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Arkansas Trout Fishing
Offers World-Class Action

By Craig Ogilvie, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The late Howard "Rip" Collins of Heber Springs went on an impromptu fishing trip with a neighbor on May 9, 1992, and returned with a 40-pound, four-ounce brown from the Little Red River. It still stands as a world record.


Browns are cousins to the rainbow, brook, cutthroat and lake trout...and all are part of the action in Arkansas's cold mountain waters. While browns are the largest, rainbows remain the number-one catch. Jim Miller of Memphis, TN reeled the state-record rainbow from the White River, near Mountain View, on March 14, 1981. It tipped the scales at 19 pounds, one ounce.

Trout fishing was virtually unknown in Arkansas until U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams at Norfork, Bull Shoals, Greers Ferry and Beaver were built and created ideal habitat downstream. Since the beginning, National Fish Hatcheries at Norfork, Greers Ferry and Mammoth Spring have supplied stocking trout for one of the state's most successful fishing industries. The combined in-state hatcheries produce over two million trout for Arkansas waters each year.

Arkansas boasts over 150 miles of trout-filled streams for fishermen. The White provides over 90 miles of habitat downstream from Bull Shoals, the Little Red offers 30 miles below Greers Ferry Dam and the Spring River adds another 20 miles, south of Mammoth Spring. Trout are also found in several lakes, including Bull Shoals, Ouachita, Hamilton, Catherine.

Fly-fishing is popular in the tailwaters of all the state's big dams, but anglers must stay alert for sudden changes in river stages due to power generation at each site. Johnboats, flat-bottomed rigs with comfortable chairs, are the preferred mode of fishing travel below the larger dams. Guide services, full-service marinas, resorts, camping and cabins are all available in most of the trout zones of the state.

The trout fishing industry plays a vital role in Arkansas outdoor recreation and travel. The season never closes. In fact, some of the largest catches are made during the cooler seasons. Regulations and catch-and-release districts are outlined in information available at sporting goods stores, marinas and wherever licenses/permits are sold.

For more information about trout fishing, contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at (501) 223-6300; or visit their Internet site at For help in planning other important elements of your fishing trip, or to order the Arkansas Fishing Guide, call the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism at 1-800-NATURAL, or visit the website at



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