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Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report

Courtesy of Arkansas Wildlife Weekly

Tommy Laird, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission assistant chief in the Fisheries Division, helps with the stocking of rather large blue catfish that were donated recently to the AGFC for use in the agency’s Family and Community Fishing Program ponds. 

The catfish producer from south Arkansas who wished to remain anonymous, donated more than 10,000 pounds of blue catfish, with most fish weighing more than 7 pounds and some giants tipping the scales at the 30-pound mark. The AGFC typically stocks channel catfish when providing catchable-sized fish for anglers in ponds, but these blue catfish will offer even more fight and provide excellent table fare for those anglers lucky enough to hook, and land, these larger targets.

The FCFP has nearly 50 fishing locations around the state. Visit  www.agfc.com/familyfishing to find one near you.

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.

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White River
(updated 9-8-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We’re enjoying the last of summer here in Cotter with a week of respite from the heat. I’m even seeing a little change in the color of the leaves signaling a start to autumn.”
Bull Shoals Lake is 2 feet below power pool “so we’re treated to very low water in the morning hours and varying amounts of generation in the afternoon, anywhere from 3,000 cfs to 18,000 cfs. The river level returns to near minimum flow amounts by dawn and remains that way until the mid-afternoon rise. Great for fishing from the river’s banks and for wade fishing but requires extra attention on the part of john boat pilots.
“Once you get used to the lower river levels, you’ll find that it makes for a great time to catch trout. Sunrise-colored Power Eggs have been a favorite this week for both shore fishers and anglers in boats. The browns continue to favor sculpins and soft-shell crawdads (keep the Rebel Wee Craw handy) with a rare but exciting bite on yellow PowerBait. A lightning bug fly (there are many variations, but look for one with red highlights) or the ruby midge have been the go-to flies. Grasshoppers are still prevalent in the area, so keep your hopper flies handy. Keep anglin’ and we’ll see you on the river.

(updated 9-8-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says fishing in the past week was great some days and not good on others. The thunderstorms Friday night muddied up the river Saturday and fishing was poor at best.By Sunday the water cleared and fishing was back to being great again. On Labor Day the fishing was tremendous; it wasn’t uncommon for a boat with two people fishing catching 40 or more fish before noon. “We saw a couple of days of low water flow resulting in depths as low as 3 feet. With the water that low, throwing quarter-ounce gold-colored spoons or Rapala Countdowns produced some nice fish. When the water was higher, drift-fishing using silver bladed in-line spinners with Power Eggs and shrimp proved the most effective.
“This week the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission used their pontoon raft to stock 4,800 fish between Calico Rock and Sylamore Creek. The advantage of when they use the raft is the fish are more widely dispersed.
“Stay safe and good fishing.”

(updated 8-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a major rain event dropping 3½ inches at Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.8 foot below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 34.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 4.9 feet below power pool and 18.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1.4 feet below power pool or 10 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had more wadable water this past week. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.5 feet below the top of flood pool. TheNorfork tailwater has had more wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect lower flows and more wadable water.
He said, “On the White, the hot spot has been the Rim Shoals. We have had lower flows in the morning that have been fished very 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 pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 660.05 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 2,840 cfs, with release on Wednesday between 2 and 6 p.m. of 13,000-18,300 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 912.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,245 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 555.40 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 206 cfs. Heavier generation was seen Wednesday (about 5,000 cfs) between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

(updated 9-8-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 555.46 feet msl and is dropping very slowly with minimum generation. The White River at Newport is 6.81 feet, so they are not letting out much in any of the area lakes. The surface water temperature is at 83 degrees and it is also dropping slowly with the shorter days and night time lows in the 60s. The creeks are still stained and the main lake is still a little cloudy from the boat traffic on the holiday but is clearing again quickly. The thermocline is at 30 feet. Crappie fishing is the best now on brushpiles that are 35 feet at the bottom and 20 feet at the top. The crappie are schooled and at 30 feet. Small spoons, jigs, grubs and live minnows on a slip float are all working. You have to get down to them. Black bass are in the same area and biting a little bigger spoon. Catfishing is fair on jugs and throw lines baited with live bluegill back in the creeks and are mostly channel cats. The temperate bass that are being caught are mostly small and coming out of deeper water. It does not look like there will be a striper kill this fall so far and it mostly affects the big ones. Bluegill fishing is good off docks on crickets. The walleye that I am catching are mostly short. There are a lot of baitfish out there with several being on the brushpiles drawing the game fish. Scuba diving conditions are fair to good but getting better as the cooler water clears. Try spooning brush on main lake channel swings on steep banks in 30-35 feet near the bottom for walleye. There is still a topwater bite early for a few minutes that is mostly bass.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.

(updated 9-8-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “I had a much better day getting striped bass bites (Wednesday) morning. I was looking and fishing within a couple miles of the dam and found fish on two different main lake points. The fish were in 40-44 feet of water in both areas. The first main lake point that I found holding fish was a big round point. I landed a striped bass and missed three others, basically all caught in the dark or at twilight. By 7 a.m. the fish disappeared from this area. The second point that I found holding fish was a long rocky point. I landed a big hybrid and another striped bass. Until I saw the hybrid, I thought I had a really big catfish on the line. No big runs, but the fish continued to dig for the bottom every time I would gain a few feet. It took me over 10 minutes to land this guy. What a great battle.
“Today all fish were caught or missed vertical-jigging a white with chartreuse top, three-quarter-ounce spoon or a 1-ounce white spoon. The fish were mainly hitting the spoon on the fall. Fish were still on this second point when I left at 10 a.m. Yes, I fished later than normal. By the way, there is also a good late afternoon bite for striped bass in the same general area.”
The surface lake temp was a little above 83 degrees this morning. The lake is holding fairly stable with a little rise then a little fall, and sits at 555.47 feet msl. The lake remains 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 9-8-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.5 feet below the top of flood pool. There has been more wadable water on the Norfork in the morning and it has fished a bit better. 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 moderately. School is back in session and the creek is not as busy. Weekends can 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. Be sure and 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, “Last week my wife sister, Terri, and her husband, Larry, came to Cotter to visit Lori and me. They are both avid fly-fishers and Terri is an avid kayaker. She recently bought a kayak at the kayak shop here in Cotter. She keeps it in our garage with our kayaks and tries to take a float every time they come up for a visit.
“They were very interested in kayaking on this visit. The first day they went wade fishing at the Narrows and did incredibly well, catching almost 70 trout in a half-day of fishing all on olive Woolly Buggers. They were stoked. It was one of the best days that they had ever had here. I suggested kayaking and fishing on the Norfork the next day.
“I was interested in accompanying them. I wanted to fish the upper part of the catch-and-release section, also called McClellan’s, a historic trout dock on the Norfork, where I first fished the river over 40 years ago. Larry was not interested in kayaking, but he was interested in fishing. He dropped us and our kayaks off at the dam and then drove down to the Ackerman Access. The idea was that we would float down and link up with him there.
“When I first got into my boat, I noticed that I was not nearly as nimble as I used to be. Getting in was reasonably easy but getting out was more of a challenge. At 75 I am still able to do it.
“When we were on the ramp I noticed a black sludge on it. It was very slippery and I was glad to have my studded wader boots. I noticed this sludge all the way down stream and it made wading difficult. I also noticed that the water was lightly stained. It was not nearly as clear as the White had been a few days earlier.
“When we got to McClellan’s, I did not recognize it. I had fished through it on high water but I had not waded it in low water in years. Before I began fishing, I walked around looking for my favorite spots that I have fished for years. They weren’t there. I kept looking and found some new spots.
“Lori and Terri were catching trout on olive Woolly Buggers. I tried other flies to see what else would work. I finally had some success with Dan’s Turkey Tail Emergers, my brother’s favorite fly that he developed on this section of the river many years ago.
“We fished a while longer but headed out to beat the expected water rise. We linked up with Larry. He was fishing near Charlie’s and had done well. We floated down to Ackerman and loaded the boats onto our kayak trailer. We ended the day with lunch at Heidi’s Ugly Cakes in Norfork.
“The float was great, but I am concerned about the black sludge I saw and the lack of water clarity on the Norfork. Something is amiss.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-8-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low. With cooler temperatures, the smallmouths are more 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 1,119.90 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 noon Thursday was 20 cfs. The Corps released about 3,800 cfs between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

(updated 9-8-2022) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake continues a slow drop in levels, and water temps are dropping also and are in lower 80s and had some 78-degree water in river arms yesterday. Fishing is still fair to good depending on the day. Stripers are fair with some big fish put in boats last week. Look around the dam. This is where some pretty nice fish have been caught lately on live shad and brooders.
Walleye have been moving and are scattered with not any area better than the other. Still, crawler harnesses and drop-shotted minnows and crawlers are the way to go. Crappie are scattered from really shallow to still being caught trolling suspended. “I personally have had some great catches on my guide trips with some truly nice crappie for Beaver. I have been catching them on the troll on pitching jigs to shallow structure.”
Catfish are good on any method; look on flats with a lot of shad present. The fish will be there.
“Fall is approaching and usually the bite is great. Have fun and enjoy the better weather coming up.”
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 9-8-2022) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said this week has been good on the tailwater, and nothing drastically has changed since the last report. The Army Corps of Engineers still has been generating pretty much starting at 10 a.m., “but that has not stopped the bite. In fact, it increases the bite in most cases. 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 water levels are still low and continue to fall, it seems like each day. If we can get some overcast or rainy days, the bite should pick up alot!”
This week’s hot spot for trout has been above Spider Creek. Try hitting the deeper holes and 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 9-8-2022) 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 9-8-2022) 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 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 9-8-2022) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, said bream are biting well on worms and crickets. Bass and crappie are unknown at this time, though some anglers have shared limited success with spinners for bass. Catfish have bitten in the evening on stink bait, worms and livers. Remember that bass and crappie are catch-and-release at this time as the sport fish population rebuilds following the lake renovation.

Crown Lake
(updated 9-8-2022) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reported that fishing has been consistent over the past couple of weeks. 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 fairly clear and the level is about 1 foot low.

Spring River
(updated 9-8-2022) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said that over the last month the Spring River has been flowing at around 350 cfs, about average. Rain last few weeks has the level up to 450 cfs this week, running about a foot above normal. The clarity has been a very productive heavy green stain. Just take extra care wading with the higher river flow.
“Woolly Buggers have been hard to beat in olive and brown, but hey, they always work on the Spring,” Mark says. “Dry fly action with caddis, mayflies and stones can be found, just be aware we have huge shad that are a blast on dries, too. Nymphing big nymphs size 8-12, prince nymphs, and pheasant tails work great especially on tough days – it’s probably our favorite way to fish the Spring. The pocket water on the Spring River was made for nymphing! Y2ks always work, too.
“We’re catching plenty of rainbows in all sizes, and the browns are there. We chase them all the time and have seen huge brown trout and walleye chase big streamers, but after over 20 years of guiding on the Spring River, I have caught all my best, biggest fish – browns, walleye, smallmouth bass – on a bead head olive Woolly Bugger.
“Construction on Jim Hinkle is coming along nicely! The new silos are up and I can’t wait to see it all up and running soon. This will create a lot more opportunities for the Spring River and all trout waters in Arkansas.
“The canoe season is over on the Spring River. Labor Day weekend was the last blowout. Now it will get back to that quiet, wild little river we all love. Many Islands and Spring River Oaks will close at the end of September and will reopen the first of April. Riverside Resort is open year-round.
“Stay tuned to our blog for the latest river conditions and what’s working on the river on our website springriverfliesandguides.com.”

(updated 9-8-2022) 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. 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.

White River
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was down Thursday, at 7.51 and rising slightly, and about 7.5 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage continues to drop noticeably, sitting at 6.55 feet (flood stage was 26.00 feet). The stage at Augusta is down significantly from last week, too, at 18.12 feet, and almost 8 feet the flood stage of 26.00 feet.

No reports from this section of the White River.

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