Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Little Red River In
Arkansas
The Little Red River is known for its fine brown trout
fishing but it is also stocked with brook, cutthroat and
rainbow trout. This river has some huge brown trout in
its gin clear water. It's cold, water comes from the
Greer's Ferry Dam at a temperature of about
forty-seven degrees year-round. The river is located in
Central Arkansas, not far from the more famous White
River tailwater. Fly fishing the Little Red River can be as
just as productive as fishing any tailwater in the nation.

Anglers can crowd the many shoals in the river during
the spring and early summer but the best fishing is
actually in the fall when the brown trout start migrating
upstream to spawn. The spawn starts about the middle
of October and is over around the first of December.

Trout can be caught from the Little Red River as far as
thirty miles below the Greer's Ferry Dam. It's Collins
Creek Tributary also has a good population of trout. The
dam is controlled by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The river has a very good food supply for the trout
including scuds, sowbugs, freshwater shrimp, leeches
and snails.

Fly fishing the Little Red River depends greatly on the
discharges from the two turbines at the Greer's Ferry
Dam. The water can be low or very high and dangerous
and change from one to the other in a very short time.

The Little Red River can usually be fished from a drift
boat year-round. Keep in mind the river's flows are
regulated by the powerhouse at the dam and it can
become very swift and dangerous in certain areas when
a lot of water is being released. Normally, the Little Red
flows through long pools of water with many shoals. We
recommend floating the highest discharges only with
experienced guides or anglers.

The first few miles below the dam has plenty of boulders.
It can make it tough to float for small vessels such as
canoes and pontoon type boats. There are some large,
long pools downstream of the boulder filled section but
below that, you will find other obstructions in the form of
islands. Further downstream, there's a series of shoals
that can hinder larger boats, especially during low flows.  

Below the shoals, the river can be fished from a canoe.
There are many shallow areas to deal with on low flows.
Below the shallow areas you will find a long pool
extending for about three miles. Downstream of the big
pool, the river narrows down with long runs that flow into
another section of shoals. Below that, there's more deep
pools that flows into a series of rapids. This area is just
above the low water dam above Pangburn. The river
again slows down and flows through another series of
shoals.
Type of Stream
Tailwater

Species
Brown Trout (wild)
Rainbow Trout (stocked with
holdovers)
Brook Trout (stocked and wild)
Cutthroat Trout
(Stocked with holdovers)

Size
Medium width but 29 miles of trout
waters

Location
Middle Arkansas

Nearest Towns
Heber Springs
Little Rock

Season
Year-round

Special Regulations:
John F. Kennedy Park has a ¾-mile,
special-regulations, walk-and-wade
area (artificial flies and lures only,
with single, barbless hooks only).

Access:
Fair

Discharge Schedule:
Call (417) 336-5083
or (501) 362-5150.

Non-Resident License
State of Arkansas

Weather
National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle, and
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Little Red River
Arkansas
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Little Red River Fly Fishing Guide:
The easiest access to the uppermost section
is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
public ramp next to the Federal Fish Hatchery.
Access Points. There are several other
access points in the middle to lower section of
the Little Red River.

The state maintains the Barnett access at
Winkley Bridge, Lobo Landing, Dripping
Springs and Ramsay access. In addition, there
are four other privately owned access points
or launch ramps.

There's little access from the banks of the
river in the middle and lower sections. Most of
the property is privately owned and posted.
The best way to fish these sections is from a
boat.

The water of the Little Red is very clear.
Large, wise, old brown trout are nocturnal
feeders and are not so easy to catch during
the day. If you attempt to fish the river at night,
the fog caused by the cold water will be a
huge problem. It just isn't safe to fish the river
from a boat at night.

Don't get so excited about catching the big  
browns that you forget about the rainbows.
More rainbows are caught than brown trout.
Many of the browns that are caught are
caught using conventional tackle.

The combined stocking of both federal and
the state of Arkansas amounts to 150,000 to   
200,000 fish per year. They are stocked in
over forty-five miles of water. In other words,
there is no shortage of rainbows in the Little
Red River.

Most of the trout in the Little Red feed below
the surface. Trout do feed on the surface at
times, but it usually takes a large aquatic
insect hatch for them to do so. Unless you see
trout taking insects from the surface, we
suggest fishing a nymph or streamer.
Seasons:
You can catch trout any day of the year
Winter:
Due to the constant temperature of the
tailwater, the fish can be caught on the
coldest days anglers will give it a try.
Spring:
Fly fishing the Little Red River during the
Spring is usually the best time for rainbow
trout.
Fly Fishing Guide, continued:
Most of the river bottom is sand or gravel,
with heavy moss in the deep areas. The
heavy moss gives anglers problems.

From the dam to Ramsey Access you will
find plenty of public access where you can
wade the Little Red. When wading, you
should always be aware of rising water. The
water can fluctuate as much as several feet
in less than a few hours. You should pick
out a landmark along the bank and keep
track of the water level. If you see that it is
rising, you should make certain you can
easily get out of the water.

The Greers Ferry Dam has two generators,
and the flow rates range from 20 to 7500
cfs.  When only one generator is operating,
the flow ranges between 2,500 and 4,000
cfs. Generally, the best time to wade the
stream is on the weekends. They normally
generate less power than they do during
the week. That's also the time the river
sees the most anglers.

During the Spring, the flows are usually
high. This is more to do with lake level
control than electricity. In other words, the
odds of being able to wade the river during
the Spring months is low. When fishing from
a boat during high flows, about the only
option is fishing the banks using streamers.

The brown trout reproduce naturally in the
river. The original stocking of brown trout
was done by individual anglers in the
1970's. Descendants of those bucket
stocked brown trout are what made the
river famous.

Brook trout also spawn successfully, mostly
in the Collins Creek area. The cutthroat
trout are not plentiful. They mostly exist
downstream of Winkley Shoals.
Hatches, continued:
Midges hatch during the entire year but
become more plentiful and available for the
trout to eat during the winter months.  
January and February are the top two
months for midge hatches. Most of them are
blood midges, or red midges. There are also
plenty of cream and during the Spring, Light
Green midges.

Although more important during the Winter,
midges are still the most plentiful source of
food day in and day out. You should always
have imitations of the larvae, pupae and
adults. Most of the time, a double rig with a
pupa imitation on the top and a larva imitation
on the bottom works best.

There is also a huge population of both
scuds and sowbugs. Imitations of these
crustaceans work year round. Most of the
fully grown scuds are a hook size 14 and
most sowbugs a 16.

Leeches are also very plentiful in the Little
Red River. Sculpins are very plentiful and a
favorite food of both the rainbows and brown
trout. There are plenty of minnows, mostly
dace as well as thread-fin shad. The large
brown trout will also feed on smaller size
crayfish. Streamers that imitate the above
items are excellent flies to use. Low light
conditions are best for streamer fishing. High
water conditions can also be good for
streamer fishing. At times of high water, it
may be the only option.
Summer:
The cool water discharges from deep
Greer's Ferry Lake provide excellent
fishing even on the hottest days of summer.
Fall:
Autumn is the best time to fish for large
brown trout.
Little Red River Hatches and Trout
Flies:
Other than midges, the Little Red River
doesn't have a huge number of hatches that
occur but those it does have are very
important. Blue-winged Olives are
bi-brooded, and hatch in March and April
and again in August, September and
October.

The best of these two BWO periods of
hatches takes place in the Fall. Both times
can be good but the low water levels of Fall
offers the best dry fly fishing opportunities.  

BWOs hatch best in the afternoon, on calm,
overcast, rainy, or even snowy days.
Hatches during bright sunlight conditions are
usually very sparse.

We have caught a few trout sight fishing
during low water levels during the Fall
months when these small mayflies were
hatching. That is one of the few times dry fly
fishing can be excellent on the Little Red.

You can also sight cast to fish using nymphs.
This is often far more successful than using
a dry fly. A BWO nymph imitations, hook size
18, is an excellent choice for this. Sow bugs
and scud imitations also work well sight
fishing for trout on the shoals.

The most common and plentiful hatches that
occur are the caddisflies. The hatches start
in March and last through June. These
consist mostly of net-spinning caddis called
Cinnamon Caddis ranging in a hook size
from 18 to 16. There are also some Green
Sedges, hook size 16 and plenty of Little
Sister Caddis. They are a hook size 18.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
More Arkansas Trout Streams
We have Perfect Fly website pages on
each of these other fine trout streams.
Click the links for fly fishing information
including descriptions of the streams,
access, location, species of fish, a fly
fishing guide, a fly fishing report, hatches
and recommended trout flies, fly fishing
gear and equipment, USGS stream data,
local weather and much, much more
Headlines: The river has turned
out some nice trout for two of our
customers this past week. One
used a drift boat and one didn't.
Wading has been possible most
mornings and it appears they will
keep the same discharge pattern of
running water in the afternoons.
Midges are working good - cream
larva and pupa in tandem.
Keep a
close check on our weekly updated
Little Red River fishing report linked
above.
Map of Little Red River
Fishing Report Headline Archive:
Click Here For the Current  Little Red River Fishing Report

01/03/17 I keep getting ask about Black flies. Yes, they hatch off and on. Right now, probably
off due to the warm weather. They have larva, pupa and adult stages similar to caddisflies but
unlike caddis, they can bite you. Midges are the main insects you should be imitating now,
and most of them are Cream midges. There are some reds, or blood midges hatching where
there is some soft soil or sand on the bottom between shoals.

01/10/17 The discharges and stream levels have been high until yesterday, but in good
shape as of now. There is rain in the forecast everyday for the coming week, so it is anyone's
guess as to how long they will remain in normal shape. There are lots of midges hatching, but
I would want to have some streamers on hand for higher water levels. Fish the midges in
tandem, with the pupa the top fly and the larva the bottom fly.

01/17/17 The discharges and stream levels are down low and you can even wade some
sections. The water is warmer downstream than it is near the dam, or right the opposite of
what is normal thanks to the very warm weather. It will continue through this coming week.
Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching very good. There is rain forecast everyday this
coming week, so the levels may come back up. You can fish this under an indicator.

01/24/17 The discharges are low and stream levels low enough to wade in some places. This
of course, is likely to change. There is no rain or snow in the forecast for the coming week. It
is going to be cooler, but still relatively warm. Midges, Reds or blood midges and Cream
midges are hatching good. There are some little Blue-winged olives hatching and a few Winter
stoneflies. Scuds and sowbugs should also work.

01/31/17 The discharges and stream levels have been varying greatly, so make certain you
call and get the release schedule before traveling very far to fish. Midges, Reds, Creams and
Light Greens are hatching good. Fish the larva and pupa in tandem with the larva the bottom
fly and the pupa about 16 inches above it. The Black Matuka sculpin streamer has been
working good when it has been cloudy.

02/07/17 You can almost wear a bathing suit to fish in. It is very warm with thunderstorms
taking place at the present time. Streamers like the Perfect Fly Matuka sculpin, Olive and
black and the Brown sculpin have been catching some trout for one customer. They work best
under low light conditions. Midges remain the main food to imitate. Reds, creams and light
greens are hatching. Fish the larva and pupa in tandem for the best results.

02/14/17 It has been a warm, good week for fly fishing the Little Red. The discharges and
stream levels have been low much of the time and anglers have been able to wade. It is
running to high for that at this time, but there is no rain in the forecast beyond today and
hopefully, they will be down soon. Midges, little Black Caddis and little Blue-winged olives (non-
baetis) species are hatching.

02/21/17 We have received some good reports the last week and some, not so good, all
depending on the time and waer levels, and of course, the skills of those fishing. The weather
will be clear with no rain for the next week. The stream levels are a little high right now but
should come back down to where wading is possible soon. Midges, little Blue-winged olives
and Little Black caddis are the main insects to imitate.

02/28/17 The discharges and stream levels are low at this time. Anglers are able to wade
much of the river. Hopefully, the discharges will stay down low for a while. It is raining as I am
writing this but it should end today and clear up for the next five days. It will remain relatively
warm but this will have little effect on the water temperature. It is average about 49 degrees.
Midges are still the most important insects to imitate.

03/07/17 Conditions have been good recently. The discharges and stream levels have given
anglers plenty of wading opportunity. Both bank and boat anglers have been catching trout.
More caddisflies are beginning to show up but we still think midges are the most important
insects to imitate. When it is cloudy and overcast, try the Black or Olive Matuka sculpin
streamers. Our customers have been catching some of their best trout on these streamer.

03/14/17 Sculpin streamers are going to rank high this coming week. The water levels will
come back down, but all you can do is Keep a close check on them. The Black Matukda, Olive
Matuda, Brown sculpin and White belly sculpin should work in the higher flows. Midges are still
important food even though a lot of caddiflies are beginning to show up.

03/21/17 The discharges and stream levels are fine at this time but headed up. There is rain
forecast everyday but one this coming week and the higher than normal discharges may
continue but you never know for sure. Caddisflies or three different species are hatching
good right now. Sculpin streamers should work especially good with all the cloud cover
expected.

03/28/17 The discharges and stream levels are fine for wading and boats. Our customers
caught some nice trout yesterday using the Black and Olive Matuka sculpin steamers. Midges,
Creams and Reds, continue to work. There are three different species of caddisflies hatching.
Little black caddis, Cinnamon caddis and some Spotted sedges. Conditions are good right
now.

04/04/17 The discharges and stream levels are high at this time. They have to get the lake
back down to the right levels. The rain ends tomorrow and then five days of clear weather.
There are logs of caddisflies hatching along with some little Blue-winged olives. Sculphin
streamers like the Black or Olive Matuka sculpin should do good when the levels get lower but
still hight. Check back with us to see when the discharges settle back down.

04/11/17 The weather is going to be much warmer this coming with. There is a change of rain
for most days, but low odds on most days. The lake level is getting down to where it should be
and hopefully, there will be lower discharges soon. There are lot of caddisflies hatching along
with midges. Most of the midges are light green. Sculpin streamers work good where there is a
little color to the water and under low light conditions.

04/18/17 The conditions have been excellent the past few days. Anglers have been able to
wade and we have received some very good reports. Hopefully, the low discharges and
stream levels will continue to exist much of the time this coming week. There is some rain in
the forecast. Midges continue to work good but the main thing going is the caddisfly hatches.
There are three different species hatching right now.

04/25/17 The discharges and stream levels are down low, allowing anglers wading opportunity
about anywhere they wish to fish. Our customers have been catching good numbers of trout
the past few days. There are lots of caddisflies hatching along with some light green and
Cream midges. Sculpin streamers have worked good early and late in the day.

05/09/17 The discharges and stream levels have been very high but are currently back down
not too far above normal. It is too high to wade safely but can be fished from a boat. The river
is likely to be up high again. There is two more days of rain in the forecast and the lake is still
a little high. Make sure you check the stream levels prior to traveling very far to fish. Midges,
light greens and creams, and two species of caddisflies are hatching..

05/16/17 The discharges and stream levels are down now, permitting wading most of the time.
Check the discharge schedule. They may run it part of the day. There are lots of caddisflies
hatching. We didn't receive any reports from anyone fishing this past week. There has been
so much rain, we guess anglers didn't think it would be in good shape, but it is right now.

05/23/17 The little Red isn't so little at this time. It is high and stained, too high too wade and
too high to fish from a drift boat in our opinion. Anglers have been catching good numbers of
trout the few time the stream levels have been decent. This high water conditions is likely to
continue for a few more days, but be sure and check back with us. We will keep you informed.

06/05/17 The discharges vary greatly with the pulses but the levels are very high most of the
time. There has been a lot of rain in the Little Red River watershed laely, but the forecast is
showing no chance of rain for the next week. The levels should drop back down much lower
very soon. You can check them by clicking the link below.

06/13/17 The discharges and stream levels have been much better after all the rain recently.
The lake level is in better shape and that's good because there is rain in the forecast
everyday for this coming week. The chances are low sometimes and hopefully, it will be just
the right amount to keep the stream levels at a normal level. There are lots of insects
hatching including Sulphurs.

06/20/17 The river is in good shape with clearer water and more insects hatching. The
Sulphur hatch is one of the best ones the river has to offer. We received a  good report from
the past week. By the way, we were asked twice this past week about the barbless hooks.
Yes, you can simply mash the barbs down on regular hooks and be legal. You do not have to
have special hooks. This coming week should be a good one.

06/27/17 The river is in good shape with plenty of wading opportunities and drift boats are
doing well. This should continue for the coming week. There are some Sulphurs and lots of
caddisflies hatching. One customer reported catching a lot of trout on scuds this past week.
Fish the caddis pupa imitations during the hatch and the adults during the egg laying activity.

06/04/17 The stream levels have been high due to high discharges lately and they are likely
to continue that way. You should always check them. They are subject to change, of course.
Wading isn't safe at these rates but drift boats can do okay. There are still a lot of insects
hatching but we have also added terrestrial imitations to the fly list. It is time from them to
become important.

06/11/17 The discharges are still up and down from off to high, often too high to wade, but
okay for boats. There are still plenty of Sulphurs and caddisflies hatching - Green Sedges
and Cinnamon caddis. Terrestrials are also working fairly well.

07/18/17 When you can catch the discharges low and levels low, you can catch good
numbers of trout. There has been a lot of rain lately and the discharges are back up rather
high most of the time. There is no rain forecast for the next few days. There are still plenty of
insects hatching, mostly caddisflies but some Sulphurs are still hatching.

07/25/17 They have been starting the two generators around noon each day and running
until midnight. This give the best wading opportunity in the mornings. Drift boats can  fish with
full generation, but not very successfully. We expect that same pattern to continue this coming
week. There are still some good hatches taking place but they have slowed down.

08/01/17 The discharges and stream levels are about normal at this time. They have been
low and wading possible for the past three days. Our customers sent in two good reports the
past two days. There are lots of caddisflies hatching. Fish the pupa imitation during the
hatches and adults during the afternoon egg laying.

08/08/17 Conditions have been good, with decent discharge rates and stream levels enough
to provide some good opportunities. Brown sculpin streamers worked great for one of our
customers this past week. There are still some hatches taking place but nymphs and
streamers are still outproducing dry flies.