An Arkansas fishing license and a trout permit are required to fish on the White River for all persons ages 16 and over. Valid identification (such as a driver’s license, state ID, social security card, or hunting license) is necessary to acquire a fishing license. Fishing license and trout permits can be acquired at the resort, at several area businesses, or directly from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
For bait and spin fishing, a light action spinning rod about 6 to 7 feet long is the best choice. For fly fishing, a 4 to 6 weight rod about 7 feet long is most recommended.
If you are not familiar with a spinning reel, it is not difficult to learn how to use. A brief lesson will have just about anybody casting well within just a few minutes. Even young children can usually do very well. Spinning reels will outperform most any other type of reel for casting, drag control, and line control. Spinning reels should be sized appropriately for the rod and line weight being used.
Having a good quality line is important to a successful experience. Old line becomes brittle and twisted causing the line to break or tangle easily. 4-pound or 6-pound, ultra-green or clear monofilament is probably the most functional and cost effective line available. Many brands are available over a wide, but reasonable, cost range.
There is a huge variety or baits that work effectively on this river. Baits are usually something that is alive, frozen, smellable (produces a sent in the water), or molded. Typical baits include, live worms, plastic trout worms, PowerBaits, shad, sculpin (a bait fish in river), minnows, and shrimp. Baits are restricted from the designated catch-and-release areas, such as near Bull Shoals Dam, but are not restricted in other areas of the river such as the White Hole region. Typically, bait is fished by casting it into the river without retrieving it right away. The bait will either sit on the bottom of the river or allowed to float in the current near the bottom. A sinker and leader system commonly called a “river rig” is ideal for fishing most any type of bait. This system is useful at minimum flow up to very high flows.
Lures simply replicate the look and action of something that a trout might want to devour. Again, there is a huge variety or lures that are very productive and fun to use. Lures include minnow imitations, spoons, spinners, or jigs. Some lures are designed to float at or near the surface, while others will sink deep, so the lure needs to be matched to the depth and flow of the river. Keep in mind that bigger lures do not always sink deeper and some small lures can be very heavy. Generally, a lure weight of 1/16 ounce up to 3/16 ounce is better used from minimum flow up to about 4 feet of flow. Lures weighing ¼ ounce or slightly more can be better used with higher flows.