Best Fishing in Arkansas

Fishing Arkansas Lakes & Rivers

Hey there, fishing fans! Are you looking for the perfect spot to cast your line? Look no further than Arkansas! From pristine rivers and lakes to hidden bays and inlets, this southern state is packed with plenty of prime spots for an unforgettable day of fishing. Arkansas is home to more than 600,000 acres of lakes and miles of rivers that produce some of the best fishing in the United States. Visitors to Arkansas lakes have produced several world-record bass and trout over the years, two of which still stand today. Just last year Arkansas fishermen challenged the world record books again with two giants from the same lake. Arkansas bass fishing lakes are stocked regularly by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Whether you are a long-time veteran angler or just getting started in the sport, Arkansas has something for everyone. In this post, we’ll be highlighting some of the top fishing locations across the state so that you can start planning your next trip. So get your reels ready; it’s time to go fishing in Arkansas!

White River

Love trout fishing? Then look no further as the White River is Northwest Arkansas’s ideal trout stream. The water within White River hosts inconsistencies that contribute to an ideal fishing location for trout which includes shallow see-through waters one moment to banks filled to the brim the next moment. Trout flourishes in this type of environment! The White River is also home to other fish species such as Bluegill, Bass, Rock Bass, and Redear Sunfish.

Carmen over the White River, redux. Ozark National Forest. Arkansas
Carmen over the White River, redux. Ozark National Forest. Arkansas by BradSimsPhoto

When it comes to trout fishing, few places in Arkansas can compare to the White River. Located in the Ozark Mountains, the White River is home to some of the best trout fishing in the state. The crystal clear waters make for excellent visibility and perfect conditions for spotting and catching trout. Fish such as brown and rainbow trout are plentiful here, with anglers often able to snag a few in just a few hours.

For those who want to experience the best of what the White River has to offer, a trip to Norfork Tailwater is a must. Located downstream from Norfork Dam, this area is full of deep pools and fast riffles where large fish thrive. It’s also a great spot for beginners as there are plenty of areas to cast easily from shore or wade into the water. Alternatively, experienced anglers will enjoy the challenge of wading and drifting through the rapid currents.

Little Red River

World-famous tailwater trout stream, Little Red River was originally established in 1966 and has been a noteworthy fly-fishing location ever since. Each year thousands and thousands of Rainbow trout are introduced into Little Red River providing exceptional fishery to its visitors. Brown trout are also periodically released into Little Red River as well. Located in North-Central Arkansas, the Little Red River spans 29 miles from Pangburn to Greers Ferry Dam.

Little Red River Arkansas Fishing
Little Red River Arkansas Fishing by Noel Pennington

The crystal clear water of the Little Red River makes it a perfect spot to observe the trout while they feed on abundant aquatic insects. You can find an ideal fishing spot any time of year, but springtime offers the best chance to catch the biggest trout. When the water temperature reaches around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, many native brown and rainbow trout start spawning.

Lake Ouachita

Lake Ouachita is Arkansas’s largest lake and definitely one of its most beautiful. It is one of the five ‘Diamond Lakes’ within Arkansas due to its water quality being crystal clear and extremely clean. The notable water quality of Lake Ouachita invites both fishermen and scuba divers alike to enjoy its splendors. This gorgeous body of water is home to several different sports fish species like Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Cool Water Walleye, Brim, and Rainbow Trout. Lake Ouachita is located in West-Central Arkansas and is restocked with young schools of fish each and every year.

Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
Lake Ouachita, Arkansas by Mike Boudreaux01

Located in Hot Springs, this beautiful spot is known for its sprawling shorelines, crystal-clear waters, and abundance of fish. From largemouth bass and catfish to crappie and bluegill, anglers of all ages will have plenty of chances to find their big catch.  Coined the “Striped Bass Capital of the World”, Lake Ouachita is home to the best Striped Bass fishing in the South. Ouachita (pronounced Wa-Shi-Taw) is the largest lake entirely inside Arkansas’ borders at 40,100 acres. The lake is as famous for its pristine beauty as its amazing fishing.

Lake Ouachita

The lake is over 40 miles long with nearly 1,000 miles of uninhabited shoreline. The lake is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, making it a protected area free from houses and businesses. Just raw nature…and amazing bass fishing. Lake Ouachita ranks in the Top 10 among Largemouth Bass Lakes in the United States and hosts several major national bass tournaments each year. Ouachita is home to a large number of guide services, attracting Striped Bass anglers from all over the world. Stripers in the 40 to 50-pound class are recorded every year, with 20 to 30-pound fish relatively common. The majority of Lake Ouachita is flooded timber, some of which reach depths of 200 feet. Lake Ouachita should be on every bass fisherman’s bucket list because this lake has it all.

Lake DeGray

DeGray Lake covers 13,400 acres at the base of the Ouachita Mountain range in Southwest Arkansas. The lake is deep and full of flooded timber, rock bluffs, and open water humps. DeGray hosts year-round tournaments for largemouth bass, but maybe the best action on the lake comes from the Hybrid Stripers. DeGray offers some of the best Hybrid action in Arkansas, with most experienced anglers rarely leaving without a limit.

Lake DeGray Arkansas
Lake DeGray Arkansas by Armyman

DeGray is a man-made lake that spans over 13,800 acres offering a premium-level playground to fishing and extreme water sports. All year long anglers are attracted to Lake DeGray as it is home to several islands, coves, and wooded pockets full of Bass, Flatheads, and Blue Catfish. Lake Degray is located in South-Central Arkansas and is also one of the five ‘Diamond Lakes’.


Arkansas Fishing

With a variety of structure options available and plenty of channels and points to explore, there’s something here for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely afternoon spent casting your line or a challenging battle with a giant lunker, Lake DeGray has it all. The lake is also well stocked with fish, so you’re sure to get plenty of action no matter what time of year you come.

Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake covers a massive 45,500 acres, featuring more than 1,000 miles of shoreline in North Arkansas and Southern Missouri. Bull Shoals offers the best Largemouth Bass action in Arkansas, with 8 to 12-pound bucket mouths regularly reported. The lake is home to Spotted, White and Largemouth Bass. Bull Shoals is enclosed with rugged terrain and the lake is filled with excellent cover. Due to the massive size of Bull Shoals, many anglers make a weekend out of fishing trips, allowing time to explore more of the lake.

Evening Bull Shoals Lake
Evening Bull Shoals Lake by Cali2Okie (April)

The clear, deep waters of Bull Shoals Lake are perfect for fishing. Not to mention, Bull Shoals Lake is regarded as one of the best bass fishing locations in the country. Bull Shoals Lake features several different species of sports fish including Largemouth, Smallmouth, White, and Kentucky Bass as well as Catfish, Trout, Walleye, Panfish, and Crappie. You will find Bull Shoals Lake in Northern Arkansas.


Bull Shoals Lake

From the rocky points on the main lake to the shallow flats near the dam, there is something for everyone here. The fish tend to bite most in the early mornings and late afternoons during sunny weather, so plan accordingly. Best yet, Bull Shoals Lake is a beautiful spot, offering breathtaking views of the Ozark Mountains that will make your time here all the more enjoyable.

Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake is yet another clear and deep lake where you can find Walleye, Bass, Bream, and Crappie. Each year, Greers Ferry Lake is home to the World Walleye Classic attracting almost a thousand walleye anglers. Located in North-Central Arkansas, Greers Ferry Lake is a fishery you will not want to miss.

Greers Ferry Lake Fishing
Greers Ferry Lake Fishing by Larry Miller


Greers Ferry Lake covers 40,000 acres in Central Arkansas, featuring some of the clearest, cleanest waters of all the state’s lakes. Greers Ferry is home to every species of Bass native to the state of Arkansas. The current world record Hybrid Striped Bass was caught here in 1997 and weighed in at 27lbs 5oz. There are plenty of fishermen who will argue that Greers Ferry Lake holds the next world record largemouth bass, due in part to a 15lb 15oz largemouth that was caught in 1988. Greers Ferry’s deep, clear, cool waters also make for excellent smallmouth bass fishing.

Greers Ferry Lake

Anglers have reported catching bigmouth bass, spotted bass, and largemouth bass in the waters. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to try your luck here!

The lake’s deep waters provide the perfect environment for bass to thrive. Anglers recommend using live bait to target these fish as they are more likely to bite than when using lures. Be sure to take advantage of the lake’s coves and rocky shorelines – they provide prime spots for catching bass. As with any activity on open water, be sure to use caution and wear a life jacket when out on the lake.

Don’t forget to take pictures of all your catches too – brag to your friends or enter into local fishing competitions; whatever floats your boat (or rod)

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River is a 50-mile-long lake that traverses the state going West to East. It serves as a premium angling location featuring sports fish species like Catfish, Bass, and Crappie. The Arkansas touches several different states but runs centrally throughout Arkansas.

Fishing Arkansas River along the way
Fishing Arkansas River along the way by filarwilliams

Dubbed “The Natural State’s Jewel,” this river not only provides some of the best bass fishing in the entire country, but its tranquil beauty makes it a breathtaking place to be as well. Whether you’re an angler looking for a challenge or just someone who wants to relax by the river, there’s something for everyone here. From stunning views of bluffs and mountains to postcard-worthy sunsets, this river will provide you with an unforgettable experience.

Buffalo River

Buffalo River is full of oxygen-rich, fast, and clear waters making it the ideal habitat for Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Longear Sunfish, Green Sunfish, and Catfish. Fly fishermen, Kayakers, and Canoers all enjoy the splendors of Buffalo River as it hosts many locations suitable for sport, camping, and even hiking. Buffalo River runs throughout Northwest Arkansas.

Buffalo National River, AR
Fishing Buffalo National River, AR by NPCA Photos

Located in north-central Arkansas, it’s the country’s first National River and offers up some of the best fly-fishing opportunities around. With its serene views and incredible wildlife, this natural treasure is sure to delight anglers of all skill levels. The river flows through pristine wilderness areas teeming with a variety of fish species, so you won’t have any trouble finding something to catch. Plus, the landscape is full of beautiful hikes and scenic vistas along the way.

Caddo River

Caddo River is known best for its Smallmouth and Spotted Bass varieties. When fishing the Caddo River, as an angler you will want to begin near the Caddo Gap and finish just below the Amity. Located in West-Central Arkansas, you will find the Caddo River just South of Lake Ouachita.

Caddo River Fishing
Caddo River Fishing by PaddyMurphy

There’s something special about the atmosphere of the Caddo River that just can’t be replaced, and its crystal-clear waters are home to a wide variety of fish. Whether you’re an experienced angler who wants to explore new waters or a novice who wants to learn from the friendly and knowledgeable locals, Caddo River Arkansas has something for you. Tackle shops in the area can provide you with all the gear you need for your day on the river, so don’t forget to head down to one before your next adventure.

Norfork Lake

Lake Norfork is an amazing angling location to fish species such as Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Stripers, Walleye, Crappie, Catfish, and even Spotted Bass. The Norfork Lake runs throughout Northern Arkansas. Norfork Lake has more than 550 miles of shoreline and covers over 22,000 acres. Norfork Lake is located in North Central Arkansas and is the oldest of Arkansas’ man-made lakes. Norfork boasts some of the best Striped Bass catches in Arkansas in recent years, with fish in the 30 to 40-pound class pretty common. Other species of bass found in Norfork include Northern Strain Largemouth, Spotted, White, Hybrid Striped and Smallmouth.

Norfork Lake Fishing
Norfork Lake Fishing by USACE HQ

Situated in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, this scenic lake provides anglers with plenty of opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater trophy catches. The lake is home to a variety of species, including largemouth bass, walleye, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and more. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful day on the waters or an exciting adventure chasing that monster monster catch, Norfork Lake has it all!

The crystal-clear waters allow for excellent sight fishing year-round, so bring your tackle box and get ready for some serious reel action. However, anglers should pay close attention to local regulations and follow all applicable limits when fishing at Norfork Lake.

Beaver Lake

Constructed in 1966, Beaver Lake covers 1,186 miles (759,040 acres) with over 400 miles of shoreline in Northwest Arkansas. Beaver Lake is home to Largemouth, Smallmouth, Hybrid Striped, and Striped Bass. Beaver Lake has some of the best fall fishing in Arkansas. The lake offers clear-water fishing at its north end and dingy water fishing in the creeks and streams on the south end. Following quick rises in the lake’s level, shallow water fishing is fantastic as a result of the misdirection caused by the lake’s muddy water being pushed northward.

Lake Monticello

Lake Monticello is the smallest of the Top Ten Bass Fishing Lakes in Arkansas at only 1,520 acres. The lake has been open to public fishing since 1997, but in a short time has produced some of the best action for giant largemouth bass in the state. The lake is relatively shallow, making it unfit for most of the bigger bass species such as Striped and Hybrid Striped Bass, but Lake Monticello is packed full of giant Florida strain largemouths. Spring season brings the most activity on the lake, with largemouth bass in the 10 to 12-pound range coming in regularly. A popular Spring practice on Lake Monticello is “Ballooning”, fishing large shad or perch under a balloon.

Millwood Lake

Millwood is a renowned big bass fishing lake, with nearly all of its 29,000 acres consisting of flooded timber and vegetation. This makes Millwood Lake a perfect habitat for bass species such as largemouth, spotted, white, and striped. The lake is also home to the giant Florida strain largemouth bass, with catches over 10lbs not uncommon. Millwood Lake is located in Southwest Arkansas approximately 2 hours from the state capital of Little Rock.

Lake Dardanelle

Lake Dardanelle is an Arkansas River impoundment that covers 40,000+ acres with 315 miles of shoreline. This lake offers a more open layout than some of the lakes listed here, reaching up to 2 miles across in some locations. Lake Dardanelle is a regular stop for national bass tournaments and is widely regarded as one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the South. The lake’s rich vegetation has made a strong comeback, providing cover for the lake’s various species of fish. Lake Dardanelle is home to largemouth, spotted, white, hybrid striped, and striped bass.

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