So, what better thing to do in Hot Springs to highlight some unique attractions around the city than by going trophy fishing with a legit guide? Well, the answer is nothing…That’s why I chose to tag along with Captain John T. Hall as he went out on one of his famed trophy striper fishing expeditions.

My day started by waking up well before dawn, at 3:15 am. Needless to say, I’m not much of a morning person, so waking up this early was only going to happen for a chance to catch some trophy fish. Mr. Hall’s other customer for the day, Dave Wallace, and I were met by Mr. Hall and his tricked out fishing boat at 4:00 am at a McDonald’s fairly close to where we were going to be putting in. As soon as I met John T. Hall I knew it was going to be a good day. Mr. Hall’s old school personality and way of doing things was original and energizing, which is much-needed when you are up that early in the morning.

We saw a multitude of animals on our way to the lake, including many deer. When we made it to Lake Ouachita Mr. Hall backed his boat into the water, and drove his truck back up to the parking lot. Once we were all settled into the boat, we were off. We went to the first spot of the day, one of John’s “honey holes” as he calls them, which was in fact right beside the Blakely Dam (if you don’t know about the Blakely Dam, feel free to read what I thought of my experience while I was there). Mr. Hall loaded up 7 rods and reels with some live shad (I’m sad to say the shad that we were using as bait were about the same size as a fish I would’ve caught on my own), cast them into the dark water, and thus begun our waiting game.

We didn’t have to wait too long before one of the rods began to dip low in the water and let out line furiously! Mr. Hall yelled to Dave to grab the rod and reel like his life was at stake. After a hard-fought battle, Dave’s fish finally breached the surface, a 12 pound monster over 2 feet long, where it was netted by Mr. Hall’s oversized net, big enough to fit two of me inside it. From that point on, we did some major damage to the school of fish surrounding our boat, as we hauled in 4 more fish, all weighing over 10 pounds.

The fishing itself was pretty uneventful after that as we moved to a few different “honey holes” which didn’t prove to be as sweet as the first. Although the fish throughout the rest of the day weren’t keeping us entertained, Mr. Hall did a great job making sure we weren’t bored. Whether it be through one of his many stories, feeding the blue heron with some dead shad, or giving us historical information and facts about the lake, Mr. John kept us interested when there was no fish activity. He even provided complimentary drinks and snacks aboard his vessel.

I would definitely go on another fishing trip with Mr. John T. Hall, and guarantee that anyone with him would have a great time on the lake with him, fish or no fish. But, with somebody who previously held the state record for striper, a ginormous 53 pounds, the latter is almost a given.

Location: 120 Waggoner Hot Springs, 71913

Contact: (501) 622-9972, www.fishing-boating.com/trophy-striper/

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