Christmas trees can boost fishing success
Christmas trees can boost fishing success
December 21, 2016
Used Christmas trees can serve a second life as structure for fish in lakes, and can help anglers have success.
Christmas trees can boost fishing success
Christmas trees don't have to be left on the street or tossed in the trash after the holiday season. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recommends instead that you consider donating them as fish habitat. The AGFC has drop-off locations across the state to let your old Christmas tree have a second life as underwater cover.
Jason Olive, AGFC assistant chief of fisheries, says the small spaces and dense cover offered by fresh Christmas trees make excellent nursery habitat for small fish.
“In ponds where we’ve sunk Christmas trees, we’ve seen increased growth in smaller fish,” Olive said. “Young bass, crappie and bream and baitfish all benefit from the cover, and larger gamefish will be attracted to the smaller fish.”
Anglers are welcome to remove trees from drop-off locations to create their own fish attractors. Olive suggests using parachute cord and cinder blocks to weigh down the trees.
“Sink groups of Christmas trees together,” Olive said. “Within two to three years, you won’t have much left except the trunks, but when we drained Lower White Oak Lake in Ouachita County recently, we saw several nice piles of Christmas tree trunks that were still good fish habitat after 12 years of being in the water.”
Trees should be cleaned of all ornaments, lights and tinsel before they are dropped off. Artificial Christmas trees should not be used as fish habitat, either.
Trees can be dropped off at any of the following locations until the end of January:
Central Arkansas 
• Arkansas River – Alltel Access beneath the I-30 Bridge 
• Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach (Heber Springs), Devils Fork Recreation Area and Choctaw Recreation Area (Choctaw-Clinton) 
• Lake Conway – Lawrence Landing Access 
• Harris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Access 
• Lake Overcup – Lake Overcup Landing 
• Lake Barnett – Reed Access 
• Lake Hamilton – Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery Access Area 
Northeast Arkansas 
• Jonesboro – Craighead Forest Park Lake boat ramp 
• Lake Dunn – Boat Ramp Access 
• Lake Poinsett – Dam Access Boat Ramp
• Lake Walcott – Crowley’s Ridge State Park Boat Ramp Access
Northwest Arkansas 
• Beaver Lake – Highway 12 Access and AGFC Don Roufa Hwy 412 Access 
• Lake Elmdale – Boat Ramp Access 
• Bob Kidd Lake – Boat Ramp Access 
• Crystal Lake – Boat Ramp Access 
Southeast Arkansas 
• Lake Chicot – Connerly Bayou Access Area 
• Cox Creek Lake – Cox Creek Lake Access Area 
Southwest Arkansas 
• Bois d’Arc Lake – Kidd’s Landing or Hatfield Access 
• Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point 
• Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area 
• DeQueen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp 
• Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp 
• Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation areas 
• Camden – AGFC Regional Office on Ben Lane 
• Upper White Oak Lake – Upper Jack’s Landing 
• Magnolia – Columbia County Road Department Yard on Highway 371 
• El Dorado – City recycling center drop-offs: one behind Arby’s and one on South Jackson 
• Smackover – Recycling Drop-Off Center (these will be transported to El Dorado) 
• South Fork Lake – South Fork Lake Access 
• Terre Noire Lake – Terre Noire Lake Access
• Hope – AGFC Regional Office on Hwy. 67 East  

NOTE: This will be the last AGFC Fishing Report until Jan. 11, 2017.

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(updated 12-21-2016) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said water surface temperature was in the low 50s. The crappie remain good, particularly around Caney Creek. Crappie are good on jigs and Monkey Milk. Bream are good on worms and crickets. Catfishing has been excellent using shad or prepared bait. Bass reports have been poor.
(updated 12-21-2016) Gold Creek Landing (501-607-0590) reported crappie fishing has been good jigs or minnows. No reports on other species.

(updated 12-21-2016) Lowell Myers of Sore Lip ‘em All Guide Service said the Little Red is receiving morning and afternoon generation on weekdays and sporadic generation on weekends. For fly fishing, we recommend midges, soft hackles, egg pattern, sowbugs and streamers. For Trout Magnet fishing, we recommend white and cotton candy-colored bodies on gold jigheads. 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 12-21-2016) Greg Seaton with Little Red Fly Fishing Trips (501-690-9166) said the cold weather has decreased the fishermen (Greg included, he said) on the Little Red. Casting a frozen fly line is not the best way to enjoy your day. The good side is that the trout don’t seem to mind the cold because the generated water is still about 50 degrees and this is just right for them. The further downstream you are, the colder the water, but it’s still much warmer than the air on a brisk 20-degree day. So just pick a day when the temperature is above freezing during your fishing time and catch a trout. The colder temps also increase the morning generation, so check the hours of generation before planning your trip. IMPORTANT TIP: Generation begins the hour before the posted time on the Corp’s app and ends at the posted time. The river remains clear and midge hatches are still happening during the cold weather. Midge pupas and midge emergers are still good choices. Larger nymphs and streamers are good choices in higher water conditions. Stay warm and be safe! Greg will be teaching a free four-week fly-fishing class at First United Methodist Church, Heber Springs, beginning Feb. 16 and held each Thursday at 7 p.m. It might be good for anyone getting a fly rod for Christmas! Greg had about 40 persons sign up for the class last year. Call the number listed above or visit his website.
(updated 11-30-2016) James Dillard at Tailwater Fishing Co. said the fishing lately has been great. James said they have been getting water releases from the dam each day, which has made drift fishing from boats excellent. Wading opportunities are best on the weekends when water release is scarce. The hot flies have been egg patterns, midges and sowbugs. Trout Magnets have been producing good numbers of fish as well. 

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 456.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 461.44 msl).
(updated 12-21-2016) Tommy Cauley of Fish Finder Guide Service said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 456.05 and falling, nearly 6 feet below normal pool. The fishing is OK, and the 10-day weather forecast is good other than a little rain, which he says they need to help clean up the turnover and things will be back to normal and all species should be back on the bite good before real winter sets in. Happy holidays! The hybrid and white bass bite is going around the lake good at places on top and down on structure and in the middle of nowhere suspended around shad. Try topwater baits, spoons, in-line spinners, hair jigs and swimbaits from 25-70 feet of water. The crappie are suspended around any wood or just floating around in the middle of nowhere close to shad as well; use jigs and minnows as well as Road Runners slow-reeled for the best luck in 12-30 feet of water. No report on bream. Catfishing is off because of turnover as well. As for walleye, some are eating somewhat up the rivers and the lake is dirty for them to eat much. Try crankbaits and jigs tipped with minnows or hair jigs. The bass fishing is good in spots; try spinnerbaits and small crankbaits up shallow, and C-rigs and football heads out deep.

(updated 12-21-2016) Harris Brake Lakeside Resort (501-889-2745) said crappie are OK but nothing to really speak of. The bass bite has been good of late. No other reports or baits used.

(updated 12-21-2016) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said nobody has been fishing lately, but Johnny still sees bass chasing shad in the lake. Nobody has been fishing for bream, but he was still catching them a week ago near the shoreline in brush. Catfish are being caught around the docks with nightcrawlers. Crappie are slow but are still being caught around piers with jigs and minnows.

(updated 12-14-2016) Jolly Roger’s Marina reported the black back catch has been very good of late. Black bass are biting on wacky rig worms and jigs. Blacks can be caught in 18-22 feet on drop-offs and creek edges and on the windy banks. The cooler weather has activated the bass. Fishing for Kentucky bass has been excellent. Kentucky bass are being caught on crankbaits and jigs and can be found in 20 feet of water. They are mixed in with the blacks. White bass are fair. Use Rooster Tails, CC Spoons and deep diving Bandits and Bombers. There are mostly at the east end of the lake. Crappie fishing is excellent. They are being caught on crappie minnows and jigs (chartase and White with very light line). Crappie are 16-22 feet deep, at the tops of structure near the edges of the channels and on the old road beds. Lots of 8- to 13-inch crappie being caught, should be so great winter fishing. Bream are slow, there have been no reports. Catfishing is slow. They’re being caught in 25 feet of water on stink bait, small bream and chicken livers.
(updated 12-21-2016) Fosters Four Seasons (501-868-9061) has closed.

(updated 12-14-2016) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said some crappie have been biting late at night and before daylight. Catfish have been biting fair on minnows and chicken liver. Bream fishing has been slow. Bass have been biting fair.

(updated 12-14-2016) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass fishing has been fair with minnows and small artificial baits. Catfish are biting fair on minnows and black salties. Bream are biting crickets and redworms. Crappie are biting pretty well on size 6 and pink minnows. 

(updated 12-14-2016) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said catfish have been biting fair on minnows and goldfish. Bream fishing has been fair with crickets and redworms. Bass have been biting slow. No recent reports of crappie being caught on Norrell.

(updated 12-14-2016) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said crappie have been biting fair on size 6 and size 12 minnows. Catfish have slowed the last few days but are still biting minnows, chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Bream have been slow to bite anything. Bass have been hitting minnows.

(updated 11-30-2016) Charley’s Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) said catfish have been fair. Fish with live bass minnows about 1-2 feet from the bottom. Crappie are fair. They are back in coves like Coppers Gap, Point Remove Creek or the Petit Jean River. Use a chartreuse jig with a redhead. Black bass are fair. They’re on the jetty tops at midday. Fish them with black or blue jigs. Charley says there have been few people fishing the pool, but they had a good first split season on ducks. Charley says he saw more different species than he’s seen in many years – mostly puddle and diver ducks. 

No reports.

(updated 12-21-2016) River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) had no report on the clarity, surface temperature or level, but said crappie were biting well in 5-6 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Bass are still in the Little Maumelle and anglers are having some good success.

(updated 12-21-2016) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said anglers in the Clear Lake area were have good success catching bass and crappie. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic works. Bream are fair on worms and crickets. Catfish reports there were poor. Catfish fair on the Terry Lock and Dam end of the pool, as were bass. Crappie and bream were poor on that end.
(updated 12-21-2016) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said fishing was fair in the Little Rock pool. Crappie were fair on jigs below the dam. Bass were fair. White bass were biting 3-inch white grubs or 3-inch chartreuse bait. Black bass were hitting 3/16-inch Itty Bit bugs in black color. Catfishing was reported fair below the dam. In the Terry Dam/Tar Camp pool area, crappie were reported good in 6-8 feet of water using Slab Busters in purple or chartreuse and with a red and silver tail jig.
(updated 12-21-2016) Vince Miller at Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) had no reports in the past week.
(updated 12-21-2016) Hatchet Jack’s (501-758-4948) said that it was too cold for its regular anglers and there were no reports.

(updated 12-21-2016) Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) is closed until Feb. 6. 

No reports.

No report.

No report.

(updated 12-14-2016) Lisa’s Bait Shop (501-778-6944) said bass have been biting fair on minnows and small plastics. Catfish are slow but some have been biting minnows and nightcrawlers. Bream have been biting crickets but have been scattered. Crappie have been biting off and on, on pink minnows.

(updated 12-21-2016) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) reported crappie fishing was excellent up in Little Maumelle Creek in 6-8 feet of water, using Slab Busters, black/chartreuse jigs or red/chartreuse jigs.
(updated 12-7-2016) Larry Walters at Bones Bait Shop (501-354-9900) said activity was very slow at the lake, with no catches being reported at the bait shop.

North Arkansas

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 651.09 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 11-30-2016) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is about 20 feet lower than last year at this time. Quite a few things are going on. A major cold front came through. Two weeks ago  it was in the 80s, looks like they’ll be in the 60s for the next week or so, he said. Lows are getting down in the 30s. Fishing has been pretty good. With the temperature change, the baitfish (shad) are still in the back and in secondary points going in there. A couple of things are still working. Still a topwater bite early. Throwing a Sammie for the topwater, they’ll just randomly find them throughout the day. A squarebill is hitting in these huge balls of shad. You know you’re in the right place when the whole graph lights up white, or you’ll throw your bait in there and they’ll just scoot out on the water. The Wiggle Worm bite is starting to pick up. Wiggle Worm or Rock Crawler working parallel to the bank. If you’ve got bluebird skies, you can always catch fish on a jig. The spoon bite is starting to get going here, it seems to be working off the secondary points, going into the creek channels, getting in that 30-35 feet of water. Using shad-style spoons and just jigging with the spoon. Watch your graph. Also using a shad-style drop-shot bait with an 18-inch leader. That seems to be doing a little bit better than the worm. They seem to be keyed in on the shad pretty good. In back the fish seem to be sitting more on the bluffier style banks; that’s where he's been having most of the luck there, with the jig on those kinds of shoreline. Also in the back areas you can pick up some quality fish on the wake-style baits or the bigger gizzard-style shad baits. Look for the wake caused by the baitfish and that’s what you’re trying to imitate back there. It’s crystal clear out here, the visibility is as clear as he's seen it in a while. Up the lake some in the creeks there is some color in the water. Try getting into that dirtier water, and wind will also help. It’s getting cold, wear a lot of layers.
(updated 12-7-2016) K Dock Marina's owner reported he'd been away from the lake for a week or so, but had some good reports from several anglers last Friday. The water temperature dropped significantly in the past few weeks. However, the lake level has also been on the decline very rapidly. All species have improved, but not to the late fall bite that they expect for this time of the year. Crappie are really starting to hit in the coves around brush piles. Bass are going to be found on the points and steep bluffs using crankbaits and jigs. The lake has not turned over yet, (in my opinion), which will bring the fish up into their winter pattern. Need some input from friends that are fishing for Walleye. Hope to get a good report from them. With rain and cold temps last weekend, it was a great time to fish for walleye! Water level was 651.7 feet msl (7.2 feet below normal) last Friday. Water temperature ranging 52-54 degrees. Water is stained.

(updated 12-14-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported that fish are jumping, but there has been no fisherman and therefore no catch reports in the past week. Water temperature was 40 degrees.
(updated 12-21-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) ssaid that during the past week, they have had a couple of rain events (combined for a trace in Cotter), bitterly cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 feet to rest at 7.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 43.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.8 feet to rest at seven and 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 23.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at 8.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had a mixed bag with levels of wadable water mixed with periods of moderate generation. The catch and release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch and release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. 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 some 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 hare and copper nymph (size 14) with a ruby midge (size 18) suspended below it). The best bet for large trout has been to bang the bank with large articulated streamers delivered with heavy twenty four to thirty foot sink tips (350 grains or heavier) on bigger water. You will need an 8- or 9-weight rod. This is heavy work but the rewards can be great. 
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.
Berry also added these thoughts for last-minute Christmas shoppers, “Since I manage Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, my first thought was to go through the shop and identify items that would be great Christmas presents. I recently wrote about the Nomad Net by Fish Pond. It is lightweight, nearly indestructible and has a rubber bag that doesn’t grab flies. I gave my wife, Lori, a boat net last year but it is time to give her a smaller one to carry with her, when she has wading guide trips. I know she will love it because I see the way she looks at mine, when we are wade fishing on the Norfork.
“I have a niece that is fairly new to fly fishing. I was thinking about giving her a fly rod. The perfect choice would be the Redington Path fly fishing outfit. This includes a 9-foot four-piece rod, the reel, backing, line and leader. There is even a case to put all of this stuff in. All of this is only $189. This is our bestselling rod and it comes with a lifetime guarantee. I have cast them and really like the way they cast. 
“My brother-in-law is an avid fly fisher but is not a fly tyer. As a result, I give him a box of my hand-tied flies every year. If there is someone on your list like that, it makes a great gift. If you don’t tie flies yourself, you can buy locally tied flies. This is very flexible because you can buy as many or as few flies, as you like.
If you know someone, who is thinking about learning to tie flies, a fly-tying kit would be the perfect choice. Wapsi, the largest wholesaler of fly-fishing materials in the world, is located locally. They make a fly-tying kit that includes all of the tools and materials to tie 10 different flies. There is even an instructional DVD to show you how to easily tie those flies and it only cost $79.95.
“My sister doesn’t fish much anymore but she does enjoy an occasional glass of wine. I was thinking about some nice big red wine glasses with trout etched on them. It sounds like a nice addition to the Christmas place settings to me. They are only $20 per stem.
“I also thought about stocking stuffers. The Montana Fly Company fishing flask is a great gift for $29.95. The Dr. Slick prismatic forceps have a gorgeous blue and pink mottled finish. They are not only pleasant to look at but easy to find if you happen to drop them in the water.
“There are plenty of fishing related items that can be found here in Mountain Home. Good shopping and Merry Christmas.”

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 551.57 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 12-21-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake surface temperature is still in the mid-50s but the cold weather should get the lake around the 50-degree mark. The shad and stripers will move to deeper water as the water gets colder. This time of year the best early place to fish is Float Creek and the Hand Cove area. Stay in those areas until the beginning of January, then start looking at the U.S. Highway 62 bridge area. This past week stripers were caught north of the Highway 101 bridge on the big flat, look for the sea gulls and you will find the stripers. The stripers are moving very fast, so be prepared to keep moving. Users of live bait are catching stripers using shad and shiners, and the artificial users are catching stripers and white bass on spoons. Find the shad and you will find the fish. Tom said he had guests Dan and Art scheduled for early October but both guys have serious back and shoulder problems, so they rescheduled their three-day striper trip for last week. Both guys could only fish about four hours a morning. They found stripers right away each morning and the bites were fast and furious the first hour. Both guys were new to this so they missed most of the fish, but Tom said they had a great time each day. Art caught the most fish because he stood the whole time; his back was preventing him from sitting so he was better prepared to hook the fish. They found fish each day; the guys using spoons were doing better than Tom’s group, he said, because the schools were moving so fast they could keep up with them by following the sea gulls. When you have seven lines out in the water it’s hard to just pick-up and move to the next fury of activity. Tom said they did catch stripers each day and overall had a great three-day experience. They have already booked for next year. With the cold weather the striper bite will continue to improve for the next month.
(updated 12-14-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said it has been a fun week fishing Norfork Lake. Lou says they have had several fishing guests at the resort this week and all were catching fish. The bite for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass is good. Vertical jigging with a spoon is a good method to catch these species this time of year. Big schools of fish are roaming large flats in 44-55 feet of water. Once you find the fish all you need to do is drop your spoon and jig it up and down bouncing it off of the bottom. If it is a school of feeding fish, it won't take long until your spoon has been taken, then you need to make sure you give your rod a good jerk to set the hook. Electronic fish finders are very helpful this time of year as you are looking out in the middle of the lake for these fish. Sometimes Mother Nature helps you out and you find a flock of seagulls diving into the water feeding on shad. More than likely there is a school of feeding fish under the feeding birds. This only happens during the late fall and winter months as the seagulls are a migratory bird. Live bait is also working using either gizzard or thread fin shad. If you don't want to go out and net your own shad, you can purchase brooder shiners. They will work very well in the coldwater months. If you are live-bait fishing, you need to set your baits 30-40 feet deep. Trolling is another method of striper fishing, but you need to get your baits down to the same depths as the live bait. Best places to look for stripers/hybrids and white bass are the big flats near the 101 bridge area, Big Sandy back in the 101 Marina area and back past Fouts Boat Dock. Lou says his bite really hasn't started until around 8 a.m. and it can last till noon or later, as it did earlier this week. Later in the day the fish start to move to mouths of creeks and coves as well as out to the river channel in 60-plus feet of water.
Lou adds that largemouth and spotted bass are also schooling. He has found large schools of fish in similar areas as the stripers, as well as partway back into creeks out in the middle. Look in 40-50 feet of water for these fish. When he can find a slight drop-off on a flat that is near or on an old creek channel he has typically found a lot of fish and they don't move off this area as fast. One morning, Lou says, he caught over a dozen largemouth in the 2½ - to 3½-pound range. Some bigger largemouth are starting to move in shallow to feed early and late in the day. This is a good time to break out your jerkbaits and give them a try. On windy days a spinnerbait is working great, but the old standby, a jig and pig, will always pick up some nice fish. Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and at this report sits at 552.44. The lake surface water temperature is also falling and is in the 54-55-degree range. The lake is still stained, but is a great fishing color.
(updated 12-7-2016) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service said Norfork Lake has finally turned over. It took longer than usual due to the warmer weather we had in November. Look for stripers suspended around 30 feet on flats. Find the bait fish and they will be close by. When you find them, sometimes your screen on your depth finder will be full from the top to the bottom of bait fish. Other times you can see them 10-30 feet thick. Drop a jigging spoon and if you don’t get bite within a few minutes, they aren’t feeding. Then move on and find another school. They have moved up to the banks at night so you can throw stick baits and remember the thing is to reel it in SLOW. You can pick up walleye doing the same thing. They can be close to main points with deep water close by or in coves. Look in the major creeks, too. Some bass are hitting spinnerbaits and crankbaits. The bite is better if there is some wind blowing. There are some holding deeper 10-30 feet and will hit a jig. If you mark a school, drop a jigging spoon. The water temperature is in the mid to upper 50s and the lake level is 552.8, just a little below normal for this time of year.
(updated 12-21-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 1.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 27.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation with much less wadable water. The lake has turned over and there is a sulfur smell on the upper river and with lower dissolved oxygen in that area, the bite has been slow there. Hopefully the colder weather will help this situation. 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. My favorite fly has been an orange egg. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with school back in session. 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 12-21-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is navigable. With cooler water, the smallmouths are 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 12-21-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the creek is navigable. With cooler water, the smallmouths are 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 1,111.79 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 1,120.00 msl).
(updated 12-21-2016) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said the surface temperature is 50 degrees. Crappie are good around brush piles using minnows. The bass bite has been good on crankbaits. There were no reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 12-21-2016) Bailey’s Beaver Lake Guide Service (479-366-8664) said water temperature is in the high 40s to low 50s and stripers are in the creek arms and on the feed! Some stripers 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 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 use 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 and Pencil Poppers need to be tied on and ready to use. These are the most recent hot spots on the lower and middle sections: Indian Creek, Lost Bridge North, Big Clifty, points 5 and 6, Rambo Creek Arm, Rocky Branch, Ford and Cedar creeks, Larue, Coppermine and Ventris. Shaddox Hollow is another really hot spot Check in 5-35 feet of water for Beaver Lake striper as they are making their way up the creek arms. Keep your eyes out for surfacing fish! In the upper section, check in 5-35 feet of water in these hot spots: Highway 12 bridge, Prairie Creek, Coose Hollow, Blackburn Creek, Beaver Shores, Mont Ne. Check in 5-15 feet of water for fish in these other hot spots on the upper end: Hickory Creek, War Eagle and the War Eagle-White River junction (point 12). Keep eyes out for surfacing fish in all those spots.

(updated 12-21-2016) Beaver Dam Store said 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 somewhat. It's uncertain when Norfork dumped trout last, but those trout that are being caught are nice ones. Water levels remain low and many areas are accessible for the individuals that want to wade fish. Bait fisherman can appreciate the abundance of river banks that are accessible. Midges, scuds, San Juans, peach-colored micro egg patterns, Hare's ears and nymphs are working well. Good lures continue to be 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,WD 40s, Trout Magnets and San Juan worms. 
(updated 12-21-2016) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) has been off the water and will resume fishing closer to the end of the year.

Lucky Key at Duck Camp Fishing Retreat has closed his bait shop the remainder of the year.

(updated 12-21-2016) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) reported water surface temperature was about 45 degrees and the water level normal. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Bass are good using worms and nightcrawlers. Catfishing is fair; try glowworms. Bream are fair on crickets and worms.

(updated 12-21-2016) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said the lake will be closed from Dec. 24 to Feb. 1.

Northeast Arkansas

(updated 12-14-2016) Ome Coleman at Lake Poinsett State Park said this weather is a bit confusing. Bait sales are almost at a standstill here at Lake Poinsett. It is too cold for crickets. Not a lot of fishing going on right now.

(updated 12-21-2016) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) said no one has been fishing because of the cold.

(updated 12-21-2016) Mark Crawford with Spring River Flies and Guides said water levels are running at 265 cfs and water clarity is clear. The river is getting lower. It is about 1 foot below average level. The trout have been hitting on Woollies and Y2Ks. If you like fishing with flies as strike indicators, a Y2K bug with a small nymph dropper below it works well. Strip the Woollies upstream for the best hits. No sink tip necessary with the low river. Hot pink and chartreuse Trout Magnets are working great for spin fishers.
(updated 12-21-2016) John Berry in Cotter said the 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 12-21-2016) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said it had no reports as it has been too cold for anyone to fish.

Southeast Arkansas

(updated 12-14-2016) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Team had no report.

(updated 12-21-2016) Jennifer Albertson at Cane Creek State Park said that after several days of cold winter winds, the lake has finally calmed down. The wind is supposed to stay calm for a few days, making this a great time to be out fishing on Cane Creek Lake! Like much of Arkansas, they have had some strange weather; the random waves of warm temperatures and winter temperatures are sure to bring a variety of fish to your bait. Jennifer says they are not busy right now, and they have some huge catfish in this lake, so come out and get your favorite spot all to yourself. Minnows and stink bait are available at the park bait shop. Winter hours for the bait shop are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., except weekend hours, which are 1-5 p.m. 

(updated 12-14-2016) Matthew C. Gillum, the ranger at Lake Chicot State Park (870-265-9705), had no report.

(updated 12-7-2016) Pine Haven Bait and Tackle (870-367-4303) said the lake as been all quiet based on no reports coming into the bait shop. Most are hunting or, if they are fishing, are going to Cane Creek.

Southwest Arkansas

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 259.59 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 259.32 msl).
(updated 12-21-2016) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday (Dec. 19) the lake level is about 5 inches above normal conservation pool and falling. There is reduced river current with the gates releasing around 878 cfs as of Monday. Water temperature dropped slightly over the past week, ranging 45-50 degrees. Navigation was cautioned for Little River due to many missing river buoys throughout the channel on main lake structure. Tailwater level as of Monday was 225.8 feet msl. Clarity and visibility is consistent over last couple weeks, and due to high winds and rain earlier this week it ranged 4-8 inches on main lake structure away from current. Cottonshed, Saline River, Okay Point, and northeast quadrant remain stained. Little River’s visibility ranges 5-10 inches. Bass are slow to fair on warm days, from 2-3 pounds on Rat-L-Traps, jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Bass continue migrating to their wintering spots and deeper creeks and Little River over the past few weeks, but roaming during the highest sun/warmest period of the day back to shallow flats and creeks. Most bass have slowed to fair feeding moods over the past few weeks; they continue their seasonal nomadic roaming over the following huge shad schools in and out of creek channels and up and down Little River. Points, creek channels away from river current, flats, and oxbows are good starting locations. Shad continue relating to creek channels over the past couple weeks, moving in and out of the main creek channel to the points and back again, depending on surface temperatures. Huge schools of shad are roaming in and out of creeks and points junction with Little River over the past several weeks, and the largemouths are following them on a daily basis. In daylight hours the bass are spending more time in the 12-15 foot depths of deeper creek channels and Little River drop-offs. Bass Assassin Shads in Panhandle Moon, Bad To The Bone, and Grey Ghost colors are still working by dead-sticking on light wire hook in remaining lily pad stems and vegetation. Sexy West or Ghost colored Echo 1.75 crankbaits are working. Real Deal Custom Tackle jigs continue working this week with the best colors being Habenero, Black/blue, and Texas Craw colors using black craw worm trailers. Berkley 10-inch Power Worms in black, black grape, and blue fleck continue working around vegetation and drop-offs in creek channels and mouths of creeks. 
Siefert said whites and hybrids continue roaming Little River, mouths of creek channels and the oxbows, and are hitting the Citrus, Chartreuse Shad- or Tennessee Shad-colored crankbaits, tail spinner Rat-L-Traps, Little Georges, Rocket Shads, jigging spoons and Rooster Tails in red/white or chartreuse/white. Crappie have improved due to reduction of current in Little River. Planted brush in 12-18 feet is beginning to draw in some good slabs out of any remaining, reduced current. Cordell Paddle Tail Smoke Grubs on light wire jig heads were catching some nice 2-2½-pound slabs over the past week in planted brush between 12-15 feet deep. As for catfish, blues and channel cats continue to bite well in Little River over the past couple weeks. Best bets are trotlines at 10-15 feet of depth along outer bends of Little River using cut bait and cheese dough bait.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 539.47 feet msl (Flood pool – 548.00 msl).
(updated 12-21-2016) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 FM radio a lot of crappie being caught these days. This colder weather has kind of moved the crappie into more if a schooling pattern, typical wintertime fishing. You talk to the old-timers, they enjoyed springtime fishing, but when they loaded t heir freezers they were catching them in January and February when the water was its coldest. That’s what we’re dealing with. This week of 30-and-below temperatures has really cooled our lakes, it’s made these crappie school up around brush piles, made them a lot more predictable, and guys are catching ‘em. They are slabs and the meat is just as firm as it can be. If you catch them now when the meat is firm on them, you can blacken them in a cast iron skillet like you can a walleye fillet. You can use live minnows in 10-12 feet of water. Some guys a Bubble core. If it’s not too windy you can tie a line, but if it’s windy most guys are using a bubble pole cork in 10-12 feet of water around these timberlines.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 398.66 feet msl (flood pool – 408.00 msl).
(updated 12-14-2016) Local angler George Graves said surface water temperature is in the low 50s and the lake is clear throughout. Overall fishing is good with the bulk of the fish in the upper end from Shouse Ford to Cox Creek. Lots of good reports of bass catches coming from Shouse Ford and Point Cedar. Look for fish on main lake and secondary points in big coves. Best pattern has been both lipped and lipless crankbaits fished across the points. Use natural shad in clear water and something with chartreuse in dingy water. Lots of Kentucky bass showing along the bluff banks. Try a Texas rigged 4-inch finesse worm in green pumpkin. Crappie fishing is good on the deep attractors at 20-25 feet. Drop a 2-inch tube or curly tail grub on a 1/16-ounce jighead in black/chartreuse to just above the cover, which will be about 15 feet. Note: If your sonar is adjusted properly, you should be able to see your lure. No need to jig the lure, just move around the brush very slowly. You probably won't feel the bite, so it is important to keep slowly raising the lure; if you feel weight, you have a fish. Also be sure to add a crappie nibble, your catch rate will improve dramatically. Hybrid fishing is fair in the Shouse Ford area. Best pattern is trolling the small 5-arm umbrella loaded with 4-inch white swimbaits. Also try medium-running crankbaits in natural shad. Make sure the lures are running just above the fish, which will be suspended about 15 feet down. The mouth of Beaton Creek and the big flat west of Goat Island are productive most all winter. Remember, in this cold water, troll slowly, at about 1.5 mph. Lots of big bream reported coming from the crappie attractors. For bream, fish the outside of the brush and near the bottom. Try redworms and crickets. Also, some are using crappie nibbles on a No. 8 hook.

South-Central Arkansas

No report.

(updated 11-30-2016) Sportsman’s One Stop in El Dorado (870-863-7248) said bass are biting well on crankbaits, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits. Crappie are biting in the river and old river bed. Bream are being caught in treetops.

(updated 11-30-2016) Sportsman’s One Stop (870-863-7248) said there were good reports on crappie the past week.

No report.

West-Central Arkansas

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 337.81 feet msl (full pool – 342.00 msl). 
(updated 12-7-2016) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) reported that the lake has not come up and there were no fishermen through early this week.
(updated 12-21-2016) Good Ole Boys Trading Post (479-272-4710) reported that water is way to low that no one can launch their boats from there. They have shut down for the time being.

(updated 12-21-2016) Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said nobody has been lucky of late; there were only a couple of people out recently and reported no catches.

(updated 12-7-2016) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479 647-9945) said water temperature is in the 40s warming to the 50s. River and creeks are dingy. The bass bite has picked up for the big ones. Use Rat-L-Traps, jigs and Bamboozie along the rocks and bluffs, and in the back of some pockets around the dying shad. Crappie fishing has been very good around bridges and brush in 8-10 foot of water. Use white jigs, Electric Chicken, pink minnows. Catfish have been good in the creek on live crawfish and perch. White bass have been good on spoons.

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 569.30 feet msl (full pool – 578.00 msl).
(updated 12-21-2016) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 for out of state) said black bass are good and being caught with pig-n-jigs fished near brush 12-25 feet deep. No reports on walleye. Stripers are fair on live bait or trolling jigs. The central area of the lake is the best area for these fish. No report on bream. Crappie have slowed by are still fair. Try using minnows or crappie jigs at depths of around 15-20 feet deep fished near brush. No report on crappie. Water temperature is ranging 40-44 degrees and the clarity is clear. Call the Mountain Harbor guides – Mike Wurm (501-622-7717), Chris Darby (870-867-7822) and Jerry Bean (501-282-6104) – for more information.         

(updated 12-21-2016) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 a lot of crappie being caught these days. This colder weather has kind of moved the crappie into more if a schooling pattern, typical wintertime fishing. You talk to the old-timers, they enjoyed springtime fishing, but when they loaded t heir freezers they were catching them in January and February when the water was its coldest. That’s what we’re dealing with. This week of 30-and-below temperatures has really cooled our lakes, it’s made these crappie school up around brush piles, made them a lot more predictable, and guys are catching ‘em. They are slabs and the meat is just as firm as it can be. If you catch them now when the meat is firm on them, you can blacken them in a cast iron skillet like you can a walleye fillet. You can use live minnows in 10-12 feet of water. Some guys a Bubble core. If it’s not too windy you can tie a line, but if it’s windy most guys are using a bubble pole cork in 10-12 feet of water around these timberlines.

(updated 12-21-2016) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that the winter drawdown for Lake Catherine is complete. A 5-foot draw will be in place until early March 2017. Water temperature is 47 degrees below the dam with clear conditions in the tailrace. Boaters need to use extreme caution when navigating the area since the low water conditions have exposed many underwater hazards. Rock and sand bar dangers are numerous and made more life-threatening by fast water conditions. Life jackets should always be worn by boaters and waders alike when on the water. Entergy is currently running a 3-hour per day generation schedule until further notice. Usually in the evening (but if cold temperatures occur, in the morning) the flow likely will be scheduled then. The rainbow trout season has begun with a small November stocking followed by a full 3,000 fish for December. Rainbows have been absent in the lake for months and this influx of fish always jump starts the fall fishing below Carpenter Dam. Bank fishermen can use wax or meal worms fished just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Redworms and nightcrawlers also well work when using this same technique. Live bait presentations give anglers the best opportunity to catch trout, as artificial lures are often ignored by finicky trout. Spin fishermen will have success casting Rooster Tails in 1/16- or 1/8-ounce weights over sandbars and exposed rock structure. Brown or white colors are best and most effective during periods of generation. Trout adapt quickly to feeding on available forage and will begin feeding heavily on the shad population. Small jigs in gray or white will draw strikes from hungry trout along with small silver spoons fished in the current. Fly fishermen can easily access areas that hold numbers of trout. Shoals are a target area with the head and tail regions normally holding the most fish. Micro-jigs in black or white cast with a strike indicator will catch trout holding in and around current flow searching for prey. San Juan worms in hot pink or red will also work well along with a small streamer in sliver. Baitfish provide a huge part of the diet of rainbow trout below Carpenter Dam, so matching the forage is critical to fishing success in Lake Catherine. These proven techniques will catch trout all season and should be adhered to by anglers serious about catching limits of trout. Stripers will move into the tailrace as the rainbow trout stockings become more regular. Alabama rigs, C-10 Redfins, and heavy jigs are deadly lures to use when attempting to catch these large predators. Heavy rods and lines are recommended. Topwater activity will increase with the presence of trout and fishermen need to watch and react quickly when feeding begins. 

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 383.56 feet msl (flood pool – 384.00).
No fishing reports were recorded.

East Arkansas

No report.

No report.

(updated 12-21-2016) Maddox Bay Landing (870-462-8317) reported that catfish are biting fair on yo-yo's.

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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