By Lee Seale
Mr. GoodTime again! I know we were planning on meeting up with my good friend Mr. Mark, but I think it may be a better time to talk about this perfect weather we’re having. This is top-notch fishing weather, whether they’re biting or not!
At the shop this week we have been a little on the slow side, so not many fishing tips were shared.
Walleye seem to be biting on the river, and bream are still bitting pretty well, so this weekend plan a trip with a youngster and take them fishing. Teach them a little something about the outdoors, and I promise it will be a fishing trip to remember.
Next week we will try to follow up with Mr. Mark on the top three things to look for when trying to catch a monster catfish, so catch us then and maybe you can even learn a thing or two.
AGFC Fishing Report for Southwestern Arkansas
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 398.69 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 9-16-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 66 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Sept. 17, that extends through Thursday, Sept. 23. 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 10 feet below flood pool, weekly flows from area dams are now at a level where fishing and boating are safe, but being aware of the flow releases. Rainbow trout fishing below Carpenter Dam is over as the season was marred by flooding. Very small numbers of rainbows remain in the tailrace, 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. Summer water temperature mark the end of the trout season on Lake Catherine until the stocking program begins again in mid-November. Catfish continue to be 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 one-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, as these fish prefer colder water temperatures than other area game fish. The summer will be 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.
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 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 569.10 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 258.71 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
NOTICE: The Army Corps of Engineers at Millwood Lake began a 2-foot drawdown of Millwood Lake beginning Sept. 15, and it is expected to run through Oct. 1, dependent on rainfall and concrete repair. Use extreme caution while navigating the lake during the drawdown, as stumps and obstacles will be near or at surface pool. Boat lanes on open water may be dry ground or mere inches in depth with stumps and hazards in some places. Drawdown work includes boat ramp repair near Beards Bluff, shoreline abatement/erosion replacement, and other related maintenance. For more information, call the Army Corps of Engineers Tri-Lakes office at 870-898-3343.
(updated 9-16-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake was near normal, about 2 inches above normal conservation pool at 259.4 feet msl and falling; oxbows’ water clarity was stained. Little River clarity was stained with current discharge this week. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation near 231 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 1,550 CFS in Little River according to the USACE, but on Wednesday tha Corps jumped a that gate discharge to 8,500 cfs. 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. NAVIGATION CONDITIONS ARE CAUTIONED WITH 2 FEET ELEVATION DRAWDOWN. Use EXTREME CAUTION anytime high gate discharge conditions exist.
Surface temps remain stable this week, ranging in 82-88 degrees depending on location.
As for fishing specifics, Mike said:
* For the past several weeks, various largemouth and other black bass species have been randomly schooling at daybreak in the oxbows up Little River for a few hours in early mornings but it was slower this week. The best feeding periods have been early, from daylight to around 8-9am, slowing in the heat of the day. Random schooling was slower and more random 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.” Blowup reactions randomly continue early in the lily pads on plastic frogs in black, white or pumpkinseed/pearl belly 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 10 a.m. 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-inch curly tail grub trailer are getting reactions in the pads by rumbling over and pausing in gaps between lily pads. “Be advised, you need 30-pound-plus braided line to hoss the bigger bass out of the salad and pads,” Mike said.
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 and Millwood Magic colors, three-quarter-ounce 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps and Tandem Bass Assassin Rigs are also catching these random-surfacing schooling 3 to-4-pound fish. Ten-inch 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.
Kentucky bass were found inside the main creek channels, where the creek mouths dump into Little River, near Snake Creek, Jacks’ Isle, and White Cliffs Creek, just out of river current, over the past few weeks. They were 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 continues working for some 2- to 3-pound largemouth and white bass but have been slow this week.
Bass Assassin Shad Jerkbaits continue randomly working in the oxbows — in the same flats and stumps with lily pads as the topwater 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.
* Millwood had another Mayfly hatch over the past two weeks, and it has 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 red worms, crickets, and mayflies.
* White bass continued roaming Little River but have been random in locations. Two weeks ago, a couple of 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, three-quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps and Little Cleo’s were all randomly catching whites over the last couple weeks in McGuire.
* Crappie over the past week were slow and random in strikes, on a solid bite one day, and flip-a-switch-off the next day. The best bite seems to have shifted from jigs and Southern Pro Tubes to minnows in planted brushpiles in the oxbows up Little River and on the 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 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.