AG&FC weekly fishing report for West Central Arkansas

Lake Atkins

(updated 1-8-2020) Sharon at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) says fishing is very slow, with few anglers this past week. No reports.

Lake Catherine

For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit

(updated 1-8-2020) Steve Donahou at Lake Catherine State Park had no report.

Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)

For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit

(updated 1-8-2020) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports the water temperature 48 degrees below the dam with clear conditions in the tailrace. The 3-foot winter drawdown for both lakes Hamilton and Catherine is in effect until March 1. The rainbow trout bite is currently very good. These stocked fish can be caught from boat or bank. PowerBaits in white or yellow presented under a bobber or just off the bottom with a marshmallow floater are an excellent way to catch trout early in the season. Fly-fishermen can wade to areas that hold good numbers of fish and record limits of trout by casting Woolly Buggers, micro-jigs and egg patterns. Trolling shallow-running crankbaits against the current that imitate shad or crawfish will work well in times of slack water or flow. January trout stocking will be 9,300 fish and will greatly enhance trout numbers, giving anglers better opportunities for success. White bassnumbers are good close to the dam although the size is smaller than normal. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and jig presentations will all draw strikes from these temperate bass from the dam to the bridge as they feed on shad that are moving in and out of the tailrace. Hybrid bass also run alongside these fish and will feed on the same prey items. Stripers have been observed feeding below the bridge in the late evening. Balloon rigs with gizzard shad give anglers a good chance to hook a big striper, but artificial lures such as Super Spooks and Alabama rigs should not be overlooked. Strong rods and lines are recommended for these predator fish, which possess great power and are often in the 20- to 40-pound range. Blue catfish in the 4- to 6-pound range have been caught next to the dam on live minnows and stink baits. Anyone navigating Lake Catherine should always wear a life jacket and be aware of the generation schedules. All park rules and regulations must be followed in the Carpenter Dam tailrace.

Lake Dardanelle

(updated 1-8-2020) Jason Baumgartner, park aquarist at Lake Dardanelle State Park (479-890-7495), said they had mostly clear skies and mild temperatures this past week. A system brought overcast skies and light rain this past Thursday and Friday. The forecast leading into the weekend is more complex. Currently, a low-pressure system is expected to bring rain, heavy at times, and gusty winds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Potentially severe storms are possible overnight on Friday. The system will exit the area throughout the day Saturday with a potential for winter precipitation. As usual, this forecast is very likely to change as we approach the weekend.
Visibility is limited to only a few feet. Surface temperature is 44 degrees. As of Tuesday (Jan. 7) the Ozark Lock & Dam 12 tailwater has held consistent at a little over 341 feet msl. Ozark tailwater release has gradually risen since last week from about 26,000 cfs to 43,000 cfs. There has been no power generation at Ozark. Downriver, pool elevation near Lake Dardanelle State Park has not fluctuated and has been holding near 338 feet msl. The Dardanelle tailwater has held around 8 feet; only fluctuating about 1 foot. Tailwater release has risen from about 33,000 cfs last week up to 50,000 cfs on Saturday. It is currently slowed to about 40,000 cfs. The powerhouse has been generating all day.
Dredging operations at river mile 222 near Cabin Creek are complete. However, the Corps of Engineers continues to issue navigation instructions for areas in pool 10. Near the river bend at Shoal Bay, between river miles 221.7 and 222.5, run the red line of the currently buoyed temporary channel. Around the river bend at Cane Creek, between river miles 232.5 and 233.5, run the red line. At O’Kane, between river miles 248.0 and 250.0, run the green line. Visit for more information.
Anglers, Please use caution when on the water. Many channel markers have drifted and there are many submerged hazards as a result of flooding. The Lake Dardanelle State Park tournament season will begin soon. We are hosting a crappie tournament scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 11. There are no new reports from anglers. For tournament scheduling and updates, please contact the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center at (479) 967-5516.

(updated 1-8-2020) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.

Lake Hamilton

(updated 1-8-2020) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred all-welded aluminum Xpress fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels still at 3-4 feet below normal pool and temperatures ranging from 49-51 degrees throughout the lake with clarity over 10 feet. “We have had some gorgeous weather this winter and it really shows in the amount of fish being caught! Smaller lakes around Hamilton have been on fire, and Hamilton is doing well to for the most part, but we haven’t got it all the way figured out yet. Spotted bass are very aggressive to the drop-shot in green pumpkin and watermelon seed and Damiki rig in white pearl and smoke colors. Target these fish on massive current breaks like bridge piers and submerged brush and boulders that come out the main channels.
The largemouth have been very elusive over the last week. They are shallow on chunk rock flats on the sunny days or they are deep in excess of 25 feet on brushpiles. Take your pick and let us know! Target the flats and rip rap with craw-colored flat-sided crankbaits and suspending jerkbaits and the deeper fish with finesse worms and finesse jigs in green pumpkin.
Lots of folks are catching crappie right now in 12-15 foot of water near the main channels on submerged timber and brushpiles. Remember to adjust to the lake drop and compensate. Target the crappie with live minnows set on slip corks or by vertical-jigging vertical structure in deep water (25-plus feet).
“For you folks looking for the hybrid fish this time of year, it’s really easy: the Highway 7 bridges and Electric Island near Carpenter Dam. Troll at 40 feet plus with something that looks like a shad and have fun! Wear those life jackets at all times folks! That water is still deadly even though the weather is gorgeous. Good luck and Go Greeson!”

Lake Nimrod

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 342.44 feet msl (normal pool: 342.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-8-2020) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) says the water is clear and at a normal level. Surface temperature is 52 degrees. Crappie are excellent. They’re being caught in 6-12 feet depth on minnows and jigs. Best bet is fishing the river channels. Bream are good on worms or crickets. Black bass are poor to fair. Best bait has been spinners. Catfishing is excellent. They’re biting in 5-6 feet on shad.

Lake Ouachita

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 575.21 feet msl (normal pool: 578.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-8-2020) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are fair to good. Alabama rigs in major creeks or fishing a Pig-n-Jig near brush have been productive. No report on walleye. Stripers are fair. They’re being caught on live bait or big hair jigs. No reports on bream. Crappie are fair to good. Try a small jig near brush in 25-40 feet of water. No reports on catfish. The water temperature is ranging 48-52 degrees and the clarity is stained. Lake level earlier this week was 575.20 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822 for more information.

(updated 1-8-2020) Jason Lenderman of JL Guide Service (870-490-0804) had no new reports.

Blue Mountain Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 384.69 feet msl (normal pool: 384.00 feet msl).

No report.

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