All Things Water!
Norfork Lake has more than 550 miles of shoreline and covers some 22,000 acres. There are 19 developed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks that provide plenty of opportunities for camping and for water sports. Boating, water skiing, ping and swimming are all extremely popular on the lake. Commercial docks on the lake have boats, motors, guides and equipment for ping. In addition to parks for camping, there are many resorts offering accommodations, some with private docks, swimming pools and other recreational amenities.
Fishing: Almost all varieties of freshwater game fish are found in the lake, which is fed by the North Fork River and its tributaries. Bass, walleye, crappie, bream and catfish all make their home in its waters. The oldest of Arkansas’s large man-made impoundments, Norfork has consistent variety in its fishing. Lake Norfork contains one of the best striped bass fisheries in Arkansas. The lake is stocked annually, and stripers over 40 pounds are commonly taken. Many in the 30-pound class are caught every year. Shad are plentiful in Lake Norfork, so stripers average 2.5 to 3 pounds of growth per year. A 20-year-old striper in Lake Norfork weighs about 25 pounds. Black bass fishing is at its best from September through May, and an increasingly popular sport on the lake is night fishing with lights for crappie and white bass.
November is prime time to catch crappie around Christmas tree fish attractors on lakes Norfork and Bull Shoals. Positioned in clusters below the water’s surface, the trees create large brush piles serving as shelter for young fish, minnows and shad and attracting black bass and crappie. Winter is prime time for catching crappie around man-made fish attractors. These attractors are marked with blue and white reflective signs on the shoreline. Upon locating a marked sign, steer your boat 20-30 feet away from it. Using a four-pound test line and a 1/16-ounce jig head, cast toward the fish attractor. Count down until you get a hit or hit brush. If you get a hit, use the same count the next cast. If you hit brush, use a shorter count.
The North Fork River below the dam is a popular and productive trout fishing stream, and the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, available for tours, assures a continuous supply of trout to maintain the populations of the North Fork, the White and other area trout streams. A former world-record brown trout was taken from the river in 1988. A state-record 4-pound 12-ounce brook trout was caught in 2000.
Bull Shoals Lake
Bull Shoals Lake and the White River below its dam, are synonymous with fishing in Arkansas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, located in north central Arkansas on the Missouri-Arkansas state line, enjoys a wide reputation for lunker bass fishing along with its twin, Lake Norfork, just to the east. Bull Shoals Dam was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1951. It is the fifth largest concrete dam in the United States. Including the portion located in Missouri, the lake totals some 45,500 surface acres. Almost 1,000 miles of rugged shoreline is open to visitors and 60,000 acres of public land provide a variety of opportunities. Over 20 parks developed through the cooperative efforts of local, state and federal agencies are located on the lakeshore. These have both camping and picnicking facilities. There are grills, firewood, tables and drinking water at the picnic sites. Commercial docks on the lake have boats, motors and guides for hire. Water skiing and swimming are popular at Bull Shoals, as is cruising the hundreds of miles of lake arms and coves by motor or sailboat. Scuba divers come to Bull Shoals from many states to enjoy their sport in the blue water. They are permitted to spear scaled rough fish during daylight hours. Fishing: Bassmaster Magazine selected the impoundment as one of the country's Top 100 Bass Lakes (May 2012). Scrappy largemouth bass, spotted bass and white bass abound in the lake, along with crappie, channel cat, bream and walleye.
Largemouth bass fishing is a popular sport on Bull Shoals Lake. Bass weighing up to 12 pounds are caught here. The year-round fishing is enhanced in the early spring by the walleye and white bass run in the upper reaches of the lake and the growing popularity of night fishing for trout, white bass and crappie in the summer. Black bass fishing is at its best between September and May. Below the dam, the frigid waters of the White River have gained a national following of trout fishermen, who flock to try their hand at hooking rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. Resorts and trout docks offering guide services line the banks of the White below the dam. A large federal fish hatchery nearby assures a continuous stocking of the river. November is prime time to catch crappie around Christmas tree fish attractors on lakes Norfork and Bull Shoals. Positioned in clusters below the water’s surface, the trees create large brush piles serving as shelter for young fish, minnows and shad and attracting black bass and crappie. Winter is prime time for catching crappie around man-made fish attractors. These attractors are marked with blue and white reflective signs on the shoreline. Upon locating a marked sign, steer your boat 20-30 feet away from it. Using a four-pound test line and a 1/16-ounce jig head, cast toward the fish attractor. Count down until you get a hit or hit brush. If you get a hit, use the same count the next cast. If you hit brush, use a shorter count.
The White River runs approximately 720-miles throughout its journey through the great Ozark Mountains downward into the state of Arkansas' lower delta region. However, there is one part of the White River which is known internationally as it harbors some of the best trout fishing in the world. This famous section of the White River is located right here in the Ozarks near the Bull Shoals Dam.
In addition to trout, the White River is home to many varieties of catfish, bass, walleye, and sunfish. With the abundance and variety of fish, angler's come from all over to try out their hand at fly-fishing, spear fishing, or simply fishing from a johnboat.
North Fork River
The five-mile stretch from Norfork Dam to the White River is famous for producing big trout, including the second largest trout ever recorded in the world. Rainbow and cutthroat are also popular targets for anglers in the region. There are several quality public entry points into the North Fork, and campgrounds, picnic areas, and boat launching ramps are accessible and feature a variety of amenities.
Dry Run Creek - Dry Run Creek is a beautiful creek with runoff from the fish hatchery that offers year-round fishing for children and those with special needs. Over 7,000 annual visitors fish Dry Run Creek each year. This unique stream is filled with trout, and fishing is available for kids under the age of 16 and mobility impaired individuals. It's a wonderful opportunity for parents and adults to teach and allow young ones to develop a love of fishing. The area has handicap accessible platforms built to fish specific holes or kids can wade into the water for a different fishing experience.
Vacationers and residents love the excitement of rafting on this river as much as a lazy float. Fly fishers enjoy fishing on the only National River that runs 150 miles through protected public land that spreads out over 95,000 acres. Because the river resides in this protected environment, it is crystal clear. There are over 50 species of fish to catch, including the much-desired trophy fish, the small mouth bass. The rushing river creates an oxygen rich environment perfect for supporting fish.
There are many local outfitters that will supply fishers with the perfect equipment to make the trip a roaring success, as well as river guides to help fishers find the perfect spot for a great day on the river. Fishers can also land perch and catfish along the BNR.