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Fishing the Blue Mountain Lake Spillway. Great Fishing Without a Boat!

Outdoor News for 5/3/17

Fishing the Blue Mountain Lake Spillway. Great Fishing Without a Boat!

There’s been nearly year-round fishing for a variety of fish just 30 minutes or so from Greenwood since 1947. It’s spillway fishing and there’s an art to it. Easy to learn and fun for the whole family, spillway fishing in the shadow of majestic Mount Magazine can adapt to any budget-large or small at the Blue Mountain Lake Spillway.

It’s a well-known fact among anglers that spillway fishing offers the greatest variety of species for the greatest number of days of any sort of fishing. That’s because predatory game fish often move up into the current to feed on bait fish that are holding up in and around the current.  Predators and scavengers move in and feed on fish that are disoriented or killed as they pass through a dam’s gates or generating turbines.  A scenario like this makes for the perfect situation for anglers when the water is flowing. And in the spring of the year, the water is nearly always flowing. You can even call in advance to check the flow and the crowds before heading to Blue Mountain. More on that later.

Just like the ever-popular fishing of a rapidly running river, fish will generally face the current in a spillway and are located behind obstructions in the stream like boulders, logs or gravel bars. The trick is to adjust the weight of your baits if you are fishing below the surface to counter as much as possible the drag of the flowing water and to adjust the retrieval speed and weight to drift the bait towards the fish and into their faces. You won’t know how much weight to put on the line until you see how rapidly the water is running through the spillway. That’s a part of the sport you have to learn on your own. If the water is carrying your bait to fast, the fish will not have time to inspect it, they will go for it a soon as they see it and that’s how you catch the most fish in this type setting.

At the Blue Mountain Lake Spillway, bank fishing is permitted on both sides of the spillway, but be careful, you could easily end up in the water. While spillway fishing is great fun for the whole family, anglers are cautioned when it comes to bank fishing, watch children closely. Parents should decide if the water flow in the spillway is too heavy for the safety of their children.

“The key is to figure out where they’re biting,” says Harold Smith who has been fishing the spillway at Blue Mountain since his childhood years. “Usually, a one-ounce weight will allow you to get all the way to where the water is coming out, then just let the current do all the work. Allow the weight to carry as far as you can before reeling it in again. Plastics, buck hair jigs, minnows and worms are good baits  when fishing for the game fish.  Dough balls, worms, cut shad and blood baits area good when fishing for scavenger fish.”

Smith says there are many interesting ways to catch catfish in the spillway where some serious fishing is done with large rod and reels with treble hooks. Those fishermen cast out the line and reel it back in with jerks on the rod. Those guys are trying to hook onto catfish with treble hooks rather than waiting for bait to work. It’s called “snagging” and the water there is usually very swift and there are usually logs and rocks on the bottom, so the area is packed with catfish. You can even see them going up the spillway in times of higher water release. Long (14 foot) cane poles are perfect for this treble hook fishing (snagging) strategy.

The bite and concentration of fish really increases after a 3 or 4-inch rain, but the area limits still apply as to length and number. There at Blue Mountain, Largemouth Bass must be 15 inches or longer and Crappie must be 9 inches or longer to keep. It’s all posted.

Spring, then is the perfect time for spillway fishing since White Bass, Crappie, Bream, Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Carp and Buffalo congregate at various times to spawn in the spillway. However, fish can be caught year-round from the river as long as some current exists.

Spillway fishing is best when the water is flowing slower (times of lower release) and anglers can call the Blue Mountain Lake Field Office to get lake levels and spillway discharge rates: 479-947-2372.

Make a weekend of it. See some sights and enjoy some nature. There is plenty to show the kids. Nearby Mount Magazine is Arkansas’ highest point at the top (2753 feet. Most of Greenwood is at or below 500 feet). Generations of Arkansans have been told that Mount Magazine’s peak is the highest point between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Whether that is true or not (and it’s fiercely argued both ways) the views of our native state are incredible. At night, the lights of Fort Smith can be seen on the horizon and the area lakes shine at sunset. From the north side of the mountain, the views of the widest part of the Arkansas River south of Clarksville is a great sunset sight. If you know where to look, from the westernmost point of Mount Magazine, you can see Greenwood’s Bell Park (and vice versa). The views to the south off Mount Magazine include, perhaps the best vantage point for seeing the entire range of the upper Ouachita’s. if your budget allows, the Mount Magazine Lodge is an Arkansas bragging-rights showplace. The food is excellent and the accommodations provide views along with the opportunity to have a mini-vacation.

Blue Mountain Lake area campgrounds at Waveland Park and Outlet Park offer tent and trailer spaces with hookups for water and electricity. There are showers available as well as boat ramps and fish cleaning-stations and lots of other amenities. You can find out about all of the available amenities and space availability by calling the number mentioned above.

For summer visitors, there is a cypress-lined swimming area and this excellent fishery is also a great place for boating and water skiing.

Spillway fishing is an excellent way for would-be anglers who do not have a boat to get hooked on the fishing pastime. You can catch enough fish to keep you interested and the kids amused. You can enjoy the great outdoors in “The Natural State” and the area is only about 30 minutes from Greenwood. Get out there and make some “Outdoor News!”

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