Those who know me best know I moved to Hot Springs Village to catch fish. Fishing has been a passion of mine since Dad and his brother took me fishing on Illinois and Wisconsin lakes and rivers when I was a little boy. Their passion became mine.
Some of the best times were when Dad and I would go to Canada chasing his favorite species – walleye. I was more of a bass enthusiast, but being with him was the main goal of the trips. Oh, and those shore lunches. Yum.
I’ve lived here 12 years and got my first taste of walleye fishing in Arkansas earlier this month when lakes committee chairman Bill Goodwin invited me to come along with him to fish with Lake Ouachita guide Hugh Albright. So it was off to Lake Ouachita and on the water by 6 a.m.
Albright fishes out of Shangri La Resort near Mount Ida and was there and ready when we pulled in to the marina area. With the sun not yet up over the treetops, we headed for the first of several locations Albright had on his itinerary.
We struck out at that first spot but at the next few caught a few walleyes. I was amazed at how he could fly down the lake and almost stop on a dime at another brush pile location. Albright said at this time the walleyes are not necessarily in the brush, but are around the brush. Every place we stopped showed numerous fish on his sonar unit. Albright said he usually catches two or three in one spot and then moves on. His biggest walleye to date is a whopper, a 9-pound, 12-ounce beauty.
During the four-hour trip under bright sun, calm winds and mid-90-degree temperatures, we caught other species too, as we jigged spoons and tried live nightcrawlers on slip-floats and on drop shot-like rigs. Channel catfish, big bream, largemouth and Kentucky spotted bass and a few white bass also came aboard his 20-foot Bass Cat boat.
Albright, who used to be former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s personal fishing guide, also fishes for bass, crappie and bream. All our fish and many other bites came in at least 25 feet of water, near or on points. “Try any of the points that have brush on them,” Albright said.
After fishing we just had to make a stop at the resort’s café, where those famous pies are made by manager Varine Carr. I can personally vouch for the banana cream pie. Honestly, I almost had a second piece, but was too embarrassed to ask for it.
The resort is located at 987 Shangri La Road, 24 miles west of Hot Springs. Their number is 870-867-2011.
To contact Albright, call 501-282-5461. For one or two people he charges $300, plus gas, for a four- to five-hour trip.