Lake Ouachita. Photo: Arkansas Dep of Parks and Tourism
Lake Ouachita.

Soothe the mind, calm the spirit and escape from your everyday routine along the almost entirely undeveloped shoreline of Lake Ouachita. Catch fish too, and plenty of them: feisty Kentucky bass by the dozens, trophy largemouth, marauding stripers and more. This is one of the country’s special places, plucked from an earlier age.

The Ouachita National Forest embraces this lake of 40,000 crys­talline acres, the most diverse and healthy fishery Arkansas has to offer. Kentucky bass are as plentiful as the stars, aggressive battlers that’ll chase baits their own size. Or hunt largemouth among under­water stumps before pitching a tent in the shade of native pines and hardwoods. Ghost forests dot the lake bottom, home to hungry bass and thick shoals of crappie. More await up narrow creek channels, or sheltered against submerged brush. Finding your own quiet kayak fishing corner is easy.

The touristy delights of Hot Springs, Arkansas, are about an hour away, but you’ll never miss them. It’s far better to paddle pristine wa­ter and wrestle big blue catfish. When the day is done, kick back at a lakeside lodge, trade stories with the friendly locals and chow down on some of the meanest southern cuisine Arkansas has to offer.

CHART YOUR COURSE

MOUNTAIN HARBOR RESORT

There’s no shortage of rustic camping, but for more comfort check into this cozy lodge ideally situated on the lake’s southern shoreline, www. mountainharborresort.com. That’s where you’ll find old school fishing guide Jerry Bean. No website, no email, no nonsense, just know-how—but modernly kayak friendly: (501) 282-6104.

BEST MONTHS

Fishing is at its best from March through June when every species is snapping. Summer action focuses on catfish, bass, walleye and stripers up to 40 pounds, but something’s chewing year-round.

BEST BAITS

Yo-Zuri Pencils, Yum Shadalicious worms, D.O.A. Shad Tails, and Cotton Cordell Jigging Spoons.

DON’T MISS

The famous Mountain Harbor Lodge chicken fried steak. Delicious. Count calories later.

This article originally appeared on page 28 of the Early Summer edition of Kayak Angler magazine. To read the full article click here.

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