White River Trout Conservation: The good, the bad and the ugly


Imagine having a wonderful vegetable garden that is the envy of all the other gardeners in the country. For several years, produce flourishes as the garden grows very quickly under optimal conditions. After the word gets out about this garden, people get greedy and pick everything before it has the chance to grow. Although this situation may sound absurd, this is exactly what has been going on with respect to Ozark trout fisheries for years.

The early years of each White River Basin tailwater were characterized by experimental stockings and light angler pressure. These rivers did not get much national recognition until the 1960’s and 1970’s, and even after all the early exposure; crowds did not become a real issue until the 1990’s. Seemingly overnight, the rivers were choked with all types of anglers, and existing regulations were not adequate in terms of conservation. The trout fisheries below all five White River Basin dams are mere shells of what they used to be, and this is a real shame considering that it does not have to be this way at all.

The Major Concerns

You would think that poaching would go out of style at some point, but there is still a faction of society that thinks it is good fun to pillage resources and steal from the public stakeholders. It is hard to determine whether or not there are more poachers on the water than is past eras, but there is no doubt that the techniques of a poacher are far more deadly and refined today. The damage done by poachers is most significant in catch and release and special management areas because big trout in these sections are easy targets. Until the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gets a grasp on just how much poaching hurts our rivers, it is likely that the actions of a few will continue to diminish resources meant to be enjoyed by all. Poachers do not always fit a stereotype – many guides will break the rules, and even a few weekend anglers will take an extra limit or two on every visit. Rule-breakers come in all shapes and sizes. Read more…

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~ by troutdoctor101 on March 9, 2010.

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