Hot Springs offers an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and with three lakes in the immediate vicinity, fishing is one of the most popular activities. Among anglers, this area is known for its trophy largemouth bass and stripers but the lakes are also swimming with bream, catfish, crappie and cool water walleye.
It’s a time-honored tradition, a practice in patience that can also be quite thrilling.
Lake Hamilton is located on the southern edge of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and is the hot spot for summer fun and year-round fishing. In fact, Lake Hamilton produces 50-pound class striped bass annually.
Moving down stream, the waters from Lake Ouachita flow through Blakely Dam and into Lake Hamilton. There is good trout fishing in the cold water at the base of Blakely Dam. Stocked annually with trout, walleye, catfish and bass, the lake is most famous for its large mouth bass and striper fishing.
At 7,460 acres, it is about a fifth the size of Lake Ouachita and its shoreline is commercially developed with houses and docks practically everywhere. Consequently, it is a much busier lake with pleasure boaters out all summer long. Anglers recommend fishing early in the mornings or in the evenings when there is little recreational traffic, and night fishing is especially popular.
Lake Catherine is just minutes from Hot Springs and is known for its bass, crappie, bream, catfish and walleye fishing. Lake Catherine State Park offers 17 fully-equipped cabins, 70 campsites, a boat launch ramp and guided boat tours.
From Lake Hamilton, the water flows through Carpenter Dam and into Lake Catherine. The smallest of the three lakes, it stretches for 11 miles but only covers 1,940 acres.
Rainbow trout and striper are in abundance right at the base of Carpenter Dam, where the cold water rushes out below the water line. There are some nice wadeable shoals near the dam, where fly fishers regularly cast for rainbow trout.
The cleanest lake in the country and Arkansas’ largest lake is Lake Ouachita. Ouachita is a nationally renowned tournament black bass fishing destination.
Of the three manmade lakes along the Ouachita River, Lake Ouachita is the first on the river’s 600 mile journey from west-central Arkansas to north-central Louisiana. There is a restriction on commercial and residential building so the scenery comprises the all-natural wooded hills of the Ouachita National Forest. The largest lake located entirely within the state of Arkansas, Lake Ouachita has between 600-900 miles of shoreline (depending on the water level) and about 40,000 acres of water. The lake ranks nationally as one of the top 10 spots for largemouth bass fishing and is home to a variety of other species as well. It is stocked annually with largemouth bass, bream, catfish and crappie; and cool water walleye on an as-needed basis.
All three Hot Springs area tailwaters (Blakely Dam, Carpenter Dam, & Remmel Dam) receive Arkansas Game and Fish Commission rainbow trout stockings annually during the winter months between November and April.