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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.

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

Download the Fish Brain app and follow AGFC at: https://fishbrain.com/pages/GbHVNDc5/arkansas-game-and-fish-commission


AW Fishing Report - North AR.png

White River
(updated 9-22-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the days are getting shorter and, finally, a little cooler. The tailwater below Bull Shoals Dam is continuing to run low after a long period of high water. Bull Shoals Lake is below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl elevation, currently sitting at 658.67 feet msl. 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.
The rainbow catch has been phenomenal. Bring in some healthy, brightly colored trout using spinners with gold blades and olive/brown skirts, or try your favorite Rooster Tail with a rainbow body and a bright pink tail. An eighth-ounce jig with white, white-gray or orange-black skirts bobbed in the center channel will attract a few, or rig a line with some garlic-flavored yellow or pink PowerBait and shrimp to keep you busy reeling. Float your bait just above the bottom – in the clear water of the White you can easily see the river bed. It’s best to keep it in or near the river channel during low-water generation.
The browns are continuing to respond best to minnows for now, but as the spawn kicks into high gear in the next month or so, keep your options open and carry an array of baits to pique their curiosity. If you’re casting flies, the ruby midge, as well as red/silver or black/silver, were a constant success; copper Johns made a splash last week, too.
Early fall is a great time to get on the water without having to sweat the temperatures or the catch. Respect the resource, and your fellow anglers, and continue to enjoy our Natural State.

(updated 9-22-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says this week the fishing has been really good. The water levels have been cresting between 7-8 feet in the mornings and dropping down to about 4 feet. The water has some dinginess in the morning, but by noon the water clears. Running upriver a few miles will allow a fisherman to find cleaner water earlier. Starting off the day drift-fishing with silver bladed inline spinners with Power Eggs and shrimp is working best. As the water drops, throwing artificial baits such as Rapala Countdowns, Blue Foxes or quarter-ounce spoons work well. If you want to throw artificial during the morning, add a split shot weight 8-12 inches up the line to get the bait deeper or fish deeper diving lures like Shad Raps. We have seen several fat 16-plus inch rainbows caught this week. We had one trout stocking this week.

(updated 9-22-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they have had no rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.8 foot to rest at 2.2 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.2 below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 6 feet below power pool and 20 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 2.4 feet below power pool or 11 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, there has been marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork 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.
On the White, the hot spot has been 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. My favorite has been a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper,” John said.
He also said, “My wife, Lori, and I share a love of fly fishing. We have been fishing together, for over 22 years. We try to fish together at least once a week. It doesn’t always work but we try to make it happen. It is no secret that we met in a fly-fishing class on the Spring River. I was teaching the class for my old fly-fishing club, the Mid South Fly Fishers. Lori was a student. I worked with her that day and was smitten. We began dating and got married.
“My brother, Dan, and I were teaching fly-fishing at a variety of venues and soon realized that Lori was a natural teacher and we quickly involved her in teaching our fly-fishing classes. She was particularly adept at teaching fly-casting. After Lori moved to Cotter, we realized the teaching fly-fishing was something that we both enjoyed and began looking for the best venue to hold classes. Our neighbor, Dr. Eddie Dry, is a biology professor at ASU-Mountain Home. He suggested that ASU-MH would be a good spot for our classes. We loved the idea.
“We went to ASU-MH and presented the concept for the class. It was immediately accepted and we began teaching fly-fishing there. We have done the class twice a year for several years. We did take off for a couple of years due to COVID-19. Thankfully we are back now. We had our usual spring class and it was very successful.
“Now we are ready to do it again. The fall class will be held on the Arkansas State University campus in Mountain Home on Thursday nights beginning Oct. 6 and running for four weeks (on Thursday nights). Classes are 6-8 p.m. The first hour is fly-casting instruction and it is held outside (during inclement weather, it will be inside). The second hour is classroom and is held inside on the first floor of Dyer Hall in Room D106. There is plenty of parking nearby.
“The casting instruction will be led by Lori. She has been teaching fly-casting for over 20 years and is considered the best fly-casting instructor in the area. I will assist her. I have been teaching fly-casting for over 30 years. She is a better casting instructor than I am. The goal is to teach every student to cast a fly rod comfortably.
“I will lead the fly-fishing classroom instruction. I have been doing this for over 30 years. Lori will assist. The classes will be casual and questions will be welcome. I consider myself to be the better classroom instructor of the two of us.
“If this sounds like something you would be interested in, go online to asumh.coursestorm.com and sign up. There is a modest fee. All the needed equipment will be provided.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.57 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 2,112 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 910.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,257 cfs.

(updated 9-22-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that water is almost back to normal. The constant generating has stopped. Water temperature is 82 degrees, give or take a degree. Typical summer patterns are still working. The cooler nights have the shad starting to move. There are always shallow fish. Target channel swings, points and ledges close to deep water. Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits and a topwater like a Lucky Craft Gunfish early in the day are working. 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 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 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 a Beaver/big worm like an Ole Monster in green pumpkin red or red shad 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 554.54 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 2,471 cfs. Wednesday saw 11 hours of generation (1 p.m. to midnight) averaging 2,450 cfs.

(updated 9-22-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday morning that the lake level was 554.61 feet msl and had dropped a half-inch in the last 24 hours with three-quarters of a generator running about half the time. It has been fairly stable since reaching the power pool of 556.75 feet msl a few weeks ago with a very slow steady drop. The White River at Newport is 5.47 feet, so they are not letting much water out anywhere on the chain of lakes or Norfork Lake. It makes for good wade fishing on the rivers. The surface water temperature is 83 degrees and rising slowly with the hot weather. That should change with the cold front coming through starting on Thursday with a drastic drop in ambient temperatures on the first day of fall.
“We have not had any rain for about 2½ weeks and it is getting very dry again. The thermocline started at about 35 feet with cold water at 37 feet yesterday when I went diving. The visibility has deteriorated a bit since the last report but is still OK for spearfishing, and the color is good for pole fishing with the creeks being more stained but clear near the shore. The visibility gets a little better in the Robinson Point area than in the Blackburn’s area and is best off steep, river channel, chunk rock banks.

The lake is not anywhere near starting its turnover, which always comes sometime in October. Sometimes it is abrupt and other times gradual, taking a week or a little more depending on how fast the surface water cools.
The crappie are still on main lake brush that is about 30 feet deep and are above it and roaming, feeding on baitfish, which are scattered in the water column. Kentucky bass and bluegill are on the same brush and at various depths. Drop a jigging spoon in the brush and you will be surprised what you catch. “The larger walleye are getting scarce and the most that I am catching are short with a keeper in about one in five or six. Bluegill are still good off docks on crickets and catfish are biting on live bluegill near the bottom. If you find schools of bluegill, you can be sure there are some catfish around. The lake overall is in very good condition for fishing, diving swimming and boating.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com 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 feet 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 9-22-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork 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.
There has been more wadable water on the Norfork in the morning and it has fished a much 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 eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). My favorite rig has been a pheasant tail nymph #14 and a ruby midge #18. The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.

Dry Run Creek has fished poorly. School is back in session and the creek is not as busy. Weekends can get a 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.
“If this sounds like something you would be interested in, go online to https://asumh.coursestorm.com and sign up. There is a modest fee. All needed equipment will be provided.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.57 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 2,112 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 910.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,257 cfs.

(updated 9-22-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that water is almost back to normal. The constant generating has stopped. Water temperature is 82 degrees, give or take a degree. Typical summer patterns are still working. The cooler nights have the shad starting to move. There are always shallow fish. Target channel swings, points and ledges close to deep water. Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits and a topwater like a Lucky Craft Gunfish early in the day are working. 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 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 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 a Beaver/big worm like an Ole Monster in green pumpkin red or red shad 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 554.54 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 2,471 cfs. Wednesday saw 11 hours of generation (1 p.m. to midnight) averaging 2,450 cfs.

(updated 9-22-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday morning that the lake level was 554.61 feet msl and had dropped a half-inch in the last 24 hours with three-quarters of a generator running about half the time. It has been fairly stable since reaching the power pool of 556.75 feet msl a few weeks ago with a very slow steady drop. The White River at Newport is 5.47 feet, so they are not letting much water out anywhere on the chain of lakes or Norfork Lake. It makes for good wade fishing on the rivers. The surface water temperature is 83 degrees and rising slowly with the hot weather. That should change with the cold front coming through starting on Thursday with a drastic drop in ambient temperatures on the first day of fall.
“We have not had any rain for about 2½ weeks and it is getting very dry again. The thermocline started at about 35 feet with cold water at 37 feet yesterday when I went diving. The visibility has deteriorated a bit since the last report but is still OK for spearfishing, and the color is good for pole fishing with the creeks being more stained but clear near the shore. The visibility gets a little better in the Robinson Point area than in the Blackburn’s area and is best off steep, river channel, chunk rock banks.
The lake is not anywhere near starting its turnover, which always comes sometime in October. Sometimes it is abrupt and other times gradual, taking a week or a little more depending on how fast the surface water cools.
The crappie are still on main lake brush that is about 30 feet deep and are above it and roaming, feeding on baitfish, which are scattered in the water column. Kentucky bass and bluegill are on the same brush and at various depths. Drop a jigging spoon in the brush and you will be surprised what you catch. “The larger walleye are getting scarce and the most that I am catching are short with a keeper in about one in five or six. Bluegill are still good off docks on crickets and catfish are biting on live bluegill near the bottom. If you find schools of bluegill, you can be sure there are some catfish around. The lake overall is in very good condition for fishing, diving swimming and boating.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com 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 feet 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 9-22-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.1 feet 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 much 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). John’s favorite rig has been a No. 14 pheasant tail nymph and a No. 18 ruby midge. The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished poorly. School is back in session and the creek is not as busy. Weekends can get a 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-22-2022) 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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