We had fished the White River before, a couple of times, but, really looked forward to fishing it again with some of the team from Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher in Cotter, AR. Cotter lays claim to being “Trout Capital USA”. While Roscoe (NY), Bend (OR), Asheville (NC) and Craig (MT) might argue with them, Cotter is definitely a contender. Indeed, there are two rivers nearby with some of the most and biggest trout in the lower 48, the White and the Norfork (the North Fork of the White River).
We first fished the White River with Larry McNair, who is a retired teacher and head basketball coach at Cotter High. The other guides referred to Larry as the “Godfather” of the White because of the number of times he’s fished and guided on it. We put the boat in at the Rim Shoals access point and proceeded to go upstream just a bit, before fishing both sides of the island at the boat ramp. Barb caught a nice brown and we both hooked into numerous nice sized rainbows. Throughout the day we talked fishing and basketball which was right up my alley. As the day progressed, we caught several more healthy browns and a bevy of rainbows. The White River was really good to us on a cold, rainy day.
The next day, we went to try our hand on a section of the Norfork with another Dally’s guide, Gabe Levin. It was only a small section due to conditions in Norfork Lake which were producing off-color water and very low flows below the dam on the river. It really wasn’t an ideal time to fish the Norfork River, but it’s a TU Top 100 stream, so, we were obliged to wet a line and see what we could do. On our first drift down, we both hooked into a couple of small rainbows before Barb landed a beautiful Fine Spotted Cutthroat….. gorgeous fish! At this point, realizing we could fish this small stretch longer, or, we could head back to the White and fish a different section, we made a no brainer decision, bring on the White again!
Gabe took us to several different spots both up and downstream of the confluence of the Norfork and White Rivers, including Buffalo Shoals. We stopped counting pretty quickly as to the numbers of fish we’d brought to the boat. While we didn’t find any of the big browns, we did just fine seeing a variety of sizes of colorful rainbows.
We chatted with Gabe over lunch on the river as eagles soared and squawked above us. We only saw a couple of boats upstream where we’d gone to fish and have lunch. His “guide talk” is a “twofer” combining the White and Norfork, with pics from both days sprinkled in. Please take a look at the video to understand fully why Cotter is “Trout Capital USA”.