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Lake Ouachita

Blakely Mountain Dam impounds the waters of the Ouachita River near Hot Springs to create Lake Ouachita, the largest lake (40,000 acres) located entirely within the state. Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita is one of Arkansas's most beautiful bodies of water. Lake Ouachita is located on the Ouachita River near the resort spa of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
One area of the lake features one of the largest crystal veins in the world. This lake is a scuba diver's haven with crystal clear water featuring rare jellyfish (non-stinging) and sponges which are found in only a few of the cleanest freshwater lakes. World class striped bass abound here, as do most species of freshwater fish. For fishermen, Lake Ouachita is well-known for its prolific fishing opportunities.


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LAKE OUACHITA

 Lake Ouachita, Arkansasís largest lake is an impoundment of the Ouachita River. Completed in 1953 with the completion of Blakely Dam, it was designed to provide flood control, hydro-electric power generation, as well as recreation including fishing and boating. Lake Ouachita is referred to by many as the striper capital of the world. The Army Corps of Engineers as well as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission manage the lake. The lake is home to the 21 acre Lake Ouachita Nursery Pond, located on the western side of the south fork directly across from the Army Corps of Engineers Joplin Recreation Area. This is used to raise several species of fish to a size that helps them escape predation and improves their survival rate. There are 21 recreation areas with 150 picnic sites, 1,106 campsites, 24 boat ramps, and 13 swimming beaches, offering the public plenty of opportunity to enjoy this world class fishery.

 

Size and Depth

At 578 feet above sea level the lake covers approximately 40,000 acres, Lake Ouachita is 40 miles long with an average depth of 50 feet and a maximum depth near 200 feet. Because the lake is used for power generation and flood control, lake levels may vary. During flood control, the lake may rise to 592 feet above sea level increasing the acreage to 48,300.

 

Water Source

Completed in 1953, the lake is an impoundment of the Ouachita River. Several creeks including, Little Blakely, Big Blakely, Mill, Fisher, Cedar Fourche, Daley, North Fork, Walnut, Crystal Springs, Cedar, Story, South Fork, and Irons, provide secondary water sources.

 

Shoreline

Lake Ouachita is located within the Ouachita National Forest and has nearly 970 miles of wilderness shoreline. Lake Ouachita also has 100 uninhabited islands.

 

Bottom

The lake bottom consists mainly of silt, rock and shale.

 

Water

The water is relatively clear and unfertile. Visibility varies from as much as 30 feet in the lower lake to as little as 2 feet in the upper portion of the lake after heavy rains. During summer, the lake stratifies in the 20 to 25 foot range. In late fall, the lake turns over.

 

Cover

Much of the timber was not cleared prior to the completion of the dam. The northern reaches of the lake contain more stick-ups than the southern portion, but it is not uncommon to find submerged timber in 80+ feet of water. Several varieties of aquatic vegetation, including Milfoil, Elodea and Hydrilla, offer excellent cover for both bait as well as game fish. The rapid spread of Hydrilla has produced a large increase in the Chain Pickerel population. Grasses and moss provide excellent cover for bream, bass and baitfish.
            The Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and many private individuals have placed numerous brush piles and tire reef shelters around the lake. The shelters placed by the AG&F and the Army Corps of Engineers are marked with buoys.

 

FISHERY INFORMATION

 

Featured Species

            Striped Bass, White Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Kentucky Bass (spotted bass), Walleye,  Smallmouth Bass

 

Other Species

            Bream, Flathead Catfish, Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, Alligator Gar, Chain Pickerel

 

Forage

            Gizzard Shad, Threadfin Shad, Crayfish, Drum, Freshwater Shrimp, and a variety of other minnow species and small fish

 

Stocking

            Due to the lack of natural reproduction of Striped Bass, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission actively stocks the lake with fingerling stripers, and has produced a World Class Trophy Striped Bass Fishery through the past years. Ouachita Stripers weigh on average 7 to 14 pounds, while 20 to 30 pound stripers are numerous. In Spring, 30 to 50 pound Ouachita stripers are caught with some frequency by live bait fisherman.
            In recent years a strain of Tennessee Smallmouth Bass that is adapted to reservoir habitat has been introduced into the lake.
            Largemouth Bass are stocked annually in the lake as well as recently a Florida strain of Largemouth Bass has been re-introduced. Due to yearly differences in the populations, biologists determine the quantity of each species to be restocked through ongoing lake studies.

Treatment

            The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers are both taking active measures to control the spread of Hydrilla throughout the lake. Common Carp and the Pakistani Fly have been introduced to help control the spread. The Carp are intended to eat the vegetation and the Pakistani Fly Larvae eat the Hydrilla down several feet below the surface. These treatments have been introduced to several areas around the lake, but most specifically to high use areas, such as swimming areas.

Lake Ouachita and the surrounding Diamond lakes provide the best fishing for trophy striped bass, largemouth & kentucky bass, crappie and walleye.
Located in the Hot Springs, Arkansas area which offers fine dining, entertainment, shopping, and much more. Excellent camping from rustic to modern
is available throughout the striper capital area. Hike the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail system or try a zip line adventure.


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