Arkansas is home to some of the hottest fly fishing in the United States. Several of the major rivers include multiple locations that are ripe for top-notch trout fishing. The best spots have a cool water temperature and lots of room to cast a line.
Many of the spots in our guide are wide enough for boats, which is great if you’d rather not have to find the right mix of depth and distance from shore for wading. Whether you’re a resident fisherman or traveling to the state specifically for fishing, this guide on where to find the best fly fishing locations in all of Arkansas is for you.
Below Bull Shoals Dam On The White River
This location just south of Bull Shoals has a reputation for being one of the best spots in the state for catching trout on a fly rod. The White River has several excellent locations for fly fishing, however, the real action is just below the dam. Prior to 2011, water levels could fluctuate, however steps were taken to regulate the water temperature and depth for consistency. Some of the best fishing can be found right below the dam and favorable conditions last for dozens of miles. It’s one of just a few rare areas where you can catch a rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and cutthroat all in the same location.
If you’re looking to do some fishing on the White River below the dam, there are several accommodation options that will allow you to stay as close as possible to the fishing action. Anyone looking for a once-in-a-lifetime fishing opportunity should book a reservation at the White River Inn, which is an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge. The best thing about this property is that it’s nestled right on the river. Of course, there are other standard lodging options available up and down the river as well.
Dry Run Creek On The North Fork River (For Anglers Under 16)
This prime Arkansas fly fishing location is also on the North Fork River, however, it’s roughly three and a half hours south of Norfork Dam, so unless you plan on doing a bit of driving on your trip, you won’t hit both spots. This stretch of water is strictly catch and release and anglers must be under the age of 16. If anyone on your adventure is young and learning to fly fish, this is an excellent opportunity and a wonderful confidence booster.
Below The Norfork Dam At Norfork Lake
There’s something about dams and fly fishing for trout that make a perfect combination. Much like Bull Shoals Dam, here you’ll be able to catch the four most sought-after trout species, aside from steelhead. One of the best ways to approach the river below the dam from a fishing perspective is to bring a boat and float down the river for a little over four miles before you reach the town of Norfork. However, there are a few entry points for wading fly fishermen, too.
Those near the Norfork Dam have incredible trout fishing opportunities. Anyone traveling to the area has several choices for accomodations near the trout-rich waters. If you’re looking for a fishing-specific destination, Gene’s Fishing Resort in Salesville is hard to beat. It’s situated directly on the river and offers boat rentals for unbeatable fly fishing. Those opting for waders should check dam fishing forecasts to ensure the conditions will be safe as the dam sometimes releases incredible amounts of water to generate power.
Little Missouri River
This spot is perfect if you’re looking to catch some great fly fishing but aren’t looking to make a full fishing vacation out of your trip. You’ll find incredible smallmouth, walleye, and stocked rainbow trout-catching opportunities up and downstream of Lake Greeson. Whether you’re planning a float or dusting off the waders, you’re going to find easy access points and exciting fishing all year long. Many of the access points include picnic areas for a relaxing day by the river. You can reach the dam by following the lake from Daisy or heading north of Murfreesboro.
Below Blakely Dam
The Ouachita River has several dams, all of which make for excellent fishing in the waters below. One of the most popular is Blakely Dam. Fall through early spring are the best times for trout fishing on the river. It’s conveniently located just outside of Hot Springs. There are several access points for those looking to walk in with waders. Easy boat access makes drifting downstream just as easy.
Lake Hamilton is also conveniently located near Hot Springs. It’s more geared toward bass fishing, so don’t expect to land bucket-loads of trout here. That being said, the striper fishing is some of the best in the state. If you plan on staying in the area for a few days and switching between Lake Hamilton and Blakely Dam, you’ll need to remember to outfit yourself with different gear. Striped bass typically require heavier rods and sinking line is essential since the bass are found deeper in the water.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the lake thanks to easy boat access points and handicap accessible piers. In addition to striped bass, you can catch several species of fish including crappie and largemouth bass. Thanks to the deep water and wide range of species, those in your party who choose to spin fish will also be able to enjoy themselves on the water.
Greers Ferry Dam
Situated just north of Heber Springs, Greers Ferry Dam blocks off the Little Red River to form Greers Ferry Lake. There are recreational areas above and below the dam for easy access and enjoyable fishing opportunities. It’s less renowned than the White River and North Fork River, allowing fly fishermen to beat the crowds during peak fishing season.
One of the best ways to take advantage of the quiet atmosphere is to stay at Lindsey’s Resort, which is near the water and boasts wonderful amenities. This fishing resort offers everything you’d expect including boat rentals and guided fly fishing excursions.
If you stay up to date on the Arkansas fly fishing scene, you’ve likely heard of Spring River. It went under-appreciated for years thanks to the wide range of world-class trout fishing in the state, however, the crowds have left fishermen searching for quieter spots. While Spring River isn’t as quiet as it once was, this river is fed by Mammoth Spring, which means unlike a lake-fed river, the water is typically a chilly 58 degrees -- perfect for trout fishing. You can count on Spring River to deliver excellent fishing conditions every day of the year.
The head of Mammoth Spring is a bit remote, so consider making lodging reservations to maximize fishing opportunities. Riverside Resort is a favorite among fly fishing enthusiasts looking for a nice weekend of trout fishing.
Bear Creek Lake
Bear Creek Lake is a paradise for any fly fisherman targeting bluegill. Bear Creek boasts 15 miles of shoreline and lots of shallow water for wading. Access to the lake is a short drive southeast of Marianna. Once you arrive, aim for the sloped banks, which are prime breeding grounds for bluegill. Before you know it, you’ll be having an action-packed day. What makes the spot more exciting is the fact that there is a recreational area and campground right on the water, maximizing the time you have fishing and reducing your travel time to a short walk.
Beaver Lake near Rogers offers a quiet trout fishing opportunity for anyone who doesn’t require the excitement of fly fishing on a river. Trout were recently introduced after warm water species began to struggle in the lake. The results were wildly successful and each year sees an increase in the lake’s trout population.
Like many of the popular Arkansas fly fishing locations on our list, fishing-focused lodging is readily available here. Both lodging and guide services are available from Beaver Lakefront Cabins. You can also enjoy the views or fish at your own pace with a boat rental. Whether you’re looking to relax or simply want to maximize your time casting a line, Beaver Lakefront Cabins is a great choice.
No matter where you decide to venture in Arkansas, odds are you’re not very far from some of the country’s best fishing locations. With a plethora of species and beautiful waterbodies, fly fishing in Arkansas is as easy as closing your eyes and placing your finger somewhere on the state map. If you’re a fly fishing enthusiast who hasn’t had the opportunity to fish Arkansas’s waters yet, be sure to add it to your bucket list.