Best known for its trophy browns, this is a place to also find brook, cutthroat and rainbow. Like other rivers in the area, this 100 mile tributary of the White is host to dams and reservoirs managed by the Army Corp of engineers. For anglers, the 30 mile run below Greer’s Ferry Dam is the most famous and desirable section of the river. In the spring of 1992, the 1988 trout record was broken here by the capture of a 40+ pound whopper. This record has since been topped although it remains the largest to be netted in Arkansas waters.
Cold water releases from the dam keep the river at about 47 degrees year round, creating ideal trout habitat but challenging for its native walleye and bass. Efforts to reintroduce small mouth bass and walleye have met with measured success. Spring and summer tend to be the busiest seasons, although many consider fall the best time to fish as the brown migrate upstream to spawn. Spawning starts mid-October and is complete by the first of December. Brook trout also spawn successfully in the Collins Creek area while cutthroat are sparse and tend to be found downstream of Winkley Shoals.
Because water flow is managed for regional electrical production, levels can quickly change. While it’s possible to wade in these waters, it’s smart to be cautious. When levels are high, fishing with an expert guide is highly recommended. The state enforces catch and release rules in three areas: below Greer’s Ferry Dam; around Cow Shoals; and, between Dunham and Mossy Shoals.
Before booking a trip, be advised that portions of the 30 mile run are privately owned and may be difficult to access, water levels vary dramatically and three sections are catch and release only.