13 Best Trout Fishing in Arkansas: Top Spots and Expert Tips

Best Trout Fishing in Arkansas

Arkansas is home to abundant beautiful rivers and lakes, making it an exceptional destination for anglers of all skill levels. Many consider it a trout fishing paradise, boasting some of the finest fishing opportunities in the United States. From the crystal-clear waters of the Ozark Mountains to the serene banks of the Ouachita River, trout fishing in Arkansas offers a diverse range of experiences for every angler.

We take pride in exploring our state’s best fishing spots and techniques and staying up-to-date with the latest conditions and regulations. Arkansas’ trout fishing scene is exciting because of the diverse environment and beautiful landscapes. It also allows to reel in various trout species, such as rainbow, brown, brook, and cutthroat.

In this article, we will guide you through some of the top locations for trout fishing in Arkansas, covering their unique features and qualities. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to dip your toes into trout fishing, our insights will help you make the most of your next angling adventure in the Natural State.

Arkansas: The Top Spot for Trout Fishing

Arkansas, known as the Natural State, offers some of the best trout fishing in the United States, making it a must-visit destination for many anglers. With its premier-class rivers, lakes, and streams, Arkansas has several popular and productive spots where experienced and novice fishermen can enjoy the thrill of catching trout.

The White River is arguably the most famous of these destinations. Its highly productive water provides an ideal habitat for trout, including large rainbow and brown trout populations. A boat is recommended for accessing the best fishing spots within the White River, but the banks also offer fantastic opportunities to catch trout.

Another exceptional spot is the Norfork River, well-known for its record-breaking brown trout. Though only covering around 5 miles of trout water, the river is still home to some of the best trout fishing in Arkansas. In 1988, a 39-pound brown trout was caught in the river, setting a world record.

The Spring River is a fantastic location for anglers of all skill levels, thanks to the state’s regular stocking of rainbow and brown trout. With a healthy population of both species, the Spring River is an excellent choice for those looking to reel in a trout in a picturesque and easily accessible setting.

In addition to these renowned trout fishing spots, Arkansas boasts several tailwater trout fishing locations, such as the Lake Ouachita Tailwaters and Beaver Lake Tailwaters. These locations are perfect for anglers seeking a wide range of fishing experiences, from wading and fly fishing to float trips and bait fishing.

Overall, the Natural State offers anglers various opportunities to experience premier-class trout fishing in its beautiful rivers, lakes, and streams. With regular stocking, diverse ecosystems, and challenging yet rewarding fishing spots, Arkansas continues to live up to its reputation as an unmatched fishing destination.

Specific Locations for Trout Fishing in Arkansas

White River

The White River is one of Arkansas’s most famous trout fishing spots, with various access points along its banks. Some favorite fishing locations include Bull Shoals Dam and Bull Shoals-White River State Park. We suggest using a boat to maximize your success, as the river is quite large.

Little Red River

Emerging from the icy depths of Greers Ferry Lake, the Little Red River offers an incredible tailwater trout stream extending for approximately 35 river miles below the Greers Ferry Dam. The water’s cold temperature creates a welcoming habitat for rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. River Ridge Access is an excellent spot for fishing on Little Red River.

Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake is a prime location for tailwater trout fishing, mainly in areas where water is released from the dam. The Bull Shoals-White River State Park also offers a superb place for accessing this fishery.

Norfork River

Another great trout fishing spot in Arkansas is the Norfork River, which runs beneath Norfork Lake, creating a fantastic tailwater fishery. Various access points along the river allow anglers to experience this remarkable fishery.

Spring River

Spring River is well-known for its year-round cool water and abundant trout population. The river is easily accessible for shore fishing and a superb location for fly-fishing enthusiasts.

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake, another famous tailwater fishery, offers excellent trout fishing opportunities in the areas downstream of the dam. The cold, clear water released from the lake makes it an ideal habitat for various trout species.

Lake Ouachita

Tailwaters of Lake Ouachita provide a fantastic opportunity for trout fishing. The cold water released from the dam creates an excellent environment for trout, ensuring a thrilling fishing experience.

Caddo River

The Caddo River is a great spot for occasional trout fishing, as they sometimes migrate into the river. It might not be as popular as other trout fisheries in Arkansas, but it’s worth checking out when looking for variety.

Lake Dardanelle

Another location to try out trout fishing in Arkansas is Lake Dardanelle. Though not as prominent as other trout hotspots, this lake offers anglers a delightful change of scenery and unique fishing challenges.

Diamond Lakes

Diamond Lakes, a group of five lakes, including Lake Greeson (Narrows), offer excellent trout fishing opportunities. The cold tailwaters, beautiful surroundings, and diverse fishing options make these areas ideal for anglers seeking new adventures.

DeGray Lake

DeGray Lake, situated near the Caddo River, provides additional opportunities for trout fishing. Though often overshadowed by more famous trout fisheries, DeGray Lake is a hidden gem worth exploring.

MacArthur Park Pond

For a more accessible and beginner-friendly fishing spot, MacArthur Park Pond in Little Rock offers easy trout fishing. It’s perfect for a quick and satisfying fishing experience.

Dry Run Creek

Lastly, Dry Run Creek in Norfork offers a unique trout fishing experience dedicated to kids only. This area allows young anglers to enjoy a fun and educational adventure while learning about the importance of conservation and sport fishing.

Best Trout Fishing in Arkansas

Species of Trout in Arkansas

In Arkansas, we have the privilege of hosting a variety of trout species that thrive in our rivers and lakes. These species include brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brook trout. Each has unique characteristics and provides a different angling experience for fishing enthusiasts.

Brown trout are native to Europe but have been successfully introduced to Arkansas. They can grow quite large, with the state-record brown trout weighing a whopping 40 pounds! Brown trout prefer cold water and are typically found in the tailwaters of dams. Their elusive nature makes them a challenging and rewarding catch for skilled anglers.

Rainbow trout, one of the most popular species among anglers, were introduced to Arkansas from the western United States. They can be found in many Arkansas rivers and are known for their vibrant colors, acrobatic fights, and delicious taste. Rainbow trout adapt well to various habitats and are stocked in numerous locations throughout the state.

Cutthroat trout are another western U.S. native species found in Arkansas. While less common than brown and rainbow trout, cutthroat can be targeted in select locations such as the Little Red River and Spring River. Cutthroat trout have distinctive red or orange markings on their lower jaw, making them easy to identify. They are known for their aggressive feeding habits, making them fun fish to target with fly and spin gear.

Brook trout, the only native trout species in the eastern United States, have also found a home in Arkansas. Though less common than the other species, they’re often found in small, cold-water streams within the Ozark National Forest. Brook trout are easily identified by their colorful spots and worm-like markings on their backs. They can be pretty small, often measuring less than 12 inches, but their beauty and finicky nature make them a sought-after species for many anglers.

Overall, Arkansas offers a wide variety of trout species, ensuring that our state remains a prime destination for trout fishing enthusiasts. Each species brings its own set of challenges and rewards, making for an exciting and diverse angling experience.

Methods of Trout Fishing

Arkansas offers excellent trout fishing opportunities in various rivers and lakes. To make the most out of your fishing experience, learning and applying the right fishing techniques is crucial. In this section, we will discuss two popular methods of trout fishing: Fly Fishing and Spin Fishing.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is an art form that requires skill and patience but can be extremely rewarding. We use artificial flies as lures to mimic trout’s natural prey and entice them to strike. Fly fishing involves casting a lightweight fly line to present the fly to the fish in a way that mimics natural movement.

We recommend using a 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod with a matching reel and weight-forward floating line for most trout fishing situations in Arkansas. Some popular fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers.

When fly fishing for trout, we focus on reading the water and identifying subtle feeding signals. Look for rising fish, riffles, pools, and other structures that could harbor feeding trout. It is essential to match the hatch, meaning imitating the prevalent insects on the water to increase your chances of success.

Spin Fishing

Spin fishing is another popular method for targeting trout in Arkansas. We use a spinning rod and reel setup with a variety of artificial lures or natural bait. This technique can be more accessible for beginners, as it is easier to cast and control.

We suggest a medium-light power, 6-7 foot spinning rod, and a quality spinning reel with a smooth drag system for most trout fishing situations. Line choice is also essential – we recommend using 4-6 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon lines.

Some popular spin fishing lures include inline spinners, small crankbaits, and soft plastic baits. Natural bait, such as worms, minnows, or salmon eggs, can also be effective in enticing trout to bite.

When spin fishing, cast your lure or bait upstream and let it drift downstream, covering as much water as possible. Pay attention to the flow and adjust your retrieval speed to keep your lure or bait in the strike zone.

Remember, practice makes perfect whether you’re fly fishing or spin fishing for trout in Arkansas. You’ll surely have a memorable and successful fishing experience with the proper techniques.

Baits and Lures

Regarding trout fishing in Arkansas, we believe using the right baits and lures can make all the difference in your success. This section will cover some of the best baits and lures for catching trout in the state’s rivers and lakes.

For natural bait, live sculpin, minnows, and nightcrawlers are effective options for Arkansas trout fishing. Sculpin, in particular, are a favorite food source for trout and can help you catch some of the larger specimens. Minnows are another popular choice as they are readily available and mimic the small fish that trout feed on. Finally, nightcrawlers provide a tempting meal for trout, and their movement in the water can draw the fish to your hook.

In terms of artificial lures, trout in Arkansas can be enticed by a range of options, including jigs, spoons, spinners, and crankbaits. Jigs, such as marabou or soft plastic jigs, provide a lifelike action that many trout find irresistible. We recommend trying different sizes and colors to see what works best in your chosen fishing spot.

Spoons and spinners are great for covering a wider area, as they can be cast out and retrieved, creating a movement that attracts trout as they emit vibration and flashes of light in the water. These lures come in various sizes and finishes, and it’s worth experimenting to find the most effective combination for your fishing location.

Lastly, crankbaits offer a versatile option for fishing in different water depths and can be particularly useful when targeting bigger trout. These lures are designed to mimic the action of small fish as they swim through the water, which can trigger the predatory instincts of trout and tempt them to strike.

Armed with these baits and lures, we can confidently tackle Arkansas’ premier trout fishing locations, such as the White River, Spring River, and Little Red River. Just remember always to check the local regulations and be prepared to adapt your techniques to the specific conditions you encounter.

Regulations: License and Permits

When planning a trout fishing trip in Arkansas, it’s essential to be aware of the license and permit requirements. First and foremost, anyone aged 16 or older must have a valid fishing license to catch aquatic wildlife in the state. This is mandatory unless you are fishing in a licensed “put-and-take” pay lake.

In addition to a fishing license, anglers targeting trout need to acquire a trout permit. This permit is required for individuals aged 16 or older who wish to keep trout from Arkansas waters or fish in specific trout-designated waters. Some popular trout waters where this permit applies include the Beaver Lake Tailwater, Lake Greeson Tailwater, and other designated areas.

Two types of trout permits are available: Resident Trout Permits and Nonresident Trout Permits. The choice depends on your residency status in Arkansas. For the most up-to-date fees and requirements, it’s recommended that you visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website.

Understanding and adhering to the bag limits and special regulations when trout fishing in Arkansas is also crucial. Bag limits help maintain healthy populations and protect the resource for future anglers. Special regulations may apply to specific locations or types of trout. These can include gear restrictions, bait restrictions, or even catch-and-release mandates.

In conclusion, every angler should familiarize themselves with the licensing and permitting requirements and adhere to bag limits and special regulations while fishing for trout in Arkansas. Doing so will ensure a successful and enjoyable experience while preserving this fantastic resource for future generations.

Record-breaking Catches in Arkansas

When it comes to trout fishing in Arkansas, we are proud to highlight some of the impressive record-breaking catches that have taken place in our state’s waters. Anglers from around the world visit our rivers and lakes, hoping to make history with remarkable catches.

One notable catch took place in 1988 on the Norfork River, where a near world-record-breaking trout weighing 39 pounds was caught. Though it didn’t claim the world record, it is still an outstanding achievement in Arkansas trout fishing.

Apart from the Norfork River, other popular fishing locations such as DeGray Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Ouachita have also attracted anglers seeking record-breaking catches. In fact, a massive 4-pound crappie was caught by Sean Thornton in 2020, highlighting the potential of fishing in Arkansas.

In terms of world-record-breaking trout, the Little Red River deserves special mention. In 1992, angler Howard Collins reeled in a staggering 40-pound, 4-ounce brown trout, setting a new world record. Though the title has since been surpassed, Collins’ monumental catch remains a great source of pride for Arkansas’ trout fishing community.

As we continue to maintain and preserve our rivers and lakes for future generations, we eagerly anticipate more record-breaking catches that place Arkansas on the proverbial fishing map, proving the exceptional experience and opportunities our state has to offer in the world of trout fishing.

Other Fishing Opportunities in Arkansas

In addition to the abundant trout fishing opportunities, Arkansas offers a variety of other exciting fishing experiences. These waters are home to species such as bass, catfish, crappie, walleye, bream, and panfish, making it an ideal destination for anglers of all skill levels and preferences.

The largemouth bass is one of the most popular species to target in Arkansas. These fish are known for their fierce fight and can be found in numerous lakes, rivers, and reservoirs throughout the state. Smallmouth bass are also prevalent in Arkansas waters, providing anglers with another exciting bass fishing experience.

For those who prefer to reel in catfish, Arkansas is home to plenty of thriving populations of channel catfish. These fish can be found in various habitats, from slow-moving rivers to shallow backwaters. Fishing for trophy-sized catfish is possible and highly likely in Arkansas waters.

Crappie fishing is another popular activity in Arkansas. These tasty panfish can be found in many Arkansas lakes and reservoirs and are often caught using small jigs or live minnows. The spring and fall months are particularly productive times for crappie fishing, as the fish are more active and aggressive during these times.

Walleye are yet another species that anglers love to target in Arkansas. These fish can be found in the state’s lakes and reservoirs, and they are usually caught by trolling or casting artificial bait near the shoreline. Additionally, Arkansas is known for its thriving bream and other panfish populations, providing numerous opportunities for light tackle fishing and fun-filled days on the water.

Finally, Arkansas waters also boast healthy populations of stripers. These hard-fighting fish can be found in several lakes and reservoirs, allowing anglers to land a trophy-sized catch. Live bait and heavy tackle are key to successfully targeting these impressive predators.

In conclusion, Arkansas is a diverse and thriving fishery that offers something for every angler. From trout and bass to catfish and crappie, there is no shortage of exciting fishing opportunities in this beautiful state.

Considerations for Trout Fishing

When planning a trout fishing trip in Arkansas, there are several factors we need to take into account, including water type, tailwaters, time of day, water temperature, water level, and wading. These factors can significantly impact the quality of our fishing experience, and by considering them, we can increase our chances of a successful catch.

Various water types in Arkansas provide abundant opportunities for trout fishing. Cold water streams, rivers, and tailwaters are the ideal habitats for trout. Some of the best trout fishing locations in Arkansas are found in Bull Shoals Lake Tailwaters, Greers Ferry Lake Tailwaters, and Little Red River, among others.

Proper timing is essential for a fruitful trout fishing experience. Trout are more active during the first few hours of light and the last few hours before darkness, making these the optimal times for fishing. The reduced light casts fewer shadows, which improves the chances of catching these visually oriented fish.

Water temperature also plays a crucial role in determining trout activity—ideal water temperatures for trout fishing in Arkansas range from the mid-50s to low-60s Fahrenheit. Monitor water temperatures during your trip to help you make informed decisions about where and when to fish.

Water levels can significantly impact trout fishing. Higher water levels offer more hiding spots for fish and make it easier for trout to move around. However, these conditions can also create hazardous wading conditions. Lower water levels might offer safer wading opportunities but make trout more elusive as their hiding spots become limited. It is essential to be aware of the water levels when planning your trip and adjust your tactics accordingly.

Lastly, wading is an essential aspect of trout fishing. Proper wading gear, such as waders and boots, is necessary for a safe and comfortable experience. Be cautious when wading into unfamiliar waters, as strong currents pose risks. It is also important to note that wading can disturb fish, so approach the fishing spot carefully and avoid making excessive noise.

By considering these considerations, we can increase our chances of a successful and enjoyable trout fishing adventure in Arkansas.

Accommodations and Activities

When planning a trout fishing trip to Arkansas, there are various comfortable accommodations and recreational activities to make your vacation memorable. This section mentions some lodges and attractions worth considering during your stay.

Several reputable fishing resorts nestle in the picturesque surroundings of the Ozark Mountains, offering excellent accommodation options for visitors. One such resort is Cedarwood Lodge, located on the White River. This inviting lodge and its modern cabins provide semi-secluded access to some of the best trout fishing locations on the river, making it a perfect destination for fishing enthusiasts. The lodge can accommodate over 60 guests with first-rate amenities, catering to families and groups alike.

Another resort that stands out for its luxurious offerings and spectacular trout fishing opportunities is Stetson’s on the White on the White River, Arkansas. This resort boasts fully furnished cabins, guided fishing trips, and scenic views from private decks, ensuring a comfortable stay for fishing buddies, families, and groups.

If you’re leaning more towards camping, Central Arkansas has plenty of options for connecting with nature. Campgrounds near prime fishing destinations offer a range of facilities, such as tent sites, RV hookups, picnic areas, and shower/restroom buildings, allowing you to unwind in the great outdoors while indulging in your favorite pastime. To explore diverse camping options in Arkansas, visit The 5 Best Arkansas Fishing Resorts on Tripadvisor.

In addition to fantastic trout fishing, the region boasts a multitude of recreational activities. Arkansas’ natural beauty and ample water resources provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor pursuits such as hiking, biking, bird watching, and boating. The Ozark National Forest, Buffalo National River, and Petit Jean State Park are popular destinations for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

In conclusion, a visit to Arkansas promises the best trout fishing experiences, a variety of accommodation choices, and engaging outdoor activities, making the state an ideal destination for your next vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top trout rivers in Arkansas?

Arkansas offers excellent trout fishing opportunities, and some of the top rivers include the White River, Little Red River, Spring River, and North Fork River. These rivers are centrally located in America and have produced record-breaking trout.

Which types of trout can be found in Arkansas?

Though trout are not native to Arkansas, it is well-known for its excellent trout fisheries. Some common types of trout found in Arkansas include rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and cutthroat trout. Many of these fish are stocked in the rivers and reservoirs throughout the state.

What are the regulations for trout fishing in Arkansas?

Trout fishing regulations in Arkansas vary depending on the location and time of year. Generally, a valid fishing license and a trout permit for fishing in trout waters are required. Specific regulations on bait, tackle, and catch limits for each body of water may exist. We recommend checking the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website for detailed information on fishing regulations and updates.

When is the trout fishing season in this state?

In general, the trout fishing season in Arkansas is open year-round. However, the best times to fish for trout depend on water temperature, food availability, and weather conditions. Spring and fall are often ideal times for catching trout, as they are more active during cooler months, but trout can be seen throughout the year.

Where can I find guided trout fishing trips in Arkansas?

Numerous guided trout fishing trips are available in Arkansas, with many outfitters and guides specializing in the state’s top trout rivers. White River Fishing Guides is a provider offering fly fishing and light spinning tackle options for all skill levels. By joining a guided trip, you can improve your chance of success by drawing on the knowledge and experience of local experts.

Do I need a special license for trout fishing in Arkansas?

Yes, besides a valid Arkansas fishing license, you will need a trout permit to fish for trout in designated trout waters throughout the state. This is required for both residents and nonresidents, regardless of age. Purchase your license and permit before heading out to fish, as they may not be available on-site.

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