In the Ozark Mountain Region, trout fishing is the stuff of legends, but these aren’t just big fish stories; let the record state that the White and North Fork rivers are home to some of the best rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout you’ll find anywhere.
The Arkansas state record rainbow trout, weighing in at 19 pounds, 1 ounce, was pulled from the White River. The White also produced a near wold-record brown trout at 38.7 pounds in 2015, while the North Fork produced a 38.9 pound brown trout in 1988. The current state record cutthroat (9 pounds, 9 ounces) was also caught on the White. Recently, this 16 lb brown trout was caught at Stetson’s on the White River.
This river used to be a warm water haven for smallmouth bass and other warm water species until the Bull Shoals Lake Dam was built in the 1950s, turning it into a cold-water river and made it home to some of the world’s best trout fishing. The White River is what it is today because of the efforts of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery that has been stocking trout on the White and North Fork rivers since 1955. The White River is stocked with nearly 1.5 million rainbow trout each year.
While sports fishermen travel from far and wide to catch a big one, people also visit to enjoy the beauty of the area with its lush forests, clear-running streams and towering limestone bluffs. Riverside resorts and cabins make it easy to plan a group trip or weekend getaway. It’s a special place to share with family, a fun spot to hang out with friends and an impressive location for a company retreat. Whatever brings you to this famous trout fishing destination, there are a few names to know when you get here.
Gaston's White River Resort
Founded by Al Gaston in 1958 with just six boats and six cottages on 20 acres, his son Jim Gaston worked to build it into the first-class resort it is today with an airstrip for fly-in guests, restaurant open seven days a week, gift shop, conference center, nature trails and fly-fishing school. Al’s great-grandson Clint now manages the property, which comprises 79 riverside units on 400 acres of prime White River shoreline. Known for its guided trips, Gaston’s makes trout fishing fun and easy for people of all ages and experience levels. Once you stay at Gaston’s, you are family, and it becomes tradition to go back time and time again. Consider it for a family vacation, group outing, business trip with clients or corporate retreat.
Stetson's On The White
Southern hospitality is how to describe Stetson’s, which was, at one time, owned and operate by heirs of the Stetson hat company. Jim and Brenda Turner acquired it in the late-’80s and, over the years, expanded and updated the longstanding property on the White River. Jim passed away in 2006, but Brenda continues to pour her heart and soul into this special place. Stetson’s offers a variety of lodging, from one bedroom and one bath to five bedroom and four bath. The cabins are fully equipped, just bring your suitcase and fishing pole! They also provide boat rentals, guided trips, a bait and tackle shop, swimming pool, group lodging and dining hall. Stetson’s also has corporate lodging and is a great choice for your next business retreat. Whether you’re planning a trip for two, the entire family or a corporate retreat, Stetson’s is a great choice!
DeVito’s Restaurant and Trout Farm
In Harrison, DeVito’s is a name associated with good times and great food. One of 11 children, Jim DeVito says they all learned to cook in his Italian family. It’s a tradition that continues with three of Jim’s son owning and operating the family business today. The men make everything from scratch including sauces, pasta, bread and dessert. What makes DeVito’s unique is Bear Springs Creek Trout Farm where the fish are always biting. No license or trout stamp is required on the family’s trout farm. You only pay for what you catch, and the rainbow trout is cleaned and packed for you for free, or you can have your fresh fish cooked for you at DeVito’s Restaurant during business hours. Call to make a fishing reservation, 870-741-8832.