watching fishing cycling hiking festivals competitions travel gear geocaching conservation climbing hunting hikin
Arkansas Wild SU M M E R 2 0 1 4
A rundown of the state’s many stopping points on rivers and lakes.
2014 Marina Guide pg. 12
cooking Secrets from the heritage hog roast winner
BUFFALO BILL In and outs of summer floating on the Buffalo National River from ‘Wild Bill’ Scruggs and more
Rod & Reel
Florida bass fingerlings, honey holes, tournaments pg. 26
GOOD OL’ DAD
GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR THE GUY WHO chases off the snakes and spiders pg. 38
2 | Arkansas Wild ď‚§ Summer 2014
YOUR TRIP BEGINS HERE
Buffalo National River, America’s First National River
Free yourself from commonplace, and put yourself on the relaxation map in Arkansas. Paddle your way to picture-perfect vistas, dig up diamonds you can keep, and savor the finest Southern fare all throughout The Natural State. ORDER YOUR FREE VACATION PLANNING KIT AT ARKANSAS.COM OR CALL 1-800-NATURAL.
Wegner Crystal Mines, Mount Ida > blues in the Delta, Helena-West Helena > award-winning Jones’ Bar-B-Q Diner, Marianna > Esse Purse Museum, Little Rock > Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 3
From the Editor....
Ultimately in any publication the best stories are usually about people, and that’s certainly been true here at Arkansas Wild. For us, it’s how did they come to make their living or spend most of their time involved in the outdoors? Naturally, while a common thread runs through each person who loves the outdoors, each story also has some unique twist. For example, Jim Gaston, the trout fishing resort owner near Bull Shoals who we featured early in 2013, was all set for a life in business far away from Arkansas before he was called back to operate his father’s cabins on the White River. George Dunklin, who is the national president of Ducks Unlimited, learned so much about giving back to the outdoors from his father and is among the nation’s leaders in conservation. Such also was the case (as you’ll read in this issue) with “Wild Bill” Scruggs, who had been to Arkansas and the Buffalo River in his youth, then later in life was able to return there permanently and setup shop as the largest outfitter on the river, thanks to selling off his chain of convenience stores in Mississippi. All these men — and Marion McCollum and Butch Richenback and others we’ve featured on these pages in the past — are part of the wonderful fabric of the Arkansas wild that makes this state attractive to visitors while also making it special to our residents who enjoy the outdoors. Of course, no publication could do it without the art. Kevin Pieper was able to drive down from Harrison to Wild Bill’s Outfitter on a tight deadline and capture Bill Scruggs in his element. In our last issue, our cover perfectly illustrated the beauty found on so many of the state’s paddling streams — some of them hidden gems and not as well know as the Buffalo. We failed to give proper credit to the Arkansas Parks and Tourism for that and several other terrific photos that illustrated that feature, but we couldn’t do this without Chuck Haralson’s and Parks and Tourism’s help and talent in capturing the state’s gorgeousness through the lens. In each issue, Haralson takes readers on a journey throughout the state to find what makes Arkansas unique. In the summer, when the major hunting seasons are closed, those who love the outdoors find themselves in the state’s smaller hamlets where festivals unique to those towns are ongoing. Visitors can taste and enjoy what makes each little part of this state special. After all, we’re not The Natural State for nothing. In this issue, we take you fishing with local TV personality Liz Massey, and we get wet and wild over a major water ski event coming to Scott. If you want to know how to cook a whole hog, we have Chris Tanner of Cheers in the Heights, the winner of the recent Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast, offering his secrets. Enjoy the issue. Sincerely, Jim Harris Editor 4 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
CONTENTS 16 18 20 26
36 38 40 44
From tiny sailing craft to speed boats to yachts, Arkansas handles them all with dozens of marinas on its many lakes and rivers. We list them here to help you find what you’re looking for.
BIG ONE COMING
USA Water Ski is bringing its 21-and-under championship to Bullneck Lake near Scott.
Late spring and early summer is a terrific time to go exploring a 150-mile Arkansas treasure, where you’ll meet folks like Wild Bill Scruggs.
ROD & REEL
We lump some terrific fishing stories into one section, hoping you’ll be hooked: Florida largemouth fingerlings are populating the state’s lakes, and former news anchor Liz Massey knows where to find some honey holes, plus there is a big tournament coming again for amateur anglers.
Here’s a winning recipe from chef Chris Tanner of Cheers in the Heights, who won the second annual Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast in early May.
SHOPPING FOR DAD
We’ve got the goods to make any father happy on his day.
MORE LAND FOR DUCKS
Ducks Unlimited has a five-year initiative underway to restore more habit along rivers in the Mid-South, including Arkansas.
Throughout Arkansas, towns will celebrate their heritage with festivals, and Arkies are also on the lookout for farmers markets with native produce. A.C. “Chuck” Haralson of the state Parks and Tourism Department gives us a look.
WHAT TO DO
Highlights for the outdoors lover, including some ideas on where to stay cool.
THIS WONDERFUL STATE
With school out, Arkansas offers a great expanse to explore. Don’t miss out.
COVER PHOTO: ‘Wild Bill’ Scruggs has spent 23 years on the Buffalo National River as its largest outfitter. Photo by Kevin Pieper
Arkansas Wild is Interactive Get everything Arkansas Wild has to offer every issue by reading the interactive edition on your computer or handheld device. Arkansas Wild is full of links to useful websites, apps, videos, documents, valuable hunting information, tutorials and more! Read the current issue for free at facebook.com/ArkansasWild or download the enhanced PDF to read any time on your iPad, laptop or other portable device!
Summer 2014 ď‚§ Arkansas Wild | 5
Let us find your underground utilities before you do.
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201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2014 Arkansas Wild
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WildThings Side notes and other diversions
Valero Pipeline Plans Include Crossing State WMAs When we think of oil pipelines and Arkansas these days, it doesn’t conjure up pleasant thoughts. Fresh on everyone’s minds a year after it ruptured is the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline that dumped oil into a Mayflower neighborhood and cove of Lake Conway and required dozens of people to relocate to hotels and motels to live during cleanup. The cleanup process may never eliminate every trace of the spill, and fishermen are leery of contaminated fish in Lake Conway near the spill area. If that’s not enough, ExxonMobil doesn’t appear to be interested in moving the Pegasus pipeline further from the watershed of Lake Maumelle, which is the major drinking water source for nearly a half-million people in the Little Rock metropolitan area. Now, in a story that Leslie Newell Peacock of the Arkansas Times broke in March, we’re now learning that Valero Energy Corp. wants to build a pipeline that would cross three of the state’s Wildlife Management Areas — including, ironically, the Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA in eastern Arkansas. It was Hancock, the late Stuttgart dentist, who led the fight against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop channelization of the Cache River more than a generation ago. Now, a protected area for wildlife is in the right-ofway for Valero to run an oil pipeline across the state. Speaking of the Cache River, the reason Valero can’t run
the line directly through the Cache River National Refuge is because it is federally controlled land, as is the White River National Refuge, and the feds denied passage. But Arkansas state law allows an oil company the right to place a pipeline on state or privately-owned land through eminent domain. In this case, Valero’s east-west Diamond Pipeline Project would connect Cushing, Okla., with Memphis to move oil originally obtained from the Bakken Shale in the Dakotas. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is trying to determine its options — as limited as they may be because of state law — to keep the crude oil pipeline out of the Steve Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA, the Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA and the Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA. The Black Swamp encompasses 5,590 acres along the Cache River. The bottomlands are filled with giant cypress trees and water tupelos and rich with bird and animal life. Valero and Plains All American Pipeline Co.’s brochure that was provided to conservation agencies says the Diamond Pipeline Project would cost $800 million, creating 424 miles of 20-inch pipeline from Cushing to Memphis. Valero officials referred questions to the pipeline company, which only said the project was still being evaluated. The brochure said the companies would finalize engineering plans and permits and right-of-way acquisition this year and begin construction in 2015 with a goal to be
Valero and Plains All American Pipeline Co.’s brochure that went to conservation agencies indicates a pipeline crossing Henry Gray Hurricane Creek WMA (middle left, around Georgetown) and the Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA (middle right) on the Cache River. The portion that is drawn incomplete (middle) would eventually go over private land. 8 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
in service by 2016. While Arkansas has no law governing oil pipeline siting, state agencies have jurisdiction over projects where they cross navigable waterways (overseen by the state Public Service Commission) and do require stormwater construction, hydrostatic testing and stream crossing permits (regulated by Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality). The federal government leaves authority over pipeline routing to the states (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates only natural gas line siting, and the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulates pipelines only after constructed). According to the Times, that would leave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which requires permits for work in all waterways, navigable or not, as the best conduit for the AGFC to try to limit intrusion on state-owned sensitive natural areas and prevent habitat fragmentation. Ricky Chastain, AGFC deputy director, said his agency is working with partners, including the state Health Department, the Arkansas Department of Natural Heritage (which has easements on some Game and Fish lands), and the state Natural Resources Commission to ask the Corps to impose individual permit requirements rather than a nationwide permit that would cover the entire pipeline. Individual permits require a formal review process, requiring public comment and triggering public notice to all concerned agencies. That would “provide an avenue for
additional review,” Chastain said. The WMAs lie in the Corps’ Memphis district, but the Little Rock agency is the lead agency for the project. The pipeline passes through the Tulsa district as well. Cynthia Blansett, environmental protection specialist for the Little Rock district of the Corps, said Valero and Plains All American had a “pre-application” meeting with the Little Rock district and the Tulsa and Memphis districts last fall. They have submitted a proposed route to the Corps and said they hope to have an application in by late spring or early summer. Blansett said the application would include environmental impact information. The Corps will use that information to determine whether the applicant will fall under nationwide permit guidelines for least impact. The AGFC wasn’t informed about the proposed pipeline, according to the Times, until the its real estate section forwarded to higher-ups a notice that the partners in the Diamond Project had asked permission to survey AGFC property. That got Chastain’s attention, he said. The Times’ Peacock reported in April that one of the project partners, Plains All American, has a history of safety violations with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and was responsible for three major oil spills in Alberta, Canada. Also, Plains paid $3.25 million in a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 related to spills in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Deer Season Dates Set The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission set the state’s deer hunting seasons earlier this spring, with modern gun deer season opening Nov. 8, archery season opening Sept. 27, and muzzleloader season opening Oct. 18.
Season dates for the 2014-15 deer hunting season: Archery – All zones: Sept. 27-Feb. 28, 2015. Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 8-30. Zone 4: Nov. 8-9. Zone 5: Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 15-16. Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 8-Dec. 7. Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 8-16. Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 8-Dec. 14. Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 8-Dec. 25. Muzzleloader – Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15: Oct. 18-26 and Dec. 13-15. Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 18-26 and Dec. 29-31. Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed. The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is Dec. 26-28. Youth modern gun deer hunts will be held Nov. 1-2 and Jan. 3-4, 2015. A private land antlerless-only modern gun deer hunt in zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17 will be held Oct. 11-15. The commission also approved the harvest of feral hogs only during bear, deer and elk firearms seasons on certain WMAs. The regulation permits some taking of nuisance feral hogs, without promoting the recreational hunting of feral hogs, on Commission-controlled property.
Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 9
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N I R A A S M Arkansas Wild
Our marina guide focuses on these areas: Beaver Lake, Greers Ferry Lake, the greater Hot Springs area of lakes Catherine, Hamilton and Ouachita, Lake DeGray, Lake Greeson, the Arkansas River and marinas in the Greater Little Rock area. Space limitations don’t allow us to list every detail for every marina in the state, but we have also listed several other marinas that are also included on the state Parks and Tourism website, www.arkansas.gov. Information was obtained through Arkansas.gov or from the marinas.
Photo by Daniel Weber
Gateway to the famous white sand beaches, Jordan Marina is located two miles east of the Dam on Norfork Lake. ARKANSAS RIVER (OUTSIDE GREATER LITTLE ROCK) Emerald Cove Marina 300 S. First St., Van Buren Phone: 479-474-9898 Full-service marina on the Arkansas River; free wireless Internet; boat, slip and jet ski rentals; fuel; boat accessories; motor repairs, snacks/ groceries, boat fuel. Island Harbor Marina 1700 Island Harbor Marina Drive, White Hall Phone: 870-536-2629 Only marina between Little Rock and Greenville, Miss.; on Lake Langhoffer (Pine Bluff Harbor) about 1/4 mile off the Arkansas River at mile 71.1; covered and open slips; launch ramp; ski shop, swim wear, sportswear; courtesy weighIn station for fishing tournaments; pontoon, ski and fishing boat rentals, bait shop, lake/river maps available, snack/groceries, boat fuel. Russellville Marina, Boat Repair & Cabins 330 Beach Road, Russellville Phone: 479-967-1543 Cabins for up to five people; barbecue pits, picnic tables; two double beds; two children’s bunk beds; fully equipped kitchens; lakeside view; marina; boat repair shop; camping; nature walks; fishing; miniature golf; swimming beach; walking trails; amphitheater; interpretive programs available. Marina sells fishing licenses, bait, maps, snacks/groceries and fuel.
12 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Spadra Waterfront Marina 700 Marina Drive, Clarksville Phone: 479-754-5021 Family owned and operated marina (exit 58 on I-40) on the west end of Lake Dardanelle and mile marker 230.6 on the Arkansas River. Covered and uncovered slips ranging from $55 to $130 a month plus tax (discount by the year), ethanol-free 89 octane fuel, waste pump-out station, up to 50 amp service on dock, full service bait and tackle shop, outboard boat motor repair, sales and service, marine parts and sales, Boat rentals (14-foot V-bottom boats with 6hp motors), RV sites. Wildcat Marina 300 S. First St., Van Buren Phone: 479-242-1187 Slip rentals (30 and 50 AMP), diesel and unleaded fuel; houseboat rental and sales, store, 24-hour video surveillance; free wi-fi, pump out available; boat cleaning and valet service; shuttle service upon request; overnight accommodations with laundry, showers, restrooms. BEAVER LAKE AREA Beaver Dam Store at Spider Creek Resort 8421 Highway 187, Eureka Springs Phone: 479-253-6154 Fishing gear, guided fishing trips, grocery, lodging, full-service fly shop. Fishing licenses sold, boats rented, maps available, fuel. Beaver Lakefront Cabins 1234 County Road 120, Eureka Springs Phone: 479-253-9210 Spacious, glass-front cabins and suites overlooking lake, 8 miles west
of Eureka Springs. Jacuzzis for two, stone fireplaces, private entrances, decks, grills, fully equipped kitchens and HDTVs with an enormous movie library. Designed just for adults; popular for honeymoons, anniversaries, birthdays or secluded getaways. In-room massage, meals prepared by private chef; sun deck; covered picnic area; large, private dock. Boat rental or complimentary pedal boat, canoe or kayak; indoor, heated fishing room. Fishing licenses sold, water toy rentals, maps and fishing guide service available. Lost Bridge Marina 12861 Marina Road, Garfield Phone: 479-359-3222 Fishing boat, motor rentals; fishing equipment for sale; jet ski, ski boat, pontoon, ski and wakeboard rentals; kneeboard and towable inflatables rentals; scuba air tank refills and equipment rental; pleasure craft and party barge rentals; camping; boat/ motor repairs. Fuel, maps available. Bait shop, licenses sold. Hickory Creek Marina Fish and Ski Center 12737 Hickory Creek Road, Lowell Phone: 479-751-7366 Full-service marina with boat launch, marine repair available, ski and pontoon rental, seasonal restaurant. Fishing licenses, bait shop, maps, fuel, snacks/groceries. Callaghan’s Horseshoe Bend Marina 16168 E. Highway, Rogers Phone: 479-925-1545 Full-service marina offering fuel, oil, boat sales and dockage; ice, soda, snacks, bait, tackle and an indoor aquarium.
Prairie Creek Marina 1 Prairie Creek Marina Drive, Rogers Phone: 479-925-1623 Full-service marina with certified marine repair available; 389 covered slips with electricity; boatlifts; deck, ski and pontoon boat rentals; Boat Dock Cafe. Bait shop, snacks/groceries, fuel. Ugly John’s Custom Boats & Rocky Branch Marina 8872 Rocky Branch Marina Road, Rogers Phone: 479-925-1300 Fishing boat, personal watercraft, party barge rentals; camping; boat/motor repair. Bait shop, fuel, snacks/groceries, maps available. GREATER LITTLE ROCK Jolly Roger’s Marina 11800 Maumelle Harbor Road, Roland Phone: 501-868-5558 Fishing boat, party barge rentals; boat slips; fuel. Little Rock Yacht Club 3 Yacht Club Drive, Little Rock Phone: 501-868-4401 Website: lryachtclub.com Full-service marina with gas and diesel on the Arkansas River at mile marker 130. Pump-out available. No rental, all private owners, but transient slips available. Covered slip rental up to 100 feet. Boat ramp and Travelift. Strategically located between Maumelle Campground and Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The 14-mile river bike trail runs by the property. Fine-dining restaurants, groceries and more nearby.
Rockwater Marina 1601 River Road, North Little Rock Phone: 501-347-8275, 417-847-7343 Website: http://www.rockwatermarina.com/ Full-service marina located near downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock; currently the only marina that services the Arkansas River between Murray Lock and Dam and the David Terry Lock and Dam; 66 current boat slips with pump-out system (136 are planned), fueling station, ship store, large patio, concierge services. Beer and wine permit. In development is an enclave of 33 single-family homes, The Residences at Rockwater. Hi-Way Landing 24 Johnson Circle, Mayflower Phone: 501-470-9909 Boats and boats with motors for rent; bait and fishing supplies; boat motor mechanic on-site; RV hookups; cabins. Paradise Landing & Fishing Village 100 Paradise Road, Mayflower Phone: 501-470-0917 Fishing licenses sold, boat rentals, bait shop, maps available, fishing guide service, snacks/groceries, boat fuel, restaurant featuring American cuisine such as burgers, salads, plate lunches, breakfasts, homemade desserts; RV park with 20 sites. GREER’S FERRY LAKE AREA Choctaw Marina 3850 Hwy. 330 South, Choctaw Phone: 501-745-2666 Slip rentals, pontoon boat rentals; store with life vests, tubes, watersport accessories, clothing, snacks, sodas, and other items; 24/7 dock-n-pay gas. Dam Site Marina 319 Heber Springs Road North, Heber Springs. Phone: 501-362-2333 Covered boat slips; party barges, runabouts; tubes, kneeboards, wake boards, skis, life jackets, life vests. Eden Isle Marina 10 Yacht Harbor Road, Heber Springs Phone: 501-362-2232 Ski boat and equipment rentals; kneeboard, towable inflatables, personal watercraft rentals; pleasure craft, party barge rentals, boat fuel, lake maps, fishing guide service store with snacks/groceries. Fairfield Bay Marina 4350 Hwy. 330 S., Fairfield Bay Phone: 501-884-6030 Pontoon, ski and fishing boat rentals; annual and overnight boat slip rentals; Belle of the Bay lake cruise with group tours up to 30; seasonal cruises, lake swimming area, fishing dock, fish feeding area; shuttle service to Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail offered yearround on certain days of the week; reservations required. Fishing guide services, snacks/groceries, fuel.
Heber Springs Marina Highway 110 West, Heber Springs Phone: 501-362-8838 Ski boat and equipment rentals; party barge, pleasure craft rentals; waveboard, kneeboard, towable inflatables rentals; scuba center; camping, fishing guide service, snacks/ groceries, boat fuel. Lacey’s Narrows Marina & Houseboat Rentals 7674 Edgemont Road, Greers Ferry Phone: 501-825-6214 New and used boats, service, boat rentals, covered slips, boat lifts, luxury houseboat rentals. Water toy rentals, snacks/groceries, boat fuel. Peters Sugar Loaf Marina 1379 Resort Road, Higden Phone: 501-654-2555 Website: www.sugarloafmarina.com Boat dock slip rentals; tubes, skies, wake and knee boards; 24-hour dock with fuel, snacks and groceries, boat cleaning; marine mechanic on-site; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground nearby. Shiloh Marina 1350 Shiloh Road, Greers Ferry Phone: 501-825-6237 Pontoon boat rentals; boat slip rental. Tannenbaum Lodge 1800 Tannenbaum Road, Drasco Phone: 501-362-3075 Boat rentals, maps available, fishing guide service. Lodge that can accommodate meetings, corporate retreats of family getaways, with 12 units/rooms, golf course nearby, restaurant on site. HOT SPRINGS/LAKE CATHERINE/ LAKE HAMILTON AREA Balboa Marina 480 Ponce De Leon Drive, Hot Springs Village Phone: 501-922-3435 Located on Lake Balboa, the largest lake in Hot Springs Village; within walking distance to lakeside restaurant. The lake is 944 acres for fishing, swimming and water sports with a sand beach and covered pavilion. Full-service marina has boat rentals, covered and noncovered slip rentals, fuel, fishing tackle, grocery items and more. Sunset cruises available. DeSoto Marina 120 Marina Drive, Hot Springs Village Phone: 501-922-1500 Located on 200-acre Lake DeSoto; boat ramp, full service marina with noncovered rental slips, boat, canoe and paddle boat rentals; DeSoto Beach is pea gravel with picnic tables and grills. Hot Springs Marina 301 Lakeland Drive, Hot Springs Phone: 501-525-7776 Website: http://www.hotspringsmarinacom/ Oldest marina on Lake Hamilton; boat,
tubes and water toys rentals; service department; store features complete line of marine needs; ice, snacks, cold drinks; fuel; covered slip rentals, dry storage, launch ramp. Kahuna Bay Boat Rentals 4904 Central Ave., Hot Springs Phone: 501-520-5700 Party barges, deck boats, skis, tubes rentals; full-service gas station and convenience store. On Lake Hamilton. Lake Catherine State Park 1200 Catherine Park Road, Hot Springs Phone: 501-844-4176 Located on the shore of 1,940-acre Lake Catherine; features fully equipped, rustic cabins with kitchens, some of which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s; horseback riding available; three hiking trails, campground. Fully accessible twobedroom cabin with whirlpool tub and a roll-in shower, barrier-free fishing pier. Offers green friendly programs include kayak outings and Leave No Trace workshops, which teach outdoor ethics to participants. Pets must leashed at all times. Boat dock offers bait and fuel (available summer only); boat rentals, launch ramp; groceries, snacks and ice are available at the visitor center. Young’s Lakeshore RV Resort 1601 Lakeshore Drive, Hot Springs Phone: 501-767-7946 Full service RV sites with city water/at site sewer, 20/30/50 amp electric, cable television, Wi/Fi; park propane service, boat ramp, fishing from shoreline, spaces for everything from big rigs to pop-ups; day, week and seasonal rates. Boat Rentals, bait shop, maps of Lake Hamilton, fishing guide service, water toy rental, snacks/groceries. LAKE DEGRAY AREA DeGray Lake Resort State Park Marina 2027 State Park Entrance Road, Bismarck Phone: 501-865-2851 Fishing boat and equipment rentals; personal watercraft rentals; pleasure craft, canoe, party barge rentals; camping and accommodations. Fishing licenses sold, bait shop, maps available, guide service, boat fuel. Nearby is the State Park lodge and the Blue Heron Spa operated by the park — a 94room lodge located on its own island in DeGray Lake; pool, hot tub, bicycle rentals; horseback riding; full-service marina, championship golf course, swim beaches, tennis/basketball courts, campsites, pavilion, nature and environment programs, hiking trails. Iron Mountain Lodge & Marina 134 Iron Mountain Marina Drive, Arkadelphia Phone: 870-246-4310 or (toll free) 800-243-3396 Website: www.iron-mountain.com Two-bedroom, two-bath or and three-bedroom, three-bath waterfront
cottages on DeGray Lake; television, satellite, VCR/DVD, hot tub, full kitchen, wood-burning fireplaces, pet friendly; full-service marina with fuel, maps and snacks and groceries; boat, houseboat and watercraft rentals including sailboats, party barges, ski boats, fishing boats; conference room. Scuba equipment rentals. LAKE GREESON AREA Highway 70 Landing & Marina 15 Marina Loop, Newhope Phone: 870-398-5490 Covered and uncovered slip rentals; on Lake Greeson near Little Missouri River. Boat and water toy rentals, maps available, snacks/groceries and boat fuel. Kirby Landing Marina, Motel & Floating Cabin 328 Kirby Landing Road, Kirby Phone: 870-398-4434 Houseboat, ski boat and party barge slip rentals (call for size and price); party barge, ski boat and fishing boat rentals; dock store for oil, gas, ice and snacks; 12-unit motel with flat-screen television, DVD, satellite, full kitchens, covered patio; floating cabin with deck, full kitchen, gas grill, deck furniture. Self Creek Lodge and Marina 4192 U.S. 70 West, Kirby Phone: 870-398-5000 Features 2-bedroom/2-bath and 3-bedroom/3-bath log-sided cottages with fully equipped kitchens; private decks with hot tubs, charcoal grills; cable TV, fullservice marina offers boat storage, fishing, ski boats, party barges, fuel, snacks/ groceries and water toy rentals. Familystyle restaurant, top-rated golf course, hiking trails in the Ouachita National Forest, and two state parks, including the Crater of Diamonds State Park. LAKE OUACHITA AREA Brady Mountain Resort & Marina 4120 Brady Mountain Road, Royal Phone: 501-767-3422 Log cabins with fireplaces, sports room, honeymoon and executive cabins with Jacuzzi tubs, horseback riding; food services. Full-service marina with fuel, snacks/groceries, maps, bait shop, guide service, dive shop, houseboat rentals, water toy rentals mini golf. Restaurant features American-style food such as fish, steak and burgers. DreamChaser Houseboat & Water Toy Rentals 60 Marina Drive, Mount Ida Phone: 870-867-3480 New and newly renovated luxury houseboat rentals; water slides on all boats, four and six bedroom models sleep up to 14 people, linens included; full bathrooms, open living area and galley kitchens with new stainless steel appliances including dishwashers and granite countertops. Satellite TV, Wii, family board games, hot tubs and patio furniture on all models. No boat older Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 13
than 1999 model. Waverunner, tube and ski board rentals available. Fishing licenses, bait shop, maps, fishing guide service, scuba rental, snacks/groceries, boat fuel. Echo Canyon Resort & Marina 2645 Blakely Dam Road, Royal Phone: 501-767-2997 Fully equipped cabins with fireplaces, can sleep up to four people each; television, large front porch with grill, tables and chairs. Full-service marina with fishing boat, party barge and canoe rentals; dive boats for divers; covered and uncovered boat slips; dive shop has scuba tank refills; full-service lakeside restaurant has outdoor dining; four RV campsites. Lake Escape Houseboat Rentals 720 Caribbean Cove, Royal Phone: 501-760-2659 Luxury houseboat rentals; dive shop; advance grocery shopping available; three of the boats sleep up to 10; one sleeps up to 14; all vessels have hot tubs and slides. Scuba equipment rental, snacks/groceries, boat fuel. Lake Ouachita Dive Center 4120 Brady Mountain Road, Royal Phone: 501-760-1500 Full-service dive shop that carries many major brand names of scuba, snorkeling and spear-fishing equipment; spear-fishing charters or standard scuba charters; scuba rental and classes; open daily May-Labor Day, weekends in September. Fishing licenses, bait shop, maps, guide service, water toy rental, houseboat rental, snacks/groceries, boat fuel. Lake Ouachita Shores Resort & Marina 359 Ouachita Shores Parkway, Mount Ida Phone: 870-867-3651 Motel and bungalows; all rooms have lake views; bungalows are fully equipped; motel rooms have cable television, in-room coffee makers; swimming pool, volleyball, horseshoes; fishing boat, motor rentals; fishing equipment for sale; kneeboard, towable inflatables, personal watercraft rentals; pleasure craft, party barge rentals; camping and accommodations; boat/motor repairs; houseboat dock, boat fuel, snacks/groceries. Lake Ouachita State Park 5451 Mountain Pine Road, Mountain Pine Phone: 501-767-9366 Seven fully equipped cabins overlooking the lake; campsites, picnic areas; marina with boat rentals, bait and supplies; swimming area, trails; visitor center with exhibits, store, snack bar. Events and programs include guided hikes, birding adventures, and outdoor skills workshops. Marina includes fishing boat rentals; fishing equipment for sale; personal watercraft rentals; pleasure craft, canoe, party barge rentals, snacks/groceries, fuel.
14 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Little Fir Landing 3304 Hwy 188 East, Mount Ida Phone: 870-867-3335 Fully equipped RV sites; full service marina with bait shop, snacks/groceries and fuel; mobile home for rent. Mountain Harbor Resort & Turtle Cove Spa 994 Mountain Harbor Road, Mount Ida Phone: 870-867-2191 Website: www.mountainharborresort.com. Resort and luxury spa offers lakeview log cottages with hot tubs; luxury condominiums; waterfront restaurant, full-service marina and boat storage; ski boats, party barges, water toys, houseboat rentals; Ocean Extreme Dive Center; guide service; conference center; swimming pools, tennis, horseback riding. On-site restaurant offers familystyle cooking. Large store at marina offers everything including boat fuel. North Shores Resort & Marina 190 Shore View Loop, Jessieville Phone: 501-984-5420 Cabins with fully equipped kitchens, covered decks; four luxury cabins with hot tubs and fireplaces; Billington’s at North Shores Restaurant; Aqua Fun party barge and boat rentals, marina store, fueling facility, marine sanitation system, boat slips, RV sites with hook-ups; Almost Home houseboat rentals; fishing guide. Shangri-La Resort & Marina 987 Shangri La Drive, Mount Ida Phone: 870-867-2011 One or two-bedroom housekeeping cottages with furnished kitchens; motel rooms; cable television; tennis court, swimming pool; restaurant features down-home cooking, daily lunch specials, homemade desserts; legendary pies; full-service marina, tackle shop, fully rigged fishing boat and party barge rental, with boat fuel and fishing licenses sold. SMALLER RIVER MARINAS Blue Heron Campground & Resort 150 Blue Heron Drive, Cotter Phone: 870-453-4678 Buffalo River Outfitters 9664 Hwy 64, St. Joe Phone: 870-439-2244
Lindsey Trout Dock & Campground 1168 Chessmond Ferry Road, Calico Rock Phone: 870-297-4543
Gene’s Trout Fishing Resort 324 River Acres Drive, Salesville Phone: 870-499-5381
Lobo Landing Resort 3525 Libby Road, Heber Springs Phone: 501-362-5802
Highway 125 Marina 321 Marina Drive, Peel Phone: 870-436-5390
Red River Trout Dock 285 Ferguson Road, Heber Springs Phone: 501-362-2197
Lakeview Cove Marina 707 Boat Dock Road, Lakeview Phone: 870-431-5291
River Ranch Resort 630 River Ranch Resort Road, Heber Springs. Phone: 501-362-0391
Larry Babin’s Hogs on the Fly 216 Oak Summit Drive, Mountain Home
Swaha Lodge & Marina 205 Dynamite Hill Road, Murfreesboro Phone: 870-285-2272 Swinging Bridge Resort Trout Dock & Campground 100 Swinging Bridge Drive, Heber Springs. Phone: 501-362-3327 Wild Bill’s Outfitters 23 Ark. 268 East, Yellville. Phone: 870-449-6235 BULL SHOALS/ UPPER WHITE RIVER AREA Anglers White River in Allison Intersection of Highways 5, 9 &14, Allison, Mountain View Phone: 870-585-2226 Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock 140 Boat Dock Cove, Bull Shoals. Phone: 870-445-4424 Bull Shoals Lake Resort 327 Westview Road, Midway Phone: 870-431-5372 Bull Shoals-White River State Park 153 Dam Overlook Lane, Bull Shoals Phone: 870-445-3629 Buzzard Roost Harbor P.O. Box 390, Mountain Home. Phone: 870-492-5346
Lead Hill Boat Dock Scenic 7 Byway North, Lead Hill Phone: 870-422-7444 Newlands Lodge, Float Trips & Conference Center 295 River Road, Lakeview Phone: 870-431-5678 Oakland Inn & Marina 9924 Oakland Road, Oakland Phone: 870-431-5381 Panther Bay Marina 151 Panther Bay Loop, Mountain Home Phone: 870-492-5151 Quarry Marina 209 Quarry Park Point, Mountain Home Phone: 870-499-5388 Red Bud Dock 31 Red Bud Lane, Gassville Phone: 870-435-6303 Riley’s Station Outfitter & Hide-Away 129 County Road 640, Mountain Home Phone: 870-425-4221 Rim Shoals Resort 153 Rim Shoals Camp, Mountain Home Phone: 870-435-6144. Sister Creek Resort 9833 Promise Land Road, Mountain Home Phone: 870-431-5587.
Charlie’s Rainbow Trout Resort 270 River Acres Drive 72653
Sportsman’s White River Resort 458 Marion County 7004, Flippin Phone: 870-453-2424
Coon Creek Fishing Resort P.O. Box 36, Peel Phone: 870-436-5405
STR Outfitters 547 Mossy Rock Place, Mountain Home Phone: 870-491-5582
Dally’s Ozark Flyfisher 1200 West Main No. 7, Cotter Phone: 870-435-6166
Copper John’s Resort 469 River Road, Lakeview Phone: 870-431-4454
Tracy Ferry Marina 3438 Tracy Ferry Road, Mountain Home Phone: 870-491-5335
Harris Brake Lake Resort 18 Coffee Creek Landing, Perryville Phone: 501-889-2745
Cranfield Boat Dock 2028 Cranfield Road, Mountain Home Phone: 870-492-5191
Tucker Hollow Boat Dock 22921 Highway 281 North, Lead Hill Phone: 870-436-5564
His Place Resort 89 Chamberlain Lane, Cotter Phone: 870-435-6535
Cricket Creek Marina 20515 Boat Dock Road West, Omaha Phone: 870-426-3474
White Hole Resort 4971 MC 7001, Flippin Phone: 870-453-2913
Lindsey’s Resort on the Little Red River 350 Rainbow Loop, Heber Springs Phone: 501-362-3139
Gaston’s White River Resort & Restaurant 1777 River Road, Lakeview Phone: 870-431-5202
For more information on Arkansas marinas, visit www.arkansas.gov.
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Wake It Up Martin Kolman of Czech Republic, ranked No.1 in the world overall.
Photo courtesy of USA Water Ski
Scott Greenwood had watched his kids become proficient water skiers in championship competitions outside Arkansas, and he longed to bring such a tournament to the state. He got his wish from USA Water Ski, which will bring its Junior U.S. Open Water Ski Championship to Scott on June 7-8. Skiers ages 15 to 21 will compete at Bullneck Lake, which Greenwood has developed into a facility worthy of a national championship. It will mark the first time Arkansas has hosted an event that in recent years has been held in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Illinois and Kansas. This marks the 14th year of the competition. “It’s just a little lake that Scott Greenwood turned into a water ski specific lake, it’s just back in the swamp,” John McClure, the local event coordinator, said of Bullneck Lake. “He’s been working on it for years to get it into the type shape that it can hold an event like this that is finally up to the standards.” Besides the top skiers, including some of the world’s best, the event will draw The Waterskier Magazine and Waterski Magazine, which is distributed in 16 countries and has $4.7 billion in annual revenues — in other words, Arkansas will get noticed at least for a weekend as the place to be for waterskiing. Organizers are providing an 85-foot boom lift for photography and video for the two magazines’ use. USA Water Ski, the governing body over the event, will have a representative on site to shoot video and VLOG of video and interviews throughout the event that will be distributed via Twitter and Facebook feeds. As for the competitors, some of the noteworthy entrants are: • K.C. Wilson — Ranked No. 3 in the World U-21 Slalom; two-time Junior Masters Slalom Champion, five-time 18 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Top International Water Skiers Compete in Arkansas
Junior U.S. Open Slalom Champion; currently on professional tour; holds two national slalom records. • Martin Kolman — Ranked No. 1 in the World Overall U-21; from Czech Republic. • Taylor Garcia — Ranked No. 1 in the World in Jump U-17; ranked No. 3 in the world in Junior Men Slalom and Overall • Erika Lang — Current world record holder in the trick division; ranked No. 1 in the world on the Elite list; world champion; Moomba Masters Champion; Masters Champion. Lang is considered by many to the biggest star in water skiing today. • Nick Lang — Ranked No. 1 Overall Skier in the World U-17. • Giannina Bonnemann — Ranked No. 2 Overall Skier in the World U-21; top female water skier from Germany. Brooks Wilson, a professional water skier, will serve as the competition announcer. Jim Grew, the former president of USA Water Ski, will be a judge at the competition. Among the top boat drivers on the circuit who will be on hand are Ron Goodman and Chris Eller. The two-day event will be open to the public at no charge. Concessions will be available, along with other activities outside of the skiing. “It’s a big coup to get it here,” McClure said of the event. Qualifying for the event was continuing through the month of May. “You’ve got the world’s top ranked skiers coming from the Czech Republic, Germany, Australia,” McClure said. The competition involves three criteria: slalom, jump and trick.
Junior U.S. Open Water Ski Championships
Date: June 7-8 Time: TBD, but in good weather conditions the top participants will perform each afternoon. Participants: Boys and girls, ages 15-21 Location: Bullneck Lake, Scott Directions: Take England exit (U.S. Highway 165) off I-440, drive 7.7 miles south toward England, turn left on Johnson Road. Go seventhtenths of mile and turn left on Mourot Road. Go seven-tenths of mile on Mourot and turn left. Stay straight until you enter onto the property. Directional signs to the event will be prominently displayed. Admission: Free; concessions available.
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Hunter founded. Hunter supported. Hunters wanted. Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 19
Wild on the Buffalo
From the Upper to the Lower, the river and its surroundings provide a good time for all nature lovers.
By Jim Harris
Main photo by Kevin Pieper • Inset photo by A.C. “Chuck” Haralson
About the same time Bill Scruggs was selling his chain of convenience stores in Mississippi to an oil company, he happened upon a classified advertisement in a national outdoor magazine touting a canoe rental business for sale in Arkansas on the Buffalo National River. “I had been here years ago when I was younger, and I remembered how beautiful it was,” Scruggs recalled. “When I had a chance to sell out to an oil company, I was 40 years old and I wasn’t ready to retire. I wanted to do 20 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
something I thought would be enjoyable. “It might have been fate, but I was sitting in a doctor’s office and picked up an Outdoor Life or Field and Stream magazine,” he said of discovering that tiny classified ad. “I got out of that office and drove up here that day.” What he found was a run-down little rental place, he said, but the property was too good to pass up. That was 23 years ago. Over the years, Scruggs bought out two other outfitters in the area and has picked up
“...I was 40 years old and I wasn’t ready to retire. I wanted to do something I thought would be enjoyable.” other pieces of property in the vicinity not far from Yellville, creating Wild Bill’s Outfitter, which has become the largest outfitter on the Buffalo River. Wild Bill’s serves the Lower portion of the Buffalo, whose 150 miles is divided up into the Upper, Middle and Lower. Canoeing, kayaking and floating can continue through early summer, possibly into early July, on all three portions, but it’s the Lower — with its width and deeper pools — that generally has inviting, milky-green water throughout the summer for folks looking for an easy float and a chance to cool off. “If we can keep our water level,” Scruggs says, “you can float down here year-round. The water does get a little bit low late in the summer, but you can always float in the section that we are on right here. Right now [in early May], the water level is perfect.” Wild Bill’s is on top of a mountain on Highway 14, near Dillard’s Ferry, with the river to the south, at an intersection that directs campers to the Buffalo River Campground. “I really think that’s the prettiest place,” he said. “[The campground] was built by the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] guys after World War II. There are a lot of old log structures.” The Buffalo River area, Scruggs says, offers great fishing — various catfish breeds and bream abound but “we’re known for small-mouth bass on our end” — and hiking with designated trails, horseback riding and much more. The Lower Buffalo starts at Gilbert (on U.S. Highway 65) and runs all the way to where it dumps into the White River at Buffalo City. The Upper starts at Boxley and runs to Carver or Hasty. The river from Carver to Gilbert is considered the Middle. The water may run out earlier on the upper end — and with its 52 shoals, it rates a Class I-II river on the canoeing whitewater scale, meaning there are challenging rapids — and its peak kayaking period is in early spring. The Upper has plenty to offer into the summer as well, according to Austin Albers, the general manager at Buffalo Outdoors Center. “We’re in the headwater, so we’re floating from Ponca on down,” Albers said. BOC is located in Ponca (pop. 13). “When the water here [Ponca] is low, we move down and float from Pruitt to Hasty. That offers a good one-day float.” The 10 miles of the Buffalo from Ponca to Kyle’s Landing is considered the Class I-II area of the river, the hardest canoeing but still a good novice level area. It’s also one of the most scenic areas in the region, with Big Bluff and Roark and
other multicolored bluffs along the way. “There are a lot of things to see, and it’s what draws so many people to the Buffalo,” Albers said. Moving farther down the river, the Lower offers a calm family float, Scruggs said. “If they’ve never done the river, they probably need to start on the Lower river,” he suggests. “The further up the river, the more experience you need, if they have water. They have more rapids and faster rapids than any section. “A novice would want to float the Lower river a couple of times. If they liked that and honed their skills, then they might want to do the Middle or Upper and more challenging water in the Upper in the spring.” But if the water is low on the Upper section, there are alternatives to canoeing, such as zip-lining, at BOC. The resort provides guides. Albers, who is also a hot-air balloonist, offers rides as well June through November. In other words, there’s lots to do even if water isn’t No. 1 on your or nature’s agenda. In May, the water level was poor in the Upper level and just average in the Middle but excellent on the Lower. Water levels are at anyone’s fingertips thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. The Buffalo, whose headwaters are in the Ozark Mountains, became America’s first national river in 1972. Nature lovers may catch sight of elk in the area, thanks to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s restoration of elk in recent years. The Ponca Elk Education Center has become a must-see for visitors to the area. Hikers will find more than 100 miles of trails, and horseback riders have designated riding trails, all watched over by the National Park Service. Camping is available. Most of the resorts or outfitters, like BOC, are located closer to the Upper. The Tyler Bend Visitor Center, off U.S. 65 north of Marshall, has exhibits and materials for the public. ALL IN THE FAMILY Albers grew up in the vicinity of Ponca and Buffalo Outdoors Center. He ended up marrying the owner’s daughter, Hailey Mills. Mike Mills started BOC 40 years ago and has retired from the day-to-day operations, though he still pokes his head in from time to time, Albers says. BOC has 19 log cabins, as well as the RiverWind Lodge that can sleep 36 people. BOC also has a retail store for clothing and gear, a deli, a spa and the zip-line campground area. “We’re a 365-day-a-year operation,” Albers says, adding that the lodge is often rented out for weddings. Albers, now 30, was in the financial planning business in Springfield, Mo., and also worked for J.B. Hunt Trucking before yielding to the call to return to the Ponca area five years ago. “My parents actually owned a ranch,” he said. “We did trail rides. We grew up in the tourism industry, but not in outfitting.” He knew how to handle a paddle and knew the Upper Buffalo, though. “In the spring, the float season generally runs from the first of March to the latter part of June, because it’s all based on rainfall, and temperature also factors into it,” he said. “The month of May is really busy. Our season really Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 21
23 YEARS AND COUNTING Wild Bill’s Outfitter will set up day trips for the Lower or multi-day trips, which can take on the entire river, for its customers. “Our biggest business is putting you in a canoe, a kayak or a raft and letting you do your own thing,” Scruggs said. “We’ll give you good instruction and tell you what fish are biting on and where, or we can put you with a guide. On multiday trips, we’ll set out with you and cook for you. Those are expensive to do and we don’t do as much of those.” But, he added in early May, “We’re doing a five-day trip this week where we’re picking up eight guys in Little Rock who are flying in from all over the world. We’ll be picking them up and they’ll stay in some of our lodging tonight. They’ll do a five-day trip, we’ll take them back out Friday and get them back to the airport on Saturday. “We do everything.” For lodging, Wild Bill’s now has various-size houses that have been remodeled into lodging, and rustic cypress cabins updated with Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. A small cabin sleeps six; a larger one sleeps eight. The Evening Star lodge has a spring-fed creek that runs underneath the cabin and creates a 25-foot waterfall nearby. “We have everything from inexpensive to luxury,” he said. The outfitter is 14 miles from Yellville, which has begun
featuring Saturday BOC founder music shows and Mike Mills paddles near food on its square Big Bluff on weekly during the the Buffalo hot months; and, National River. it’s 45 minutes from Mountain View and the Ozark Folk Center, which also has weekend entertainment and much more downtown. There’s dirt-track racing just outside Yellville, too. Branson and Eureka Springs are both about an hour and a half away. “We have a lot of good hiking down here,” Scruggs said. “We offer packages for all of this: You tell us what you want to do and we’ll put the package together … We’re really centrally located to so much that people would want to do.” Scruggs says that in over 23 years, he’s seen a major growth in business of transporting customers to a preferred put-in spot, then moving their cars to where they’ll leave the river. Kayaking is on the upswing, Scruggs said, and what he’s noticed more and more is people buying their own equipment. “I think people are wanting to get back to nature. We’re seeing a lot more of that,” said Scruggs, who isn’t likely to run short on boats with 350 total. Scruggs may not have been ready to retire at 40, but now at 63 it enters his mind, though he’s not stepping away just yet. “It’s been good, it’s been a fun business,” he said. “People come up here to have a good time. I’ve met lots of people from all over. I have met somebody on the road who recognizes me and has been here before. It’s been good. I’ve really enjoyed it. “A lot of people have worked for me for years. I have a boy that has been working for me for 30 years. He was a store manager for me in Mississippi, and when I sold out and moved, he moved his family up here, too. We’re both about ready to retire. He keeps threatening me that he is. I told him he can’t until I do.”
BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER
UPPER 22 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Photo courtesy of Buffalo Outdoor Center
kicks off with spring break or the second week of March. We draw different groups in, a lot of family vacations. We have people from all over the world in. We had a group from Germany here the other day.” Albers believes the numbers of people using the river has shrunk some over the past 10 years, much of it due to families being busy with newer activities and technology, like gaming, that has taken over their kids’ lives. “There is still a lot of people getting out,” Albers said. “What we try to promote is getting your families out there. A lot of children don’t get to experience the outdoors. But once they experience it, they are hooked and they want to come back.” Small-mouth bass and perch are active when the water temperature is in the 60s, he said. It was at 66 during the first full week of May.
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24 | Arkansas Wild ď‚§ Summer 2014
Summer 2014 ď‚§ Arkansas Wild | 25
Turning to Florida f o r
t r o p hi e s
AGFC hatcheries and habitat work together for larger bass. By Randy Zellers According to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, about 216,000 anglers pursued black bass in Arkansas that year. That’s an awful lot of boats, baits and tournament blast-offs adding to the state’s economy. With such a large angling audience, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is committed to keeping bass populations at their peaks. Biologists constantly monitor populations, enhance habitat and, where possible, give a boost to the gene pool. Genetics is as complex as it sounds. Many factors go into proper stocking. Biologists typically do not want to introduce new species or subspecies to a population because there can be unwanted traits that come with the preferred ones. Sometimes Stocking small batches of fingerlings by boat decreases the competition for food and shelter.
an introduced species can’t adapt to new habitat and can cause native populations to suffer if it adds undesirable traits. In the case of Florida largemouth bass, however, the popularity of the species and the potential benefits to Arkansas’s fisheries justifies the risk. “Florida bass have a reputation for growing to a larger average size than the northern strain largemouths found in Arkansas,” said Colton Dennis, black bass program coordinator for the AGFC. “By stocking this strain, we try to increase the trophy bass potential of certain lakes.” The AGFC stocks close to 1 million Florida bass fingerlings each year in lakes that meet the habitat and forage requirements. “The genetics only add potential; the lake has to have all the other factors required to produce trophy fish,” Dennis said.
Photo by Mike Wintroath
One of those factors biologists can’t control is the length of the growing season. States with a reputation for giant Floridastrain largemouths stay much warmer throughout the year, which allows fish to grow nearly year-round. “If you could just throw Florida-strain bass in a lake and produce giants, every state would be able to do it,” Dennis said. “But you don’t hear about giant Florida-strain bass being caught in Wisconsin.” Dennis explains that for the first few years, northernstrain bass and Florida-strain bass grow at roughly the same rate; it’s when they begin to reach the 3- and 4-pound mark that the difference begins to show itself. “Male Florida bass growth rates will slow, just like male and female northern-strain bass,” Dennis said. “But the female Florida strains will continue growing at a fast rate if they have the food, habitat and long growing season. They also have a longer life span than northern-strain bass in the same environment, which allows them to reach trophy size more often.”
All the AGFC’s Florida bass come from Andrew H. Hulsey State Fish Hatchery near Hot Springs. The hatchery has been producing these bass since 1990, and has stocked more than 13 26 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Streamlining the spawn
In the last five years, the Hulsey hatchery crew has developed a more intensive method of spawning Florida largemouth bass. It takes a little more effort, but it requires fewer broodfish, less pond acreage and increases the survival of fry. “Instead of just putting broodfish in a pond with little control, we pair up fish in pens with special synthetic mats for them to spawn on,” Fendley said. “We check the mats daily and collect eggs once a spawn is observed.” The eggs are hatched in incubation vats, where the fry are held until they are ready to be stocked in production ponds. These ponds get the same attention to detail as wild-spawn ponds would, but the results have been much better. “Last year’s caged-mat spawning resulted in the production of 303,000 fingerlings, using only 4.5 acres and 64 brood fish, resulting in 67,300 fingerlings produced per acre,” Fendley said. “Wild spawning typically yields 28,000 fingerlings per acre.” Fendley says much of the difference likely is the result of Raising bass fry in controlled vats increases survival and keeps fingerling size consistent.
Biologists conduct liver biopsies on each Florida bass brood fish to ensure it’s 100 percent Florida strain.
variation in spawning times. Broodfish in the ponds don’t spawn at the same time, which leads to some fingerlings being bigger than others. “Larger fingerlings will begin eating smaller fingerlings before the average size is ready to be stocked,” Fendley said. “By keeping closer track of spawning times, we can keep the size of fingerlings in each pond closer together.”
Dip net gain
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Even the way bass fingerlings are stocked is being streamlined. Years ago, biologists simply backed a hatchery truck to an access and opened the chute, dropping thousands of fingerlings in one location. “The fingerlings were added to the system, but studies have shown better survival rates with other methods,” Dennis said. “The way we stock now takes more time and labor, but it’s proven to be better for the fingerlings, and we’ve already invested a lot of energy to get these fish to this point.” With this new method, biologists enlist the help of local anglers to distribute bass fingerlings directly into prime habitat in small batches. “Stocking thousands of fingerlings from a boat ramp increases competition for food and shelter among the stocked fish and existing fingerlings in the area,” Dennis said. “Boat stocking lets us spread them out and reduce that competition. Boat stocking also allows us to take advantage of better available cover and habitat types away from the boat ramp.” Dennis says boat stockings distribute fingerlings exactly where biologists want them. “Fingerling bass stocking research has documented that fingerlings generally do not travel more than one-half mile during their first year of growth,” Dennis said. “Wherever they are stocked, they stay.” This article appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of Arkansas Wildlife magazine. To subscribe to this bimonthly magazine from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, call 800-283-2664 or visit www.agfc.com. Subscriptions are $12 for one year, $20 for two and $25 for three. Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 27
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
million fingerlings throughout the state. Although the first Florida-strain largemouths in Arkansas were transported from Florida, the brood fish used today never have been outside Arkansas. “Every year we hold fingerlings out of our stockings and hold them in designated ponds with forage,” said Dennis Fendley, an AGFC hatchery biologist. “When they are 2 years old, we pull the bass from these ponds and test to make sure they have 100 percent largemouth genetics.” Until recently, biologists relied on wild spawning in hatchery ponds. “We would pair up male and female brood fish in the ponds at a rate of 10 to 15 pairs per acre and let them do what comes naturally,” Fendley said. “The ponds are fertilized with alfalfa pellets, alfalfa meal or cottonseed meal to establish a plankton bloom the newly hatched bass fry will feed on, and the ponds are monitored for water quality daily until the fish are about one-and-a-half inches and are ready to be stocked.”
honey holes Bream, hybrid stripers, trout, catfish are all within reach. By Liz Massey The sun is shining, the temperature is rising and the fish are beginning to bite. There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing your bobber disappear underwater or hearing your line scream as a fish runs away with it. Many people are surprised to learn that I love to fish. It’s in my blood. I grew up with a rod and reel in my hand. My dad taught me when I was a little girl, and I’ve been hitting the water ever since. In fact, I now have my own little fishing family. My husband, Keith, has fished all his life as well, and we’re passing on our love to our 3-year old son, Cruz. While I love to catch all kinds of fish, my favorite is bream fishing and my favorite place to catch them is Lake Wallace in Southeast Arkansas. My husband introduced me to this lake when we first started dating. In fact, it’s where he proposed. At the time, I didn’t bait my own hook so he’d have to do it for me. I remember finding a bream bed and every time I dropped my cricket in the water, “BAM,” I’d reel in a huge bream. I was so excited and, yes, a little impatient that my husband seemed to be taking his time baiting my hook. When he finished, I have to admit, I snatched the line and the hook got caught on the boat carpet. There was a note attached to it. I thought it was a piece of trash and started to get annoyed thinking Keith needed to clean his boat. I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. The note read, “You’ve been hooked!” It was a very sweet proposal, and 28 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
16 years later I’m glad he’s not the one that got away. By the way, I bait my own hook now, except for worms — I’m just not a fan. Crickets are my bait of choice, and they’re perfect for catching bream in Lake Wallace. After all these years, it’s still my favorite honey hole. Even on a slow day, something is always biting. Another great fishing hole down south is Lake Monticello in Drew County. It’s home to trophy largemouth bass. I’ve only fished it a couple of times, but one trip was a trip of a lifetime. Because we weren’t too familiar with the lake, my husband and I decided to go with a guide. The day was scorching hot and we weren’t doing that great. We decided to try one more area before calling it quits, and that’s when the excitement exploded. Monster bass started hitting our lines like crazy. I’d have a bite, then Keith would have a bite. They fought so hard I couldn’t even reel them into the boat; Keith had to help me. In the end, I caught a 9-pound, 8½-pound, 7-pound, 5-pound, 4-pound and 3-pound largemouth bass, as well as a 10-pound catfish. My husband almost landed a double-digit bass but unfortunately it got off the line. This was a trip we’ll never forget. Another trip to remember took place near Arkadelphia. If you enjoy catching hybrid striped bass (a cross between stripers and white bass), Lake DeGray is the place to go. My husband and I were first introduced to this beautiful lake by a fishing friend. He’s a guide, and we’ve gone on several trips with him and landed stringers of hybrids.
Liz Massey is a proud angler displaying her many catches in her fishing trips, including with husband, Keith (upper right photo).
Our biggest one was 14 pounds. They hit so hard you feel like you’re about to pull in a whale. If you enjoy trout fishing, like my parents, my next honey hole is just for you. The Little Red River is well known for its first-class trout fishing. My family has caught dozens of nice trout there, plus the scenery is just breathtaking. If you don’t have a boat, it’s a great place to bank fish. We like to set up at the JFK Landing in Heber Springs near Greers Ferry Dam. Here’s a piece of advice, though: Call first before you head out. You’ll want to go when they’re not generating and releasing water. Throughout the years, I’ve reeled in many fish tales and, I promise, these ones are all true. From Taiwan to Japan to Mexico, I’ve fished all over the world, and Arkansas has some of my favorite honey holes. I’m not a professional by any means, I just enjoy the outdoors. As a young child, I still remember catching catfish at my grandparents’ pond in El Paso, Ark. I want Cruz to have these great experiences as well. Now that he’s getting older, we’re looking forward to being on the water more and making memories. Cruz recently caught his first fish on his own fishing pole. He loved it, but probably not as much as playing with the worms. Maybe when he grows up he can bait my hook. Liz Massey is an Emmy Award-winning journalist. She is a Jacksonville High School Red Devil and an Arkansas State University Red Wolf. Liz and her husband, Keith, live in Jacksonville with their 3-year-old son Cruz.
Amateurs can get in on the fishing tourney money
Amateur fishermen can fish like the pros in late June in the annual Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza, which will cover 300 miles of the Arkansas River. The Big Bass Bonanza, sponsored by the Arkansas Hospitality Association and assisted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and other supporters, will be held June 27-29 in five pools of the river. It is the largest amateur big bass tournament in the country, and all entries fees (minus tournament expenses) are returned in prizes. Last year’s tournament distributed more than $200,000 in prize money. Anglers can choose to fish one, two or all three days of the tournament. Entry fee is $80 per day. The angler who lands the largest fish over the three days will take home a guaranteed $50,000, with four other pool winters to receive $10,000 each. Other prizes, including first, second and third hourly winners in each pool, will depend on the entry money received. Last year’s event drew 2,014 competitors, with Jonathan Swink of Dec Arc hauling in a 6.63-pound largemouth bass to win the top prize. The river is divided into five fishing pools, and each pool will have one official weigh-in site. The five weigh-in sites are: Clear Creek Park, Fort Smith; Dardanelle State Park, Russellville side; Verizon Ramp, North Little Rock; Regional Park, Pine Bluff, and Pendleton Bridge, east of Dumas. Anglers can choose to fish any of the five pools and can fish different pools during the three-day event. However, all fish must be weighed in the pool in which they were caught. Eligible fish species include largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky or spotted bass. Tournament anglers may register or obtain more information online at www.arkansasbigbass.com. Registration information and applications are also available at fishing and outdoors shops across the state. For more information about the tournament, contact the Arkansas Hospitality Association at 800-472-5022 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Mr. Bass of Arkansas: Greers Ferry, May 18; Dumas, July 13 (tournament will move to Dardanelle if the river is at 80 QFPS); Arkansas River, Little Rock, Sept. 7; 40th Mr. Bass Classic, Oct. 10-12, site TBA. Call 501-580-8484 for more information. Trader Bill’s 2014 tournament schedule: Lake Greeson, Self Creek, June 23; Championship, Sept. 13-14. Visit www. traderbills.com for more information. FLW Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League: Arkie Division: Lake Dardanelle, Dardanelle State Park, Russellville, June 21; Championship, Lake Ouachita, Mountain Harbor Marina, Mount Ida, Sept. 20-21. Futrell Marine Team Trail: Lake Millwood, June 14. Bassmaster Team Championship: DeGray Lake, Bismarck, Dec. 10-13. Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 29
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How to smoke a hog Try this winning way By Jim Harris
Those weren’t wild hogs the 16 cooking teams were smoking or grilling on May 3 in the Argenta neighborhood of North Little Rock, but there were wild times indeed at the Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast. And maybe when you’re out in the wild, you might want to take a winning recipe and a farm-raised whole hog for an enjoyable time. Cheers in the Heights, led by owner Chris Tanner, won the second annual event. His team of eight was already looking forward to next year. Here’s how you can cook a whole hog the way Tanner and his team did: “I did it in an Italian porchetta style, though they don’t traditionally smoke it, it’s done in wood ovens. But since we were smoking ours, I smoked it in pecan wood,” Tanner told us a few days after the event. “We took the skin off the pig and we had made a rub with garlic, sage, rosemary and lemon zest and we packed that all on top. I had a little black pepper in there, too. “Then, we made another rub, though it was not really a rub but a seasoning mix. It had ground coriander, allspice, cinnamon and white pepper. We sprinkled that on top of the rub and smoked that thing for 28 hours, real low. “To hit our temperature, I had a probe in the shoulder hooked up to my iPhone. I use this iGrill app and you just set your temperature. We hit that temperature [160-165 degrees] right at 4:30 [p.m. Saturday, about two hours before food was served to the event patrons]. “It came out perfect, all the way through. We cut that tenderloin right out, right there at the pit, and it was oh, so good.” Tanner said that after the crew removed the skin, they returned it to the back after about 4-5 hours and then let the pig smoke without ever opening the smoker again until a day later. “We propped it up with some No. 10 cans in the cavity so it wouldn’t fall apart. We put the rub in the cavity too. “Putting that fat and skin back on top really helped. Really, 36 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
the back and the front of the pig are the two meatiest areas you’re dealing with. That came out perfect. “We picked that whole thing apart and got all that herbs mixed around Cheers in in there. We ate the Heights’ the ribs, bacon, award-winning whole hog. everything.” Tanner used a Photo by Brian Chilson championshipsized smoker, and Ol’ Hickory. “It was large enough to smoke two whole pigs,” he said. With that extra space, though, Tanner took the opportunity to smoke four extra butts that ended up not being used. He gave three away and kept one that ended up being a Cheers in the Heights sandwich lunch special the next week. He also put two whole rib-eyes on for a five-hour smoke with the pecan wood. “I remember Phyllis [Britton, the Arkansas Times advertising director] saying they ran out of food last year. We wanted to make sure everybody had plenty of food.” Tanner had thought about using a China box to help with the cooking, but the pig turned out too big. Tanner has never tried to cook a hog from the wild, but he has tried one that was smoked by Pat Matthews on a small grill. The pig was small and Tanner said it was good. But when it comes to smoking pigs, he said he’d stick with the farm-raised variety. “I think you could smoke a wild hog like we did this, but it would need to be a small hogs. The big ones aren’t very good. But I’m not really familiar with the wild hogs except for what they say, that the small ones are better eating than the big ones. “What I would do if I was in the woods is bring your own farm-raised hog and cook that. Just don’t let anybody open the smoker until it’s done.” At the Hog Roast, the Cheers team had a wild time with Kentucky Derby pools, a 55-inch LED high-definition television and tons of fun. “It was a party,” he said. “It was fun. I wasn’t really concerned about winning at first, but after we won, I thought, ‘That’s cool.’ The staff was all geeked about it, though. They’re still talking about it.”
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GIFTS FOR DAD 2014
What do you get the dad who seems to have everything? Here are some ideas. Dadsâ€Śfeel free to circle your favorites and give to the missus or the kids!
38 | Arkansas Wild ď‚§ Summer 2014
1. Bushmills Irish Whiskey, available at Pleasant Valley Liquor, Little Rock, (501) 224-5370. 2. Borsalino “Larice” Panama Hat, available at Baumans Men’s Fine Clothing, Little Rock, (501) 227-8797. 3. YETI Cooler, available at Bullseye Guns & Ammo, Little Rock, (501) 224-4867. 4. Eyebobs Reading Glasses, available at Greenhaw’s Men’s Wear, Little Rock, (501) 227-8703. 5. Bills Khakis Cotton Twill Pant, available at Mr. Wicks, Little Rock, (501) 664-3062. 6. TUMI Lejuene Backpack Tote, available at Baumans Men’s Fine Clothing, Little Rock, (501) 227-8797. 7. Cross Leather Notepad, available at Vanness, Little Rock, (501) 353-2362. 8. Custom Built Cookers & Pits, available at Country Manufactured Cookers, Fort Smith, (479) 629-0426. 9. Smathers & Branson Belts, available at Mr. Wicks, Little Rock, (501) 664-3062. 10. Multi-colored patterned socks, available at Mr. Wicks, Little Rock, (501) 664-3062. 11. Fisher .375 Cartridge Space Pen, available at Vanness, Little Rock, (501) 353-2362. 12. Peter Millar Shirt, available at Mr. Wicks, Little Rock, (501) 664-3062. 13. Looftlighter, available at Ken Rash’s of Arkansas, Little Rock, (501) 663-1818. 14. MAX XL Watch, available at Greenhaw’s Men’s Wear, Little Rock, (501) 227-8703. 15. Badfisher-Fishing Stand Up Paddle Board, available at Paddle FINatics, Lowell, (479) 270-2588. 16. HR Trask Derek Driver, available at Baumans Men’s Fine Clothing, Little Rock, (501) 227-8797. 17. Comfortzone II, available at Hank’s Fine Furniture & More, www.hanksfurniture.com. Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 39
Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited
preservation plans America’s River Initiative will help save more waterfowl habitat. By Andi Cooper
We’ve enjoyed the long-awaited spring and are now heading into the summer months in Arkansas. For the avid sportsman or woman, the Natural State has much to offer. As we thaw from the much-too-long and very cold winter, thoughts turn to the sounds of gobbling turkeys and the tug of hungry crappie and trout. While our anticipation grows with the rising temperatures, rich memories from the recent duck season remain etched in our minds. You are leaning against the trunk of a majestic oak in the flooded timber of Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area, hiding in the shadows as brilliant greenheads pitch down through the treetops, falling from seemingly nowhere and splashing down in the decoys. You are living the dream of one of the most beautiful and sought-after experiences in all of waterfowling. That iconic moment is exactly what Ducks Unlimited’s America’s River Initiative seeks to perpetuate for future generations. With its historic bottomland hardwood forests and Delta rice fields, Arkansas boasts some of the best and most storied waterfowl hunting in the country. There is much here to cherish and enjoy, but also much that could be lost without people’s support. Arkansas is part of the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV), which was once a 25 million-acre floodplain forest and extraordinary wetland system with abundant, diverse wildlife. But years of drainage and clearing to meet increasing demands for food, fiber and flood control have significantly altered the floodplain hydrology and left only 20 percent of the original forests. With nearly 80 percent of the remaining wetlands and bottomland forests in private ownership, the impact of private lands intensively managed for waterfowl can’t be ignored. Ducks Unlimited focuses its private land 40 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
conservation efforts on permanent protection of remaining bottomland habitat through conservation easements and restoration and enhancement on private lands managed for waterfowl, such as the rice lands that provide critical resources to wintering waterfowl in this changing landscape. At least 16 percent of the current available foraging capacity in the MAV is provided by actively managed private land habitats. Many of these habitats are on “duck clubs,” but the members understand habitat management is about more than a few months of luring ducks closer to blinds. It takes year-round planning and effort to provide the resources waterfowl need over the course of fall migration, winter and spring migration. Wetland restoration and enhancement on public lands managed for waterfowl is also a priority. DU works closely with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other state and federal agency partners to acquire and improve waterfowl resources and hunting opportunities on public lands. These areas not only provide food, shelter and recreation in the winter, but also ensure critical spring migration habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds as they journey northward. The importance of the MAV to waterfowl can’t be underestimated. The Mississippi River is the heart of the Mississippi Flyway, a path millions of waterfowl follow each year from northern breeding grounds to winter haunts in the south and back. Some 4 million to 8 million waterfowl might overwinter in the MAV, including up to 40 percent of the mid-continent population of mallards. Others make their way to the Gulf Coast or Latin America, but they all depend upon the MAV to see them through their journey. Many wood ducks make their year-round home within the MAV. Through the America’s River Initiative, DU will conserve
The science behind initiative
Much like policy, which can be a behind-the-scenes game changer for conservation, science and conservation planning are also important aspects of the America’s River Initiative. Using the latest in geospatial data and analysis tools, DU has mapped the remaining forested wetlands in the MAV and combined that information with a flood frequency model we developed. Our latest landscape assessment identified approximately 2.4 million acres of cleared, flood-prone agricultural land. This is low-lying land that floods at least
Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited
at least 42,400 acres of additional waterfowl habitat in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi over five years. We will use a variety of habitat delivery methods to accomplish this goal, many of which depend on federal and state policy decisions. Thus, ensuring sound public policy to support conservation is a critical part of the America’s River Initiative. Our policy priorities include a five-year farm bill that funds conservation titles like the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), legislation for permanent enhanced tax incentives for donated conservation easements, and reauthorization and funding of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). These policies have direct impact on our conservation delivery. For example, since 1997, DU has delivered more than 239,000 acres of WRP reforestation and hydrology restoration in the MAV, with most of this occurring in Arkansas. NAWCA-funded projects have helped DU and others acquire and improve more than 729,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in the America’s River Initiative area, much of which is open to hunting. NAWCA projects in Arkansas include improvements to Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area and Cache and White River national wildlife refuges. NAWCA projects have conserved more than 67,000 acres in the Natural State, and NAWCA funding of more than $8.7 million has stimulated partner contributions of more than $33.5 million for habitat conservation in Arkansas. Through conservation easements donated to Wetlands America Trust, private landowners in the MAV have permanently protected the habitat values of more than 170,000 acres, including 33,000 acres in Arkansas
once within a 24-month period. This assessment also helped us identify approximately 5.4 million acres of existing frequently flooded hardwood forested wetlands within the MAV. This information guides our conservation efforts to the most critical habitat for wintering waterfowl as well as the least useful land for farming. Using science to target our restoration and land protection efforts allows us to wisely use limited resources to maximize improvements for waterfowl. The America’s River Initiative supports important waterfowl habitat conservation in the MAV, as well as in the breeding grounds of the Prairie Pothole Region and Western Boreal Forest of the United States and Canada, where timber-crashing greenheads and many other waterfowl that migrate to Arkansas are hatched. Funding derived from the America’s River Initiative enables Ducks Unlimited to conserve habitat and to conduct important science, public policy and outreach efforts. If you have ever experienced the sunrise glimmering through a flooded hardwood forest or rising over your favorite marsh as ducks make that final turn into the wind and settle over your decoys, you understand its power for linking people together, for restoring the soul and moving the heart. Please consider giving back to this treasured resource. Help Ducks Unlimited ensure future generations have the opportunity to experience the quintessential waterfowling adventure. Support the America’s River Initiative. For more information, visit www.ducks.org/americasriver. Andi Cooper is a communications specialist with the national office of Duck’s Unlimited.
State of the Plate Many Ducks Unlimited members show their DU pride and support conservation efforts by sporting Arkansas Ducks Unlimited license plates on their vehicles. Purchasing a Ducks Unlimited license plate benefits DU’s habitat work on the breeding grounds and in Arkansas, ultimately benefiting Arkansas duck hunters. These plates give DU a critical source of funding for leveraging dollars from partners and other sources. In 2013 alone, the program contributed $200,000 to the ducks. Since inception, the Arkansas plate program raised more than $1.2 million for conservation. Arkansas began its DU specialty plate program in 1999 with a DU Crest emblem on the tags. In 2003, the beautiful mallard
DU license plate purchases fund habitat, hunting enhancement.
four-color plate was introduced. By 2009, the program had added a wood duck option and discontinued the original design. Today, supporters can choose between the wood duck and mallard designs. Either license plate can be personalized with up to five letters with personalization request forms available online from the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) website. The DFA has made an online search available allowing you to see if your wording for a personalized plate is available. The plates cost $35, with DU receiving $25 of each purchase. You can pick up a Ducks Unlimited specialty plate at your local DFA office, or visit ducks.org/ Arkansas for more information. Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 41
We love it when our friends and readers send us photos or share them on our Arkansas Wild Facebook page, and we love to share them with you, too. Here are some Arkansans who were Out and About and shared their experiences with us: (clockwise from top left) Kevin Holliman is keeping the location of his honey hole a secret, but look at that haul; Jack Foster caught this beautiful brown trout at Dry Run Creek; Jim Gaston never fails to capture spectacular outdoor life near his resort, such as this turkey; our old friend Michelle Miller, a former publisher here, had a big time fishing with her family recently (three photos above); and Wyatt (he didnâ€™t provide a last name) of Des Arc bagged this big turkey in April. 42 | Arkansas Wild ď‚§ Summer 2014
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Altus Grape Festival
SPECTACLE of the Arkansas Summer The photography of A.C. “Chuck” Haralson, arkansas parks and tourism
Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival
Bernice Garden Farmer’ Market 44 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Dermott Crawfish Festival
Cardboard Boat Races at Heber Springs Cave City Watermelon Festival
May Fest in Blytheville Mudbug Fest in Pine Bluff
Hope Watermelon Festival Mountains Music and Motorcycles in Mountain View
Summer 2014 ď‚§ Arkansas Wild | 45
calendar events HEIFER HOUR AT HEIFER VILLAGE
June 3: Enjoy crafts, games, children’s books and outdoor activities designed to teach kids about caring for the Earth and other people. Activities are geared for children in grades K-5, and all materials are provided by Heifer Village. Free. 11 a.m. For more information call 501-907-2697.
ARKANSAS STATE HOG RALLY
June 5-7: The Arkansas State HOG Rally returns to Hot Springs for 2014. Come and enjoy the most beautiful rides in the country and the hospitality of Hot Springs National Park. For more information contact Scotty Dodd at 1-800-543-2284.
29TH ANNUAL STEAMBOAT DAYS
June 5-7: Beauty pageant, car show, street dance, shows, carnival, arts and crafts, food vendors, cook-offs, bass tournament, and special events, all on Main Street in Des Arc. For more information contact T.J. Nelson at 870-256-5289.
YOUTH SHOOTING SPORTS PROGRAM STATE TOURNAMENT
June 6-7: The Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program (AYSSP) aims to bring the joy of the outdoors and the rewards of safely learning to shoot to young Arkansans. This program from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission could be a start to competing in the Olympics or a national shooting championship. The AYSSP has junior and senior divisions. The junior division is for grades 6-8 and the senior division is for grades 9-12. Home-schooled students compete in the division they would be in if they were in public school. Trap shooting is the sanctioned sport of the AYSSP. Any type of shotgun action is allowed, as long as the bore is 12 or 20 gauge. Release triggers are not allowed. Trap machines that throw targets at unknown angles are used. The state coordinator may specify models of trap machines for AYSSP events. All shooters and coaches must wear appropriate eye and ear protection. For more information contact program coordinator Chuck Woodson at 501230-4738. 46 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
HIKING STICK WORKSHOP
June 7: Kick off the summer season with an outdoor hiking adventure in Arkansas State Parks by creating your own hiking stick at Lake Dardanelle State Park. Hiking sticks make hiking more fun. They let your arms get into the act so you cover ground more easily, and they help you keep your balance. The workshop has limited space, so please register by May 28. Children 18 and under must have a guardian at the workshop. Admission: $20. For more information contact Lake Dardanelle State Park at 479-967-5516.
HERSHEY TRACK & FIELD GAMES
June 7: Winners of the local games are eligible to compete in the state games hosted by Jacksonville Parks & Recreation at Jacksonville High School. Ages 9-14 compete in basic track and field events and have a chance to receive an all-expense-paid trip to compete in the annual North American Final Meet held in Hershey, Pa. Admission is free. For more information contact Dana Rozenski at 501-982-4171.
KIDS FISHING DERBY
June 7: Free fishing contest with how-to-fish clinics, casting contests, free snacks and lots of prizes. Prizes will be given away throughout the event with a special prize for the biggest fish. Bring your own bait and tackle. Contest is for kids ages 15 and under, although everyone is welcome to fish after 11 a.m. with a fishing license. Environmental Education Pond in Little Rock. For more information call 501-868-5806.
18TH ANNUAL CONWAY REGIONAL GOLF CLASSIC
June 9: Centennial Country Club in Conway. For more information contact Marla Hambuchen at 501-513-5938.
56TH ANNUAL AUTO SHOW AND SWAP MEET
June 10-14: This annual Antique Car show is cohosted by the Mid-American Old Time Automobile Association and the Museum of Automobiles on Petit Jean Mountain. Classic and vintage vehicles from all over the region will be on display. Free admission. Call the museum at 501-727-5427 for more information.
3RD ANNUAL TRI-THE-VILLAGE SPRINT TRIATHLON
June 14: Sprint Triathlon consisting of a 500-yard swim, 13.5-mile cycle, and 3.5-mile run. This is a USAT-sanctioned event managed by DLT Events and presented by Lefler Dental. Balboa Pavilion/Marina, Hot Springs Village. For more information contact Fred Phillips at 870-246-6686.
MOUNTAIN FISHIN’ DERBY
June 14: Petit Jean State Park is the locale for this derby, open to children ages 15 and under. Parents are welcome to help, but the kids must do the fishing. Bring your
own bait and tackle. Fish are stocked and door prizes provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. For more information call Petit Jean State Park at 501727-5441.
GASTON’S FLY-FISHING SCHOOL
June 16-17: Frank has developed many new techniques for catching fish here on the White River, ones that will make you a much better fly fisherman, no matter what you fly fish for. Most of all, he is a great teacher and very gifted at sharing what he has learned over many years of fishing. Cost is $240. For more information or for reservations call 870-431-5202.
ANNUAL BATTLE OF THE BADGES BLOOD DRIVE
June 20: The American Red Cross finds there typically is a huge need for blood donations during the Fourth of July holiday weekend as blood donations usually slow down during the summer months. T-shirts are given to donors while supplies last and there will be plenty of food and drinks provided. Event held at Patrick Henry Hays Center in North Little Rock. For more information call 501-975-4297.
MOUNT MAGAZINE BUTTERFLY FESTIVAL XVIII
June 20-21: Enjoy guided nature walks, garden tours, hands-on-make-and-take nature crafts, nature-related games, insect exhibits, live music, and more at this family event. To truly understand and appreciate butterflies and other pollinators, immerse yourself in their natural habitat. Free admission. For more information contact Paris Area Chamber of Commerce at 479-963-2244 or visit www.butterflyfestival.com. You can also call Mt. Magazine at 479-963-8502 or visit www.mountmagazinestatepark.com.
PLANTATION AGRICULTURE MUSEUM’S 24TH ANNIVERSARY
June 21: Bring your family and join the museum staff for free Dutch oven desserts and homemade ice cream in celebration of the museum’s opening anniversary. The museum first opened its doors in June 1989 after its three-year restoration period. The museum has long held to its mission of preserving a way of life and interpreting historic agriculture into the future. For more information call 501-961-1409.
17TH ANNUAL YOUTH FISHING DERBY & JUNE PARK OF THE MONTH
June 21: Fishing enthusiasts ages 15 and under are invited to join in the morning of fun, fishing and prizes. After the Fishing Derby stay for a Family Fun Day. Registration: 7-8 a.m. Derby runs 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Dupree Park Lake. For more information contact Dana Rozenski at 501-982-4171.
June 25: Managing a lake can be a wild job, especially if you are catching fish to determine the health and population of species in the lake. But biologists on the lake don’t use a fishing pole to catch fish. Discover the different methods of managing fish and habitat on lakes in Arkansas at this event at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in the River Market district in Little Rock. Noon-1 p.m. For more information call 501-907-0636 ext. 104.
OLYMPIC DAY/PUNT, PASS & KICK
June 26: Jacksonville Parks & Recreation is hosting an Olympic Day event to commemorate the birth of the modern Olympic Games. Olympic Day is not only a celebration, but an international effort to promote fitness and well being in addition to Olympic ideals of fair play, perseverance, respect and sportsmanship. Girls and boys in five separate age divisions compete against each other in punting, passing and place-kicking in a fun and engaging forum at the Jacksonville Boys & Girls Club. For more information contact Megan Handy at 501-982-4171.
34TH ANNUAL MALVERN BRICKFEST
June 27-28: Brick-B-Que Rib Cook-Off Contest with cash prizes, headlining entertainment music acts, car/truck/motorcycle show, vendors with food, retail and craft vendors, Brick Toss, Brick Car Derby, and more. Saturday night concludes with a fireworks show. Come out and have a funnel cake, fresh squeezed lemonade, corn dog, gator-on-a-stick, bloomin’ onion, and a great time at Malvern City Park. For more information contact Stacie Mosby at 501-458-1115.
HEIFER HOUR AT HEIFER VILLAGE
July 1: Crafts, games, children’s books and outdoor activities designed to teach kids about caring for the Earth and other people. Activities are geared for children in grades K-5, and all materials are provided by Heifer Village. Free admission. 11 a.m. For more information call 501-907-2697.
SHERWOOD’S fourTH OF JULY FAMILY CELEBRATION
July 4: The city of Sherwood provides free admission and entertainment and a fireworks display on the Fourth of July at Sherwood Forest (1111W. Maryland Ave). Shuttle service from Sylvan Hills High School will be available. For more information call 501-835-8909.
JULY fourth FUN AND GAMES
July 4: Join the park staff for an “old-fashioned” celebration of our nation’s birthday. Numerous family-oriented activities will be offered, including a bicycle parade, contests and water balloon games. Contact Petit Jean State Park for more information at 501727-5441.
July 5: Enjoy one of the largest fireworks displays in Arkansas over beautiful Greers Ferry Lake. There will be live music, kid activities, food and a day at the beach at Sandy Beach. For more information contact Melisa Gardner at 501-362-2444.
July 11: Enjoy a relaxing and romantic cruise under a full moon. Seating is limited, so reservations should be made beginning noon the day before the cruise, at the DeGary Lake’s marina, 501-865-5840. Must have six to go. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early, because the boat must depart on time. Meeting place: Marina. Admission: $9 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12.
THE GREAT WAR MEMORIAL BALLOON RACE
July 11-13: In addition to the spectacular balloons that will fill the sky, the event will include jazz music, food, vendors and children’s activities throughout the weekend at War Memorial Park. Admission: $5
for adults, children 12 and under admitted free. For more information visit greatwarmemorialballoonrace.com.
July 19: Peek into the darkness and discover a world filled with owls. Join a park interpreter on a guided hike along the Kingfisher Trail in search of the elusive nocturnal hunters. Advance payment is required. Admission: $5. For more information call 501868-5806.
July 23: Wild Jobs features Wildlife Celebrity. Television, radio, social media, and outdoor activities and events are just a hint at what a public affairs coordinator can do for the outdoors. The AGFC is more than just an agency that manages critters. An essential part of ensuring a healthy wildlife population involves people. Encouraging people to support wildlife, spend time in nature and develop outdoor skills is essential to the message of AGFC. Relaying that message is the wild job of a wildlife celebrity. Noon-1 p.m., Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. For more information call 501-907-0636 ext. 104.
BIRD ISLAND TOUR
July 25: Lake Ouachita provides remarkable habitat for migrating birds. Join us aboard our tour boat as we venture out to Bird Island. Enjoy a Lake Ouachita State Park sunset as you watch the purple martins, egrets, herons and ibisis settle in to roost for the night. Space is limited to 20. Make reservations and purchase tickets at the visitor center. 7:15-9 p.m., state park marina. Admission: $9 adults, $5 kids ages 6-12, and children under 6 are free. For more information call 501-767-9366.
JOHNSON COUNTY PEACH FESTIVAL
July 25-28: Enjoy peach-themed eclectic foods and handmade arts and crafts on the courthouse square on Main Street in Clarksville. Scavenger hunts, a 4-mile run, talent contests, live bands, diaper derbies, greased pig chases, terrapin and bull frog races, a special Kids’ Zone, parade, and of course peach cobbler, jam and jelly bake-offs, peach seed spittin’ contest, and a peach pie eating contest. For more information contact Travis Stephens at 479-754-2340.
WHO WANTS TO BE AN ORNITHOLOGIST
July 26: How well do you know birds? Here’s your chance to get in the “hot seat” for this fun and interactive game. Contestants are chosen from the audience to compete for prizes by answering questions about birds. Don’t worry, you get life lines. Meet in Lake Ouachita State Park’s visitor center between 2-2:45 p.m. For more information call 501-767-9366.
INSPECT AN INSECT WEEKEND
July 26-27: Ninety-five percent of all living creatures are insects. Spend the weekend at Pinnacle Mountain State Park learning about the different types of insects in the park and have a chance to eat one. Free admission. Contact Pinnacle Mountain State Park for a detailed program schedule at 501-868-5806.
Aug. 2: Lake Dardanelle’s diverse habitats provide homes for many creatures large and small. Join a park
interpreter in the kids’ corner of the visitor center as she tells you about some of the smaller creatures. She is also feeding these creatures, so discover the small native wonders we have around us. 1:45-2 p.m., Park Visitor Center. For more information call 479-967-5516.
Aug. 2: Join amateur astronomers at Pinnacle Mountain’s Visitor Center for an evening with the stars and other celestial phenomena. As twilight settles in, the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society will provide telescopes for viewing objects in the night sky. If cloudy skies prevent observation with telescopes, an indoor program on astronomy will be presented at 9 p.m. Free admission. For more information contact the park at 501868-5806.
KNAPP TRAIL TRAM TOUR
Aug. 2: Let a park interpreter guide you around this prehistoric site. Learn what the site would have been like when the Plum Bayou people lived here hundreds of years ago and note the amazing similarities of these ancient people to people of today. Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park’s visitor center. Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-12, and children under 6 admitted free. For more information call 501-961-9442.
HOORAY FOR HERPS WEEKEND Aug. 2-3: Spend the weekend at Pinnacle Mountain State Park learning about this group of very misunderstood animals. Park interpreters will be hosting hikes, crafts, games, and talks about Arkansas’s native reptiles and amphibians, including opportunities to meet live animals up close. Contact the park for a detailed program schedule at 501-868-5806. Free admission.
PURPLE MARTIN AWARENESS WEEKEND
Aug. 2-3: Learn about one of the most beloved birds in the United States. Programs at Lake Ouachita State Park visitor center will help identify these large swallows and show how to help protect them by putting up martin houses in your own home. At sunset, we will take a boat tour out to Bird Island to view the variety of birds that call this island home. Purple Martins come to roost on this tiny island for only a few weeks each year; so don’t miss your opportunity to see these beautiful birds. Space is limited on the barge tours; make reservations early by calling the park at 501-767-9366. Admission: TBA.
ADAPTABLE ANIMALS DAY CAMP
Aug. 6-8: What makes a bird a bird? How is a skunk adapted to living in the forest? Campers will learn the answers to these and several other questions while they explore Lake Dardanelle State Park’s animal adaptations. Fee covers meals and supplies. Open to children ages 8-12. Contact the park to register. Camp session fee: $65. Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information or to register call 479-967-5516.
35TH ANNUAL CAVE CITY WATERMELON FESTIVAL
Aug. 7-9: Crafts, food concessions and free entertainment will be part of Thursday night, Friday night and all day Saturday. The event will take place at Park Street in Cave City. For more information contact Charles Landers at 870-283-5959. Summer 2014 Arkansas Wild | 47
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BARGAINS GALORE ON 64
Aug. 7-9: Yard sales and flea markets line 160 miles all along U.S. Hwy. 64 from Fort Smith to Conway, ending in Beebe. No permits required. Featuring antiques, collectibles and other great buys. Participants from across the U.S. Free admission. For more information contact Bargains Galore on 64 at 888-568-3552.
Aug. 9: Enjoy a relaxing and romantic cruise under a full moon. Seating is limited, so reservations can be made beginning noon the day before the cruise, at the DeGray Lake marina, 501-865-5840. Must have six to go. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early, because the boat must depart on time. Admission: $9 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12. Cruise runs 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
GASTON’S FLYFISHING SCHOOL
Aug. 9-10: Frank, our expert fly fishing instructor, has developed many new techniques for catching fish here on the White River, ones that will make you a much better fly fisherman, no matter what you fly fish for. Most of all, he is a great teacher and very gifted at sharing what he has learned over the many years of fishing. Cost: $240. For more information or reservations call 870431-5202.
Aug. 10: Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Arkansas River Trail and on the William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands boardwalk. This half-mile guided stroll will offer opportunities to view native plants and wildlife. Dress for outdoor weather and discover the benefits of wetlands while exploring nature downtown. 2-3 p.m. For more information contact the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center at 501-907-0636.
BOATING EDUCATION (AGFC LITTLE ROCK)
Aug. 12-14: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission invites you to take the Arkansas Boating Education Safety Course. Registration is required. Interpreters for the hearing impaired will be available. The Arkansas Boating Education Course teaches fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. This is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts. Take the class and pass the test. The basic six-hour boating course includes: Arkansas Boating law, Boat Classification, Registration and Trailering, Personal Flotation Devices (life jackets, etc.), Rules of the Road, Maintenance and Boating Accidents. You must attend all 3 days in order to complete the course. 6-9:30 p.m. each night, Pulaski Tech College (3303 E. Roosevelt Road, Little Rock). Students under age 18 will need parent or guardian signature on permission slip before attending class. For more information or to make reservations call 501-223-6377.
21ST ANNUAL END OF SUMMER FLY IN
Aug. 16-17: Join the Central Arkansas Mountain Pilots (C.A.M.P.) behind the Mount Nebo State Park visitor center to watch and learn as they hangglide throughout the weekend. Come and watch as they set up their equipment, ask them questions, and marvel as they fly through the air above Mount Nebo. Bring your cameras. Due to the sport’s high dependence on wind and weather, no flight times will be announced. Weather permitting the pilots will fly on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. For more information and to check on flight schedules call Mounta Nebo State Park at 479-229-3655.
MOUNTAINS, MUSIC & MOTORCYCLES
Aug. 16-19: Book your rooms early in the bikerfriendly cabins at Dry Creek, enjoy homestyle Southern cooking at the Skillet Restaurant and test your nerves and skills on Loco Ropes. Check out the craft village and music concerts at the Ozark Folk Center State Park during this annual event in Mountain View at the Downtown Courthouse Square. For more information call 870-269-3851.
Aug. 23-24: Join Pinnacle Mountain State Park interpreters all weekend to immerse you and your family into the world of geocaching. Learn about Arkansas State Park’s geocache tour and geocaches found right in our park. Events will introduce geocaching to participants who are interested but don’t know where to start. Contact the park for more information at 501-868-5806. Free admission.
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PARTING SHOT So much to do, so little time
With snow makeup days and such, a lot of families will be sending their kids to school through June 11, and then they’ll have to be back in mid-August to prepare for the next term. When I was a kid in Pine Bluff, where we’d get the rare, out-of-the-blue snowstorm but mostly sleet and ice, our schools seemed to let out before Memorial Day and we returned to classes after a long, wonderful summer right before Labor Day. I know we’re only talking about two or three weeks less of summer for kids these days — and I have one of those kids — but it’s a brief holiday, to be sure. There is so much to do, and so little time. What working for Arkansas Wild has shown me in the past year and a half is that, while being a lifelong resident of this state, I’ve failed to take advantage of all the wonderful outdoor opportunities awaiting Arkansas’s residents. Being on the high side of 50, I surely had the time. Now, with a 12-year-old who is involved with Scouting, and with me still being able to move without too much aching for days afterward, it’s time to take in more of Arkansas’s wonders. Perhaps you will, too. Relax, none of us will have to turn in a “What Did I Do This Summer?” report at the end. I’ve floated the Mulberry River near Turner Bend years ago, but all this time I’ve never seen, much less floated, the Buffalo National River, which we have featured inside these pages. Even if I don’t get into the water — and how could you not in 95-degree temperatures of July — I’m seeing the Buffalo River. The proximity of the outfitters with their cabins on the Buffalo puts you within easy driving distance of Yellville or Mountain View, which have turned weekends into happenings during the summer with music and more. You might as well add a couple of days into the trip to take in the upper White River or the Norfork for trout fishing, such as at Dry Creek. On my non-outdoors to-do list for the summer is visiting Crystal Bridges in Bentonville; and, of course, Eureka Springs would be right on the way continuing the drive from the Buffalo on to Northwest Arkansas. I have Blanchard Springs Caverns on the to-do list (also not far from the Buffalo River). And, why not? The Arkansas summer heat, intensified by the humidity, cannot penetrate those caves, where I’m told the temperature in some parts is a nice, cool 55. Kind of like much of the month of May this year, strangely, but that’s a column for another day. If the heat isn’t a problem for you, I suggest a trip to Southeast Arkansas that I already enjoyed at the end of 2013: Arkansas City and the nearby Freddie Black Choctaw Island Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, on the Mississippi River. I’ve long been fascinated by the history of tiny Arkansas City (population now around 400). It’s only a short drive from the 50 | Arkansas Wild Summer 2014
Delta Resort and Convention Center that we featured earlier this year. Nature turned Arkansas City from a potential big river port into just another tiny Delta town with the flood of 1927. The river moved about a mile to the east. The aforementioned WMA is situated in a lot of the acreage that at one time was under the Mississippi River. Instead, now visitors can hike or drive through the WMA and park right next to the slack water of the Mississippi and look out to Choctaw Island (it’s not the island that was used in the movie “Mud,” but it could have been; that one is further down the river). If you have a boat, you could negotiate the Mississippi slack water eddies (the main river runs to the east of Choctaw Island) and have a little day trip to the island. There’s a little history available to explore at Arkansas City, too, and wonder what might have been if the Mississippi still ran directly on the other side of the levee, like Hannibal, Missouri. Maybe you could imagine the bright steamboats of yesteryear passing by. Before it gets too hot — and it will — I’d like to take Peter Brave’s hiking advice (we featured Peter a few issues back) and hone up on my limited walking-in-the-woods skills with a day hike on the Ouachita Trail, perhaps around Pinnacle Mountain. Camping and two days of hiking are next. Summer, at least for me, has typically been overloaded with baseball games, golf and just hanging around the swimming pools, and all that is well and good when getting away from the daily grind. Many also try to work in an out-of-state beach trip, as do we on occasion. I’d just like to chisel into that packed schedule of work and fun a few days to see Arkansas like I’ve never seen it, to continue to learn more about its special and often-not-seen beauty and nature. This seems as good a time as any.
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Fort Smith Little Rock
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Hog Roasting Secrets, Summer Floating with Buffalo Bill, GIft Ideas for Dad, Fishing Florida