Fishing in the Pristine Ozark Mountains of Arkansas

Arkansas fishing attracts record numbers of anglers each year. Arkansas has a vast array of species to fish for and several locations in the Ozarks are known for its prize fishing. Not only does Arkansas offer a wonderful fishing vacation but many areas are considered by many to be the most beautiful wilderness anywhere.

Arkansas waters hold 20 sportfish species, 10 state records, 12 line-class world record fish, and 11 fisheries.

Bass fishing is one of the most popular sport fish in the state. The main fishing areas for bass are Bull Shoals and Lake Norfolk. Bass species are in the Sunfish or Centrarchid Family. They include: the black bass family; largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, Largemouth bass is the most abundant bass species in Arkansas waters, although some lakes and streams do sport smallmouth and spotted bass in larger abundance than largemouth.

Spawning of bass occurs in April and peaks when surface water reaches a temperature of 57 degrees. Distinguishing between largemouth and smallmouth species is relatively easy with smallmouth touting a bronze color and prominent vertical bars. Largemouth and spotted bass have such a close resemblance that it can he harder to determine the difference of the two. It’s best to study their spawning and habitat area to be sure.

White bass, stripers and hybrids are also among the bass species in Arkansas lakes and streams. Bull Shoals in fact holds the Arkansas record for largest white bass at 5 pounds 5 ounces. White bass are short-lived fish and rarely survive past five years of life.

Trout fishing in Arkansas began as an experiment in the 1940’s. The White River and North Fork Rivers have been argued to be the best trout fishing in the world. Both have produced world record fish to back these claims. These rivers also hold several line class records as well.

The Norfolk National Trout Hatchery just below the Norfolk dam release well over a million trout yearly into Arkansas waters, notably White River and North Fork Rivers. Bull Shoals is also another good area for trout fishing with 12 pound rainbows taken from it.

Among the trout species in Arkansas waters are: Rainbows, Browns, Brook and Cutthroats.

Rainbow trout are found in the White River between Calico Rock and Sylamore, the North Fork and Spring Rivers.
Brown trout are found in the White, North Fork and the Little Red River south of Mountain Home. The White and North Fork have produced many record fish and the second largest brown trout ever caught was taken from the North Fork. It weighed 38 pounds and 9 ounces and remained a world record for some time. Both the White and North Fork produce many 20-30 pound trout.

Brook trout are the newest addition to Arkansas waters and have been stocked since the mid 1980’s. They are stocked in the North Fork and Spring rivers and raised expressly in the Greers Ferry Hatchery. A state record brook trout of 3 pounds and 13 ounces was caught from North Fork in 1997.

Cutthroats can be found in the White River.

Other species of fish in Arkansas include: Crappie, Tiger Muskie, Channel and Blue Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Walleye, Bream, Ozark and Shadow Bass, Bluegill and Redear Sunfish. All of these species are available in Bull Shoals and Lake Norfolk but Ozark and Shadow bass are best fished for in streams like Piney Creek, Sylamore Creek, Rocky Bayou, Big Creek, Bear Creek, Crooked Creek and also the Buffalo River.

If you are planning a fishing trip in Arkansas be sure to visit the website of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission or the Ozark Mountains website.

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