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If You Had Five Days To Float/fish, Where Would You Go?


hoglaw

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So last year I convinced one of the partners and one of the other associates in my firm to do a three day float with me on crooked creek. Fortunately they had a blast and are ready to do it again this spring. The only caveat being they want to go a little bigger - possibly farther away - and for four nights on the river.

If you were in Northwest Arkansas and had six days in which to do a four night float, where would you go? I'm thinking it has to be within a 500 mile radius. These guys aren't going to the boundary waters. I don't really want to go north, because this will be an April event and I'd like to stay warm. The buffalo is always an option. We'd be starting during the week and finishing on a Saturday or Sunday, so the crowds would be down while we were above rush, and we would still have some solitude below it.

I'm thinking this is a good chance to do something new though. My only requirements are that it be a warm water fishery and that it be a wilderness type area. More than good fishing, I want to make sure we don't see anyone else (or at least not many folks - boats on the lower buff are just a fact of life in April). Any suggestions?

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So last year I convinced one of the partners and one of the other associates in my firm to do a three day float with me on crooked creek. Fortunately they had a blast and are ready to do it again this spring. The only caveat being they want to go a little bigger - possibly farther away - and for four nights on the river.

If you were in Northwest Arkansas and had six days in which to do a four night float, where would you go? I'm thinking it has to be within a 500 mile radius. These guys aren't going to the boundary waters. I don't really want to go north, because this will be an April event and I'd like to stay warm. The buffalo is always an option. We'd be starting during the week and finishing on a Saturday or Sunday, so the crowds would be down while we were above rush, and we would still have some solitude below it.

I'm thinking this is a good chance to do something new though. My only requirements are that it be a warm water fishery and that it be a wilderness type area. More than good fishing, I want to make sure we don't see anyone else (or at least not many folks - boats on the lower buff are just a fact of life in April). Any suggestions?

I'd float the Eleven Point. For a five day trip, you'd probably want to go from Cane Bluff down to the Narrows. It flows almost entirely through wilderness country, with no development whatsoever along the stream. The fishing is a mixture. From Cane to Greer Spring-the first 8 miles or so its a typical warm-water fishery-smallies, goggleye, etc. From Greer to Riverton (20 miles) it is a trout fishery with a good population of smallmouth bass mixed in. From Riverton to the Narrows, it's smallies and goggle-eye again. It is probably the most scenic float in Missouri, and maybe the best in the Ozarks. It's got the whole deal-springs (including Greer, which is the second largest in Missouri and incredibly beautiful) caves, bluffs, and it isn't crowded. There are float camps along the river.

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Buffalo would be my first choice from Ponca down to (however slow/fast) you want to take it . . . but it ain't going to meet your requirement of "I want to make sure we don't see anyone else". Even in the middle of the week, the Buffalo is in peak season in April.

You might consider Jacks Fork in Missouri. Start up at the Prongs, take your time and go down to the confluence with the Current, but there again . . . you're going to see somebody, and definitely on the final leg as you get close to Eminence. Or the 11 point from Riverton down will get you solitude, but maybe not from jetboats.

Ever float the Mulberry and Big Piney there in NW Ark? They offer a little more of a sporting challenge and are pretty cool in their own right,, but I wouldn't bring my camping gear in the boat with me, you would want to base camp those. Not sure the fishing is all that hot either.

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The Buffalo would be my top choice, followed by the Jack's Fork, Gasconade, or Big Piney in Missouri...You will probably see fewer people on the Big Piney or Gasconade but smallie fishing is often hit or miss in April...May is usually a bit more consistent. Sounds like a wonderful trip no matter where you go. Cheers.

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I've done every inch of the Buffalo many many times. I've done all of the Mulberry above Turner Bend many times. I'm more familiar with the Big Piney than anyone in the state. I have access to and frequently stay at the only cabin on the entire west bank (right by Helton's Farm). It's the coolest piece of property in the state.

I wouldn't put in above Tyler Bend for this trip. This is more of a take your time and fish trip. Not looking for exciting floating, just good fishing and solitude. Even during peak season on the buffalo, I've rarely bumped into other canoers below Rush. Doubt I'd see more than a handfull on weekdays below Tyler, especially if conditions are good enough for folks to float the upper.

I've always wanted to give the 11 pt. a shot. I figured it was pretty crowded, but have never been up there.

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And to answer the last part of your comment about the mulberry and big piney, the fishing in both is average. We have caught some very nice OLD stream bass in the Piney, but rarely connect with big fish. It's possible the fish are a little better as you get closer to Dardanelle. The mulberry has always been about the same in my experience. There are some good fish in it, but mostly average smallies. I suspect it gets much better as you get closer to the cemetary and the big river though. Someone posted a really cool pic from what I think is the lower river on here a while back. I had it as my desktop background for a while. Can't remember what thread that was, but he had some beautiful pics.

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I think I would go with either the Buffalo or the Kings River. The Kings river offers solitude on the upper end and good fishing. If you start at Big Onion Creek in Marble and go to Trigger Gap it is about a 35 mile trip. The best chance of encountering groups of people is the last 7.7 miles from Rockhouse to Trigger Gap, so you could cut that portion out and make it a 27 mile trip. You can check out the river map on the link below. I've used Kings River Outfitters in the past, and you can call Ernie and get river info if you need it.

http://www.kingsriveroutfitters.com/pdf/upperkingsmap.pdf

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