After driving north through the Ouachita Mountains and the Arkansas River valley we made it to our next destination with daylight to spare. At an overlook we got to see the river we’d get a chance to fish over the next couple days, it was as it looks in a summer time aerial image, low and teal in color. A sign told us the color was due to the high mineral content in the water. Large quantities of sulfur, manganese, and iron combined with the sediment load carried in the water causes it to appear aqua in color. We continued on and got camp set up fast to walk down to the river and try our luck.
Chucking spinning rods it didn’t take long to get into fish. The big green sunfish were ever present on this river as on the last, but so were the juvenile Neosho smallmouth. We were able to catch a few before it got dark. I even managed to catch a rock bass, a fish I haven’t caught since I spent some time in the Tennessee River watershed in North Alabama. This river was quite different than the last, far less elevation change, no more big boulders, but tons of gravel. Big long gravel bars along big long pools, not many fast flowing sections. A tougher place to fly fish due to the slow water, but we’d give it a shot tomorrow. I wasn’t too worried about tomorrow at this point, I was looking forward to dinner. The NY strip, onions, and potatoes that were made on the cast iron pot were incredible. I think we are getting better at camp cooking, even with interruption from dive bombing cicadas.
The next day was spent dodging rain showers and spot hopping along the river. There were several access points upstream of where we camped that we checked out. We fished at a few of them and probably should have spent more time at some rather than others, but that’s the joys of scouting. It was nice to have a road alongside the river for much of the way, the only slight annoyance was when the large groups of ATVs drove by. We must have been near some major OHV trails with the amount of ATV traffic that was in the area. The fishing was pretty good, no real big fish, mostly smallmouth with some spots and sunfish mixed in. There were plenty to keep us interested though which was nice.
After lunch we drove up to the local general store to have a look around. The Ozarks seem to have no shortage of these types of places. We each got a slice of caramel apple pie a la mode that may have been the real highlight of the trip. Really good stuff.
After pie we hit arguably the best spot on the river that we had found, where a major trib emptied into the main stem of the river, we fished sections of each and caught multiple Neosho smallmouth. This spot had more riffle and run than any other section we fished and that suited us perfectly. Wish we would have stumbled upon it earlier. It was there we wrapped up the fishing portion of our trip. We had a long drive ahead of us on Sunday so we would not be hitting the water in the morning. We had another solid dinner that night when Blake cooked up some chicken fajitas that had been marinating a couple days in the ice chest. The trip, even with the shorter planning period, came together nicely. I don’t know where the next one will be but I always have ideas.