2022 Bull Shoals Lake Large-scale Habitat Project Completed

December 19, 2022
Fishing Industry News

Research has shown reservoirs or lakes with high-quality fish habitats tend to have excellent spawns, high survival of young, and fast growth. However, due to aging, having consistent quality habitat from year to year within reservoirs or lakes is rare. As these water bodies age, fish habitat quality decreases, leading to declines in fisheries. That said, AGFC has prioritized conserving, restoring, and enhancing aquatic habitats in reservoirs and lakes throughout the state.

In 1989, AGFC biologists initiated a lake-wide fish habitat project on Bull Shoals Lake in response to angler concerns about declining fishing quality. The goal was to install natural fish habitat (i.e., brush piles) to significantly improve angler catch rates by concentrating sportfish during summer, fall, and winter when these species were historically widely dispersed. With the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approval, AGFC has established 425 natural fish habitat sites on the Arkansas portion of Bull Shoals Lake.

AGFC staff have refreshed many fish habitat sites on Bull Shoals Lake that have deteriorated over time. For example, in 2017, the AGFC completed a large-scale habitat project on the lower end of the lake, replenishing 95 existing habitat sites. In addition, AGFC staff refreshed an additional 30 existing sites during a small-scale project completed in early 2018. From 2018 to 2022, AGFC staff periodically refreshed habitat sites at the upper end of the lake. 

Most recently, the AGFC completed another large-scale habitat project in the middle section of the lake during the first two weeks of December 2022. This time, biologists from multiple AGFC divisions, along with staff from the USACE and US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Norfork Fish Hatchery, replenished 128 existing fish habitat sites from Mountain Creek to Music Creek. This recent effort was part of a larger project covering Beaver, Bull Shoals, and Norfork Lakes, funded by a $275,000 grant from the National Fish Habitat Partnership using funds donated by Bass Pro Shops. Habitat coordinates for Bull Shoals Lake will be updated and available in 2023.