Field & Stream Online Editors

The state’s best destinations for catching monster largemouth bass are the eight “Trophy Bass” lakes managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. To qualify for the coveted “trophy” designation, a lake must be able to support high numbers of bass longer than 16 inches. The lakes are managed with a 16- to 21-inch protected-slot length limit, which requires that all fish between 16 and 21 inches long must be released immediately. Anglers may keep four bass per day on the trophy lakes, compared to 10 per day on other lakes, but they may keep only one bass longer than 21 inches. “We selected lakes capable of carrying 20 pounds of bass per acre, and the fish in those populations had to average 14 inches by age three,” says Mike Armstrong, assistant chief of fisheries for the GFC. “Generally, the statewide average for a three-year-old bass is 12 inches.” Because populations are easiest to manipulate in small waters, the lakes are each no more than 5,000 acres. The Trophy Bass lakes include Ashbaugh (Greene County), Austell (Cross County), Columbia (Columbia County), Cargile (Conway County), SWEPCO (Benton County), Monticello (Drew County), Pickthorne (Lonoke County) and White Oak (Ouachita County). Contact: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (501-223-6371).