Lake Ouachita is the biggest lake located entirely within Arkansas at just over 40,000 acres. It is famous for its scenic beauty and clear waters. It was created in the late 1940’s when Blakely Mountain Dam dammed the waters of the Ouachita River near Hot Springs, AR. Lake Ouachita is nearly surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and has around 970 miles of Arkansas’s most pristine shorelines. At forty miles long it has large stretches of open water that makes it a favorite spot for sailors. Scuba divers from all over the world enjoy the crystal clear waters as well as the special spear fishing season.
Recreational boating, water skiing and other water sports are also very popular on Lake Ouachita, which boasts more than 100 uninhabited islands for primitive camping. Available rentals include houseboats, sailing crafts, fishing rigs and more. Contributing to make the lake one of Arkansas’s finest outdoor destinations are Lake Ouachita State Park which offers cabin rentals, marinas and a plethora of resorts along with more than 400 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ campsites.
Lake Ouachita Fishing
Bassmaster Magazine selected Lake Ouachita as the 88th best bass lake of the country’s Top 100 Bass Lakes (May 2015). Millwood Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Dardanelle are 3 more Arkansas Lakes that made the top 100. Anglers will enjoy a wide variety of fishing opportunities such as largemouth bass, small mouth Bass, spotted bass,bream, crappie, catfish, walleye and world class trophy striped bass. Lake Ouachita is known as the striped bass capital of the world and it consistently ranked in the top ten nationally for largemouth bass fishing. Fishing guides are available. Ouachita’s acres are at normal pool level, with a crooked, rugged shoreline and an abundance of islands, especially in the lower (east) end of the lake. There are also many shallow areas that provide excellent feeding and holding places for bass, with deep-water escape just a few fin strokes away. Bass fishermen do well around these islands and shallow areas using surface lures, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs and plastic worms. Deep, crystal-clear, with a floor of rocks, trees and other cover, and plenty of baitfish, Ouachita is ideal for big stripers. One of the most successful methods used for catching them is trolling with downriggers along the river channel near the dam to where it is joined by the Little Blakely and Big Blakely creek channels. The month of May the stripers also congregate in the upper end of the lake, especially in the area around the Ark. 27 bridge.
One of the more unusual features of the the lake was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is the Geo-Float Trail, a marked route that can be followed by boaters guided by a brochure that details prominent geologic features to be seen on the lake.
Lake Ouachita Attractions
The city of Hot Springs which can be found near the east end of the lake is Arkansas’s #1 tourist destination. It is home to Hot Springs National Park and many other tourist attractions. At the west end of Lake Ouachita is Mount Ida which is famous for its rock shops and quartz crystal mines, many of which are open to the public for a fee.