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Arkansas Anglers - Hooked on Bass Fishing

October 29, 1999
By Craig Ogilvie, travel writer
Department of Parks and Tourism

Largemouth bass fishing is tops with Arkansas anglers, according to a survey conducted by the state Arkansas Game and Fish Commission several months ago. The report should not be surprising because the species is found in lakes and streams throughout the Natural State, possesses legendary fighting ability, and is ready for action virtually anytime of the year.
The largemouth and its cousins, the Kentucky (spotted) and smallmouth basses, each have their own devout followers…and it seems that every bass fisherman has a favorite area to chase lunkers. Almost all of the state’s lakes and rivers serve up a choice of bass. The size of the water apparently makes little difference. The state-record largemouth was hooked on tiny Mallard Lake in 1976 and weighed-in at 16 pounds, four ounces.
The Arkansas River is the largest and most famous largemouth stream in the state. The BASS Masters Classic and many other championships have been staged along its border-to-border course. In 1984, an all-time record was set during the Classic at Pine Bluff when a pro contestant brought in three daily limits of seven bass each that totaled 75 pounds, nine ounces. The record still stands.
Other great largemouth fisheries include Lake Ouachita (with a wide variety of habitat on 49,000 acres of water), Lake Millwood (with timber and other visible cover), Greers Ferry Lake (where a 1988 catch almost set a new state record), Lakes Conway, Bull Shoals, Norfork, Beaver, Felsenthal, DeGray, Dardanelle and Greeson (all prime territory for lunkers). Other hot spots are Chicot and Horseshoe Lakes (old Mississippi oxbows with plenty of cover) and Lakes Dunn and Austell at Village Creek State Park (over 100 bass weighing eight or more pounds landed since 1987).
Smallmouth bass inhabit most of the coldwater lakes of Arkansas, but most anglers prefer the action on cool-flowing streams. Feisty and powerful, smallmouths favor the Spring, Eleven Point, Current, Buffalo, Little Red, Crooked Creek, War Eagle, Big Piney, Mulberry and other Ozarks streams. In the Ouachitas, they are found in the Little Missouri, Caddo, upper Ouachita, Saline and Cossatot Rivers and below Lake Ouachita.
White bass were overlooked in Arkansas until the big U. S. Corps of Engineers lakes were constructed during and after World War II. Found in most large lakes and rivers, the white is available throughout the year and is especially popular during spawning runs in springtime and schooling season in mid- to late summer.
Although not native to the state, the striped bass has taken the heavyweight title among the species. Introduced into Arkansas in 1956, the ocean/freshwater bass quickly adapted to the state’s big lakes and started growing. State-records for the species have climbed steadily since the sixties. On March 12, 1999, Holt Holyfield of Rogers, Arkansas, landed a new state-record striper that tipped the scales at 57 pounds while fishing on Beaver Lake. In addition to Beaver, striped bass are established on Ouachita, Norfork, Maumelle, Hamilton, Greeson, Millwood, and Catherine Lakes, plus the Arkansas and Red Rivers.
During the 1960s, hybrid bass were developed from stripers and white bass species and a new fishing craze was started. On April 24, 1997, Jerald C. Shaum of Shirley, AR, landed a world-record 27-pound, five-ounce hybrid on Greers Ferry Lake. Hybrids are found in lakes across the state, with Greers Ferry and DeGray ranked among the most popular hot spots.
The sports fishing season never closes in Arkansas and fishing licenses/regulations are easily obtained at sporting goods stores, marinas or directly from the state Game and Fish Commission. For more information about bass fishing in the Natural State, contact the Commission at (501) 223-6300 or visit their Internet site at www.agfc.state.ar.us. To learn more about Arkansas and to plan your trip, visit the Department of Parks and Tourism website at

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