Friday, October 21, 2016

Boondocking & Catfishing in the Ozarks

NOTE:  An afterthought from the last post I forgot to include.  We did notice 2 separate taxes imposed on our receipts when shopping in Missouri.  Research showed that you pay separate state, local, and sometimes county taxes, which in this case equated to nearly 10%.  That's a bit different. 

The view from the top of Winding Stair Mountain
     Schedules being dynamic as they are when you're retired allowed us some extra days between scheduled stops.  Even though we were a day late leaving Neosho, MO due to a never ending line of thunderstorms we took advantage to do some relaxing and fishing in the Ouachita National Forest of Oklahoma, a spur of the Ozarks.  Leaving Neosho, MO we ventured south on I-49 to Fort Smith, Arkansas and then I-40 just west into Oklahoma where we began our journey to the southeastern part of the state.  If you've never been here, it is by far the most beautiful part of this state.  It is rolling, mountainous land with plenty of lakes, streams, hardwood forests, and some wilderness (without banjo music).  It would remind you of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina or even the Porcupines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We visited here a lot when we lived in Oklahoma. 
      Our destination was at Short Mountain Cove on the Arkansas River, just south of Sallisaw, OK.  This is an Army Corp of Engineers Campground that qualifies for the 'Senior All Access' discounted price of  $9.50 for water, electric, showers, and dump station (borderline boondocking).  9 days for $85.50.....nice!  There are two loops to this campground which is nestled in the hardwoods next to Robert S. Kerr Lake.  We chose the emptier loop as we love the peace and quiet while still on the water. 
      The main focus of this stop was catfishing.  The Arkansas River system is prime catfishing water and our tackle was 'all about that' this trip.  First we stocked up on firewood.  We were lucky enough to be allowed by the Camp Host to cut up an old oak that had fallen near camp.  Then we headed to the nearest bait shop to pick up some cut shad for fishing.  Catfish, especially flatheads and channel cats love cut shad.  Sallisaw, OK is only 7 miles north so were able to have access to several bait shops, Walmart, a laundromat, gas, propane, and even a casino for my bride.  Weather was a bit on the warm side with highs in the upper 80s and a couple over 90.  With such warm temps we concentrated our fishing late afternoon and on into the evening.  During the heat of the day we usually just rested and watched movies while Roux played outside. 
      Catfishing is a sedentary activity.  Once your bait is cast just take your favorite book or smart phone and enjoy.  We also attached little bells to the end of our poles just in case we weren't paying attention (insert wry grin here)   We tried several combinations of bait, but cut shad left out in the sun to spoil a bit provided the best STANK.
      Try as we might, changing our hours, baits, and locations (and this is a bit hard to admit) we did not catch one single catfish.  After 3 days we braved the 90s heat and fished the river below the dam near the locks, but the only thing we found were snapping turtles.  I even changed hats 3 times (Fleet Farm, Tabasco, and Spartans) to find some luck.  Nope.
      Many catfish were being caught, but mostly by 'jugliners' who put out large strings of baited hooks supported by buoys (milkjugs) overnight. Those of us from shore did not have much luck. I'm sure that once this blog chapter hits the internet we may indeed be banned from several southern states.  After 5 days we decided to 'mellow out' and just relax around camp.  We even did the casino thing one night, but our luck there was no different......but at least there was no debate on TV.
      Ah yes, the obligatory meal and cooking section.  While here we dined on Shrimp Feta Salads, Tasso, Cheese, & Grits, Wild Boar Steaks w/Peach Salsa, Fish Taco Boats, Mexican Manicotti, Caprese Chicken, and grilled a couple of NY Strips over the fire to name a few.  We replaced our original 1 1/2 quart RV crockpot with a bit bigger 2 quart model this time.  This is plenty big for Barb and I.  I christened it with a batch of Creole Crawfish Tasso Corn Chowder including the homemade Tasso I smoked this summer.

Creole Crawfish Tasso Corn Chowder

Wild Boar Ham Steaks w/Peach Pineapple Chipotle Salsa, Spaetzle and Green Beans

      Lowest diesel of the trip so far in Sallisaw, OK.....$2.09  The casino at Sallisaw, OK, although they serve a delicious menu are nowhere reasonably priced for gambling.  The cheapest slots are 1 cent although the minimum bet is 50 cents.   Pulling anchor we head west to Lake Thunderbird just SE of Oklahoma City to visit family and friends.  We will continue to practice our retiree relaxation and catfishing to the best of our ability.  Barb reminds me that there will some serious shopping (pre-hunting) while we are there as well.  I hope I find my MOJO before quail season gets here......

      "Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind"
WiFi courtesy of Verizon MiFi

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