Float Trips and Fishing
Sunburst Ranch is conveniently located between Hammond Camp and our private landing. This enables you to camp at Sunburst the first night, ride with us in the morning upstream to put-in, then float down to your camp. The next day you can then continue downstream at your leisure to the landing, where YOU CALL US to pick you up. You don't have a specific shuttle time you have to meet. We pick you up and return you back to your camp. You have no extra driving to do once you reach Sunburst.
We offer a wide range of watercraft to float the North Fork River. Our canoes are all plastic and less than 5 years old. We also have sit-on-top as well as sit inside single and tandem kayaks. If you are looking for a slower day on the river we have single person tubes as well as multi person mega-tubes and whitewater rafts that can seat as many as 7. We only float from Sunburst to the landing with our inflatable watercraft.
Call us at (417)284-3443 to make a reservation or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. We do not take reservations over email or facebook. Our business hours are from 7am to 8pm. If you are in the campground and have an emergency please call us at any time.
Hammonds Mill - This is our most popular put in point. We offer shuttle service at 8:00; 9:30 and 11:00. The trip is 12 miles long and you will end at Sunburst Ranch. This float averages about 5-6 hours long. This trip includes Blue Spring which can be found at the downstream tip of Hammond Mill park. Is on the left at river level. Canoes can be paddled into the spring. The flow is seldom less than 7 million gallons per day. A Nature Trail is maintained in the spring area by the USDA Forest Service. Rainbow Spring is a double spring on the right. A private member club owns this spring. No admittance. There is a very rocky riffle on the bend just below the mouth of the lower spring. After you go under McKee Bridge you will soon reach The Falls. The Falls are a series of rock ledges about 2-3 feet high (depending on the water level) with boulders. Chute is best handled from right, going just to the right of the largest rock. (Inexperienced should portage through rocks on the left side.) Don't approach broadside. PEOPLE HAVE WRECKED MANY CANOES AT THIS SPOT, USE CAUTION. When you go under Blair Bridge you are less than ½ a mile from camp. Your takeout point is the brown Sunburst Ranch sign.
The Landing - You may depart from Sunburst any time before 2:00pm to float to The Landing. This is a 7 mile float that takes approximately 4 hours. After you go under the low water bridge pull off onto the gravel bar on the left. If you walk into the woods you will find a trail that will lead you to Althea Spring, one of the most picturesque and overlooked spots on the North Fork River. Take time to go look at the waterfall. Your take out point is on the left approximately one mile from James Bridge. Enjoy yourself just a little longer on our gravel bar and pavilion until you are ready to be picked up.
Twin Bridges - This is a common trip for those wanting a longer float. It is 17 miles to Sunburst Ranch. There is generally enough water to float this stretch until July. Some fisherman do this float as an overnight, camping in the Mark Twain National forest. Smallmouth bass fishing the first day and Rainbow and Brown Trout the second day. We offer a regular 6:45 departure time for this float during season. This float averages 7-8 hours long.
Click this link for an up to date streamflow reading.
Spring floats only:
Topaz Mill - We offer three day, overnight floats from Topaz Mill during the spring if there is enough water. You will have to pack enough gear and food to sleep on gravel bars for at least two nights and feed yourself for three days. This is for the adventurous only.
Hales Crossing - This can be a two or three day float. There is excellent smallmouth bass and Goggle-eye fishing up here. Call ahead to check water levels. This is generally a spring float only.
Hebron - A beautiful steel bridge crosses the North Fork 21 miles upstream from Sunburst Ranch. This can be a two-day overnight float or a REALLY long one day float. Call ahead to check water levels.
FISHING THE NORTH FORK
The North Fork of the White River is one of the most beautiful free-flowing trophy trout streams in the Ozarks. It is fed by a multitude of natural springs, and comes as close to a western trout stream as can be found in this part of the country. The stretch of river from Rainbow Spring to Patrick Bridge has been designated a Blue Ribbon Trout Area which is the rating given to only the highest quality streams in the state. With an 18 inch length limit and only one fish per day allowed, fishermen have a great opportunity for catching a trophy wild rainbow trout.
Probably the most effective way to fish the river is to float it yourself, in either a canoe or one of our personal pontoon boats stopping to wade, fishing the riffles and runs along the way. Or if you prefer to just wade we have over a mile of prime trout water here at Sunburst Ranch. Nice rainbows and browns are caught on our stretch of water all the time with guides stopping in several places along our campground. The rainbow trout above and the large brown trout in the middle picture at the top of the page were caught in February 2007 by myself and friend Scott Allred. While the trout on the North Fork can be fickle at times, they can be caught year round at all water levels.
The fish on the right is a year old stream bred North Fork River rainbow trout. Much more colorful than a typical stocker, it makes catching small fish fun! Thanks to the blue ribbon trout restrictions these fish have a chance to grow to the size of the fish on the top right of this page. Call Sunburst if you wish to be set up with a guide, or if you have any questions about fishing the North Fork.
Fishing regulations on the North Fork of the White River:
Permits: A trout permit, in addition to the prescribed fishing permit, is required to possess and transport trout. If you are not keeping trout you do not need the additional trout stamp.
Blue Ribbon Trout Area (Rainbow Spring to Patrick Bridge) Fishing regulations include an 18-inch minimum length limit on all trout, and a daily limit of one trout. Fishing will be restricted to flies and artificial lures only. Gigging of non-game fish will not be permitted. These restrictive regulations are designed to sustain the maximum density of adult trout and offer the chance to harvest a trophy-sized trout. The North Fork is stocked below Blair Bridge in the fall with brown trout. All rainbow trout are naturally reproducing wild fish.
Red Ribbon Trout Area (Patrick Bridge to Norfork Lake) There is a 15-inch minimum length limit on trout from these streams, and a daily limit of two trout. Gigging of non-game fish will be permitted. These streams will provide good catch-and-release fishing and a chance to harvest quality-size trout.