North Fork River

About North Fork River

Below the Lake Norfork Dam, the North Fork River stretches a mere 5 miles before joining the White River. However, like the White, the North Fork is known for world-class trout fishing. At low water, the Norfork tailwater offers great wade fishing. Float-fishing from a boat is popular when the power generators are at work. Access to the river is provided by private resorts and through public access points. Quarry Park, just below Norfork Dam, has both a concrete boat launching ramp and public access for bank fishing and wading. Bank fishing at the mouth of Dry Run Creek, which enters the tailwater in Quarry Park, is popular. The effluent from Norfork National Fish Hatchery flows into Dry Run Creek at rates up to 22,000 gallons per minute. This nutrient-rich water attracts trout. No special restrictions apply to those fishing at the mouth of the creek; however, fishing in Dry Run Creek is all catch-and-release with tackle restrictions. It is also only open for fishing to kids 16 years of age and younger and the disabled. River Ridge Access features a handicap fishing pier and walk-in access. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Norfork Public Access also provides bank fishing. Baxter County Road 63 roughly parallels the river from one end to the other. The Ark. 5 and railroad bridges mark some of the deepest holes.

Fishing: Fishing is exceptional for four species of trout—brook, rainbow, cutthroat, and brown. Record-breaking trophy catches of the North Fork River include a world-record German brown trout caught in 1988 that weighed almost 39 pounds. Fishing resorts on the North Fork provide excellent lodging, equipment rentals, boat rentals, and professional guide services.

Its official name is North Fork of the White River, but the local residents over the years shortened it to Norfork tailwaters. This five-mile stretch of water has produced literally hundreds of 10-pound-plus brown trout, including a 34-pounder and a 38-pound, 9-ounce former world record that is still the second-largest brown trout ever recorded, worldwide. The current state-record brook trout (5 pounds) also came from the North Fork. It’s an excellent stream for boaters and bank fishermen alike.

The mainstay of the North Fork is stocking-sized rainbows, just as it is on all the state’s other trout waters. Most fish caught here are rainbows from 11 to 14 inches long. To improve on an already good fishery, the stretch of river from the mouth of Otter Creek to 100 yards above River Ridge Walk-In Access (approximately one mile) has been set aside as a catch-and-release area. The The North Fork is the best cutthroat trout fishery in Arkansas. Five-pounders are common. Stream-running walleye are also found in the North Fork.

Another high-quality fishery in the area is Dry Run Creek, the outflow of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. This short stretch of nutrient-rich water has an excellent trout population, and it has been set aside as a special catch-and-release stream for properly licensed disabled anglers and for kids under 16. Only artificial lures with a single, barbless hook may be used, and fishing is from sunrise to sunset only.