By Jim Harris
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
DIERKS — Jackie Jones, a lifelong resident of Dierks (Howard County) in southwestern Arkansas, has taken note of the young boys walking around town with rod-and-reel in hand, knowing they face limited opportunities for fishing: They have a 6-mile walk to fish the Saline River, or a 4-mile trek the Army Corps of Engineers’-owned Dierks Lake. A meandering small creek is close enough to fish in, he says. And less than a mile outside of town is Dierks City Lake, 47 acres that is owned by Weyerhaeuser Co. and has had monitored access over the years.
But now, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has entered into a lease agreement with Weyerhaeuser for public fishing access here in the Ouachita Mountains east of town, and Jones is hoping it will soon be “a showplace” as a local fishery.
“I think one of the biggest improvements will be that it will be patrolled and monitored by the (AGFC),” Jones said. “I’m really excited for the future of it. I’d like to see the youngsters and the older people, where they can go and stand a chance of catching some fish.
“When boys are 12, this is close enough they can have access to and have somewhere to fish.I feel the AGFC will manage the pond better for fishing, maybe stock it, see what’s in there.”
Jones, now 67 and owner of Jones Industrial Services, which contracts with Weyerhaeuser, recalls fishing the pond when he was in his teens. The pond, he says, dates to around 1918-19 when it was built to provide water for Dierks Lumber and Coal Co. Weyerhaeuser bought that firm in the 1960s, and in later years it built a newer mill and used water from the Corps’ Dierks Lake.
Statewide fishing regulations will apply to the pond, Hann said. “Historically this lake has been great for bass and bream fishing.”
Jones remembers the pond as home to bass, catfish, crappie and bream, yet now, “to what degree I have no idea.” The parents of his best childhood friend at one time were caretakers of the pond.
Dylan Hann, an AGFC Fisheries regional supervisor, said the lake hasn’t been sampled by biologists, but “I have been there a few times. While walking around the lake we saw a lot of bream and a few bass at first glance along the water’s edge.
“We hope to improve the access area on the southwest corner of the lake with a gravel parking lot and a concrete boat ramp soon.”
A gate to access the lake is at its southwest corner.
Jones said some locals broached the idea with Weyerhaeuser that the pond could be put to use as a fishery.
“Fortunately, Weyerhaeuser and the Game and Fish saw it the same way,” he said. “Weyerhaeuser was all for it. The Game and Fish seemed to be all for it. The last four or five years, it seemed the tide had turned.” It just took time to negotiate for a deal to be put in place.
“It definitely looks like it will be a positive for the area,” Jones said. “It’s a beautiful pond, lots of opportunities, close to Dierks, less than a mile from the city limits. It’s something that was really needed in this area.”