Striper Time In Arkansas

Striper Time In Arkansas

Last December, I was being taxied through the Ozarks, compliments of Northland Tackle, Frabill, Marcum, and Gaston's White River Resort. Though we caught and photographed some big shell crackers and nice largemouths, the highlight of the trip was a jaunt over to Lake Norfork for stripers.

In past winters, I've made quite a number of sojourns to Norfork and Lake Ouachita for winter and spring stripers. Never disappointing. Most particularly awesome is the memory of so many rises to a waking Cotton Cordell Red Fin. Rises. Right. Sounds like a trout sipping callibaetis off the surface film. A sasquatch throwing boulders at you from the Ouachita Mountains would be a more accurate description of the surface disturbance caused by a striper rising 20 feet or more from submerged trees to crush a muskie-sized minnowbait. Then drag it right back down into those trees.

Arkansas isn't the Keys. No palm trees, coconuts, rain forests, or exotic fruits. But you can have the little umbrella in your drink while enjoying weather far milder than we're accustomed to in Minnesota. And it can be as exotic as you want to make it. During the full moon in February, some of the world's biggest brown trout come, backs out of the water, slashing at bunny strips. You haven't experienced trout fishing until you've dropped a big streamer ahead of a boil the size of a Volkswagon out there in the moonglade.


Or you could go cliff jumping.


Or not. The water will be around 45°F or so, on the average. Like I said. It's not the Keys.


But Arkansas is a great winter destination for anglers. If you really must drop a callibaetis down softly on the surface film, you can do it on the Little Red River. You'll catch more trout with a scud, but I'm just saying. In fact, you'll catch more trout than you've ever caught in a day unless you're just so-so with a fly rod. In which case you should take a drift down the White River and boondoggle a 3-inch, red, plastic worm. The last time we did that we caught 50 rainbows per hour. Apiece.

You can go bass, walleye, or crappie fishing on Bull Shoals or any number of lakes. On many of these reservoirs, bass and crappies are way up the creek channels, alternatiing between shallow coves and deeper channels, sometimes invading water 4 feet deep. Many of the crappies you catch will top 2 pounds and you won't have to drill a hole in the ice to catch them.

Or take the family to the hot springs. In Hot Springs. Maybe that will seem tropical enough. Me? My kids are grown up, but still talking about the hot springs. I'll be on Norfork. Maybe Beaver Lake. Or Ouachita. Fishing stripers. Leave a message.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley. Bass

Sensational New Softbaits for Bass

Steve Quinn - April 22, 2019

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley.

Blackened fish ready to serve with a side of okra and cucumber-red onion salad. This recipe is a treat! Fish Recipes

Blackened Fish Recipe

Tommy Thompson

Blackened fish ready to serve with a side of okra and cucumber-red onion salad. This recipe is...

This recipe for Steelhead Trout Niçoise Salad is heart healthy, paleo- and gluten-free diet friendly. Fish Recipes

Steelhead Trout Niçoise Salad Recipe

This recipe for Steelhead Trout Niçoise Salad is heart healthy, paleo- and gluten-free...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Doug Stange swims jigs with precision for frigid-water smallmouths.

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north or south, will help you pinpoint their predictable locations year after year. 

Walleyes spawn in spring, but spring may arrive in February in Mississippi, March in Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...


Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at catching Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

See More Stories

More Bass

Bass fishermen need a bunch of jigs, and not just to match cover and conditions. Bass

Picking a Bass Jig

Matt Straw - September 25, 2019

Bass fishermen need a bunch of jigs, and not just to match cover and conditions.

Never give up on surface action until winter rips the topwater rod from your cold, blue fingers. Bass

Fall Smallmouths: The Topwater Dossier

Matt Straw - November 11, 2019

Never give up on surface action until winter rips the topwater rod from your cold, blue...

Fishing in the current and staying alert is the name of the game when it comes to smallmouth fishing in a kayak. Bass

Smallmouth Fishing in a Kayak

Matt Straw

Fishing in the current and staying alert is the name of the game when it comes to smallmouth...

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.