By Lee Seale
Hey Mr. GoodTimes again. Well, it sure has been some nice weather lately. I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Mark this week, and I guess we are not as good of friends as I thought — or he just doesn’t share secrets!
Here’s a little piece of the conversation we had:
GoodTimes: “You been catching any fish?’
Mr. Mark (quickly): “Yep!.”
The room goes silent.
GoodTimes: “Well, anything to speak of in terms of size or location?”
Mr. Mark: “Nope.”
At this point I was starting to think maybe I had said something to offend him, so I quickly tried to recover.
GoodTimes: “Come on, man, give me something I can work with. These people wanna know the best tips for catching fish, and you are the best fisherman I know.”
Mr. Mark: “No problem! What is it you’re wanting to know?”
GoodTimes: “Well, let’s start at the top. Where are you fishing?”
Mr. Mark, smiling: “At the lake, of course.”
GoodTimes: “Well, that pretty much gives us your exact GPS coordinates! OK, so where are you fishing at the lake? I know you’ve got a few good spots you can share.”
Mr. Mark: “Now that’s a good question. I have a lot of places on the lake where I catch fish. For instance, the dam is a great spot, or over close to Brushy Creek. But I guess I would have to say my favorite spot would be fishing in my boat.”
I can take a joke, so I continue with my questions.
GoodTimes: “OK, good answer, Mark. So what type of bait do you prefer?”
Mark smiles real big, and it dawns on me that I already knew his answer. But before I could stop him …
Mr. Mark: “Just plain old fishing bait!”
GoodTimes: “So what you’re telling me is you’re not telling me anything?”
Mr. Mark: “The biggest part of fishing is just spending time on the water, learning your surroundings and knowing what baits fit that location. And the biggest thing is to never — and I mean never! — give up any fishing secrets!”
AGFC Fishing Report
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 257.07 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 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 9-23-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday Millwood Lake was 25 inches below the normal conservation pool for a 2-foot drawdown through October. The lake Tuesday was at 257.1 feet msl and falling; oxbows’ water clarity was stained. Little River clarity is stained with current discharge this week. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation is near 225 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam of around 540 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 at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. Use EXTREME CAUTION during drawdown conditions, and anytime high gate discharge conditions exist.
Surface temps remain stable this week, ranging in 80-85 degrees depending on location. Current along Little River decreased this week with discharge release at the dam, and river clarity ranging 5-8 inches visibility depending on location. Clarity and visibility of oxbows is at 12-18 inches depending on location. 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 areas has improved drastically.
As for the fishing specifics:
* For the past several weeks, various largemouth and Kentucky bass (spotted bass) have been randomly schooling at daybreak in the oxbows up Little River for a few hours, but slowed again this week. The best feeding periods have been from daylight to around 8-9 a.m., then 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, anglers 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 on plastic frogs in black, white or pumpkinseed/pearl belly near lily 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 and 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-pounds-plus braided line to hoss the bigger bass out of the salad and pads,” Siefert 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, Millwood Magic colors, and three-quarter-ounce 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps are working near almost all creek mouths dumping into Little River for stacked up bass pulling back to the river over the past week or so during the drawdown. Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly 10-inch worms have been working for a few bass up to 4 pounds near stumps and pads on flats near vertical drops from 4 feet to 10 feet of structure.
Kentucky Bass were found inside the main creek channels, just out of river current, where the creek mouths dump into Little River near Snake Creek, Jacks’ Isle and White Cliffs Creek 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- to 3-pound largemouth and white bass but have been slow this week.
Brazalo Custom Lures Spinnerbaits in Millwood Mayhem Bream, Spot Remover and River Shad caught some decent 2-3 pound largemouths this week in McGuire and Cemetery Slough creek dumps into Little River. Bass Assassin Shad Jerkbaits continue randomly working in the oxbows — same flats and stumps with lily pads as the topwater frogs — early in the morning. Best colors over the past few weeks have been Salt & Pepper Silver Phantom, Houdini and Bluegill Flash in the 5-inch sizes.
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. Bandit 200 Cranks in Splatterback, LA Shad, Chartreuse Root Beer and Citrus Shad colors have been randomly working for several weeks for largemouth and white bass.
* Millwood had another Mayfly hatch over the past 3 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 red worms, crickets and mayflies.
* White bass continued roaming Little River over the past few weeks, but have been random in location. For the past few weeks, anglers found large schools of whites, along Little River between McGuire and Wilton Landing, and in creek channel dumps into the oxbow near back of McGuire in front of standing timber. Random schooling has been fair over the past few weeks 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 1-knocker Rat-L-Traps and Little Cleo’s were all randomly catching Whites over last couple weeks in McGuire, but slowed this week.
* Crappie were slow and random in strikes recently, 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 brush piles in the oxbows up Little River and on main lake from 8-12 feet of depth. Minnows seemed to work best over the past week or, randomly early, but slow in the afternoon.
No reports on catfish this week. Blues and channel cats up to around 4-6 pounds were good and more active last week than this week.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 535.66 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 398.33 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 slowdown. 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.”
White Oak Lake Area
(updated 9-9-2021) 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 9-23-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 65 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has posted the weekly generation schedule starting Friday, Sept. 24, that extends through Thursday, Sept. 30. 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 almost 10 feet below flood pool, weekly flows from area dams are now at a level where fishing and boating are safe, but remain aware of any flow releases.
Catfish continue to be caught below the bridge in the main channel and below the dam on cut bait and live minnows. 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 have been observed moving in and out of the tailrace. Casting spinnerbaits and jigs in eighth-ounce weights have been the best presentations 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 is 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, which appear to be on the way now.
The rainbow trout fishing seasonbelow Carpenter Dam was marred by spring and early summer flooding, and 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. Lake Catherine’s trout season 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.