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Bass Frenzy Continues at Millwood


Plenty of big catches being made at popular fishing spot this fall

Arkansas Wildlife Editor This Texas angler named Jake (right), a client of Millwood Lake Guide Service, shows off one of several largemouth bass he caught with guide Mike Siefert recently. Siefert says the conditions of justright water level and justright temperatures (helped by some recent cold fronts that kept the daytime water temps in the 60s) has both largemouth and white bass feeding in what he calls 'Millwood Mayhem,' chasing threadfin shad and randomly surfacing for on-top and subsurface strikes of various popular bass baits.

Mike also says that this window of fishing is perfect to take a kid to experience what it's like to hook into a fighting white bass (or quite a few of them).

Mike said Monday that the lake was near normal conservation pool and the water clarity was improving. Millwood Lake pool elevation was 259.3 feet msl and stable. Discharge was around 1,700 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The tailwater below the dam and gates as of Monday was around 226 feet msl and falling with discharge. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service s website linked above, or at the US Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels.

Surface temps were stable over the last week, ranging between 55-63 degrees.

Clarity was improving over the past few days in the oxbow lakes along Little River with the river current slowing, and the clarity in the oxbows ranged 15-30 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility along Little River was at 5-10 inches depending on location. Further up Little River has more heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain or thunderstorms.

As for fishing specifics:

• Largemouth bass: The stable water temperatures this week, and a couple of cold fronts coming through Millwood Lake this week that have kept daytime water temps in the low 60s most all day long, the Millwood Mayhem continues with the largemouth and white bass feeling frisky. Largemouth bass continue in a feeding mode, following threadfin shad schools with random schooling in the oxbows.

The highest activity period has shifted to later in the morning and midday over the past few weeks. Several simultaneous schools continue random surfacebreaking in McGuire Johnson Chrome Spoons are working when bass break in the pads. Bomber Fat Free Shad Crankbaits and custom painted Little John Crankbaits continue working for solid bass from 3-3.5 pounds, following shad and bait pods over 1520 feet of depth.

Adolescent largemouth bass continue random surface- breaking on schools of threadfin shad at multiple locations, near and in lily pads for short duration periods for several weeks in the best water clarity of the oxbows up Little River.

When the shad schools move to vertical structure, the largemouths will follow the shad schools and suspend over 15-18 feet of depth.

• White bass: White bass continue roaming the oxbow lakes up Little River and are following the same large schools of shad as the largemouths, occasionally surface-breaking on shad and willing to bite crankbaits, jigging spoons and Rat-L-Traps, Little John Crankbaits and Bomber Fat Free Shad Cranks over the mid-channel depths, and near tributary points with stumps and grass. Trolling McGuire Oxbow upriver with middepth Bomber Fat Free Shad and Little John Crankbaits in Tennessee Shad and Splatterback Shad over the past couple weeks connected with good schools of 2-to-3-pound white bass. Vertical-jigging a War Eagle Underspin with a short 2-to-3-inch white curly grub trailer was connecting with the whites once the schools were located by trolling, and watching the schools follow the shad on electronics. Fat Free Guppy Crankbaits in Citrus Shad were catching shallow feeding whites in 5-8 feet near vertical structure and standing timber in McGuire. Mike says, “It's a GREAT TIME TO TAKE A KID FISHING for these hard-charging, rod-

Continued on Page 9 FISHING REPORTS (cont.)

hammering big white Bass!”

• Crappie:

Continue improving along Little and Saline rivers on jigs in black/chartreuse or red/white and minnows from 12-15 feet of depth in planted brushpiles.z

• Catfish:

Have been good along Little River, with trotlines and yo-yos working along Little River in 912 feet depth using cut shad, buffalo, drum or King's Punch Bait.

Lake Atkins — Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake is clear and the surface temperature this week is 58 degrees. The water level is about 2 feet below normal.

Bream reports are good.

Crappie are biting well, also. Anglers are using minnows or black/gray jigs. No reports on bass or catfish.

Lake Catherine — For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit

Shane Goodner, owner of Catch ‘em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 51 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace.

Currently, both lakes Hamilton and Catherine have been drawn down 5 feet, and the drawdown will remain in place until March 1, 2021, when the refilling process is scheduled to begin. Numerous underwater hazards are now visible in the tailrace due to the low water conditions and boaters and wade fishermen alike should use caution when navigating the area. Rainbow trout fishing has now returned to Lake Catherine with the AGFC stocking 1,400 trout last week. Since the drawdown began, fishing has been difficult with heavy generation and open floodgates. Few reports of quality fishing have come in.

However, trout have been caught this week from the bridge to the dam. The trout are highly scattered, which is normal for the early part of the fall season. The majority of fish have been caught by fly-fishermen that are now able to access areas that hold fish.

Egg patterns in orange or yellow have accounted for several limits of quality rainbows presented under a strike indicator. Micro-jigs in black or white used in the same manner have also worked well. Boaters trolling shallow-running crankbaits that imitate shad or crayfish have taken numbers of trout during times of generation. The majority of trout are in the 11-to-12-inch class and are full-bodied. Bank fishermen are also catching trout on PowerBaits and nightcrawlers cut in half used under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater. Good numbers of white bass are inhabiting the tailrace and feeding on threadfin shad.

Topwater action has been observed in the early morning below the bridge.

Walleye still remain in the tailrace and can be caught on minnows tightlined in deep water. The closer to the dam you fish, the more likely you are to catch walleye in the fall. The deepest areas consistently hold walleye that live and feed in the tailrace. No striper activity has been reported this week, but these predator fish migrate in and out of the area frequently. Anyone navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace should always wear a life jacket and must observe all park rules. Mask wearing and social distancing should be observed by everyone visiting the Carpenter Dam area. The infusion of trout always shocks the system into action with more and diverse species of fish migrating into the area to live and feed.

Lake Dardanelle —

Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479647-9945) said water temperature is 57 degrees in most places. water clarity has improved a lot, the creeks are clear with some backwater still dingy. Bass fishing has been good on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and Bamboozie. The A-rig bite was just starting to heat up when the warm temperatures hit but that bite will be coming back.

Crappie has been fair, too, good in 8 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Stick to natural colors like monkey milk. Stripers are still holding around shell beds and hard bottom points on the main river, with some starting to move up into the creeks. White bass are in the creeks and the bays; inline spinners, small crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits have been working on stripers and white bass. Bream have been gathering on brushpiles 3-4 feet deep; crickets and worms will catch them.

Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said he s gotten no fishing reports at the park in the past week. Visibility in the water continues to be a little more than a foot.

Surface temperature is 58 degrees. Since last week, steady rains left the area giving way to clear sunshine and cool temperatures.

The Ozark tailwater has risen to near 339 feet msl since last report. Release at Dardanelle Lock and Dam peaked midday last Thursday near 150,000 cfs. Dardanelle began flowing only through the powerhouse on Sunday morning and has since held consistent flow at 18,000 cfs.

Dardanelle tailwater level crested near 21 feet and is now down near 6 feet. The pool elevation near the State Park has fallen slightly to just above 337 feet msl. For details or questions contact our visitor center at (479) 967-5516.

Be safe while on the river and take time to put a line in the water!

Lake Hamilton — Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports black bass are doing really well considering the lake levels and temps out right now. There are a couple of baits that are just getting it done right now. A white, chrome or silver Zara Spook is really doing the vast majority of the hitting right now. Bass will rise and break periodically and give their position away, but the Spook seems to call them up even when they aren t feeding aggressively. A walk-thedog pattern retrieve off docks, shallow gravelly areas and bridge and dock piers is the way to go. Be prepared as there will be the occasional biggin mixed in with the little ones. Technique No. 2 has to be a green Zoom Horny Toad skipped and dragged under docks and through grass. The fish are there but very hard to get a cast to.

Be patient. It ll happen.

Finally a jig is still working well. Black-and-blue with some subtle differences.

Slicked back Slammer Hammer is a great option!

Blue, black, olive all mixed together in a quarter-ounce finesse style with a Bandito Bug Trailer gets some strikes. Be prepared for the jig to just swim away with no thump. Crappie are still a bit sluggish and it's likely they are biting at night also, but early in the morning is best in 20 feet of water over brushpiles in up to 40 feet. Current is really key with these fish and they should consistently have current while the lake is dropped in the main channels. Live minnows and occasionally shad-colored jigs will get results.

Hybrids are a ton of fun right now just off the main channel in feeder creeks and ditches.

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