Jacksonville, AR Fishing: Fishing in a Central City

Jacksonville, AR's central location makes it the perfect place for anglers to explore the state's fishing scene.

Jacksonville, AR Fishing: Fishing in a Central City
Jacksonville, AR Fishing: Fishing in a Central City
Team Guidesly

July 26, 2022, 6 min read

Updated on July 25, 2022

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The city of Jacksonville is located in Pulaski County in Arkansas. It is also a suburb of the state’s capital city, Little Rock. The city is included in the Little Rock-North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area. Before its incorporation in 1941, it was once a settlement surrounding a railroad depot. In the same year of its incorporation, the Arkansas Ordnance Plant began its construction. The plant was the primary facility for developing World War II fuses and detonators. Jacksonville is named after landowner Nicholas Jackson, who deeded the land for the railroad right-of-way to the Cairo & Fulton Railroad. It also has a motto: ‘Soaring Higher,’ which embodies the city’s drive to improve and exceed constantly. 

Jacksonville is centrally located in the state, making it the ideal place to stay for those who want to explore Arkansas. Some of the state’s top attractions are just a short drive away from Jacksonville. Live entertainment can be found in the River Market District just to the southwest. They can head to the Clinton Library in downtown Little Rock for history buffs. Those looking to wind down and dine in Jacksonville should note that its municipal limits are ‘moist,’ meaning that it does not allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in stores. Still, some restaurants with permits are allowed to serve them. Jacksonville has something for anglers, with lakes and active waterways scattered throughout the city. It also has nearby access to the famous Arkansas River, located south.

Jacksonville Fishing

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With multiple lakes and rivers in and around Jacksonville, anglers won’t need to worry about finding a great fishing spot when they stay in the soaring city. Freshwater anglers have many opportunities to reel in plenty of game, whether from land or boat.

Thomas Lake is the largest lake found within the city. It can be found in the Little Rock Air Force Base, accessed through Arnold Drive. Its waters contain an array of freshwater species such as largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, longear sunfish, blue catfish, channel catfish, rainbow trout, and black crappie. As part of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s urban fishing program, the lake is annually stocked with rainbow trout in the winter and channel catfish in the summer. Bass species are the most popular and easiest to catch from the lake, but because the water has a lot of weeds, weedless hooks are commonly used. Anglers can go bank fishing from its shores or cast their line from the available piers and docks found on the east side. Boat ramps are also available for those who want to explore more of its waters. Any angler who wishes to fish from the lake must purchase a base permit attached to their Arkansas fishing license. This is to avoid the degradation and impairment of the environmental qualities of the area.

Paradise Lake is near the Little Rock Air Force Base, almost in the center of Jacksonville. A pond in Paradise Park is part of the AGFC Family and Community Fishing Program. Flathead catfish, channel catfish, blue catfish, largemouth bass, spotted bass, rainbow trout, black crappie, and bluegill are all present. The pond is known for its excellent catfish fishery because it receives regular fish stockings. A daily limit of five catfish is permitted to be caught and kept. Bank fishing can be done in the lake, but two piers are available. A boat launch ramp can be found by the pond as well. It also provides wheelchair access and is a great place for relaxing and fishing in a peaceful park. The park is open from 7 AM to 10 PM daily and is free for entry. Spinning and fly fishing are common ways to reel the lake’s game.

Another lake one can go to is Dupree Lake which is situated by Dupree Park and the Jacksonville Dog Park. Like Paradise Lake, Dupree Lake allows bank fishing because of its small size and wheelchair access. It also has a pier and a boat ramp area. Some fish in the lake are largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, white crappie, and spotted gar. This lake is great for anglers who want a more toned-down fishing experience. Simple baitcasting is an effective way to catch fish from its waters. 

Flowing along the south of Jacksonville is Rocky Branch. The stream possesses similar freshwater species found in the city’s lakes like largemouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, white crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, pumpkinseed, and creek chub. Its relatively shallow waters make it an excellent spot for wade fishing. The best places to catch fish from the flowing waters are where there are structures such as bridges. 

The AGFC and Jacksonville Parks and Recreation sponsor the Annual Youth Fishing Derby, held in June at the Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. Fishing enthusiasts aged 15 and under are invited, and admission is free. 


Top 10 Fish Species in Jacksonville, AR

The top 10 fish species found in Jacksonville, AR, are largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, rainbow trout, black crappie, white crappie, and redear sunfish.

Seasonal Fishing

Largemouth and spotted bass are best targeted in the spring from February through April. Bream fish and sunfish such as bluegill, redear sunfish, longear sunfish, and pumpkinseed are best caught in the morning and evening. When they spawn, there are plenty of opportunities to catch them in June and July. Catfish can be fished all year in Arkansas because most local lakes and ponds are stocked with them in the spring and fall. In the summer, Thomas Lake is packed with channel catfish. Rainbow trout require annual stockings in Arkansas, so the best time to hunt for them is during their scheduled stocking season. In Jacksonville, rainbow trout are loaded during the winter. Crappie spawning season is when one should fish for them. This can occur anytime between early March to the middle of May. Crappie prefer spawning in waters that are above 60 degrees. May and June are the prime months for those who want to reel in gar species.

Take a Jaunt Around Jacksonville

Jacksonville makes exploring Arkansas easy because of its opportunistic central location. The city has plenty to offer when it comes to historical, cultural, entertainment, and outdoor attractions.

1. Book a Fishing Charter

Arkansas, including Jacksonville, deems fishing a popular pastime. The city is riddled with lakes and is surrounded by major fishing spots that make booking a fishing charter beneficial. Anglers will have a more productive fishing trip if they book with a charter because they would receive expert and local knowledge. For areas that allow boat fishing, boat rental services can be acquired.

2. More Fun in the Water

Splash Zone offers recreation, exercise, and fun for all ages. The water park is another great way to have fun in the water while one is in Jacksonville. It is located at 201 W. Martin Street and is open every day from 12 NN to 6 PM. Admission to the park costs $5 for those aged two and over. 

3. Tour the Military Museum

The Jacksonville Museum of Military History was created to honor those who have served the country. Visitors can learn more about why Jacksonville played an important role in the country’s military during WWII and the present time. It is located at Veterans Circle in the Jacksonville Ordnance Plant administration building. The exhibits at the museum cover all major wars, including the Iraq and Gulf Wars. There are also interactive exhibits, memorabilia, and a research room. Admission ranges from $1 to $3, with discounts available for senior citizens, military veterans, and personnel.

Fish in Jacksonville and beyond.