BY MARK BEASON
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. – In 1992, Robert Redford and Brad Pitt made fly fishing for trout fashionable with the movie “A River Runs Through It.”
Redford and Pitt were just showing something the Lindsey family has known for almost 40 years.
They are the first family of trout fishing in Arkansas, building on the dream of Bill and Mavis Lindsey. Nestled on the banks of the Little Red River, Lindsey's Rainbow Resort was carved out of the hills and provides some of the best trout fishing anywhere.
Now run by Bill's son, Billy Lindsey, the resort is a popular destination for serious anglers and amateurs. A family operation, Billy says the family atmosphere is still the priority.
“We want this to be a place you can bring your family and build memories,” he said. “We think that's a big part of what makes this place special.”
Located four hours northwest of Tupelo, the Little Red River offers fishermen the opportunity to catch brown, cutthroat, brook and the popular rainbow trout. The odds of landing one of these fish is pretty good, with an estimated 14,000 trout per mile along the Little Red River.
“A lot of people haven't had the opportunity to catch these fish,” Billy Lindsey said. “We have plenty of them, and they are just a lot of fun to catch.”
According to master guide Mike Brown, who's been a guide 30 years, the average weight of the fish is 1 1/2 pounds. A trophy trout is considered to be four pounds or more, and the Lindseys know a few things about hauling in big fish.
In 1992 the world record brown trout came out of the Little Red River. Using a 4-pound test line, Howard “Rip” Collins landed and caught the 40-pound, 4-ounce record-breaking fish.
“I think that's part of the allure here,” Brown said. “There are a lot of big fish here. I've seen fish I think are bigger than the world record. I think there are 45-pound browns in here.”
Although the trout fishing is great now, these fish aren't native to the area. The rainbow trout were introduced by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1968, and the Lindseys were waiting on them.
“We had a rainbow fishing resort before the rainbows,” Bill Lindsey said. “We've been right here growing with the fish.”
The brown trout were put in during the early 1970s by fly fishing clubs from Memphis and Little Rock, which weren't going to wait on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The rainbows are still being put in the river, with 370,000 fish added per year. The Little Red River is the perfect habitat for these fish, staying a constant 47 degrees year round.
Brown, who has spend most of his life floating and wading in the cool water, said there are two reasons why people come to Lindsey's and keep coming back.
“No. 1 is the beauty and aesthetics of the area. It doesn't get much better thant his anywhere,” he said. “No. 2 is you are going to catch fish. Even on bad days, you aren't going to get skunked.”
It was completely built by the Lindsey family, and they offer 50 rustic log cabins for accommodations, a restaurant and guide service. With their own dock and fleet of boats, Billy Lindsey said his family is all about fishing and having a good time.
“Fishing is supposed to be about catching fish and having fun,” he said. “We try and have a lot of fun here 365 days a year.”
What: Lindsey's Rainbow Resort
Where: Heber Springs, Ark.
Contact: 1-800-305-8790 or Irr@arkansas.net