It’s not often that reality matches up with the hype that comes with fishing destinations – but Lake Atkins delivered for me. I’d heard a lot of talk about this up and coming “Big Bass” lake stocked with Florida strain bass in Arkansas, but had not fished there until just recently – and it was impressive.
Lake Atkins was recently the site of the 2015 Arkansas Kayak Anglers State Championship, bringing together qualifiers from local trails for a year end event. The lake is made up of expansive flats which vary from 5 to 12 feet deep, with a small deep end being 20-25 feet around the dam. Standing timber, both visible and submerged, litter the lake from end to end which provides underwater structure everywhere. In addition, much of the shoreline is ringed by cypress trees and small coves and cuts, providing excellent cover for bass. Good luck finding ditches or humps or ledges, because there aren’t many and they are subtle.
Pre-fishing was on a Saturday and Atkins was littered with a kayak fishing fleet determined to unlock the lake’s secrets. Almost all those fishing that day were catching good fish, including 7.6lb and 8lb hogs brought in by yak anglers. I did well that day with a Bandit crankbait and Yum plastics. A cold front came in on tournament day, changing the fishing dynamic and resulting in a tougher bite. Even so, one kayak angler hauled in a massive 24.5″ monster that didn’t even look real. What also impressed me was that good fish were being caught on multiple types of baits, which isn’t always the case on a tough, post-front day.
This lake is definitely worth more visits. Use caution and watch for stumps just below the surface when navigating the lake! Many kayaks were high centered and impaled through scuppers and more than one pedal-kayak was damaged from striking submerged timber. If you need a break, order a good burger or grab some tackle at Lucky Landing, located on the south side of the lake.