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Arkansas is blessed with a multitude of fishing holes. From man made reservoirs and large rivers to upland streams and small ponds, Arkansas has almost anything a fisherman could want.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission notes that oxbow lakes lining many of Arkansas’ lowland rivers offer a rare fishing experience. These oxbows range in size from just a few acres to the largest oxbow lake in North America— Lake Chicot in southeast Arkansas. Some of these gems have convenient public access while many are on private land and landowner permission must be obtained.
An oxbow lake is created when the meandering curves of a river are cut off from the main channel by sediment deposits. Oxbow lakes can sometimes become isolated from the river itself, though most retain some connection to the river. This connection allows the lakes to be recharged occasionally by high water levels, maintaining the vitality of the fishery.
Oxbow lakes are mostly populated with fish that inhabit the lowland rivers of Arkansas. Anglers most often target crappie, bream, catfish and largemouth bass. Rough fish such as bowfin (grinnell), various types of gar, buffalo and carp can be found as well.
These lakes offer promising fishing options throughout the year, but summer is a special time to fish an oxbow. Their “U” or comma shape enables cypress and tupelos along the shoreline to provide shade throughout the day.
Another bonus is the abundance of wildlife found along the banks. A variety of birds relies on the habitat surrounding oxbows. Anglers often fish while enjoying the serenade of woodpeckers, barred owls, prothonotary warblers, shorebirds and waterfowl.
Mammals like squirrels, mink, beaver, deer and even bear often find the banks of an oxbow attractive