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Stocked Rainbows Make Bull Shoals Hot Springtime Fishing Destination

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Rainbow trout
Rainbow trout
    Bull Shoals Lake
Bull Shoals Lake
March 7, 2003

Stocked Rainbows Make Bull Shoals
Hot Springtime Fishing Destination

By Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Bull Shoals -- The fishing fury caused by freshly stocked rainbow trout eager to bite on a dangling hook is celebrated each spring during Trout Madness, which will take place April 12-20 at Bull Shoals Lake in north-central Arkansas.

"It's a great opportunity for kids that have never caught a fish before," said Steve Hermanson, owner of Bull Shoals Lake Resort.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will release about 150,000 rainbow trout into Bull Shoals Lake, which has more than 45,000 surface acres of water and a 1,000-mile shoreline.

"We'll have all of them in the water by Easter," AFGC Biologist Mark Oliver said. The stocked trout are an average of 12 to 13 inches long and weigh up to 2 pounds.

Of the trout to be stocked, 7,500 will be tagged by the AGFC. Fishermen can turn in the tags, which are worth between $5 to $100. Those with tags can turn them in by filling out cards, available at area resorts and marinas, and sending them to the AGFC per the instructions on the cards.

AGFC uses the tags to determine the percentage of stocked fish being caught, where fish travel in the lake, what time of year the fish are caught, how long the fish stay in the lake and how fast the fish grow.

Bull Shoals, Hamilton and Catherine are the only lakes AGFC stocks annually with rainbows. The AGFC also stocks channel catfish, blue catfish, walleye and crappie in Bull Shoals.

Oliver added that lake fishing is easier for families than fishing on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam where currents can be extremely swift.

The stocked trout are kept in nets at various boat docks in Bull Shoals Lake. They're easy to catch once released because "they're hungry and ready to eat," said Mike Didway, a fishing guide for Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock. "They're used to getting fed three times a day."

Bull Shoals Boat Dock nets some of the fish for AGFC. Because the feeding schedule increases closer to their release, the fish are ready to "attack anything, which is kind of neat," Didway said. "You can catch a lot of fish."

Didway suggests using spinner bait such as a Mepps spinner or a Colorado Spoon spinner. "Those two baits seem to work best out here on the lake," he said.

In April, the water temperature normally remains cold enough that trout stay in shallow water. If the lake temperature is above 64 degrees, though, they head for deeper waters. If warmer water is the case, Didway suggests using red worms, night crawlers and corn. Under those circumstances, most people fish at night and drape lights over the side of the boat. The lights draw the bait fish up and the trout follow, often finding a fisher's hook instead.

Another good fishing method is to troll until a couple of fish are caught. Once the fish are found "you can limit out real quick," Didway explained. There is no length limit on rainbow trout, but five is the catch limit.

It's more than just stocked trout that make spring fishing excellent. Numerous other fish are fairly easy to catch as well -- walleye, crappie, catfish and several species of bass. Big stripers (in the 50-pound class) are also on the fishing menu.

"It's just a bonus. You never know what's going to grab the line at that time of year," Didway said.

Many outfitters and guide services are available. For more information on Bull Shoals Lake, call (870) 425-2700 or visit www.swl.usace.army.mil/parks/bullshoals.

In celebration of Trout Madness, there will be a dinner of smoked trout and chicken served from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on April 17 at the Bull Shoals VFW. The country band, The Monkey Run Boys, will play from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cost is $6 per person.

Fishing seminars are also being planned. For information on lodging, area attractions or other activities taking place during Trout Madness, phone the Bull Shoals Lake/White River Area Chamber of Commerce at 800-447-1290. The Bulls Shoals/White River area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Resort Owners Committee, is sponsoring the event.


Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"