Sun­rise pan­fish ser­e­nade

An­glers come to Lake Hindsville for the bass, re­turn for bluegill.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - FLIP PUT­THOFF

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUT­THOFF

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUT­THOFF

Rich Brya of Rogers catches a bluegill. A half dozen big bluegill were caught by 10 a.m., all with worms.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUT­THOFF

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.

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