Sunrise panfish serenade
Anglers come to Lake Hindsville for the bass, return for bluegill.
Hefty black bass swim in the depths of little Lake Hindsville, but bluegill can be the real prize during summertime fishing.
Two trips to Lake Hindsville proved it’s so. Bass were the focus of the first visit in early June. Top-water lures splashed their siren song at sunrise across the tiny lake, followed by spinner baits and plastic worms as the sun climbed. The effort produced one teeny largemouth bass.
A small white jig was a last resort. Nary a bass fell for it, but the jig worked to catch two eye-popping bluegill the size of porcelain pie plates.
Is Lake Hindsville a panfish paradise?
“Next trip we’re bringing worms and crickets,” vowed one of the bass fanatics.
A second trip to the lake on June 16 found Rich Brya of Rogers and a fishing buddy armed with crickets, worms, small gold hooks and bobbers. The bass stuff was left at home. It was bluegill or bust.
Optimism ran high on the drive to the lake in west Madison County, midway between Springdale and Huntsville, off U.S. 412. Brya planned how he was going to cook the tasty bluegill we were sure to catch. A cooler of ice to keep our fish was in the truck bed.
The gravel lane to Lake
Hindsville goes south from U.S. 412. Turn right at the first intersection and drive a short way to the gravel launch site. There’s not a boat ramp, but it’s suitable for launching canoes, kayaks and small boats. Brya slid a canoe into water that was smooth as tile this humid summer morn. It was a Friday and no one else was in sight.
First stop was where the two slab- sized bluegill bit on visit No. 1 near the Lake Hindsville dam. Brya threaded a gob of worms on his gold hook and attached a round bobber four feet above the bait. His buddy used lively cricket.
“It’s been years since I’ve fished with a bobber,” Brya said. They stared at their floats, motionless in the water, until their eyes watered.
Ice melted in the empty cooler. The sun climbed high and still no fish. Talk turned to going home, but another try on the upper end of the lake seemed in order.
This time Brya’s float disappeared and his ultralight spinning rod quivered. He swung a bluegill larger than a linebacker’s hand into the canoe. Optimism returned. So did the fish. Two more bluegill took the bait, followed by a nice-sized redear, another prized panfish that looks like a bluegill.
By 10 a.m., a half dozen big bluegill were on ice. Brya tossed that many smaller ones back. All were caught with worms, none on crickets.
Lake Hindsville is more of a “plake,” half pond and half lake. The reservoir varies in size as the water level goes up
and down depending on rain.
“At full pool it’s only about 15 acres,” said Kevin Hopkins, fisheries biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He and biologist Jon Stein manage the lake.
“We did some electrofishing over there in April and shocked up 95 bass in 30 minutes. The biggest was 20 inches,” Stein said. He calls the bass population “fairly decent.”
“We didn’t keep track of the bluegill,” he said, “but we got a bunch and got some big readear, too.”
Game and Fish stocks channel catfish at Lake Hindsville. Black bass and bluegill reproduce well enough on their own that no stocking is needed, Stein said. There are few, if any, crappie.
Fishing can be good at the small lake that has a rich history. Lake Hindsville was built in 1949 and is the first lake completed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Lake Conway was the first lake authorized by Game and Fish, but it wasn’t finished until 1951, according to a 2013 story by the late Joe Mosby on the Arkansas News website.
The postmaster in Huntsville in 1949, Orval Faubus, convinced Game and Fish to build Lake Hindsville so there would be a fishing lake in Madison County. Faubus was also an Arkansas highway commissioner in 1949.
Later, as governor, he was successful in getting Withrow Springs State Park built north of his hometown of Huntsville.
More than 55 years later, fish still bite at Lake Hindsville. The shoreline is mostly wooded so there isn’t much bank fishing available. It’s ideal for casting from a canoe or kayak, or just visiting for a nice peaceful paddle around a pretty, secluded lake.
Sunrise is ideal for fishing Lake Hindsville by canoe or kayak. The reservoir varies in size with the water level and is about 15 acres at full pool.
Rich Brya of Rogers catches a bluegill. A half dozen big bluegill were caught by 10 a.m., all with worms.
Plump, hard-fighting bluegill had an appetite for worms late in June at Lake Hindsville in western Madison County. Fishing that day was better on the upper end of the lake.