The White River in northern Arkansas is the premier fishery in all of Arkansas. The White River is a 722-mile (1,162 km) river that flows through the Arkansas and Missouri. Originating in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas, flowing northwards through southern Missouri before turning back into north central Arkansas, flowing southeast to its mouth at the Mississippi River.
Despite being much shorter than the Arkansas River, it carries nearly as much water—normally more than 20,000 cubic feet per second, and occasionally more than 100,000 cubic feet per second during periods of flooding.
Construction of the dams began in the 1940’s. The water flowing from the base of the dams were too cold to support the native smallmouth bass and sunfish population, so trout were introduced to restore the fishery. The White River has also been surveyed and is revered as one of the top 20 rivers in the entire country.
The river can be broken up by three distinct tailwaters, Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake.
Beaver Lake Tailwater
The Beaver Lake Tailwater was created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Beaver Dam in 1966.
There is approximate 7 miles of trout fishing from the Beaver dam before it dumps into Table Rock Lake. The dominant species in this section are rainbow trout and brown trout.
The Beaver Lake Tailwater can be fished year round, but flows can change due to the amount of water discharging from the dam.
Beaver Lake Tailwater Map
Bull Shoals Tailwater
The Bull Shoals Tailwater was created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Bull Shoals Dam in 1952. This section is the most famous, and is usually what people are referring to when they talk about the White River. Bull Shoals Lake is the largest of the reservoirs and offers roughly 90 miles of trout fishing below the dam.
Experimental stockings of rainbow trout and brown trout demonstrated exceptional survival and growth. Regular stockings of these two species began in 1955. The AGFC manages trout fisheries in the White River from Bull Shoals Dam to the Arkansas Highway 58 Bridge at Guion.
Summer opportunities for dry fly fishing become more accessible. Caddis, terrestrials, mayflies, and sulfur flies will be the main patterns to use. Fall and Winter fishing can be spectacular for large browns; however, we highly discourage targeting spawning brown trout that are on redds.
Prime fishing months
April - June : Caddis Hatch
July - October : Terrestrials/Hoppers
December - March : Streamer
Bull Shoals Lake Tailwater Map
Bull Shoals Lake Tailwater Cont.
Norfork Lake Tailwater
The Norfork Lake Dam is on the North Fork of the White River. Construction of the dam began in 1941 and was completed in 1944. An experimental stocking of 600 fingerling rainbow trout in 1948 was conducted to see if the tailwater was suitable for trout. Brown trout were then introduced into the river in 1949. By the early 1950's the Norfork River started to be known throughout the area for its trout fishing.
The Norfork River is the shortest trout stream in Arkansas at less than 5 miles long. The river flows from Norfork Lake to its confluence with the White River 44 miles downstream from Bulls Shoal Lake. Trout from the White River will navigate up the Norfork River for cooler water temperatures creating the opportunity to catch trophy size trout.