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In the beautiful Natural State, at least 215 species of fish live in our rivers, lakes, springs, creeks and streams. Since Arkansas has a wide variety of eco-regions, it provides more habitats for fish to thrive. Within the Ozarks, River Valley, Ouachitas, Coastal Plain and Crowley’s Ridge in the Delta, there are 197 native species of fish. Many fish that now live in the waters of the natural state were born in hatcheries to be then introduced into the waters for food, vegetation or bait.
Here is part one (of two) of your guide to Arkansas Fish!
A jawless fish with a sucking mouth on one end, they are eel-like.
Size: 6.3 in
Weight: 2.2 g
Habitat: Juveniles can be found in quiet areas near the edge of a stream. Adults will live in flowing water that is clear, this is where they will build their nests for spawning.
Food: Plankton and decaying organic matter
Range: Upland streams of the White River and in the upper tributaries of the Arkansas, Little and Ouachita rivers. They can also be found in some lowland streams in southwest Arkansas.
Angular (5-sided) body that is torpedo-shaped.
Size: 10.5 – 27.1 in
Weight: 1 1/2 – 2 lbs
Habitat: Tend to hang out in shallow areas near deep river channels. They can be seen on sand or gravel bars around strong currents.
Food: Small aquatic insects, mollusks and worms that live on the river bottom.
Range: Large rivers like Arkansas, Mississippi, Red and Lower White.
Size: Averages about 5 ft or can get to 87 in
Weight: 110 lbs
Habitat: Slightly out of the current near main river channels, using backwater as their summer home.
Range: Large rivers like the White, Arkansas, Ouachita and Red, but can also be found in some tributaries.
Size: Average 6 1/2 ft
Weight: 100 – 160 lbs
Habitat: Sluggish pools and backwater areas of big rivers.
Food: Fish and spawns
Range: Mississippi, Arkansas and Red Rivers, but sometimes found in the lower St. Francis, White and Ouachita.
Size: 30 in
Weight: 8 1/2 lbs
Habitat: Rivers, oxbow lakes and swamps in Arkansas’s lowlands.
Range: Arkansas River Valley and major drainages of the Coastal Plain lowlands.
Family: Freshwater Eel
Size: 24-36 in
Weight: 1-3 lbs
Habitat: Deep pools of large rivers and streams that are around covers like logs and boulders. It can be found in smaller streams as well.
Food: Dead fish, crustaceans and other organisms
Range: Large rivers
Size: 6-8 in
Weight: 1-8 oz
Habitat: Large, open waters, and they prefer deep, calm water
Food: Zooplankton and phytoplankton
Range: Large rivers and impoundments
Size: 11.7 in
Weight: 8 oz
Habitat: Clear waters above firm river bottoms
Food: Aquatic insects, crayfish, mollusks and fish
Range: Arkansas, White, Black, Little Red, Strawberry, Spring, Current and Ouachita Rivers.
Size: 20-30 in
Weight: 2-16 lbs
Habitat: Rainbow Trout have mostly been raised in hatcheries in Arkansas.
Food: Crustaceans, aquatic insects and fish
Range: They are introduced in cold tailwaters below dams like the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. Some are placed into springs like Mammoth Spring.
Size: 6-15 in
Weight: 1-5 lbs
Habitat: Covers like logs and boulders that protect them from the current.
Food: Insects and crustaceans
Range: Introduced in the cold tailwaters of dams in the Ozarks or large springs.
Size: 2 ft
Weight: 2-4 lbs
Habitat: Not very abundant in Arkansas waters, although they can be seen in clear water near vegetation.
Food: Fish, especially sunfish
Range: Streams and lakes in the coastal lowlands of the Delta, Arkansas River Valley and foothills of the Ouachitas and Ozarks.
This guide was completed with the help of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s “Arkansas Fish” booklet. You can get your own booklet by contacting the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission on their website or calling (833) 345-0325.
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