Are you curious about trout fishing in Arkansas? Whether you’re a beginner or an avid fly fisher, Arkansas offers some of the best fly fishing opportunities in the US! With so many beautiful places in Arkansas to choose from, you’ll be overwhelmed by the possibilities on offer for an awesome Arkansas fishing trip.
From fast-flowing tailwaters to gorgeous lakes with teeming trout populations, an Arkansas fishing experience is pretty fantastic!
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!
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Top Spots for Trout Fishing in Arkansas
We will go over all the rules and regulations you need to know including how to fish Ark at the end of the article – let’s get onto the spots for the best trout fishing in Arkansas first. There truly are some beautiful places in Arkansas, with amazing trout fishing opportunities.
Although wild trout aren’t native to Arkansas, you’ll find sizeable populations across the state. Brown 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 in 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 brown trout water for you to make the most of, it is a no-brainer to start your Arkansas trout fishing 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.
The trout just love the conditions here and you can expect to have days where you catch 100 or more fish with lots of fishing hitting the 20+ inch mark.
This creates the perfect environment for brown trout, and as a result, it provides you with some excellent white river trout fishing opportunities.
But, the White River Tailwaters have to be fished by boat as the water depth can rise by 10 feet in a matter of minutes when they release water from the dam.
There are lots of boat ramps for boat access and you can hire boats to fish the White Rivers pristine trout water.
Where To Fish On The White River
It’s best to fly fish below the dam wall to start with and then float down the river on your boat. Be sure to bring a 6 wt fly rod with a sink tip line for the White River as you will need to fly fish with big flies and get them deep.
Recommended Flies For The White River
- White woolly buggers
- Silver shad streamers
- Black midges
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 brown trout record was broken by a whopper caught on Norfork River in 1988, weighing a staggering 39 pounds which was a world record at the time.
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 Arkansas trout. You will find brown, rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout in this river.
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.
Where To Fish On The Norfork River
Like a lot of the rivers in Arkansas, this river is a tailwater so wading can only be done in certain sections and you will need to keep an eye on the levels. Here is a good spot to wade with easy public access points and you can launch a boat there too.
Recommended Flies For The Norfork River
- Silver and red minnows
- Dark Midges
The Little Red River
You’ll be spoilt for choice if you decide that the Little Red River is your chosen spot to fly fish in Arkansas.
With over 35 miles of great brown trout river, 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 four species including rainbows, cutthroat trout, brown, and brook trout in this river.
If you’re wondering what’s the biggest rainbow trout ever caught, then check out the World Record Rainbow Trout here.
This river is fed by the Greers Ferry Dam and you will want to know the release schedule to fish it properly. You can check it here or call the Army Corp of Engineers Little Rock Data System.
Where To Fish On The Little Red River
The best spot on this river is below the hatchery as they pump out oxygenated water that trout love. If the water is low it’s a great section to wade, but if the water is high, using a boat will catch you more fish.
Recommended Flies For The Little Red River
- Wooly Buggers
- San Juan Worms
- Elk hair caddis
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 river is affected by rainfall and is great for wading and using a dry fly as it stays shallow.
The fish are responsive to fly fishers, and if you match the hatch with the right dry fly you can have an amazing day. The trout also respond well to nymphs so a dry dropper rig is also super effective.
Where To Fish On The Spring River
We recommend the section between Mammoth Spring and Dam 3 as the best areas for fly fishing in particular. If you head downstream from Mammoth Springs you will find the Arkansas Game And Fish Commission and a hatchery that will hold a lot of Arkansas trout.
Recommended Flies For The Spring River
- Pheasant Tail Nymphs
- Copper Johns
- Hares Ears
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.
Pick up one of our best kids fishing pole here if you’re thinking of taking the kids here.
Because of this, the public access to the water is excellent, 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!
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. It’s a beautiful lake, but that’s not all, of course.
Lake Ouachita is stocked every year with sport 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 brown trout have been caught at Greers Ferry Lake across the years and the trout fishing remains excellent.
If you want to know the largest trout ever recorded, see our post – World Record Brown Trout here.
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 catch 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 Dam, or more particularly in the area just downstream of the Bull Shoals Lake.
This spot is a closely guarded secret among avid fly fishermen – you can expect to find brown trout in the region of 15-20 inches here. Brown and rainbow trout are regularly stocked in the lake, and you can find crappie, smallmouth bass, and walleye too.
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 Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to experiment with introducing trout.
Local Fly Shops
It’s always a good idea to hit the local fly shops for both advice and to get some local critters the trout love. Here are some great ones to head to:
Fishing with a guide is a great way to speed up your success rate on new waters. You can save yourself 3 days of trial and error with one day with a guide which will tee you up for the rest of your fishing trip.
How To Get a 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 non-residents.
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.
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. Check out the different trout species here.
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.
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.
The Flies for Arkansas
For the best results when you go fly fishing in Arkansas, you’ll want to stock up on some great, tried and tested trout flies that will draw those lurking fish out and get them biting.
It’s possible to make a catch using streamers, nymphs or dry flies, and here are our recommendations for you.
Streamers tend to work well due to the healthy crayfish and baitfish populations locally – we recommend using a wooly 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.
You can see our recommendations for the Best Panfish Flies here.
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.
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.
You now have all the information you could ever need to know about trout fishing in Arkansas!
So get your gear together, sort out your license, permit, and choose your favorite spot from our recommendations above. It’s as simple as that! You’re ready to go get yourself some of the best trout fishing in the US!
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!