If you consider yourself a passionate catfish angler, then Arkansas is the perfect spot for your next fishing trip. Whether you’re a beginning fisherman or an experienced pro, Arkansas offers many perfect locations to cast your line and hook one of these tasty fish.
In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the top places in Arkansas for catching catfish and giving tips on the best techniques to use when fishing these waters. With its abundant rivers, lakes and creeks filled with delicious catfish just waiting to be reeled in, it’s easy to see why so many people look forward visiting the Natural State each year!
Top 10 Catfish Fishing locations in Arkansas
Located just outside of Little Rock, Lake Conway is Arkansas’s largest man-made game and fish commission lake, spanning over 6,700 acres. With its abundant supply of catfish, it’s a favorite spot for anglers looking to catch channel, blue, and flathead catfish.
Flowing through the entire state, the Arkansas River offers countless fishing spots along its 300-mile stretch in Arkansas. It is known for its healthy population of blue, channel, and flathead catfish, with some areas providing better opportunities than others, such as the Dardanelle Pool and the Little Rock Pool.
Situated in the southwest corner of Arkansas, Millwood Lake covers around 29,000 acres. This reservoir is known for its excellent catfish fishing, with a high concentration of channel, blue, and flathead catfish. The best spots can be found near the dam and in the oxbow lakes.
Stretching over 600 miles, the Ouachita River flows through both Arkansas and Louisiana. The river offers great fishing spots for all three major catfish species, with the best fishing often found near the Camden area, where the river widens and deepens.
Located in northwest Arkansas, Beaver Lake covers more than 28,000 acres. This reservoir is popular for its clear water and beautiful scenery, but it also hosts a healthy population of blue and channel catfish. Fishermen often find success near the dam and in the numerous coves throughout the lake.
Bull Shoals Lake:
Spanning Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri, Bull Shoals Lake covers over 45,000 acres. This deep, clear lake is known for its excellent catfish fishing, particularly for blue and channel catfish. Prime fishing spots can be found near the dam and in the lake’s various arms.
Greers Ferry Lake:
Located in north-central Arkansas, Greers Ferry Lake covers approximately 40,000 acres. This deep, clear lake is home to a variety of fish species, including a healthy population of blue and channel catfish. Anglers often find success fishing near the dam or around the lake’s many islands and submerged structure.
Situated near Arkadelphia, DeGray Lake covers over 13,000 acres. This man-made reservoir is known for its excellent catfish fishing, with a high concentration of channel and blue catfish. The best spots are typically found near the dam and in the coves on the south side of the lake.
Located in western Arkansas, Lake Dardanelle covers nearly 34,000 acres. It is a popular destination for catfish anglers, with abundant populations of blue, channel, and flathead catfish. The best fishing spots can be found near the dam, in the backwaters, and along the main river channel.
Flowing through northern and eastern Arkansas, the White River offers a variety of fishing opportunities along its 720-mile stretch. The river is known for its healthy population of blue, channel, and flathead catfish, with some of the best fishing spots found near the confluence with the Black River and in the tailwaters below the Bull Shoals and Norfork dams.
Little Red River:
The Little Red River, a tributary of the White River, is located in north-central Arkansas. It spans approximately 102 miles and offers excellent fishing opportunities for channel and blue catfish. Key fishing spots can be found around Greers Ferry Dam’s tailwaters and in the deeper pools and holes along the river.
Located in southwest Arkansas, Lake Greeson covers around 7,000 acres. This scenic reservoir is known for its abundance of channel and blue catfish. The best fishing spots are typically found near the dam, along the shoreline, and in the numerous coves that dot the lake’s perimeter. Additionally, anglers can find success near submerged structures and drop-offs.
Situated near Hot Springs, Lake Hamilton covers over 7,200 acres. This popular recreational lake is also an excellent destination for catfish anglers, with a healthy population of blue and channel catfish. Prime fishing spots can be found in the lake’s deeper sections, particularly near the dam, as well as around bridges, docks, and other structures.
Cane Creek Lake:
Located in southeastern Arkansas, Cane Creek Lake is a 1,675-acre reservoir. It is known for its excellent catfish fishing, particularly for channel and flathead catfish. Anglers often find success fishing near the dam, around submerged timber, and in the numerous channels that cut through the lake’s shallow waters.
Situated in the southeastern corner of Arkansas, Lake Chicot is the state’s largest natural oxbow lake, covering approximately 5,000 acres. This scenic lake is home to a thriving population of blue, channel, and flathead catfish. The best fishing spots are often found in the deeper sections of the lake, along the main river channel, and around the numerous cypress trees that line the shoreline.
The Best Time of Year to Fish for Catfish in Arkansas
Fishing for catfish in Arkansas is a favorite pastime for anglers of all ages and skill levels. The Natural State boasts an abundance of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs teeming with these whiskered bottom-dwellers. Knowing the best time of year to fish for catfish in Arkansas can greatly increase your chances of success.
Although catfish can be caught year-round in Arkansas, the optimal time to fish for them is during the late spring and early summer months. This period usually falls between April and June, when water temperatures are steadily rising, and catfish become more active and hungry.
Why Late Spring and Early Summer?
During late spring and early summer, catfish are in their pre-spawn and spawning phases. This means they are actively searching for food and mates, making them more likely to bite your bait. Water temperatures between 70°F and 85°F are ideal for catfish activity, which is common during this time of year in Arkansas.
Additionally, during this period, many catfish species move from deep wintering holes to shallow waters, making them more accessible to anglers. You’ll often find them near structures like logs, rocks, and vegetation, where they can hide and ambush prey.
Tips for Fishing Catfish in Arkansas
- Choose the right bait: Catfish have a keen sense of smell and taste, so using baits with strong odors is highly effective. Popular choices include cut bait (chunks of fish), nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and stink baits.
- Use appropriate gear: A medium to heavy action rod and reel with a strong line (15-30 pound test) is suitable for catching catfish. Circle hooks or treble hooks work well for securing your bait and catching hold of the catfish’s mouth.
- Fish at the right time of day: Although catfish can be caught during daylight hours, they are most active during dawn and dusk. Fishing during these times increases your chances of catching catfish.
- Be patient and persistent: Catfish can be finicky eaters, so patience is key. If you’re not getting bites, try changing your bait or moving to a new location.
By fishing during the late spring and early summer months in Arkansas, you’ll greatly improve your chances of catching some whiskered giants. So, grab your gear, find the perfect spot, and enjoy the thrill of reeling in a monster catfish!
1. What types of catfish can be found in Arkansas?
Arkansas is home to several species of catfish, including channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish. Channel catfish are the most common and can be found in a variety of water bodies, while blue and flathead catfish are typically found in larger rivers and reservoirs.
2. Where are the best places to fish for catfish in Arkansas?
Some popular catfish fishing locations in Arkansas include the Arkansas River, the Mississippi River, Lake Ouachita, Lake Dardanelle, and the White River. However, many smaller lakes, ponds, and rivers throughout the state also offer excellent catfish fishing opportunities.
3. Do I need a fishing license to fish for catfish in Arkansas?
Yes, you will need a valid Arkansas fishing license to fish for catfish in the state. Licenses can be purchased online, at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offices, or at various retailers statewide. Be sure to check the current fishing regulations and any specific requirements for the body of water you plan to fish.
4. Can I keep all the catfish I catch in Arkansas?
Arkansas has specific regulations regarding the number and size of catfish you can keep. For example, there may be daily limits and minimum length requirements for certain species. Always consult the current Arkansas fishing regulations to ensure you are in compliance.
5. What kind of equipment should I use for catfish fishing in Arkansas?
A medium to heavy action rod and reel with strong line (15-30 pound test) are recommended for catfish fishing. Circle hooks or treble hooks work well for securing your bait and catching hold of the catfish’s mouth.
6. Can I fish for catfish from the shore in Arkansas?
Yes, many anglers successfully fish for catfish from the shore in Arkansas. Look for areas with structure like logs, rocks, and vegetation, where catfish may be hiding. Additionally, fishing near inflowing streams or tributaries can also be productive.
7. Are there any catfish fishing tournaments in Arkansas?
Arkansas hosts several catfish fishing tournaments throughout the year. These events can be a fun way to test your skills against other anglers and potentially win prizes. Check local fishing clubs, online forums, or social media for information on upcoming tournaments in your area.