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SPORTS: The Compleat Angler – Arkansas Edition

Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Izaak Walton, famed author of The Compleat Angler, never visited Arkansas or any of the other states. Fact is, he died at the age of 90 in England a century before the American Revolution. Yet he would be right at home in The Natural State with its abundance of creeks, rivers and lakes.

If this renowned gentleman were to show up in Arkansas today, I’d jump at the chance to share some of my favorite fishing spots with him. The only problem would be trying to whittle the list down to a manageable itinerary, but here’s half a dozen for a start:

Lake Chicot — the largest oxbow lake in North America, this cypress-lined southeast Arkansas treasure is noted for exceptional crappie fishing.

Arkansas River — known for its catfish, the river also offers great bass fishing, especially in its lower reaches in the Pendleton area.

Lake Norfork — one of the earliest Corps of Engineers impoundments in the state, Norfork’s a good choice for lunker largemouth.

Buffalo National River — the middle and lower stretches provide fine habitat for smallmouth bass, pound for pound among the feistiest of fish.

Lake Ouachita — just west of Hot Springs, this reservoir yields some of the best striped bass fishing on the planet.

White River — while Walton caught plenty of trout, he never landed anything the size of the rainbows lurking in the White River’s cold waters below Bull Shoals Dam.

By the way, when Walton died, well into his 90th year, the average lifespan in England was a mere 35 years. My guess is the hours he spent pursuing the art and spirit of fishing contributed to his long and enjoyable stay on this wonderful Earth of ours. One of his quotes brings a smile every time I read it: “I have laid business aside, and gone afishing.” Some 350 years later, it’s still good advice.

For more information on going "afishing" in Arkansas, visit arkansas.com/fishing; click on the “Fishing Guide” tab, and request a free copy of the Arkansas Fishing & Outdoors Guide. Also, take advantage of the helpful resources at agfc.com, the website of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

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