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Daybreak brings a misty shroud to the White River as it flows behind the famous Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview, AR. The White River is famous for world-record brown trout. It continues to hold the world record of 48-pounds, 4-ounces.
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Perched above the White River, and the dock and fishing boats, is the restaurant of Gaston’s White River Resort. Known for its warm hospitality and great amenities, Gaston’s Resort was a great host to our Arkansas Outdoor Writers Conference.
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Guide, Curtis Redburn, of His Place Resort, and Jeff Kolodzinkski, VP of Marketing for Frabill, departed the dock under the veil of a morning mist. Curtis is one of a number of guides on the White River. But Curtis, in particular, has a special knack for finding browns, as I found out.
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Drifting down the White River, structure such as these boulders, also shoals and small islands, create eddies all along the river and are favorite haunts of big browns.
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Armed with a variety of jerk baits, floaters, spoons, spinners, and bobbers used with live bait, we were prepared for just about anything that lived in that river.
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Frabill’s Live Bait Station is a perfect accessory for keeping shad, minnow, sculpin and craw daddy baits alive while on the river. Since the river height is controlled by the State’s dam releases, levels and water temperature can affect the bite. Jerk baits are one of the staples as far as artificials, but when all those fail it’s good to know you’ve got the real thing on board.
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Having a small boat like this one allows fast and easy access when the bite is on. The river was flowing particularly faster this day, so these small water craft move fast enough and are maneuverable around shoal-areas and islands.
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The “Belle of the Ball” on the White River is the beautiful brown trout. Known for their stark patterns, the brown spots and red flecks are in such contrast to their solid gold color, they are breathtaking. We could do nothing but admire them. We also photographed them quickly to get them safely back in the water.
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Even as we released them, they distinguished themselves with such beauty. This was one of a number of browns we caught on this trip.
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When all else fails to attract browns, backyard garden-variety earth worms turns browns on every time. A simple dropper loop with a 3/8-ounce sinker and 12-inch leader to a hook, drifted slowly off the bottom draws strikes from the weariest fish.
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It was enough to just observe some of these browns before releasing them.
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Jeff Kolodziniski, VP of Marketing for Frabill, shows off a 16 ½-inch brown caught on a worm.
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Another brown caught on a jerk bait.
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The abutments of bridges are favorite haunts, too, for all kinds of fish. But even the shadows from bridges, docks, trees and boulders provide a sense of structure for fish. Don’t turn your back on casting into any shaded area that isn’t running hard.
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Cutthroats are common on the White River. The red spot under the gill is a dead giveaway for identifying cutthroats.
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Jeff Kolodzinski, of Frabill, shows off a beautiful rainbow caught on a spinner bait. Rainbows provided hot action for us that day, especially as the sun dipped behind the low mountain overlooking the section of river we were on. Nearly every cast produced a fish.
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A closer look reveals just how beautiful rainbows are, too. The colors were classic and the fish were healthy and active.
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With only a second to spare, I grabbed my camera with the 200mm lens, didn’t even check the settings, but took one single image of this bald eagle with a trout in its talons flying down the river. A typical ‘grab’ shot.
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The 200-foot Norfork dam releases water on a regular basis into the Norfork River and travels 4 miles before hitting the White River. Looking down from the top of the dam only increases the appreciation of the immensity of the lakes and rivers that northern Arkansas provides.
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Whether on Lake Norfork or the White River, wildlife abounds. Like this blue heron. We approached it slowly and moved in as close as we could as it hunted for food.
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Lake Norfork was created in the early 50s, one of four lakes and four hydroelectric dams that were built to provide electricity to the area. Now Lake Norfork supports landlocked striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted largemouth bass. Spotted bass can also be referred to as Kentucky bass.
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Fishing with guide, Darryl “Bink” Binkley, of Bink’s Guiding Service, we net a beautiful largemouth pretty quickly as we drifted over one of his special honey holes. Bink fishes exclusively with artificial baits and is one of the best guides on the lake.
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Catch and release is common on the lakes. Make no mistake, though, these beauties render some beautiful filets, too. The lakes are clean and healthy and so are all the fish.
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One of the common rigs used on the river is a ¼ to 3/8-ounce lead-head with a plastic bait. The tackle is light, too. Six to 8-pound mono is average. Some anglers go even lighter.
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As the morning went on, the fish got bigger and bigger. So did our smiles.
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Spotted largemouth bass, or Kentucky bass, are a totally different species than either smallmouth or largemouth bass. Their patterns are different, too. They don’t get as big as largemouth bass, but their bodies are bolder and fuller.
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Taking a closer look, the dark band on spotted bass is more jagged and extreme. There’s less solidarity of the darker greens and the pattern looks more like an EKG chart and extends into the belly of the fish.
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While closer to shore, fishing with Eric Naig, Sr. Marketing Manager of Northland Fishing Tackle, he displays a beautiful smallmouth bass caught on Lake Norfork.
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One of Northland Fishing Tackle’s spinning baits, too, is the cure for sluggish fish. Northlands’ baits, both plastics and tins, work waters like these with the skill of a surgeon. They really perform.

The White River in Arkansas is known for turning out huge brown trout and hefty “Kentucky bass.” Check out one great day on the river.

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