past the brush and let it sink into it.

The after-dark fishing for largemouth bass is about over. The moon is small and the catfishing is getting better on both prepared bait and live bluegill. Trollers are catching a mixture of bass and walleye dragging crankbaits in 35 feet of water but the walleye are mostly undersized. Fishing is better than it usually is for the end of August and the weather has been beautiful.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.

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 1,120.72 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 1 p.m. Thursday was 3,852 cfs. The Corps released about 3,800 cfs between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

(updated 8-25-2022) 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 8-18-2022) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said Wednesday that crappie “are OK” on minnows. Bream are “really good” on worms, they said. Bass are picking up on topwater and plastics. Catfish are good on “a little bit of everything – worms and jigs, even.”

Lake Sequoyah

(updated 8-25-2022) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) has had no recent reports. As school begins at Fayetteville and temperature drops, they expect more anglers out.


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Lake Charles

(updated 8-25-2022) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) saidanglers will want to be fishing through Tuesday, Aug. 30, as these represent the best days for fishing based on “moon times.” Bream are biting well no matter what, with good results on worms, crickets and jigs. Catfish have been fair, mostly biting cut bait. She had heard no reports on crappie or bass over the past week, through her Monday report. Surface water temperature was 76.8 degrees. The water is murky and high. After this week, she notes that Sept. 6-10 should be “good” days based on the moon times.

Lake Poinsett

(updated 8-11-2022) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported that bream have been biting well on crickets and worms. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and other smelly things. Bass are biting on spinnerbaits, but are still catch and release. Crappie are catch and release as well.

Crown Lake

(updated 8-25-2022) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that catfish are still being caught at night. Bass are slow. Bream are good around the shores on redworms and crickets.

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 8-25-2022) 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.

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