AGFC shines spotlight on North Arkansas fishing
Bull Shoals anglers having luck as weather warms
AGFC Communications This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s weekly fishing report for May 18, 2020. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email [email protected] with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river.
Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter listed for the lake or stream you plan to fish for up-to-the-minute news.
• White River — Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said water releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the tailwater have been moderate over the past week.
While not providing for substantial wade fishing, the current is less swift and some banks and a few gravel bars are more accessible for angling from the shore. Those golden rainbows (stocked from Norfork access to Bull Shoals Lake State Park two weeks ago) are making their appearance pretty clear and are snapping up the Red Wigglers by the dozen. They have some size and heft to them, too, so you'll know you've got a bite when they hit. Bank anglers have also found a lot of success in these waters jigging bronze-colored spoons with a light rainbow pattern — these active rainbows were even chomping on white crappie jigs. Rapala Count Downs are making a real splash both from the shore and casting from a drifting jon boat. Keep to the brownand tan-colored baits for now (brown trout No. 5, gold/black No. 5 or No. 7); save the silver flashy stick baits for later in the month when the water is sure to be deeper and swifter.
No surprise here: The browns have been nibbling on sculpins, and will continue to remain near the bottom and center of the stream during these spring rain events we're still experiencing. The weathermen promise warmer temperatures beginning Thursday, so pack some sunscreen when you're headed to the river.
They add, “Remember: Keep your baits and line free from exposure to that sunscreen since fish do not like it; sunscreen can sabotage your fishing day.
Social distancing rules still apply for anglers, but as you've heard from me before: Those rules don't apply to you and your catch!”
Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said anglers caught some rainbows last weekend. The water there is still down, but not a lot of people are fishing for them to really tell how the fishing is.
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that it has for a couple of months that he has been unable to have out-of-state anglers. Leading up to last weekend, John says that during the previous week, they had several rain events (combined for about 1.5 inches), cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories).
The lake level at Bull Shoals rose more than 3 feet to rest at 19.1 tenth feet above seasonal power pool of 661.14 feet msl.
This is 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool.
Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.4 feet to rest at 0.6 foot above seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.4 foot below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 14.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.9 feet msl and 9.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Beaver and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well.
The hot has been the catchand- release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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
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Photo courtesy of AGFC FISHING REPORTS (cont.)
(size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a deep water worm with a weighted egg suspended below it).
John also said, “Last Saturday (May 2) was a chance for my wife, Lori, and I to go fishing. We have been stuck at home like everyone else. We have been spending most of our time working in the yard. We put in a garden, extended our side patio and put in some new plantings.
It is looking good but we were ready for something that was a bit more fun.”
“I checked the generation schedule and noted that they were scheduled to run about 6,500 cfs, or the equivalent of two full generators. This is a perfect level for easy fishing from the boat. I also checked the weather report and saw that we would have a cool start with a gentle warming. The winds were to be light and variable and there was to be plenty of sun. It all looked good to me. I discussed the conditions with Lori and she was all in.”
“As is my habit, I left the house about 7:30 a.m. and launched my boat. I put a couple of fly rods in the boat that were still rigged from my last trip. I had a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge and an AB split shot. I adjusted the strike indicator, so that it was 7 feet from the strike indicator to the bottom fly. I caught a nice trout on the third cast.”
Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is murky. Surface water temperature is 60 degrees (as of Tuesday afternoon) and the lake is 24 feet above normal conservation pool.
Crappie reports are fair.
Crappie are shallow and spawning, he said, and subsequently hard to find right now. Black bass are all at different stages of the spring — some are postspawn, he said, others are spawning and some are pre-spawn. Your best bet is to fish them with Senkos, floating worms and 2.8 swimbaits. No reports on bream or catfish, Del says.
Walleye are good. “People are starting to catch walleye pretty well,” he offers.
Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on catching the fish in Bull Shoals Lake.
— Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good over the last several weeks and should remain the same if not better for the foreseeable future. “It is really hard to say what the best bite is at this time because all species seem to be biting very good most days,” he said. “As is normal for this time of year the best bite is typically at sunrise and then again at sunset. This is not to say there will not be a good bite during the middle part of the day. I guess you just need to spend the whole day on the lake fishing.”
The crappie bite continues to be good and there are still several different fishing methods to catch them, he said. “I have been trolling the Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9.
Colors vary by day, but I have had success with the following; slick pearl silver, racy shad, slick firetiger and slick alewife.
The crappie that I have been finding are back in coves and the fish are on brush or near the brush suspended 15-25 feet down.
The brush can be in 20-40 feet of water, as long as the top of the brush comes up to 15-20 feet of water. I troll at about 1.2 mph. You can also vertical-jig for them with a small 1/8- to 3/4-ounce spoon or a small curly or twister tail grub.
Also try tipping the grub with a small minnow to get more bites, most times. The third method is to cast out the grub past the brush, let it sink, then retrieve it slowly over the brush. The hardest part about casting is getting the bait at the right depth and keeping it there.”
The bite for largemouth bass has also been very good. A 5- to 6-inch swimbait with a 1/2-ounce jighead has been working well for Lou when the fish are out a little deeper chasing shad. If you find them close to shore, downsize the swimbait to a 3.5-inch and use only a 1/8- to 1/2ounce jighead. Flukes and suspending jerkbaits are also working well for the shallow fish. At sunrise and sunset, keep your eyes open and look for topwater action. They can be close to shore or out in deeper water, but typically close to a point with sunken brush.
Spinnerbaits are also working, especially if there is some wind. Fish the point that the wind is blowing into.
Striped and hybrid bass fishing has also been good, but has been inconsistent — no different than our ever-changing weather. The weather really makes fishing for striped bass interesting. You first need to find the bait and the stripers will typically be nearby. There has been some good topwater action for striped/hybrid bass early in the morning that has lasted until the sun rises above the tree line. If it is cloudy the action can last longer. You can also find topwater action at sunset, but this bite typically does not last long, as they go down as it gets darker out. “I have been finding fish out in 90 feet of water on a main lake bluff. There are good points at each end of each of the bluffs, which have lots of sunken brush.
The fish seem to move back and forth along the bluff feeding on shad. Zara Spooks and my larger swimbait has been working great. You will also find striped bass in shallow water next to sunken brush, as long as the brush is holding bait. Striped bass seem to be all over the lake. They have been caught back in the major creeks, as well as on main lake points at both ends of the lake.”
The surface water temperature is falling slightly and is in the low to mid-60s.
The lake is fairly stable, but is rising slightly with the rain they have been having over the last couple of days. The current lake level is 570.20 feet msl.
The lake is clear with some slight stained water in different areas. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “I was wrong last week when I said this past week would see lots of fish activity on Norfork Lake. The warm weather promised never materialized. Instead we had rain almost every day with some heavy downpours.
Photo courtesy of AGFC