The Arkansas River is a 328-mile long fishing hot spot, and is home to many of Arkansas’ premier fishing tournaments, including the Arkansas Big Bass Classic. No wonder, since the river contains hybrid striped bass, white bass, largemouth bass, plus a huge variety of other fish species: channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, bluegill sunfish, spotted sunfish, redear sunfish, and sauger. The river’s fishable waters run from its source point in Desha County all the way down to Fort Smith on the border of Oklahoma.
Backwater pools off the main river and tailwaters near dams are two great places to snag fish on the Arkansas River. Early in the season, bass love the shallow, backwater areas. Tailwaters are great places to snag stringers. Just before dawn and dusk are prime fishing times.
Locks and dams along the river create pools where the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission stocks fish. Whether the gates are open or closed affects the water levels, water flows, and fishing opportunities. In the Spring, anglers fish below the Ozark-Jetta Taylor Lock and Dam and below the Dardanelle Lock and Dam. Stripers are caught with medium-weight tackle and live minnows for bait when the water is slack.
While fishing from shore is not uncommon, there are many areas to launch your trailered or hand-boats, including 17 around the Fort Smith area alone. The dams provide water access points as well.