What to know
From the central portion of the state, the Arkansas River flows southward through the rich farmlands of the Arkansas delta to its confluence with the Mississippi River. Twenty-three recreation areas with campgrounds ranging from fully equipped to day-use-only can be found along this stretch. The river is also popular for other outdoor recreation such as boating and water skiing. Fishing: Locks and dams along the river allow access to some of the best fishing in the country. Pools formed by these are stocked by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission with sport fish such as bass, crappie, catfish and bream, making the river a popular location for major fishing tournaments such as BASSMASTERS and the ArkansasBig Bass Classic. Due to the record-breaking total catch (which still stands) when BASSMASTERS was held in Pine Bluff, the city now bills itself as the "Bass Capital of the World." The shallow, backwater areas adjacent to the Arkansas River are a great early season bass hot spot. You can find these backwaters almost anywhere along the river from Fort Smith to Arkansas Post. However, the lower ends of the 12 navigational pools generally contain more backwater areas than the upper ends of those pools because the water level is higher relative to the river bank in the lower ends of the pools. Stripers are caught along the entire 320-mile length of the Arkansas River in Arkansas, from the river’s mouth in Desha County to Fort Smith on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. In spring, they migrate upriver into the tailwaters below river dams. Slack-water periods, when few or no gates are open, are great times for fishing with medium-weight tackle and live minnows. Spring fishermen also congregate below the Ozark-Jetta Taylor Lock and Dam (L&D) on the lake’s upstream end and below Dardanelle L&D which impounds the lake.