Fishing & Boating

Fishing Report

Arkabutla - 4/17/2019 4:27:01 PM

Water level 237.80, rising 0.2 ft/day, 27.8 ft over rule curve Wednesday. The water level is supposed to be at winter pool (210 ft) and begin rising to summer pool May 1. Emergency spillway level is 238.3. Expect rapid water level rises and drawdowns as rain events happen and the Corps tries to achieve and maintain winter pool until May 1. For water level information, call (662)562-6261 or check at for a table or for a graph or for both. Be sure to check the date on the table as it is not always updated daily.

The water level was 0.5 ft below the emergency spillway and will likely go over this week if we get predicted rains. Angler access is limited due to flooding.

Crappie start spawning when average daily water temperature is about 58 F, peak at about 65 - 68 F, and end at about 80 F. It is cooler at "fish depth" than at the surface. Timing and duration of the spawn depends on temperature and water level trends, weather, and, to a lesser extent, moon phase. Fish will spawn shallower in rising water, deeper in falling water. Bigger females usually spawn first. Males of any size can be caught throughout the spawn. Males will stay on the nest until eggs hatch and fry swim up (4 - 7 days) even if the water rises or falls (unless the nest gets too shallow). Males of both Black and White Crappie get darker on their throat and sides during the spawn when in clear water; males from muddy water will be paler. Females do not change color.

Crappie are very scattered in flooded vegetation and holding 1.5 - 3 ft deep; a decent day's catch is 5 - 8 keepers. Crappie are being caught mostly from small boats and kayaks in the backwaters; some are wading. Gum trees are more likely to hold fish, especially ones with vines. A very few anglers are trolling in similar depths with some success. Some White Bass are up the river and creeks where they can be taken on jigs or small crankbaits fished over sand bars. There are no Striped or Hybrid Striped Bass in Arkabutla, just White Bass and a few Yellow Bass. Neither has a size or daily number limit. Largemouth Bass will be in the clearest available water on any cover where weedless lures (spinnerbait, buzzbait) can catch or locate fish; keep a weedless soft plastic rigged to cast for missed strikes. Males should be starting to look for bedding areas. Gravel roads and 4-wheeler trails through flooded vegetation are bedding bass magnets because of the firm bottom. Best luck for catfish lately has been fishing natural baits on trotlines over newly re-flooded flats. Some folks have been filling coolers with catfish. This is also a good time to bowfish for rough fish (carp, gar, and buffalo).

The spillway had all gates closed (0 cfs) Wednesday. They may stay that way for awhile depending on rainfall and Mississippi River levels. For crappie, fish jigs and/or minnows out of the current (if any). Fish for catfish with natural bait near the bottom. For White Bass, drift a 2 jig rig just off bottom (watch the rocks!) or fish small crankbaits or tailspinner lures. For largemouths, fish any cover or right on the rocks in the spillway with crankbaits or a jig-n-pig.

All fish captured and kept with dip or landing nets, cast nets, boat mounted scoops, wire baskets, minnow seines, and minnow traps in the spillway areas bordered by rip rap must be immediately placed on ice or in a dry container. Game fish caught with these gears must be released. This regulation was enacted to reduce the potential of transferring harmful Asian carps to the reservoir or other waters.

The daily creel limit for crappie is 15 per person. Crappie must be over 12 inches long. Anglers may use no more than 4 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. There is a 40 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers. The 12 inch length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway has a 15 crappie creel limit.

Share this share this share this

Sign up, Keep Up

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters featuring all the latest news and happenings from MDWFP.