- In this 720 mile journey, the White River undergoes several transformations. It begins as a small mountain stream and ends up as a broad, meandering waterway serving the barge and towboat industry. In between, the river's flow is interrupted by at least eight dams, six in Arkansas and two more in Missouri. Bull Shoals which is the largest, is responsible for converting what had been a warm-water fishery into one of the nation's premier stretches of trout habitat. Today this cold-water section of the White River is among the state's major tourist destinations.
For the upper reaches, the cities of Fayetteville and West Fork can supply most needs of floaters and fishermen. The nearest campground is at Devil's Den State Park located west of Winslow on Arkansas Hwy. 74. Public campgrounds are found along the river at Bull Shoals State Park and Corps of Engineers facilities on Bull Shoals Lake.
Recreation - The upper White River with its assortment of bass (small mouth, largemouth, rock, and Kentucky), catfish (channel, blue, and flathead), and sunfish should satisfy nearly any angler. Spinnerbaits, crawfish imitators, and skirted jigs are recommended, along with minnows, crawfish, and other natural baits.
Below Bull Shoals Dam, the White River takes on an entirely different character. Here it is one of the most famous float fishing streams in the world. Probably more rainbow trout are caught here each year than in any other trout stream in America. The Game and Fish Commission stocks hundreds of thousands of rainbows in the White annually, and more than 90 percent of them are caught each year by anglers who come here from all corners of the globe.
The White River's upper reaches are strictly seasonal, with the late October through April/May period traditionally the best time for float trips. Below Bull Shoals Dam, the river is a year-round float stream, with some of the best fishing reported during the winter months.
Climate - Arkansas has a temperate climate with the coldest temperatures near freezing during December, January and February. Daytime highs for these months usually reach 55 degrees F. Spring and fall temperatures are very mild with lows dipping to 44 degrees F and highs reaching 70 degrees F. July and August are the hottest months of the year with average temperatures reaching 90 degrees F. June and September average temperatures usually reach into the mid-eighties. Spring and winter months are the wettest of the year.
The White River flows west in its headwaters region before turning north in the Fayetteville-Springdale area. On toward Eureka Springs, the river bends back to the east, then wanders up through southern Missouri before reentering Arkansas and angling to the southeast past Cotter, Calico Rock, and Batesville. At Newport, the stream makes an abrupt turn to the south and flows some 257 miles in that direction before joining up with the Mississippi River.
The Game and Fish Commission has constructed many access points downstream from Bull Shoals, and the Arkansas State Parks Division has a convenient launch ramp at Bull Shoals State park.