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Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Fishing Report

Courtesy of Arkansas Wildlife Weekly

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 9-15-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “If you’re waiting for perfect weather to go fishing, now’s the time to fish the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks. If you’re waiting for a catch of fat rainbows, now’s the time to fish the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks. Actually, there’s never a bad time to fish the White River in Cotter; it’s always beautiful and the catch is always more than ample.”

Bull Shoals Lake is below its power pool of 661 feet msl elevation, currently recorded at 659.53. The river flow is below one unit (1,000-2,000 cfs) followed by heavier generation late in the afternoon, returning to lower flows before dawn. Prime time for waders and bank fishers. Live red wigglers or red San Juan worms on a number 18 hook drifting a foot or two above the river bed will attract a good share of rainbows. A RoosterTail with a glittery, light yellow body and a mossy green/brown skirt is the spinning bait to look for–either 1/6 or 1/4 ounce. Consider gold blades for sunny days, silver for overcast skies.

The catch has been plentiful and healthy – quick bites on Berkley pink worms, sometimes tipped with shrimp (salting the shrimp might keep your bait in place longer.)  You’ll want to keep several colors of PowerBait on hand – yellow, orange, pink and sunrise are good to have. Orange PowerBait worked best for us over the last few days.

(updated 9-15-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says that this last week we have seen varied water levels. Last Friday through Monday the water would crest at approximately 5 feet and drop as low as 3 feet. Tuesday and Wednesday we saw the return of water levels cresting at 6 to 7 feet in the morning and dropping throughout the day to 4 feet. The water has some dinginess in the morning, but by noon the water clears. With the low water, throwing ¼ ounce spoons, rooster tails, Blue Fox or Rapala Countdowns were very effective. Throwing spoons this week we saw a beautiful 19 inch brown trout and a nice 19 inch rainbow caught this week.  Drift fishing with in-line spinners with Power Eggs and shrimp worked well. We have not had any trout stockings this week at the Calico Rock boat ramp.

(updated 9-15-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, the hot spot on the White River has been the Rim Shoals. The White River has had some marginal wadable water. 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 659.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam Thursday morning was 2,812 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 911.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,247 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 brush piles 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 554.66 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 Thursday morning was 205 cfs.

(updated 9-15-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 554.69 as of Wednesday morning and is the same as it was at this time yesterday with very little generation. The White River at Newport is 4.78 feet and very low. The surface water temperature is 81 degrees and the visibility is a little less than it was at this time last week, but is still a good color for fishing and scuba diving. The fish that had been on brush piles in 27-30 feet of water are still there but more shallow now. They were near the bottom but are now at 20-25 feet. The crappie are above the brush, schooled and roaming looking for baitfish which are all over the brush. Crappie, black bass, walleye and big bluegill are all in the same brush but at various depths. Small spoons, jigs, grubs tipped with live minnows and slip floats on minnows are all working for the crappie and bluegill and 1/4 and 3/8th ounce spoons for the bass and walleye. A few stripers are being caught on larger spoons on shad in open water. Catfishing is fair on jugs and throw lines part way back in the creek on live bluegill and getting better with the waning moon and stable water levels. Work main lake points and just around them on steep river channel banks on the outside. There seems to be less fish as you go back into the creeks and the visibility diminishes quickly on the creek sides. The combination of weather and fishing is about as good as it gets and there is no rain in the forecast for the next week. We are getting dry again.

For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.

(updated 9-15-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “It was a very good morning of fishing on Norfork Lake. Joe, a current guest headed to the area, and I have been catching walleye and went looking for striped bass as well. Joe found the walleye in 27 to 32 feet of water. He caught them by trolling Flicker Minnows, as well as vertical jigging a purple monkey Tater Shad. The striped bass should start to scatter out of the dam area anytime now. I started out the morning by graphing areas that the stripers have shown up in the past. In the 3rd area, I marked some fish in 30 feet of water that looked like walleye and spots. I jigged for a short time with no takers. I moved around on this main lake point and finally on the inside of the point I found some big arcs. The fish were feeding in 38 to 50 feet of water and they were all over the place. I caught my fish using several different baits and colors. I was vertical jigging Tater Shads. The best color of Tater Shad this morning for me was the glimmer shad. I also was vertical jigging a 3/4 ounce white with a chartreuse Binks spoon. I ended up landing 4 stripers and hybrids and 3 others came unhooked during the battle. They caught fish off the bottom, as well as near the surface as the fish were chasing and hammering the bait before it got to the surface. The surface lake temperature this morning was near 80 degrees and the lake level is falling slowly. The current lake level sits at 554.66 ft msl. The main lake is mainly clear to slightly stained with the creeks and coves a little more stained.” 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 9-15-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at one foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.3 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 9-15-2022) 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 1,119.45 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 Thursday morning was 20 cfs. The Corps released about 3,800 cfs between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

(updated 9-15-2022) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake sits about 2 ft below normal level and water temperatures hover around 80 degrees. Fish are starting to scatter from hanging around the thermocline to setting up in points and flats. Stripers are still fair, being hit or miss from day to day. Smallmouth bass are starting to bust bait early and late, with topwater bait being the ticket. Walleye are fair, being hit or miss as well. Look around Rocky Branch back to Prairie Creek for fish. Crawler harnesses are still your best option. Crappie are still good on the troll. If that’s your method, look up in river arms with Picos and Bandits. Look for bait and troll those areas. Catfish are good on almost any method. River arms are good. “Be safe! We had a boating accident last week.”

Visit Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.

(updated 9-15-2022) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said that the lake is clear and fishing is fair. Crappie are moving to cover and fair on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair. Black bass are fair. Bream are fair. Early mornings and shallow water are the best conditions.

Beaver Tailwater

(updated 9-15-2022) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said this week has been a little tricky on the tailwater due to the lack of water. However, if you’re able to get around and hit some of the deeper pockets, it can really pay off. The Army Corps of Engineers still has been generating pretty much starting at or around 3 p.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. Also, we have been using the Fire Eggs with great success. 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 it.
“The water levels are still low and continue to fall, 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 9-15-2022) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is stained. Bream are good on red worms and crickets. Bass are good on plastics. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Catfish are fair.

Lake Sequoyah

(updated 9-8-2022) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) has had no recent reports. As school has started at Fayetteville and the temperature drops, they expect more anglers out.

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Lake Charles

(updated 9-15-2022) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) saidfishing was very strong the past week on Lake Charles, and the upcoming “moon times” indicate good fishing is ahead for Sept. 25-30, too, but the trend is already looking up for these days in between. Bream are good on worms and jigs. Black bass are good, with bass responding to soft plastic worms and crappie jigs in all colors, as well as square bills. Catfish are good; try worms, blood bait, stink bait and cut bait. Crappie are the only species with no reports this week – strangely enough for Lake Charles, a usual crappie destination. Look for those to pick as the water cools, though.

Water temperature has eased downward to 77.9 degrees on Monday. The lake is its usual murky and the elevation is high.

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 pretty clear and the level is about 1 foot low.

Spring River

(updated 9-8-2022) Mark Crawford with (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”

(updated 9-15-2022) 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 Norfork 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 7.42 and about 7.5 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage continues to drop noticeably, sitting at 5.44 feet (flood stage was 26.00 feet). The stage at Augusta is down significantly from last week, too, at 16.48 feet, and almost 10 feet the flood stage of 26.00 feet.

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