Extending through four diverse geographical regions, Ark. 7 from Arkadelphia to Harrison became Arkansas’s first scenic byway in 1993. It was extended in 1999 to include the highway south to the Louisiana state line for a total length of 290 miles. While its official northern point is Harrison, there are plenty of beautiful pastoral views if you follow it on north to the quaint little fishing town of Diamond City.
No matter which highway you use from whichever direction, using a tank of gas to reach Diamond City is worth it, especially in the warmer months. Although, if you’re an angler, fishing is good any time of year.
I’ve been to Diamond City twice since April, once via bass boat, and once by car to visit friends. In April, I was a marshal for two days for the Bassmaster Elite Series. I marshaled one day for Clark Reehm and another for Ish Monroe. Both of them fished the Diamond City/Lead Hill area, as did the tournament winner.
I was back in Diamond City a few weeks ago with some friends who recently bought a house in the area. I have two other friends whose families have owned houses there for a few years. Because there were so many of us, we rented a large pontoon boat from Sugarloaf Harbor Marina. It’s owned by some super nice folks and is one nice, clean marina.
We found a rocky beach to set up on each day with a pop-up tent and chairs, then took turns riding in the pontoon or deck boat. The kids had a blast tubing and knee boarding, as did a few of the adults, me included.
If you’re looking for a place to eat, The Cove is the place to be. There’s a great breakfast joint too. Some of the locals call it Katie’s place, although that’s not its official name, because it’s Katie that cooks your food. Diamond City is a small town, so you won’t have any trouble finding where to eat. There are also several motels.
According to DiamondCity.net, “When the river was dammed at Bull Shoals in 1952 to form Bull Shoals Lake, Lead Hill, which had become the area’s main town, was moved from its site to the intersection of Arkansas Highways 7 and 14, and the high bank of the White was left alone. For many years the fine fishing on the Diamond City peninsula was known only to the people of the immediate area.
“In the 1960s, Henry Dietz began to develop the site. The town founded there in 1953 had been called Sugar Loaf, and it became Diamond City in 1966. Surrounded by the lake on three sides and Lead Hill on the fourth, Diamond City is now an uncrowded town of 782 (2010 U.S. Census).”
As you can see, recreation in this area revolves around water and the outdoors, and involves fishing, swimming, scuba diving, water skiing, boating, power skis, and more.
Bull Shoals Lake was formed by Bull Shoals Dam on the White River. The waters below the dam are known for excellent trout fishing. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam was completed in 1951 and is the fifth largest concrete dam in the nation. The lake has about 45,500 surface acres, almost 1,000 miles of rugged shoreline and 60,000 acres of public land. More than 20 parks offer camping and picnicking facilities.
Bassmaster Magazine selected the impoundment as one of the country’s Top 100 Bass Lakes in May 2012. There are grills, firewood, tables and drinking water at the picnic sites. Commercial docks on the lake have boats, motors and guides for hire. 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 on this lake with bass weighing up to 12 pounds caught here. 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 Fall to Spring.
Jill M. Rohrbach