TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

Bored nearly to tears at work, Took a trip to Arkansas a couple weeks ago and thought I'd give one of these trip reports I enjoy reading so much a try.

After reading so much about Arkansas on a different forum (ExPo) I decided to give it a go. Unable to convince my friends to join me, my wife expressed interest. I had been putting off getting her a kayak for no real reason in particular, so we went to ACK and got her a new Hobie 11. I had a rough idea of an itinerary. Plan being; exploring the forest roads and trails for 3 days 3 nights then do an overnighter on the river. I had originally wanted to do the Buffalo but when I called the outfitters they all said the water was too low.

Loaded up the yaks, my mtn bike, & my sidekick Jax and got a late start arriving at the Cossatot Falls State Natural area around 10pm. The deer were so thick I drove 30mph or less for the last 10 miles or so. A wrong turn took me towards the visitor center. A sheriff passed me and I had to back up to flag him down. Not a day over 25 but super friendly with a southern drawl so bad I had to hide my grin. He steered me the right way. "Ders campin up dat way, ish up in der 5 mayb 6 mile". (Please do understand I am not makin fun, just trying to illustrate the details. I am oft called out on my okie accent). This Sherriff would be the last human we saw for a couple days.

Anticipating a late arrival I had opted for an improved or designated campsite. The place was empty. 8 sites, each with a picnic table and a fire ring. Temps were in the low 40s. We could hear fast water but other than a couple scans with a spotlight I didn't investigate. The next morning we woke to this.

The Cossatot falls are actually class V rapids in the spring/early summer and Cossatot is french slang for skullcrusher. After some breakfast and some boulder hopping/wading. We loaded up and crossed over into the Nat'l Forest.
My plans for the Nat'l forest included the Wolf Pen Gap area. Basically just cruised around, took in the scenery, chased my dog on some downhill mountainbike trails, and cringed a bit (just a bit) everytime the branches put a new set of pinstripes down the side of my truck. The Wolf Pen Gap area is far more suited to ATVs or side by sides. In addition to the forest service roads some of Arkansas' county roads demand 4wd. Sadly didn't get pics of the more technical sections, took a few vids but was just awestruck at some of the prettier places and forgot.
wolfpen2 (1).JPG

Approaching dinnertime and having not seen too many flat spots we found a perfect campsite and setup for the night. Every night a perfect campsite presented itself, each one prettier than the previous.
Next morning put together a gameplan and decided we'd find our way to pavement and test out a part of the Ouachita. The water was obviously low and pretty still.
gravel bar.JPG

Paddled downstream just over a quarter mile saw the gravel bar that was holding back the flow then paddled back upstream. Loaded up the kayaks and took the Talimena scenic drive up to Queen Wihelmina. (Wished I would've left the dog at home and brought the bike!)
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Stopped at the Rich Mtn Lookout for a late lunch and headed off pavement on the forest roads again. Trees permitting we had nearly identical views. I did find an outfitter that would shuttle. They recommended a 10 mile trip but I pushed for 14. Headed towards Oden via trails and camped along Big Brushy Creek directly across from a cool lil bluff. Water was a bit stagnant but gorgeous to me all the same. No mosquitos and no smell so...
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Next morning we headed to the outfitter. Can't remember their name right off hand but a nice enough mom and pop place with cabins right on the water. Paid em $25 for the shuttle and they gave me a bag of schwag, a bag of ice(our only resupply the entire trip). and a scrawled out map with our put in, take out, and notable landmarks. Reached the put in and I was severely disappointed. I don't think such a popular spot should envolve a hundred foot hike between your truck and the river ending with an 8' vertical muddy bank but.. Ah well.. We went light. Water was indeed low and I cursed my irish stubborness a bit. Wifey did really good. Had to get out and drag plenty but just as plenty were fun lil rapids and Bald Eagles. $ miles down was the outfitters property. They had the most gorgeous spot on the river!! Awesome boulders. Some Texans were on the deck of their rented cabin and struck up conversation so I didn't get pics. A mile past that we found a small island (25'x40') with water rushing on either side and decided it was camp for the night. Had a great time, set up the chairs in the river and watched the bats come in and swarm us. Fell asleep to relaxing sounds in stereo.

Next morning and back at it, more of the same.. I'd been telling her how all of the creeks were adding to the flow but it just didn't show. There were plenty of fun spots. One rapid had a series of boulders that made it a slalom course. I had eddied out and was watching as wife got pinned on the first one, not bad but still. Jumping to action to free her the upstream side barely dipped enough for some water to come in. Of course I get cussed for helping because now she had a soggy bottom. Seriously?? She said she had been dry the entire time.. Testament to the new design of the Hobies. (Matter of fact they redesigned alot) Stopped a couple times to play around and throw the football for Jax.

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Paddle, Paddle, drag, drag made it to the 10 mile marker. A cave provided the spot for lunch.

Finally reached the takeout, err missed the takeout. Was told it was just past the bridge and on the right, Didn't see anything just past the bridge but a couple hundred yards further down were some people paddling in circles. We pulled up and asked if we were at Rocky Shoals. They comfirmed. I went up to look for my truck but instead met the owner of Rocky Shoals cabins. He explained I had just missed it but he'd give me a ride. After he'd given me a tour and a sales pitch he took me to my truck. Nice guy..

Ended up getting off the water around 6pm and went to meet a diver buddy I used to work with who has a place on Lake Hamilton.. Showers etc. And Old Hot Springs the next day.

Can't wait for April/May to come around so we can do the Buffalo. After she gets some more time in her dry seat of course.
Last edited by DangerSquirrel on Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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