Lake Ouachita Jim Collins Net Pen Area

Use of Lake Ouachita Nursery PondLake Ouachita Striped Bass StockingUse of Lake Ouachita Nursery Pond

Net pens on Lake Ouachita managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.The Jim Collins Net Pens located on Lake Ouachita are used by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission to grow various species of fish for stocking in Lake Ouachita as well as other Arkansas waters.
The Pens which are built in a cove of Lake Ouachita recently had hundreds of wild blue catfish eating the fish food that escapes the pens and have grown as large as 100 pounds.

The fish were eating about $200 worth of fish food each day, according to the AGFC warm water fish hatchery coordinator Don Brader.
They had learned to squeeze the net and push the food through the mesh so that it falls outside the pen.

They got fed twice a day so they don't have any reason to leave, he said. Since the net pens are located in areas where fishing is prohibited. We felt that the best way to get rid of these big catfish was to tray and move them to areas around the state where the public can catch them, Brader explained.

So the AGFC decided to capture the Big Blue Catfish that were tearing holes in the nets resulting in food and trout losses and move them into agency lakes around Arkansas and donating some to the Aquatic Resources Education Program.

Catfish harvest Lake Ouachita net pens.The AGFC stocked the following lakes with the Giant Blue Catfish:

  • Lake Pickthorne
  • Little Rock Aquatic Resources Education (A.R.E.) urban ponds
  • Lake Pine Bluff
  • Lake June
  • First Old River.
  • Millwood Tailwaters
  • Red River
  • Clear Lake
  • Irons Fork Lake
  • Cox Creek Lake
  • Lake DeGray
  • Little Missouri River
  • Lake Ouachita
  • Sugar Loaf
  • Hinkle
  • Horsehead
  • Jack Nolen
  • Carol Cross
  • Lake Lou Emma
  • Lake Ludwig
  • Craighead Forest Lake
  • White River at Batesville
  • Lock and Dam #1
  • Lake Norfork
  • Paris City Lake
  • Harris Brake
  • Lake Overcup
  • Lake Conway
  • Lake Barnett

Blue Catfish Broodstock Collecting:
By Jeff Quinn AGFC Biologist

Occasionally, I get a request from Jason Miller, the hatchery manager at Lonoke, to collect some broodstock catfish. This year they wanted big-blue catfish, and they asked for at least 20 fish from 20-to-40 pounds. It sounded like a really tough assignment, because he wanted the fish in March. I know how to catch tons of blues in cold weather; and, I knowhow to catch big blues once the water warms up; but, I thought this assignment was going to be really tough. Catching even one big blue greater than 20-pounds is not easy!
I contemplated using a rod and reel, but surmised it would be more fun than efficient. My first thought was to attempt sampling with gillnets in Lake Ouachita near the net pens. Big blues are attracted to the area. They push up on the pens and eat the feed that is intended for the trout. The net pen manager, Alex Gilbert, told me he has not had much of a problem with them the past couple of years, but said he saw them rising to the surface once in a while. He used to bait them into a pen to catch them, and occasionally they would stock them in the community fishing areas. I heard that other biologists had tried gill netting for them before, with no luck.
Catching big blues can be very wearing. However, I had some really nice large mesh nets that I thought would do the job. When we reached our destination, Carl Perrin and I looked around the bay (on Lake Ouachita) with the depth finder. At first we didn't see much, but we did see a few fish in one area, as this was the same area that Alex had seen them surface. Next, Carl and I began to set the first net. As he was putting out the net, I told him, seeing tons of big fish on the depth finder. Carl replied,  One just hit the net.  We put out four nets, and then decided to run them because we could see our tie-off lines on the bank jumping up-and-down. We started to run the first net, and quickly realized we were going to be there a long time getting fish out of the nets. We caught about 75 fish greater than 20 pounds that afternoon, with the largest weighing 86 pounds. Since our backs were getting sore, we probably released the two largest fish. All the fish that were caught were placed in a net pen, and the next day the Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery staff hauled the fish back to Lonoke. Some of the fish were given to Jimmy Barnett to be shown in the mobile aquarium. We worked a long, but very interesting 12-hour day.

Copyright All Rights Reserved

Lake Ouachita

Lake Ouachita Pictures

Camping Areas

Fishing Guides


Boat Ramps

Day Use Areas

Special Use Facilities


Lake Ouachita Citizen Focus Committee

Lake Ouachita Vegetation Control

Lake Ouachita
Nursery Pond

Small Mouth Bass

Site Map

Lake Ouachita Net Pens