Arkansas Fishing Law

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Navigating the Waters: A Comprehensive Guide to Arkansas Fishing Regulations


Embarking on a fishing adventure in Arkansas requires more than just a rod and reel – understanding the Arkansas Fishing Law is crucial for a rewarding and responsible angling experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into recent changes, statewide and area-specific regulations, protected native fish species, special licenses and permits, and noteworthy bodies of water for avid anglers.

Recent Changes in Arkansas Fishing Regulations

As of January 1, 2022, Arkansas has implemented significant changes to its fishing regulations. The Community Fishing Program, which provided specific licenses, has been discontinued. Furthermore, anglers looking to fish in Community Fishing Program waters in 2022 must now possess an Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant General Fishing license or Combination Hunt/Fish license. To adapt to the changing times, traditional paper licenses are being phased out, with an emphasis on online purchases. Additionally, bilingual customer service representatives are available for assistance at (602) 942-3000, option 5.

Deciphering General Statewide Fishing Regulations

Understanding the Arkansas Fishing Law in place from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022, is crucial for any angler. Before venturing out, it’s essential to review both the General Statewide Regulations and Special Regulations for your chosen fishing area, ensuring compliance with the Arkansas Fishing Law rules.

Protected Native Fish Species

Arkansas fishing - a bull trout caught

In essence, Arkansas is committed to the conservation of native fish species. The Arkansas Fishing Law protection list includes various species such as the beautiful shiner, bluehead sucker, and Gila top-minnow. Anglers are required to release these native species unharmed if incidentally caught.

Insights into Special Licenses and Stamps

In addition, changes in Arkansas Fishing Law stamp policies aim to streamline the licensing process. Stamps like the Arkansas Fishing Law trout stamp and two-pole stamp are no longer standalone; their privileges are integrated into the General Fishing license, Youth Combo Hunt/Fish license, Combo Hunt/Fish license, and Short-term (one day) Combo Hunt/Fish license. Starting January 1, 2019, Utah stamps are no longer needed for licensed Arizona anglers fishing on Lake Powell.

Lost License Woes? A Swift Solution

Moreover, for anglers facing the predicament of a lost or damaged license, replacements are available at authorized dealers, department offices, or online at Online purchasers can reprint their Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant licenses at no additional cost.

Statewide Fishing Regulations Demystified

When it comes to hook and line fishing, the latest Arkansas Fishing Law regulations allow anglers to fish with two poles or lines simultaneously, but no more than two lines in total. Angling involves the use of Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant barbless hooks, and regulations govern the use of artificial flies and lures.

Additionally, various fishing methods, such as bow and arrow, crossbow, snare, gig, spear, or spear gun, are valid for specific fish species in designated areas statewide. Regulations also cover the capture of Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant baitfish and crayfish, emphasizing proper methods and restrictions for personal, non-commercial purposes.

Length Limits and Conservation

Understanding daily bag and possession limits is crucial. The daily bag limit signifies the maximum number of fish legally caught in a single day, with possession limits set at twice the daily bag limits. Responsible angling involves releasing unharmed any fish not meeting the legal length limit.

Transport and Storage of Fish


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Transporting fish comes with Arkansas Fishing Law guidelines to ensure proper identification and preservation. Anglers can transport up to a possession limit of any fish species, provided they are not alive. Fish must be killed or released before transportation.

Legal Consequences for Violations

Furthermore, breaking Arkansas Fishing Law regulations can have serious consequences. License privileges, including fishing, hunting, and trapping, can be revoked for up to five years or more for various convictions, such as unlawful taking or possession of wildlife. Civil liability can lead to monetary consequences, with unlawful wounding or killing of wildlife potentially resulting in civil action by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Common Violations to Avoid

Moving on, anglers need to be on their best behavior to enjoy their Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant fishing experience fully. Fundamental violations include fishing or taking aquatic wildlife without a valid Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant license for those aged 10 and older. Fishing lines must be attended and under immediate control at all times. Exceeding daily bag and possession limits is strictly prohibited, as is leaving fishing areas littered. Responsible bait usage is crucial, especially concerning live Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant crayfish and waterdogs, which must adhere to specific regulations.

Protecting Arkansas’s Fishing Heritage

Furthermore, resident sportsmen play a pivotal role in preserving Arkansas’s fishing heritage. Reporting Arkansas Fishing Law violations promptly to the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700 is crucial for maintaining responsible and ethical fishing practices. Whether casting a line in the serene waters of Spring River, targeting the elusive channel catfish, or seeking the thrill of buffalo river adventures, resident sportsmen contribute to the ongoing efforts to sustainably enjoy the diverse catfish species found in Arkansas. It’s a collective responsibility to ensure the longevity and vitality of these precious water resources.

Live Baitfish – Legal Species, Legal Areas

Understanding legal live baitfish and their designated Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant areas is crucial. Specific Arkansas Fishing Law regulations govern their use, capture, and transportation, ensuring that anglers contribute to the conservation efforts in Arkansas. It is essential to stay informed and abide by these Arkansas Fishing Law rules for a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience.

Additional Tips for Arkansas Anglers

Check Updates Regularly: Fishing regulations can change, so it’s wise to stay informed by checking the official Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website for Arkansas Fishing Law updates.

Practice Catch and Release Responsibly: If you’re not planning to keep the fish, release them promptly and unharmed. Proper handling ensures their survival.

Respect Closures: Some areas may be temporarily or permanently closed for restoration or conservation efforts. Respect these Arkansas Fishing Law closures to contribute to environmental preservation.

Educate Fellow Anglers: Spread awareness about Arkansas Fishing Law regulations and ethical angling practices. Encourage fellow anglers to follow the rules for the well-being of aquatic ecosystems.

Participate in Conservation Programs: Consider getting involved in local conservation programs or initiatives. Contributing to the preservation of aquatic habitats ensures a sustainable Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant fishing future.

Special Regulations for Specific Areas and Species


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Arkansas provides special regulations for specific areas and fish species to ensure sustainable practices. Here are some key points to note:

Arkansas River: Fishing in the Arkansas River is subject to specific Arkansas Fishing Law regulations. Ensure you are aware of the rules governing this iconic waterway.

Kings River: Kings River is a designated Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant fishing area with its own set of Arkansas Fishing Law rules. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines for an optimal angling experience.

Hunting License: Some fishing areas may require an Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant hunting license. Be sure to check the Arkansas Fishing Law regulations for your chosen location to ensure compliance.

Mississippi River: Fishing in the Mississippi River comes with its own unique Arkansas Fishing Law regulations. Check the Arkansas Fishing Law guidelines to make the most of your angling adventure.

Park Pond: Park ponds may have specific Arkansas Fishing Law regulations, especially if they are part of the Community Fishing Program. Familiarize yourself with the Arkansas Fishing Law rules for these accessible fishing spots.

Lifetime Fishing License: Anglers seeking a long-term commitment to fishing can explore the option of an Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant lifetime fishing license. This provides access to fishing opportunities without the need for annual renewals.

Bull Shoals Lake: Fishing in Bull Shoals Lake requires adherence to Arkansas Fishing Law regulations. Check the guidelines for this scenic lake to enjoy a successful angling experience.

Commercial Fish: Commercial fishing is subject to specific Arkansas Fishing Law rules. If you engage in commercial fishing activities, ensure compliance with all relevant regulations.

Fishing Report: Stay informed about the latest Arkansas Fishing Law-compliant fishing reports. Regularly check fishing reports for updates on conditions, species abundance, and angling recommendations.

Beaver Lake: Beaver Lake, known for its diverse fish population, is governed by Arkansas Fishing Law regulations. Review the guidelines to make the most of your fishing excursions on this reservoir.

Largemouth Bass: Anglers targeting largemouth bass should be aware of size limits and other regulations in place. Responsible angling ensures the sustainability of bass populations.

Norfork Lake: Regulations for Norfork Lake aim to protect its unique ecosystem. Before fishing in this area, make sure you understand and adhere to the established rules.

Fishing Regulations: General fishing regulations cover a wide range of aspects. Stay informed about size limits, bag limits, and other rules to enjoy a successful and lawful fishing experience.

Bass: Different bass species may have specific regulations. Whether you’re after smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, or spotted bass, know the rules for each species.

Trout Permit: Trout fishing enthusiasts need to obtain a trout permit. Make sure you have the necessary permits to fish in designated trout areas.

Sport Fishing Tackle: Regulations may apply to the type of tackle used in sport fishing. Ensure your tackle complies with the established rules for a hassle-free angling experience.

Arkansas Waters: Different bodies of water in Arkansas may have unique regulations. Whether you’re fishing in the Ouachita River, Red River, or any other water body, understand and follow the specific rules.

Fort Smith: Fort Smith may have its regulations for fishing in local waters. Check for any area-specific rules before casting your line.

Arkansas Fishing License: A valid fishing license is a must for all anglers aged 16 and older. Make sure you have the required license before engaging in fishing activities.


Arkansas boasts a rich and diverse fishing landscape, offering opportunities for anglers of all preferences. By familiarizing yourself with the latest Arkansas Fishing Law regulations, respecting conservation efforts, and staying informed about area-specific rules, you contribute to the preservation of the state’s natural resources. Enjoy your fishing adventures in the beautiful waters of Arkansas!

Additional Resources:

1. Fishing Law rules –

2. Guidelines for an optimal angling experience –

3. Diverse catfish species found in Arkansas –

4. Legal live baitfish –

5. Maintaining responsible and ethical fishing practices –

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