Avoid the crowds by going to the lesser known waters

LITTLE ROCK, Ar (AGFC) - When spring arrives, many Arkansas anglers complain about crowded conditions on lake hotspots.

Others move their action, shifting strategies a bit. They head for the pools and other smaller waters.

Once upon a time, fishing in the state used two venues - one, rivers and streams; two, oxbow and cutoff lakes, natural lakes. Then man built impoundments for one purpose or another, and our fishing focus shifted.

The streams are still out there. Rivers are altered, like the Arkansas River interrupted by a series of dams but much more accessible for fishing now than 40 years ago.

Pools in little creeks and streams are definite possibilities most anytime for some productive fishing.

All parts of Arkansas have these hidden fishing spots - the flatlands, the Ozarks, the Ouachitas, the piney woods. Pick out a stream, maybe close to a camping spot, and go exploring. Take along light fishing gear - light or ultralight rod and reel with 6-pound line. Take some small lures or tiny lures, small hooks and live bait. Take a fly fishing rig if that is in your arsenal of fishing weapons.

Fishing the pools of small streams usually means working on foot, not from a boat. Naturally, the techniques and approaches on mountain creeks aren't the same as fishing a bayou in east Arkansas flatlands.

One constant, however, is to be quiet and go slow.

Fish don't have visible ears, but they can hear. They can hear quite well, and an unusual noise, like a rock dislodging or clicking against another can send the fish into hiding for long enough that the angler gives up and moves on.

Shallow places in a creek, shoals, rapids or even dry areas, will be interspersed with pools. Few streams are flat; even the sluggish bayous and sloughs of eastern Arkansas have deeper areas and more shallow areas.

Approach a pool slowly and quietly. Look for hidey holes, like shadowy spots under a ledge. Look for drop-offs in the water. Look around the head of the pool, the place just downstream from a shallow area or shoals. Fish these first - slowly and attentively.

In all likelihood, you won't come up with a dinner-plate-size bream or a four-pound smallmouth bass. But you just might hook into enough green sunfish and other species to complete an interesting and fulfilling day or fishing.

Most fishermen have some degree of explorer in them. They like to find new places to pursue their hobby or sport. Largemouth bass fishermen especially are prone to hook up a boat and pull it hundreds of miles to fish a lake they have never seen before but have heard or read about.

Late summer stream fishing may run counter to this line of thought. Your chances are better on a creek you have some knowledge about, probably a creek near home. At least, you are likely to know places you can park a vehicle and walk or scramble down a bank to the water. You may know where you can wade or work around the edge of a pool then come out and walk back to the vehicle.

If such knowledge is absent or sketchy, a little homework can help. Call around, ask about fishing on Caney Creek or whatever the nearby stream is called. Check at a bait shop. Better, try to talk someone into letting you tag along if the creek is completely new to you.

The opportunities are out there.