John Merwin

Beautiful scenery and red-hot fishing await visitors to the White River National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Arkansas. This giant refuge (160,000 acres) contains more than 300 small lakes and sloughs, and virtually all have abundant populations of bluegills, crappies and bass. “Fishermen can get a refuge map, go exploring and find great fishing on their own,” says Jim Spencer of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, who grew up fishing these waters. “The road system is easy to navigate. Some lakes have concrete boat ramps; others have gravel or mud ramps. The best boat is a small johnboat with a trolling motor. An outboard is handy on the bigger lakes.” Spencer says late May through June is the time to go, depending on the water level in the White River. Spawning bluegills and crappies are taken by dipping tiny jigs or live bait around shoreline brush and trees. Some smaller lakes are accessible only by ATVs, which are allowed on this refuge. A 7-day Arkansas nonresident fishing license costs $17; a 14-day nonresident license costs $22. A three-day license is $11 and a nonresident seasonal license is $32. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent! Contact: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (501-223-6351; www.; White River National Wildlife Refuge (870-946-1468; http://; for maps, Pine Bluff Blue Print Company (870-535-1097).