Trout Fishing in Arkansas (AR) – Top Spots with Map

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Having lived a short while in Arkansas, I was lucky to find and enjoy some excellent trout fishing unlike anything else I have ever experienced. There are multiple places to fish for trout year round, making it a dream for any diehard angler. 

Trout Fishing in Arkansas (AR) - Top Spots with Map

Arkansas has over 9,000 miles of water, so it is no surprise that among all of that, there are some great fishing spots. Many of these waterways are known as the top locations in the US for their fishing, scenery, and of course, big fish.

Most people would never guess that record-breaking trout are caught in Arkansas. In fact, the previous world record brown trout was caught here, weighing in at over 40 pounds. While I am not guaranteeing you will catch a new world record, here are some of the best trout fishing in Arkansas where you can catch some great fish!

Top Fishing Locations in Arkansas (AR)

1. White River, Fayetteville

This big river is best fished with a boat, but there are also plenty of good places along the shore to find fish. Located a few hours outside of Fayetteville, the White River is a great place for a quick trip to try and catch some trout. 

With more than 100 miles of trout water on this river, the river is a no brainer for a trout angler. There are plenty of good access points for the casual fisherman, and there are plenty of good places to wade and sight fish as well. The numbers of brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout here are insane and makes for a great day of limiting out. 

The trout do extremely well in these waters, mostly due to the conditions. There are multiple dams with generators along the river, so the water levels can fluctuate greatly day to day. The trout actually love this, as it gives them opportunities to hunt for prey and in turn makes for some great fishing!

2. Norfork River, Norfork

The Norfork Tailwater, the lower 5 miles of the North Fork of the White River, is as gorgeous a stream as you are likely to find anywhere in the USA. Despite only laying claim to 5 miles of trout water, Norfork River numbers among the top locations for the best trout fishing in Arkansas. In fact, a near record breaking trout was caught on Norfork River in 1988, weighing a huge 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. It is a great place to get the Arkansas Slam, all 4 trout species, browns, rainbows, brook, and cutthroat on a single day.

Norfork probably packs more variety in her 5 miles than most rivers in their whole length. 

The river remains a favorite for low water waders, more readily available than the White. It takes some strong legwork and knowledge of the generation patterns to get away from the crowds, but the effort is definitely worth it as the fishing here is exceptional. 

3. Little Red River, Clinton

This list of locations would not be complete without the Little Red River, where the previous world record trout was caught from. This record held for over seven years, and there is still great fishing for giant rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout. 

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. Brown trout running 5 to 8 pounds are common, and a 20- to 30-pounder is always possible in the river that produced the 40-pound, 4-ounce world record. 

The brown trout spawning run occurs from mid-October through November, making these especially good times to fish. This popular Ozark Mountain tailwater trout stream is beautiful in its own special way, running clear and cold, skirted by scenic hardwood hillsides making it one of the best all time trout fisheries in the country.

4. Dry Run Creek, Mountain Home

Visiting Dry Run Creek is a must if you have younger kids or even teens who you’d love to introduce to trout river fishing, so they can experience what it is like. 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. 

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.

The great part about Dry Run Creek if you are able to fish it, is the amount of large, hungry fish that readily eat any bait you throw into the water. It is a great place to introduce people to fishing or to teach them how to fly fish. This one should be on your list if you have kids or know somebody who is mobility impaired. 

5. Beaver Lake, Rogers

Beaver Lake is a great spot if you are an angler who prefers lake fishing to river fishing. Probably the best trout lake in the state, Beaver Lake has over 480 miles of shoreline and scenic views, as well as big trout. 

These miles of trout-fishing waters are a great 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. 

There are plenty of good access points across the lake, as well as boat launching docks for anglers who prefer to fish from their boats. This is a beautiful lake that is home to big brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout that are easily caught and make for a great fishing destination.

When Does Trout Season Start in Arkansas

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.

Trout fishing is pretty lenient here, and most lakes and rivers offer year round trout fishing with a 5 fish daily bag limit. 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.

For more information, Arkansas’s Game and Fish Commission’s website is a great resource. https://www.agfc.com/en/

How Much Is a Fishing License in Arkansas

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is a great resource when it comes to buying a fishing license. They offer many different license options for fishing in the state, including:

  • Annual fishing permits for nonresidents costs $50.00 and only $35.50 for residents. 
  • Both residents and nonresidents can purchase short term 3-day licenses for $6.50 and $16.00.
  • Both residents and non-residents must purchase a trout permit before trout fishing ($10 for residents and $20 for non-residents).
  • Nonresidents can purchase a 7-day short term license for only $25. 

Arkansas loves its anglers and visiting anglers, and their low license fees are great for anyone wanting to fish here. For more information on their fees and regulations, visit their website at https://www.agfc.com/en/resources/licensing/fishinglicenses/

Where to Buy a Fishing License in Arkansas

Arkansas gives anglers the opportunity to buy any of their fishing licenses directly online on their website. This is super easy to do, and their website is very easy to use and navigate.

If you don’t want to buy one online, there are still plenty of physical places around the state that sell their fishing licenses as well. To find dealers, go to https://www.agfc.com/en/resources/licensing/fishinglicenses/ and search for a dealer in the area you are visiting.

Final Thoughts

Arkansas is a beautiful state with so many rivers, streams, and lakes that it would be near impossible to fish them all. This gives any angler a variety of different terrain, water, and species to target and catch, making it one of the greatest locations in the US for a trout angler who likes a little diversity in their life!

Trout Fishing in the US

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