@story TODD WHETSTINE
@images WILD WOODS PHOTOGRAPHY AND GASTON’S WHITE RIVER RESORT
Gaston’s White River Resort is in Lakeview, just outside Mountain Home, on some of the prettiest land in the state. It’s been around for more than fifty years, drawing in visitors from around the country and across the globe. One of the biggest reasons people come here is the fishing. It’s some of the best in the world.
Al Gaston opened the resort opened in 1958, on twenty pristine acres. There were six cabins and six boats. His son Jim now runs an operation that covers two miles of river frontage, four hundred acres, seventy-nine cottages, and over seventy boats. They’ve also added a restaurant, private club, a gift shop, a playground, tennis courts, and two nature trails.
All that experience and all that work sure paid off. They know how to make your feel at home. The staff greeted my dog Bo with organic dog cookies and I was given all the information I needed for a great weekend.
We spent the night in our cozy little cottage that was sandwiched between the famous White River and the grass airstrip, yes I said airstrip, which accommodates small planes carrying in visitors. Some come just to eat at Gaston’s restaurant. And yes, the food is that good.
Fire wood and kindling are provided with the cottages. Some cottages have kitchens and king-sized beds. All the cottages have Internet access and TVs.
The next morning, at the crack of dawn, I ate breakfast at Gaston’s restaurant. The dining room is filled with antique boat motors, bicycles, typewriters, and historic photographs. Huge windows provide a gorgeous view of the White River. The food is served buffet style, with pancakes, French toast, eggs Benedict and omelets made to order. In case you’re wondering, the lunch and dinner menu includes great dishes like trout (of course), barbeque, steaks, shrimp and ribs.
After breakfast I met my fishing guide and we headed out to the White River to see what we could find. You might think that since it was the dead of winter the fishing wouldn’t be so good. Nothing could be further from the truth. My guide, Frank Saksa, is one of the finest fishing guides around. And since the White River stays pretty close to the same temperature all year, there’s no bad time to fish.
Frank normally wouldn’t be fishing while out guiding, but since I wanted photos, he tossed a stick bait a few times. Within thirty minutes he’d landed two good-sized brown trout. Once he showed me how easy it was, it was my turn. Frank took care of everything, from baiting my hook to taking the fish off the line. And boy, were the fish biting. In all, we caught nine fish, both rainbow and brown trout. The biggest was about eighteen inches long.
There’s nothing like being out in a boat on a cold day, the fish cooperating, and the sun shining. The thrill of the catch never grows old, and the river is gorgeous in the morning light.
We stayed in the boat for about three hours. Time flew by. Frank was telling stories about the river, and I was starting to get used to the star treatment.
Not only do they offer guides, they have lunches ready on the shore when you get back to land and stops along the river at neighboring resorts for coffee or anything else you might need. They also offer fly fishing schools. These schools are two days, for three hours each day. You’ll not only learn to tie the knots and cast the rods, you’ll learn a little history about the sport of fly fishing as well.
Gaston’s is also equipped to help those with physical challenges, which makes it a perfect destination for absolutely everyone who wants to experience the beauty of Arkansas.
This won’t be my last trip to Gaston’s. I had such a great time, and met so many nice people. The fishing is great, the food is amazing, and the service is wonderful.
I recommend you check it out for yourself. I know you’ll love it.
For more information, log on to gastons.com, or call 870.431.5202.