7 July 2008

Spearfishing Lake Ouachita - Central Arkansas

Posted by Darrell under: SPEARFISH HUNTING!; Arkansas .

Last week, several friends and I (along with our families) headed down to Lake Ouachita in Central Arkansas for a little R&R. We rented a houseboat for the 11 of us and headed out onto the magnificent lake.

To be honest, most of our time was spent simply relaxing. Relaxing for us inlcudes: swimming, wakeboarding, hillbilly surfing, scuba diving, and spearfishing.

Lake Ouachita is touted as the second cleanest (clearest) lake in the USA and the largest lake in Arkansas. I must admit that it is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. It has jagged rocky coastlines, bluff walls, and dozens of islands. Development is not allowed on the lake, so there are no houses or buildings.

There were dozens of houseboats out on the lake, but the lake is so big that we still never felt crowded. In fact, the lake was much quieter and had a lot less traffic than we had anticipated. We quickly realized that the ‘cool’ thing to do is to take all of your camping gear out to one of the islands and set up camp. Most of the islands had families camped out for the weekend of the 4th. I immediately decided that I would return with my family to camp out on one of the islands.

We had a great time spearfishing. The water was not as clear as we expected. In fact, visibility is usually better on Bull Shoals than it was here at Ouachita. Apparently the lake hasn’t recovered from the deluge of rain it received this summer.  The water was warmer than what we are used to, too. In fact, we had no problem diving without wetsuits - even when diving under the thermacline. Even without the clarity we had hoped for, we still found some big cats as you can see from the pictures. This must be the year of the big cats!

This was my friend Thad’s first time spearfishing. Us hardcore spearfishing veterans were anxious to find out what he thought of it………   He loved it, of course! The first fish he got was a big, big cat - close to 20lbs! He was instantly hooked and decided to try to get his wife Michelle to give it a go.

I was real curious to see how a ‘girl’ would feel about spearfishing. I’ve found that most females that I’m around love to dive in the carribean or some exotic locale, but aren’t too eager to dive a local lake. Michelle suprised me. I located a cat in a stump during an early morning dive and went back and told the guys and Michelle where it was. Michelle suited up and took off for it. Unfortunately, she missed that cat (it is alot easier to miss than you might think) but spent the next hour intently looking for others. During this same dive her husband Thad, not to be outdone, missed a big 20 lb+ cat that was lounging under a rock ledge. He, of course, tried to let on like he missed to make Michelle feel better, but none of us were buying that.

When Michelle came up from her first spearfishing dive she promptly told Thad that he would be buying her a speargun! So, on this one trip we added two new spearfishermen (and spearfisherwomen) to the ranks.

For anyone keeping score, Jeff, again, took the biggest catfish - followed closely by Thad. I did, however, have one of the more interesting stories:

I found a catfish back in a hole at the same time I ran out of air. I did not have a light with me and I couldn’t see 1) how big the catfish was or 2) exactly where he was. I could just see fins moving in the black water. I shot into the hole where I thought he was. I missed. My tip lodged firmly into something and I could not pull it out. I was out of air. So, I quickly unscrewed the tip (which cost $26.99) from my spear and pulled the spear from the hole. I then reached in, grabbed the cat as firmly as I could and headed for the surface and a breath of air. The cat went crazy and I was barely able to hold onto him. I gripped that fish harder than even I would have thought possible. I’ve never taken such a thrashing before. By the time I got to the surface, my air tank was broken free of my BC and was trailing behind me. My fish stringer was broken off my BC and my speargun had floated off. However, I did get the fish, got a breath of fresh air, and was able to recover all my gear. This was just a 12 lb fish! I’ve seen videos of guys grabbing 60lb cats and wrestling them to the surface. I now fully realize that those guys are really, really tough (and completely insane)!

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14 Comments so far...

Tom Sorenson Says:

7 July 2008 at 3:37 pm.

You’ve got me convinced that this is something I need to consider. It just sounds like too much fun to be missing out on. I suppose first order of business is to make sure it’s legal in Oregon and Idaho and second is to find out if our lakes are clear enough for it and lastly - where do you buy a speargun?

Kristine Shreve Says:

8 July 2008 at 7:22 am.

Looks like you guys had a good trip. Those are some big fish.

Arthur Says:

8 July 2008 at 11:59 am.

Wow… you wrestled a catfish with your bare hands. That is awesome. I will never spearfish, because I just don’t like being in the water that much, but it sounds awesome. Great pictures.

Rex Says:

16 July 2008 at 11:24 am.

nice fishes!

Mike Wilkins Says:

1 August 2008 at 6:34 am.

Great story! I’m an Arkansan who lost his way and ended up in Virginia. Your description of the lake brought back great memories of large and small mouth bass, and zooming accross the lake to the next “best” fishing hole. I’m coming home one day and my fondest dream is to get back out on Lake Ouachita. I still use those memories as my “happy place” when I need to relax from the real world.

I’m glad the ladies liked the trip, too. This Lake is one of the best family places to go in America, since there are few distractions and family-time is really quality time.

Jeff Says:

1 November 2008 at 9:37 am.

Every other year I fly to Peel (from Brasil) to visit my family and always enjoy spearfishing in Bull Shoals. It’s such a nice chang to not have to rinse the salt water from my equipment after a day of slaying fish!

By the way, if anybody is considering a spearfishing trip, you could do worse than Brasil!

Fletcher Harn Says:

8 June 2010 at 8:07 am.

Very good site, where did you come up with the information in this piece of writing? Im happy I found it though, ill be checking back soon to see what other articles you have.

Kelsi Quintal Says:

17 September 2010 at 10:37 pm.

Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you

Peter Thornton Says:

3 December 2010 at 9:38 pm.

Nice fishes for a spear

Benzo Fury

Arron Greminger Says:

24 January 2011 at 11:33 am.

There’s big adventure on strategic scuba diving locations around the islands. Are you interested in diving and snorkeling some of the finest and relatively untouched reefs Or why not try swimming with the seal?

Joe Haller Says:

6 September 2012 at 11:11 am.

I’ve been diving for years but have never spearfished. I’ve only dived Lake Ouachita one time but I’d love to try spearfishing there. Can you recommend the best all around speargun to purchase?
Also, how could I line-up a trip for mid September or October?
Thanks,
Joe Haller

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