Josh Williams needed more than his fingers and toes to count the number of trout he caught during a morning of fishing at Lake Bentonville.
"I'm here almost every day. All I do is fish, fish fish," the angler from Bentonville said. Trout No. 25 for the morning put a deep bend in his fishing rod. "Oh dude, this is a big one."
The small lake is one of several across the state the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocks with trout for winter fishing.
Trout are part of the agency's Family and Community Fishing Program. Trout are stocked in November when the water temperature dips enough for cold-water trout to survive. In the spring, once the water warms above 70 degrees, channel catfish are stocked.
Lakes in the region received their last trout stocking for the season Feb. 23, according to the Game and Fish trout stocking information "hot line," (866) 540-3474.
Northwest Arkansas lakes that have trout are Lake Bentonville, Lake Springdale, Murphy Park pond in Springdale, Shaw Family Park in Springdale and Lake Atalanta in Rogers. River Valley lakes are Carol Ann Cross pond, Torraine Lake and Wells Lake, all in Fort Smith and Van Buren Municipal Pond. All received trout Feb. 23 except Torraine Lake, which was last stocked on Dec. 14, 2022.
At Bella Vista, the Bella Vista Property Owners Association stocks trout at Lake Brittany. Trout are purchased by the POA from a private fish hatchery. Fishing in all Bella Vista lakes is open only to POA members and their guests.
While Williams catches trout with lures, legions of others fish with Berkley Power Bait. It's a prepared scented trout bait that comes in nuggets for easy threading on a hook or in dough form.
Lewelu Iona of Springdale and his son, also named Lewelu, 12, had three trout on their stringer at Murphy Park on a Saturday in January. All were caught with Power Bait.
The senior Lewelu knows first hand when the fishing is hot.
"I drive by the park all the time, and sometimes I see the fish truck bringing trout. Otherwise if there are a lot of people fishing I know the pond has been stocked. A lot of people post it on Facebook when it gets stocked," he said.
Lakes in the community fishing program are stocked with trout about once a month November through February.
Across town at Lake Springdale, Salvador Landaverde of Springdale said the catching at that lake ranges from good to slow.
"The fishing is good right after they stock. Word gets out and so many people fish that fishing gradually gets slower until the lake is stocked again," he said.
Up the highway in Bella Vista, Ed Daugherty was working on his limit of five trout Jan. 27 at Lake Brittany. A jar of Power Bait nuggets was in his tackle box.
"You can use orange or green," he said. "I use a small hook and 2-pound test line. You can use 4- or 6-pound test, but I think you catch more fish with 2-pound line. I've only fished here twice this winter, and I've caught limits both times."
With thousands of trout stocked in late February, there's plenty of time in March while the water is still cold to catch a fish dinner.