Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

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8WTflyrod
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Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by 8WTflyrod » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:07 am

Just joined and am looking for help planning a trip for me and the wife. We're retired so our trip dates are dependent on water level and weather. Our basic plan is to visit Hawksbill Crag at dawn then travel to Ponca to launch the canoe and take out at Pruitt 3-5 days later. Camp on gravel bars, and some hiking, and fishing. Prefer weekdays, 4-5 days to see the bluffs, easy paddle of 7-8 miles/day.
Am aware that gravel bar camping requires watching the weather for rain and river rise. Am also aware of the no glass rule and the mesh trash bag tied in the canoe.Travelling in one vehicle, I need to have my truck at the take-out at Pruitt, (any suggestions?). Also, do I need to pack drinking water for entire trip, or can we stop at campgrounds to re-fill our water jugs? Would also appreciate some suggestions on places to stop and hike or site-see, such as Hemmed In Hollow, etc. Just trying to maximize the fun. After some bush camping we would like to float the Current and Jack's Fork in Mo.
I'm watching the usgs site for river level at Ponca and weather forecast for Harrison. Is 3.5 feet at Ponca a good gauge for the Ponca to Pruitt stretch?
Thanks for any advice and suggestions.
Jack and SuEllen

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Deuce
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by Deuce » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:26 pm

Welcome. Your plan is a good one. As for your specific questions:

I'd say anything above three feet is good to go. You'd be able to scrape down and still have a good time probably as low as 2.5 provided you're not too heavily loaded. Being able to go during the week is a big advantage as that's by far the most popular reach of the river. You will love it.

Fishing is very good on the entire river with smallies being the most sought after target. Take your five weight.

For water I typically arrive with a day's worth, then for the rest of the trip I just boil extra whenever I'm making coffee or cooking and pour it into the then empty Nalgenes. This may or may not work for you depending on how much water you drink during the day. I usually opt for the kind fortified with various grains and hops and as such don't have to be as attentive to my supply. Filtering is a viable option too, as is refilling at accesses. Just be aware that while Kyle's Landing and Ozark have running water Erbie does not.

In addition to HIH the other must see side hikes IMO are Granny Henderson's house and Rocky Flat. If you're up to a little more exertion the goat trail along the face of Big Bluff is well worth the effort. I also recommend taking half an hour to check out Beaver Jim's homestead at Ponca before you launch.

There are several liveries on the upper, any of whom will shuttle your truck for a fee. Cost may vary from outfitter to outfitter so it would make sense to check with them all. When you finalize your plans feel free to post here and on our FB page. You might luck into a free shuttle.

Hope that helps, and feel free to ask if you'd like some beta on the Current!

P.S. That five weight would come in mighty handy on the Eleven Point. Just sayin'.......... :whistle:
You come too.
Robert Frost

8WTflyrod
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Name: John S Lithgoe

Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by 8WTflyrod » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:17 pm

Thanks for the welcome to ACC, and response to my plan. Now I have more questions. Do you tie a Clouser on the 5 wt for smallies? I suspect they would eat a wooly bugger also. Do I need to bring my hopped and dry hopped water with me or is there a watering hole between Little Rock and Ponca to load my ice chest.
Thanks again.
Jack

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Deuce
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by Deuce » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:46 am

8WTflyrod wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:17 pm
Thanks for the welcome to ACC, and response to my plan. Now I have more questions. Do you tie a Clouser on the 5 wt for smallies? I suspect they would eat a wooly bugger also. Do I need to bring my hopped and dry hopped water with me or is there a watering hole between Little Rock and Ponca to load my ice chest.
Thanks again.
Jack
They like crawfish colored stuff. Clousers would work too I'm sure. As for beer, where ya coming from?
You come too.
Robert Frost

8WTflyrod
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by 8WTflyrod » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:16 am

Baton Rouge. I like crawfish colored stuff too. Etoufee', Bisque, Stew, Boiled crawfish, Crawfish pie, seafood gumbo.
I assume any beer in my boat needs to be in cans? Not many IPA's in cans in my locale.
I'll take you up on the beta for the three rivers in MO. 11 point slide show looks like Louisiana bayou's, more vegetation, less rocks. different from Buff, Current, JFR. Picture might not tell the story, but 11 looks more fishy.
I haven't made a float plan for the rivers in MO. Waiting on a book, "Paddling the National Scenic Riverways from the library, but as a golfer also, I value local knowledge.

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Deuce
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by Deuce » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:20 am

Oh, an ArkLaTexer! Excellent! I'd probably just stop in Little Rock for the barley pop then. Local and near local (NWA) brews are outstanding. Anything from Core, Rebel Kettle, Flyway or Lost Forty will treat you right. Plenty of other good options too, and you are correct about needing cans but that won't be a problem. Brewers identified and began to meet that need several years ago. Colonial Wine and Spirits has a great selection and isn't terribly far off the interstate.

As for the Missouri Scenic Rivers, you'll find the Current to be very similar to the Buffalo. Not quite as spectacular IMO, but still pretty spectacular. Lots of good gravel bar camping and of course campgrounds and cabins if that's your preference. Accesses are well suited to day floats. Must sees are Welch Hospital (if memory serves there's also a giant heron rookery just above Welch spring), the old Maggard cabin, Bluff school, Cave spring cave (you can paddle in and out), Akers ferry (rumored to be still operational but I have yet to see it in action) and lots of other stuff I forget at the moment. Your book will mention it I'm sure. Plenty of land based sights to see as well, not least of which are Big spring and Alley spring mill. Those are both musts. Let me know when you pick dates and I'll put you in touch with a friend who lives up there and paddles the Current at least once a week.

As for the EP, I've only done the section between Greer Spring access and Riverton but it's nothing at all as you described. I think the upper sections are, but that reach is recharged by Greer spring which doubles the flow. For the most part all you have to do is keep the bow pointed downstream and seek out the little pink fish and smallmouth among other species. That section can be done in one long day or overnighted (or multinighted if you're so inclined). Gravel bars aren't quite as abundant compared to the Current and Buff but there are plenty of nice spots. The must do side hikes include Boze mill spring and Turner mill. There are others.
You come too.
Robert Frost

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wally
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by wally » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:51 am

Baton Rouger paddler, don't know where your plans are today, but heavy rain has the buffalo flooded from boxley to the white. your best bet is to check buffalo outdoor center web site and check river levels. they will have the latest paddling conditions. i am from baton rouge many years ago and have floated/fished the ponca to pruitt section many times. it is very rewarding, especially during the week. let me know when you plan to come and maybe we can hook up.
White Tundra with a Green Mohawk on top.

8WTflyrod
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by 8WTflyrod » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:29 pm

Hi Wally; I've been watching the Ponca gage fall for two weeks and then saw the forecast for rain. I thought "great", get the level up to a no drag float, then 2 inches of rain raised the level from 2.5ft to 10 plus (gage maxed out), so I called BOC. They told me more wet stuff was in the forecast and a better indicator was the airspace at Ponca low water bridge. She also told me fishing was better at Hasty and Carver. So I'm re-thinking my take out location. I've got family coming in to BR, so will consider the weather, Ponca gage and family when planning my escape. Would welcome the company and local knowledge. Any suggestions, fire away. Jack

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wally
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by wally » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:47 pm

Jack, it is always trying to find a window when levels, weather and free time line up. The upper portion, Ponca to Pruitt is what people travel miles to come and paddle because of the beauty of river,(smallish), the massive bluffs, the waterfalls and historically preserved homesteads, but the rest of the river from Pruitt to south Maumee are also beautiful and offer many fishing and camping opportunities. When the water is too low up river i will float/fish/camp the lower and have just as much fun. i am a ultra light fisherman in a sot kayak that holds all of my camping gear as well for up to 5 days. You can PM me when you are thinking of coming and if i am free i would like to meet. we can probably self shuttle also. At this point i am trying to schedule hauling the kayak to Leeville to cure my Red fever.
Wally
White Tundra with a Green Mohawk on top.

8WTflyrod
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by 8WTflyrod » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:56 pm

Wally, I kayak fish Leeville, Pointe au Chein, etc from my Hobie PA 14, flyfish and regular gear. My flyfishing club has 3 trips planned for that area, spring, summer and fall, along with shrimp boil and fish fry. If the wind is over 10, then most put away their flyrod. Most are not hard fishermen, but we always manage to have more than enough to cook. You would be welcome. We have had a guy drive down from Chicago! Twice! to fish with us. Others come from Shreveport, Jackson, Ms, Lake Charles, etc. I will send the dates. We generally stay at Boudreau's Condeaux's as they accomodate our group and have nice facilities for the fish fry. If you lived in BR for any length of time, you might know some of these guys.
We have no real reason for where we put in or take out on the Buffalo, just what people talk about. We might also go to Mo and try the Current, Jack's Fork and Eleven Point. We're retired, so no real schedule.
Is the black and tan a miniature dox? We travel with Booger Red, a min. dox with a desert storm paint job. Wife says its Isabella Dapple, I think he looks like a link of boudoin.
A fews years ago we drove to Hot Springs village, played golf, then went to Ozark and bought an old tractor and towed it back. Mistake that has become yard (way back yard) ornament. I have fished the Little Mo a few times for rainbows. A 50-50 shot at a trip to Hardy, and Norfolk. Early planning stage. Jack
Maybe this should be a PM, so as not to clog the ACC posts, but maybe someone will see this and decide to throw in.

mohawklady
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Re: Planning first overnighter to the Buffalo

Post by mohawklady » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:18 pm

jack do you have a tine frame your going and would you like some company? i am retired also and have done the who;e river several times send mr a private message are you canoeing or kayaking?
pam ellwood

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