Trophy stripers being landed at Beaver Lake
Regional reports from Northwest, Northeast Arkansas show fish are biting this winter
Arkansas Wildlife Editor Carlin Stewart of Fayetteville (above) and Travis Cantrell from Harrison took advantage of a good striper bite taking place on Beaver Lake in recent days. Both anglers were guided by Jon Conklin of FishOn Guide Service and a regular contributor to the AGFC's Weekly Fishing Report, along with guide Chris Kellar of One On Guides.
Conklin said he's been teaming up and mentoring Kellar of late as they take anglers out on some exciting excursions, whether for striper or other targets on Beaver Lake.
Conklin says Beaver has had an influx of fresh water with a fair amount of mud and debris of late, and he urges boaters to be on the lookout for big floaters.
Striper fishing has been fair to good from Horseshoe Bend up to the islands at Prairie Creek, he said, and most of the catches are trophy size like those pictured here. Crappie have been fair, catfish have been good and walleye are staging, so it's time to hit the flats and points near Point 12, he said.
With the inclement weather of late, fishing is hit and miss around the state.
Some favorite spots, like Millwood Lake and the tailwater of Carpenter Dam, have water issues that may make things hazardous for a few days. Lake Ouachita is on the rise as well. But some spots like Lake Conway and Lake Charles have plenty of crappie biting and are at lower-than-normal levels despite recent rain. Check out the reports by clicking the button below.
Northwest Arkansas Fishing Reports
• Beaver Lake — As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,120.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,120.43 feet msl).
Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said “Well, it's a new year and I am hoping for a great 2021. The lake had some influx of fresh water with a fair amount of mud and debris. The mud goes from Neils Bluff on the White to Piney Creek and from Piney Creek up to Camp War Eagle on the War Eagle arm. Lots of big floaters, so be careful.
Stripers are fair to good from Horseshoe Bend up to the islands at Prairie Creek. On that note the fish we are catching are real trophy size right now. We have put numerous 20-plus fish in the boat this week. Crappie are fair in and around brush in 15-25 feet of water. Jigs and minnows are working.
Look from Hickory Creek down to Horseshoe Bend as that is where the water is not muddy. Catfish have been good on shad in 45 feet of water. Walleye are staging; time to hit the flats and points near Point 12.
Water is at 45 degrees, give or take where you are located. Check out Jon’s Facebook page at FishOn Guides Goshen Arkansas for updated reports as conditions change quickly this time of the year.
Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said stripers are good on topwater baits early in the day and late in the evening, as well as on brood minnows.
Anglers report they are catching good-size fish. No reports on bream. The crappie bite is good; use minnows or jigs and work the brush piles for best results.
Black bass are fair; anglers are having best luck using spoons, Alabama rigs and jerkbaits. No reports on catfish. The lake clarity is muddy and the surface water temperature is ranging 46-48 degrees. Water level is normal.
• Beaver Tailwater — Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) says, “Well, I hope you all had a happy holidays. As for fishing, the trout bite has been decent in the tailwater.
Most have been caught with Pautzke bait products, fished with light terminal tackle. However, spoons and small jerkbaits have produced nice numbers, too. Most of the fish have been caught between Spider Creek and Parker
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Photo courtesy of Jon Conklin FISHING REPORTS (cont.)
Bottoms. When the Army Corps of Engineers has water flowing, drift-fishing is the way to go. I would also work the spoons a little
“Here in a few weeks the walleye should start making their yearly run up the river. I will have better locations once I start looking for them. Follow my fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for further updates between reports.
Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and message me. Hope yall stay warm!
Get out there and catch some fish!”
— Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) is closed until classes resume at the University of Arkansas.
— Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) had no report.
• Lake Charles — A sustained drawdown at Lake Charles began Nov. 15.
Water from Lake Charles is released annually via a diversion ditch to flood greentree reservoirs at Shirey Bay Rainey Brake Wildlife Management Area for waterfowl hunting.
Since the amount of water needed at Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA is dependent on rainfall, heavy fall rain events the last few years have prevented a substantial drawdown at Lake Charles. This year, fisheries biologists are working with the Wildlife Management Division to maintain a low lake level through January 2021. Once Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA is flooded, biologists will allow excess water to pass through the WMA to the Black River without any adverse effects. The goal is to maintain Lake Charles at least 8 feet below normal pool, although the lake level could drop beyond this if more water is needed at the WMA.
Drawdowns help congregate baitfish and sportfish, which can increase growth of sportfish. Drawdowns also provide adjacent landowners an opportunity to repair fishing piers and boathouses, or complete other AGFC approved land-use projects. AGFC reminds adjacent landowners that a permit is required for activities occurring on AGFC property, including building new structures and stabilizing shorelines. For a copy of the AGFC Land Use Policy or a permit for a new fishing pier or boathouse, or for any other questions, please call biologists Allison Asher or Brett Timmons at 877-972-5438.
Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said that over the past weekend they had a lot of boats on the water.
Crappie have been biting, with small to medium sized fish being caught.
Minnows and jigs will work, with the favored color of jigs being watermelon/ chartreuse. No other fishing was reported. The lake is murky as usual and remains low, as it was drawn down to supply water for the neighboring WMA for waterfowl season. Surface water temperature Sunday was 46 degrees. Good fishing days based on the moon cycle should be coming next week, she said.
Lake Poinsett — The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed on Dec. 1, allowing the lake to begin refilling with rainwater.
The lake, at Lake Poinsett State Park, has been undergoing a three-year renovation with a new water control structure, more than 10,000 linear feet of shoreline work, more than 100 habitat structures placed on the lakebed, and nearly 100 trees anchored for fish habitat with more anchoring in the plans as the lake begins to refill.
When the lake has enough water for stocking, channel catfish will be stocked to give anglers target fish to seek, while prey fish such as shiners and shad will be stocked. After the prey fish have established a base over the next year or so, predator fish such as largemouth bass and crappie will then be stocked.
• Crown Lake — No new reports. Boxhound Marina remains closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
• Spring River — Mark Crawford with Spring River Flies & Guides (870-955-8300) said water levels are at 340 cfs (350 cfs is average), and water clarity has been clear. Rain last week has got river levels up to average flow. Water was lowered this week above Dam 1 to clean out vegetation on Tuesday.
This is done once a year during the dead of winter.
The river had a surge Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. and got cloudy, but cleared up through the day on Wednesday.
The bite lately has been tough. Few easy days and some really tough ones.
Nymphs in sizes 10-16 have been hot dropped below a Y2K or fished Euro-style. On the good days, White Lightning (big white streamer) has been hot, and there are still big fish moving around. Over the next few months brown trout and smallmouth bass should start hitting well.
The smallies move up the river looking for warmer water. The Spring is 58 degrees year-round. Cold during winter makes the upper part of the Spring River warmer.
For smallies this time of year a White Lightning floated below an indicator is the ticket. The bass are moving slow, so a slow presentation is the ticket.
Soft plastics for spin-fishing. It takes many years for a smallmouth bass to get big so please catch and release these great fighters.
Brown trout get active and start hitting streamers.
Casting downstream toward the far bank and short fast strips back is the ticket. Aggressive smallies will hit this, too.
Mark adds, “Check out our blog on our website for the latest fishing conditions!”
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is offcolor. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. 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).
• White River — The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 9.34 feet, well below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. At Newport, the river is at 15.23, almost 11 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is more than a foot above flood stage of 26.0 feet.
Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) had no new reports.