Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide for the White River Arkansas
The White River tailwater below Bull Shoals Dam provides a wide variety of different
types of water. There are stretches of pocket water, long deep runs, shallow riffles, long
pools, flat water, rough water and just about everything in between. Trout measuring
between sixteen and twenty inches are very common. Brown trout are usually discussed
in terms of pounds rather than inches. There are four catch and release areas on the
river. They probably have the majority of the larger trout although they are found
throughout the length of the river.
The water levels control everything. The strategy you use depends almost entirely on
the amount of water being released through the dam. Normally, the first six months of
the year, the water runs high. This is when most anglers go to streamers. Sink tip and
sinking lines are sometimes used to help get the streamers down. In early May and June
the water is sometimes at a moderate level. This is a good time to fish the river using
During late June, July and August, the direct overhead sun makes catching the
nocturnal brown trout more difficult. You best opportunities come just past daybreak
and late in the afternoon and on into the evenings. During the summer and on into the
fall you will usually find the water levels are lower than normal. Low water makes for the
best dry fly fishing opportunities. Although there are few hatches of aquatic insects, you
can catch plenty of trout on terrestrial imitations such as hoppers, ants and beetles.
You will usually find the lowest water from September through December.
From late October on into January, the browns are spawning. They are much easier to
catch then but the trout should not be bothered when they are on their redds. This is
very unsportsmanlike and can hurt the success of the spawn. There are plenty of other
trout that can be caught during the spawn period without having to revert to trying to
catch them when they are on their redds.
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White River Arkansas