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Spotlight on South Arkansas


Where are they biting in state’s bottom half?

By Jim Harris

AGFC Communication

— The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperatures are in the low to mid-60s. Water clarity is up to 1.5 feet in protected backwaters and only inches on the main channel and tributaries. Regional Park and Island Harbor boat ramps are open, St. Marie Park is closed. Island Harbor ramp is almost flooded, Regional Park can handle another foot or so of rise. The main channel is dangerous right now; most jetties and some navigational buoys are completely submerging from the current; please stay off the main channel for now. No report on fishing.

Lake Chicot — Brian Whitson, park interpreter at Lake Chicot State Park (870-2655480), said the word at Chicot is that catfish and crappie are both biting, although this rain has stalled things the last several days.

Millwood Lake — Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Monday the lake continues a slow fall. Millwood is about 12 inches above normal conservation pool, near 260.2 feet msl, and the discharge is around 17,000 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday remains around 247 feet msl with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels, especially during high flow river conditions. Wilton Landing on Little River U.S. Highway 71 and White Cliffs campground and boat ramp, along with Saratoga boat ramp have recently reopened by the Corps from recent flooding. Millwood State Park and the marina are also open for day use. Continue to use extreme caution in Little River navigation this week where logs and floaters may be present this week.

Surface temps Monday ranged 56-65 degrees. Clarity in the oxbows is improving.

Little River stain is consistent this week, muddy in locations near Cossatot inflow and Wilton, with increase of current, and with random broken timber and debris. Clarity is consistent in the back of the oxbows, slowly improving this week.

As for fishing details, with the lake back on a slow fall from the recent flooding, the largemouth bass are post-spawn in many locations, making a tough bite for a few days. A few males are still being seen near spawning flats, roaming in and out of flats near vertical structure. Brazalo Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, Zoom Trick Worms , Tricky Sticks, 6-8-inch lizards and twitch worms have been working over the past few weeks. Rat-L-Traps were getting fair responses over the past couple weeks from these active roaming bass. Any areas where a creek channel is close by to the deeper creek bends or vertical structure and drops into the oxbows, where stumps and creek mouths drop, have held some decentsize bass over the past several weeks. The largemouths continue to be much more reliable in the oxbows of McGuire and Horseshoe lakes where the water clarity was drastically better, water temps were warmer and calm or no river current was present.

Best Rat-L-Trap colors are Red Chrome, Toledo Gold, Ozark Craw and Red Rayburn Craw. Baby Brush Hogs and lizards continue taking some decent 15-18-inch bass roaming flats in the clearer water sections of the oxbows, away from river current. With the water temps continuing into the upper 50s and low to mid-60s the males are active and females continue staging, with a few seen on beds on top of flat cut or broken tree stumps. You can find a few decent 2-3-pound male bass roaming on warm afternoons where you find shallow 5-8 foot depth flats, if you re also near to a quick creek bend drop into 8-12 feet structure.

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are being observed. South Hickory Golf Course pockets continue warming up and seeing pre-spawn male bass run in and out near stumps and vegetation. Mike says they continue to see good reactions from 2-3-pound males over the past couple weeks by pitching lizards and Baby Brush Hogs, Pit Bosses and Beavers around cypress trees, flooded buckbrush, bushes and back of pockets. Millwood State Park pockets continue fishing well this week, and another 7-pound Largemouth was caught near the Millwood State Park.

Best reaction colors for chatterbaits and spinnerbaits have been chartreuse/ white, Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover and Arkansas River Shad. Best depth zones being targeted are cypress tree knees from 610 feet, with 12-15 feet of depth nearby.

White bass are wrapping up their annual spawning migration along Little River's headwaters, upriver. Random schools have been caught between McGuire and Cemetery Slough over the past week, migrating back downriver. Trolling medium to deep crankbaits and spoons along upper reaches of Little River will pick up an occasional white bass. Heavy thumping 1/2 and 1-ounce Rat-L-Traps in Millwood Magic, chrome or Splatterback colors, cranked very slow and deep behind primary or secondary points, caught some decent, 2-3-pound whites over the past two-three weeks from 9-16 feet deep. A chrome æounce Cordell Hammered Spoon with a red/white hair bucktail vertical-jigging behind primary points near the bottom where stumps were located on the backside of points were connecting with a few nice-size 2-3-pound whites over the past several weeks.

Swimming jigs with a heavy thumping tail swimbait trailer picked up a few whites in 10-14 feet swimming and dropping the bait. Deep-running Fat Free Shad cranks in Tennessee Shad or Citrus Shad, H& H Spinnerbaits, red/white Rooster Tails, Little Cleos, Little Georges, War Eagle Underspins and swimbaits all have been catching the white bass over the past two weeks. The white bass are still being caught in the same areas as last few weeks, but the bite has become more scattered.

Crappie continue moving and biting well this week. Increased surface temps have the crappie on the MillwoodcrappieApril8. jpg move shallow to spawn. Minnows and jigs have been working away from current and flow of Little River, in the clearer sections of the oxbows and golf course pockets, from 3-5 feet deep. The crappie responses continue to improve, and Mike says they picked up a few decent crappie caught near cypress trees in South Hickory hitting small jigs in chartreuse/white, chartreuse/blue and black. Small, 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits, like a Rocket Shad or Little Cleo and Blakemore Roadrunners in white/chartreuse, continue getting reactions from crappie near cypress knees as they move shallow to spawn.

Millwood State Park is seeing good activity in the pockets and coves near cypress trees and grass from 4-6 feet of depth. Best responses were on jigs and minnows over the past couple weeks.

Catfish continue biting consistently over the past few weeks with the increased current along Little River.

Channel cats and blues remain good on Punch Bait and cut shad over the past few weeks on trotlines from 9-12 feet of depth in current.

— Dale Garlin took his son, William, and dad, Troy, to the lower end of DeGray Lake recently for a guys’ getaway. 'We didn't catch a whole lot but we hads a lot of fun,' Dale reports.

John Duncan of Yo-Yo Guide Service at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Things have been happening. The water temperature in the shallows got up to midto- high 60s for a short bit and then it rained. Water level is at 407.78 feet msl and they were drawing water Tuesday. That is up about 0.75 feet.

That changes the variables. The rain has lowered the water temperature and, with higher water levels, that changes things. The crappie and bass were in the buckbrush before this rain. Crappie were anywhere from 18 inches to 42 inches deep from Arlie Moore all the way to Point Cedar.

Minnows were prevalent. White bass have been making a good showing.

Use swimbaits upriver or above Arlie Moore. Good whites reported. They were catching lots of good black bass prior to all the rain. No info on baits but I will say that the bass were in the shallows like pigs. Best advice is to check water temperature, color and depth. No report on bream or catfish.

It’s spring, we just gotta fish between rain and weather.

Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips says it’s that time of year where crappie are moments away from laying their first eggs. The warmer nights this week are the key to warming the water for spawning temps. For greater numbers than size, fish 4-8 feet deep on the staging brushpiles. Pitch minnows or jigs around the shallow buckbrush, but don’t expect to catch that wall-hanger everywhere. Casting jigs around shallow flats and points can produce, too.

White Oak Lake — Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said White Oak Upper and Lower are still high and the clarity is murky.

Bream are fair on worms and crickets.

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