Florida-strain bass bending rods at Lake Atkins
Florida-strain bass bending rods at Lake Atkins
February 1, 2017
One of the lunkers pulled out of Lake Atkins in the past week, off the pier at Lucky Landing. (Photo courtesy of Lucky Landing)
Florida-strain bass bending rods at Lake Atkins
           Lake Atkins in Pope County has been one of the top lakes to watch for the possibility of a new state record largemouth bass for the last decade. That search for massive bass intensified last week, when two largemouth in excess of 11 pounds were caught from the same fishing pier only a week apart.
            The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lake is responsible for a few double-digit-pound fish each year, but the last few weeks have seen more trophy-class bass pulled from the water than usual. Sharon Vinson, owner of Lucky Landing Bait Shop, said the last month or so has been a bit of a phenomenon.
            “The fishing reports haven’t been that great, but all of the sudden the bass went crazy,” Vinson said. “You don’t even need a boat. Almost all of the action has been right here by the pier.”
            Vinson says most of the successful anglers have been using shad netted from the lake to catch their fish. Those that can’t catch their own shad still do pretty well with bass minnows purchased at the bait shop, right next to the pier.
            “The crappie usually come to the cove next to the pier when the shad come in,” Vinson said. “But this year they didn’t. Instead, these bass have shown up.”
            The action really cranked up Monday, Jan. 23, when one angler wrestled an 11.7-pound fish to the public fishing pier next to the boat ramp. Over the next week, the action was slow, but the size of the fish caught more than made up for it. Then things opened up again on Friday.
            “Last Friday was really, really good. Several fish over 5 pounds were caught and that second 11-pounder. I’ve already weighed in a 10-pounder and a few smaller ones that were over 5 pounds Monday, too,” Vinson said.
            At 752 acres, Atkins doesn’t appeal to many anglers used to chasing bass on the giant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs in The Natural State. It isn’t large enough to host large-scale fishing tournaments, and the flooded timber that’s still standing just under the lake’s surface can be a hazard to boats running fast outside of the boating lanes. But the lake is ideal for anyone looking for a good fishing experience complete with a chance at trophy bass and a guaranteed good meal and hospitality at Lucky Landing Bait Shop. Pulling into the launch, you’re just as likely to see a kayak or johnboat launching into the water as you are a 20-foot fiberglass bass boat. With fishing piers, accesses and jetties placed around the lake, bank angling is an excellent option as well.
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(updated 2-2-2017) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the water is again the usual same ol’ Lake Conway stained with a surface temperature in the high 40s. Crappie remain good, particularly at Gold Creek, Caney Creek and at the Highway 89 bridge. Bass have been good on spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing has been excellent using worms and big shiners. Bream are fair on worms and crickets.said water is its usual same ol', same ol' for this time of year in level and temperature. Crappie remain good, especially around and under the Highway 89 bridge where several pelicans have made a home for most of January, thanks to the shad. Minnows and jigs (white/chartreuse or black/chartreuse) are the best bait. Bass are still fair. Catfish reports remain excellent, with all kinds of bait bringing in the cats. No report on bream.
(updated 1-18-2017) Gold Creek Landing (501-607-0590) reported that crappie have been biting well on minnows and jigs fished at various depths. Other species are slow. Reports on catfishing are good, though.

(updated 2-2-2017) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip ‘em All Guide Service said the Little Red is receiving power generation on weekdays and very little generation on weekends. For fly fishing, they recommend midges, soft hackles, sowbugs and streamers. For Trout Magnet fishing, white and cotton candy-colored bodies on gold jigheads are recommended. Always check before heading to the Little Red River by calling the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District water data system (501-362-5150) for Greers Ferry Dam water release information or check the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) for real-time water release and the Southwest Power Administration website (swpa.gov) to see forecasted generation schedule. 
(updated 2-2-2017) Greg Seaton with Little Red Fly Fishing Trips (501-690-9166) said this winter has been warmer than usual, so if you pick and choose the right day, you can enjoy some good fishing on the Little Red. The lake is low, so generation is for electric power only and this has been at a minimum with about 2-4 hours each morning and some late afternoon generation. This makes for good fly fishing conditions on the river by staying ahead or going in behind the rising water. The warmer temperatures are allowing some hatches to occur with blue winged olives and midges being the most common. These hatches have been better in the afternoons. Small midge pupas and mayfly emergers have been good producers. With low clear water, small tippet (6x) will help the trout accepting your fly. If January cabin fever is getting to you or withdrawal from hunting is setting in, you might think about a fly fishing trip on the Little Red.
Also, remember that Greg will be offering a free fly-fishing class beginning Thursday, Feb. 16, and running for four consecutive weeks, with each class meeting on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The class is open to all beginning and novice fly fishing (older youths and adults). Younger youths are welcome if accompanied by an adult. No fishing tackle is required, but if anyone has a question about their personal rod, reels of flies, bring them to the class and Greg will answer any questions. The class will be held at First United Methodist Church’s Family Life Center in Heber Springs. Those planning to attend should contact Greg in advance to reserve a spot. If you cannot attend all the classes, Greg still urges you to register and feel free to attend the classes you can.
(updated 1-25-2017) James Dillard at Tailwater Fishing Co. said the fishing has been great and consistent. They have been getting 2-4 hours of water release each morning, which has allowed for both drift-fishing from boats and wading possible if you follow the dropping water levels. The hot flies have been sowbugs and egg patterns. Pink, white and sassy-colored Trout Magnets have been catching lots of fish, too. 

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 455.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 461.44 msl).
(updated 2-2-2017) Tommy Cauley of Fish Finder Guide Service said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is still almost 7 feet below normal pool staying pretty steady at present. The fishing and catching is good here and will improve every day as the sun warms the water and the days are getting longer. The hybrid and white bass bite is good on spoons, in-line spinners, swimbaits and hair jigs from 25-70 feet deep. Look for shad and the fish will be close. Some walleye are eating upriver now as the river run fish will be spawning soon; try drop-shots with minnows, crankbaits, jerkbaits and grubs. The lake fish will eat the same just deeper on the edges of cuts and humps and points. No report on catfish. The crappie are suspended in 15-40 feet and some are on the bottom in 40 feet. Minnows and jigs are working, as well as beetle spins for the suspended fish. No report on bream other than a few being picked up around the crappie. The bass fishing is good deep and shallow, and around brush piles up in the shallow water. Use spinnerbaits, crankbaits and small jigs in the warmer water; mid-depths use jighead worms and football heads; and the deeper fish use a C-rigged lizard or Cinko and a football head. Fish can be caught out to 70 feet.

(updated 1-25-2017) Harris Brake Lakeside Resort (501-889-2745) said crappie and catfish reports were OK, but it's the bass that are being caught now. Use a jig; bass results were good. Catfish were fair. Crappie were fair.

(updated 1-25-2017) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is still up but clarity is good. Bream are slow but still catching on Trout Magnets (chartreuse and white with crappie nibble). Bass are slow; only one boat fished so far. Crappie are slow but some are still being caught in the early morning and late evening on jigs and minnows. Catfish are doing well around brush and in deeper water on trotlines. We had a 25-pound flathead brought in Sunday.

(updated 1-25-2017) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the lake has been repaired but there is not much water in it yet. The lake is about 8-9 feet below normal level. Surface temperature was 48 degrees. Crappie are fair and bass are fair.

(updated 2-2-2017) Jolly Roger’s Marina reported that black bass are excellent and are biting on wacky rig worms and jigs. Blacks can be caught in 25-30 feet on drop-offs and creek edges. Limits are being caught. Believe it or not, some of the big bass are in shallow water; in fact, this last Sunday we had a tournament at the marina and several boat had over 16 pounds. Kentucky bass are good and being caught on jigs. They can be found in 30 feet of water mixed in with the blacks. White bass are excellent. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep-diving Bandits and Bombers. They are scattered all over the lake and are being caught in large quantities. Crappie fishing has been excellent. They are being caught on crappie minnows and jigs (chastruese and white with very light line). Crappie are 20-30 feet deep, at the tops of structure near the edges of the channels and on the old road beds. Lots of 11-14 inch crappie are being caught. Expect lots of company on the community hole. Bream are slow; no reports. Try your luck with crickets or live worms to see if that changes. Catfishing is slow and what’s being caught is in 25 feet of water on stink bait, small bream and chicken livers.
(updated 2-2-2017) Fosters Four Seasons (501-868-9061) has closed.

(updated 1-25-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting slow but some are hitting pink and No. 6 minnows. Bass are biting minnows and some jigs and grubs. Catfish have been biting nightcrawlers and stink baits. Bream fishing has been slow.

(updated 1-25-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish are biting fair on nightcrawlers & bait shrimp. Bream have been biting slow on crickets and worms. Crappie and bass have been biting minnows. 

(updated 1-25-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass have been biting well on minnows, plastic lizards, brush hogs and small crankbaits. Catfish are biting minnows, black salties and goldfish on trotlines. Crappie have been biting well on No. 6 and pink minnows. Walleye fishing has been fair to good for some using brooder minnows. Bream will bite crickets or redworms. 

(updated 1-25-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish are biting fair on nightcrawlers and minnows. Bream fishing has slowed but some nice ones are still being caught deep with crickets and worms. Bass are biting fair on minnows and Texas rigged plastics. No reports of crappie being caught. 

No reports.

(updated 1-25-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said no reports have come from the lake. The water level is still extremely low. 

No report.

No report.

(updated 2-2-2017) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.

(updated 2-2-2017) Professional angler Cody Kelley, owner of Cody Kelley Guide Service (501-733-5282), had no report.

(updated 2-2-2017) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) said water conditions were clear and the level and current were normal. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. White bass are fair and are also biting minnows and jigs. People are catching white bass while they fish for crappie. No reports on black bass, bream or catfish.

(updated 2-2-2017) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported that fishing remains about where it has been of late, but anglers are reporting catching some crappie by the Little Maumelle and that catches have been really good.
(updated 1-18-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) reported crappie fishing is good near Murray Lock and Dam. Best success has been with white tube jigs. White bass are excellent and are biting twister tails.
(updated 2-2-2017) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said they didn’t have report this week on the clarity or water temperature in the Clear Lake portion of the pool. Anglers were reporting, though, that crappie were beginning to pick up and were doing really well, biting mainly on minnows. There were no reports on any other species; everyone is mainly fishing for crappie throughout the pool, all the way to the Terry Dam.
(updated 11-18-2017) Vince Miller at Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) said crappie fishing is good off the jetties with jigs. Other than crappie, it’s slow for everything else. No reports on bream, bass or catfish. 
(updated 1-25-2016) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said crappie fishing is excellent below the Murray Dam on white/chartreuse jigs. White bass reports were excellent below the dam using 3-inch white grubs and chartreuse grubs. Black bass are fair on soft plastics. Catfishing has been OK. No reports on bream.

(updated 2-2-2017) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) is scheduled to reopen Feb. 6. 

North Arkansas

(updated 2-2-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is good and the level has been a little up and down. A lot of rainbows have been caught. On Feb. 1, the catch and release portion down by the dam will open; it “hasn’t been touched, spit in or anything for some time,” they say. So they are hopeful in expecting a big turnout the rest of this week as it’s full go on the brown trout.
(updated 2-2-2017) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks at Cotter has been exceptional. The long spawning season is drawing to a close and the browns will continue to move further from the dam area and closer to Cotter. January has been slower paced than during the full season, as usual, but only slower in relation to the amount of traffic on the river, not in quantity or quality of the catch. Water levels have been at minimum flow for the major part of each day; that means very low water providing the ability to hold steady over a favorite deep hole or to wade pretty near the channel. Keep an eye on your fellow fishers, though, and give one another space – we've got a big river with lots of fish so there's no reason to be greedy. Sculpins were still the champion bait for big browns, but there should be plenty of action with quarter-ounce spoons with an eye-catching flash of gold or silver/platinum. Now would be a great time to break out the tri-olive jigs (1/8-ounce is best right now) or try casting a Blue Fox (3/16-ounce bronze-, gold- or rainbow-hued). They are expecting cold nights (that means cold morning starts) for the next week or so, and fairly chilly days, so wear your long Johns to stay comfortable and keep on castin'!
(updated 2-2-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that during the past week, they have had a minor rain event (a quarter of an inch here in Cotter), cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 feet to rest at 9 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 45 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 7.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 9.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had more wadable water mixed with periods of moderate generation. On the White, the bite has been spotty. Some days have been excellent and some poor. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. We have had more wadable water. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (my current favorite is a size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). 
Berry adds, “As many of you know, the catch and release section below Bull Shoals Dam on the White River has been closed to all fishing since Nov. 1, but was scheduled to reopen to fishing again starting Feb. 1. This section normally holds a large population of large fish (particularly rainbows), but during the spawn that population is augmented by a large number of mature browns that have traveled up to 20 miles upriver to spawn there. During this time, the browns have been spawning and they do not eat. Let’s think about this. We have a large population of big trout that have not been fished over in three months and the big browns have not eaten during the spawn. This sounds like the kind of place that I would like to fish. The problem is that this situation appeals to a lot of anglers. This is the best opportunity to land a big brown, or a rainbow, for that matter, and a lot of anglers know it. If you fish there on opening day, you will have company and a lot of it. It doesn’t matter whether there is low or high water. They will come. 
“I have fished it several times and have caught some nice trout doing so. I remember one year when the water was low, I arrived at the dam an hour before sunrise in order to claim a prime hole only to discover a half-dozen anglers fishing the spot I wanted to fish. I managed to fish around them and land a couple of nice trout. I later learned that it was a group of guides from North Carolina that basically fished from that gravel bar for a week. They arrived at midnight and only left the water to use the bathroom. I think they slept in their waders. The rest of the catch and release section was covered with anglers for several days.
“Low water is not the only condition that draws lots of anglers to opening day. High water also brings out the crowds. I call it an anything-that-floats day. I have seen just about every watercraft known to man fishing at the catch and release section on opening day. I have noticed the usual White River jon boats, drift boats, kick boats and canoes. I have seen more than a couple of bass boats and at least one Boston Whaler. The bigger boats, particularly the bass boats, can throw up quite a wake. My wife, Lori, and I fished it on high water a few years ago. We arrived at mid-morning. I asked one of my guide buddies how it was going. He said that he had been fishing the Baxter County side and catching some nice browns. I looked and noted that most if not all boats were fishing the Baxter County side of the river. I decided to fish the other side because I figured that those fish had not been messed with as much. My intuition paid off and we boated several nice browns without having to deal with as many other anglers.
“If you are going to fish on opening day, there are a few things to consider. One, be patient. Many of the people that are fishing there will be from out of town and they do not know what to do. They may be in your way and just not know any better. Sometimes a gentle suggestion on proper behavior will go a long way on fixing the situation. Do not over react! Next, be polite yourself. If you are wading, give other anglers plenty of room. Don’t crowd them. Do not wade through their water unless your personal safety is in jeopardy and inform them when you are doing so. If you are in a boat, pass other boats on the opposite side of the boat, from which they are fishing. Pass slowly so as not to put a wake on them. Remember that the downstream boat has the right of way. Finally, if another angler has a good fish on, let them play through whether you are wading or in a boat. Pull your line from the water if needed. Remember the next big fish hooked may be yours. I hope to see you there.”

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 650.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 1-25-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said before last weekend that it was hot out and the fish didn't know what to do. Water temperature on the main lake has been 49-50 degrees, while it gets a little cooler back in creeks. Del didn’t get a lot of time out lately because they did the Springfield (Mo.) boat show. As far as the bite goes, he's still catching them on a Wiggle Wart or Rock Crawler. The water is real clear. You could see the drop-shot bait 17 feet down last week. He's been catching some using a flat-sided crankbaits. The wind’s been piling up in the back of the draws. Work the banks, the 45-degree banks and look for wind. You've gotta have the wind. If you don't have it at one stop, just go to the next stop. Those fish are shallow, catching them in 7 feet off the shore, while keeping the boat parallel to the bank. Catching a few on a jig. If there is any wood or brush piles around the boat docks or close to deep water, drag a jig through there. Those fish are 10-25 feet throughout the day. Been catching a few fish on the spoon. Went and checked on the deep fish, and those fish are toward the back or in the middle of the creek. Today they weren’t all the way back but halfway back, they were close to the main channel, at 40-50 feet. There is just a little bit of shad here and there but kind of spread out, no solid pattern like is normal for this time of year. Keep moving and keep fishing.
(updated 1-25-2017) K Dock Marina is closed for the season until March 3.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 547.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 1-25-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake surface temperature is steady at 48 degrees and the stripers are getting picky on the size of bait they want to eat. Tom said he has been fishing threadfin shad, shiners and creek chubs. Up to the end of this week the bite has been very good, but starting Thursday they quit biting the smaller baits and now want the largest shiners you can find. These shiners are call brooders or No. 30s by the bait shops. The stripers are biting on them much better than the small baits. Tom fished the Howard Cove area Wednesday and Thursday and caught stripers and hybrids, but by Friday they had moved out into the main lake below the U.S. 62 bridge. The stripers are roaming the deep water chasing shad so you will need to stay with the bait fish to find and catch the stripers. The shad are in the 40-feet range and the fish are being caught between 35 and 40 feet. This bite should continue into February. Just keep looking in the main channels until you can find a consistent amount of shad. The stripers and other predators will show up. Tom also says he attends sports shows every year to visit and talk with potential clients that would like to fish Norfork Lake. The first one is in Collinsville, Ill., and the other is in Schaumburg, Ill. Every year you meet clients and other fishing guides and start developing a relationships. One such relationship Tom made was with two crappie guides, Steve and Alan. Steve and Alan guides on Lake Shelbyville and Kentucky Lake. Alan is also the Lowrance Rep. Having them on his boat for two days gave Tom some great insights into electronics and how better he can use technology to locate bait and fish. The first day out was their best day, he said. They caught five stripers and missed many more. In the eight hours they fished they had some great stories and shared information on lots of topics. They fished the Howard Cove area in 70-90 feet of water with lines set at 38 feet. They were using shiners, shad and creek chubs. The next day was slower and they only caught three but again missed a few. This time of year you have to just keep going out and find the bait. One day it will be great and then the next two days slow. But keep doing it and you will figure out the fish and catch them consistently. 
(updated 1-25-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's winter fishing pattern is in full swing. The bait fish are in the deep water channels of 80-100-plus feet and the bait are suspended 50-70 feet down. Striped and hybrid bass can be found following the bait fish whether it is on the main lake or back in the major creeks. For most of last week, Lou said, he was fishing in the 62 bridge area, mainly to the south of the bridge. Later in the week the fish moved in between the two bridges. Earlier this week he was only marking a few stripers, so after a couple hours of looking and fishing with minimal success he decided to move into Float Creek. Immediately he was marking large balls of shad with small schools of stripers following. For the next hour it was total havoc on my boat. He said he was by himself with four live bait poles out. He had doubles on several times and ended up boating five stripers, but missed as many. He had bait set at 40, 50 and 60 feet deep, but all his strikes came from the 40- and 50-feet-deep baits even though he was marking many fish 60-plus-feet deep. This day was the first in over a week that vertical jigging with a spoon would have worked great, because he saw multiple fish at one time at same depth. Large shiners, big river chubs and threadfin shad are the best choices for live bait. Lou had to clean one striper because it could not swim away and Lou found that its belly was full of 1-3-inch threadfin shad. If this winter is typical, the fish should stay at this depth and in these areas for the next 3-4 weeks. Toward the end of February and beginning of March the major creeks will be great places to look. The fish will start to go toward shallower water following the bait. Small and largemouth bass, as well as, Kentucky bass fishing has also been good. The bass can be found along the deep water bluff lines. I have found many bass suspended 30-50 feet down in 60 feet of water. Early and late in the day they are moving in a little tighter to the shore line 15-25 feet deep, but still on the bluffs. You can vertical jig with a spoon, but this method can be difficult with suspended fish. Try casting out a grub, small spinners or blade baits to catch these suspended fish. On the windy days throw a spinner bait. Jig & pigs, other types of plastics and deep-diving crankbaits are also good choices for the fish that move in tighter to the shore early and late in the day. Another good place for the Kentucky and largemouth bass is near deep brush piles. Work the bottom with a spoon around the brush and you will pick up some nice fish. 
Lou added that crappie are on and near the deep water brush piles. Look at sunken brush in 30-50 feet of water. The crappie will be inside of the brush (these are typically the bigger ones) as well as suspended over the brush. At times you will find them only 10 feet deep, but he has more success at 20-plus feet deep this time of year. The Norfork Lake level is currently stable, but has been falling slowly and sits at 547.88. The water temperature is fluctuating between 48-50 degrees. The warm days and nights are rising the water temperature slowly. The main lake is clear in most areas and the creeks and coves are stained. Currently Norfork Lake is in excellent fishing condition and the fish that Lou has been catching are fat and energetic. Make your plans now to come catch a few!
(updated 2-2-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said there has been more wadable water on the Norfork with low levels of generation. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 5.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 32 feet below the top of flood pool last week. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the green butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. 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 size 10). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 18 elk hair caddis). The fishing is better in the morning. Berry’s favorite rig has been a yellow egg with a root beer midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with the colder weather. A large number of brown trout have moved into the creek. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

(updated 2-2-2017) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is navigable. With cold weather, the smallmouths are much less active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering the Buffalo River. There are no dams, it has large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

(updated 2-2-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the creek is navigable. With cold weather, the smallmouths are much less active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek. There are no dams, it has large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Northwest Arkansas

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,110.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 1,120.00 msl).
(updated 2-2-2017) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the crappie fishing has been “real good” and they are selling a lot of Shinee Hinee’s for bait. Also minnows and tube jigs are working nicely. Bass are good and are hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits and pig & jigs. No report on catfish or bream. But striper has been OK on live bait.
(updated 2-2-2017) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said striper activity forecast for the week is good. Stripers are in the creek arms and on the feed. Some Beaver Lake striper are using gravel bars, points, humps, tree tops and cuts in the bank to corner bait. Fishing free lines and lightly weighted downlines will definitely get you some fish. There has been some topwater activity from striper and white bass. Beaver lake striper fishing will be GOOD with striper taken on live shad fished on free lines and downlines from the surface down to about 20 feet deep; also try trolling small umbrella rigs with white grubs or chartreuse for stained water, and plugs like Rapala No. 14 husky jerks in black back or purple back colors and Smithwick Rogues in similar colors in 5-6-inch model on plane boards with snap weights to get some depth and stagger your presentation. Jerkbaits like flukes, swimbaits and jigs will also produce. Topwaters like 7-inch Redfins, Spooks, Pencil Poppers, etc. Have them tied on and ready. Fish location is greatly influenced by lake level and current flow. Current in the lake from generation will generally position fish on upstream or downstream edges of structure. Check the daily lake level and flow data link on Mike’s website. Water surface temperature is in the low 40s. On the mid- and lower sections, check out these hot spots: Indian Creek, Lost Bridge North, Big Clifty, points 5 and 6 (check 5-35 feet or water for striper), Rambo Creek Arm (5-35 feet of water), Rocky Branch (back of Larue cove in 5-35 feet depth), Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue (5-35 feet depth), Coppermine (5-35 feet of water), Ventris, Shaddox Hollow (5-35 feet depth). In the upper section, check out Highway 12 bridge (5-35 feet of water), Prairie Creek (5-35 feet depth), Coose Hollow (5-35 feet depth), Blackburn Creek (5-35 feet depth), Beaver Shores (5-35 feet of water), Mont Ne (5-35 feet depth), Hickory Creek (5-15 feet depth), War Eagle (5-15 feet depth) and the War Eagle/White River junction (Point 12) in 5-15 feet of water, as striper are making their way up the creek arms. Keep eyes out for surfacing fish.
Walleye are making their way out of the main lake in numbers in fall migration mode but can be found scattered still around the lake and are on the feed. Walleye can be found from 10-30 feet deep depending on areas you fish. Use three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water, or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Try Rapala tail dancers, Bagley Rumble B's, Flicker Shad, Bandit 300 series in colors that include orange and chartreuse.
Also try slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse. Bink Pro Scale 1-ounce jigging spoons in white or white/chartreuse combo and a variety of jigs are also producing walleye.

(updated 1-18-2017) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said that after taking some time off to let an injured shoulder mend, he found some time to fish the past week. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is generating early in the morning and finishing up around noon. Water levels are low, so bank fishing is the way to go. Fishing between Spider Creek and the dam has produced the best results, with light terminal tackle and various PowerBaits. Throwing ¼-ounce spoons has also produced some nice fish. Furthermore, if you can sneak in before daylight hours and generation, you have the opportunity to hook up with some nice brown trout around Spider Creek. Austin says he has not had the opportunity to fish Houseman, down to Beaver town yet.
(updated 2-2-2017) Beaver Dam Store reported that the cold weather is keeping many fishermen out of the water. The trout don't seem to mind, though. You can still catch a limit; however, the take has slowed down considerably. Norfork dumped trout last Thursday. Water levels remain low and many areas are accessible for the individuals that wish to wade fish. Conventional fisherman can appreciate the abundance of river banks that are accessible.Midges, scuds, San Juans, peach micro-egg patterns, Hare's ears and nymphs are working well. Good lures typically gold and silver Colorado Spoons, red and gold Bouyant Spoons and Flicker Shad in Pro Series Nos. 4 and 5. Good PowerBait colors are white, red, orange, yellow, chartreuse and peach. Good flies are pheasant tails; midges in blue dun, black, olive, hare’s ear; tungsten copper Johns; WD40s; Trout Magnets; and San Juan worms.

No report.

(updated 2-2-2017) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported surface temperature at 45 degrees. Crappie have been good early in the morning on jigs. Bass are hitting every now and then on plastic worms; just a couple of black bass have been caught this week. No report on catfish. Bream reports have been poor. 

(updated 1-25-2017) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) has reopened after the winter break and reported clear water with a surface temperature of 48 degrees. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Black bass were good on plastic worms and jigging frogs. Catfish reports were good using chicken livers. No report on bream.

Northeast Arkansas

(updated 1-25-2017) Seth Boone at Lake Poinsett State Park said that due to the great weather, the fishermen are getting out there on Lake Poinsett. They are buying nightcrawlers and minnows. The lake is still low, so the best place to put in is at the dam.

(updated 2-2-2017) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said the first two days of this week were so windy that there was not any fishing. There were a couple of people fishing earlier but they had no reports of any catches.

(updated 2-2-2017) Mark Crawford with Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are running at 290 cfs and water clarity is mostly clear. The river is still low, making for easier wading. Y2Ks and nymphs have been hot this week. Get it down and swing it and the trout have been biting on the drop a lot. Be ready for that strike. Hot pink and chartreuse trout magnets are the way to go for spin fishing. They catch everything from smallmouth bass to bigger brown trout. Get out and have a great time on the water.
(updated 2-2-2017) John Berry in Cotter said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season is over and there are fewer boats on the river. 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 (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10). 

(updated 2-2-2017) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) reported that no one has been fishing of late. The water is low and clear.

Southeast Arkansas

(updated 1-18-2017 The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Team reported water temperatures are in the upper 40s to around 50. Water visibility is low throughout, up to about 1 foot at best. Black bass, as you'd expect, are slow. However, when you get a bite it is usually a quality-sized fish. Focus on the steeper rock banks next to deep water in Lake Langhofer. Dark-colored jigs and crankbaits worked very slowly along the rocks will get a few bites. The fish are more active mid-day when the water temperature increases slightly. 

(updated 1-25-2017) Jennifer Albertson at Cane Creek State Park said the water is high and murky because of the rainfall recently; visibility is low. Crappie are fair and biting on minnows and spinnerbaits. Catfish are fair and are reported biting on worms. Worms and stink bait are available at the state park bait shop. This week, the fishing has been better out on the lake instead of at the fishing piers. However, with the water so muddy, any spot is worth a try right now.

(updated 1-25-2017) Matthew C. Gillum, the ranger at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705), had no report.

(updated 1-25-2017) Pine Haven Bait and Tackle (870-367-4303) had no report.

Southwest Arkansas

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 259.32 msl).
(updated 2-2-2017) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level Monday was about 8 inches above normal conservation pool and falling. There is reduced river current, with the gates releasing around 2,765 cfs. Water temps dropped over the past week, ranging 43 to 49 degrees. Navigation is improved for Little River due to many river buoys throughout the channel on main lake structure have been replaced. Tailwater level as of Monday at 229 feet msl. Clarity and visibility has remained consistent, with clarity and visibility on main lake structure away from current ranging 4-5 inches. Little River’s visibility ranges 3-5 inches. The oxbow’s clarity is ranging 10-15 inches depth of visibility depending on location. Above McGuire Oxbow, it is heavily stained from rain and current, but some areas have better clarity. Bass are good on the few warmer days, from around 3-4 pounds on jigs, crankbaits and swimbaits. Bass continue holding during the coldest parts of the day and nights deeper holes and ditches along Little River and the deeper sections of the oxbows and creeks. Over the past few weeks, they continue roaming up into the flats for short duration where a randomly placed bulky spinnerbait, or a squarebill crankbait, or slow swimbait will draw random strikes during the warmest period of the day. The past few weeks with the colder water temps have slowed reactions. Majority of hours of the daylight now the bass are spending more time in the 10-15 foot depths of deeper creek channels, off primary and secondary points, and drops in Little River. Real Deal Custom Tackle jigs continue working over the past couple weeks, and Texas Craw, Candy Bug or Okeechobee Spice seem to be best choice with the stained water clarity. Bass Assassin and Bang swimbaits like the Die Dapper in Ice Breaker, Shiner and Houdini colors are working on a swimbait hook. The Bass Assassin Boss Shiner is also working on a swim baithook or jig, swimming in 8-10 feet of depth, with the best colors being Mama's 14K, Houdini/Chartreuse tail, or Ripper colors. Big bulky 3-4-inch fat gitzit tubes with rattles are working in deep creeks with stumps and any remaining vegetation.
Siefert also said jigging spoons continue working for white bass from 14-16 feet depths of Little River in deep holes just out of the current, or behind primary and secondary points. These White Bass are holding in 12-18 feet just out of current behind points. Some days they prefer a hammered spoon with bucktail, other days a copper-colored or blue/chrome and no bucktail appears to draw more strikes. Experiment to find best spoon working in your location. Seems like the copper-colored spoon works better with cloud cover and the chrome/blue on bright sunny days. Crappie are still scattered from our planted brush piles, and we have not put a decent bite pattern back together since they were willing to bite minnows and jigs before the recent increase in current over the past week or so. Best action before the lake rise and current increase was in 12-18 feet as long as it was out of direct current. Cordell Paddle Tail smoke grubs on light wire jigheads, vertical jigging Blakemore Road Runners, and hair jigs were catching some nice slabs in planted brush between 12-18 feet deep. Blues and channel cats continue to bite well in Little River over the past week with increased current. Best bites on trot lines between 10-15 feet of depth along outer bends of Little River using cut bait, Charlie and homemade cheese baits.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 540.44 feet msl (Flood pool – 548.00 msl).
(updated 2-2-2017) Gary Lammers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported surface temperature ranging 48-54 degrees. Water is really stained on the upper end of the lake and clear from Point 7 to the dam. Bass are good on small crawfish-colored crankbaits, finesse jigs and worms and Alabama rigs.‎ Crappie are fair on small twister tail grubs on brush in 12-15 feet of water.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 404.40 feet msl (flood pool – 408.00 msl).
(updated 2-2-2017) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 50s and the lake is clear except for above Point 14 where it is slightly stained. Lots of nice reports of bass catches, both for large and smaller fish. Best fishing has been in the upper end between Point 14 and Cox Creek. Look for fish on both main lake and secondary points in the big coves. Throw medium running crankbaits and spinnerbaits with some chartreuse. Also try a 6-inch Texas rigged worm in green pumpkin or red shad. This is the time of year that bass will school tightly. You can go fishless, then catch 10 from the same spot. Lots of Kentuckies along the bluff banks at points 14, 15 and along the west side of Goat Island. Use a Texas rigged 4-inch finesse worm in green pumpkin. Crappie fishing remains good on the deep main lake attractors between Shouse Ford and Point Cedar. Look for large attractors in 22-28 feet of water. Vertically fish a 2-inch tube in black and chartreuse on a 1/16-ounce jighead. Drop the lure to the very top of the brush, then add another 2 feet and you are in the fish. You should be able to see the lure as it drops to the brush top on the sonar. If not, make sure the machine is set to the low frequency, (77 or 83 kc.), and manually increase the gain until you can see the lure. Be sure to work all the way around the cover because the fish will mostly be in one spot. Don't forget the crappie nibble. Bream fishing is fair on the crappie attractors. In fact it is those guys that keep stealing your crappie nibble. Try redworms and crickets on a No. 8 hook. Hybrid fishing is good in the Shouse Ford, Goat Island areas. Best pattern has been trolling the small 5-arm umbrella loaded with 4-inch swim jigs. Also try trolling crankbaits such as the No. 7 Shad Rap. Troll pretty slow in this cold water, at about 1.5-2 mph. Remember, the feeding fish will be suspended at about 15 feet, so be sure to have your lures running just above the fish.
(updated 2-2-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said bass are still near the deeper channels but moving up the lake toward spawning territories.

South-Central Arkansas

No report.

(updated 2-2-2017) Reports from anglers sent to AGFC is that Columbia lately has been on fire for both bass and crappie. Lake was drained some years ago, but it is experiencing new lake effect after being refilled and stocked in 2014.

No report.

No report.

West-Central Arkansas

(updated 1-18-2017) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said fishing is slow out on the lake, but at the pier, it's a different story (see the lead story in this Fishing Report). Double-digit-pound bass have been taken from the lake right off the pier using shad in the past week or so. Stocking of Florida bass fingerlings in Lake Atkins appears to be paying off, and like more trophy-sized bass await. The good news is, you don't even need a boat these days.

Lake Bailey (Petit Jean State Park)
(updated 2-2-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) had no report.

(updated 2-2-2017) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 48 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. The 5-foot winter drawdown is in place until early March so waders and boaters should use extreme caution when navigating the channels below the dam. Fast currents and slick rock structure make the entire area very dangerous especially when the turbines are running. Rainbow trout are plentiful in the tailrace from the dam to the bridge with thousands of fish thriving in the nutrient rich water. Thousands more trout are scheduled to be stocked this month which will make fishing opportunities excellent for area anglers. Fly fishermen are able to access areas that hold good numbers of trout and are recording limits by casting micro-jigs in black or white colors with a strike indicator. Current is key so targeting the head and rear sections of shoals has produced the best results. Olive colored woolly buggers and black midges have also taken trout in the 15 inch class. Egg patterns in yellow or white will often draw strikes from finicky fish that refuse other offerings. Bank fisherman have done well on live bait presentations such as wax and meal worms, red worms,crickets,and small live minnows. Whether fished just off the bottom or under a bobber, these baits are proven trout killers in slack or moving water situations. Spin fishermen have accounted for the largest trout caught in the last several weeks by using Super Dupers and Rooster Tails in white or silver colors. These lures imitate a dying shad and often attract larger rainbows that feed on the bait fish drawn thru the turbines from Lake Hamilton. Trolling shallow running crankbaits against the current below the bridge is highly effective during periods of current flow. Shad killed from the freezing temperatures provide large amounts of food for all the tailrace gamefish and should be imitated by anglers serious about catching numbers of rainbow trout. No reports of striper or white bass caught near the dam. This can change overnight as more and more trout are stocked in the area. Shad are plentiful during freezing temperatures and will attract numbers of bass in any weather or current flow. The walleye spawn will be begin the second week of February with the smaller males migrating in first to prepare the beds for the females. At present, rainbow trout are king below Carpenter Dam. 

(updated 2-2-2017) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479 647-9945) said water temperature was ranging 48.9-53 degrees. Most of the creeks are dingy, with a few of them clean. Upriver is clean, mid-river dingy, lower river is dingy. Bass fishing has been good on jerkbaits in the clearwater, Alabama rigs in the dingier water, Rat-L-Traps in the shallows, jigs and Bamboozie on the rocks. Crappie fishing has been good 3-8 feet deep. Chartreuse jigs, and black and chartreuse have been working good in the dingy water. White and pink has been working good in the clearwater. And minnows. White bass and stripers has been fair. Bucktail jigs and Alabama rigs with swimbaits or spinnerbaits. Catfish has been fair on main river points with cut bait. Minnows and worms have been working well in the creeks. Bream have been fair on worms and crappie jigs in the treetops.

(updated 2-2-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips reported that black are still near the deeper channels but moving up the lake toward spawning territories.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 339.77 feet msl (full pool – 342.00 msl). 
(updated 2-2-2017) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reported Monday that lake level was 339 feet msl. They are still low. Normal is 342 this time of year. Crappie are biting. Also, an update on Facebook on the store for those who have been asking: “We are not shutting store. Business has been slow, so we took time off while we were slow. Store is for sale for $350,000. We are open for business until store sells. We are looking forward to a productive year. And we look forward to seeing all of you soon. Season is not too far away and we are restocking as we speak. If there is anything that we will need to order for you, please let us know. We have a new order of Meatgetter jigs in for those who are asking. Any new colors, you need let us know. Call the store for more information..
(updated 2-2-2017) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) will reopen in February.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 570.10 feet msl (full pool – 578.00 msl).
(updated 2-2-2017) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 for out of state) said black bass are still fair and being caught with pig-n-jigs fished near brush 6-20 feet deep or with drop-shot rigs. Stripers are fair on live bait or trolling jigs. The central area of the lake is still the best area for these fish. Crappie are still fair. Try using minnows or crappie jigs at depths around 15-20 feet deep fished near brush. There were no reports on walleye, bream or catfish. Water surface temperature earlier this week ranged 44-50 degrees. The water clarity is clear. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides – Mike Wurm (501-622-7717), Chris Darby (870-867-7822) or Jerry Bean (501-282-6104) – to book a trip or for more information. 
(updated 1-25-2017) David Draper of the Lake Ouachita Striped Bass Association said LOSBA members report the lake is cloudy with viability around 2-4 feet below the surface. Surface temperature is 51-53 degrees. It was hard to find schools of striper but they are around. Saturday didn't bring any bites on live bait, but David said he did hear some were caught with spoons. The unusually warm weather has striper patterns messed up, so think outside the box and happy fishing. 
(updated 1-25-2017) Philip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 radio that he's getting a touch of spring fever with the recent weather, and Trader Bill's is selling crappie minnows out like crazy. Everybody going to the lake, everybody’s catching fish. He said he knows a guy who went to Ouachita this week and caught just short of 30 crappie, a bunch of good fish and not just small ones. Another guy had good success bass fishing swimming a jig. A lot of things are going on that are happening fast. It’s still not so far along that it won’t be back to where it was with the next cold spell, so you've got to ride the wave underneath your board as it's happening. Right now the water temperature is warming up and the fish are moving up a little bit. You can throw a crankbait or a Rat-L-Trap and catch some fish, but Kastner says you’re going to catch more fish with Alabama rig and a jig in structure, in timber. The proper way to fish a jig in a brush pile is to swim it. A football jig is not a good brush jig and, in his opinion, a round-head jig is not a good brush jig. Kastner prefers a slick jig, a swimming jig, a structure-type jig, and there are a lot of them out there. Booyah makes a good one, Strike King makes a good one, Jewel makes one. There are six different structure-type jigs, just like there are seven or eight different football-type jigs out there. Just like a carpenter has a tool for every purpose, there is a jig for every reason. If you get hung up in the brush and you're trying hard to get out of it, you're running off fish. It's important to throw the right type of jig for the structure you're in. The other trick to fishing a jig is, don't let the jig quit moving. A lot of anglers will throw a jig out there and let it sink. You can’t fish a jig like a Texas rigged worm. You will get hung every time. You need to continue to have good tension on that line and keep up with it. A standard swimming jig is a half-ounce jig. He says he can’t feel them unless it’s a half-ounce jig. If you go out on any of the Ouachita shoreline right now the majority of fish are in 10-12-15 feet of water. If you’re throwing a jig larger than a half-ounce you’re not keeping up with it in 10-15 feet of water, it’s just hard to do. That’s why the half-ounce is Trader Bill's best seller.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 383.78 feet msl (flood pool – 384.00).
No fishing reports were recorded.

East Arkansas

No report.

(updated 1-18-2017) Maddox Bay Landing (870-462-8317) reported water being clear and the level is low. No specific temperature was recorded other than “it’s cold!” Bream are good on worms and crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass bite is good on spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Catfishing is good on worms and blood bait.

No report.

Arkansas an 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  
Family and Community Fishing Program: All Family and Community Fishing Program ponds are stocked with catfish and ready for fishing. Visit hwww.agfc.com/familyfishing for up-to-date information about pond stockings, events and locations.
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