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Buffalo River Trip (need Advice)

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Question: It sounds like the Clabber Creek shoals are about the only tricky spot in the lower river. Correct? I always have a long rope attached to front of the canoe, and walk around tricky spots especially early in the trip and a full canoe - wet sleeping gear sucks!! Usually at shoals or tricky turns, one side of the river will be wadeable. Is it possible to get out with a rope and walk thru the shoals at Clabber? I consider myself an above average navigator and can probably handle Clabber with the advice to stay left, but still would rather error on the side of caution and would probably walk thru my first trip.

At the risk of being shunned by some, I take a radio for morning weather updates and Cardinal baseball around the campfire, but NOT blaring music on the river or at camp. 

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10 hours ago, Mark said:

Question: It sounds like the Clabber Creek shoals are about the only tricky spot in the lower river. Correct? I always have a long rope attached to front of the canoe, and walk around tricky spots especially early in the trip and a full canoe - wet sleeping gear sucks!! Usually at shoals or tricky turns, one side of the river will be wadeable. Is it possible to get out with a rope and walk thru the shoals at Clabber? I consider myself an above average navigator and can probably handle Clabber with the advice to stay left, but still would rather error on the side of caution and would probably walk thru my first trip.

At the risk of being shunned by some, I take a radio for morning weather updates and Cardinal baseball around the campfire, but NOT blaring music on the river or at camp. 

I’m not sure if it is walkable. You’re kind of focused on making it through and not so much on anything else.  It’s pretty fast and deep so it possibly isn’t. That said, it really isn’t that bad in normal water levels. As long as you keep the boat straight, you’re good. Not really any turns or obstacles to navigate around. 

There are a few more shoals as you go. I’m also very conservative and walk when in doubt, but there were very few places I felt that was needed in this section. 

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In higher spring water levels, Clabber Creek usually has some fairly impressive standing waves, enough to swamp an open canoe if you take the heart of the biggest waves.  However, at that level you can probably sneak by to the inside of the bend (the left), over a big gravel bar that rises to a thick stand of willows.  You enter the shoal at the end of the pool at Rush, and the river bends to the right out of the pool, then bends left into the shoal itself.  The right bank is rock and ledges, underwater in higher water levels, with really brushy bank on that side and swift current.  The current is a little slower on the left side.

In lower water levels like you have by May and June normally, the shoal narrows and the rock ledges on the right appear out of the water, and the gravel bar appears on the left side.  The shoal gets narrow and studded with rocks, requiring maneuvering, but once that rocky gravel bar on the left appears, you can probably walk down the edge of it.

At least that's the way I remember it, and the way it looks on a couple of videos I've seen.  I've floated it recently (like three or four years ago) only at lower water levels, where it's a steep drop through big rocks that you just about can't avoid scraping over.  It's been a long time since I floated it in higher water.

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Yeah I've watched the youtube video, it's good to know stay left. Looks doable, just checking.  I'm retiring Al, Buffalo and Jacks Fork are at the top of my bucket list. How's the pan fishing on the lower Buffalo? My problem with pan fishing Ozark streams is I can't keep the pumpkin seed off. I've read you will catch about anything on lower Buff. And I know I've read the regs - thinking it is 2 smallies over 16"? - do hope to eat fish, don't really care what kind.

 

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Plenty of goggle-eye (the Ozark bass species) in the Buffalo, but like every other stream, the longears will get to everything small you throw before anything else.  The Buffalo is actually a somewhat sterile stream, and also somewhat isolated when it comes to warm-water fish.  What I mean by that is that unlike a lot of rivers which have different kinds of warm-water fish migrating up them from the larger rivers they run into or the very fertile lower sections of the river itself, the Buffalo is a low-nutrient stream all the way to its mouth, and then it runs into the cold water of the White River, where there just aren't many warm water species living.  So the Buffalo's fish are pretty much limited to the natives that live there year-round.   For instance, I haven't heard of walleye being caught out of the Buffalo in recent years, so I doubt that there are many, if any, in it these days (they used to come up out of the White River before the dams).  Not sure about fish like flatheads--there is a decent but not great population of channel catfish.  Largemouth are not common, spotted bass almost non-existent.  Trout come up out of the White in cold weather, but they don't survive in the Buffalo in the summer because water temps get up into the high 80s or even warmer once the water gets low.  There are gar in the big holes that live there year-round, and there are BIG redhorse (a function mainly of lack of gigging pressure--the 10 hp limit on motors in the Buffalo and the usual low water levels in the fall and winter keep gigging limited to areas around the accesses). 

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I am simply amazed at the stuff you guys take. While I might not travel as light as Terrierman, at least half the suggestion on Steve's list wouldn't go  with me and quite a few other things that would stay with the vehicles. I would not take a cooler, nor  loose ice, probably no tent and surely no tent poles. Polypropylene long johns will dry in minutes after a swim.  That would probably take the place of one or two clothing changes.

But two things I have never camped without are an axe and a shovel, did I miss them or did no one suggest them? Maybe they aren't allowed in that area?  I would have  two tarps and a couple hundred feet of para cord or clothes line, One tarp goes under and over the bed roll and the other is a fly/shelter/ tent. The rectangular 2 quart juice bottles  make excellent ice  and as thawed become drinking water, any cold foods put in a duffle with one or two frozen juice bottles- when the cold foods are gone you aren't stuck toting that empty cooler. If you do bring coolers why won't they double as table and chairs? Paper plates and cups are trash to deal with; washable reusable bowls work great and can be used to bail. or mix cake batter. The idea of Frisbee dishes  is one I will try. Like wise a washable muslin towel would replace the paper trash towels.  If drunkenness is part of the plan skip the suds and just carry spirits-old, single run and smokey- lighter,  more compact, and very effective.

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