Out of State Destinations: Murfreesboro, Arkansas

The Little Missouri is shallow enough for fly fishermen to wade much of its water. (Photo by Terry L. Jones )

If one is willing to drive a little way, rainbow trout fishing can be enjoyed in Arkansas year around.

The Little Missouri River is home to mostly rainbow trout, although there are a few brown trout, as well. The daily limit for rainbows is five of any size, but brown trout are protected and must be released immediately when caught.

Mississippi fishermen must purchase a non-resident fishing license with trout stamp. An annual license and stamp cost $70, but three-and-seven-day licenses are available for less.

Fishing techniques

There are four public river access points located off Hwy 19 that runs north from Murfreesboro to the Narrows Dam. Trout can be caught year around, but fishing is best during the fall and winter when stocking takes place and the trout are more active.

The Little Missouri is a small stream and is popular with both fly and bank fishermen. While small boats like kayaks can be used, it is better to wade if fly fishing.

According to avid fly fisherman Larry Jones, “I prefer wading over fishing out of a boat, and I’d rather catch one trout on a small three-weight fly rod than five on a spinning rig. Wading allows you to work the flies better. It’s harder to get a good presentation while sitting in a boat.”

The rainbow trout in the Little Missouri River live up to their name. (Photo by Terry L. Jones)

Wooly boogers, mayfly midges, nymphs and micro-jigs fished under a strike indicator produce well for fly fishermen. Because the water is clear and shallow, the trout can spook easily, so wear dark colored clothing and move slowly.

Bank fishing

If bank fishing, use medium-sized spinning or spin casting gear with 6- to 8-pound line and a Carolina slip rig like one would use for catfishing. A small hook, such as size 14, is best with a ¼ -½-ounce sinker.

Most bank fishermen use Berkley Power Baits, but worms, whole kernel corn, minnows and even small marshmallows also work. Find a fairly deep pool of water and cast out and fish on the bottom as for catfish.

Waders and bank fishermen also frequently use spinning tackle with artificial baits such as rooster tails, small Rapalas, and grubs. There are some places designated as trophy areas where only artificial baits with single, barbless hooks can be used, and the fish must be released immediately. Those areas are marked by signs.

For more versatility, be like the young man I encountered once on another Arkansas stream who was carrying a 7 ½-foot three-weight fly rod and an extra spinning reel.

“I only use this one rod,” he explained, “but I always carry both the spinning reel and fly reel. If the water is up, I’ll put on the spinning reel and fish baits. When the water goes down, I’ll switch to the fly reel and use flies.”

If wading in the river, be alert for rapid changes in the water level. When the Narrows Dam releases water to generate electricity, the river can rise several feet and create a dangerous current in just a few minutes. Leave immediately if the water starts to rise.

Since bank fishing is also much better when water is not being generated, check the generation schedule at https://www.swepco.com/community/education/recreation before leaving home.

While in the area

In addition to its trout fishing, Murfreesboro is also known for the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It is one of the few places in the world where the public can look for diamonds and keep whatever is found. Admission is $10 for adults (13 and over) and $6 for children.

The park is located on top of a volcanic crater, which, over time, pushed the diamonds to the surface. Today, a 37-acre field is regularly plowed to expose new diamonds for people to find. Since the park opened in 1972, more than 35,000 diamonds have been picked up.

One can either walk along looking for a diamond glistening in the sunlight or rent equipment to water screen for them. The visitor center provides information on how to look for diamonds and other minerals such as amethyst, garnet and agate.

The Crater of Diamonds also has camp sites with water and electricity for both tents and RVs, walking trails, picnic tables and a gift shop. Neighboring Murfreesboro has several motels, camping areas and restaurants.

Fall foliage

Murfreesboro is located on the southern edge of the Boston Mountains, which have beautiful foliage when the leaves turn in the autumn. The region around the Albert Pike Recreation Area, a short drive north of Murfreesboro, is a good place to enjoy the leaves.

Enter the recreation area by Highway 369 and take National Forest Road 512 across the low bridge on the Little Missouri River. This gravel road is rough and windy but can be navigated by a car.

The road frequently follows Long Creek, a beautiful mountain brook, and there are numerous places where one can pull over and picnic or let the kids explore and play in the water. There are also several trailheads to access the miles of hiking trails in the area.

The post “Out of State Destinations: Murfreesboro, Arkansas” first appeared on LouisianaSportsman.com.

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