Lake Columbia surges following drawdown
Lake Columbia surges following drawdown
February 15, 2017
Shown in this photo is Lake Columbia near Magnolia, off a fishing pier.
Lake Columbia surges following drawdown
Lake Columbia near Magnolia has enjoyed a recent boom in trophy-class bass catches, which will bring attention to a lake that many anglers have always thought of as a sleeper for getting the big bass bite. may bring new attention to Lake Columbia, which anglers always have considered a sleeper lake for

Jason Olive, assistant chief of fisheries for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said, “I know one angler in Magnolia who had a huge stringer one day this winter on Columbia. It may not be pushing out a lot of double-digit bass right now, but it is full of really nice fish about to hit that trophy size class.”That angler, Terry Neal, says Lake Columbia can be tough to figure out, but when it’s on, it is one of the best bass lakes in the South.

The aforementioned angler, Terry Neal, says Lake Columbia can be tough to figure out. But when it’s on, he added, it is one of the best bass lakes in the South.

“I caught 25 to 30 fish over 4 pounds, with some up to 7.7 pounds that day,” Neal said. “All on a Duel Hardcore Ninja Glider swimbait and a Quantum Smoke rod and reel. The bass were in 5 to 6 feet of water feeding on bream.”

At 3,000 acres, Lake Columbia has enjoyed a quiet reputation among the state’s bass anglers. While anglers ran from Millwood to Monticello in search of big fish, Lake Columbia steadily produced plenty of large bass approaching the double-digit range. Columbia’s recent surge of sizable bass actually is the result of unfortunate drought during a scheduled drawdown.

“The lake was drawn down 5 feet in November 2010 to try and control aquatic vegetation,” Olive said. “But a drought hit right in the middle of the drawdown, dropping the lake another 3 feet until spring 2012.”

Although a temporary inconvenience, the extended drawdown and subsequent flooding of shallow-water habitat is very similar to the situation east Texas anglers are enjoying on Toledo Bend, just on a smaller body of water. “Before the drawdown, the shoreline was pretty much barren except for the upper end, which was choked with vegetation,” Olive said. “But that extended drought allowed all sorts of shoreline terrestrial vegetation to grow, which became ideal spawning and nursery habitat for crappie, bass and bream.”

Andy Yung, AGFC regional fishery supervisor, says anglers and predatory fish, namely bass and flathead catfish, took advantage of the low-water year, and then the excellent spawns in 2012 and 2013 created huge year-classes of fish that are now hitting the sizes anglers are after. “Columbia has very consistent spawns of sport fish,” he said. “But missing year classes from 2010 and 2011 allowed the fish spawned in 2012 and 2013 to grow extremely fast. There wasn’t much competition for forage from older fish.”

Biologists hoped to prolong this surge in big fish, and in 2014 they changed the previous 16- to 1- inch protected slot limit to a standard 10-fish limit with anglers only being able to keep one fish over 20 inches per day. “The previous slot limit had a lot of fish stacked up in the 16- to 18-inch range, and those are the fish that are showing up now in the 23- and 24-inch range,” Yung said. “Those are some tremendous fish!

Yung notes that all of this success is in spite of the inability to fertilize or add organic cover like brush piles to the lake. “Columbia is a water supply, so we can’t do some of the things that are possible on other AGFC-owned lakes. It is stocked annually with Florida-strain largemouth bass, and we do massive habitat projects on it using PVC and other approved materials.”

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(updated 2-15-2017) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said water is stained and at a normal level. Crappie are good. Use minnows, jigs or white and purple Bobby Garland Baby Shad crappie bait. Bass are fair on soft baits. Catfish reports have been fair, but no report on bait used. Bream are biting poorly, but any results will come on worms or crickets.
(updated 2-1-2017) 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 2-15-2017) 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. With the warmer temperatures over the past week, we have seen good bug activity with hatches of BWO and March Browns on the middle and lower river. For fly fishing, we 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 ( for real-time water release and the Southwest Power Administration website ( to see forecasted generation schedule. 
(updated 2-15-2017) Greg Seaton with Little Red Fly Fishing Trips (501-690-9166) said, “Rain today … gone tomorrow. That’s the weather forecast and it seems to be the right one.” He says that with warmer weather returning Thursday thru the weekend, it will be a good chance to cast a fly. The rain may muddy the water tomorrow but generation should clear the river by Thursday. Low water conditions remain; with the lake still about 7 feet low and the generation is power demand only. This changes slightly each week day and there has been little or no generation on the weekend. Check the releases after 3 p.m. for the next weekday and on Friday evening for the weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday). Midge pupas and mayfly nymphs continue to be good fly choices. Mayfly emergers are good when the fish are rising. Along with blue winged olives, March Brown mayflies and some caddis are active on the warmer days. 
(updated 2-8-2017) James Dillard at Tailwater Fishing Co. said the fishing has remained steady. Many fish landed on each trip out. The best bite has been during falling water after water has been released from the dam. There are lots of easing opportunities up and down the river right now. The got flies have been egg patterns and sow bugs. Pink and purple Trout Magnets have been catching lots of fish as well. 

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 454.89 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 461.44 msl).
(updated 2-15-2017) Tommy Cauley of Fish Finder Guide Service said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is staying fairly steady, but more than 6.5 feet below normal for this time of year. It is looking like the lake will stay low for a while with no big rains forecast. It will change the way to approach the bite here on the lake in several ways, good and bad. The walleye are on the move and scattered all over the lake and rivers. Try using a jighead tipped with a minnow or a minnow imitation, or a C-rig tipped with a bream, or a drop-shot rig with a grub or minnow for the best results, or a crankbait if the area is conductive for it in 15-40 feet of water. The crappie have spawning on their mind with the longer days. They will probably have to spawn on stumps and pole timber limbs this year with the low water. Try beetle spins or grubs in the spring craw color or live bait on jigheads, in 10-40 feet of water. No report on bream. The bass fishing is pretty fair on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, C-rigs, football heads and wacky rigged Cinkos. The bass are scattered from real shallow out to 70 feet of water. No report on catfish. The hybrid and white bass are eating well all over the lake on spoons, in-line spinners, swimbaits, Alabama rigs, and hair jigs, in 25-70 feet of water.

(updated 2-15-2017) Harris Brake Lakeside Resort (501-889-2745) had no report.

(updated 2-8-2017) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is normal and clarity is good. Water temperature is about 54 degrees. Bream are slow but no one is fishing for them yet. Bass are good on yo-yo's with bass minnows. Catfish are good on yo-yo's and trotlines using cut shad and bass minnows. Crappie are slow but still catching on yo-yo's around docks and on cane polls. Some are being caught in the deeper water on poles around brush with jigs. Visit Banks for your fishing needs at Overcup Bait Shop off state Highway 9.

(updated 2-15-2017) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said the water is low, and the fishing has been slow lately due to the windy weather. No report of catches.

(updated 2-15-2017) Johnny Lewis at Jolly Roger’s Marina heard good reports on the black bass bite. They are biting wacky rig worms and jigs. Blacks can be caught in 25-30 feet on drop-offs and creek edges. Believe it or not some of the big bass are in shallow water. Kentucky bass are good. They are being caught on jigs and can be found at 30 feet mixed in with the black bass. White bass are excellent. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons, deep diving Bandits and Bombers. They have been scattered west on the edges of the channel. Watch the loons and the whites will be there in large quantity. Crappie are good and are being caught on crappie minnows and jigs (chartreuse/white with a very light line). Crappie are 20-25 fee deep at the edges of the channel. You are likely to catch at lot of whites mixed in with the crappie. Lots of 11-15-inch crappie are being caught. Except lots of company on the community hole. Bream are slow. Heard no reports lately. This time of year, look for t hem in 25 feet on the bottom and use crickets or live worms. Catfishing is slow. They’ll be in 25 feet of water; use stink bait, small bream or chicken livers.
(updated 2-15-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said crappie are biting on baby shad and minnows and 1.25-inch Itty Bit Swim’r. White bass are biting on Slab Slanger, Baby Shad, Cajun Spin and silver minnows.

(updated 2-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have started to bite a little better on No. 6 and pink minnows early in the morning has been the best time to catch ’em. Catfish are biting slow on nightcrawlers and minnows. Bass fishing has been slow as well with reports of a few being caught on minnows while crappie fishing. Bream are biting fair on crickets and redworms.

(updated 2-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting fair for some customers on nightcrawlers, minnows and stink bait. Bass are biting slow but will hit a good-sized lively minnow. Crappie fishing has been fair with pink minnows and Kalin’s Lemon Meringue grubs. Bream are biting crickets and redworms but are scattered and mostly small.

(updated 2-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the rain will have the river a little up and muddy for a day or three, but when it falls out the fishing should be good again. Bass have been biting well on No. 12 and brooder minnows. Catfish are biting minnows as well. Crappie fishing has been good with pink and No. 6 minnows and different colors of small jigs. Walleye fishing has slowed a bit but some are still being caught on brooder minnows. Bream will bite crickets and redworms almost any time on the river. Take a kid, fish hard, stay safe and keep our beautiful, natural state clean. 

(updated 2-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some crappie have been biting around a couple of docks. Lisa has tried but can't get the customer to draw her a map. You'll just have to find them like he did. She knows he uses size 6 minnows. Catfish have been biting for some right at dark on minnows and nightcrawlers. Bass are biting fair on minnows, crankbaits and jigs. Bream are deep and spread out, but some big ones are there and will bite crickets or worms.

(updated 2-8-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) reported that fishing is really picking up here. Crappie are excellent. Take your boat around standing timber and fish with pink minnows. Catfishing is fair; use cut shad, nightcrawlers or livers.

(updated 2-15-2017) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said the lake is low but crappie have been biting on No. 6 and No. 12 minnows. Catfish are biting minnows, nightcrawlers and stink baits. Bass fishing has been fair with minnows, Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits. Bream are scattered but will bite crickets and redworms.

(updated 2-8-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) reported that catfishing is fair. Use crawlers, hot dogs and livers.

(updated 2-8-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) reported catfishing is excellent using nightcrawlers, chicken hearts and chicken livers. Bass are biting fair, and it’s best early in the mornings; use buzzbaits or Zara Spooks. Bream are fair on redworms or crickets; try fishing for bream from the piers. No report on crappie.

(updated 2-15-2017) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said some fishermen are starting to fish the river again. Bass are suspended in 15 feet of water about 2-4 feet on top of sunken jetties. Fish with chartreuse crankbaits and bump the jetty top. Also drop to the bottom of the jetty and use a green pumpkin lizard. Bass results have been fair. Drum are hitting the lizard, too. Catfish are moving up around jetties about midday. Fish with worms. Results lately have been fair. Crappie are fair and starting to move to the creeks, Point Remove, Cypress Creek and the Petit Jean River. Use a chartreuse with red jighead.

(updated 2-8-2017) Professional angler Cody Kelley, owner of Best in Bass Guide Service (501-733-5282), reported that fishing has been fair to good lately. This is the time of year that one day can be excellent and tough the next day. As the days begin to get longer we will be seeing the water warm as well. That means one thing: time for fish to start spawning. Overall bass numbers haven't been extremely high, but when Cody says he catches one it will almost always be quality. If you want to catch a good Arkansas River bass, this is the time to be going. Look for protected backwater areas that have depth of 5-10 feet in them. Target wood and rocks with Crock-O-Gator zapper jigs or BioSpawn vile craws. As the days warm, don't be afraid to go way back in the shallows to look for the big girls making their way up to feed for the day. Fishing will continue to improve in the coming months. Some quality crappie slabs coming on black/chartreuse tube jigs dipped around backwater laydowns and stumps. Start with the cover on the deep water side of the creeks. Catfish are slowly heating up. The better fish are still coming off the main river in the deep holes on the outside turns of the channel. Try large baits this time of year. Whole shad or filets have been working well. Fishing will be getting great in the coming weeks. Get in touch with Cody if you want to get out on the river and learn how to catch all different species!.

(updated 2-15-2017) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) had no reports. Fishing is slow. Water is murky.
(updated 2-8-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) reported that crappie are good on minnows or jigs. Try a red/chartreuse or a chartreuse with silver flake jig for best results.

(updated 2-8-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) reported that crappie are good around Murray Lock and Dam on jigs (white/chartreuse, red/chartreuse and black/chartreuse). Catfishing is fair; use skipjack or shad. White bass are biting fair on chartreuse or twister tail jigs.
(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 2-15-2017) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the water is a little murky in the Clear Lake area. Water level and current are normal. Bass reports were good on spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Crappie have been good on minnows and jigs. Bream have ranged from poor to fair lately; bream are best on redworms and crickets. Catfish reports were poor, but the catfishing picks up behind the Terry Dam. Use cut bait. In the dam area, bass are good on plastic worms as well as spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bream remain fair in this portion of the pool on worms and crickets.
(updated 2-8-2017) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported fishing is OK right below the Murray Dam. The crappie bite is good, but even better news: The white bass bite is excellent. Use white Rooster Tails for the white bass.
(updated 2-15-2017) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said crappie are fair on red and white jigs. White bass are biting fair. Not reports on bream, bass or catfish.

(updated 2-15-2017) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) has reopened for the season after a winter break and the reports are good. Water is dingy and at a normal level and current. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are god on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfishing is good on worms or blood bait. The only poor reports were on bream.

North Arkansas

(updated 2-15-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they had a good weekend for fishing. The river level is low, while the trout bite was excellent. Rainbows are doing well, while there is a lot of brown trout now.
(updated 2-15-2017) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Cabin fever? Not here in the Arkansas Ozarks. The weather has been spring-like and the river is calling. This past week, with very low water, we've seen success using jigs and 5-inch rogues, chartreuse and a little darker green, white bellies (be careful, though, they'll get hung up easily so keep them moving). Flash some gold (Cleos and Colorados) on sunny days for a good catch of nice rainbows.” Ron adds that the German browns still chase sculpins but have been finicky about minnows – sometimes they hit them, sometimes not. Put your shad away in the Cotter fishing area. Fishing with kids? Shrimp and PowerBait should do the trick. Be gentle with the fish when returning them to the river so they'll be there for you next time. Enjoy Arkansas's natural beauty and keep on fishing.
(updated 2-15-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said, “A few weeks ago, I wrote about how excited I was to catch an 11-nch Bonneville Cutthroat. The Bonnevilles are a recent addition to our fishery. Our local Trout Unlimited organization, Arkansas White River Chapter No. 698, has an ongoing project to introduce these trout to the White and Norfork rivers. The idea was to introduce another self-sustaining trout species to our waters to complement our brown trout.
“TU obtained the Bonneville trout eggs from Wyoming and brought in Dave Whitlock to initiate the project. Beginning four years ago, the eggs were planted in catch-and-release sections of the White and Norfork rivers in order to create a spawning ground for them on an annual basis. The idea of another self-sustaining species in our waters is very appealing to me.
“Right after I had caught my 11-inch Bonneville, someone came into Blue Ribbon and showed me a photo of an 18-incher. I was really impressed. I had no idea that they had gotten so big in such a short time. I decided to go after a big one!
“Last week I had a day off. My wife, Lori, had gone to Memphis to care for her parents who had both just gotten out of the hospital. I was home alone with some free time on my hands. I decided to drive over to the Ackerman Access on the Norfork and give it a try. It was cloudy and cold (around 39 degrees) with a 10-15 mph wind out of the north that sent the wind chill plummeting. The water was on the bottom. I was surprised to only see one vehicle in the parking lot. A bit of solitude really sounded nice to me.
“I waded far upstream into the catch-and-release Section, with the idea of fishing my way out. I did not rig my rod until I got where I wanted to fish. I arrived at a deep, fast run a few hundred yards below where TU had planted the Bonneville trout eggs. I took a few minutes to rig my line with a size 14 hare and copper with ruby midge dropper. My first fish was a fat 14-inch rainbow. Then I landed an 18 and then a 17 and a 16. 
“I had planned on moving downstream but the fish were good-sized and fighting well. If I was going to catch fish like this, I would stay where I was. I doubled down and continued fishing the run. I was rewarded with an incredibly fat 21-inch hook jawed male rainbow. I was feeling pretty good about the day but I was hoping for a big Bonneville.
“A few casts later I hit paydirt. It was a big trout that was pulling line out at a prodigious rate. I was almost in the backing and I thought I was on a good-sized brown. I fought it for several minutes before I got a good look at it. It was a cutthroat for sure. It had bright red fins, vivid red slashes under its chin, big spots and a faint pink stripe. It was a Bonneville cutthroat.
“I deftly worked it into calm water so that I could take a good look at it. It was flawless! While not as fat as some that I had seen photos of, this one was a smidge over 18 inches. I had accomplished my goal. Unfortunately, I had left the house without my phone, so I was unable to take a picture. I figured that was OK because I knew what happened. I began fishing my way out. I picked up a few small fish and ended the day with about a dozen trout. I didn’t catch numbers but I had some real quality.
“The Bonnevilles are doing well thanks to the effort of TU."

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 651.04 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 2-15-2017) 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 547.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 2-15-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake surface temperature had started to rise with this warm weather and south winds. Tom said he went looking for bait and found threadfin and gizzards in Bennett’s Bayou. The water temperature had risen to 55 degrees on Saturday. He also found lots of schooling crappies in 15 feet of water. He was fishing for stripers using shiners and caught a 12-inch crappie. Tom then started looking for them and found large schools roaming the river channel. He said he expected the water temperature to get back into the high 40s but with the expected warmer forecast you should expect to see lots of bait and fish movement in the next 10 days. The shad are moving and should start heading up halfway in the major creeks. Tom said he still continues to fish Float Creek but with not much success. The stripers are deep along with the shad. He has been seeing fish at 75 feet on the bottom in the shad schools. He does not expect this to last much longer as he has found some fish up the creek in waters less than 50 feet. On Friday Tom took Bob out for his first striper trip. It was the full moon and windy. Tom was using both threadfin and gizzard shad, and expected with that bait that they would tear up the fish. They found stripers right away in Float Creek and had a bite right away but it was petty soft bite and the fish did not hook itself. They fished for over 5 hours and continued to have soft bites with no real takers. Tom says he ran across a friend who had fished the Tracy Marina area both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon last week and limited out both days. He said the shad was in 20 feet and thick outside the marina. Tom and his group went down there but could not find any shad. He said he thought the shad were staying out of the marina where they normally stay because of the full moon. Anyway, he said, it just shows that you can have the best bait and still not catch a striper, but tomorrow is another day.
(updated 2-8-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake water level is 547.76 and holding fairly stable. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 48-49 degrees, which is 4 - 5 degrees warmer than normal. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are still stained, but the water seems like it’s starting to clear. The weather this winter has been amazing with only a few cool days. At 7 a.m. Tuesday, when Lou left his Norfork Lake dock, the air temperature was already in the upper 50s. Early spring-like weather. Lou said he started checking his normal winter spots and found some stripers in 90 feet of water suspended 40-50 feet down close to the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. He was vertical jigging with a spoon and hooked into two fish, but both came off after a short run. His second spot was in Float Creek. Lou marked a few fish lying on the bottom at 70 feet, but they would not take his spoon. He decided to try an area he normally fishes in March heading up toward the Fouts area. Lou was finding fish in 55 feet of water, but again he could not get them to hit his spoon. He then headed into shallower water and found some schooling whites, hybrids and scattered largemouth bass in 25-40 feet of water. Bait was scattered and the fish were feeding. Lou says he guesses the warmer-than-normal water temperature is moving the bait fish into shallower water and the fish are following. Unless the weather turns cold for an extended period of time, we should have an early spring bite. Lou said he will try out the night bite sometime this week to see if they can get a good February bite like they had several years ago. The water temperature is almost perfect for the after dark bite throwing a suspending jerk bait.
Lou added that over the last few days, he has found largemouth bass in 20-40 feet of water, as well as, large schools in 65 feet of water suspended 30-50 feet down. Look for the largemouth bass partway back in creeks on secondary points where the channel swings in close to shore. It looks like the bass are starting to transition to an early spring-type bite a little earlier this year. He has landed bass on a spoon vertical jigging and by casting out a Kastmaster and letting it sink down to the depth of the suspended fish. Spinnerbaits are also working on the windblown shores as well as jig and pigs worked through 30 feet of water. If the weather holds, jerkbait time will start earlier than normal.
(updated 2-8-2017) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service had no report.
(updated 2-8-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 5.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 32.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had less generation with more wadable water. 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. John’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worms with a ruby 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. Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and 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.

(updated 2-8-2017) 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 2-8-2017) 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 1,110.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 1,120.00 msl).
(updated 2-15-2017) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the water is clear and level of the lake there was low. Bass are good using spinners, crankbaits or jerkbaits. Crappie are shallow and the bite is fair on minnows or jigs. Bream reports were fair. Catfishing is poor. 
(updated 2-15-2017) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said water surface temps in the low 40s and stripers remain in the creek arms and are on the feed. Some stripers are using gravel bars, points, humps, treetops 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 using live shad fished on free 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, or 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 also need to be tied on and ready to throw. 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. On the mid- and lower sections check out these hot spots: Indian Creek, Lost Bridge North, Big Clifty and at points 5 and 6. In Shaddox Hollow, check in water 5-35 deep for Beaver Lake striper as they are making their way up the creek arms. Keep your eyes out for surfacing fish. The upper section of the lake is hot throughout; check out these areas in 5-35 feet depth for striper: Highway 12 bridge (in 5-35 feet of water), Prairie Creek (5-35 feet), Coose Hollow (5-35 feet), Blackburn Creek (5-35 feet depth), Beaver Shores, Mont Ne, War Eagle (5-15 feet of water) and at the War Eagle/White River Junction, or Point 12 (5-15 feet of water).
Bailey adds that around Horseshoe Bend in the upper section, white bass are surfacing, while walleye are being caught in good numbers and also can be found scattered still around the lake and are on the feed. Walleye can be found 10-30 feet deep depending on areas you fish. Try three-way rigging Rapalas in natural colors for clear water or chartreuse/orange and clown colors in areas of stained water. Also use Rapala tail dancers, Bagley Rumble B's, Flicker Shad, Bandit 300 series in colors that include orange and chartreuse. Slow death rigs and spinner rigs on bottom bouncers in orange/chartreuse will also work. Bink Pro Scale 1-ounce jigging spoons in white or white/chartreuse combination, as well as a variety of jigs, are also producing walleye.

(updated 2-15-2017) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said he put in at Holiday Island and worked his way up toward Houseman Access to assess river conditions and do a little fishing. Bottom line, the river is extremely low from Houseman up to the dam. A lot of places are impassable by boat. Now, to the fishing. Water temperature was consistent from Holiday Island to Houseman at 50 degrees. A couple of walleye were caught using Rapalas being trolled. The female that was kept had eggs, but in the very early stages. Not many walleyes were marked. Trout were caught using light terminal tackle using various PowerBaits. Smallmouths were biting on crankbait and soft plastic being tossed toward structures.
(updated 2-8-2017) 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 2-15-2017) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported clarity as clear. The water is at a normal level and the surface temperature was 48 degrees. Bass reports were good, with spinners, crankbaits, plastic worms and jigs all working well. Crappie bite is good on minnows and jigs. Catfishing is fair. Bream are good on crickets. 

(updated 2-15-2017) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) reported that water is clear and the surface temperature was 52 degrees. Level is normal. Crappie are biting fair in about 6 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits. Catfishing is good; use chicken livers. No reports on bream.

Northeast Arkansas

(updated 2-8-2017) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said it appears the spring fishing season has already begun. They are selling lots of minnows and the crappie reports are good. There have been several boats on Lake Poinsett the past couple weeks. And they have sold some boxes of worms. It is too soon to stock crickets. 

(updated 2-15-2017) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said water is dingy and at a normal level. Crappie range from good to excellent depending on the day and the hour. You’ll find crappie in 6-9 feet depth. Use minnows, jigs or squirts. Bass are good on spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Bream reports ranged from poor to good. No report on catfish.

(updated 2-15-2017) Mark Crawford with Spring River Flies and Guides said water flows are running at 278 cfs at the spring and water clarity is mostly clear. Low river levels makes for easier wading. The water has a green hazy shade to it – normal for winter months. Plenty of caddis and mayfly hatches through the day. With the warm-and-cold, up-and-down weather conditions, the trout will bite really well and suddenly turn off on some days. Olive Woollies and a new pattern that has been dubbed the El Diablo have been working great. And when the bite turns off, a dropper will keep things going. A small nymph behind a large fly will work. Hot pink and chartreuse Trout Magnets always produce. And the great thing about Trout Magnets are that they have no flavor and the trout always hook in the top of the mouth. Great catch-and-release tool for spin fishers. Good wading conditions, just don’t forget the wading staff. It's slick out there.
(updated 2-8-2017) 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 2-15-2017) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no reports.

Southeast Arkansas

(updated 2-15-2017) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Team said water temperatures are in the upper 50s with some protected areas around 60 by the afternoon on warm days. Water visibility is low throughout, up to about 6 inches at best in protected areas. Black bass are biting fairly well on dark-colored jigs and Texas-rigged soft plastics near wood and rock. Spinnerbaits, worked slowly, are also producing bites. 

(updated 2-15-2017) Jennifer Albertson at Cane Creek State Park said it feels like spring at Cane Creek Lake. Crappie are slow, but biting on shiners. Bass are being fought on spinnerbaits. No sign of bream, but they should start hitting soon,when the weather warms up consistently. The wind is a little high, but experienced boaters should not have a problem. Water visibility is low, and water levels are high. Late morning is the most popular time for fishing right now. Good luck out there! 

(updated 2-15-2017) Brandy Oliver at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705) said catfish are biting on just about everything. The rain has slowed down the crappie and bream. They have not had any reports of people catching much other than catfish. 

(updated 2-15-2017) 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 259.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 259.32 msl).
(updated 2-15-2017) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said the lake level is about 4 inches above normal conservation pool and falling. There is increased current of Little River with the gates releasing around 434 cfs as of Monday. Tailwater level was 224.9 feet msl. Water temps rose over the past week, and as of Monday ranged 54-58 degrees. There were good numbers of fishermen on the lake over the past week. Clarity and visibility is fair to stained this week in most areas on main lake, with clarity and visibility on main lake structure away from current ranging 5-8 inches. The oxbow's clarity is ranging 15-20 inches depth of visibility depending on location. This past week, they saw a rapid rise in water temperature, putting bass on the move again. They have been watching/seeing males running in and out of bedding areas preparing to build beds over the past week. Magnum Tubes in pumpkinseed/chartreuse, black/blue tail or black neon with rattles, plastic lizards, Rat-L-Traps and slow moving crankbaits have been taking staging bass on points, ditches and in creek channels. Key continues to be finding water temps that are 5-8 degrees warmer than surrounding areas, and clearer water with the current conditions. The prespawn females are staging just a few feet deeper in the creeks, from the flats, and several in the 5-9-pound range full of eggs have been caught and released over the past week or so. The best method over the past few weeks has been finding the clearest water away from river flow. Cordell Red Fins, Smithwick Rouges and hard jerkbaits are taking a few good-size bass in south Hickory pockets of the area of main lake and the Millwood State Park. Slow moving swimbaits like the Yum Money minnow in hitch, hologram shad or Tennessee shad colors are working randomly in creek channel swings by deflecting off stumps. Real Deal Custom Tackle jigs in amber, Texas shad or bruiser colors with a Berkley Craw Chunk or Yum Wooly Bullee or Wooly Bug trailer are taking a few prespawn bass in the 3-4-pound class. War Eagle Spinnerbaits in Spot Remover and white/chartreuse are taking 2-4-pound largemouths in McGuire Lake upriver. Large size Rat-L-Traps worked much slower and deflecting off stumps and timber, deeper in the creek channels, are still catching largemouths. Best colors recently have been Toledo Gold, Red Shad, Red Shad Zombie or Red Chrome on sunny days, fished around 6-8-foott depth flats near creek channel swings, deflecting off stumps in the clearest water you can locate away from muddy water or Little River current. Chatterbaits in Bull Bream, Spring Bream, black/blue and blue glimmer shad are working around dead lily pad stems and hydrilla.
Siefert said that white bass continue staging between McGuire Lake and Patterson Shoals in a prespawn condition. Points all along Little River are holding wads of these nomads. Cossatot inflow ditch and creek channels protruding into Little River were giving up a great number of whites and hybrids over the weekend on shad-colored Bomber and XCalibur crankbaits, chrome/blue or Smokey Joe Rat-L-Traps. Annual migration to spawning grounds for the whites are continuing to move that direction. Little Georges, Rocket Shads, Little Cleos, Spin Traps and Blakemore Road Runners were all catching these whites over the past week. A few more crappie fishermen were out over the past week and have been catching prespawn black and white crappie using jigs around 8-12 feet depth in the creek channels with deep cypress trees. Blues and channel cats were beginning to improve with the current in Little River and were biting on trotlines set around points and creek mouths from 8-12 feet deep on Charlie, chicken hearts and hot dogs.
To volunteer for one of the cleanup dates or for ramp and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park information, contact Tony Porter at the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office. To receive project updates, daily lake level information updates, gate release flows, tailwater information, park and campground information, or volunteer, call the Corps’ toll-free Millwood Project information line at 888-697-9830, or the main number to verify another Corp of Engineers project is open at 877-444-6777.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 539.83 feet msl (Flood pool – 548.00 msl).
(updated 2-1-2017) 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 404.74 feet msl (flood pool – 408.00 msl).
(updated 2-8-2017) Local angler George Graves said he heard some bluebirds Tuesday morning, making him think it looks like winter in waning; hopefully the ground hog was wrong, he said. Surface water temperature at DeGray is in the low 50s and the lake is clear up to Point 14 and a slight stain farther up. Bass fishing remains good when the weather is stable for a few days, which is typical for late winter and early spring. Just about all bass catches are coming from the upper end between Point 15 and Cox Creek. Look for fish on main lake points and the big points in coves. Best bet has been crankbaits, both lipped and lipless in medium runners. Try a natural color with some orange or chartreuse. Also, now is the time to break out the red Rat-L-Traps. Lots of smaller blacks and Kentuckies reported on finesse 4-inch Texas rigged worms thrown against rock bluffs. Green pumpkin and red shad are hard to beat. Crappie fishing is holding up well on the deep attractors in the upper end of the lake. Try a 2-inch tube on a 1/4-ounce jighead in black and chartreuse. Look for brush at 22-28 feet down and fish the lure just above the top of the brush. Hybrid fishing is fair at the mouth of Beaton Creek and along the north side of Goat Island. Troll the small umbrella loaded with 4-inch swimbaits. White and chartreuse are the best colors. Troll slow in the cold water and make sure the rig is running above the fish. A few decent catches reported coming on trolled No. 7 Shad Raps in fire tiger.annels but moving up the lake toward spawning territories.
(updated 2-15-2017) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports in Hot Springs said on US97 radio said that fish are in the backs of pockets and around wind blown banks. Chrome-colored Red Eye shad bait was working, throwing it in the back of the grass. That's a typical pattern for this time of year. A lot of guys are throwing Rat-L-Traps or crankbaits. Also swimming a jig. If you throw a half-ounce jig up in that grass and kinda gets stuck and pops loose, it causes that same erratic motion that fish are striking at. Kentucky bass are being caught on a crankbait. So, you can use a Red-Eye, crankbait and Carolina rig and have some success. Seems like the C-rig has been forgotten since the Alabama rig came out, but it still will catch some fish. Jigs and spinning baits are working as well.

South-Central Arkansas

(updated 2-8-2017) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) had no reports.

(updated 2-8-2017) Anglers report that the lake has come alive in recent weeks after a restocking by the AGFC in 2014. Reports are very good on bass.

No report.

No report.

West-Central Arkansas

(updated 2-15-2017) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the water is low and clarity is clear. The water surface temperature was 47 degrees. Bass range from fair to good but things have been slow. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs. No other reports.

(updated 2-15-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) said catfish are biting on minnows and worms. Bream are biting on crickets and worms. Bass are biting now.

(updated 2-15-2017) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 49 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, redworms, 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 through 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, which will attract numbers of bass in any weather or current flow. The walleye spawn is about to begin with smaller males present in the tailrace below the bridge. The larger females will migrate into the area in the next week to 10 days. These fish can be found by trolling shallow running crankbaits in the main channel during periods of generation. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers will also work well in current or slack water. The majority of fish will be in the 3- to 5-pound range.

(updated 2-1-2017) 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 2-15-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said crappie are on brush piles where deep water is close by. Been catching a lot of whites and yellows off the bottom in the deeper channels.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 340.20 feet msl (full pool – 342.00 msl). 
(updated 2-15-2017) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said there were several anglers fishing over week end, using minnows and jigs. Look for the lake level to come up a little more. They expect to have some nice weather for fishing. Visit their store in Hollis on Highway 314. They have both bass and crappie minnows and small line of tackle for anglers' convenience on days they are closed. They also have a new stock of tackle, and if they don't have it they can get it. 
(updated 2-8-2017) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) is back open for fishing, but it’s been very slow. Water level is high. Crappie reports were poor.
(updated 2-8-2017) Whiskers Sporting Goods (501-889-2011) reported crappie are hit and miss. The water is low and there has been no rain recently. For crappie, use Shiney Hiney in glimmer blue, BBQ Chicken, Cajun Crickets, Blue Ice in Simmer, Monkey Milk in crystal or bone, penny back baby Shad, and Slab Slay’r, and 1.25-inch itty bit swim’r and minnows. Catfish are biting on minnows, worms and shad. Bream are biting on crickets and worms.
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 570.35 feet msl (full pool – 578.00 msl).(updated 2-15-2017) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports in Hot Springs said on US97 radio that there was a big wind out on the lakes  last weekend. It didn’t matter where you were trying to go, it seemed it was blowing around corners. There were a few good sacks caught, however. Brian Bean won the ABA tournament on Lake Ouachita. He had a pretty good sack of fish like they always do,16.5 pounds or so for five fish is a good sack. Bean said caught it on a jig. Mark Ellis got second, he had 16 pounds as well on a jig. 16 pounds is a great sack for one guy to catch five fish. Kastner said he talked to a lot of the guys, and it was warm; even though it was windy it was warm wind, at least. They banked on going into the backs of these creeks. Lot of guys threw a Rat-L-Trap and a crankbait in the backs of these creeks trying to get some of this warmer water that’s rolling in and the fish just weren’t there. They were more in the mouths of creeks and that’s where these guys caught the better stringers of fish.
(updated 2-1-2017) 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. 

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 383.94 feet msl (flood pool – 384.00).
No fishing reports were recorded.

East Arkansas

No report.

(updated 2-15-2017) Maddox Bay Landing (870-462-8317) had no report.

No report.

Arkansas an White river levels are available at:
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit:  
For water quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit:  
Family and Community Fishing Program: All Family and Community Fishing Program ponds are stocked with catfish and ready for fishing. Visit for up-to-date information about pond stockings, events and locations.
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