Arkansas Wild Trout

posted in: Natives | 6

ARK-BrownTroutIn the beginning, Man built the dams to part the water.  Above the dams, the waters grew deep, and cold in their depths.  And when the dams released the water, the streams below the dam became cold, and smote the native fishes.  But Man saw that the waters were lonely, and brought the trout and released them into the waters.  And Man saw that it was good.

For several years the world record for brown trout had been set in Arkansas:  40 lbs, 4 oz, taken from the Greers Ferry Tailwater in 1992. This has since been eclipsed and currently (2013) stands at 42 lbs, 1 oz for a fish caught in NZ.

According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Trout Management Plan of 2004 (which you can download from this site), there are only 3 free-flowing streams in the state that are capable of supporting wild trout.

  1. Spavinaw Creek is a (mostly) privately owned spring creek which is run as a fishing “club”.  It supports a self-sustaining rainbow trout population, but is also heavily stocked to ensure there are plenty of catchable lunkers in the water for the clubmembers who pay, according to one website I found, over $300/month for the privilege.  Apparently there is some accessible water below the club property and after a heavy rain, some huge stockers get washed downstream where they are harvested by non-members.
  2. Collins Creek is a “new” wild trout fishery, created by diverting water from the Greer’s Ferry fish hatchery. This supports the first and only documented wild brook trout population in Arkansas.  It is managed as a “youth” fishery:  adults need to be accompanied by a young fisherperson, 16 or under, to fish any of Collins Creek, and the prime waters are restricted to 16 and under exclusively.
  3. Dry Run Creek is also sustained as a cold water stream by diverting water from a hatchery supply. It is currently managed as a “put and grow” fishery, and limited to youths under 16.

Wild trout reproduction occurs with various degrees of success in some of the tailwaters. The Greers Ferry Tailwater harbors the only totally wild brown trout population. In this tailwater, brown trout reproduction is being regulated with a 16 to 24 inch slot limit in an attempt to decrease numbers of young brown trout in the stream.  Anglers can harvest fish smaller than 16 inches, or one fish larger than 24.  Substantial brown trout reproduction also occurs in the upper Bull Shoals Tailwater and a wild population exists in the upper reaches.

Wild rainbow trout have been increasing in recent years in the Norfork and upper Bull Shoals Tailwaters Catch-and-Release Areas. These rainbows seem to be produced in the catch and release areas, where they are protected from harvest, during low-water years when water quality is best, and flow is more stable in these tailwaters.

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