100 Best: Little Red River
Location: Central Arkansas
Type of stream: Tailwater
Angling methods: Any
Species: Browns, Rainbows, Cutthroat, Brookies
Supporting Services: Heber Springs
Short take: Lookin’ for a record book brown? Stop here
Handicapped Access: John F. Kennedy Park
Closest TU Chapter: Arkansas’ White River
Trout may not be native to Arkansas, but the state’s tailwaters regularly produce bruisers like Rip Collins’s 40 pound, 4 ounce brown taken in 1992 on a 1/32 oz. jig fished with an ultralight spinning rig spooled with 4 pound test line in the Little Red River. ‘Bows in the five to seven pound range get little more than a raised eyebrow among seasoned Razor Back anglers. Cutthroat of two pounds plus are not all that rare.
Greers Ferry Dam cools the sinuous Little Red creating more than 30 miles of first class trout fishing. The mileage immediately downstream from the dam contains large boulders but below, the river deepens into its first of its long glassy pools. What follows is a seemingly endless progression of shoals, ledges, and pools as the river ambles beneath limestone bluffs or winds through pastureland bottoms. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission maintains a number of access points along the trout water. Otherwise banks are privately held and require permission to fish.
When Greers Ferry’s generators are running, the river can rise four to nine feet. Floating when the river is raging in jon or drift boats is less popular on the Little Red than on other rivers. Those who do dare its currents tend to anchor above submerged structure and drift bait or cast lures into the holds below. Swift current swamps carelessly anchored boats every year, often with tragic results. Bait, spinning and fly tackle are used with great success on the Little Red. Caddis in spring, midges and terrestrials in summer, and nymphs year ‘round all work well.