A SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF
CROWN JEWELS OF ARKANSAS
THE NEW FACE OF PRO FISHING, BEAU BROWNING SEE PAGE 30
Junior Champions Stake Their Claim
FISH FRYING AT ITS FINEST
URBAN ANGLING Fly Fishing for City Slickers
Elite Tips for a Great Catch ISSU E NO . 2 | 2 01 7 A R KA NSASWIL D. CO M #FISHA RMAG
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IN THIS ISSUE ARKANSASWILD.COM FAcebook.com/FISHARmag
Jim Peterson uses a wide selection of colorful flies on urban lakes and streams around Arkansas. See story on page 38.
CROWN JEWELS 12
CITY FISHING ON THE FLY
FATASTIC FISHING ACROSS ARKANSAS
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
OUT IN BUILDING BETTER FISHERIES THE COLD
45 FISH ARKANSAS RESORT GUIDE 46 ARKANSAS STATE PARKS MARINA GUIDE 51 BOAT BUYERS GUIDE
IN EVERY ISSUE 8 GUEST EDITORâ€™S NOTE 10 GEAR ESSENTIALS 48 EVENTS 58 LAST CATCH
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On the cover: Junior champion Beau Browning fishes for bass on Lake Catherine. Photo by Novo Studio
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LINDA PHILLIPS Billing/Collections KELLY JONES Office Manager/Accounts Receivable ANITRA HICKMAN Circulation Director All Contents © 2016 Arkansas Wild 201 E. Markham St., Suite 200 Little Rock AR, 72201 501.375.2985
JILL ROHRBACH is a travel writer for the Arkansas Tourism Department, seeking out adventure, destination and outdoor fun to share with readers.
JIM PETERSON is an avid fly fisherman and naturalist. He is a retired hydrologist and aquatic biologist with a special interest in Ozark streams.
PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and operator of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.
ZOIE CLIFT works as a journalist for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. She enjoys outdoors reporting and exploring the trails and backroads of Arkansas.
DWAIN HEBDA is a Little Rock-based journalist and president of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths. He has written on a range of subject matter for a number of publications in the Natural State and beyond.
KAT ROBINSON is an Arkansas travel writer and foodways enthusiast living in Little Rock. The author of three travel dining guides (including Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State).
JONNY HAWKINS is a full time cartoonist whose work has appeared in over 900 publications since 1986. Places like Readerâ€™s Digest, Parade Magazine, Guideposts, Leadership, Christianity Today, American Heart Association, Field and Stream and 76 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
AGFC will be stocking rainbow trout this winter. Visit TakeMeFishingAR.com to find a pond or lake near you. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 7
KINGS RIVER FLOAT TRIP
GUEST EDITOR‘S NOTE
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ISSUE NO. 2
PHOTO BY MATT HEDRICK
an ozark river adventure
’ve always loved fishing in Arkansas—and as long as I can remember, fishing has had me hooked. From the anticipation of just “going fishing” to the quality time and memories built with my dad, grandparents, friends and family, fishing is an activity everyone should experience. As co-host of “Ray Tucker’s Arkansas Outdoors,” Ray Tucker, Bryan Hendricks and myself (along with our many guests), strive to provide entertaining and valuable information about hunting, fishing and the Arkansas outdoors. Arkansas Wild magazine’s Fish Arkansas special edition endeavors to do just that. I am honored to be the guest editor of this magazine’s fishing edition and hope that you are entertained and enjoy the knowledge contained in this issue.
With the diverse fisheries Arkansas has to offer, it’s no wonder we have some of the best professional and amateur anglers in the nation who still cherish the anticipation of just “going fishing” and sharing their memories, knowledge and passion with us. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue, I am proud to be a part of it.
Mark Hedrick Co-host “Ray Tucker’s Arkansas Outdoors” The Buzz 103.7 facebook.com/ raytuckersarkansasoutdoors
A TROPHY Naturally Made
Arkansas is the place where fishermen come to create lasting impressions, whether theyâ€™re mounted on your living room wall or a snapshot on social media. Learn more about fishing and the memories waiting to be made in The Natural State at arkansas.com/outdoors/ fishing/. What will you make in Arkansas? Arkansas.com
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DECKED OUT No matter your target species, great gear is tantamount to great fishing BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
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BUILDING BETTER FISHERIES
Attracting more, younger anglers a top priority for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission volunteers place PVC structures for use as fish habitats in Greer’s Ferry Lake.
ssessing the state of Arkansas angling is treading into tricky waters. As Ben Batten, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) assistant chief of fisheries points out, keeping the state’s lucrative fishing culture going requires a lot more than stocking lakes and issuing permits. Some of the most pressing issues, in fact, have more to do with who’s above the surface than what’s swimming underneath of it. “There are three tenets of fish management: the habitat, the fish and people; and of those three things, the people are probably the ones that are changing the most,” Ben says. “A lot of times, we’re trying to adapt our management to keep up with what people want.” Fishing participation is down nationwide, though less so in Arkansas than other parts of the country. Seasonality has much to do with Arkansas permit sales fluctuations–spring weather can do as much to help or harm numbers as anything. But it’s what growing numbers of fishermen and women are doing out on the water or in Arkansas’ streams that’s dramatically different than their parents and grandparents, and these new behaviors affect every step of the state’s fishing control systems. “As recently as 1988, people were harvesting about threefourths of the rainbow trout that they caught,” Ben notes. “Last year, the harvest rate was about 20 percent. When you’re doing what we do, which is grow trout and stock them, and your people go from keeping three-quarters of them to only keeping one-fifth of them, you need to change your tactics. The fish themselves and the environment, they’re changing a little bit, but not nearly as rapidly as the people.”
Ben says there’s no clear explanation as to why today’s angler is more likely to release a fish than previous generations. Anecdotally, he suggested changing cultural attitudes and societal conditions play some part in the trend. “I wouldn’t want to pin it on one thing,” he says, “but if you think about folks that were born in the 1920s and 30s, they wouldn’t have ever thrown anything back because they needed it. It wasn’t even a choice. You kept everything you could [and] there still is a contingent of people that are interested in it for that tradition.” “And then, there’s a new group that is more interested in just wanting a picture of four or five fish they caught, put it on Facebook, let them go and be on their merry way. They don’t want to cook, they don’t want to clean, don’t want to mess with it.” More households led by single moms, many of whom lack either the background in outdoors activities, the time to take their children out or both, have also been identified as a concern for the future. In response, the AGFC has introduced programs targeting women to help give them an orientation to the outdoors in the hopes that they will pass these skills onto their children. Ben says it is too early to see the payoff of these programs, and that for now the sport’s numbers are buoyed largely by tradition. But tradition is a fragile thing if it is not maintained by each succeeding generation and he notes it’s dangerous to expect a single program to stand up against the many other activities competing for people’s time. Continued on page 14
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PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION
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“In the South, we’re fortunate that fishing and hunting is really more ingrained,” he says. “We’re a more rural state overall, although I know it’s easy for some of us to forget that. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to be on record as saying, ‘Oh, absolutely, everything’s going to be fine.’ “[Culture and programs] definitely help, but we’ve got a bigger systemic problem, and we need more folks that already are doing the activity to make an effort to introduce others whether it’s relatives, friends, neighbors, whatever. Take somebody fishing. If every angler in the state would take one or two, we would definitely grow faster than any program that a government agency could put on.” In the meantime the AGFC is investing time and resources in improving the habitat in Arkansas’ aging lakes to ensure that the anglers who are out have an overall positive experience. “Long story short, lakes are no different than humans. We’re all aging and we’re not getting better with time physically,” he says. “Early on in the life cycle [lakes have] a lot of productivity that helps grow big fish. Over time those trees have gone away, they’ve been used up, so we’re having to refresh and work on those things.” Ben’s team has been systematically addressing lake ecosystems by sinking multiple cedar trees, Christmas trees and other brush to replenish habitat. He’s also beating the drum for responsible private land management where it abuts the state’s streams. “The number one pollutant in streams and rivers is sediment,” he says. “When you cut all the trees down along a riverbank or a streambank somewhere, which we like to do as humans, you no longer have all those root systems, the grasses and things that are basically holding the bank in place and slowing down erosion. “We’re all working with landowners and doing things to try to improve riparian vegetation, which is revegetating things that have been cut and trying to convince people not to cut things down they haven’t already cut.” For more information on what the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is doing for Arkansas anglers, visit agfc.com.
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OUT IN THE COLD Chilly weather is crappie time BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
hen the winter months arrive with gray skies and frigid winds, many fishermen hang up their poles and content themselves with telling fish stories somewhere warm. For Mark Hedrick, though, the fish are always biting—no matter the season. “With fishing—as with life—you get out of it what you put into it,” Mark says with a laugh. We’ve been talking crappie over cups of coffee, and he’s developed the sort of half-mad gleam in his eye that all the most passionate (or perhaps obsessive) fishermen get. But Mark’s not only serious about his own fishing—he’s something of an angling evangelist, passing along the knowledge he’s collected through personal experience and speaking with others for whom the lakes and streams of Arkansas are a second home. “You can make a lot of friends fishing,” he says. “I’ve never minded sharing knowledge.” Mark’s love of fishing has taken him to countless bodies of water, but he holds a special love for the deep, clear waters of Lake Maumelle. The lake can be a challenging one to fish without proper know-how, but Mark is adamant: with the right gear, technique and a bit of patience, a live well full of fish is possible for just about anyone. continued on page 18
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARK HEDRICK AND ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
Mark Hedrick shows off a stellar fresh crappie catch from a December trip to Lake Maumelle.
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Fishing expert Mark Hedrick (left) and his son Matt go after crappie on Lake Maumelle (top). Mark’s buddy (and long-time Lake Maumelle fisherman) Johnny Lewis shows off a couple of nice crappie caught using Mark’s cold water fishing techniques (bottom).
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“In deep water like Maumelle, the crappie tend to stack up,” he says. To locate them, he uses a fish finder equipped with side scanning sonar, something he considers a vital piece of equipment. “You can see them in the image. Now, just because they are stacked up doesn’t mean they’re feeding. Sometimes you’ll see lines on the scanner moving away from the group—that means the fish are feeding.” Coupled with this high-tech approach to finding fish, Mark also utilizes another, more primitive technique. “I look for loons out on the water,” he says. “If you see loons diving—and they can dive up to 35 feet deep—that means there’s fish there.” And once sure he’s found a good spot, it’s time to fish. “In a clear lake like Maumelle, I use a very light line—usually four pound test,” he says. “I wouldn’t recommend using anything heavier than six pound. Crappie have good eyesight, and the heavier your line is, the more noticeable it becomes.” Fooling the delicate senses of his prey figures into the type of lure he uses, too. “In the winter months, I use baits with less movement,” he says. “Something that is very active is unnatural in cold water, and you just won’t get as many strikes.” After that, it’s simply a matter of patience. “Fish slow,” says Mark. “I like to use a light rod, something six-and-a-half to seven feet with a rod tip that allows some play. Cast into the wind, and count your depth down to 12 or 13 feet, then reel in slowly. Increase the depth until you start getting bites. And be sure not to make a lot of noise!” Beyond these specific crappie tips, Mark also has more general advice for anglers. “Many times, I find myself fishing structures and habitats that other people have built. On lakes like Hamilton, many of those structures are the work of private individuals looking to draw fish up around the private docks of their houses. Every fisherman should respect that as if it were something they built themselves.” To that end, Mark refuses to use an anchor, preferring a trolling motor to keep him within his selected spot. “The danger of anchoring up around structures is that the anchor can pull them loose and destroy the habitat. Everyone wants to catch fish, but we must respect our shared spaces.” As a last bit of cold weather advice, Mark says to be aware of the elements. “Wear a life jacket and be sure to carry along a dry change of clothes. Being wet during the winter is more dangerous than people realize.” Put together, it’s a set of advice that will ensure a safe, fun day—and will make you the envy of all your fishing buddies.
Are you a competitive angler who goes hard after the excitement of landing the prize-winning bass, or someone who just enjoys dipping a hook in the water hoping to catch whatever is nibbling today? Bear Creek Lake (pictured) and all the lakes and waterways of the Arkansas Delta will bring you all the fishing pleasure you could possibly hope for. Visit our friendly dealers for boats, tackle, whatever you need to make your Delta fishing trip more fun than ever. After youâ€™ve caught your limit, explore all the interesting places to see and things to do, and stay in our lodges or other overnight accommodations. Visit the Arkansas Delta for the best fish tales of your life!
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g n i d e e F nzy e r F astic t n a f e mor sh g n i h t o n h fi Thereâ€™san frying fresRTS th OBE HAEL R IO BY MIC O STUD V O N S BY PHOTO
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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21
hen I met up with Fish Arkansas guest editor Mark Hedrick recently out at Jolly Roger’s Marina on Lake Maumelle, the primer gray skies and brisk wind had me thinking that our planned outdoor fish fry might not have been the smartest idea. The numerous sailboats docked around the marina cut forlorn silhouettes against the horizon like a grim monument to sunny days long gone. It took a ready smile and an encouraging sentence or two from Mark to change my mind. “I caught about 20 crappie out here just last night,” he said, gesturing out toward the smooth lake surface. “I’ve had them on ice overnight and I just got done cleaning them. I hope you’re hungry.” I’d known the fish were going to be fresh—but not that fresh. Like many diners, a lot of the fish I eat from week to week comes from restaurants or the supermarket, so the idea of chowing down on something that had been swimming about not even 24 hours before was quite attractive. The fact that Mark had his catch cleaned and filleted already was an added bonus.
To non-anglers, crappie might be something of a mystery. It doesn’t have the powerful, “big game” allure of the various bass species, nor is it easily adapted to commercial farming methods like the ubiquitous catfish. But talk to anyone you know who not only likes to fish, but also likes to eat what they catch, and they’ll tell you: crappie is one of the best-tasting pan-fish in the world—and they’re a fun, challenging species to target (see story page 16). The meat is light, flaky and very clean-tasting—and it takes a roll in seasoned cornmeal followed by a dip in hot oil quite well. In less than a half-hour, we were feasting on golden-brown fillets possessed of a perfect balance between crunchy exterior and interior tenderness. So what does it take to have a successful fish fry? Well, first you make a friend like Mark who stalks crappie where they live (and can show you how, too). Then, once you’ve got the fish in hand, this simple checklist will have people begging for more:
Use a Fish Cooker: If you only cook fish once in a great while, or if you only cook for yourself and another person or two, a good cast iron skillet will serve you well—but you’ll just be making supper, not having a fish fry. Looking to feed a larger crowd? You need a fish cooker. Investing in a high-quality fish cooker has several advantages: it’s self-contained, making cleanup easier; it’s designed to be used outdoors, which helps mitigate the heat thrown off by frying; and it’s a great piece of equipment you can haul anywhere you go where you might catch some fish. If the cooker you choose does not come with a thermometer for keeping track of oil temperature, be sure to pick one of those up, too.
Choose the Right Oil: Getting perfectly fried fish requires cooking at high temperatures (around 350ºF) for an extended period of time, and some oils stand up to that sort of abuse better than others. Peanut oil, with its high smoke point, has been the traditional go-to for serious fish fanatics—but increasing awareness of peanut allergies is a strike against using it. Our answer? Rice bran oil, specifically the variety developed and sold by Arkansas’ own Riceland Foods. It has an even higher smoke point than peanut oil, doesn’t break down after extended periods of use—and it’s a very clean-tasting oil that won’t interfere with the delicate flavor of a fish like crappie.
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‘Tis the Seasoning: When it comes to fried fish, having something great with which to coat each piece is tantamount to success. And just like chili, cheese dip or cornbread, everybody’s got their own way of doing things. At its most basic, your coating should consist of cornmeal, salt and some sort of pepper. Once you’ve mixed those three things in a ratio that gives your fish a nice crunchy exterior (without being over or under salted), there are numerous other spices out there for your experimentation. If all that sounds like too much work, commercially prepared fish fry mixes are readily available and inexpensive, and many of them do the job well.
Timing is Everything: So how do you know when your fish is cooked? The general rule is to allow about 10 minutes cooking time per inch of thickness, but it’s highly unlikely you’d ever fry anything that thick. Your best bet is trial and error. Bring the oil in your cooker up to temperature, then test-fry a few pieces; 3-5 minutes ought to do it. This method is great for several reasons: it helps you learn how your cooker gets the job done, it lets you taste your coating and adjust seasonings if needed—and it gives you, the cook, a legitimate reason to scarf down some of the best eats around.
For more information about Riceland Foods Rice Bran Oil, visit riceland.com. For information about Jolly Roger’s Marina and Lake Maumelle, visit jollyrogersmarina.com.
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Arkansas Trout Unlimited volunteers pose during one of the group’s many river cleanup projects where they found everything from plastic bags to old tires.
Arkansas’ three Trout Unlimited chapters are focused on making our rivers great BY JILL ROHRBACH ArkWildlifeAD_8.25x11.125_OL.pdf
ISSUE NO. 2
annual river cleanups, highway cleanups and a women’s initiative with Trout Chicks that meets once a month. The chapter is in its fourth year planting Bonneville cutthroat trout eggs in its rivers, and is now seeing the payoff with anglers now catching Bonnevilles in the 17-inch range. Chapter 514 is following suit. Chapter 698 will also hold its annual banquet is on February 11 at the Elks Lodge in Mountain Home, where the winner of a special fundraising raffle of a custom river boat will be announced. Little Red River Chapter 722: This chapter holds annual cleanups and free fly fishing classes for up to 50 people, and also assists with an annual kids’ fishing derby, donating money to help fund fly fishing rods for every kid that attends. The group is currently working on building its membership awareness throughout central Arkansas. In addition to chapter meetings and activities, TU members have opportunities to attend regional and national conferences to enjoy the camaraderie of likeminded individuals while discussing the unique issues facing the TU mission.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TROUT UNLIMITED
ounded in 1959, Trout Unlimited (TU) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s cold water fisheries and their watersheds. The organization boasts more than 150,000 members nationwide. In Arkansas, TU maintains three active chapters, on the White, North Fork, and Little Red rivers. Each group is focused on protecting and enhancing fishable waters. Within those chapters, members enjoy fellowship at educational chapter meetings and dedicate their time and talents for river projects and outreach missions. Here are some specifics on each chapter, along with information about how you can get involved: Beaver Tailwater Chapter 514: Focused on the cold waters below Beaver Dam in northwest Arkansas, Chapter 514 projects include installing line recycling signage and PVC line disposal receptacles; annual river cleanups, bank stabilization, trail restoration, women’s fishing clinics, support of outdoor education classes in schools and Trout in the Classroom tanks at schools. Its main fundraiser is an annual conservation banquet and auction on March 10 at the Fayetteville Town Center. White River Chapter 698: This chapter is dedicated to the White and North Fork rivers in north central Arkansas. The group offers youth camps, Trout in the Classroom, 24 | FISH ARKANSAs
For more information on how to join TU, visit tu.org.
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In the mid-1970s, Murray formed a fishing education program known as the Bass Fishing Institute, which was the country’s first on-thewater fishing school.
Pro angler Billy Murray shows off a bass, the fish that made him famous.
Arkansas angler Billy Murray receives national recognition BY ZOIE CLIFT
rkansas fishing expert Billy Murray recently received one of the highest achievements in the sport, an induction into the National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. His fellow inductees this year include former President George H. W. Bush and Gary Yamamoto, an innovative lure designer. Billy was included in the lineup for his work as a skilled bass fishing educator. The Hot Springs native says he was humbled by the honor. “You get in through the representation of all your peers,” he says. He is often asked what he enjoys most about fishing. “A lot of people will say it gives them an opportunity to escape,” Billy says. “To get away from their thoughts, to get some solitude, to get away from cell phones. But fishing, to me, isn’t an escape from something; it’s more like an escape to something. It’s what you receive once you are out there. You get to soak in all of the things that make life really worth something. It’s not hectic. You can’t fish and be in a state of mind where you are worried about everything. It lets everything mellow out and you can enjoy [the moment].” Billy’s career first started more than 50 years ago as a fishing guide on Lake Ouachita.
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“Ouachita is one of the most diverse lakes in the state,” says Billy. “It has catchable quantities of largemouth bass, Kentucky bass, crappie, stripers and our latest addition to the lake, walleye. All of these species can be targeted—and a good angler has the chance to catch whatever species he prefers.” “This is my home,” he says. “I fish all the lakes in the state. We are right here close to Lake Greeson, DeGray, Lake Hamilton, Lake Ouachita, Lake Nimrod; we’ve got lots of water. I like the variety of it. Fishing is an adventure every day. I like going to lakes that are totally different.” Fishing is a family affair for Billy. He has a twin brother named Bobby, who is also an accomplished angler. Bobby won the Bassmaster Classic twice, including the first Classic in 1971, and was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in the very first group. “Now we are the only two brothers in [the Hall of Fame],” Billy says. “And we’ll probably be the only two twin brothers in there for a while. We both have worked in the fishing industry our whole lives. It’s been a lifelong quest. And it’s amazing how fishing has grown over the years.” PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
The Murray brothers are two of the most successful competitive fishermen in the country, winning titles ranging from State Championships to the Bassmaster Classic. While his brother was more of a tournament angler, Billy was focused more on the teaching side of the sport. He worked as a cinematographer for over a decade for the popular outdoor show “The Fishing Hole,” which starred famed fishing expert Jerry McKinnis. “I was working with Jerry, we just traveled everywhere, we were on this big adventure,” he says. “As everything progressed, I got into teaching.” In the mid-1970s, Murray formed a fishing education program known as the Bass Fishing Institute, which was the country's first on-the-water fishing (photo) (sweetwater (yamaha logo) school. The programlogo) started at Lake Ouachita at Mountain Harbor Resort in Mount Ida. From there, it went on to become one of the nation’s largest Large education selections programs with competitive fishing and was pricing • taught in major universities across the U.S. until the mid-1980s. Murray traveled with his crew teaching bass fishing tactics to tens of thousands of people across the country. “Our first school was held at Mountain Harbor and from there it just grew and grew,” he says. According to Murray, the school is a hands-on, multiday course. Participants fish and go to class every day while they are enrolled. They go through various types of drills, including learning how to cast, select the right gear and where fish hide and how to get a lure to them. “Everything we teach we verify on the water,” he says. As for his fishing career, “the most important thing has always been the friends that I have made,” Billy says. “We have traveled all the way from the Arctic to the Amazon fishing with all different kinds of fish, not just bass. It’s a people sport.” Having a chance to connect with others who enjoy fishing has amounted to the greatest catch of his career. “I talk to so many people all the time, from all different walks of life, from all professions,” Billy says. “At our school we have everyone from guys that work at Halliburton to doctors, attorneys, federal judges—a whole cross section of people. Fishing crosses all bounds."
WE KNOW THE OUTDOORS INSIDE-OUT
For more information about Billy Murray’s Bass Fishing Institute, visit bassfishinginstitute.com.
When the fish aren’t biting...
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Fisher’s persistence and time on the water paid off big this year. After winning the state title, he took first in TBF National Championship
Hunter (left) and Fisher Davis pose with their dad, professional fisherman Mark Davis—and their trophies.
Mt. Ida brothers take different approaches to fishing BY DWAIN HEBDA
ith names like Hunter and Fisher, there was never any doubt the Davis boys of Mt. Ida would spend much of their time outdoors. And with the 15-year-olds’ champion pedigree from their father, 30-year pro angler Mark Davis, it was a safe bet the boys would be competitive as well, each having won The Bass Federation of Arkansas Junior State titles, Hunter in 2015 and Fisher this year. That’s about as far as the similarities go, however. “Hunter’s a real social kind of a kid,” says Mark when comparing the two. “He does it because some of his buddies do it, not necessarily if his brother does it. He’s a good fisherman in his own right, but he’ll be the first to tell you he doesn’t have the passion that Fisher does.”
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Talk to the two boys for a while and you quickly see what Mark is talking about. Hunter is nonchalant about his competitive fishing (“I’ll fish anything that swims,” he says. “It’s relaxing.”) But ask him about football, his real passion, and he lights up about playing halfback and linebacker for the high school squad. Fisher, while equally soft-spoken as his brother, exudes a quiet intensity when the subject is fishing and he imparts advice and strategy like the student of the lake that he is. “With bass fishing there’s a lot of ways that you can catch them,” he says. “A lot of different ways that you can go into it when some of these other species are more straightforward. I think bass fishing just has more of an open challenge and different steps you can do if you don’t want to do a certain thing.”
PHOTO BY TILLY DAVIS
Both boys were introduced to the sport of fishing as toddlers, but Fisher showed such an obsession with it, it reduced his dad to all manner of tricks just to get him out of the boat. “When he was about three years old I took him crappie fishing and it was in the wintertime,” Mark says. “I was freezing to death and I wanted to go home and it was getting dark. “I’m ashamed to tell you this story, but I said, ‘You know, Fisher, about as soon as the sun goes down all the big black bears come down off the mountain.’ He looked at me just as serious and he says, ‘Do they really?’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah, they’ll be out here just any minute.’ He said, ‘We can go any time.’” Fisher’s persistence and time on the water paid off big this year. After winning the state title, he took first in TBF National Championship on Lake Guntersville, near Scottsboro, Alabama, and followed that up by winning the TBF Junior World Championship, also on Lake Guntersville. Mark says Fisher’s patience and instincts were a deciding factor in the meets, where hot weather tested competitors’ skills. “Fisher is a slow, methodical young fisherman,” Mark says. “He thinks about what he’s doing. He thinks about why he’s doing it and what the fish are doing and why they’re doing what they’re doing and why you have to fish this way to get them to bite.” Even though he’s quick to credit his father and brother for helping improve his game, Fisher insists one angler can’t really tell another the best way to land a fish. Only time and practice can do that. “You can help one another and stuff, but a lot of times what helps better is just kind of letting the other one do what they need to do and fish the way they need to fish instead of trying to influence them,” he says. “Everybody fishes a little bit different.” For more information about The Bass Federation of Arkansas, visit arkansasbass.com.
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Beau Browning goes after a trophy fish on Lake Catherine.
Even before he had the competitive success to back it up, Stephen says he could see an early spark in his son that suggested fishing would be a lifelong passion.
Generation Beau Browning is a student of the fishing game BY DWAIN HEBDA
sked what makes a successful fisherman, 15-year-old Beau Browning pauses a moment. He’s been fishing practically since he could stand up, and much of his accomplishment in the sport has come to him so naturally it’s hard to break it down into components. “Just knowing how to read a lake, pretty much,” he says at last. “Being able to go out and factor in conditions like wind, water temperature, air temperature, water clarity. All those factors come in when you’re reading a lake.” Beau could also have listed practice as a key component of his success, as he spends every free moment from school and other commitments out on the water, often alone
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except for his dog. This combination of skills has made him more than your run-of-the-mill angler. He’s been fishing competitively since he was in grade school and is a backto-back defending champion at the Arkansas Bass Nation State Championship. In August 2016, he and McCoy Vereen, his partner, also landed the Costa Bassmaster Junior Championship national title in Tennessee. The duo dominated the event, landing each day’s big fish and winning the overall—despite having to throw back more than two pounds of fish due to a rules snafu. Beau’s father Stephen, who has spent more than two decades in the ranks of Bassmasters Elite and serves as the boys’ coach, has had a lakeside seat watching his son’s development.
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
“Beau really spends an extreme amount of time on the water,” Stephen says. “In summer, I would say he’s four to five days a week, easy, just fishing. He fishes a lot after school. He’s one of those kids that could stay in tune with what’s going on, not only with the fish but I think the environment, and that has a lot to do with him understanding it for his success.” Even before he had the competitive success to back it up, Stephen says he could see an early spark in his son that suggested fishing would be a lifelong passion. “I could tell that he had a passion to fish, whether it be trout, bass or bream fish; he just had the patience and the want-to to just go do it,” he continues. “When you see other kids where baseball is all they want to do or football is all they want to do, well, that’s a seasonal type deal. But Beau, shoot, from a very, very young age he just always wanted to go fishing.” Now a freshman at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs, Beau will add high school meets to the roughly one dozen tournaments he’ll fish in a given year. “I’ve only had two tournaments this year which haven’t been so great, but that’s all right,” he says matter-offactly. “That’s just the start.” His competitive success has taken him to a number of fishing holes, but he says his favorite remains right here in the Natural State. “I like Lake Ouachita, which is pretty close to us here, probably a 30-minute drive,” he says. “That has to be probably my favorite lake to fish. It’s a beautiful lake.” He’s also turned his attention to the future, setting his sights on a collegiate and, hopefully, professional career, following in the footsteps of his father whom he credits with starting and developing him in the sport. “Dad started me young and ever since then it’s just been a growing flame,” he said. “I’ll fish for anything if they’re biting, but bass has always just kind of been my favorite. It’s such a fun game fish. I don’t know, it’s just kind of in my blood.”
Leisure Landing RV Park (convenient to Oaklawn Racing & Gaming)
Located on the shores of Lake Hamilton for great fishing, boating & all types of water recreation Clubhouse: • Free wifi • Ultra clean Bathrooms & Showers • Laundry Room And for your furry friends… A Doggy Park! 201 Broadview Dr. • Hot Springs, AR • 501-525-3289 leisurelandingrvpark.com
For more information on Bassmaster tournaments, visit bassmaster.com.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31
Fishing, fun and so much more on the Diamond Lakes BY ZOIE CLIFT, KAT ROBINSON AND MICHAEL ROBERTS
The clear waters of Lake Ouachita are surrounded by another of Arkansas’ outdoor treasures, the Ouachita National Forest. The 40,100 acre lake is well-known across the United States for its top-quality largemouth bass fishing. Ouachita is especially attractive to visitors looking to experience the Natural State at its most rustic and wild, and is home to Lake Ouachita State Park. “Lake Ouachita is the largest lake in the state,” says Billy. “It is a wilderness lake—it has no homes on it. There are multiple fish species available in the lake, with the main ones being bass, stripers, walleye and crappie. It is probably the premier striper lake in the state, and it’s one of the few lakes in Arkansas where anglers can target and catch walleye.”
WHERE TO STAY
For many, the Lake Ouachita experience just isn’t complete without spending some time at Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa near Mt. Ida. Family owned and operated since it opened in 1955, the resort provides an incredible array of lodging options, a fleet of rental boats (including houseboats), quality dining at the Lodge Restaurant, luxury spa services and space for weddings or other events. Spa packages to suit every taste are available, taking much of the work out of vacation planning. mountainharborresort.com
Over in the Mt. Ida area? Don’t miss the Mt. Ida Café, which has been serving customers since 1934. Order up a plate of catfish—it’s well-seasoned and served with fries or baked potato, hush puppies, salad and a choice of tartar or “red” sauce. 132 Highway 270 East, Mt. Ida
WHEN YOU’VE CAUGHT YOUR LIMIT
Want to check out some of the best gear Arkansas has to offer? Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters in Hot Springs has you covered with a wide variety of products for fishing, floating, paddlesports, camping, hiking and more. ouachitaoutdoors.com
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PHOTOS BY NOVO STUDIO AND COURTESY OF ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURSISM
he state of Arkansas is home to more than 600,000 acres of lakes. Perhaps the most famous of these is the group of five bodies of water in southwest Arkansas collectively known as the Diamond Lakes: Lakes Ouachita and Hamilton near Hot Springs, Lake Catherine near Malvern, DeGray Lake near Arkadelphia and Lake Greeson between Glenwood and Murfreesboro. Individually, each lake draws thousands of fishermen, campers, swimmers, hikers, cyclists and lovers of watersports every year. Pro angler Billy Murray gives us insight into this vital cornerstone of tourism in the Natural State.
Lake Hamilton is located just downstream from Lake Ouachita, but provides visitors with a vastly different set of opportunities for fun. Looking for a lake experience that won’t take you far from the modern comforts of civilization? This is the place for you. “This is a residential lake,” says Billy. “It has homes, motels, restaurants and other all businesses right on the shoreline. The [fish] habitat is more limited than on Ouachita, but there are largemouth bass, stripers, walleyes and crappie. The main fishing time here is usually early spring and winter, because there are thousands and thousands of boaters and skiers on it during the summer.”
WHERE TO STAY
When you’re on Lake Hamilton, there’s no way to miss the numerous condominiums that line the shore. Many are privately owned or leased, but there are plenty of rentals listed by companies like South Shore Lake Resort in Hot Springs. Renters get full access to the resort’s pools, hot tubs, saunas, athletic facilities—and of course the great views of the lake. southshorelakeresort.com
For one of the more unique Diamond Lakes dining experiences, pull your boat right up to the dock at Fisherman’s Wharf in Hot Springs, just off Scenic Highway 7. Grouper, salmon and mahi-mahi are all stars on the menu, and local favorites like American-raised catfish and frog legs are sure to be a hit. 5101 Central Avenue, Hot Springs
WHEN YOU’VE CAUGHT YOUR LIMIT
No trip to the Spa City is complete without experiencing the area’s geothermal delights. Book a spa package at the historic Buckstaff Bathhouse, located in the heart of downtown on Bathhouse Row, and discover what made Hot Springs great to begin with. buckstaffbaths.com
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 33
WHERE TO STAY
Below Lake Hamilton lies one of Arkansas’ unsung gems, Lake Catherine. Home to Lake Catherine State Park, this lake stretches about 11 miles in length, but its narrow footprint through the valleys of the Ouachita Mountains only covers around 1,940 acres. “This is a much shallower lake than either Ouachita or Hamilton,” says Billy. “It has huge flats with lots of stumps, no standing timber and very little grass. There are, however, more fish per acre of water here than in those deeper lakes, including bass, stripers, walleyes and crappie.”
Pull your RV into Catherine’s Landing, or book a stay in one of the resort’s numerous yurts and cottages. Boat rentals include everything from paddleboards to pontoon boats, and there’s nothing quite like relaxing in the resort’s salt water pool at the end of the day. rvcoutdoors.com/catherines-landing
Too cold for catfish to bite and the crappie are ignoring your line? Time to make for shore and drive over to Mr. Whiskers between Hot Springs and Malvern. The interior is bright, the Whisker Sauce is spicy and the black beans are even spicier. The catfish is always fresh and golden-fried. 4195 Malvern Road, Hot Springs
WHEN YOU’VE CAUGHT YOUR LIMIT
Visiting Lake Catherine during the heat of an Arkansas summer? Cool off at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls near Hot Springs. From thrilling rollercoasters like the SkyShark and Arkansas Twister to the splashcentric fun of the Crystal Falls water park, it’s a one-of-a-kind Arkansas experience. magicsprings.com
Lake Catherine 34 | FISH ARKANSAs
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Covering over 13,400 acres, DeGray is perhaps best known for DeGray Lake Resort State Park, the state’s only resort located in a state park. The lake’s primary source of water, the Caddo River, is a well-known destination for paddlesport enthusiasts—and the bass fishing is legendary. “[DeGray] is wilderness lake, which means the water level fluctuates a lot,” Billy says. “This contributes to its being a really good fishery—it floods in the spring, giving young fish a place to hide and grow big enough to where they can live in a very competitive habitat. Since [the fish] don’t have to fend for themselves among larger fish, they are semi-adults by the time they have to pull out of that flooded cover. The lake has a good hybrid striped bass population, largemouth, Kentucky bass and crappie.”
WHERE TO STAY
Take advantage of the comfortable rooms, tasty restaurant and spa facilities at the DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge, stay in one of the parks yurts or go play a round of golf at the park’s 18-hole championship golf course. And don’t underestimate the soul-soothing qualities of an afternoon spent relaxing on one of the lake’s sandy beaches. degray.com
Ask the locals where to eat, and more than a few will mention area mainstay O’Keefe’s Fish Net Family Restaurant in Caddo Valley. This restaurant doesn’t just stick to fresh-water seafood—it also serves crab, oysters and shrimp as well as steaks, chicken, burgers and Cajuninfluenced fare like Boom Boom Shrimp and farm-raised gator bites. 5000 Valley Street, Arkadelphia
WHEN YOU’VE CAUGHT YOUR LIMIT
If your group includes cyclists alongside fishermen, then pay a visit or book a stay at Iron Mountain Lodge and Marina so they can take advantage of the area’s excellent mountain biking trails. It’s a system that’s come into its own in just the past few years to take its place among Arkansas’ elite trails. iron-mountain.com
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This 12-mile-long, 7,000-acre lake features clear waters and steep, rocky ridges that form islands and long peninsulas extending into the lake. The huge bluffs surrounding Greeson are some of the most scenic in the area, something visitors to the lake’s Daisy State Park are sure to love. “Lake Greeson is on the Little Missouri River,” says Billy. “It’s the hidden diamond of them all. Of all of the [Diamond Lakes], it probably provides the best fishing. It has a tremendous bass and crappie population. As far as habitat goes, it has no grass and no standing timber— but the water level does go up and down during the year, which contributes to a larger fish population.”
WHERE TO STAY
The comfortable cottages and a full-service marina at Self Creek Lodge and Marina will keep you cozy while offering some of the best scenery the lake has to offer. And for a change of pace, check out the ski boat and party barge rentals. selfcreek.com
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When hunger hits, head east to the town of Kirby for a bite at Sweetpea’s. Stop in for breakfast, or come later in the day for some of the area’s best burgers and barbecue. 2897 Highway 70 West, Kirby
WHEN YOU’VE CAUGHT YOUR LIMIT
This area of the Ouachitas is known for having some of the state’s best streams for paddling. Check out Arrowhead Cabin & Canoe to see about getting into a canoe, kayak or tube and exploring one of Arkansas’ best places to float. caddocanoe.com
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very fly fisherman has been there. We get that itch to go out fly fishing, only to be thwarted. Sometimes money is an issue. In other cases, being able to take the time to go fishing is simply impossible, leaving us wishing for a way to get our fix without the fuss. Sound familiar? Then urban fly fishing might be just the ticket—it’s a great way to get a hook in the water in your own backyard. While urban destinations don’t always provide the scenery of a trip to famed fishing spots like the Buffalo River or Lake Ouachita, they are not without their charms. There is something very satisfying about discovering a fun fishing spot right in your own backyard. Urban fishermen tend to seek out the small streams and stormflow retention ponds that dot the landscape. Most of these streams are easy to wade, while the ponds are open enough to allow unfettered casting. As with all fishing, safety is the top priority. Some urban waters are homes for sharp objects and disease-causing bacteria and viruses, so do your homework before you fish and stay observant. It is also important to be aware of your surroundings in order to avoid trespassing on private property. What follows is a partial list of urban destinations that I enjoy fishing. This is not a complete list by any means— there are many more in other urban areas of Arkansas. As for how to get your fish on the line, I’ve had success using popping bugs, gurglers, wooly buggers, hare’s ears and crayfish patterns in most situations. 38 | FISH ARKANSAs
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Author and urban fly fisherman Jim Peterson casts a line out on Fourche Creek.
Little Rock’s best streams for fishing include Rock Creek and the beautiful (though beleaguered) Fourche Creek. There are also opportunities for fly fishing on the Arkansas River and its tributaries.
Rock Creek: I’ve fished Rock Creek for years, often returning to a place I
call “the Denny Pool” just upstream off Shackleford Road near Denny’s. This spot is accessible from Birchwood City Park. Recently, I tried a spot near the Kroger on Chenal Parkway. That turned out to be a bust, but within 15 minutes I was greeting soccer players as I walked to the creek across the soccer fields at Henderson Junior High. Green sunfish and longear sunfish are the most common quarry. Largemouth bass can also be caught.
Fourche Creek: This large stream drains much of the Little Rock area,
and boasts many sections of beautiful water flowing through the cypress bottoms. It is a fun place to fish, although casting can be difficult because of the cypress and tupelo trees. Fourche Creek is accessible at several locations, with the most scenic area accessible by canoe or kayak from Interstate Park in southeast Little Rock. Fish include sunfish and largemouth bass.
Arkansas River: The Arkansas River can be fished from its banks or by
boat from several access points. I sometimes fish in the area near the I-430 bridge just north of Cantrell Road. From there, I can fish the south bank of the river near the boat launch, try my luck on the Little Maumelle River or explore the backwater area on the south side (about a mile upstream from the I-430 bridge). Depending on the location, habitat and fly, I’ve caught sunfish, largemouth bass and freshwater drum. I think crappie, catfish and gar could also be caught.
PHOTOS BY NOVO STUDIO AND COURTESY OF IWRP AND ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
BY JIM PETERSEN
FAYETTEVILLE, SPRINGDALE, ROGERS, BENTONVILLE METROPOLITAN AREA Illinois River: Several tributaries of
the Illinois River flow through this area, with many accessible near I-540. These streams are wadeable, and have bottoms consisting of gravel and cobble. Sunfish are most likely to be caught in these streams, but occasionally you might catch a largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass. In the upper reaches, you might catch some feisty creek chubs, a relatively large member of the minnow family found in these small streams.
The Illinois River provides scenic fishing in the heart of northwest Arkansas’ urban center (top). Caney Creek is a pleasurable fishing getaway just outside Conway (bottom).
Caney Creek: This stream can be
reached from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Caney Creek access east of I-40 and south of Dave Ward Road. Caney Creek flows south for about a half of a mile into Lake Conway. Rushes, cattails, lily pads and cypress trees are common in and along Caney Creek and Lake Conway. Such vegetation provides interesting fly fishing for largemouth bass, bluegills, crappie, channel catfish, gar and common carp. Other streams include Stone Dam Creek and Tucker Creek. Sunfish are the most commonly caught species in these streams. I recently fished Stone Dam Creek and caught several nice green sunfish immediately south of the Dave Ward Road bridge. Fly fishing is certainly an incredible activity all on its own, but finding spots tucked away around Arkansas’ urban areas is a unique experience. Not only does it allow avid fishermen to get some much-needed time on the water, it also allows us to see the places we live in a new and exciting way. There’s just no excuse not to fish.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 39
fantastic Fishing Across arkansas
No matter the type of water or species of fish, we’ve got you covered
BY MICHAEL ROBERTS PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
Like to fish for bass or crappie on the wide, smooth waters of a crystal-clear lake? Or do you want to get out into a rushing stream and go after trout? In the Natural State, you can do both—and the fish are sure to be biting no matter what you choose. Take a look at some of our picks for fabulous fishing across the state:
BEAVER LAKE (36.359319, -94.0811112)
Popular Fish: Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, crappie, bream and catfish Amenities: Multiple boat ramps, camping with hookups, cabins, resorts and numerous outfitters Other Activities: Swimming, hiking, great shopping and dining in nearby Bentonville and Rogers Hot Tip: Be sure to fish right where the White River and War Eagle Creek meet
LAKE ENTERPRISE (33.0581056, -91.6106638)
Popular Fish: bream, crappie and catfish Amenities: The Overflow Lodge in Wilmot, boat ramp, park and playground facilities Other Activities: Enterprise is part of Bayou Bartholomew, the second most diverse stream for fish in North America—perfect for exploration Hot Tip: This small ox-bow lake is a hotspot all its own—where you go depends on what you want to catch
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LAKE NORFORK (36.2480542, -92.2550096) Popular Fish: bass, walleye, crappie, bream and catfish Amenities: Camping with hookups, resorts with private docks, commercial boat docks, guide services Other Activities: Boating, water skiing, swimming and tours of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery Hot Tip: Keep a lookout for brush structures built by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
LAKE FRIERSON (35.97294, -90.7172548)
Popular Fish: bass, saugeye and catfish Amenities: Camping with hookups, playground, hiking, boat rental and dock fishing in Lake Frierson State Park Other Activities: Explore nearby Crowleyâ€™s Ridge, or travel 10 miles south to Jonesboro for shopping and dining Hot Tip: Catch yourself a saugeyeâ€”a walleye/sauger hybrid. They like deep water during the day, but head to shallow water to forage at twilight
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 41
LITTLE MISSOURI RIVER (33.808437, -92.9176746)
Popular Fish: smallmouth bass, trout, catfish and bream Amenities: Rustic camping, camping with hookups, boat rentals Other Activities: Swimming, hiking and hunting for gemstones at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro Hot Tip: Rainbow trout are stocked in the cool months at Albert Pike and below Narrows Dam
LAKE MILLWOOD (33.7499972, -94.0589992) Popular Fish: largemouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, striped bass, crappie, catfish and bream Amenities: Camping with hookups and a full-service marina are located at Millwood State Park; camping is also available from several United States Army Corps of Engineers’ areas Other Activities: Hiking, biking and some of the best birdwatching in the state Hot Tip: Millwood’s numerous stumps make for excellent bass fishing—just take care navigating
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MIRROR LAKE (35.9634426, -92.1711848) Popular Fish: rainbow trout Amenities: Camping with hookups, perfect for bank fishing Other Activities: Blanchard Springs Caverns, hiking and swimming Hot Tip: Cave-cooled water arrives and fills the lake at a stead 58-degrees, even on the hottest days
SPRING RIVER (36.304554, -91.584969)
Popular Fish: trout and walleye Amenities: Outfitters and launch facilities available along the Mammoth Spring-Hardy Stretch Other Activities: The nearby town of Hardy is full of quaint antique and craft shopping Hot Tip: The stretch between Mammoth Spring and Dam 3 (about 3 miles) is wonderful for wading or bank fishing
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Dogwood Canyon Mill
10,000 ACRES WAITING
TO BE EXPLORED
inter welcomes its own sense of wonder at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. A wildlife tram or private Jeep 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 Planetâ€™s Treehouse Masters. Call or visit the website today to plan your day at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park!
417-348-3333 dogwoodcanyon.org 44 | FISH ARKANSAs
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Resort guIDe Fly-fishing, bait fishing, guided trips and more
GASTON’S WHITE RIVER RESORT
PHOTOS BY NOVO STUDIO AND COURTESY OF ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
GPS: 36.3470881,-92.5601279 1777 River Rd., Lakeview 870-431-5202 gastons.com For more than half a century, Gaston’s has been one of the best places in Arkansas for excellent trout fishing. With more than 70 cottages, a newly-revamped restaurant and a recently expanded grass airstrip, anyone looking to snag a big trout is urged to walk, run, drive or fly in and experience the guides, comfortable accommodations, delicious shore lunch and all around friendly atmosphere at Gaston’s.
BUFFALO OUTDOOR CENTER
GPS: 36.02267,-93.36318 4699 AR Hwy. 43, Ponca 870-861-5514 buffaloriver.com While primarily known as a destination for kayakers and canoe enthusiasts, the Buffalo River is also a fun and scenic river for fishing. At Buffalo Outdoor Center, adventure is the key word—and with lodgings that range from cozy cabins for two all the way up to the luxurious Riverwind Lodge, you’ll sleep in style at the end of the day. And don’t forget to take one of the resort’s signature zip line canopy tours!
MOUNTAIN HARBOR RESORT & SPA
GPS: 34.5717586,-93.4380514 994 Mountain Harbor Rd., Mt. Ida 870-867-2191 mountainharborresort.com Lake Ouachita is Arkansas’ largest lake—and the folks at Mountain Harbor can get you out on it just about any way you’d like. The full service marina has boat rentals available, and guests have a wide array of cottages, cabins, cabanas and condos to choose from. And if you’re in need of some pampering, a spa treatment or massage at Turtle Cove Spa might be just for you.
GPS: 35.517773,-91.956688 350 Rainbow Loop, Heber Springs 501-362-3139 lindseysresort.com Rustic, yet comfortable, Lindsey’s Resort has been a go-to destination for trout fishermen for more than four decades. Book a guided bait or fly fishing trip, then have the Pot O’ Gold restaurant prepare your catch for you while you wait—or have your fish prepared riverside with the shore lunch. Since reopening in 2015, the resort has made many improvements, turning something that was already great into an unforgettable part of the Arkansas landscape. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 45
Urban Marina GuiDe Arkansas’ cities are blessed with first-class facilities for boaters
1. JOLLY ROGER’S MARINA
GPS: 34.8627138,-92.5657057 11800 Maumelle Harbour Rd., Roland 501-868-5558 jollyrogersmarina.com This marina has been a fixture on Lake Maumelle for more than three decades. There aren’t many folks more knowledgeable about how to fish the area than the people you’ll meet at Jolly Roger’s. The marina features a store filled with tackle and supplies for both fishermen and sailboat owners, boats for sale and rent, slip rentals and sailing lessons. Parking is ample, and the launch ramp and fuel pump are easily accessible. GPS: 34.7598921,-92.2878491 1600 Rockwater Blvd., North Little Rock 501-347-8275 rockwatermarina.com Located in the heart of central Arkansas, Rockwater Marina offers an excellent array of services for boaters such as state-ofthe-art fueling and pump-out stations, a wide variety of supplies, a large patio where folks can get their land-legs back and an excellent concierge service. Sailing into the Little Rock metro area? Rockwater can arrange for entertainment, shopping, dining reservations—just about anything you might need.
3. HOT SPRINGS MARINA
GPS: 34.7598921,-92.2878491 301 Lakeland Dr., Hot Springs 501-525-7776 hotspringsmarina.com This Spa City marina has a full service department standing ready to fix whatever’s wrong with your boat—or you can check out their extensive inventory of brand new boats for sale. Just on the lake for a day or two? Daily boat rental packages will get you out on the water in no time. And be sure to take a look at their selection of boat accessories—it’s one of the best around.
4. ISLAND HARBOR MARINA
GPS: 34.2844701,-92.0182291 1700 Island Harbor Marina Rd., Pine Bluff 870-536-2659 islandharbormarina.net This marina on Lake Langhoffer is the only full service marina between Little Rock and Greenville, Mississippi, a fact that makes the fuel, food and supplies that much more important. While you’re there, pick up some fishing gear—the area boasts some of the best fishing in the state.
5. RIVERLIGHTS MARINA (COMING SOON)
GPS: 35.4307799,-94.4265562 300 S. 1st St., Van Buren 479-242-1187 In November 2016, the Van Buren City Council agreed to a three-year lease with Riverlights Marina, starting a process that will restore vital services and docking capacity for part of the Arkansas River that has been without such amenities for some time. The site’s former occupant, Wildcat Marina, was forced to shut down in 2014 after it was destroyed by river flooding. The new marina is scheduled to begin a phased opening in 2017.
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PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MARINAS
2. ROCKWATER MARINA
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Teaching your kids to love fishing has never been easier than on free fishing weekend!
MARCH 25 MARCH 30 APRIL 1 APRIL 27-30
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MR. BASS OF ARKANSAS, LAKE OUACHITA mrbassofarkansas.com
ARKANSAS BASS TEAM TRAIL SOUTHERN OPEN, LAKE MILLWOOD arkansasbassteamtrail.net
COSTA FLW SERIES, LAKE DARDANELLE flwfishing.com
WALMART FLW TOUR, BEAVER LAKE flwfishing.com
16TH ANNUAL COTTER TROUT FESTIVAL, WHITE RIVER
BASSMASTER ELITE, LAKE DARDANELLE
FREE KIDSâ€™ FISHING DERBY, BULL SHOALS
ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION FREE FISHING WEEKEND
SIMMONS BANK BIG BASS BONANZA, ARKANSAS RIVER
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PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION
The O-FISH-AL Party Shop! FISH PARTY ESSENTIALS GIFT BAGS, CUPS, PLATES, NAPKINS, TABLE CLOTHS, INVITATIONS & PARTY FAVORS
11218 Rodney Parham (Pleasant Valley Plaza) • Little Rock • 501-223-4929 4822 North Hills Blvd. (off McCain, next to Kroger) • N. Little Rock • 501-978-3154 50 W Joyce Blvd • Fayetteville • 479-571-2147 ARKANSASWILD.COM | 49
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FISH ARKANSAS GUIDE BOAT BUYERS’
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
From clear, placid lakes to the wild waters of Arkansas’ many rivers and streams, there’s a boat that’s a perfect fit. Our boat buyers’ guide is just the thing to get you started on the journey to finding the watercraft you were always meant to own.
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2017 RANGER ALUMINUM MPV 1862
The Ranger MPV 1862 is built to work hard and play hard. Whether you’re huntin’ mallards with your favorite four-legged friend or watching the animated excitement in a child’s first fish, these responsive, getit-done designs are Engineered to EXCEL and Built to be Yours! Nationally advertised price with 90HP ELPT Mercury 4-Stroke, Mossy Oak Shadowgrass Camo, 24V trolling motor, 3 batteries, aluminum prop, and Ranger Trail Trailer w/ spare: $21,702.
2017 RANGER ALUMINUM RT188C
BUILT TO OUT-FISH, OUT-PERFORM, AND OUT-CLASS…all while carrying the right kind of quality, looks and features. AT YOUR KIND OF PRICE. The solid, stable feel of the 188c is complemented by an equally smooth ride. Inside, three-across pedestal seating, convenient tool holders and an oversized, divided livewell on the roomy front deck are among a literal boatload of standard features. Nationally advertised price
with the “NEW” Mercury 115HP Pro XS 4-Stroke Command Thrust, stainless steel prop, hydraulic steering, 24V trolling motor, 6 X 3 onboard battery charger, 3 batteries and Ranger Trail Trailer with spare: $25,932.
2017 RANGER Z-520C
Driven to dominate, the Z-520C is among the most advanced designs in our entire history. From its legendary hull to so many revolutionary interior features, this is the ultimate total performance fishing machine. REWARD YOURSELF WITH A LEGACY BUILT TO PERFORM LIKE NOTHING ELSE ON THE WATER.
CHECK OUT OUR 2017 BARLING BOAT SALES TEAM TRAIL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE ON OUR WEBSITE!
6401 SOUTH ZERO STREET | FORT SMITH | 479-649-8887 | BARLINGBOATS.COM
2016 WAR EAGLE
754 LDV 40hp Evinrude War Eagle model 754LDV was named the ultimate duck boat by Waterfowl & Retriever magazine. We agree! It is a duck hunters dream with the 12°V hull it parts through the brush to get you to your honey hole. The 754LDV is available with several accessories including a gun box with cushion or your choice of camouflage paint. Stock # WE102 $1500 Down Pmt $169.95
18TX Mercury 115hp Triton’s mission, now as always, is to build the world’s finest fishing boats. With advanced design, superior construction, unparalleled fishability and incredible performance, Triton boats set the benchmark for the industry. Stk # TR135 $2700 Down Pmt $259
820 Mirage Fish 60hp Yamaha Whether you are a serious fisherman or simply love being on the water, the Mirage 820 Cruise-N-Fish pontoon by Sylvan is a great choice. It will impress you with great fishing features and plenty of seating for everyone to get in on the fun. Stk #SY245 $0 Down Pmt $291
YOUR FISHING HEADQUARTERS
4903 CENTRAL AVE
HOT SPRINGS, AR
MinnKota® 55 Edge™ 12-volt, 45" shaft trolling motor Recessed trolling motor foot control
G3 features larger lockable storage than most competitors Storage for cooler - Will also accommodate tackle trays Step to front deck has underneath storage and a grab strap for a forth seated passenger New suspended console with custom tilt wheel. Extra legroom for the "big & tall" sportsman Small item storage under both driver & passenger seats. Fold down center seat provides easy step up to the stern deck Divided, aerated 33 gallon livewell has 800 GPH recirculation with insulated livewell lid Marine grade vinyl is durable and fade resistant Two bank battery charger standard
MOTOR OPTIONS F40 | F50 | F60 | F70 | F75 | F90
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Length 17’10” Beam 92” Hull Gauge .100 Max HP 90 Fuel Cap. 21g Livewell Dim & Cap 15”x 45” 33g Colors Red/Silver (shown) | Blue/Silver
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 57
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SMOKELESS DOESN’T MAKE IT ANY BETTER. IT’S JUST HOW THEY HOOK YOU.
It’s no fish tale: Smokeless tobacco like “snuff” or “chew” is just as addictive as cigarettes and other tobacco products. Your risk of certain types of cancer increases – like esophageal cancer and oral cancer of the throat, cheek, gums, lips, and tongue. These cancers are deadly and disfiguring. Don’t fall for Big Tobacco’s can of lies. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit stampoutsmoking.com.
STAMP OUT SMOKING 1-800-QUIT-NOW
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The moment when your routine fishing trip turns into a moment you’ll never forget...
Come see why people travel from all over to fish the beautiful Little Red River. We want to share with you all of the exciting changes and improvements we have made! Whether your perfect vacation is going after the catch of a lifetime, or simply enjoying the view from your cabin, you have found the right place!
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Log Cabins Guided Fishing Trips Boat & Motor Rental Canoe & Kayak Rentals
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Pot Of Gold Restaurant Bait Shop R.V. & Tent Sites Swimming Pool
350 Rainbow Loop Heber Springs, AR 72543 501-362-3139