Arkansas, often overlooked as a trout fishing destination, offers some of the best trout fishing experiences in the world. With over 9000 miles of waterways, the state is a hidden gem for anglers seeking a new adventure. This comprehensive guide will provide you with everything you need to know about trout fishing in Arkansas, from obtaining the necessary licenses to identifying the best fishing spots.
A Hidden Gem for Trout Fishing
Arkansas may not be as renowned as Montana, Idaho, or Colorado for trout fishing, but those in the know appreciate its unique offerings. The state’s trout fishing scene remained relatively unknown until the 1960s when the Department of Fisheries began stocking rivers and lakes with rainbow trout. These stocked trout have since grown into impressive sizes, making Arkansas a world-class trout fishing destination.
Licensing and Regulations
Like all states in the U.S., you need a fishing license to fish in Arkansas. Licenses are available for anyone aged 16 or older, with exceptions for those younger and those fishing in licensed “put and take” pay lake waters. Resident fishing licenses cost $10.50, while nonresident permits cost $50. Additionally, a trout permit is required for trout fishing, costing $10 for residents and $20 for nonresidents per year. Three-day and seven-day fishing permits are also available, costing $16 and $25 respectively. However, a trout permit is still necessary for these multi-day licenses.
Types of Trout in Arkansas
Arkansas offers a variety of trout species for anglers. Rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and even lake trout can be found in Arkansas waters. The state’s trout fishing primarily relies on stocked fish, with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission continuing the practice of stocking rivers and lakes with trout.
Essential Gear for Trout Fishing
The gear you need for trout fishing in Arkansas depends on your preferred fishing method. Fly fishing enthusiasts should bring 5 weight rods for flexibility. If you’re fishing in smaller creeks, consider a smaller rod, like a 2 weight. For lake trout fly fishing, an 8 weight rod is recommended. For bait fishing, bring plenty of bait, including artificial lures, spinnerbait, stink bait, and worms. Regardless of your fishing method, a good set of waders, a landing net, bug spray, and a well-stocked tackle box are essential.
Best Trout Fishing Spots in Arkansas
Arkansas offers numerous excellent trout fishing spots. The White River, particularly below the Bull Shoals Dam, is a prime location for trout fishing. The Little Red River, once a local secret, has gained popularity after a world record 40-pound brown trout was caught there. The Norfolk River Tailwater offers a perfect climate for trout, with a consistent temperature between 47°F and 54°F. The Spring River is another excellent spot, particularly below the dam on the Mammoth Springs area. Lastly, the Ouachita River is a great place for fishing stocked trout, particularly around the Carpenter, Blakely, and Remmel dams.
Hiring a Guide for Trout Fishing
If you’re new to fishing in Arkansas, consider hiring a guide. While the cost may seem steep, ranging from $100 to $300 per day, the knowledge and experience they provide can be invaluable. Guides spend most of their time on Arkansas waters and know where to find the trout you’re looking for. Hiring a guide can ensure you don’t go home empty-handed and can enhance your overall fishing experience.
In conclusion, Arkansas offers a unique and rewarding trout fishing experience. With its diverse trout species, extensive waterways, and world-class fishing spots, it’s a must-visit destination for any angler. So, pack your gear, get your license, and embark on an unforgettable trout fishing adventure in Arkansas.