Arkansas Ozarks Fishing-Bull Shoals Lake-White River-North Fork-Buffalo-Norfork

Fish Attractor Projects

Look for these reflective signs when fishing the lakes.

Norfork Fish Cover Project: The developmental portion of the Norfork Fish Cover Project was begun in 1987 and completed in 1989. During 1991-1996, all sites received new cover, some twice. The maintenance portion of the project involves periodically sinking 10 bundles of trees at sites on a rotational basis and replacing stolen signs. This project continues to be one of our most productive and popular efforts.

Crappie in underwater brush pile

Bull Shoals Fish Cover Project: In 1989, a major habitat improvement project was initiated on Bull Shoals Lake. The project involved sinking trees at selected sites on a lakewide basis to create fish attractors. In July of 1993 the last of 400 attractors was sunk to complete the development phase of the project. Each site consists of 80 to 150 trees, depending on the size of trees. Trees average 4 inches in diameter and range in diameter from 3 to 16 inches. The trees are sunk in at least 30 bundles containing varying numbers of trees. The attractors cover a minimum area 30 feet wide by 300 feet long. In total, over 40,000 trees were sunk , improving fish habitat on 23 miles of shoreline and 80 acres of lake bottom. Currently, maintenance is being performed on the older sites by adding new cover (10 bundles) to each site. The developmental stage was funded through donations and matching federal aid. The maintenance stage uses state funds and matching federal aid. In 1996, approximately 50 sites received maintenance.

Installing one of some 900 brush pile attractors

Man-made fish cover in Bull Shoals Lake results from the largest freshwater fish cover project ever completed. In 1989, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission initiated a large-scale fish habitat enhancement project with the help of many local interests including area businesses, sportsman’s clubs, and individuals. The project involved the sinking of some 60,000 trees to create fish attractors at 400 sites on Bull Shoals Lake. The trees were cut from the shoreline, following Corps of Engineers guidelines, then sunk in bundles consisting of 1 to 5 trees (depending on tree size) with concrete anchors. The trees averaged 4 to 5 inches in diameter and ranged in size from 2 to 18 inches in diameter. Hardwoods were preferred but many cedars were also used. The bundles were dropped at a depth of 20 to 25 feet deep (630 to 635 feet above mean sea level) along a contour line roughly parallel to the shoreline. A reflective blue and white sign was attached to a tree on the shoreline to mark the location of a bundle of trees about in the center of the attractor (see photo of sign). Anglers or SCUBA divers can use these signs and sonar to locate the line of bundles.

The development stage of the Bull Shoals Lake fish cover project was completed in 1992. Since that time, new cover has been added to the sites on a rotational basis to maintain their attractiveness to fish. The project has improved angler catch rates on Bull Shoals Lake. Underwater observations have shown that the cover effectively attracts fish, especially black bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, and catfish.