trout fishing in arkansas

Trout Fishing in Arkansas (THE guide to Fishing in Ark!)

Are you curious about trout fishing in Arkansas? Whether you’re a beginner or an avid fly fisher, Ark fishing is among some of the best trout fishing in the US! With so many beautiful places in Arkansas to choose from, you’ll be overwhelmed by the possibilities on offer for fishing Ark rivers and lakes. 

From fast-flowing tailwaters to gorgeous lakes with teeming trout population, there’s plenty of great spots to choose from. You’ll find all the info you could ever need about trout fishing in Arkansas right here in this article, so that you can skip looking up all the regulations, quickly find the best places for fishing Ark, and get out there! 

Arkansas Fishing License

To go trout fishing in Arkansas, you’ll need both a Fishing license and a Resident or Nonresident Trout Permit. The fishing licenses are available for a 3-day duration, 7-day duration or an annual license, with options for residents and nonresidents. If you’re aged over 65, you’ll just need to make a one-time purchase of the Lifetime Fishing License and Lifetime Trout Permit, rather than renewing annually. Check out the full information available on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website (AGFC) to make sure you get exactly the right permit and license for your situation. You can purchase your license and permit online or from any of the Regional Offices

fly fishing ark

Arkansas Fishing Regulations

There are a few regulations in place in Arkansas around trout fishing, with the intention of protecting the species and making sure that everyone gets a fair chance at snagging a trout. The daily limit is five trout, including up to two brown trout and two brook trout. Some waters have special regulations, so make sure you double check before you head out. The rules only allow for using artificial flies and lures in the special regulation waters – scented or natural bait is specifically prohibited. You’ll also have to avoid confusing or herding the trout, or ‘chumming’, such as throwing in corn or shaking up the gravel to attract the fish and encourage feeding. Refer to this trout fishing guidebook from the AGFC for the full regulations to make sure that you’re in the know. 

Arkansas Fishing Report

Before you head out, you’ll want to have an idea of the fishing conditions – the water temperature and clarity, what the fish are doing and where people are having a lot of success (or not so much, so you know where to avoid!) The easiest way is to check out the AGRC’s Fishing Report. It’s updated every week with the latest news and real, on-the-ground info from knowledgeable fishermen and women who have been out on the lakes and rivers in each region of Arkansas. This vital information is really helpful for planning your fishing trip so that you’ll know the depth of the water and exactly which spot is best for you. 

Best Flies for Arkansas

For the best results when you go fly fishing Arkansas, you’ll want to stock up on some great, tried and tested trout lures that will draw those lurking fish out and get them biting. It’s possible to make a catch using streamers, nymphs or dry flies, but here are our recommendations for you. 

Streamers tend to work well due to the healthy crayfish and baitfish populations locally – we recommend using a Woolly Bugger or a Whitlock’s Near Enough Sculpin. 

For nymphs, a Brown Forked Tail Nymph or a Scud in size 12-18 should serve you well for Ark fishing. 

And as for dry flies, an Adam’s in any size from 14-24 is good for fly fishing at any time of year, whereas the Sulphur and Light Cahill should get the fish biting like crazy, but only from late spring through to the fall. 

One of our top tips for how to fish in Ark is to keep an eye on which insects are hatching when. This will help you to gauge which lure to use for the best success out on the water, white river trout fishing. Take a look at this extremely useful White River Hatch Chart so you’ll have an idea of what to expect over during each month. 

If you feel like digging deeper and geeking out on everything related to fly patterns, you’ll love this fount of knowledge on the best patterns for fly fishing the Ozarks

Best Trout Fishing Lakes & Rivers in Arkansas

We’ve gone over all the rules and regulations you need to know including how to fish Ark – now let’s get onto the spots for the best trout fishing in Arkansas. There truly are some beautiful places in Arkansas, with amazing trout fishing opportunities. Although trout aren’t native to Arkansas, you’ll find sizeable populations across the state. Trout were introduced back in the ’60s, after the cold tailwaters of the new dams killed off many of the warm-water fish previously found in the area. Here are some of the best locations for fly fishing Arkansas: 

The White River

The White River in northern Arkansas is unique in that it is the largest river for trout fishing in the state. Boasting more than 100 miles of trout river for you to make the most of, it was a no-brainer to start here! 

You’ll find that there are plenty of access points for White River fishing dotted along the river. If you’re lucky, you might get some useful tips from the local fly fishing enthusiasts or the staff at the fly shops about the best sections to head to. Some of the most popular wading areas include Rim Shoals, Roundhouse Shoal and Wildcat Shoal. Here’s a link to the White River Arkansas map

The trout just love the conditions here. With 8 generators that release water into the White River, the water depth really can fluctuate a great deal from day to day. This creates the perfect environment for the river trout, and as a result, it provides you with some excellent white river trout fishing opportunities! 

Norfork River

Despite only laying claim to 5 miles of trout water, Norfork River surely numbers among the locations for the best trout fishing in Arkansas. In fact, the trout record was broken by a whopper caught on Norfork River in 1988, weighing a staggering 39 pounds. Your chances of catching a good size trout remain high to this day. Norfork River is a tailwater running from Norfork Lake and is home to four species of trout. There’s a Catch-and-Release section of the river running for 3.5 miles from Long Hole to the River Ridge, but there are quite a few spots where you can harvest the fish too. 

The Little Red River

You’ll be spoilt for choice if you decide that the Little Red River is your chosen spot to flyfish Arkansas. With over 35 miles of great trout river and brilliant conditions and opportunities for fly fishing, you’ll have a great chance of catching a trout or two, and possibly even that coveted lunker you’ve been dreaming of. The Little Red River Arkansas was actually the setting for the capture of a 40-pound trout which held the world record for seven years! You’ll find rainbow, cutthroat, brown and brook trout in this river. 

Spring River

If you’re looking for places to go fly fishing for trout in northern Arkansas, you might want to visit Spring River, found right up near the border with Missouri. There are 10 miles of exceptionally good water for trout fishing, and several walk-in access points. The fish are responsive to fly fishers, and we recommend the section between Mammoth Spring and Dam 3 as the best areas for fly fishing in particular. 

Dry Run Creek

Visiting Dry Run Creek is a must if you have younger kids or even teens who you’d love to introduce to white river fishing, so they can catch the bug too! This creek is a special area, designed for children under the age of 16 who are accompanied by an adult, and for licensed fishers who have a mobility impairment. Because of this, the access to the water is great, and there’s a hearty trout population of impressive sizes. It’s catch-and-release only, and you may only use artificial lures, but you can still have an amazing experience here, whether you’re fishing with kids or if you’re taking advantage of the facilities for wheelchair users. Take a look at this exceptional little creek for yourself! 

Lake Ouachita

If you’re not so into river fishing or you take a more laidback approach to your fly fishing, you’re bound to love Lake Ouachita. This is one of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas; the stunning views and crystal clear water will be sure to impress you. But that’s not all, of course. Lake Ouachita is stocked every year with sports fish and is home to a decent population of rainbow trout. Top tip: Head over to the spillway and the dam to find those elusive rainbow trout and snag a few. 

Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake is a large, deep lake, not far from the Ozark foothills and north of Little Rock. The dam and lake were fully completed in 1964. Fed by the Little Red River Arkansas, record trout have been caught at Greers Ferry Lake across the years and the trout fishing remains excellent. There are gorgeous views to be seen, making the 40,000-acre lake a favoured tourist destination, but it never gets too busy and bustling. The water is even clear enough for scuba diving, making the fishing opportunities golden, and you’ll find both rainbow and brown trout here if you’re lucky. 

Bull Shoals Lake

On the hunt for a trophy-size trout? Your chances of catching a lunker are high at Bull Shoals Lake, or more particularly in the area just downstream of the Bull Shoals Lake. This spot is a closely guarded secret among avid fly fishers – you can expect to find trout in the region of 15-20 inches here. Brown and rainbow trout are regularly stocked in the Bull Shoals Lake, and you can find crappie, bass, and walleye too. 

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake near Rogers, Arkansas, is another great spot if you prefer lake fishing to river fishing. The 7.5 miles of trout-fishing tailwater is a destination for fly fishers from across the state, with plentiful trout available. The AGFC’s stocking program is to thank for this, as when the Beaver Dam was built, it created a tailwater which lowered the water temperature, effectively killing off all the warm water fish and prompting the AGFC to experiment with introducing trout. 

best fly fishing in arkansas

The Wrap-Up!

So there you have all the information you could ever need to know about trout fishing in Arkansas. I hope you’ve found this run-down on trout fishing in Arkansas useful and helpful. Why not leave me a comment below? If you’ve got any questions, write them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer every single one! 

From the state fishing licensing and the trout fishing regulations to the best spots and the specifics of fly fishing the Ozarks, you’re all set! Get your gear together, sort out your license and permit and choose your favourite spot from our recommendations above. It’s as simple as that – now you’re ready to go get yourself some of the best trout fishing in the US!