Tag Archive: Lake Ouachita


Jet Skiing on Lake Hamilton

Hot Springs has¬†five lakes¬†in the area, with the main three being Lake Ouachita, Hamilton, and Catherine. Each have their own unique qualities and traits about them that sets them apart from the others. But, there is¬†one thing I know that they all¬†have in common, and that is that I would love to ride a jet ski on any and all of them…

¬†Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine are both man-made lakes created¬†by Arkansas Power and Light, Catherine was created in the 1920’s with the building of Remmel Dam, and Hamilton in 1932 with the creation of Carpenter Dam. The forming of these lakes combined with the thermal waters¬†really helped out with tourism in Hot Springs in the early years, and continues to draw people here today. Lake Ouachita is the largest lake within Arkansas’ boundaries encompassing 690 miles of shoreline and 40,000 acres of water. Ouachita is also a very frequented destination for scuba divers around the world, since the lake is so clean. I however, decided to ride the jet ski on Lake Hamilton…and I had a blast!

I hadn’t been on a jet ski, before yesterday, in 15+ years so it felt really good to get back on one. If you’ve never ridden a jet ski, then you definitely need to as soon as possible! Being on a jet ski is such a cool and unique experience because it is relatively small giving you a TON of maneuverability, while not giving up any power or speed. I was speeding by boats left and right while turning on a dime, and being able to get into much shallower water than a boat would. Jet skis are even powerful enough to sling around a loaded tube from the back of it. I’ve seen many people being thrown back forth across the wake of a jet ski, while desperately clinging to their tube!

There are many places to rent boats and watercrafts/toys on and around all the lakes around Hot Springs. I would suggest going to Salty Dog Boat & Jet Ski Rental for any of your Lake Hamilton needs. They’re in a great location and have great service.

In closing, if you haven’t ever ridden a jet ski on the lake, then you aren’t using the lake’s full fun potential. Get out there and do it! Enough said.

Contact: (501) 525-6400, www.saltydogboatingcenter.com

Location: Lake Hamilton, Hot Springs, 71913

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/

This past weekend was a first for me…It was the first time I had ever gone to the Blakely Dam on Lake Hamilton. My mom, who is a native of Hot Springs,¬†has always told me stories about the Blakely Dam, saying things like “My friends and I¬†used to dare each other to jump in the cold water.” Well, a few days ago I found out exactly what she was talking about.

Some good friends of our family came down to the Spa City to visit us recently, and even brought their boats so we could all go out on beautiful Lake Hamilton together. My girlfriend and I were excited about getting to go out on the lake and were anxious to jump in the water! That is however, until we jumped in the lake by our house and realized that the temperature of the lake was warmer than bath water. Yeah, not exactly what you would call refreshing on a hot summer’s day with the temperature ranging¬†in the mid 90’s. So, anyway, we swam around for a little while, constantly diving to the bottom to try to get a little cooler, until it was time to get in the boats and head toward the Blakely Dam.

The water was pretty choppy that day because it was the weekend, and during the weekend there are more boats on the water, the more boats there are on the water, the more choppy it becomes. But luckily, as we rode the watery rollercoaster towards the dam, the number of boats started to thin out. And, by the time we were about 5 min away from the dam, there were only a couple of boats within our sight, which meant the lake regained its smooth covering once again.

¬†Now,¬†we come to¬†the part in the story where you could cue in the scary music to start to play. As I looked ahead toward our quickly approaching¬†destination, skinny tendrils of fog began to creep up and around our boat! And, before I knew it, we were plunging bow first into a fog the likes of which¬†I have never seen! Our visibility must have been around 5 feet or so, because we couldn’t even make out the boat we were following. With the horn repeatedly blowing to warn other boats of our location, we made our way slowly through the foggy haze and into a little break in the fog.

After everyone in our group found each other, we all cut the engines and took in our surroundings. With fog rising up against the steep-sided banks and gnarled trees twisting out to touch the water, it really did look like a scene from a scary movie! At this point, everyone was already getting cooled off by the fog and we hadn’t even put a toe to the water yet. Needless to say, I reached down and felt the water with my hand…and was surprised to find that¬†it didn’t come out with icicles covering it! It was by far the coldest water I have ever felt, and growing up splashing around in the Spring river, that’s saying a lot. Well, of course we all had to “man-up” and jump in, and all I can say is, wow. I felt like I was in Alaskan waters!

To summarize my experience when I was at Blakely Dam, I felt like I was in another world. It seemed crazy to me that this was the same lake that I had just swam in a moment ago, and I was complaining because the water was too warm! I would highly recommend going to the Blakely Dam to anyone and everyone! If you are a visitor¬†or native¬†to Hot Springs and you haven’t been to the Blakely Dam, you need get on a boat and experience it for yourself. It is quite the adventure, and if you think you are “man” enough, dive right in…