In the tranquil wilderness of northern Arkansas lies a honey pot of river fishing. A mecca to all anglers, this portion of the White River is located by the Bull Shoals Dam and is home to several monster brown trout that feast upon the baitfish that get churned up from the hydro generation. This trout haven was my next fishcation and bucket list adventure.
A long weary 10 hour drive from West Central Georgia through multiple states and 2 hours of sleep couldn’t stop me from dropping my line in this cold wet fishtopia of trout. Within 10 minutes, my simple Berkley lighting light rod setup with 7 pound test line and nightcrawler on number 8 hook began to twitch. I had my first but far from my last trout bite on this week long White River Adventure. FYI, I caught that stocker size Rainbow.
The bulk of the trip was chartered with Cranor’s guide service out of Gassville, Arkansas. Captain Cranor is a master brown trout fisherman that has fished the White River all his life since a teenage boy, and he can put you on some big fish. Our group was averaging 17 quality browns a day and by-catching tons of rainbow trout with a cutthroat or two mixed in the rest.
The first day was a dreary winter forecast as we pulled up to the Cotter boat ramp. We were fishing with minnows for the trout and the key was to feed the fish to the trout if the bite was happening. As the minnow casted from our boat swam, my rod tip began to dance so slightly with a curl. The grey skies and cool temperature were all background noise as I let my open face reel feed line to the greedy fish. Cranor instructed me to close the bail after 20 seconds of line feeding, an eternity in my mind. With the tip in the air, I slowly lowered my rod to relieve the tension. The clever browns will let go if they feel any line tension. As the rod tip was level with the horizon, I waited for the line to tense up one more time. The tip bent slightly, and I set the hook!
The fish swam hard to get away from me, but I let the drag handle the work. As the fish stopped, I took each foot of line he stole from me. Bringing the fish closer to the boat, it began to run again making the drag whine like a spoiled brat. I continue the dance with my stubborn partner and took more line into the boat. The fish broke surface and it was a brown. A beautiful brown with colors and spots that decorated the fish’s boats like exotic prints. As the battle continued
, Cranor readied the net and dipped it in the ice cold water. The Brown sprinted at the sight of the net but was cut short by it’s own exhaustion. I took the line back that the brown stole and Cranor dipped the fish in the net.
Each day of fishing was filled with moments like these. With variety of setups from jigging, bait fishing and walking jerk baits, the fish were caught with ease. The White River was truly an angler’s paradise.
After fishing three days with a guide, our group ventured on our own. I waded in the ice cold river with my light rod setup and shot this video to show the ease of hooking up with a rainbow on the White River.
For more information on Cranor’s Guide service, check out his Facebook page here.