First posted on 05-03-2011
Sitting in JR’s Hickory House in the town of Greers Ferry with plates full of fried catfish, okra, fries and a hamburger on the table in front of us, Bill Dennis said, “Tomorrow morning we’ll start off throwing a jig.”
As I envisioned that lure in the water, my mind was hooked immediately with thoughts of catching a lunker worthy of bragging rights. For me, fishing is sort of like that lottery saying, “Somebody’s gonna win.” Somebody’s going to catch a new world-record fish. So, possibility is what excites me with every cast because even if it’s not THE big one, it could be A big one.
The next day held plenty of promise as photographer Chuck Haralson and I headed out to fish the big action waters of Arkansas’s Greers Ferry Lake with Dennis, guide and owner of Central Arkansas Fishing Guide Services (501-580-0669; http://www.arfishingguide.com).
It was a March morning and the sun was just melting the shrouding fog, giving way to what would be a bright, warm spring day. We put in at an area of the lake known as “the Narrows.” It’s popular with visitors because of its convenient access to the lake, water sports and recreation, restaurants, and lodging accommodations. The area is also known for bass and walleye.
Now through May is great walleye fishing on Greers Ferry Lake, located in the north central portion of the state. But as most anglers who fish this water know, the 40,000-acre lake is bristling with all kinds of species, some of record-quality size.
“You can fish for rainbow trout by the dam,” explained Dennis. “There’s good hybrid fishing and a good smallmouth population. Good Kentucky. Good black bass. The Choctaw area is excellent for brim and crappie.” White bass, catfish, the list goes on.
This crystal-clear lake is also big fish water. It holds the walleye world-record of 22 pounds and 11 ounces, and the hybrid striper world-record at 27 pounds, 5 ounces.
The types and size of fish aren’t the only thing Greers Ferry Lake has going for it. As Dennis described, it is also pristine with excellent water quality.
From the put in, Dennis took us on a five minute boat ride to fish shallow waters by the shore. We cast to the rocky bank bringing our jig representing a crawfish back slowly. Their bites were soft, and it was tough to feel a strike, but we brought in a few largemouth bass.
After some success there, Dennis headed to a point about 15 minutes away to see if we could get into a mess of smallmouth. We didn’t get them to bite, but still brought in a couple more largemouths. An added bonus was the sighting of two mature bald eagles sitting in a tree together.
We didn’t catch anything over two pounds, but it was still a great day on the water.
Watching the shore pass by as Dennis drove the boat back toward land, I was reminded of just how beautiful The Natural State is and how great this lake’s recreational areas are. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers offers excellent camping facilities and easily accessible boat ramps.
“I can’t think of any of them that have inadequate parking,” Dennis said. “And they’re well maintained. Add to that a friendly environment.
The lake is also popular for tournaments because of its new weigh-in facility, the Devil’s Fork Fishing Tournament Center. Located at Devil’s Fork Park in Greers Ferry, the center has an on-site building with staging area, multiple launching locations, aerated holding tanks, digital scales, plenty of boat parking and a live release fish trailer.
Greers Ferry Lake is perfect for year-round fishing, as are all of Arkansas’s waters – 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,700 miles of streams. “The best time to fish anywhere, I think, is November and December,” Dennis said. “Everybody’s in the deer woods. There’s less pressure on the fish. Fish can feel winter time coming on so if you can hit them at the right time they’re going to feed.”
While I will fish in the winter, I admit that I prefer warmer weather where I can catch a few rays while feeling the relaxation and challenge of the moment all at the same time. It’s the ultimate escape.
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