Fishing Lake Ouachita

Aerial view of Lake Ouachita, the largest lake in Arkansas
Aerial view of Lake Ouachita, the largest lake in Arkansas

Arkansas is home to more than 600,000 acres of lakes. Among these is Lake Ouachita, the largest lake in the state. 

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray has extensive knowledge of these waters. The Hot Springs native, who is a member of the National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, started his career over 50 years ago as a fishing guide at Lake Ouachita. He enjoys fishing all of the lakes of the state.

“Each body of water has its own personality,” Murray said. “The characteristics of each are different and the fisheries have different species available and are on different river systems. Our wealth is in our water. We are so fortunate to have what we have. It’s a boon to Arkansas and gives our people the opportunity to go out and enjoy our state.”

Lake Ouachita is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. The 40,100-acre lake is well known for fishing and consistently ranks as one of the top 10 spots in the nation for largemouth bass fishing. The lake has more than 100 uninhabited islands for camping and on the eastern shore is Lake Ouachita State Park.

“Lake Ouachita is the largest lake we have in the state," Murray said. "It is a wilderness lake. It has no homes on it. It is there for flood control, and the lake fluctuates greatly up and down depending on rain and drought. It has multiple species available in the lake, the main ones being bass, striper, walleye and crappie. Each one of these species has a different niche in the water. They don’t co-habitat; they have their own area of the lake they live in. The lake is able to generate more of these fish because of the extensive amount of water fluctuation it has."

The beautiful Lake Ouachita.

“It is probably the premier striper fishing lake in the state," Murray continued. "It has a tremendous population with many fish caught being over 30 pounds. And it is one of the few lakes in Arkansas you can go out and target walleye and catch them. Walleye is normally a northern species found in the northern part of the country. The bass population is good, too. You have largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, which are catch and release only, and then there is Kentucky spotted bass. The length limit on the largemouth and spotted bass is 13 inches, which gives these fish a chance to get to maturity before they can be taken out of the lake."

“The river system that feeds Lake Ouachita has got more lakes on it than any other river system in our state," he said. "You have Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine, all on the same river, which is the Ouachita River. So it is a very diverse fishery in that it has huge amounts of big open water, which is not only good for outdoor recreation such as fishing, but it is also a big recreation lake for swimming, skiing, scuba diving; it is a multi use reservoir. And it has somewhere around 1300 miles of shoreline. So it’s a huge body of water. The one thing that makes it so unique is it has huge tributaries that go off of the main body of the lake. It’s serpentine shaped with creeks that go 6 or 7 miles off the main body of the lake. And it has all of the things in it that promote a good fishery, which is grass, standing timber, big open water areas, and lots of long huge shallow flats. Each one of these types of areas is what promotes different species of fish. The big open areas are the striper areas; the long creeks off of the lake are where most of the bass fishing is done. And most of the walleye fishing is done on the ledges and humps that are out in the main body of the lake.”

Along with Lake Ouachita, Arkansas has a range of beautiful lakes, rivers, and fishing holes across the state you can fish at. You can learn more here! 

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Fishing in Arkansas