Coal Pile is the most popular backwater for fishing for black bass in the lower Arkansas River. The winning fish from the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza, the largest tournament in Arkansas, often comes from this backwater.
But since 1970, an estimated 9,000 acres of backwater habitat has been lost to sedimentation on the Arkansas. Openings into Coal Pile filled with dirt and debris, making fish and boat passage difficult most of the time.
The Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership (SARP) estimates that the river has lost 9 percent of its total aquatic area from 1973 to 1999, much of that in backwater areas, which is critical for spawning and nursery habitat.
A recent Arkansas Game and Fish Commission project has deepened the canal leading from the river into the area, increasing access for anglers and improving fish passage.
This project will also alleviate safety issues arising from boats accessing the area at high speeds to avoid running aground.