By Lee Seale
Hello my name is Lee Seale AKA Mr. GoodTime. I own the local bait shop at 1320 N. 10th St., Arkadelphia, and for the foreseeable future I will be bringing you the inside scoop on all the top secret fishing spots. Rather true or false, get out to your nearest body of water and make your own judgment.
This week we will be covering pond fishing. This late in the summer, the ponds are cooling off, but don’t let that slow you down. The bream are still biting around their beds on the typical baits — worms, crickets, etc.
Bass are still hot as well and are hanging out in cover. My preference is a senko or trick worm, depending on water color, or of course a good ol’ bass minnow.
Next week, I will be talking with my good friend and expert fisherman Mr. Mike to catch up on all the catfish in DeGray, so talk to y’all next week. Until then, no matter what you’re doing make sure you have a “GoodTime” doing it, and God bless.
AGFC Weekly Fishing Report for Southwestern Arkansas
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 399.14 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-9-2021) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina says, “It’s here! Summer slow down. It’s pretty short and sweet right now. Water level is down and still lowering. Water level is 399.14 feet msl. Water temperature has started to lower with these cooler nights to lower 80s. Yeah!! Little change in the pattern right now. Schooling fish are pretty well everywhere. Use topwaters for surfacing fish (Whopper Plopper, Spook, poppers), then crankbaits or A-rigs. Don’t forget, you can troll the A-rigs, also. Spoons are always a top producer and give you long casting distance because it is called “chasing schooling fish.” Go early and watch for boats or breakers.
“Crappie are next. Wow, are they sluggish yet. You can find them in about 22 feet of water in brushpiles. Lots are on the bottom around the piles. They are also schooled up in the timber at the same depth. They are slow to hit a jig but will take minnows somewhat. They are just sluggish. May want to think about night fishing. The last option is sniping them with LiveScope.
“Cooler nights means change coming. Good fishing.”
(updated 9-2-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips (501-844-5418) says, “We’ve been catching fair amounts of white bass trolling crankbaits. Watch for the schooling shad and surface activity of feeding fish. Be ready to cast spoons at the surface feeding schools.”
White Oak Lake Area
(updated 9-2-2021) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) says that crappie are good in the Ouachita River on minnows and jigs. Also in the river, anglers can find a good bite from the bass. Clarity is muddy and the water level is low.
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 9-9-2021) Slycked Back Fishing LLC in Hot Springs, producers of the finest and toughest fishing products hand-crafted in Hot Springs by fishermen, reports that Lake Catherine is in the initial onsets of fall transition. It happens to Catherine before other lakes simply because it’s a river and the water temps stay down in comparison to the chain of lakes that feed it. Surface temps are beginning to dip into the low 80s with the 70s just around the corner.
As these changes start to take place, bass will begin to feed heavily again on large bait presentations. Large worms Texas-rigged, jigs, deep-diving and mid-range crankbaits and even floating worms will begin to be deadly effective much like the springtime. Colorings should include Junebug and Watermelon almost exclusively except for the shad colorings of the crankbaits. Right now, we are still having good luck on topwater presentations in shaded areas and at night with largemouth. Spotted bass can be caught in large numbers on the drop-shot rig with a watermelon seed Trick Worm or drop-shot worm in deeper areas like points and the moving current that runs down submerged rock bluffs. Lake Catherine bass seem to be night owls in the summer, so keep this in mind when the frustration sets in during the day. Bream are excellent using worms and crickets on lake points with docks and sheer rock faces that drop 20-30 feet straight down. No crappie report. Walleye are still being caught well on live nightcrawlers in the breaks of the main channels, and they will improve as the fall sets in.
“Check us out and like us on Facebook (Slycked Back Fishing LLC) for more pointers and tips!”
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 9-9-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 64 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Heavy afternoon and evening generation flows this past week have cooled down the tailrace, and boaters and wade fishermen are urged to use caution when out on the water. Entergy has posted a special generation schedule starting Friday, Sept. 10 that extends through Thursday, Sept. 16. Anyone planning on navigating the Carpenter Dam tailrace is urged to view these flow releases and plan accordingly. This schedule is posted weekly on the Entergy website for public viewing normally on Wednesday evening.
Now that Lake Ouachita has been lowered over 8 feet below flood pool, weekly flows from area dams are at a level where fishing and boating are safe, but fast flows have been the norm.
Catfish have been caught below the bridge in the main channel and below the dam on cut bait and live minnows as these fish have completed the end of their spawning cycle. The majority of fish caught have been in the 4- to 8-pound range. Blue catfish are the dominant species in the tailrace area. White bass have been observed breaking in the early morning hours chasing threadfin shad. Huge schools of threadfin shad can be observed moving in and out of the tailrace. Casting spinnerbaits and jigs in eighth-ounce weights has been the best presentation to catch these fish the past several weeks. Hybrid bass school alongside white bass and are being caught on the same techniques. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current has been productive catching white bass and hybrids, as well as walleye in the 3-pound class. Walleye thrive in the tailrace in the summer months as these fish prefer colder water temperatures than other area game fish. The summer dominated by these fish species with migration in and out of the tailrace a weekly event. This pattern will be repeated almost every week until the summer heat is replaced by fall temperatures.
Rainbow trout fishing below Carpenter Dam is over as the season was marred by flooding. Very small numbers of rainbows remain in the tailrace currently, which is the norm for this time of year. The past three years have been adversely affected by high water as trout despise muddy conditions. The trout season on Lake Catherine won’t resume until the AGFC stocking program begins again in mid-November.
Always wear a life jacket when on the water and continue to follow park rules and regulations.
(updated 9-9-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress, all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports Lake Hamilton at full pool with lake surface temps in the mid-80s except for the river channel below Blakely Dam. It has been very tough on anglers over the last week due to the amount of pleasure boat traffic on the lake. “We were crazy enough to try and fish. It was impossible to fish any of the main channels but we were able to slip into some creek fingers and get some fish in the boat.
“Bass are really starting to get active now that the water temps are starting to come down. Topwater baits thrown in shaded or dense grassy areas have done well. Whopper Ploppers, and especially Spooks and frogs in white or silver color variations are getting hit aggressively in shallow water and under and beside structures (mainly docks) and the occasional downed tree. The old, reliable drop-shot rig tipped with a smack silver fluke or drop-shot worm in Watermelon Seed or Tequila Sunrise still is very effective for spotted bass on docks, pilings and points in 15-25 feet of water. Again, it is important to try and find shaded areas. Keep in mind, shade can be below the surface, also.
“Bream have been such too much fun this summer! A worm or cricket on a slip cork set to 15 feet and thrown just off docks in deeper water easily puts good pan-sized fish in the bucket quickly. Catfish have also been excellent on cut bait and cheese on creek channel drop-offs in 15-25 feet of water. Night is the time to go, but its not uncommon to catch a nice channel cat in the daylight. No crappie report
“Please continue to use caution on Lake Hamilton as there are plenty of pleasure boaters out. We fisherman will retake what is rightfully ours around the first weekend of October (smiley face). Good luck, and Go Greeson!”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 569.79 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 9-9-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) says black bass are good. Topwater bite is working and a drop-shot rig is working well for spots. Walleye are still fair and being caught on spoons and drop-shot nightcrawlers near brush on points. No report on stripers. Bream are good and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are 15-20 feet deep on brush. No report on crappie. Catfish are still good and being caught on rod-and-reel using nightcrawlers for bait near brush. Water temperature is ranging 84-88 degrees. Lake level is 569.79 feet msl. Clarity is clear. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 9-2-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips
(501-844-5418) says, “We’ve been catching ample numbers of catfish on the drop-off near deep water channels. Fish the bottom with worms, cutbait or shrimp.”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 259.41 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 9-9-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said Millwood Lake is near normal, currently about 2 inches above normal conservation pool. The lake on Tuesday was at 259.4 feet msl and falling; the oxbows’ water clarity stained. Little River clarity was stained with current discharge this week. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation is near 226 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 450 cfs in Little River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Navigation conditions now are normal on the lake with reduced discharge rates and flow conditions in Little River. Surface temps remain stable this week, ranging 82-88 degrees depending on location. Continue to use caution in navigation on Little River and Millwood, watching for random broken or floating timber in Little River. Lots of Little River buoy markers along the main lake channel MAY HAVE MOVED with recent gate changes at the Millwood Dam. Use caution in navigation on main lake river channels where river buoys may be out of channel from recent high winds.
Current along Little River decreased this week with discharge release at the dam, and river clarity ranging 3-5 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows is ranging 10-14 inches depending on location. Mud lines last week that were observed flowing into Horseshoe Oxbow are dissipating, and oxbows began clearing. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain conditions. Clarity and visibility can change dramatically on Millwood in just a few hours with high winds, gate discharge, rain or thunderstorms. Clarity at Saratoga and Okay area)has improved drastically.
As for the fishing specifics this week:
* For the past several weeks, various largemouth and other black bass have been randomly schooling at daybreak in the oxbows up Little River for a few hours in early mornings. The best feeding periods have been early, from daylight to around 8-9 a.m., slowing in the heat of the day. Random schooling slowed somewhat this week, with fewer schools seen surface breaking. When schools of shad are broken up by juvenile and adolescent sized Bass, the melee can be awesome for several minutes. When good schools break, we were getting decent reactions using the Bill Lewis Stuttersteps, Cordell Boy Howdy’s, Clear Baby Torpedoes, Heddon Dying Flutters, and Cordell Crazy Shads in chrome/black back. Blow up reactions randomly continue in the lily pads, early on plastic Frogs in black, white, or pumpkinseed/pearl belly, have been working near pads and grass. The schooling Bass are chasing large pods of Threadfin Shad to the surface and blowing them out of the water at daylight in the oxbows near vertical structure where the flats drop off into 8-15 feet of depth.
Reaction strikes are fair during the mornings until around 10am on Arbogast Jitterbugs & jointed-Jitterbugs in Cricket Frog, Coach dog, and Perch colors. Moss Bosses in White, and Rattling Zara Mouses in Gray, are working randomly in the Lily Pads. Johnson chrome Silver Minnow spoons with a white 3″ curly tail grub trailer are getting reactions in the pads by rumbling over and pausing in gaps between lily pads. Be advised, you need 30lb+ braided line to hoss the bigger Bass out of the salad and pads.
H&H tandem Spinners in chartreuse/white and bream colors, Little John custom Shad painted crankbaits, Bill Lewis square-bill SB-57 and MR-6 crankbaits in Chartreuse Shad, Tennessee Shad, Millwood Magic colors, 3/4oz 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps, and Tandem Bass Assassin Rigs are also catching these surface schooling 3lb to 4lb fish. 10″ bulky Worms in Blue Fleck, Black Grape, and Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly colors continue working for a few Bass up to 4 pounds when the surface commotion subsides.
Where the creek mouths dump into Little River, near Snake Creek, Jacks’ Isle, and White Cliffs Creek, the Kentucky Bass were found inside the main creek channels, just out of river current, over the past few weeks, and hitting hammered chrome Cordell Spoons with white/red bucktail, Custom painted Little John cranks, and Fat Free Shads, and behind points extending into Little River above Jack’s Isle. Vertical jigging of the spoons near standing timber and stumps continue working for some 2-3 lb Largemouth and White Bass.
Bass Assassin Shad jerkbaits continue randomly working in the oxbows, same flats and stumps with lily pads as the top water frogs, early in the morning. Best colors over the past couple weeks have been Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, Houdini, and Bluegill Flash in the 5-inch sizes seemed to draw best reactions.
If you can find drops and vertical structure where the alligatorweed and lily pads converge on receding flats or deeper drops on secondary points, from 5-6 feet deep tapering out to 8-9 feet deep, custom painted S-cranks and Little John cranks in Bream and shad patterns are still getting random reactions over the past few weeks. Bandit 200 cranks in Splatterback, LA Shad, Chartreuse Rootbeer and Citrus Shad colors have been randomly working for several weeks for largemouth and white bass.
* Millwood had another mayfly hatch over the past two weeks, and have the bream active again under willow trees. Bream were fair to good at Millwood State Park and Jack’s Isle over the past week on redworms, crickets and mayflies.
* White bass continued roaming Little River over the past few weeks, but have been random in locations. Last week, two anglers found large schools of whites in McGuire oxbow, schooling with the largemouths near vertical structure, and in creek channel dumps into the oxbow near back of McGuire in front of standing timber. Random schooling was taking place from daylight until around 9 a.m. with shad pods breaking as the whites were pushing them to the surface. Johnson Beetle Spins, Hammered Cordell chrome spoons with a red bucktail, Rocket Shads, 3/4oz Rat-L-Traps, and Little Cleo’s were all randomly catching whites, over last couple weeks in McGuire.
* Crappie over the past week were random in strikes — on a solid bite one day, and flip a switch off the next day. Best bite seems to have shifted from jigs and Mizmo tubes to minnows, in planted brush piles in the oxbows up Little River and on main lake from 8-12 feet of depth. Vertical-jigging seemed to work best for jigs a week or so ago, but minnows seemed to work best over the past week, randomly for crappie early, but were slow in the afternoon.
* Catfish improved on the main lake using King’s Punch Bait, minnows, Catfish Charlie and hot dogs. Blues and channel cats up to around 4 pounds were fair and slightly more active this week.