Burness Stoner has lived in the South Shore area since 1945. He fishes in the White River, Bull Shoals, and Norfork lakes. He thinks Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are the best streams in the area for small mouth bass.
Burness guided on the White River for 30 years. He also did a little guiding on the Bull Shoals Lake.
He says that before the Bull Shoals Dam was built, the White River was one of the best small mouth bass streams in the United States. After the dam was built the bass fishing started to drop off, so the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocked it with trout. For a long time you could catch bass and trout. Soon you could catch only trout.
Fishing with artificial bait is best in January and February. Trout can be caught year round. Bass fishing in Bull Shoals and Norfork is best in early spring and fall.
Burness enjoys fishing with others rather than fishing alone. He says he just enjoys the company of others when catching fish.
Burness uses both live and artificial bait. The type of bait he uses depends on the time of year and the river conditions. He uses a lot of night crawlers, crawl fish, power bait, and corn. He says the corn works better for small trout because they look like the trout eggs they normally feed on. Crawl fish work better for larger ones in the same manner that the corn works for the smaller fish.
As was mentioned earlier, Burness was once a guide. As a guide, he worked for an outfitter. The customers would call and make reservations. As the guide for the trip, Burness was responsible for taking the customers to the best spots and telling them what fish were biting. He worked every day or when suitable to the customers.
The pay for one day was anywhere from $60 to $100 a day. The pay you got depended on how good your boat was and whether or not you had a motor.
Burness met foreigners and people from many walks of life. He became a guide not because of the people he would meet, but because he enjoyed fishing. It provided him with a source of income. He also believed it was a good career opportunity.