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November 19, 2007

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The Ozark Escape

Bull Shoals State Park, Arkansas
Target species: Trout
January avg. temps: 44 high, 28 low
Round-trip airfare to Springfield, Mo.: $450 (driving may cost less)
Accommodations: Camping at $10 per night

The White River tailwater below Bull Shoals Dam near Mountain Home, Ark., is world famous for big browns and rainbows. From mid to late winter in some years, cold weather causes a shad die-off in Bull Shoals Lake. And as the dead and dying baitfish pass through the dam into the tailwater, the lunker browns go nuts. Bull Shoals–White River State Park (arkansasstateparks.com/bullshoalswhiteriver) on the river near the dam is open to camping all winter. (Mountain Home is 110 miles from Springfield, Mo., but you may want to drive the entire way—it’s 550 miles from Chicago.) This isn’t the warmest of getaways, but it probably won’t be snowing, and the fishing is worth it. The season on big browns in the stretch closest to the dam is closed until February 1, so plan accordingly.

--John Merwin


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