Fishing and Boating Rivers and Lakes of NW Arkansas
Lakes and rivers in this region of the Ozarks have some of the best fishing and boating in the Midwest. Clean water, with very cold areas that are home to cold water fish and other warmer regions that attract and support warm water fish, is a hallmark of the region. The fishing is great year 'round, and in warmer weather, be prepared to dive in and take a refreshing dip.
With 487 miles of shoreline, Beaver Lake is the biggest body of water in this part of Arkansas, and is set in spectacular Ozark Mountain scenery. The water is clean and clear, and the fish are always biting. It's the perfect place for a fishing and boating vacation. Fishing in Northwest Arkansas is a very popular pastime.
Beaver Lake sits below Beaver Dam on the White River, and its waters are home to some of the best bass fishing in the Ozarks Mountains and in the state. Smallmouth, largemouth and striper bass are abundant, and some 40-pound-plus stripers have been pulled from the waters here. There's also plenty of bream, white bass, crappie, and channel and spoonbill catfish.
At the dam, enjoy the free public overlook and parks with swimming, picnic areas and boat launch areas. Around the lake, twelve US Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds provide rustic overnight spots with electricity, fire rings, drinking water, showers and restrooms, picnic sites, trails and boat ramps. Indoor accommodations can be found all around the lake. Seven full-service commercial marinas on the lake, rent boat rentals and sell food and supplies.
Lake Leatherwood, Eureka Springs
Only a few miles west of town on Hwy 62, this 85-acre spring-fed lake is the heart of Lake Leatherwood City Park.
The park provides a paved boat ramp and a handicapped-accessible kayak and canoe launch. You'll need to buy an inexpensive boat launch permit; you can rent kayaks, canoes, row boats and paddle boats.
Fishermen will enjoy angling for blue gill, crappie, bream, largemouth bass and channel catfish, but first buy a license at the bait shop if you don't have one. The well-stocked shop has plenty of bait and tackle on hand, and if you didn't bring a pole, they'll rent you one for the day.
There are marked swimming areas, too. Click here for more info, or call 479-253-9721.
Black Bass Lake, Eureka Springs
Located at the end of Oil Springs Rd, the lake behind an earthen and cut stone dam built in 1894. Once used for fire protection and drinking water, the lake is filled by springs located far up Oil Spring Gulch.
Fish from the banks along the trails encircling the lake, or put in at the non-motorized boat launch. In warm weather, bullfrogs croak and dragonflies and butterflies sail past the wildflowers and lush greenery. You'll never believe you're not deep in the wilderness.
Lake Sequoya, Fayetteville
A 160-acre tributary of Beaver Lake with its own marina. Fish for bass, catfish, crappie or bream. 6608 E. Lake Sequoyah Dr. More info available by calling 479-444-3475.
Lake Fayetteville, Fayetteville
Fishing and boating on 194 acres of water. Fish for bass or panfish from the water or fishing piers. There's a boat dock and marina, and parkland surrounds the lake providing a veterans' memorial park, softball complex, botanical garden and disc golf course at various points around the lake. A 5.5 mile nature trail circles the lake, and a hard surface multi-use trail is nearly completed. E. Lake Fayetteville Rd. 479-444-3476 for more information.
Lake Wilson, Fayetteville
The perfect spot for some peaceful fishing, kayaking or canoeing. Bluegill, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass all have been caught here in what was originally the city's water supply. The lake is now bounded by a park with nature trails. 4668 S. Lake Wilson Dr. 479-718-7600.
Lake Elmdale, Springdale
200 acres of water where you can catch largemouth bass, blue and channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, carp, and sunfish. Bank fishing is rumored to be quite good, and there are concrete boat ramps. West of Springdale and I-540.
Lake Atalanta, Rogers
Rent paddle boats, canoes and fishing boats for this no-wake lake at the Bait Shop at 120 Lake Atalanta Rd. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, walleye, and catfish all live in the lake, but it's heavily fished by locals. There are two city parks on the banks of the lake; both with picnic areas and access to a walking trail. The older park has a food concession area, a minigolf course and an Olympic-size pool with water slide. The newer park is more rustic, with mature trees. 479-631-3350 for more info.
Lake Bentonville, Bentonville
Home to catfish and some bluegill, crappie, carp, sunfish and largemouth bass. This little lake can be fished only with rod or pole, and only from the bank. An end of the Bentonville airport runway juts out into the lake, and it's used as a fishing pier. Catfish up to 35 lbs. have been hauled from the lake. Look for signs to the lake on AR Hwy 102, 1.5 miles west of the intersection with US 71.
Bella Vista Lake, Bentonville
Nestled in a city park off Hwy 71B North, and provides fishing and kayaking. It's a nice spot for a family afternoon.
The White River of Northwest Arkansas
The White River is the source of Beaver Lake and Table Rock Lake in Arkansas, and it meanders from its headwaters near Fayetteville up into southern Missouri for a spell, then back into Arkansas where it flows southeast on its way to the Delta.
In Northwest Arkansas, the river flows between high limestone bluffs, stretches of farmland and pasture and some forested sections. Beaver Dam marks the start of Beaver Lake. where you'll find an assortment of bass, catfish and sunfish. Past the dam, between Eureka Springs and Gateway, White River trout fishing is excellent, as the river is stocked with rainbows and brownies.
The 13-mile stretch of water from the Beaver Dam to Beaver Town, AR, is still called the White River. Excellent boating and fishing from four public access areas, although water levels and currents change when the Beaver Dam is generating hydro-electric power. At Beaver Town, you can float under The Little Golden Gate Bridge and stop for a picnic on the beach.
World class White River fly fishing takes place during low water periods, but the most popular fishing method on the White is from a 16- to 20-foot johnboat equipped with a 10-20 horsepower motor.
Floating the Mulberry River
If you're looking for a really spectacular float trip, the 55-mile long Mulberry is one of the state's wildest rivers during the spring. Starting in the Ozarks and ending at a confluence with the Arkansas River, it has a class ll/lll rating that makes it extremely popular for floating.
In drier times, there are plenty of good swimming and fishing spots all along the river. Be on the lookout for wildlife of all sorts. You may even spot black bears, as the area has a large black bear population.
Best access points are within the Ozark National Forest. Hwy. 23 crosses the river less than 12 miles north of Interstate 40. Roughly an hour’s drive from Huntsville, and about 15 minutes more than that from Fayetteville.
The Kings River
One of only five north-flowing rivers in the continental US, and well-loved for floating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Rock bass, large channel catfish and surprisingly big smallmouth bass are routinely hooked in this stream.
The Kings is just a few miles east of Eureka Springs. Get there by turning south on Rockhouse Rd. off Hwy 62 in Eureka Springs. Go seven miles to Hwy 221, then left at the fork for one mile. The first right takes you to both Trigger Gap and Rockhouse, where you can put in.
Rockhouse to Trigger Gap is a peaceful seven mile float, but the twelve mile run from Trigger Gap to the US 62 crossing is a favorite of experienced Kings floaters.
For more information, canoes, guides, supplies or shuttle service, contact Kings River Retreat at 479-253-2346,Kings River Outfitters at 479-253-8954, or Riverside Resort and Canoes at 800-528-4645.