Here's what you need to know to take advantage of some great trout fishing in Arkansas.
There's a lot for an outdoorsman or woman to love about Arkansas. As the 25th state of the union, Arkansas is known to be one of the duck hunting Meccas for sportsmen in the United States. In fact, Arkansas is the only state that grants both alligator and elk hunting licenses! And did you know that it's the only U.S. state that produces diamonds?
Since Arkansas shares its northern border with Missouri, and is a part of the famous and beautiful Ozarks, there is something there for outdoorsmen and women of all ages to enjoy and trout fishing is only the start. As it is, big walleye and hybrid stripers haunt these great waters, but this state is where the tales of brown trout the size of your gun locker are common.
In fact, between Missouri and Arkansas the legend of the 40-pound brown trout is just the beginning. The current world record brown is a fish taken in New Zealand, but Arkansas has held the record in the past and some believe it is only a matter of time until she breaks it again. And just for the record, Arkansas state fishing records include a brown trout, cutthroat trout, lake trout, and a whopping rainbow tout that tipped the scales at just over 19 pounds.
Trout Fishing Locations In Arkansas
Located on the Missouri border in north Arkansas near Mammoth Springs, the Spring River offers good fly fishing opportunities to those seeking a more relaxed and pristine trout fishing trip. While the best trout waters only last for around 10 miles, the fishing is both walk in and by canoe or small boat.
The White River has more than 100 miles of fishable trout water, but it should be noted that this water system is a very large river compared to the others. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas says, "The site was adopted into the state park system in 1955 after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the lake by constructing Bull Shoals Dam on the White River." It is now one of the nation's premier trout fishing destinations.
As per the volume of water that can travel this river, fishermen need to be cautious in their fishing exploits as the dam has eight generators that can release water into the White. There are a multitude of access points to fish safely and guided trips by boat are one of the best there is.
The Norfolk Dam that created Norfolk Lake makes this river as its tailwater, with Norfork Lake being its source. All four species of trout can be caught here and back in 1988 it held the record brown trout at a whopping 39 pounds.
Quarry Park just below the dam has walk-in access as well as River Ridge. The downside to this river is that it has just over five miles of trout fishing water.
Little Red River
The famed Little Red River is where it all began, so to speak, way back in 1992 when angler "Rip" Collins hauled out a monster brown trout that tipped the scales at just over 40 pounds, making it the world record for the next seven years.
The Little Red River has over 35 miles of amazing trout water ranging from luxurious deep pools to classic trout riffles that we all dream about. Rainbows, browns, and cutthroats all reside in the river, and it is even said that the occasional brookie can be caught here. There are boat access sites, but this is an amazing wade and fly fishing destination for anglers of all ages.
Arkansas Trout Season
The larger rivers in the state are tailwater rivers, meaning that the water that drives these waterways are controlled by dams and the Army Corp of Engineers. The best bet is to rely on local guide services and fishing shops who only want the best for any fishing enthusiasts, no matter where they come from. Talking to these services is the best way to determine fishing conditions and most importantly water safety.
The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission will be the first to say that trout are not native to the state, but much like neighboring states such as Missouri, stocking efforts have not only created a thriving trout population, but many of the fish—mainly the brown trout—now reproduce in the wild.
According to the AGFC an annual fishing license will cost a resident $10.50 and for a nonresident $50. In addition to a standard fishing license, anglers seeking to pursue trout in the state will need a trout permit at a cost of $10 for resident and $20 for non-residents. As far as licensing costs go, that's not too bad.
The statewide daily limit for trout is five fish per angler, but as with many states, each area can come with its own specific regulations so anglers must know the rules for each. There are no closed fishing seasons, but some sections of waters where trout exist are closed during their spawning seasons.
The Beauty of Arkansas Trout Fishing
Arkansas is an excellent trout fishing destination, especially for out-of-state anglers. Fly fishing with streamers, nymphs, dry flies, and soft hackle imitations all can be very successful depending on time of year and the water conditions. The beauty of this is that younger fishermen can use ultra-lite outfits with ease to swing artificials into waters that can be waded safely with an adult.
Rainbow trout are stocked regularly making them a favorite among locals, but it is the possibility of latching into a behemoth brown trout that many get excited for. Trophy trout aside, just connecting with many arm bruising trout for a day can make this area a great adventure.
Ultralight spinning outfits spooled with 6-pound mono can be used to throw tiny jigs, spoons, spinners and even micro crankbaits for finicky fish. One interesting way to use a jig is to float it just under a small bobber to let it drift by likely trout holding areas.
For big brown trout that hold up in hard to get swift waters, anglers like to employ drift fishing rigs with larger bell sinkers to hold baits such as shad, nightcrawlers, and redworms better in the current. Veteran anglers won't stand still waiting for a strike, but will often cast crankbaits and stickbaits into the heavier flow to see if they can entice those larger fish into a ferocious strike.
Arkansas has one of the best trout fisheries in the nation for wading fishermen and boat fishermen alike. Public access is quite good and depending on water levels, the fishing can be safe for even young anglers. If you've been looking for a dream destination spot for trout without breaking the bank, Arkansas is a state to consider.
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