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Mountain Home Ranked 1st by Outdoor Life Magazine

#1 Mountain Home, Arkansas
Big-fish diversity in a laid-back Ozarks valley

Leading Appeals: World-class fishing for trophy largemouth and striped bass, walleye, slab crappies and whopper trout in the White River and nearby Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes. Turkey, squirrels and whitetails - even timber ducks and black bear - occupy the Ozark National Forest.

Population: 12,215

Median Home Price: $92,900

Amenities: Excellent hospitals and schools, low crime rate, vibrant retail economy and cohesive community make this a great place to raise children or retire.

Bottom Line: Few towns have this diversity of fishing or such close proximity to boat ramps and trailheads.


The first time Henry Seay fished northern Arkansas' White River Gorge he knew he'd buy a house nearby. That was seven years ago. Today the retiree from Phoenix owns a fish camp, Rim Shoals Resort, right on the bank of the trophy-trout stream. Seay still fishes the White River twice a week and adorns the walls of his business with evidence of his success, including mounts of brown trout pushing 30 inches.

Trout fishing in north-central Arkansas rivals any Rocky Mountain destination. The White, Buffalo, Little Red and North Fork rivers boast hundreds of trout per mile thanks to the coldwater habitat below the region's bottom-release dams. Mineral content in the water fuels growth rates. The Norfork River gave up a 38 1/2-pound brown trout two decades ago and the constellation of fly shops in the area are decorated with photos of 5- to 8-pound trout. Warmwater anglers have a playground west of town on Bull Shoals Lake, where walleye, bream, bass and crappie are caught in flooded timber and off rocky points. Norfork Lake's striped and hybrid bass reach 30 pounds of scrappy, reel-screaming action.

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