Marinas
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Fishing
Watersports



Games Fish In Arkansas Waters

Largemouth Bass
The largemouth bass occurs in nearly all Arkansas waters. It has a deep gap between the spiny and soft dorsal fins, and the upper jaw extends far behind the rear margin of the eye. The midside has a dark horizontal stripe. One- to 3-pounders are common, and state waters have produced largemouths over 16 pounds. They'll eat almost anything and are caught on a variety of natural and artificial baits.

Rock Bass
The name "rock bass" actually describes three species of Arkansas sportfish --- the shadow bass, Ozark bass and rock bass. At one time all were considered a single species. These fish are found primarily in clear, cool, gravel-bottomed streams in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. Like warmouths, they have red eyes and large mouths and usually weigh less than 1/2 pound, but rock bass have six, rather than three, anal fin spines. Color is typically greenish with brassy reflections and dark brown mottlings or spots.

Smallmouth Bass
The smallmouth, often called "brownie" or "bronzeback", is found in cool Ouachita and Ozark mountain streams and in a few large impoundments like lakes Bull Shoals and Greers Ferry. It has a shallow notch between the dorsal fins, and the upper jaw doesn't extend behind the eye. The bronze-colored sides are either plain or have several separate dark, vertical bars. Arkansas smallmouths rarely exceed 6 pounds. Typical fish weigh a pound or less. Spinnerbaits, small plastic worms, minnow and crayfish imitations, and live baits (crawfish, minnow, salamanders and aquatic insect larvae) are good enticements.

Spotted Bass
The spotted or "Kentucky" bass, a largemouth lookalike, is found primarily in streams and rocky mountain reservoirs. The notch between the dorsal fins is shallow, and the upper jaw doesn't extend much, if any, behind the eye. It has a rough tooth patch on the tongue that's absent on largemouths, and there's a lengthwise row of dark spots below the dark midside stripe. Arkansas has yielded state-record-size "spots" nearing 8 pounds, but typical fish are around a pound. Spinnerbaits, jig and pork frog combinations, live crayfish and crayfish-imitation artificials are among the best baits.

Yellow Bass
Yellow bass are found primarily in the natural lakes and large warm-water rivers of Arkansas' eastern and southern lowlands. They are popular sportfish in some states, but most Arkansas anglers consider them a small-sized nuisance, because they are aggressive bait-stealers and seldom weigh more than a quarter pound. The yellow bass most closely resembles the white bass, but there are not teeth on the tongue, and the golden-yellow sides have dark stripes sharply broken and offset above the front of the anal fin.

Bluegill
Bluegills are the most widely distributed, abundant and sought-after fish in this group. They're found in nearly every body of water in Arkansas. Most bluegills weight 1/2 pound or less, with occasional fish up to 1 pound. They have a small mouth, a solid black ear flap, a dark spot at the base of the soft dorsal fin, and long, pointed pectoral fins. Colors vary, running from nearly black or purplish to dark brown, green or gold. Breeding males have a vivid blue head and throat and a bright-orange breast.

Hybrid Bream
The hybrid bream is a hatchery cross between a male bluegill and a female green sunfish. The resulting fish exhibits characteristics of both parents. It's not quite as deep in the body as the bluegill but is deeper bodied than the green sunfish. The mouth is larger than the bluegill but smaller than the green sunfish. The color markings have no distinct patterns as do the parents, and hybrids may appear speckled or mottled. Hybrid bream are only stocked in selected lakes.

Black Bullhead
Bullheads seldom exceed 1-1/2 pounds, but they are common in many waters and popular with young anglers. They are short, chubby catfish with a slightly notched tail, and unlike the flathead cat, the lower jaw doesn't stick out noticeably. The yellow bullhead, the most widely distributed species, has white or yellow chin barbels and prefers areas with little current in clear, rock-bottomed streams. The black bullhead has gray or black chin barbels and is common in oxbow lakes and quiet, mud-bottomed streams and backwaters. The brown bullhead, an uncommon Arkansas resident, has dark chin barbels like the black bullhead but can be distinguished by examining the pectoral fin spines. On brown bullheads, these spines have well-developed teeth along the rear edge; teeth are absent or weakly developed on the black bullhead's pectoral fin spines. Chicken liver and earthworms are the most popular bullhead baits.

Brown Bullhead
Bullheads seldom exceed 1-1/2 pounds, but they are common in many waters and popular with young anglers. They are short, chubby catfish with a slightly notched tail, and unlike the flathead cat, the lower jaw doesn't stick out noticeably. The yellow bullhead, the most widely distributed species, has white or yellow chin barbels and prefers areas with little current in clear, rock-bottomed streams. The black bullhead has gray or black chin barbels and is common in oxbow lakes and quiet, mud-bottomed streams and backwaters. The brown bullhead, an uncommon Arkansas resident, has dark chin barbels like the black bullhead but can be distinguished by examining the pectoral fin spines. On brown bullheads, these spines have well-developed teeth along the rear edge; teeth are absent or weakly developed on the black bullhead's pectoral fin spines. Chicken liver and earthworms are the most popular bullhead baits.

White Bullhead
Bullheads seldom exceed 1-1/2 pounds, but they are common in many waters and popular with young anglers. They are short, chubby catfish with a slightly notched tail, and unlike the flathead cat, the lower jaw doesn't stick out noticeably. The yellow bullhead, the most widely distributed species, has white or yellow chin barbels and prefers areas with little current in clear, rock-bottomed streams. The black bullhead has gray or black chin barbels and is common in oxbow lakes and quiet, mud-bottomed streams and backwaters. The brown bullhead, an uncommon Arkansas resident, has dark chin barbels like the black bullhead but can be distinguished by examining the pectoral fin spines. On brown bullheads, these spines have well-developed teeth along the rear edge; teeth are absent or weakly developed on the black bullhead's pectoral fin spines. Chicken liver and earthworms are the most popular bullhead baits.

Yellow Bullhead
Bullheads seldom exceed 1-1/2 pounds, but they are common in many waters and popular with young anglers. They are short, chubby catfish with a slightly notched tail, and unlike the flathead cat, the lower jaw doesn't stick out noticeably. The yellow bullhead, the most widely distributed species, has white or yellow chin barbels and prefers areas with little current in clear, rock-bottomed streams. The black bullhead has gray or black chin barbels and is common in oxbow lakes and quiet, mud-bottomed streams and backwaters. The brown bullhead, an uncommon Arkansas resident, has dark chin barbels like the black bullhead but can be distinguished by examining the pectoral fin spines. On brown bullheads, these spines have well-developed teeth along the rear edge; teeth are absent or weakly developed on the black bullhead's pectoral fin spines. Chicken liver and earthworms are the most popular bullhead baits.

Common Carp
The common or "German" carp is a Eurasian native introduced in the U.S. in 1877. It occurs statewide in Arkansas lakes and streams. This robust fish has large scales, a toothless mouth, thick lips cornered by a pair of barbels, and a long dorsal fin with a stout, saw-toothed spine. Color is typically greenish-gold fading to a yellowish-white belly. The fins are often red, yellow or orange tinted. Two to 10 pounders are fairly common with weights over 50 pounds reported. The Israeli carp (not pictured) is a strain of common carp with small patches of large scales randomly scattered over the leathery-skinned body. At one time it was stocked in Arkansas to help control aquatic plants.

Grass Carp
Although common carp are considered unwanted nuisances in most waters, the grass carp or "white amur" has many good qualities. It is better table fare than the common carp and is valuable in controlling aquatic vegetation in public waters. This long, silvery, torpedo-shaped fish is native to Asia and was introduced to the U.S. in 1963 when the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries brought 70 fish to the Fish Farming Experiment Station in Stuttgart, Arkansas. It has a large tail and blunt head and weighs up to 60 pounds. Natural spawning is unknown in the state, so hatchery fish are stocked where needed.

Blue Catfish
The blue catfish is a heavyweight, sometimes weighing over 100 pounds. It's a migratory fish found in large rivers and reservoirs, and, like the channel cat, prefers waters with good current over bottoms of rock, gravel or sand. Blues resemble channel cats but have a distinct hump-backed appearance, a straight-edged anal fin with 30 to 35 rays and lack the black body spots typical of small channel cats. Cut shad and crayfish are among the most popular baits.

Channel Catfish
The channel catfish is Arkansas' most widespread and abundant catfish. Weighing up to 30 pounds, it's typically a stream fish, but, millions are produced in state hatcheries each year and stocked in lakes and ponds where natural reproduction is limited. Characteristics include a deeply forked tail, gray to brown back and sides fading to white underneath, and a rounded anal fin with 24 to 29 rays. Channels occasionally strike artificials, but most are taken using natural bait fished on or near the bottom. They are especially fond of chicken liver, earthworms, crayfish, minnows, catalpa worms and stinkbaits.

Flathead Catfish
The flathead catfish is most common around dam tailwaters and in deep pools of large rivers, bayous and reservoirs. It's pot-bellied, wide-headed and beady-eyed, but what it may lack in looks, it makes up for in size and good taste. Many weigh 3 to 10 pounds, but 25 to 50 pounders aren't rare, and flatheads up to 139 pounds have been taken in Arkansas waters. Color is yellow to light brown, usually mottled with dark brown or black. The tail is only slightly forked, and the lower jaw projects out from the flattened head. Most are caught on live minnows, bream or goldfish.

Black Crappie
Black crappies are slightly more fussy about their environment and prefer cool, deep waters with abundant aquatic vegetation. The silvery sides are marked with irregularly scattered black spots that don't form vertical bars. The "black-nosed crappie", an unusually marked strain of black crappie, has a dark brown or black stripe running under the chin, over the nose and across part of the back. Originally found in Beaver and Bull Shoals lakes, this distinctive crappie is now being raised in state fish hatcheries for stocking public fishing waters.

White Crappie
Although white and black crappies often occupy the same waters, white crappies can flourish in warmer, siltier waters than black crappies. The two species look very similar, but the white crappie is paler in colors, with dark spots on the silver sides usually arranged in regular vertical bars. The best way to distinguish the two species is to count the dorsal fin spines. White crappies typically have six, and black crappies usually have seven or eight.

Alligator Gar
Once a popular big-game fish on the White, St. Francis, Red and Arkansas rivers, the alligator gar is now rare in Arkansas due primarily to changes in its habitat. It is one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America, and specimens over eight feet long and up to 215 pounds have been caught in the state. The snout is very short and broad like an alligator's snout. The distance from the snout's tip to the corner of the mouth is shorter than the rest of the head.

Longnose Gar
The longnose gar is Arkansas' most widespread and abundant gar. It is common in sluggish pools and backwaters of streams statewide and is the gar most frequently found in lakes. It has a very long narrow snout, and the width of the upper jaw at the nostrils is less than the eye diameter. This large fish commonly exceeds three feet in length and may weigh over 25 pounds.

Shortnose Gar
The shortnose gar is found in many of Arkansas' medium and large streams, but is most common in the Arkansas, lower White and Mississippi rivers. It has a moderately short, broad snout, and the distance from the tip of the snout to the corner of the mouth is equal to or longer than the rest of the head. Dark spots are usually few and confined to the fins. Shortnose gars reach a length of about 30 inches and a weight of 3-1/2 pounds.

Spotted Gar
The spotted gar is very similar to the shortnose but has well-defined round black spots on top of the head, snout and body. It seldom exceeds three feet long and 8 pounds in weight. This gar prefers quiet, clear waters with heavy aquatic vegetation or standing timber and is most common in the lowland streams of eastern, central and outhern Arkansas.

Paddlefish
The paddlefish or "spoonbill catfish" has a long paddle-shaped snout distinguishing it from all other Arkansas fish. Sometimes exceeding 100 pounds, this large smooth-skinned fish has declined in numbers due to dwindling habitat and is now found primarily in the Arkansas, Mississippi and lower White rivers. It has a large toothless mouth and feeds predominately on microscopic plants and animals filtered through many fine gill-rakers. Those taken by sport anglers are usually caught by blind snagging in dam tailwaters. Paddlefish eggs are processed and sold as caviar, and the quality of Arkansas paddlefish caviar is said to equal that of world-renowned caviar from the Soviet Union.

Chain Pickerel
The chain pickerel has a long, slender body and a black, chainlike pattern on its sides. Like the grass pickerel, it's often call "jackfish" and is easily recognized by the duck-billed shape of the snout. Body color ranges from bronze to green, and the mouth is full of needlelike teeth. Most weigh 2 to 3 pounds, with occasional individuals up to 7. Chain pickerels are found in many streams and lakes in eastern and southern Arkansas, including the lower Ouachita, Saline and White rivers, Champagnolle Creek, and lakes Barnett, Conway, Enterprise, Grampus, Grand, Harris Brake, Overcup, Tri-County, Wallace, White Oak and Ouachita.

Sauger
The sauger is among Arkansas' most neglected sportfish, perhaps because the best fishing for this species is from December through February when few people are fishing. Saugers resemble walleyes but seldom exceed 1-1/2 pounds. They have round black spots on the spiny dorsal fin and distinct, dark saddles on both sides of the body, both of which are lacking in walleyes. The best sauger fishing is around rock dikes and riprapped banks below dams on the Arkansas River. Lakes Dardanelle and Ozark on the Arkansas River are two of the best hotspots, but saugers also inhibit the Black, lower White, Current, Eleven Point, Little Red, Spring and Strawberry rivers. Small jigs, live minnows and jig/minnow combinations are among the best baits.

Shovelnose Sturgeon
Sturgeons, like paddlefish, are primitive fish harvested for meat and to supply eggs to the caviar industry. Lake and pallid sturgeons (not pictured) are extremely rare in Arkansas. The shovelnose sturgeon is common in the state's large rivers, especially the Arkansas, lower White and Red rivers. This unusual fish has a broad, flat head with four barbels on the underside of the long, space-shaped snout. The body is brown to gray in color and is covered with rows of bony plates. The shovelnose sturgeon is rarely caught by sportfishermen, but an annual average of 32,000 pounds was taken commercially from 1980 to 1985.

Green Sunfish
Green sunfish thrive in areas where few other sunfish can live. They are equally at home in silty, sluggish, mud-bottomed hideouts and clear, cool mountain streams. Most weight less than 1/2 pound. They have heavy lips, a large mouth, a short rounded pectoral fin and a short, black, light-edged ear flap. Body color is typically bluish green with emerald and yellow reflections. The cheeks have prominent blue streaks, and the dorsal fin has a heavy dark blotch. Breeding males have broad whitish or orange fringes on the dorsal, tail and anal fins.

Orangespotted Sunfish
Arkansas also has several other small, less common sunfish sometimes caught by anglers. The orangespotted sunfish is a brightly colored sunfish found primarily in turbid, mud-bottomed lowland streams, oxbow lakes and small creeks. It is seldom sought since it doesn't exceed four inches in length. The spotted sunfish is also small, rarely over six inches long, but is occasionally caught in lowland streams and oxbow lakes and a few upland streams. The dollar sunfish and bantam sunfish are also seen occasionally by Arkansas anglers, but neither grows much bigger than three inches long.

Spotted Sunfish
Arkansas also has several other small, less common sunfish sometimes caught by anglers. The orangespotted sunfish is a brightly colored sunfish found primarily in turbid, mud-bottomed lowland streams, oxbow lakes and small creeks. It is seldom sought since it doesn't exceed four inches in length. The spotted sunfish is also small, rarely over six inches long, but is occasionally caught in lowland streams and oxbow lakes and a few upland streams. The dollar sunfish and bantam sunfish are also seen occasionally by Arkansas anglers, but neither grows much bigger than three inches long.

Brook Trout
Brook trout are a rare catch in Arkansas, with only a few sporadic stockings over the last few decades. "Brookies" are short-lived, and a one-pounder is considered large. They have a dark body with white and/or red spots circled by blue. The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are often orange with a distinct white edge. The dorsal fin, tail and back have mottled, wormlike streaks on a black background.

Brown Trout
Brown trout are most common in the White, North Fork and Little Red rivers, but the Spring River also offers a growing brown trout fishery. Populations are maintained by natural reproduction, stocking and regulations. Browns up to 5 pounds are not uncommon, and world-record fish have been caught in the North Fork River (38 pounds, 9 ounces) and White River (33-1/2) pounds) . The back and sides are dark olive-brown and have black spots and orange or red spots with blue halos. Unlike rainbows and cutthroats, the tail is usually unspotted and unforked, and there is no reddish side stripe.

Cutthroat Trout
Cutthroat trout were first stocked in Arkansas in 1983 and are found primarily in the White and North Fork rivers. They weigh up to 10 pounds and closely resemble rainbow trout. The cutthroat is distinguished by the reddish-orange slash (cutthroat mark) on each side of the throat on live fish and by the minute teeth present on the midline of the tongue behind large teeth on the tip of the tongue. Rainbows have teeth on the tip of the tongue, but lack the midline teeth. The black spots on cutthroats are typically much finer than on rainbows.

Lake Trout
Lake trout were first stocked in 1986 in hopes they would provide trophy trout fishing opportunities in deep, cold, well-oxygenated lakes like Bull Shoals and Greers Ferry. Twenty-five pounders are common in their native northern habitats, but their growth potential in Arkansas is unknown. The head, fins and dark body are completely covered with irregular white spotting. The tail is deeply forked unlike other Arkansas trout.

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout are the most common trout in Arkansas and are found in all state trout waters. Natural reproduction is limited, and populations are maintained through stocking programs. Rainbows up to 1 pound are common, with some exceeding 15 pounds. This trout is usually thickly speckled with black spots on the head, sides and slightly notched tail. A broad pink to reddish stripe runs lengthwise along the side, although hatchery fish may lack the side stripe until they've been in a river or lake for several weeks.

Walleye
The walleye is the largest perch family member in North America. This long, streamlined fish has glassy, marble-like eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Unlike its cousin, the sauger, the spiny dorsal fin has a large black blotch near the bases of the last few spines. Adults commonly weigh 4 to 10 pounds and several fish over 20 pounds, near world-record size, have been caught in Arkansas, usually during the peak spawning months of February, March and April. The state's best-known walleye fishing is in Greers Ferry Lake and its headwaters where the annual World Walleye Classic is held. This lake and its tributaries may produce more big walleyes ---fish weighing 15 to 20 pounds --- than any body of water in the United States. Other walleye lakes include Bull Shoals, Greeson, Nimrod, Norfork, Ouachita, Catherine, Hamilton and Table Rock. Stream-running walleyes are found in the Black, Caddo, Current, Eleven Point, Kings, Little Missouri, middle and upper White, North Fork, Spring, upper Ouachita, upper Saline and War Eagle rivers. Good baits include live minnows and bream, minnow-imitation crankbaits and jig/minnow combinations.

Warmouth
The warmouth or "goggleye" is seldom sought for its own merits, but many are caught while fishing for other species. It is usually found in quiet lakes with mud bottoms and abundant vegetation where it often hides in hollow trees or stumps. Color is typically olive-brown with dark markings, and unlike its lookalike cousins, the rock bass, the warmouth has three anal fin spines and a rough patch of teeth on the tongue.