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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Alan Bland of Rogers shows a walleye caught last March from the White River near Goshen. The fish bit a chartreuse-colored crank bait.

Fishermen, start your engines, dust off those waders or grab a paddle. Some of the year's best fishing is close at hand, and who isn't ready for it after a long, cold winter.

Walleye are already on the move, migrating up the White and War Eagle rivers from Beaver Lake. White bass are marching right behind them.

Later, as water temperatures rise into the 60s, crappie will move into shallow water to spawn. They'll be eager to bite minnows or jigs.

It's time to do a thorough check to make sure you're stocked up on the right tackle for this late winter, early spring fishing time. Now's the time to put fresh line on those reels and make sure they're working right. It's wise to invest a little folding money in the lures, hooks and anything else needed for that fight with Mr. Big.

Let's take a look at some of the best lures and methods for catching walleye, white bass and crappie.

Walleye

These tasty, toothy fish start getting fishermen excited around the end of February. March is a prime month to fish for walleye in the White and War Eagle rivers above Beaver Lake. A water temperature of 48 to 50 degrees triggers the walleye spawn.

Another walleye hot spot is the upstream end of Table Rock Lake. The section between Holiday Island and Houseman Access is hallowed walleye water.

Trolling crank baits is a great way to catch walleye. Crank baits that run 10 feet deep are a good choice. A lure with some chartreuse in the color pattern is good. The more chartreuse, the better.

Deep-diving jerk baits get a walleye's attention. Cast a crank bait or jerk bait if trolling isn't your thing.

In the live bait category. A live nightcrawler fished on a nightcrawler rig can't be beat. The nightcrawler rig has a spinner out front for more enticement, in addition to the yummy nightcrawler. Buy nightcrawler rigs at any fishing store or make your own.

A crappie jig and live minnow combination is another way to go after walleye.

At Beaver Lake and its tributaries, the daily limit is four walleye, and they must be 18 inches or longer to keep.

OUTDOORS PODCAST: How to fish walleye in Beaver Lake

White bass

Hit the white bass run just right and fishermen can catch all the white bass they care to keep. There's no limit at Beaver Lake or its tributaries, and there's no length limit. Again, the White and War Eagle rivers are the hot spots. Romp Hole Access on the Kings River is worth the drive. It's where the Kings and Table Rock Lake meet.

Any lure that looks like a minnow has potential to catch a mess of white bass. A one-eighth ounce white crappie jig is effective. Small minnow-like crank baits work well. Fish any lure close to the bottom. Or, use the real thing and try live minnows.

For big time action, chase those white bass with a fly rod. A Clouser minnow is the go-to fly for white bass. We've had good success with a white Clouser that has some red or olive in the color scheme. A white woolly bugger is another option.

Mid-March through early May is prime white bass time when the water is from 54 to 68 degrees.

Crappie

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tells us black bass are the most popular game fish in the state. Talking to fishermen year after year, it seems like a tie between bass and crappie.

As the water warms into the 60s, crappie start moving shallow to spawn. Peak spawning temperature is around 68 to 72 degrees. April and May are prime months.

Small minnows are the best live bait. One-sixteenth-ounce jigs are the top lure. Hair jigs or soft-plastic tube jigs both work. Small soft-plastic swimming minnow lures will get bit. Black and chartreuse or red and chartreuse are popular colors at Beaver Lake.

Fish around any wood cover. Lay-down trees that have fallen into the water are like crappie condominiums. Any stick-up or brush is home, sweet home to schools of crappie.

A good depth is four to eight feet. That's shallow enough to fish the jig or minnow under a bobber if that strikes an angler's fancy.

At Beaver Lake, the daily limit is 15 crappie. They must be 10 inches or longer to keep. Crappie regulations vary around the state, so check the rules carefully.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com

Sports on 03/12/2019

Print Headline: March sparks spring fishing fever

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