Enjoy World-Class Fly Fishing in the Heart of the Ozarks Best Trout Fishing Rivers
Dawt Mill is a beautiful, historic and family-oriented resort on the banks of the North Fork of the White River in the small Ozark town of Tecumseh in south Missouri. The fishing on the North Fork can be very productive for big brown trout and gorgeous wild rainbows during certain times of year, but the most significant reasons for fly fishermen to base a trip out of Dawt Mill is its proximity to the most productive trout fisheries in Missouri and Arkansas, along with the fact that there are a myriad of other enjoyable activities for non-fishing members of your group or family to take part in at the resort itself.
As mentioned above, there are some great seasonal fly fishing opportunities on the North Fork of the White River that can be easily accessed at Dawt Mill, and we offer a slew of shuttle and float options for those anglers wishing to fish on their own, as there are over 15 miles of cold, clear and nutrient-rich waters upstream of the resort, and most of these stretches are protected by special regulations intended to create an abundance of large rainbow and brown trout. Our section of the River is designated a Red Ribbon Area. The southern part of the Ozarks is also a warm water fly fishing paradise, and there are miles and miles of wonderful creeks, streams and rivers that are home to high concentrations of smallmouth and largemouth bass, bream, catfish and carp (which are a true blast to catch on a fly). Dawt Mill is truly a special place with respect to what it offers visiting anglers, and there are also plenty of options for people wanting to go fishing with conventional gear, including spending a day or two on Norfork Lake, a legendary bass fishery that also has become known for its large stripers, hybrid stripers and white bass.
Trout River Breakdown (includes approximate driving times from Dawt Mill Resort)
The North Fork of the White: This river is one of the few free-flowing, coldwater trout fisheries in the Ozarks, and it is truly amazing how many big fish there are in this stream. But be forewarned; the lunkers in the North Fork are some of the toughest trout to fool in the region. While most fly anglers take a float and wade approach when fishing here, there are also quite a few places that offer good walk-in access. The best time of year to fly fish the North Fork is in the fall and winter due to the lack of floaters and low water flows, but there can also be some fantastic fishing in the spring, especially during a low-water year. In the summer, canoes and
The Eleven Point River: This gem is often overlooked by trout fishermen because gaining access to the best water can be a bit tricky. For this reason, a boat is often needed to get into where the most trout are, but once you find those areas, it's possible to catch respectable numbers of healthy fish, and 20-inchers are quite common. There are also many good bass fishing spots on the Eleven Point along with the rare chance of catching a tasty walleye on a fly. Expect to drive anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to reach the coldwater access points on this river.
The Current River (at and below Montauk State Park): About 45 minutes to the north of Dawt Mill Resort is Montauk State Park, located at the headwaters of the Current River. The trout park system in Missouri ensures that visitors will always have plenty of good-sized rainbow trout to pursue, and Montauk is known for offering some excellent trophy fishing in the park itself and in the waters downstream of the park's boundary which are managed for wild brown trout. During the spring and summer, it is best to try and fish Montauk during the week because of the crowds, and all the trout parks in Missouri offer up a weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) catch and release season in the winter which can be a blast.
Lake Taneycomo: About an hour west of Dawt Mill is Lake Taneycomo (below Table Rock Dam), which is a large tailwater trout fishery on the world-famous White River (a 'tailwater' is a waterway that begins at a dam). All of the White River Basin tailwaters are unpredictable when it comes to dam releases, and most fishermen prefer to fish when there is no electricity being generated because the wading conditions are fantastic. Even though it is easier for those new to these rivers to find and catch trout when the water is shut down, many area residents and guides prefer to fish when the water is high because that is when a lot of the bigger fish are caught. Safely and effectively fishing high water on all of the White River tailwaters usually requires a boat and intimate knowledge of the riverâ€™s layout, so hiring a guide is highly recommended to get the most out of fishing any of the three large tailwaters within an hour of Dawt Mill for the first time.
Side note: Even though Taneycomo is technically a lake because of a small dam on its lower end, it resembles and fishes like a slow and deep river in most spots. The first three miles below Table Rock Dam is the most popular area for fly fishing because the water is shallow during low-flow periods, and this stretch is managed for trophy trout through the use of a slot-limit regulation (all rainbows between 12 and 20 inches must be released and no natural baits of any kind are permitted). Upper Lake Taneycomo boasts the highest fish concentrations of any of the Ozark tailwaters due to the strict rules in place.
The White River: The most renowned stretch of the White River begins at Bull Shoals Dam, which is roughly 45 minutes from Dawt Mill. Every fly fisherman should have this section of the White on their "bucket list" of places to wet a line at some point during their life. Because there are eight power generators at Bull Shoals Dam, the White is like five different rivers in one, and its character can change several times throughout the day. A brown trout regulation for most of the coldwater fisheries in Arkansas went into effect in 2009 (only one brown trout can be harvested and it must be at least 24 inches in length), and these new rules have resulted in high populations of browns over 20 inches on the White. Plus, there is always the chance of hooking into a brown trout that weighs over ten pounds, and every year, fish in the twenty- to thirty-pound range are caught. The White River below Bull Shoals Dam is also loaded with rainbows, and when the fish are biting, it's possible to land 50 to 100 colorful 'bows in a day. Never be hesitant about asking the guides or staff at Dawt Mill how the fishing is on any of the local tailwaters, as a fly fishing trip to the Ozarks merits at least one day spent fishing these amazing fisheries.
The Norfork Tailwater: This relatively short section of coldwater habitat starts at Norfork dam and ends where the Norfork flows into the White five miles downstream. The 'Fork is loaded with diverse food sources, so the river is literally stacked with nice fish in the sixteen- to twenty-inch range, and there are plenty of bigger trout out there. Low water conditions occur much more frequently on the Norfork than on the White - this makes the Norfork a favorite haunt for anglers intent on wading. But since there are only two generators at Norfork Dam, the drift fishing out of a boat during high water can be phenomenal, as well, because there are still plenty of shallow spots and drop-offs during maximum flow periods. Although brook and cutthroat trout are stocked in all of Arkansas' tailwaters, these species thrive on the Norfork, so it's common to catch three or four different kinds of trout in the same day. There are only two walk-in accesses available, so it can get pretty crowded in those areas on weekends when the water is low, but many anglers utilize personal vessels like small pontoons to get into unpressured water, and they can safely float and fish their way to the Norfork's confluence with the White if the water rises. The Norfork has been fishing very well in 2011 after a couple of tough years, and this small and short river may be one of the best trout fishing spots in the country. There are times where the guides at Dawt Mill will fish both the Norfork and White in the same day which makes for an experience with plenty of variety.
There are many guide and lodging options for visiting fly fishermen in the Ozarks, but very few other resorts besides Dawt Mill offers such close proximity to all of the area's best fisheries.
The accommodations are very comfortable, and the grounds are historic and worth exploring in between fishing sessions. Many of the rivers in the Ozarks fish well all twelve months of the year, and there really isn't a bad time to plan a trip through Dawt Mill.