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Late spring means major bream activity on Arkansas waterways


Shining a spotlight on one of Arkansas’s favorite native fish

Arkansas Wildlife Editor Randy Zellers, the AGFC's assisant chief of the communications division, was around Lake Maumelle Sunday when he ran into Nick Harris of Little Rock, who was having a big time catching bream. In the photo Randy took below, Nick shows off two of the 20 or so he had caught in just the first hour of fishing.

This is indicative of reports all over the state, from Lake Charles in the northeast corner of the state, to Millwood Lake in the southwest: Bream are bedding, it's about to turn from May to June, and just about every longtime Arkansas angler knows that now's the time to have your bream poles ready because the action is going to get serious.

In fact, it's a wonderful time for an adult to take a child or two along for an experience they won't forget, getting that first of many bream on the end of a line. (see feature on Page 9). Different lakes offer different approaches for finding the bream. In Lake Maumelle's case, where the water will be closer to clear and deep in spots, you'll need to look for bedding and bream starting at about 6 feet; other lakes such as the usually stained Lake Conway offer bream beds and fighting bream trying to ward off predators around the beds in 2-3 feet depth.

Check out our Fishing Reports over the next few days for tips and locations for some fun fishing that will suit all ages. We start with today’s spotlight on West-Central Arkansas: Lake Atkins

Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake has cleared, while the water level is high. Crappie reports are fair. The crappie are said to be deep. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair.

They also are deep and are mostly biting buzzbaits and big worms in watermelon red or green pumpkin colors. No other reports.

Lake Catherine

For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit

Slycked Back Fishing LLC, manufacturer of the finest built and tied-byhand fishing jigs made in Hot springs, Arkansas, reports Lake Catherine’s

Continued on Page 9

Photo courtesy of AGFC FISHING REPORTS (cont.)

levels up and moving swiftly at times. Due to large water releases at Carpenter Dam the lake has some good currents and semi-stained water. Temps reach from 55 degrees to 72 as the flow moves toward Remmel Dam. Bass continue to be caught well and STILL are being caught off beds. Catherine has some strong, healthy fish in it and it shows every time one takes the hook!

Bed fish can be caught on the Watermelon Red Rowdy Ravager Jig and tailed with a Bandito Bug or Zoom Z Craw in watermelon. A floating worm is still a threat on Catherine due to the colder water temps. Bubblegum or white on a small circle hook and spinning tackles promotes the best action for fish. A drop-shot is the forever and always go-to on Catherine and likely will continue to grow in popularity when the smallmouth start to flourish. A drop-shot rig with a watermelon seed Trick Worm 2 feet up is the old reliable presentation and it simply gets BIT!

Walleye are a regular catch on Catherine for bass anglers. These fish, targeted by trolling a spoon with live nightcrawler as a tipper, will get some of the delicious fish in the boat while viewing the waterway. Check us out on Facebook at Slycked Back Fishing LLC.

Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’ em All Guide Service, reports that the water temperature below the dam is 57 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has scheduled another 7,000 cfs generation schedule beginning on Friday, May 27, and continuing through Thursday, June 2. This pattern will run 24/7 and is a very fast flow of water that can be dangerous to boaters and wade fishermen alike.

More than 9,000 cfs now is running below Carpenter Dam, which has made the tailrace off limits. Anyone attempting to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace is advised to use extreme caution. Lake Ouachita continues to remain into flood pool and all generation FISHING REPORTS (cont.)

efforts at area dams are devoted to lowering the big lake back to safe levels.

In the big picture, fishing below Carpenter Dam this year for rainbow trout has been a dismal failure.

Record low catches of trout from professional guides have dominated the season in an area known for excellent trout fishing. Last year was marred by constant flooding that ruined the majority of the season. This year has surpassed that in low catch rates with no concrete reason for the slow bite. The general public has also reported similar results with many anglers moving to other areas hoping for better outcomes.

The Game and Fish Commission has completed the spring trout stocking schedule and no more fish are to be stocked until late November. The crappie and walleye spawn were uneventful in catch numbers mostly due to area flooding that brought on very fast flows of water below the dam for weeks, preventing anglers from accessing areas that held fish. The only bright side of things were days when white bass were caught in good numbers as they fed on threadfin shad. April and May are stormy months in Arkansas and often bring flooding to our area. Until a safer generation schedule is implemented, fishing and boating below area dams will be dangerous. Recreation activities below hydroelectric dams are much different than the main bodies of lakes and rivers and have many dangerous side effects when bad weather is a weekly event. Being aware and taking proper precautions can make the difference between an enjoyable day and one that ends in injury or death.

Hopefully, the month of June will mark a more stable weather pattern and bring better fishing to Lake Catherine.

Remember to wear a mask and social distance in the park area and always wear a life jacket when on the water.

Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton’s water levels slightly above normal with large water releases from Carpenter Dam. Water clarity is good but stained.

Water temps in the mid- to high 70s throughout the lake. Bass have been finicky since the rains of last week. The bite is not aggressive when and if it happens. Subtle presentations are the way to go.

Baits that make lots of noise are simply being ignored for the most part.

Swimbaits like the 1/2-ounce Slycked Back Swim Jig in white or chartreuse have been getting strikes, but if it is a Chatterbait or spinnerbait it’s ignored.

Drop-shots also get some action but the bite has come by just dead-sticking the baits. Zoom seedless green drop-shot worms were the only consistent color to work.

We threw everything in the bag at them this weekend and those are the only two presentations that worked somewhat consistently.

Watermelon Jigs like the Slycked Back Rowdy Ravager in 3/4-ounce also had some bites, but all in all very frustrating. We are obviously in a transition phase and it will settle out, but for right now it's “junk fishing.”

Crappie have been fair in the early mornings on minnows in deeper depths of 15-25 feet on bridge pilings and brush in current.

Bream have been fantastic on deeper docks and rocky steep ledges. A live worm is the ticket! Catfish have been excellent on cut bait and cheese on current dropoffs.

The summer crowds are out in force! Water is for sharing. Anglers need to be prepared to be waked and crowded, but try to keep cool out there. There is room for everyone. Good luck and Go Greeson!

Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake clarity is muddy and the water level is high, rising about an inch an hour was of 10 a.m.

Wednesday morning.

Surface temperature is 75 degrees. Bream are good on redworms and crickets.

Crappie are good on minnows and jigs (last week’s

Continued on Page 14 FISHING REPORTS (cont.)

favorite color patterns were black/chartreuse and red/chartreuse are best colors). Black bass are good, with spinnerbaits and plastic worms continuing working best, and Chatterbaits also getting lots of action.

They suggested using the white War Eagle spinner with gold leaf skirt. Catfish are good. Cut shad, whole shad, minnows, hot dogs, using noodles, limblines, just about anything is working for cats.

Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are still good. Jighead worms and shad-colored swimbaits seem to be working best. Walleye are very good and are being caught on Shad Raps and Flicker Shad when trolling near/over points. Stripers are still good. These fish are being caught on jerkbaits and live bait in the central part of the lake near Bird Island and the Cedar Fouche mouth. Bream are still excellent and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are on beds 6-10 feet deep.

Crappie are very good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 10-20 feet of water. Catfish are still very good and are being caught on juglines and trotlines with live or cut bait. Water temperature is ranging 70-74 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level on Wednesday was 578.47 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.

Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said crappie are doing great. “We’ve caught them as shallow as 6 feet and as deep as 15 feet. Live bait works best, but jigs do their part, too. We’ve also seen large schools of white bass and small striper surfacefeeding on threadfin shad early at first light. Spoons and 3-inch swimbaits landed a single limit in short order.”

Angler Bennie Goodman fished Blue Mountain this week and said the water level is up 9-11 feet. In open water you can find the crappie 5-10 feet down, and the flooded willow trees are loaded like crappie Christmas trees with good-size crappie. Any color jig is working, but they did like the minnow around the flooded willow trees.

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