White River (Bull Shoals Dam)

Brian Greer on the White River with a nice high water brown trout.

Brian Greer on the White River with a nice high water brown trout.

Description of Water

The White River is a tailwater that begins below the Bull Shoals Lake Dam. The waters of the White River is considered to be one of the best trophy Brown trout fisheries in the world. The White River is bigger water than the normal Ozark wade fisherman is used to encountering. While walk-in access points are available, there are several spots that are reachable only by boat. The public access points along the river are somewhat limited because the adjoining land is privately owned, but over the course of the 92 miles of its cold trout waters there are 25 public access points (many with boat ramps) for the public to use.

The White River is a tailwater where dreams are made of.  Every cast presents an opportunity to hook a trophy trout.  The river boats several 20lb brown trout caught every year, and every once in awhile a 30lb fish is landed.  My first experience on the White River came years ago, and I made several trips to the river before I actually got to fish it as it would seem that during my first 3 trips to the river they were always generating water (and the White River does not lend itself to a fly fisherman that doesn’t have a boat during periods of generation).  But when I finally got to fish the river, I knew that I would be back.  During my first wade trip, I remember seeing two brown trout approaching 30″ in the water, in two separate places and from that point on I was hooked.

The visiting fisherman must keep his eye on the water level when wading, and it is common practice to warn other anglers of rising water.  During my first wade trip, I got caught by rising water and had to wade out in pace that I will never forget.  I was caught near Wildcat Shoals Access and the river came up fast (so fast in fact, that the front tires of my truck were in the water up to the hubs by the time I got back to it) and I was forced to cross some cuts walking downstream where I would litterally step off of waist deep water and let the current carry me downstream until my feet would catch again sort of moon-walking back to the access.  It was a wade trip, I don’t ever care to re-enact.  So be sure to pay attention to generation schedules and water levels when fishing this river.

If they are generating water, the best way to fish this river is by boat in one of the White River Jon Boats that many of the guides run on the water or in a drift boat.  You can often get away from crowds on this river, when you have access to a boat.  Fly-fishing out of a boat is actually quite enjoyable and a great way to see the ozarks.  Don’t sit in your cabin during periods of generation, get access to a boat and hit the river.

Popular Access Points

  1. Jim Griffin Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  2. Fores & Nina Wood State Park Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  3. Bull Shoals State Park Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  4. Gastons Public Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  5. White Hole Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 7 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  6. The Narrows Walk-In Access (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  7. Wildcat Shoals Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 11 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  8. Cotter Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 16.8Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  9. Rim Shoals Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 21 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  10. Rim Shoals Walk-In Access (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  11. Ranchette Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 26.5 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  12. Buffalo City Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 30 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  13. Oliver Smith Picnic Area Walk-In Access (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  14. Cartney Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 34.5 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  15. Cartney Walk-In Access (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  16. Shipps Ferry Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 36.3 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  17. Norfork Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 42.3 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
  18. Red’s Landing Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 49 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
    2. 11.5 Miles Down Stream From Norfork Dam
  19. Chesmond Ferry Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 56.6 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
    2. 19.1 Miles Down Stream From Norfork Dam
  20. Calico City Park Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 59.6 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
    2. 22.1 Miles Down Stream From Norfork Dam
  21. Optimus Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 69.8 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
    2. 32.3 Miles Down Stream From Norfork Dam
  22. Mount Olive Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  23. Sylamore Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 76.7 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
    2. 39.2 Miles Down Stream From Norfork Dam
  24. Round Bottom Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
  25. Guion Access with Boat Ramp (Google Earth Download) (Garmin Waypoint Download)
    1. 89.4 Miles Down Stream From Bull Shoals Dam
    2. 51.9 Miles Down Stream From Norfork Dam

Maps of Stream

  1. Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Map of the White River (Bull Shoals Dam)

Recommended Fly Patterns

  1. Tungsten BH WoolyBugger (Size: 8)(Color: Black, Olive, or Brown)
  2. Crackleback (Size: 16)(Color: Sulphur or PMD)
  3. Trout Crack (Size: 18)(Color: Tan, Olive, or Grayl)
  4. Tungsten B.H. Zebra Midge (Size: 18)(Color: Olive, Clear, Black, Brown)
  5. Tungsten BH CopperHead Midge (Size: 18)(Color: Rust)

Stream Specific Links

  1. US Army Corp of Engineers Water Generation Current Flow Information
  2. Weather.com Weather Forecast for Area (Mountain Home, AR)

Photos of Stream

2009-10-03pic016(resized) 2009-04-19pic035(resized) 2008-10-19pic010(edited)(resized) 2007-11-13pic022(DavidStinnettPhoto)(resized) 2007-11-13pic015(DavidStinnettPhoto)(resized)
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