Annual Prospects Report
The 51-mile reach in Carter and Ripley counties from Van Buren to the Arkansas state line offers some big water for smallmouth bass, walleye and suckers. Look for smallmouth bass in deep bluff holes or areas with large boulders or rootwads in the summer. In 2011 and 2013, a smallmouth bass tagging study was implemented in this section of the river and although anglers caught 56 percent of the tagged fish within one year the harvest rate was only 14 percent meaning most of these smallmouth were returned to the river. In the fall, fish for smallmouth bass around rootwads or fallen trees in moderately flowing water. Spring time anglers may find smallmouth bass in the faster water near rocky riffles. There is a good shadow bass (goggle-eye) population in this stretch of river. In 2017, a seven-inch minimum length limit regulation was put in place for goggle-eye on the entire Current River. Concentrate goggle-eye fishing around rootwads in slow moving water and along the edges of large mats of vegetation in the backwaters during the summer. In the spring and fall, look for goggle-eye among the larger rocks along the banks in bluff pools. Walleye are present in moderate numbers and can be found in the deepest parts of the river with the best population found in the Ripley County waters above and below Doniphan. The Missouri Department of Conservation has been working to boost walleye numbers and recently stocked 34,000 fingerling sized walleye in the Doniphan area in the spring of last year with another stocking planned for 2024. Walleye in the Current River must be 18 inches to harvest with a limit of four per day. Suckers make up most of the total pounds of fish in the lower Current River. Northern hog suckers and several species of redhorse suckers are the most common. Summertime fishing can be excellent for these tasty species. A weighted line holding a number 4 or 6 size hook tipped with a worm can be very effective. Gigging these fish at night from the front of a boat is very popular and enjoyable during season from September 15 through February 15 each year.