If your timing is good or if you are lucky, this time of the year can bring some exciting fishing.
Spawning for most species is still to come, but many fish are running upstream to check things out.
Walleye fishermen put a lot of emphasis on water temperature, and other species are involved too.
Find a lake large or small then go to the upper end, to the feeder streams.
This may take some map study and some exploring, It may also depend on rain or lack of rain to put fresh water into the creeks or to allow access.
One incident some years back was exciting just to hear about. A friend and his buddy followed up on some rumors at Lake Greeson in southwest Arkansas. The word was that striped bass made spawning runs into feeder streams in late winter and early spring.
The fish don’t successfully spawn, but they make the attempts.
The two rigged up rods with lures then began wading the shallows of the Little Missouri River above the lake.
For quite a ways they saw nothing, then they glimpsed a good-sized fin sticking out of the water. Striped bass.
Their lures were large stick baits. They tossed the lures upstream of the striper, let them float back and wham, the fish hit. This was a fairly large striper, somewhere in the 25- to 30-pound range. It was a battle, unusual for the fishermen because they were level with the fish, not above it in a boat.
Over the afternoon, they hooked into a half dozen or so big stripers and landed three. The friend said the hardest part was carrying the fish a long ways back downstream to their vehicle.
White bass, cousins of striped bass, provide interesting action above Lake Maumelle this time of the year. Word gets out that "the whites are above the bridge," and anglers rush to the area. "Bridge" means the Arkansas Highway 10 bridge in western Pulaski County.
The feeders into Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas are good for this type action also. Beaver has stripers and white bass as does Maumelle, but the whites are the major drawing card for upstream action.
Some fisherman wade, some float in canoes. When they find the white bass, good catches
One late winter, this writer poked around a creek feeding into the Arkansas River. Fallen trees had blocked boat access, but a careful drive in a pickup got me to a spot I had never visited. The creek had narrowed to just a few feet wide.
Warm day, and the thought was maybe some bream were hanging out in the area. The lure was a small white crappie jig. First cast, bingo. The rod bowed sharply.
Bream? Not at all. A white bass of about two pounds grabbed that jig. It was the only fish caught. Cast after cast produced nothing after that first fish.
If you don’t have an upstream spot in mind, do a little investigation with a map and see if you can find a place or two where you might get in on some spawning runs.
We’ve got a world of white bass in Arkansas, and they are generally under-utilized by fishermen.