All daily sportfish limits and length limits on Lake Monticello for all species of fish have been removed.

The limit removal is part of an emergency proclamation the executive director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission issued because of the City of Monticello’s recent decision to drain the lake. The lake is being drained so the city can repair its dam, of which portions have been sagging, indicating possible structural issues. 

An AGFC official said the commission is removing all limits in advance of the draining so that fishers can take advantage of the lake’s resources before they are depleted. 

“With the water level dropping and high water temperature, we will see a fish kill at Lake Monticello,” AGFC Assistant Chief of Fisheries Jason Olive said. “We want people to be able to use those fish instead of them going to waste.”

Though the limits have been removed, other regulations — including the requirement for a fishing license — will still be in place, Olive said.

When the city’s work is done, the AGFC will do its part to improve the lake as it returns to pool, he said.

“Lake Monticello was once the place to go if you were looking for big bass or excellent crappie fishing, but it’s well past its peak in that regard,” Olive said.

“While it is drained, we are going to remove all undesirable species from standing water and the creek channel and start with a clean slate. We’ve done habitat work at Monticello in the past, but this will enable us to do much more once the lake is drained and we are able to see what steps we can take to improve the fishery for the future.”

Lake Levee Road has been closed to all traffic since July 15, and the levee was inspected by geologists and engineers to determine the extent of the damage to the dam. 

A 2017 repair of the dam following a partial drawdown of the lake at that time was not successful. The city has opened the spillway to alleviate pressure on the dam until it can be repaired. 

For more information, contact the AGFC’s Monticello Regional Office at 877-367-3559.

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