We had been looking over maps while camping last month and settled on an exploratory trip to the Ouachita River in Southern Arkansas. All we had to go on were some brief fishing reports, some paper maps and Google Maps satellite images. We were unable to locate anyone we knew who had ever actually been there.
Due to the summer heat we opted to rent a cabin this time as opposed to staying in a tent. We chose to stay at River View Cabins in Oden Arkansas.
Monday morning bright and early, we made arrangements to rent a canoe for the day to take a 10 mile trip. Our plan was to paddle and wade fish as much as possible. We were on the water by 0820 and immediately I was having issues with the canoe. The right side of my seat was broken and hanging down so I had to paddle to shore and tie it up into place with some paracord I always carry. This is nothing new with rental canoes and we’ve experienced similar issues in the past. With the seat fixed, we were on our way. I noticed we were slowly taking on water but it wasn’t of great concern since I figured we would be stopping often and we could empty it out. We were never in danger of sinking, it was just an annoyance.
First thing we noticed was that this river was definitely a canoeing/kayaking river and wade fishing would be available only in a few spots.
As the day progressed, the sun was more and more intense and the heat really kicked in. By noon it was showing 94F with a heat index of 110F. We took every opportunity to submerge ourselves to cool off. As it turns out, we were the only ones from the canoe rental place to complete our chosen route. Everyone else quit at the 4 or 6 mile mark due to the heat. Can’t say as I blame them!
We tried to fish the riffles and rapids every chance we could. The slower sections never produced for us which was expected so we avoided them.
We always had to be aware of where we were on the river. Neither one of us had canoed this river before so we were always on alert. I’m comfortable in a canoe but the wife had never paddled through rapids before. Most of her time has been spent canoeing on lakes. We had a few Class I/II sections and I could tell she was really nervous. She did great and became a lot more comfortable with it as the day wore on. It probably didn’t help her psyche seeing a destroyed tandem kayak in the parking lot from a couple who failed at navigating correctly under a low water bridge. Yikes! Just hope whoever it was managed to come through OK.
We stopped for lunch around 1330, and after, we realized that the pick up was scheduled for 1530 and we had 4 more miles to go so we needed to get moving. We managed to catch a few more fish before paddling the rest of the way to the take out.
We ended up catching 19 smallmouth between the two of us with one going 2 pounds. We had fun despite the blazing sun, the “beater” canoe,and the oppressive heat and humidity. I did a blog post entitled “The Thin Blue Line” and this was a classic example for us. We saw it, researched it and decided to give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…