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Around the Boathouse…


Big bass biting on Lake Hamilton and other items from across the state

By Randy Zellers

AGFC Communications

Lake Hamilton has been known to produce limits of bass for bass tournament anglers as well as the everyday fisherman, but the fish have tended to run on the small size. Occasionally, though, a big bass jumps on the hook there, a “hawg,” as it were.

Recently, at an Arkansas Bass Team Trail tournament on Hamilton, Curtis Priest landed this trophy (top right), a bass weighing about 10.5 pounds.

Tournament organizers took a fin clip from the bass for a very good reason: genetic evaluation. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has provided stockings of Florida largemouth bass for many years. The AGFC’s Fisheries Division, in passing along this photo of Priest, noted that labratory analysis of the fin clip will help determine if this particular bass had some Florida largemouth genes in its family tree.

Other than with the lab study of the fin clip, a regular observer could not tell if the fish was a Northern largemouth bass, which is the predominant strain of largemouth bass found in state, or a Florida largemouth bass. It is thought, though, that Florida largemouth bass grow faster and larger than their northern counterparts. The belief is that by adding Florida bass to bass lakes, their genetics could influence the development of bigger bass. With the exception of SWEPCO Lake in northwest Arkansas, Florida largemouths are only stocked in the lower half of Arkansas (Lake Atkins is the farthest lake north outside of SWEPCO) because of the year-round water temperature needed for their survival.

In March 2010 an angler landed a 14-pound, 12-ounce largemouth bass on Lake Hamilton. While the AGFC does not keep individual lake records, this catch was noteworthy and especially the manner in which it was caught. The giant bass was hooked and landed from a boat dock on a Shakespeare spin cast combo with 10pound test line. The bait was a live nightcrawler on a trotline hook.

Anyway, if you’re in search of the bigger-than-average largemouth bass, it might be time to head over to Lake Hamilton and give it a try. Also, it was last year about this time that angler Stephen Tyson Jr. from Camden hauled in a massive striper on Lake Hamilton fishing in a bass tournament. And even if you’re not catching a monster fish, you can have a good day fishing now on the lake, which is still in its winter drawdown, 5 feet below normal pool, just like its sister lake to the southeast, Catherine (regular contributor Shane Goodner notes in this week’s Fishing Report the 9,300 rainbow trout stocked in the Lake Catherine tailwater this month).

Buoying Your Fishing Hopes in Northeast Arkansas

Next time you're at Lake Poinsett or Lake Charles in northeast Arkansas, check out the new habitat buoys being installed at several fish attractor sites on both lakes during the next month, according to Brett Timmons of the AGFC Fisheries Division. Buoys will be placed on existing fish attractor sites that will be enhanced using 100-plus donated Christmas trees.

These new fish attractor buoys have a QR code that will access the AGFC Interactive mapper for the lake and show all locations of fish attractor sites on the lake. Fish attractor locations can be viewed on the AGFC Interactive Mapper. Additionally, you can also download files to upload to your GPS device from the Fish Attractors page on the AGFC website.

Trout Stockings Around Spa City

If you're a central Arkansas angler who is finding that the bass and crappie aren't very active in your favorite fishing spots with these changing weather patterns, consider giving rainbow trout fishing a try. Trout will bite readily through the coldest days of winter.

The AGFC recently stocked multiple Hot Springs area locations with “catchable-size” rainbow trout (see photo).

Blakely Dam, Carpenter Dam and Remmel Dam tailwaters each received stockings. In addition, Entergy Park pond and Family Park pond in Hot Springs also received stockings.

Anglers 16 and older are required to have a fishing license. The Arkansas Resident Fishing License is

See FISH, page A9 FISH

From page A8

$10.50. For trout, you must possess a fishing license and a trout permit ($10) in order to keep trout caught at these locations. Trout daily limit is 5, no culling allowed.

Popular baits are moldable or preformed soft prepared baits, whole kernel corn, small spinners and small spoons.

Nice Winter Catches

The ever-changing Arkansas weather is allowing a little time this winter on the water (when it's not pouring on us like earlier this week). Anglers have been catching an array of nice fish, with crappie topping the list of the best bite going statewide, though trout might have something to say about that in the specific trout streams and specially stocked ponds. But also the occasional monster striper will hit the hook, too, especially on Beaver Lake now. Anthony Spencer (left) was fishing with guide Jon Conklin on Beaver when he lassoed this striper, just one of many over 25 pounds that was caught last week on Beaver Lake, Conklin says. Meanwhile, 'Scuba Steve' Street (middle) at Black-burn's Resort on Norfork Lake shows some of the better crappie he caught using a small spoon on brush over 30 feet of water, 9 feet down, while Kevin Formes (right) of northeast Texas went with Millwood Guide Service's 'crappie guru,' Mackey Harvin, and caught some keepers on the big water fishig out at Millwood Lake.

If you've got a memorable fish to show us on the Fishing Report newsletter, please send it on to and we'll be happy to run it.

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