For eager fishermen, the Greers Ferry Lake country offers a unique four-for-one opportunity.
Anglers can go after really big walleye, largemouth bass, hybrid bass and brown trout in one day’s time — if they are energetic enough, plan ahead and have the necessary gear or pockets deep enough to acquire it.
These are the waters that produced world records in three of these species and a runner-up state record in the fourth. The world mark for hybrid bass, 27 pounds, 5 ounces, still stands. Records of 40 pounds, 4 ounces for brown trout and 22 pounds, 11 ounces have been bumped in recent times. The largemouth bass of 15 pounds, 15 ounces from Greers Ferry came close to the state mark of 16-4.
More fishermen likely are interested in good catches and days of enjoyment on the water than chasing records. Greers Ferry has varieties and chances to suit most anglers with its diverse habitats and many feeder streams in addition to the two-section main lake.
South Fork, Middle Fork and Devil’s fork are the major feeders. Choctaw Creek on the upper end and Peter Creek on the lower end are fish productive. Numerous smaller creeks can also be rewarding.
Catfishing, white bass fishing, crappie fishing and bream fishing are all productive much of the time and especially this time of the year on the north-central Arkansas lake.
Veteran fishing guide Tommy Cauley gave this recent report: "The white and hybrid bass are roaming all over the lake, feeding on shad, and it is hard to stay on top of them. Topwater baits, spoons, inline spinners and swim baits will work in 25 to 35 feet of water. Some crappie are still spawning and can be caught shallow as others have moved or moving out deeper. Catfishing is going good all over the lake on lines and jugs. Walleye are roaming as well; when the water warms just a tad more they will be more settled. Try crank baits, and if generation is going, use nightcrawlers on jig heads. The walleye are anywhere from 5 to 27 feet of water.
"Bass fishing is on one day and off the next. Some bass are still shallow, spawning and eating bream, some are in the mid depths and the rest are headed for the big breaks and brush piles. Try Texas-rigged worms, football head jigs, topwater baits, spinner baits, small crank baits and pitching soft plastics to the bushes. The bream are bedding and can be caught on crickets."
One popular strategy on Greers Ferry is to chase the shad.
It is done on other lakes, too. The idea is schools of shad are food for several predator species, and these go where the shad go. Fishermen in boats look for disturbances on the water’s surface. These are caused by shad scrambling to get away from the predator fish, and many anglers use binoculars to look for the schooling shad.
When such action is spotted, the fishermen hustle near the area but not busting into it. They stop and quickly throw lures like spoons, crank baits and spinners – most anything that resembles a shad – into or on the edge of the frothing water.
What may strike the lures makes things more interesting.
A white bass may hit. A hybrid bass may hit. A largemouth bass may hit. A crappie may hit. Even a catfish may get into the action, and bluegills and other bream have been known to go after small shad.
For a fisherman set to tie into a pound-and-a-half white bass then to have a 7-pound hybrid slam into the lure, the experience can be memorable.
Below Greers Ferry Dam, the fishing is for trout. This is the fishery created by the 1963 completion of the dam, an event that will be celebrated on Oct. 3 this year. Much attention will be given the participation of President John F. Kennedy a half century ago in his last major appearance before his death.
The trout in the Little Red River below the dam are rainbow trout, which are the most numerous, and brown trout, which often are the largest.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.