On our 3rd and final night of our float down the Buffalo, we agreed that we were not ready to go home. There were 3 rivers in the vicinity full of fish that we wanted to keep going after for a few more days. We had gotten further down the Buffalo on the 3rd day than we’d thought, so only a short 4-5 mile float left until we reached the end where it met the White. So we planned to get up on our final day, fish our way to the end of the Buffalo, and spend some time trout fishing on the White until we got to the take out.
The large group of 30 or so people I mentioned in my previous post, was a special interest group. It was called something like “rush” or “dash” It was an Internet forum where the members discuss activities and interests. Several times a year the group meets up somewhere on a trip that involves an activity. They’re from all over the US, and their previous trips were not necessarily outdoor endeavors. We learned about this from 2 straggling fellows who were floating past our campsite on the last morning as we left. The water level was low here, and the 4 of us were moving slowly. We started chatting with them, and found that one was chattier and more personable than the other. The less personable of the 2 seemed tired and uncomfortable. Not far past our campsite, he found himself stuck on a gravel bar in some shallow water. He turned to his buddy and said “hey man, can you pull me out?” (he was asking for his buddy to get out of his own boat, park it to the side, and physically drag him off of the gravel bottom he was stuck on). The 3 of us who were un-stuck laughed out loud at the audacity!! His buddy refused, and because I’d had to pull myself off of a few gravel bars along the way, I jokingly said “everybody has to pull their own weight out here, man! I’m a girl and I don’t get any help when I’m stuck”. He wasn’t in the mood to joke around. The boat that he was in was fairly small, (It was a “creeker” like this) and it was one that you had to sit down inside. He had himself wedged in there pretty tight with his gear, so it was sort of an ordeal for him to free himself. He also had a husky build which no doubt increased the challenge. We all felt bad for him, understanding it wasn’t a fun situation. He managed to free himself, grumbling the whole time. His buddy kept chatting with us, as we were floating gently along. Eventually the friend said he was going to hang back and wait for the one who was stuck, and we waved goodbye.
A little while later, as we were fishing our way down the bank, they caught up to us and floated nearby. The very same thing happened again. The same guy got himself hung up on a gravel bar, but this time he didn’t bother asking for help. Instead, as he angrily went about the business of extracting himself from his boat, he managed to dump himself over and fall in. We hated to see that happen to anyone -( but Shannon and I had to look away to keep from laughing because it was quite a sight). This whole event infuriated this young man, and he was unable to hold back his rage. The 3 of us had moved to start to help him until he launched into a full on hissy fit. He started screaming and cussing at the top of his lungs, repeatedly kicking his boat, and slamming his paddle in the water with such a spectacle, that it should have been on an episode of Portlandia or SNL.
His behavior was completely ridiculous, and the way that he carried on made it impossible to offer assistance in any way. It did, however, amuse us to the extent that we have laughed about it for months since. A completely different kind of wildlife.
It didn’t take long for us to reach our next destination on the White River.
“The White River runs approximately 720-miles throughout its journey through the great Ozark Mountains downward into the state of Arkansas’s lower delta region. However, there is one part of the White River which is known internationally as it harbors some of the best trout fishing in the world. This famous section of the White River is located right here in the Ozarks near the Bull Shoals Dam. ” From http://whiteriver.net
It was around 1-2pm on the 4th day when we reached the take out at Shipp’s Ferry. This was where Wild Bill’s Outfitters had dropped our truck and trailer.
We drove into nearby Heber Springs, Arkansas and found a place to stay for the next 2 nights so that we could fish the Little Red River. Shannon had worked on the Greer’s Ferry National fish hatchery museum here in the early 2000’s, and he and his dad had caught a bunch of trout at the time. The fish hatchery itself serves to stock nearby waters with Rainbow and brook trout in areas impacted by the local dam. Fishing below the dam is a trophy section with more restrictive fishing regulations, including that it’s catch and release only. The first day fishing on the Little Red River, I caught the biggest trout of the trip at about 20 inches long. My first time ever to catch a Rainbow Trout.
We fished at Cow Shoals in the rain for awhile until we’d had enough, and then decided to go and check out the Greer’s Ferry Dam and Visitor Center. This Dam was dedicated by President John F Kennedy about 1 month before he was assassinated. It was one of the last public speeches he made in his life, and the dam is now a shrine to that memory. More information about the history of the dam here.
We had a fantastic time on this trip and can’t wait to return to check out the upper 2 sections of the Buffalo.
If you plan to float the Buffalo River, we highly recommend this Canoeing Guide put out by the Ozark Society. It lists landmarks and points of interest by river miles, and each page has a corresponding map which makes it easy to follow along as you go.