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MAGAZINE

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A SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF

ARKANSAS WILD

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URBAN

KAYAK FISHING

WET YOUR LINE CLOSE TO HOME

ARTIST, HUNTER & FISHERMAN

WHITE RIVER PAINTER

TROUT MAGNET

KAYAK FISHING TAKES ARKANSAS BY STORM. SEE PAGE 42.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

ISSU E NO . 3 | 2 01 8 A R KA NSASWIL D. CO M #FISH A RMAG


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id you know that just three hours outside of Little Rock, Arkansas, there is a resort that has been featured in every major airplane and flight magazine in the world and is known as the best fly fishing destination in this part of the country? Gaston’s White River Resort is celebrating a big anniversary this year! It was 60 years ago when Al Gaston, Jim Gaston’s father, purchased 20 acres of White River frontage with six small cottages and six boats. Today, Jim’s grandson, Clint Gaston, carries on the family legacy. The resort covers more than 400 acres, has 79 cottages that range in size from two double beds to ten private bedrooms. The airstrip has grown from 1,800 feet to 3,200 feet; and, instead of six boats, there are now over 70, and there is a state-of-the-art dock to house them. The years have brought an award winning restaurant, private club, gift shop, tennis court, playground, game room, duck pond, three nature trails, swimming pool, conference lodge, and a fly fishing school.


RUSSELLVILLE TOURISM & VISITORS CENTER

479-967-1762 | www.discoverrussellville.org Paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds.


IN THIS ISSUE ARKANSASWILD.COM FAcebook.com/FISHARmag

The image of a fly-fisherman is captured here in “Halflight at Wildcat Shoals,” a watercolor by Duane Hada. See story on page 22.

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THE GAR THAT WOULDN’T DIE

WINTER MAKES FOR QUIET LAKES

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DECODING THE WATER’S MESSAGES

ARTIST OF THE OZARKS

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FOR FISHING’S SAKE

THE REALITIES OF ROUGH FISH

PHOTO BY MATTHEW MARTIN

URBAN KAYAKING

38 THE ART AND SCIENCE OF TYING FLIES

IN EVERY ISSUE

8 GUEST EDITOR’S NOTE 10 GEAR 46 TOP MARINAS 48 EVENTS 50 LAST CATCH 4 | FISH ARKANSAs

ISSUE NO. 3

On the cover: Professional bass fisherman, Jason Adams takes a break from the day to fish Lake Atalanta in Rogers. Photo by Novo Studio.


The moment when your routine fishing trip turns into a moment you’ll never forget...

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www.lindseysresort.com ARKANSASWILD.COM | 5


The Original Grampa’s is back!

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | FACEBOOK.COM/ARKANSASWILD REBEKAH LAWRENCE Publisher rebekah@arktimes.com ELIZABETH HAMAN Associate Publisher elizabeth@arktimes.com

11608 Maumelle Blvd. | North Little Rock | 501 904-5355

MANDY KEENER Creative Director mandy@arktimes.com LACEY THACKER Editor at Large lacey@arktimes.com

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LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive lesa@arktimes.com RHONDA CRONE Account Executive rhonda@arktimes.com KIMBERLY BENNETT Account Executive kimberly@arktimes.com

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WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager LARISSA GUDINO Advertising Coordinator

HOME OF

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ISSUE NO. 3

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ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director LINDA PHILLIPS Billing/Collections KELLY JONES Office Manager/Accounts Receivable ANITRA HICKMAN Circulation Director All Contents © 2018 Arkansas Wild 201 E. Markham St., Suite 200 Little Rock AR, 72201 501.375.2985

@arkansaswild


CONTRIBUTORS

AUSTIN ORR got his first fly rod from his grandfather 20 years ago. Now a certified casting instructor, Austin enjoys passing on the love of fly fishing to others. Salt396.com/

JIM PETERSEN is an avid fly fisherman, kayaker, and naturalist. He is a retired hydrologist and aquatic biologist with a special interest in Ozark streams.

MARK SPITZER is the author of 26+ books. His eco-study In Search of Monster Fish: Angling for a More Sustainable Planet is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in 2019.

MADISON HEDRICK has worked as a writer and editor for over ten years. Fishing runs deep in her blood, though; her father, Mark, made sure she caught a fish before age two and could use a spinning reel by four.

MARK HEDRICK is an avid fisherman, radio personality and manager of Southern Reel Outfitters in Little Rock. He is an advocate for the Big Rock Chapter of Quail Forever.

RICHARD LEDBETTER is a SouthArkansas outdoors writer who enjoys any time spent in the woods and on the water.

Ozark Mountain Region

Enjoy a beautiful getaway in the Ozark Mountains!

At Wild Bill's Outfitter We offer guided day trips on the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek for smallmouth bass, and The White River for trout. The Buffalo River and Crooked Creek are nationally designated "Blue Ribbon" smallmouth bass streams. The White River is famous nationally for its huge trout, often weighing in the world record zone.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 7


FROM THE GUEST EDITOR

Trey shows off a hybrid striped bass from a recent adventure on the lower Caddo River, where hybrid striped bass make false spawning runs from DeGray Lake each spring.

Sincerely,

Trey Reid Trey Reid is the assistant cheif of communications for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He also has written about hunting, fishing and conservation for numerous state and national publications for almost two decades. Trey will fish for just about anything that swims but says smallmouth bass fishing on northern Arkansas’ Kings River probably ranks highest on his list.

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PHOTO BYAARON COPELAND/AGFC

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was the guest editor for the inaugural issue of this publication, back in 2016. It was a true honor for me, and I must’ve done something right because the good folks at Fish Arkansas have asked me to provide a few more words for this edition. That being said, I can’t take much credit for what you’ll read in the following pages. My role has been mostly advisory in nature, akin to the role of a good fishing guide. Instead of scouting the waters, tying on a lure and showing a client where to cast, I’ve brainstormed with editors, answered technical questions and offered advice and direction to those who’ve done the real work. The results are sure to entertain and inform you; you’ll find stories that will make you a better angler, including how-to articles on catching more bass and crappie during winter’s chill. You’ll learn where to wet a hook in urban areas of the state that are accessible by kayak, a segment of the fishing market that has grown rapidly in recent years. You’ll also find a made-in-Arkansas, fishing-industry success story about Searcy’s own Leland’s Lures (makers of the famous Trout Magnet). And if art is what strikes your fancy, there’s a terrific profile of Mountain Home-based fish and wildlife artist Duane Hada. It’s my sincere hope that, if you’re a frequent angler, you’ll find some information in these pages that is useful and that will help you enjoy productive days on the water this spring and summer. For the newcomers who’ve never experienced the thrill of plying the watery depths, I hope you’ll be inspired to get outside and enjoy The Natural State’s incredible fisheries while taking in the sublime sights that surround our state’s bountiful waters. I’ve enjoyed fishing for longer than I can remember. It’s my happy place—a respite from life’s mundane travails—and, as the Scottish statesman John Buchan so aptly described, “the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” In these all too dispiriting times, fishing can be a refreshing antidote. I hope you’ll get out there and see what I mean.


All things Arkansas,

all in one place. We’re committed to Arkansas and to the people who live here. That’s why we created an entire site dedicated to our home state. Visit OnlyInArk.com for everything from great road trips and fun festivals to local culture and more. When your bank is only in Arkansas, you know it’s all about you.

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GEAR: THINKING LIKE A KAYAKER A Head-to-Toe Guide for Extending your Kayak Fishing Season BY JEREMY MACKEY There’s no doubt about it, kayak fishing is taking Arkansas by storm and its popularity is showing no signs of slowing down. For most anglers, the season begins in early spring and lasts through the hottest months of summer. But there are an intrepid few who fish from their kayak all year round, even during the coldest days of winter. How do they do it? They begin thinking like a kayaker. With just a few basic principles of layering along with some specialized gear, you can easily extend your season and enjoy all that fishing from your kayak during the winter has to offer.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF VEDORS

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Avoid Cotton: Cotton may very well be the fabric of our lives, but it has no redeeming value when it comes to winter kayaking. Cotton holds moisture and promotes evaporative cooling which can begin the process of hypothermia. Layering: Start with a breathable base layer, add an insulating layer, then top it all off with a waterproof shell. As you paddle and build up body heat the base layer will pull moisture off your body allowing the mid layer to keep you toasty warm. The outer layer will protect you from wind and water which will allow you to fish comfortably all day long. By layering you can also compensate for changes in the weather, adding or removing a layer as the situation requires. Bring Extra Gear: As the weather changes, so too should the supplies you bring along with you. A small dry bag filled with extra layers, food and fire starter can make the difference between an enjoyable adventure on the water and a dangerous situation.

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5. ASTRAL DESIGNS RASSLER No matter the season, proper footwear is key! They should drain and dry quickly while providing enough support and grip to keep you confident on the water. Astral has been designing and manufacturing paddle sports gear for over 20 years. The Rassler is hands down a best choice in footwear for kayak fishing. $119.95 Available from your local retailer.

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THE GAR THAT WOULDN’T DIE

Catching a fish for art doesn’t go as planned BY MARK SPITZER

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’ve caught gar all over the world, and I always release them when I can. Still, I have killed gar for food and in the name of science, usually for data-gathering purposes with state and federal agencies. But the time I killed a gar for art…well, I’m still trying to make sense of that. I’d met this professional print artist at a fisheries conference, and I was really impressed by his rockfish and amberjack prints. I asked him if he’d ever made a print of a gar. He said no, but that he’d always wanted to, so I told him I’d get him one. My trotline on Lake Conway became an obsession. Sunset after sunset I checked for gar, and after weeks had gone by the float was bouncing as we paddled up. My wife, Lea, was in the front of the canoe, and I was in back looking down on a beautiful spotted gar shimmering copper in the dusk. It was just over two feet long: the perfect size. “It’s such a pretty fish,” Lea advocated for the gar, “It wants to live.” “Nope,” I remained firm; “This is the one.” After I unhooked it, it seemed calm enough, just lying there. So as the sun sank behind the cypresses, we watched the yellowy orange of the horizon and enjoyed a couple of gin and tonics, until wham! The gar exploded, leaping three feet into the air and slapping all around. On its way up, it managed to chomp me a good one in the shin, and on the way down it whacked my drink out of my hand. I found myself wrestling it as it went berserk, 12 | FISH ARKANSAs

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knocking tackle all over the place and causing general chaos. By the time I finally pinned it down, I was bleeding from four spots on my leg and my palms were cut up from contact with the razor-sharp scales. “See?” Lea tried again, “it wants to live.” But that gar was destined to be art, so I did what I thought had to be done. Lea turned away, and there was a split second, with its eyes pleading up at me, that my gut questioned what the rest of my body was doing. The blade, however, found its mark, and the deed was done. “Can you pour me another gin and tonic?” I asked. “Sure,” she said. Then five minutes later, the same thing again: Eruption of gar! Tail smacking! Teeth flashing! Slime slinging! And again, my gin and tonic landed in the bottom of the boat. “Awww, man,” I said, and opened my knife again. I redid what I’d already done, not seeing how the second time was going to make it any different. Still, that’s what I did, and then we headed in. Now I had to wash the gar and wrap it up. Following the directions I’d been given, I used multiple layers of tinfoil and duct tape and at least three garbage bags. The artist had told me to protect the fins, so I’d even strapped it to a board. And, as I did all this, the gar would sometimes flex its length or spastically flap a pectoral fin, even though it was technically dead. Continued on page 14

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARK SPITZER

After being skunked earlier in the season, Mark was out to catch and release as many large gar as possible on his recent fishing trip to the Trinity River in Texas.


Trout Fishing

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inter welcomes its own sense of wonder at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. A wildlife tram or private tour offers an exciting opportunity to spot the majestic bald eagle during this season, along with exploring the spectacular history of the canyon. From fly fishing along 2.5 miles of trout-filled streams to taking a horseback ride through the Ozark hills, many outdoor activities are still available for guests looking to get outdoors in the winter months. Indoor activities also abound, like live mill demonstrations at the Dogwood Canyon Mill, dining at the Canyon Grill and touring through the one-of-a-kind treehouse built by Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. Call or visit the website to learn about seasonal hours and to plan your visit.

800-225-6343 dogwoodcanyon.org

Canyon Grill

Stunning Scenery ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13


The author met artist Bruce Koike at a fisheries conference and later commissioned him to make a print of a gar using a Japanese technique called gyotaku. In this technique, which Koike has been practicing for over 30 years, ink is applied to the fish before it is gently pressed against rice paper to make a print.

WE LAUGHED AT THE NOTION THAT THE GAR WAS STILL DOING ALL IT COULD TO THWART MY DESIGNS.

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Vestigial impulses, I tried to convince myself. Leftover electrical signals. Then I boxed it up, the whole three-foot-long cardboard casket sometimes twitching as I wound a mummy’s worth of packing tape around it all. Then I had to fit it in the freezer, which meant taking out all the food and shelves in there. When I finally shut the door, I couldn’t be so sure that the gar wasn’t thrashing in its Freon tomb. The next day, I was too busy with I-can’t-rememberwhat to take it to the post office, so I asked Lea if she could ship the gar for me. She gave me a look like I was asking her to be an accomplice, but agreed to do it anyway. Turns out the postal clerk who told me they could ship it overnight was wrong, so she ended up driving around all afternoon trying to find a place that could get it there before it thawed. No such luck, so she brought it back. We laughed at the notion that the gar was still doing all it could to thwart my designs. But that laughter--it just wasn’t genuine. The next day was a Friday. I got it to a shipping place and spent a lot more money than I expected. They said they’d get it to Oregon on Saturday. But by Sunday, it still hadn’t been delivered. I called the 1-800-number and frantically explained that it absolutely had to be delivered, pronto. They said they’d tried, but the school was closed. “A school?” I yowled. “I sent it to a house!” They told me it would be in the warehouse for the weekend. To that, I replied it would stink up the entire state if they didn’t get there that weekend. Ten phone calls later, they finally got the gar delivered. The artist unwrapped it the next day, but it didn’t leap out and go ballistic. Instead, it just reeked. The gills had gone putrid, but the fish was in good shape. Now I’ve got that gar on the wall, where I thought it would just hang there looking pretty. But that gar, of course, isn’t through reminding me that I could’ve let it go. In fact, it lets me know this every day as I continue to question whether it was worth the price it paid. It’s not guilt, it’s not karma—it’s just that gut-curdling feeling that I did a fellow creature wrong. Nevertheless, the gar lives on.


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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 15


PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARK HEDRICK/NOVO STUDIO

Matt Hedrick, son of the author and avid fisherman, wraps up a record day fishing for crappie on Lake Maumelle.

WINTER MAKES FOR QUIET LAKES Tips for Successful Crappie Fishing BY MARK HEDRICK

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hile most of Arkansas is celebrating the arrival of deer and duck season, there is a group of us who look forward to having the lakes to ourselves to pursue our passion: crappie fishing. When the water temperature begins to fall into the mid 50s and below, the crappie start schooling up or “hay-stacking” along channel breaks on Arkansas reservoirs. I typically like fishing reservoirs such as Lake Maumelle, Lake Hamilton, Lake Ouachita and Lake Brewer in Central Arkansas. Targeting these fish in 30 to 40 feet of water requires good electronics and lots of patience. Run the channels looking for sharp bends that have brush, rock or stumps. These are ideal areas to find schools of crappie. Birds are also an indicator of fish in the area. Loons, in particular, seem to know where the fish are. If you see them diving and feeding, you know you are close. You can also find brush piles on many of the lakes of Arkansas that have been provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish. These fish habitats are marked by buoys or you can find their GPS locations on the AGFC website. Sonar, along with side-scan and down-scan imaging, certainly helps you locate these schools of crappie. You can also use GPS to “mark” the spots you find and any brush piles that have fish. Once you find fish, drop a marker-buoy or set spot lock, continued on page 18

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Ozark Mountain Region

Enjoy a beautiful getaway in the Ozark Mountains!

An Unforgettable

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Buffalo River Lodge is only 3 miles away from North Maumee. Sitting on 63 acres, the Lodge has 5 private suites in the Main Lodge and 2 bedrooms on the lower level, with prices starting at $199/ night. The Lodge is available to rent for your next vacation, family reunion, or any corporate or church event. You can stay at the Lodge and go fishing, kayaking or float on the Buffalo River. We are close to recreational activities like canoeing, hiking, walking trails, and horseback riding. 215 Stick Horse Dr. St Joe, Arkansas (877) 215-7788 buffaloriver.us@gmail.com

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 17


Mark Hedrick removes the hook from a black crappie caught on Lake Maumelle in Central Arkansas. Mark finds searching out bird activity and brush piles is a sure way to locate schools of crappie.

if your trolling motor has that capability, so that you don’t lose the school. There are many ways to fish these schools. There is spider-rigging, vertical-jigging, and--my go-to--casting and retrieving. When it comes to equipment, I like a light 6 ½’ or 7’ spinning rod paired with a spinning reel that is spooled with four-pound monofilament or four-pound fluorocarbon line. Which line I use depends on how fast I want the bait to sink. Fluorocarbon sinks faster than monofilament and really seems to disappear in the water. The faster sink can trigger reaction strikes as well. I also use four-pound monofilament line in low-vis green or clear, but generally no bigger than four-pound test in mono. When fishing in 30 to 40 feet of water I typically use an eighth ounce, unpainted J & H Minnow Head Jig with a red or bronze #2 hook. I’ll also use white, chartreuse, black or pink jig heads depending on conditions. Use bright colors if it’s sunny and dark or neutral colors if its overcast. If it’s windy I might upsize to a three-eights-ounce jig so I can maintain my connection with the bait. Regardless, it’s of utmost importance to maintain contact with your bait because strikes, at times, can be so subtle that if there’s any slack in your line you will miss them. Face the wind when you are casting, or face the direction of the current if it’s calm. Experiment with depth, counting down and reeling, until you 18 | FISH ARKANSAs

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find the depth of the crappie. They can move up and down in the water column when they are feeding, so you might have to change depths and retrieves. When the water is cold, use straight tailed jigs as they look more natural drifting slowly through the water column. Twister tails, I feel, look unnatural in cold water because of the spinning action of the tail. Instead, twisters are better in warmer water. Some go-to jigs are Kalin’s, Bobby Garland Baby Shad, Muddy Water Jigs and Leland’s Lures Crappie. Some colors that seem to work on sunny days are Electric Chicken, Chartreuse/Red Glitter, Monkey Milk and Purple/Silver Flake. On cloudy or overcast days use Black/Bubblegum, Black/Chartreuse, Blue/Silver Glitter. Experiment to see what color and type of bait you feel the most comfortable with. Slow retrieval is the key in cold water. When you think you’re reeling too slow, slow down. There are times when a steady retrieve is the ticket; other times you may have to start and stop or just let the bait drop a second or so to trigger a crappie to bite. But, when the air is crisp and you’ve located a school of these delicious game fish, there is nothing better than casting past that school of crappie, counting down to where you think they live, and slow reeling your bait of choice until you feel the thump of a slab. Better keep a net handy—if you can trick one into biting, more will follow.


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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 19


PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO

Because bass can often be found in underwater rock or brush piles, near trees or in other irregularities in the lake bed, good electronics makes finding their underwater hiding spots much easier.

DECODING THE WATER’S MESSAGES Winter patterns for Bass BY MARK HEDRICK

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inter can be a confounding time for bass anglers and, for that matter, for the bass themselves. Alternating cold and warm fronts in late fall keep water temperatures in a constant state of flux, making finding and fishing for bass a hit-or-miss proposition. However, if you follow some simple rules, it’ll help ease the chill of those cold weather fishing conditions. When the water in area lakes starts cooling into the low 70s to mid 60s, bass start looking to feed on baitfish and crawfish, fattening up for what is going to be a long winter. Bass will chase shad and other baitfish with reckless abandon, so use baits that mimic shad. Jerkbaits, Squarebill Crankbaits, Top Waters, Swim Jigs, even spinnerbaits will trigger strikes as the bass are preparing for winter. As the water continues to cool into the low 60s to high 50s, start gravitating toward major creek channels, as this is where the shad are going. Follow the shad because that’s what the bass are doing. Maybe it’s because the water is a little dingier and warms up faster in creeks, or it might be nutrient-rich water flow that attracts the shad to major creeks on your favorite lake, but none the less, the bass will be right there gorging on the available bounty. Look 20 | FISH ARKANSAs

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for drop offs or irregularities in the creek channels, or in the creek itself, and throw Swimbaits, Lipless Crankbaits, deeper-diving Crankbaits and Jig and Craw combos. Start slowing your presentations a little because the bass aren’t as aggressive due to the colder water temps. As the first frost of winter rolls in, start targeting channels looking for schools of baitfish wadded up. A cold front with a frost can shock these schools of baitfish and many times lakes will experience “Shad Kills” which trigger bass looking for an easy meal. I like to target standing timber along creek channels, bridge pilings or rock piles, dropping a CC Spoon directly on top of the baitfish letting it flutter down then lifting it quickly off the bottom to mimic the movement a dying shad. This technique requires using a heavy to medium with heavy rod with a fast tip spooled with 14- to 17-pound line and the strikes can be profound at times. Also, Crankbaits, Grubs and Swimbaits held in or cranked through these fish will work too. As winter rolls in and the water temperatures plunge, the bass, fattened up on the bounty of shad they pursued in late fall and early winter, move out to deeper water to spend the winter. This is when good electronics and mapping systems


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can make a huge difference. Look for irregularities in the topography of the lake. Rock ledges, rock or brush piles, fence rows, bridges, road beds, foundations and even trees afford shad a place to seek shelter and afford bass great ambush points. Before a bass was a predator, it was prey, so they know where to go for an easy meal. Because they are cold blooded, their metabolism slows considerably during the winter months so they won’t feed as often as they do when the water is warmer. Slow your presentations considerably as bass often don’t chase baits when the water is cold. Use Jig and Craw combos, large worms, Swimbaits, deep diving Crankbaits, even ¾ to one ounce Spinnerbaits “Slow Rolled” off channel breaks. Not every spot is going to hold bass, and fishing is not an exact science. We are well aware that going fishing is exactly that: going fishing. Even on the coldest days the fish could be where you don’t expect them. Experiment, but keep some of these thoughts handy, and hopefully it will enhance your winter fishing experience until the spring arrives and the bass start another migration. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21


FISHERMAN + HUNTER + PAINTER BY LACEY THACKER PHOTOGRAPHY MATTHEW MARTIN

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PHOTO BY JASON MASTERS

“Morning Mist” a watercolor by Duane Hada is an example of plein air, a method in which the artist paints live subjects on site. This scene was captured at Rim Shoals on the White River. (Below) Guide, Olympic fly-fishing coach and lifelong outdoorsman Duane Hada.

“I

paint what I know, what I love. I’m moved and inspired by what I pass every day,” says Duane Hada, artist and owner of Rivertown Gallery in Mountain Home. Duane began the gallery 17 years ago, the last two of which it’s been in its current location. “Mountain Home isn’t the art capital of anything,” he says, laughing, but notes that tourists and people with second homes in the area are his biggest customers. They come back year after year, and their love for the area urges them to buy original art that reminds them of the scenic location. Duane and his wife live around thirty minutes outside town, at a home in the woods where he also keeps a studio. “It’s been in me from a young age. I’m a very observant person. I’ve heard it said artists see the world differently than other people, but I only know how I see it,” Duane explains. That urge to create led Duane to the University of Central Arkansas, where he met his wife and graduated with a degree in art education. From there, they moved to Mena, where he taught high school art for several years. FOR LOVE OF THE OUTDOORS Duane has always been an avid outdoorsman. “We lived close to Crooked Creek when I was growing up, so I was fishing all the time,” he recalls. After several years of teaching, he jumped at the chance to work as a fly fishing pro and instructor when The Woodsman in Fort Smith offered him the job. He used to guide for an average of 188 days per year but now says that much guiding doesn’t leave a lot of time for painting. Today he guides occasionally, and friends get priority. It was his friend Rip Collins who caught the biggest brown trout in Arkansas history on the Little Red River in 1992. Duane was not guiding him on that particular day, but Rip asked that Duane be the one to paint the ten fiberglass replicas made to commemorate his catch. One of those replicas went to the International Game and Fish Commission, one to the International Fishing Hall of Fame, and yet another sits in Rivertown Gallery. “That was a neat honor,” Duane says. While fiberglass replicas have replaced skin mounts as the most popular way to memorialize a good catch, Duane also carves and then paints fish replicas from wood, a more traditional method. He comments that he’s responsible for many of the wooden fish you see being used as signs or decorations at businesses around the state. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23


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Left: Duane adds the last few details to a tailwater brown trout as it would appear swimming underwater Below: A portrait of a brown trout.

STYLE Many artists stick to one style, but Duane explores several. Some of his paintings are Impressionist—they are meant to capture the light, the color, the feel of a scene as he paints it. Some, like trout images painted from photos, are very precise, while still others are more “loose,” he says. In 1987, Duane painted the Arkansas trout stamp, which he credits as his first real launch into national recognition. As a result, Duane comments, “I’ve kind of been labeled as a fish artist, but that’s not all I do.” Indeed, his gallery is full of beautiful, diverse scenes from the Ozarks—paintings of landscapes, turkey and other wildlife. Lately, Duane has been doing more plein air paintings. He decided several years ago to travel the entire White River—about 722 miles—and do watercolors of the journey. It took him a couple years, as he didn’t do the entire trip at once, but it resulted in a stunning collection that was eventually published as a book, along with poetry written by his brother Ken, responding to select locations along the journey. A collector was so impressed with the book he purchased the entire collection, which he later donated to Arkansas State University to be put on permanent display.

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Clockwise from top left: Duane paints both hand-carved wooden fish and fiberglass reproductions. Duane’s workshop in the back of the gallery is filled with the many types of paint and tools he requires to create in several different styles and mediums. The gallery is filled with outdoor-themed art that ranges from paintings to carvings to chairs. Rivertown Gallery is located at 3512 US-62 in Mountain Home.

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FASTEST BRUSH When he was in college, a portfolio was required to pass several art courses. Some students would show up short on work; Duane always had extra. A fellow student remarked that he “just wasn’t inspired,” to which their instructor remarked that Duane was certainly inspired; perhaps he could share the source of his inspiration. Duane and his wife married the year before he graduated, so he responded to the professor, “I wake up every morning and look across the table and think, I’ve got to make some money today!” Duane once attended a festival in which artists were painting publicly. Many artists completed two paintings a day; Duane, however, finished around ten. “I’m very prolific. I paint daily. Maybe I should slow down, but I can’t. This guy in Colorado was watching me paint and he called me ‘the fastest brush in the west.’” The man asked Duane how long he’d been painting, acknowledging it must have been his entire life. Duane further explains that he and the man he was speaking with are at a point in their art at which, “You’re not thinking, you’re just looking and responding. I’ve got my ten thousand hours. I don’t have to sit there and think, how do I paint a tree? It comes from years of doing and a lot of hard work and experience.”

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Jeff Smith, founder of the Trout Magnet, holds up a largemouth bass of about 13 pounds. The bass was caught while on location in Alabama filming Commander Life: Fin Commander. The show can be seen on the Outdoor Channel at 6:30 on Monday nights.

FOR FISHING’S SAKE LELAND’S LURES AND THE STORY OF THE TROUT MAGNET BY MADISON HEDRICK

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PHOTO COURTESY AGRAHAM TAYLOR/NOVO STUDIO

Jeff shows off his Trout Slayer rod and Ballo reel, both Leland’s Lures.

J

eff Smith found a way to make a living doing what he loved: fishing. Jeff started experimenting with lures over 20 years ago while living in West Virginia, long before he became the owner of Leland’s Lures. Like many of us, Jeff and his friend--now business partner--Todd Leland Garner, began experimenting in Jeff’s garage with different lure types. They took it beyond the traditional dip-dying and repainting; his friend had some plastic molds that were used to make cake decorations. Jeff saw these and found out he could use them to mold plastic. After testing and trying different types, one specific size and weight would fall flat— not like the regular jigs usually used for trout and crappie, which fall headfirst. Something about this bait was different; it was as if the trout couldn’t resist it. Jeff thought he had hit the gold mine—in trout. Never did he imagine where this one bait would take him. In the ‘90s, Jeff made a move to the Natural State to attend Harding University in Searcy. The local trout streams gave Jeff many opportunities to fish and refine his lure. After college, Jeff returned to West Virginia hoping to teach and to work as a youth minister in small churches. Jeff kept fishing in West Virginia, and people started to take note of Jeff and his friends ripping lips and catching more trout than anyone else in the area. Of course, like most of us, Jeff was reluctant to share his secret and kept it in his small circle of friends and

fellow fishermen. But, the secret got out—Jeff had a new lure he made himself, which he called the Trout Magnet. As fate would have it, Jeff returned to Arkansas for a short time to recruit students to Harding University and met his wife, Bridget. He also was in the early stages of getting his bait to market. So, when you have a new bait, what is your first step? Well, most of us would start small, but Jeff started with retail giant Walmart. When a local Walmart in West Virginia wanted to sell Jeff’s baits in 1996, Jeff began to prepare for his first venture into the market. But suddenly, the rules changed. “The very next year, Walmart changed its policy and all sales had to go through Bentonville. I was one year late,” Jeff said. It seemed to him that the opportunity had passed. But, one fateful day at that same local Walmart, the manager called Jeff, “A guy is in the store today and can help you out. He is the east coast manager of Walmart and you need to get in here,” Jeff remembers the manager saying. So, Jeff went to Walmart and offered to take the man fishing. “We smoked ’em that day,” Jeff recalls. One week later, Jeff had signed a deal with Walmart. The original order was for 544 packets, and Jeff brought them into the store himself. By the afternoon every unit had sold. The Trout Magnet became the #1 selling trout lure. Since launch, Jeff has sold over 150 million Trout Magnets, and he has expanded the line to

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29


Clockwise from left: Jeff and his friend John Godwin caught this trout on the Little Red River. Jeff and his son also frequently fish the Little Red River using the Trout Magnet, still visible here in the trout’s mouth. Leland’s Lures has expanded to include a comprehensive line of tackle.

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include baits for crappie and an assortment of colors, heads, tails and other products. Internet orders and other small orders are filled at the Searcy location, while larger orders are filled at the facility in West Virginia. Jeff takes pride in his lures and who makes them: at any given time he employs at least 40 people with disabilities who assemble the lures. The most recent development in the line involves a partnership with Willie Robertson of Duck Commander. This series of baits is part of “Commander Life,” and you can already buy the Fin Commander in Walmart and other local stores. Local storeowner Tony Zimmerman, of Zimmerman Sports Stores at 5223 South University Avenue in Little Rock has a lot to say about Jeff and his baits. “Jeff is a super guy. Can’t get a better person. He’s a great Christian and a down to earth person. You would never know he has this big company. Good ol’ country boy.” When asked about when and why he started carrying Jeff’s baits, Tony Zimmerman continued, “I started carrying his baits 10 years ago—I knew him as a friend—and I was kind of

hesitant, but then, gosh, everybody was requesting them. Now I have to reorder every two weeks.” Zimmerman sees the AGFC as a driving force in pushing these units off the shelves in his store. “Especially with the stocking involved in the Urban Stocking Program. In fact, [Game and Fish] just stocked the trout last week […] and the Trout Magnet works great for that. Anybody can come by here to the store, I’ll show them what to get, and where to go, and they can catch these trout.” I went by Zimmerman’s and Tony was not joking; he will set you up to fish in just 15 minutes. If you want the real-life, on-the-river experience, fear not: Sore Lip ’Em All Guide Service is available to anyone interested in using the Trout Magnet and getting the real experience of the Little Red River. The service combines the experience and knowledge of spin fishing with the Trout Magnet and fly-fishing to create the best-of-its-kind guide service. You can go online and book a four- or eight-hour trip. When I asked Jeff where he would fish if he knew today was his last day and his last trip, Jeff quickly responded, “The Little Red River. Below the bridge. No doubt. That’s where I’d go.”

to s e c a l Best P e n i L a Cast We talked to fishing guides, and well known, well respected locals. They hemmed and hawed a little and had the general consensus that “fishermen don’t tell they show”. Eventually, in the spirit of tradition and in hopes that this favorite past time will be shared with the next generation they relented and shared a few of their best places to cast a line with us and a few tips. First thing to know is the Little Red River is where you go to catch Trout. Greers Ferry Lake is where you go to catch pretty much everything else including Walleye, Crappie, Kentucky Blackbass, and Hybrids. We’ll guide you to both, but if you’ve never had a fishing guide we have some of the best and recommend you hire an experienced guide at least once in your lifetime. For more best places & tips . . .

Bonus Lake & River Map Get the “Gone Fishing” Guide & Free Downloadable Photo Book at visitgreersferrylake.org/fish. Our Gift to You and the Big & Little Fisherman in Your Life. Paid for with a combination of state & regional funds. visitgreersferrylake.org ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31


PHOTO COURTESY AGFC

From the archives of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, a photo of the late Aaron Mardis of Memphis holding his Arkansas state record bass caught in 1976.

RECORD CONTROVERSY

PLUS, WHERE WILL THE NEXT BASS RECORD COME FROM? BY LACEY THACKER

T

he history of record keeping in bass fishing is surprisingly controversial, at both the state and world levels. In 1932, George Perry of Georgia caught a 22-pound-fourounce bass on Montgomery Lake. However, that was long before strict record keeping rules were in place, so, while a photo was taken, the fish was weighed at a post office and measured at a local grocery—not certified by any official body. And because the big catch happened during the Great Depression, the only thing to be done after these rough measurements were recorded was to take it home and serve it for supper! Anglers the world over chased Perry’s record for decades; when it was finally broken by Manabu Kurita in 2009, with a catch of 22 pounds 4.97 ounces pulled from Japan’s Lake Biwa, a minor controversy again arose. Because the International Game Fish Association requires a record of less than 25 pounds be surpassed by at least two ounces, the recent catch is only considered a tie with Perry’s--not a new record, despite the lack of hard evidence regarding Perry’s 1932 catch. And what about Arkansas’ state records? In March of 1976, Aaron Mardis was fishing Mallard Lake in Mississippi County. He’d been chasing a record for months, and on the day he caught the record holder, he nearly threw the record fish back, not believing it was large enough to warrant keeping to measure. He didn’t realize he already had the record in the cooler as he continued to fish the day away. When he got home, nearly twelve hours later, and weighed his catch, he found it was a little over 16.5 pounds. He went back out and got it notarized before throwing it in the freezer, but he found out the next day that to qualify as a record it had to be certified by a Game and Fish officer. By the time 32 | FISH ARKANSAs

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it was certified, it had been a day and a half since it was caught, but it still weighed in at 16 pounds four ounces; the old record was only 13 pounds and change. Had he followed the procedure correctly from the beginning, that record could have been as much as 17 pounds. Mardis’ record was finally surpassed in March of 2012— temporarily. Paul Crowder, an avid fisherman, had also been chasing the state record. Sadly, it turned out the angler didn’t have a fishing license the day he caught the 16.5-pound bass on Lake Dunn. As a result, his record was invalidated and Mardis’ still stands. The thousands of anglers who fish Arkansas’ bass waters every year know there’s a new record breaker just waiting to be caught—the question is: where? Jason Olive, assistant chief of fisheries for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says that, logically speaking, there are several contenders for body of water from which the new record will likely come. After being renovated several years ago, Lake Atkins began producing large fish, though Olive says it may have peaked. “Lake White Oak has been recently renovated. We’re just now seeing eight-pound bass, but in a few years it would be one to watch,” Olive said. Lake Dunn in Cross County, where the invalidated record was caught in 2012, also regularly produces large fish. Less likely, but still hovering near the list, are Millwood Lake and Barnett Lake, both of which have been producing fish weighing in the double digits. Though experts can speculate about where it will happen, the reality is the record could come from somewhere completely off the radar. A piece of advice to whomever catches the next record: buy a fishing license before you fish, and have the catch certified as soon as possible!


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asting for Recovery, a 501(c)(3), began in 1996 and was founded by a breast reconstruction surgeon and a professional fly fisherman. According to their site, their mission is to “enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.” Casting for Recovery currently serves around 800 women yearly, and each retreat is offered at no charge to participants. Last June the Arkansas/ Oklahoma chapter held a retreat for 14 women at the River Ridge Inn on the Norfolk River--and every woman caught a fish! The ages of participants ranged from late 20s to mid-70s. According to Arkansas program coordinator Sherry Barnhart, “The ladies have a bond that doesn’t depend upon time and circumstances. For an entire weekend they can take chemo and radiation off of their plate, along with the fear of cancer recurring and worries about their families and anxiety over the unknown, and they just get to be. This weekend is all about them—learning to fly fish while meeting others who are on a similar journey. “ The Arkansas/Oklahoma chapter is anticipating a late spring/ early summer retreat in 2018. Check the CFR website for updates at castingforrecovery.org.

“I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO BE AROUND A GROUP OF WOMEN WHO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN THROUGH AND EXACTLY WHAT I’M FEELING. IT’S BEEN A REALLY LONG TIME SINCE I FELT LIKE I “BELONGED” SOMEWHERE.”

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PHOTO BY RICHARD LEDBETTER/RICKY DOUGAN

Commercial fisherman Ricky Dougan of Scott hauls in a large buffalo fish from the Arkansas River.

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FISHERMEN SHARE HOW THEY PUT TO GOOD USE FISH THAT MIGHT OTHERWISE BE DISCARDED BY RICHARD LEDBETTER

CATCHING ROUGH FISH

W

hen one thinks of good eating fish, catfish, bass, brim and crappie typically come to mind. But that’s not to say there aren’t other freshwater species that are sometimes caught and served among a more elite group of Arkansas diners. Drum, carp, suckers, gar, grinnell, paddlefish and buffalo are referred to as “rough fish” by wildlife agencies to describe the less desirable sport-fishing species. They’re what many anglers throw back as unfit. But with a little extra care, even the roughest fish may be made palatable. In fact, as an acquired taste, some folks prefer them over more traditional aquatic fare. We sought out Southeast-Arkansas natives with rough fish experience to learn about the upside of the less-popular species. James Golden from near Kingsland has fished the Saline River pert nearly all his life. He notes that while folks think bass is a good fighting fish, they’ve never gotten ahold of the right grinnell. He says they put up quite a fight. “We use a stiff cane pole and fly line. Leave a shrimp lying on the boat seat until it’s good and smelly and put that on a heavy hook. Grinnell will tear it up. You have to jerk real strong to set the hook because their mouth is so hard. But then the fight is on,” he explains. Though it can be eaten by humans, Golden says as far as eating, he mainly uses grinnell to fatten his hogs. Believe it or not, in certain northeastern and Asian markets, grinnell and paddlefish eggs are popular caviar. In fact, paddlefish caviar can even be found in Marvell, Arkansas at George’s Market. The price depends on the season and availability, but it can go for as much as $100 per pound. Those aren’t the only rough fish Golden is experienced in catching. Golden also said he’s caught multiple buffalo on Atkins Lake with only a jig pole, ten-pound test line and six-pound hook, adding, “I never thought I’d land him, but we managed to get it in the boat with a dip net. When we put him

in the live well he was so big we like to never got him out.” Golden offers a little advice for preparing buffalo: first, gut the fish and cut around the head to fleece the skin off each side around the fins. Score him across the belly into steaks and, he says, “there’s a lot of good meat from head to tail.” Be careful, though, because there’s a mess of bones in the top side. T.C. Ashcraft of Warren has been fishing Pendleton on the Arkansas River for forty-seven years. He told us a hoop or tie down net used most any time of year on the Arkansas will result in catching all the fish you want. He catches a lot of gar in those nets and the occasional paddle-bill. He says, “Paddlebill catfish are all cartilage with no bones. You score around the tail and twist it to pull out the whole spinal cord at once. If you rupture that cord, you’ve ruined the entire fish.” He warns chefs to expect to throw away a certain amount of meat to get to the good part, adding, “You slice off the outer layer of dark meat and toss that away. The white meat underneath is what you’re after. Cut that crossways into steaks, meal and fry it and it’s not bad. It has a texture similar to chicken.” PREPARING ROUGH FISH Past Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) director Mike Knoedl said,, “If you carve out the tenderloin along either side of a gar’s back bone and slice out nuggets, it wads up into balls. Fry that and eat them while they’re hot and that’s pretty good. But you better eat it as soon as it comes out of the grease or you may not eat it at all.” Ricky Dougan of Scott has been commercial fishing since 1988. Despite the regional popularity of catfish, he says he sells more buffalo fish these days, adding, “I’m not so sure there is that much greater demand, it’s just there are a lot fewer fishermen and you can’t buy buffalo ribs just anywhere anymore. There are probably two-thirds fewer commercial ARKANSASWILD.COM | 35


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George’s Fish market has been selling rough fish for decades. The owner, Jessie George, added paddlefish caviar to their lineup in the late 90s. Perhaps surprisingly, the taste is similar to that of “fancy” caviar.


Ricky Dougan’s oven baked Asian carp accompanied by rice and Cajun gumbo. So fit to eat you’d never know it was rough fish.

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fishers than thirty years ago because of old-timers dying off and not as many young people taking up the hard trade.” COOKING WITH ROUGH FISH Sharing a few of his favorite rough fish recipes, Dougan said, “Gaspergou (drum) can imitate crab if you skin and fillet it like a bass. Pressure-cook the loin with some crab boil to tenderize it. Mash that up with onions, celery and crackers to form paddies. Corn meal and brown both sides in a cast-iron skillet and it tastes just like crab cakes.” Switching species, he continues with the best way to prepare Asian carp. Take a 20- to 30-pound Asian carp, skin it out and cut off all the fat red meat on the outside. “Sear that white fillet on both sides in olive oil with a cast-iron skillet. Shove skillet and all in the oven on high heat for about fifteen minutes. There are a lot of little bones in carp but ‘the fleas come with the dog,’ as they say. When you take it out of the oven, rake a fork through the white flaky meat and those bones pull right out. Squeeze some lemon into a garlic and butter sauce to dip that tender tasty meat in and you’ve got some good eating.” “As far as gar,” Dougan said, “needle-nose are preferable to alligatorgar, ’cause they’re more tender. Boil and grind it real fine and mix the meat with onions, celery and crackers to make cakes you drop in hot grease to deep fry. Slap that between a couple slices of bread and some people like it a lot.” Wearing a telltale grin, Dougan asked, “Do you know how to fix German carp? Scale and gut it, leaving the skin and head on. Stuff that with garlic and lemon and put it on a cedar board in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour. When you pull it out, throw away the carp and eat the cedar plank because there’s nothing you can do to make German carp edible!” For more rough fish recipes read, “The Treasures of White Trash Cooking” by Ernest and Trisha Mickler.

Get your Arkansas hunting and fishing license at agfc.com and help fuel conservation projects. • Keep streams healthy. • Improve habitat for migrating birds. • Increase access for hikers and paddlers. • Educate the next generation. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 37


THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FLY TYING An ancient practice hooks new practitioners BY AUSTIN ORR

L

et’s pretend you’re stranded in an unfamiliar wilderness area. You’ve got basic survival gear, some shelter, and you’re set up near a cold, swift stream. Standing on the shore, you watch hungrily as big, delicious fish swim around eating tiny bugs that you can barely see, much less hope to use for bait. You’ve got the clothes on your back, a few small hooks and some fishing line. Inspiration strikes; you pick up a couple feathers from the ground, unravel thread from your shirt and create your own crude bug-on-a-hook. Congratulations: your chances of getting a fish dinner just went up substantially. The idea of creating an artificial fly to imitate what fish are eating is old. Experts on the topic disagree just how old, but most estimate around 3,000 years. Advances in science led to enormous leaps in fly tying technology, but the aim remains the same: using non-living materials to create a facsimile of a living or non-living thing that is convincing enough to entice a fish to eat that creation. It can be argued that this moment of interaction--what fly fishermen call ‘the eat’-- is the main reason many fly guys and gals stick with this challenging sport. Insects are not the only prey that fly fishermen and women want to emulate; there are fly patterns to imitate everything from mice to mulberries, snails to snakes. In this context, the word ‘pattern’ refers to the specific set of steps, materials and techniques required to create a particular fly. These patterns are often given unique and colorful names, much like different models of automobile or flavors of ice cream, so fly fishers can easily reference which fly is being discussed. Professional fly tiers turn an exceptionally critical eye on every aspect of the flies they create. These experts plan out the type of materials and hook they will use, how those materials will be placed onto the hook and in what order, and sometimes even the number of thread wraps that should be used to bind the materials in place. One such pro tier is Matt Bennett of flygeek.com. A featured pattern of his, called the ‘Lunch Money,’ is designed to mimic a small fish.

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PHOTOS BY MATT BENNETT OF FLY GEEK FLY TYING

Flies can be made in any color variation to suit the needs of the fisherman and what they hope to catch.


As flies wear out or are lost they must be replaced, so serious fly tying is an ongoing practice that sometimes results in quite a collection.

FLY TYING IS ESTIMATED TO BE A 3,000-YEAR-OLD PRACTICE.

To do this, Matt carefully selects just the right types of materials to provide the basic shape of a small fish, with a larger head tapering down toward the tail. The dense synthetic fibers in the head of the fly provide this shape while also adding color and a little bit of flash. Lifelike swimming motion is imparted by the natural hair used to create the tail as well as the strands of rubber. The eyes are another important touch: made from lead, they add weight to the pattern and help it swim correctly through the water. Different colors can help imitate specific types of fish, from minnows and shad to baby bass or trout. If you’re interested in learning more about the art and science of fly tying, The Sowbug Roundup is a three-day fly tying and fly fishing show that is held in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The next Roundup will be held March 22, 23rd and 24th of 2018. With over 100 different fly tiers in attendance, this is one of the premier fly tying events in the United States. Entrance fee is $5 per person for the three-day pass.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 39


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Arkansas resident Peter Trabant, avid kayak fisherman, casts his line into Lake Coronado in Hot Springs Village.

Urban Kayaking

QUICK FISHING TRIPS CLOSE TO HOME BY JIM PETERSEN

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Left to right: The Arkansas River near Two Rivers Park in Little Rock makes for an easily-accessed spot to drop in a kayak nearly any time you get the urge to fish. A largemouth bass is just one of the species urban kayak anglers can find.

PHOTOS BY CHARLES BRUNK/JIM PETERSEN

I

’m a minimalist, with a streak of Luddite. I’m happy with a thick slice of bologna on a hamburger bun. No condiments, please. No muss, no fuss; keep it simple. So I guess it’s only natural that I’m often happy fishing close to home out of a kayak. Kayaks are stealthy, maneuverable and versatile. The biggest downside is their lack of range and speed compared to powerboats, but that’s hardly a drawback if the upsides are appealing enough. After all, fishing close to home or work has its advantages. It’s that no-muss, no-fuss thing again. We have an abundance of water in Arkansas, and even ankle-deep water will almost float a kayak, so most urban areas have several kayak accessible streams, lakes and ponds. Fishing urban areas out of kayaks, anglers can target several species, including largemouth bass, several types of sunfish, crappie and catfish. In the right place, fish like walleye, freshwater drum and trout can be brought to hand. And the promise of communion with Mother Nature that a kayak offers is a wonderful bonus. There’s just not an app for that. Let’s start with Little Rock. A boat ramp just upstream from the I-430 bridge provides immediate access to the Arkansas River and the Little Maumelle River. Within five minutes of dropping your boat in the water you can either be fishing among the Little Maumelle’s lily pads and cattails, a protected backwater of the Arkansas River, or navigating the riprap and submerged sand bars of the main channel of the Arkansas. A little farther south, Fourche Creek flows through the heart of Little Rock. With its beautiful overhanging canopy of cypress, maple and sycamore, Fourche Creek is the perfect setting for a kayak excursion and fishing might even turn out to be an afterthought. In Conway there is a spot that, like that Little Rock boat ramp, offers three varied fishing spots to “float your boat.” The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Caney Creek access is about two miles east and south of the Dave Ward Road exit off I-40. From the Caney Creek

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 43


PLACES TO URBAN KAYAK FISH

LITTLE ROCK Arkansas River and Fourche Creek PINE BLUFF Lake Saracen FAYETTEVILLE-SPRINGDALEROGERS-BENTONVILLE CORRIDOR Lake Fayetteville, Lake Atalanta and several other lakes. ARKADELPHIA Ouachita River CONWAY Lake Conway and Lake Beaverfork JONESBORO Craighead Forest Park Lake HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE Lake Coronado Many cities and towns also have lakes in city parks and storm water-retention ponds in newer subdivisions.

Jason Adams, professional bass fisherman, uses a pedal-powered fishing kayak to fish urban waters on a regular basis. Here, he fishes Lake Atalanta in Rogers. 44 | FISH ARKANSAs

ISSUE NO. 3


“I have a need to be on the water.''

PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO

—PETER TRABANT

access anglers can fish about a half mile of Caney Creek on its way to Lake Conway. Other than in the creek channel, much of the lake is less than a paddle deep. Along with the bass and brim that swim among the lily pads, carp and gar are common in the shallowest areas. Slightly deeper water can be found a half mile down lake. The other urban lake in Conway, Lake Beaverfork, lies along the northern city limits. It can be accessed at the western end of the lake. A few stolen hours of kayak fishing can make the work week or overbooked weekend more bearable. A few precious hours among the orange dragonflies, redwinged blackbirds, and green herons waiting for a tug on the line are priceless. Lake Conway is perfect for that, and so is Lake Saracen. Lake Saracen, in Pine Bluff, is a good crappie lake. The typical mix of warm water fish is also present. There is an Arkansas Game and Fish ramp at the northeast corner of the lake that provides access to Lake Saracen and from the northeast corner of the parking lot there is access to a stream that flows into Lake Langhofer. Kayak anglers in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-Bentonville area can find a number of urban spots to wet a toe and a worm—particularly if we relax the definition of urban. Lakes include Elmdale, Fayetteville, Atalanta, Sequoyah, Bob Kidd and Beaver. Of some note, Atalanta is stocked with rainbow trout in the late fall and into winter and Bob Kidd has had a reputation for large redear sunfish. Craighead Forest Lake in Jonesboro is a 60-acre oak-leaf shaped lake with easy kayak access to most of its coves. The lake’s small size and irregular shape should make this a great lake for speed dating bluegill and bass by kayak. If you live in Arkadelphia you already know about the Ouachita River. Access is available at the Speer Pavilion and Garden or on the east side of the river just above the Highway 7 bridge. Walleye are possible in the Ouachita; that’s unusual for an urban stream. Slow velocities allow some upstream paddling before fishing and floating back to your vehicle. This list of urban kayaking spots is far from complete—even for most of the listed cities and towns—so if you live or work in an urban area, chances are there is a convenient spot to spend a piece of your time and catch a few fish near you.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 45


TOP MARINAS

Bassmaster Magazine, in their recent list “25 Best Bass Lakes: Central,” included four Arkansas lakes among their picks. Those lakes—Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Dardanelle, Lake Ouachita and Millwood Lake—are spread from the north to the south. Bassmaster Magazine calls Lake Ouachita full of “amazing potential,” while they note Bull Shoals Lake’s sampling in 2017 “resulted in the highest per-hour catch rate since spring sampling began in 1987.” Bassmaster Magazine also said Lake Dardanelle “reported a healthy rate of four-pounders,” and that “twenty-five-pound bags are not uncommon during springtime tournaments” at Millwood Lake.

MOUNTAIN HARBOR RESORT AND SPA

RUSSELLVILLE MARINA, BOAT REPAIR & CABINS

SUGARLOAF HARBOR MARINA

MILLWOOD STATE PARK MARINA

GPS: 34.5717° N, 93.4381° W 994 Mountain Harbor Rd, Mt Ida (870) 867-2191 mountainharborresort.com Mountain Harbor is home to a marina on Lake Ouachita offering boat and slip rentals as well as a fully-stocked dock store, excellent restaurant dining and a variety of lodging options.

GPS: 36.4750° N, 92.9212° W 1502 Shoreline Drive, Diamond City (870) 422-2900 sugarloafharbormarina.com Sugarloaf Harbor Marina is conveniently located on 45,000-acre Bull Shoals Lake. They offer more than just boat docking; they also have slip rentals, boat rentals, a well-stocked dock store and even scuba diving! 46 | FISH ARKANSAs

ISSUE NO. 3

GPS: 35.2909° N, 93.2053° W 330 Beach Road, Russellville (479) 967-1543 russellvillemarina.com This easily-accessed marina on Lake Dardanelle is well-known for its friendly service and reasonably-priced amenities.

GPS: 33.6774° N, 93.9874° W 1564 Hwy. 32 East, Ashdown 870-898-2800 arkansasstateparks.com Aside from boat and slip rental, this marina also offers kayak rental for a fun day on 95,200-acre Millwood Lake. The park also offers camp and picnic sites as well as a fully-stocked marina store.


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Pete Clark of Malvern shows off the ever allusive Big Al, a 3.84 pound largemouth bass caught on Lake Hamilton during the 2017 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge.

FEBRUARY 3

ARKANSAS BASS TEAM TRAIL, LAKE OUACHITA

FEBRUARY 9

BEGINNING LURE CRAFT, FORT SMITH agfc.com

MARCH 13

MR. BASS OF ARKANSAS, LAKE DARDANELLE

MARCH 22-24

ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL SOWBUG ROUNDUP, MOUNTAIN HOME

MAY 1JULY 31

7TH ANNUAL HOT SPRINGS FISHING CHALLENGE, LAKES CATHERINE & HAMILTON

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APRIL 21

THE BASS FEDERATION OF ARKANSAS TOURNAMENT, LAKE DARDANELLE

JUNE 1-3

ARKANSAS YOUTH TOURNAMENT TRAIL

JUNE 9

CHILDREN’S FISHING DERBY, CLARKSVILLE

JUNE 29JULY 1 48 | FISH ARKANSAs

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ISSUE NO. 3

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PHOTO BY BRIAN CHILSON

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PHOTO COURTESY AGFC

COMMUNITY FISHING PROGRAM

According to the AGFC website, “The Family and Community Fisheries Program enhances and creates destinations in urban areas, so excellent fishing is available within a stone’s throw of all Arkansans.” To facilitate that goal, the AGFC holds fishing derbies, beginner fishing clinics and tagged fish contests throughout the year. There are nearly forty Community Fishing destinations across the state, and from March through October, catfish is stocked at those locations every two to four weeks, while from November through March trout is regularly stocked. For a list of Community Fishing destinations and stocking dates, visit agfc.com.

DISCOVER

DIAMOND LAKES THERE’S A LOT TO LOVE ABOUT THE DIAMOND LAKES REGION. Much of which you can see all around you – scenic drives, lakes and rivers, mountains, forests, state parks, attractions – while others are waiting to be discovered when you dig a little deeper. There are a myriad of lodging options from downtown hotels to lake resorts and award-winning marinas to use as outposts to access lake adventures. It’s a special place with history, adventure and beauty in these Ouachita Mountain foothills.

3 RIVERS 5 5

2018 FISHING EVENTS

DEGRAY LAKE

ARKANSAS BASS TEAM TRAIL TOURNAMENT:

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May 5

LAKE CATHERINE

HOT SPRINGS FISHING CHALLENGE: May 1 - July 31

DIAMOND

LAKE HAMILTON

LAKES

ARKANSAS BASS TEAM TRAIL TOURNAMENT: Mr. Bass - Jan. 21 TBF of Arkansas - Feb. 10

HOT SPRINGS FISHING CHALLENGE:

CATHERINE • DEGRAY • GREESON HAMILTON • OUACHITA

May 1 - July 31

S TAT E

JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Aug. 8-11

ARKANSAS YOUTH TOURNAMENT TRAIL 2017-2018 aryouthfishing.com

February 17 - Lake Greeson March 10 - Lake Dardanelle April 7 - Lake Hamilton April 21 - Greers Ferry June 1-3 - Championship

DERBIES

arkansas.com June 9 - Children’s Fishing Derby Clarksville June 2 – Kids Fishing Derby Diamond City

PARKS

LAKE OUACHITA

ARKANSAS BASS MASTER HIGH SCHOOL SERIES: (Tompkins Bend) - April 14-15

ARKANSAS BASS TEAM TRAIL TOURNAMENT: (Mtn. Harbor) Feb. 3

BARLING BOAT SALES TEAM TRAIL TOURNAMENT: (Mtn. Harbor) - April 7

FLW: T-H Marine BFL Tournament (Mtn. Harbor) - Feb. 17 Forrest Wood Cup Fishing Tournament (Brady Mtn.) - Aug. 10-12

J. PERRY MIKLES MEMORIAL BASS TOURNAMENT: (Tompkins Bend) - Feb. 17 and March 31

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This ad is paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 49


Frank Saska, professional fishing guide, has over 24 years of experience guiding new and seasoned fishermen. Saska is one of more than a dozen guides who work at Gaston’s White River Resort.

TOP REASONS TO USE A FISHING GUIDE

CLINT GASTON, OWNER OF GASTON’S WHITE RIVER RESORT, SAYS THOSE NEW TO FISHING WILL CATCH MORE FISH AND STRENGTHEN THEIR SKILLS WITH HELP FROM A PROFESSIONAL. Navigating the river. Guides know how to navigate through shallow or swift water to get to the best fishing spots. Fishing Tactics. Guides fish the water daily, therefore they know what has been working well and how to fish in the current environment. Different baits also require different techniques. Failure to fish the bait in the right manner will decrease effectiveness, but a good guide can teach those techniques. Learning Experience. Fishing with a guide provides the opportunity to learn things from someone who has devoted their life to fishing. Whether it’s how to cast properly, how to tie a knot, how to handle fish, how to clean fish or how to cook a fish, the list goes on and on. More Opportunities to Catch Fish. The guides will prep the bait for you and instruct you how to fish it. They take all the guesswork out of it for you. Regulations. Each river usually has its own set of rules and regulations. There are limits and size restrictions on certain species of fish as well as certain areas of the river that are catch and release only. Failure to obey the rules and regulations can result in a ticket. Safety. Many rivers can be hazardous if unfamiliar with the obstructions that may be in the water such as trees, rocks and other obstructions. Knowledge. By fishing with a guide, you are able to pick up their tactics and philosophy. You will gain the knowledge of someone who has fished the river for many years in only a day.

50 | FISH ARKANSAs

ISSUE NO. 3

PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO

LAST CATCH


The home for

Peak fishing excitement.

Our mountains may be high, but our valley is stocked with a 34,300-acre tournament fishing lake. Lake Dardanelle State Park features a massive reservoir connected to the Arkansas River. Known for its thriving fishery, and host to several major tournaments, Lake Dardanelle offers camp grounds, meeting facilities, a world-class tournament weigh-in facility, and three marinas that also serve the Arkansas River. The many lakes and streams across our six-county area are simply overflowing with popular fishing holes, and we’ll be happy to help find yours.

This advertisement was paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds.

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#VisitTriPeaks ARKANSASWILD.COM | 51


YOUR LICENSE TO

FUN

Arkansas is rich in fish – more than 200 species swim through 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,700 miles of rivers and streams. Anyone may fish for world-record trout in cold tailwaters, pursue smallmouth bass on a Buffalo National River float trip or take home a limit of crappie or catfish from storied lakes. You are just a click and a cast away from fun. 52 | FISH ARKANSAs

ISSUE NO. 3

BUY A FISHING LICENSE AT AGFC.COM

Fish Arkansas 2018 | Arkansas Wild  
Fish Arkansas 2018 | Arkansas Wild