Mountain Home. Has a nice ring to it.

Sounds like a good place to retire to someday, and it is. Living costs and housing in this little town nestled in the Ozarks are lower than most places.

Nearby Bull Shoals Dam holds back the White River to form a lake of considerable size with good fishing. Cool water flows out of Bull Shoals Lake to make excellent rainbow and brown trout fishing in the river below. Fishing guides offer float fishing excursions down the river.

All of the above attracted Don and Marceline Walts, especially since Don was a good fisherman who really liked trout fishing. They even bought a wooded lot in a development near Mountain Home as their retirement plans matured.

However, their daughter Joyce had married the young Rath Packing Company salesman and the plans began to change.

Joyce’s husband Ray Rogers had changed careers and moved to Decatur, Georgia, just east of Atlanta. Don and Marceline eventually moved south to be near their only daughter.

But back to Arkansas and the White River.

Father-in-law Don wanted to show me the good trout fishing that the White River offered. Don and I drove out to the river, put on our waders and waded across some shallow water over to where there was more current and deeper water. I started casting into a pool below a yellow rock about the size and shape of an inverted bushel basket.

I had fished for a short while when I noticed the rock was getting smaller. I quickly realized that the water level was rising rapidly. Bull Shoals Dam just upstream from us was releasing water.

I shouted to Don, who was fishing downstream. We need to head for the bank now! As we started back across what had been the shallow area, it became harder to walk.

We briefly considered trying to reach a small island with some trees on it, but decided to go for the river bank. The current was becoming stronger and stronger.


Finally, we reached the bank. We watched the river rise and the current strengthen. Had we waited a few minutes more, we would have been swept down the river on a one way journey. Our waders would have filled with water, and swimming would have been impossible.

I thanked God that I had noticed the slow change of the water level on the yellow rock, and I vowed never again to fish the White River without checking to see if the Bull Shoals Dam would be releasing water.


Click HERE to order Ray’s book Depression Baby: True Stories from Growing Up During the Great Depression in Appalachia — and Other Things…