Fishing Arkansas: Lake Ouachita
Lake Ouachita is Arkansas's largest lake with over 66,000 total acres of land and water. Lake Ouachita has over 900 miles of shoreline, and over 40,000 acres of prime fishing waters. Lake Ouachita is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, and is governed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In an effort to preserve the landscape, no homes are allowed on the shoreline of Lake Ouachita, and only a handful of marinas and resorts can be found here. As a result of the restrictions on shoreline construction, Lake Ouachita is considered one of the cleanest lakes in the country year after year.
Lake Ouachita ( pronounced "WAH-shi-tah"), was created as a result of the construction of the Blakely Mountain Dam on the Ouachita River in 1953. Lake Ouachita is a rather deep reservoir with an average depth of around 55', however, depths in excess of 200' are common. Lake Ouachita was not clear cut before it was filled, so a thick forest, as well as several small towns, are still standing beneath the surface. Many of the submerged trees stand over 80' tall still today, making for dangerous boating conditions during low level periods. Lake Ouachita lies in a very mountainous region of Arkansas, resulting in over 200 visible islands within its shores, and hundreds more below the surface.
The rugged underwater terrain of Lake Ouachita provides an excellent habitat for a variety of Arkansas game fish, and the recent explosion of aquatic vegetation such as Hydrilla and Eurasian Watermilfoil have made a great fishing lake, even better.
Lake Ouachita Game Fish Species
- Bluegill, Panfish
- Crappie (White, Black)
- Largemouth Bass (Florida & Northern Strains)
- Spotted Bass
- Smallmouth Bass
- White Bass
- Striped Bass
- Catfish (Blue, Channel, Flathead)
- Chain Pickerel
- Alligator Gar
Lake Ouachita is widely regarded as the "Striped Bass Capitol of the World", with trophy striped bass coming from the lake quite frequently. The lake's massive size, deep cold waters and hefty supply of gizzard shad make for a prime environment for giant striped bass. Striped bass fishing at Lake Ouachita has become so popular in the last decade, that it has become an industry in itself. There are more than 30 striped bass fishing guide services on Lake Ouachita, which draw fishing enthusiasts from all over the world every year. Striped bass in the 20 pound to 30 pound range are very common during the Spring and Summer fishing seasons, with 40 pound to 50 pound fish surfacing occasionally.
The national reputation for Lake Ouachita actually may be based more on its largemouth bass fishing than its striped bass fishing. The lake has consistently earned a Top 10 ranking among largemouth bass fisheries in the country, thanks to its growing population of Florida strain bucket mouths. Lake Ouachita hosts several professional bass fishing tournaments each year, including the prestigious FLW Forest Wood Cup. Local bass tournaments are hosted nearly every weekend of the year on Lake Ouachita.
Because of the lake's size, locating the various species of fish on Lake Ouachita can be a challenge for an inexperienced visitor. There are several general locations throughout the lake where fishermen can consistently locate certain species, these are listed for you here.
Lake Ouachita Fishing Points of Interest
- Largemouth Bass - Joplin, Little Fir, Brady Mountain, Buckville, Rabbit Tail, Lena Landing, Big Blakely Creek, Little Blakely Creek
- Spotted Bass - Point 37, Cedar Creek, Crystal Springs
- Smallmouth Bass - Avery, Little Fir
- White Bass - Twin Creek, Denby Point, Tompkins Bend, Irons Fork
- Striped Bass - Big Fir, Joplin, Buckville, Rabbit Tail, Spillway, Brady Mountain, Avery, Avant
- Crappie - Little Fir, Irons Fork, Cedar Fourche
- Walleye - Lake Ouachita State Park, Rabbit Tail, Cedar Fourche Creek
For more fishing tips and complete fishing reports from Lake Ouachita click here.
Lake Ouachita Public Access Ramps
- Spillway Public Access - Hwy 227 in Mountain Pine, AR
- Lake Ouachita State Park - Hwy 227 in Mountain Pine, AR
- Brady Mountain - Hwy 270W in Royal, AR
- Buckville - Hwy 298 to Buckville Rd
- Crystal Springs - Hwy 270W in Mount Ida, AR
- Big Fir - Hwy 188 in Mount Ida, AR
- Tompkins Bend - Hwy 270W in Joplin, AR
For a complete list of public access boat ramps on Lake Ouachita click here.
Lake Ouachita Fishing Links
- Fishing Reports, Tips and Maps (livewelltales.com)
- Guide Services
- Tournament Information
Lake Ouachita is a very large, unihabited lake that can be dangerous if not respected. The lake is so massive that you may not encounter another fisherman all day while fishing, and with nothing but National Forest surrounding the lake, you will be all alone. I have fished Lake Ouachita for years and know first hand just how many dangers lurk in her waters. If you have never visited Lake Ouachita and plan on fishing the lake soon, please follow these tips to ensure a safe fishing trip:
- Bring a fishing partner - Until you are familiar with the lake, I would advise you never navigate the lake alone.
- Boat Inspection - Be sure your battery(s) are at 100% charge, oil level is 100% full and fuel is 100% full. Marinas are few and far between on Lake Ouachita, up to 25 miles away from certain areas of the lake.
- Purchase a fishing map - These contour maps provide you with river/creek channels for easy navigation through the submerged timber, and provide you with depths for locating underwater humps.
- Use EXTREME caution - The lake levels constantly fluctuate. Submerged timber may be only inches beneath the surface, but completely invisible to the naked eye. Over 80% of Lake Ouachita is flooded timber.