HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS AREA LAKES FISHING REPORTS
From The Arkansas Game & Fish Commision Web Site
Updated March 22, 2017
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As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 571.91 feet msl (full pool – 578.00 msl).
(updated 3-22-2017) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 for out of state) said black bass are still very good and being caught with jerkbaits fished 6-10 feet deep or watermelon-colored soft plastics on secondary points and pockets. Walleye are good and being caught on small crankbaits and green soft plastics on main lake and secondary points. Stripers are excellent on Bama rigs and topwater C-10 Redfins. The west end of the lake is the best area for these fish. Bream are fair in water 15-25 feet deep on crickets and worms. Crappie are very good. Try using minnows or crappie jigs at depths around 8-12 feet deep fished near brush.Catfish are picking up on live bait and cut bait. Try depths of 15-20 feet. Surface water temperature is ranging 58-65 degrees. The water is clear. For more information or to book a trip, call one of the Mountain Harbor guides: Mike Wurm (501-622-7717), Chris Darby (870-867-7822) or Jerry Bean (501-282-6104).
(updated 3-8-2017) David Draper of the Lake Ouachita Striped Bass Association said he had the opportunity to fish Lake Ouachita on Saturday and it was a good day. He and his party fished the east side of the lake and caught three striper and some large mouth. The water is still a little cloudy and has some floating sticks, and with more rain on the way, David doesn't see it getting better. The surface temp is 57 degrees and probably climbing. Brood minnows seemed to be the choice bait Saturday anywhere from 15 to 20 feet deep, didn't matter how deep of water they were in. Spring is coming and the lake is already seeing lots of boat traffic. Be safe out there and don't forget to adjust your clocks Saturday night.
(updated 3-22-2017) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports in Hot Springs said on US97 radio said a lot of people have been catching fish in jerkbaits in the guts of the pockets for the past two to three weeks. Had good reports on Tuesday, one in South Fork and another on the north side. They were finding the biggest rocky bank you could find, throwing the jerkbait and just going parallel to the bank, and catching a bunch of fish. You can also still catch them in the guts of pockets. The fish are in full strike mode. The temperature of the water on the surface is in the low 60s; it’s time to go float a worm and catch some fish.
(updated 3-15-2017) Capt. Darryl Morris at Family Fishing Trips said that when the spring-like weather, the bass and crappie will quickly move up to spawn. Shallow to mid-range water depth should be your strike zone.
(updated 3-22-2017) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 that the yellow pollen falling all over now doesn’t help things for anglers, but you can throw a floating worm in the backs of creeks on the pollen and it will sink through and you can see the swirl of water and still feel the bite. The problem isn’t the yellow pollen now; the problem is when the red oak noodles start dropping. They are clustering in the tree limbs now, and they will mess up a cast in the blink of an eye, Kastner said. The one trick, he said, is throwing a heavier worm, a heavier lure. And the one he suggests throwing is the Yum Dinger, which he also calls a “red oak noodle buster.” It’s a heavier floating worm and anglers can hide the hook. They can be rigged Texas style or wacky style and both styles work really well. They come in 3-, 4- and 5-inches, but the 5-incher is hard to beat. Rigged Texas style a 5-incher can be skipped up under the buckbrush. Hide the hook in the built-in slit or skin hook it. Kastner says he likes to wacky rig it and hook it in the middle and feel his line go “thump” during this messing time of the year on the water from the spring pollen.
(updated 3-8-2017) Phillip Kastner of Trader Bill's Outdoor Sports said on US97 that the big rain that passed through the state Monday night into Tuesday had mud coming out of every creek in Lake Hamilton. Most importantly, it was a warm rain, and that would stir the water and put some color in it. It can’t do anything but help. He said that after a rainfall like early this week, he’d have four rods tied with a ½-ounce Rat-L-Trap, a 3/4-ounce Rat-L- Trap, a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait and a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait. “I think I’d throw the spinnerbait and Rat-L-Trap until my arms about fell off today,” he said Tuesday. Another big rain is forecast for Saturday, and will be Tuesday-type fishing all over again, he said. Run-off fishing, he said, is up there with what a bass fisherman dreams about at night. It doesn’t get any more simple than going into the backs of the creeks where warm, fresh water is coming in and throwing a spinnerbait and catching a 5-pounder. He suggests that after the next big rain to go into any of the bigger tributaries, hopping in the backs of the cuts and on to the next and to the next, throwing a spinnerbait into that fresh run-off and catching a lot of fish. The trick also in these conditions is using a floating worm in those areas. “Spring has sprung in my mind about 2-3 weeks earlier than it did last year,” he said. “At spring break last year I was freezing to death, 35 mph winds, a little too cold to go out. This year looks different. We’re a week away from spring break and these lakes are three weeks ahead of last year.” Reports Tuesday were that it was almost too muddy on the south side of the lake and it better to move into the middle portion. “It’s just a matter of going. There are a lot of fish in these pockets right now.”
(updated 3-22-2017) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below Carpenter Dam is 53 degrees with clear conditions in the tailrace. The five foot winter drawdown has ended with Lake Catherine brought back to normal summertime pool as of Monday, March 13th. Rainbow trout are in the tailrace from the dam to the bridge with thousands of fish thriving in the nutrient-rich water. Thousands more trout are scheduled to be stocked this month, which will make fishing opportunities excellent for area anglers. Numerous cold fronts and open flood gates have slowed the bite considerably the last 10 days, but warmer weather and stable conditions will improve fishing. Fly-fishermen are handicapped somewhat with the lake at normal levels but still able to access areas that hold good numbers of trout and are recording limits by casting micro-jigs in black or white colors with a strike indicator. Current is key so targeting the head and rear sections of shoals has produced the best results. Olive-colored Woolly Buggers and black midges have also taken trout in the 15-inch class. Egg patterns in yellow or white will often draw strikes from finicky fish that refuse other offerings. Bank fisherman have done well on live-bait presentations such as wax and meal worms, redworms, crickets and small live minnows. Whether fished just off the bottom or under a bobber, these baits are proven trout killers in slack or moving water situations. Spin fishermen have accounted for the largest trout caught in the last several weeks by using Super Dupers and Rooster Tails in white or silver colors. These lures imitate a dying shad and often attract larger rainbows that feed on the bait fish drawn through the turbines from Lake Hamilton. Trolling shallow running crankbaits against the current below the bridge is highly effective during periods of current flow. Shad killed from the freezing temperatures provide large amounts of food for all the tailrace gamefish and should be imitated by anglers serious about catching numbers of rainbow trout. No reports of striper or white bass caught near the dam. This can change overnight as more and more trout are stocked in the area. Shad are plentiful which will attract numbers of bass in any weather or current flow. The walleye spawn is in full swing with both male and females present in the tailrace from the bridge to the shoal areas. The larger females have migrated into the area ready to spawn and protect the nests. These fish can be found by trolling shallow running crankbaits in the main channel during periods of generation. Carolina rigs tipped with live minnows or nightcrawlers will also work well in current or slackwater. The majority of fish will be in the 3- to 5-pound range. Crappie are present and being caught in the tailrace from the bridge to the dam. Live minnows and small jigs are key when targeting these finicky eaters. Rock structure and sand bars are prime locations to fish as these fish tend to spook easily at any noise from motorboats. Current flow keeps crappie near the bank out of the main flow. Trolling motors are highly recommended when approaching areas that hold spawning fish.