Arkansas Wild: The Story of Trout Tourism on the Little Red River

Arkansas Wild: The Story of Trout Tourism on the Little Red River

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The Little Red River in Arkansas is an internationally renowned trout stream that is home to a self-sustaining wild brown trout population and once produced a world-record catch. When Rip Collins caught a 40-pound, 4-ounce brown trout on the Little Red River in 1992, the secret was out and the destination was put on the map. However, it is unclear whether the attention and tourism impact was positive for the river.

Dr. Benjamin Garner and a recent catch.
Dr. Benjamin Garner and a recent catch.

Located in the Ozark Mountains, the Little Red River is the tailwater of the Greers Ferry Dam, which was completed in 1962. Since the introduction of trout in the 1960s and brown trout eggs in the 1970s by Dave Whitlock and the Arkansas Fly Fishers, the Little Red River has become a popular tourism destination for anglers across the world looking to catch world-class brown trout. However, the fishery has been in decline in recent decades due to management problems, overharvest as well as summer heat, and water management challenges.

This feature documentary film (56:46 runtime) follows Dr. Garner’s personal homecoming story to explore scientific observations, management challenges, and tourism impact surrounding the health and conservation challenges of the river. This film is being distributed nationally by the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), and they will make this available to every PBS station in the U.S.


TRAILER: “Arkansas Wild: The Story of Trout Tourism on the Little Red River” from Benjamin Garner on Vimeo.

Where to Watch

The film’s TV premiere will air on Arkansas PBS on April 11 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Garner’s last film distributed through NETA was aired in more than 380 times across 30 U.S. states. Audiences outside of Arkansas can reach out to their individual PBS station to see if they have already scheduled the film for an air date, or encourage them to air it, which is free to them.

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To watch online, audiences can rent the film through Dr. Garner’s website

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Dr. Garner is a fly fisherman, independent filmmaker, and marketing professor at the University of Central Arkansas. This is Dr. Garner’s 4th documentary film to air on PBS.

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