JD Fletcher spent 45 years guiding customers on the Kings River and Table Rock Lake. He shared his enthusiasm for floating and fishing with hundreds of anglers over the years. JD’s humor, upbeat personality and knowledge of the river brought customers back time after time. Fletcher owned Devil’s Dive Resort on Table Rock Lake for years, but his true love was the Kings River. His son, Jeff, said JD enjoyed the peace and solitude of the flowing water, plus the good fishing. JD Fletcher passed away on Jan. 22. He was 83. Photos courtesy of the Fletcher family.
Youngsters got the last go at ducks and geese on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 1-2, 2014, during the statewide Arkansas youth waterfowl hunt. The hunt is held each year after the final weekend of the regular duck season. Adults may call and set out decoys, but only youths younger than 16 are allowed to shoot. Staff Photos Flip Putthoff
Fly fishermen may catch all the trout they want during the winter at Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Mo., as long as they throw them all back. Catch-and-release fly fishing is offered Fridays through Mondays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until mid February. Only flies may be used. The park is quiet and uncrowded during the winter fly fishing season. Anglers may have long stretches of the trout stream to themselves. Fishing was good during a trip to the park on Jan. 3, 2014. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Paddlers will soon be able to run the rapids at the Siloam Springs Whitewater Recreation Park being built on the Illinois River on the south edge of the city. Natural features in the river have been enhanced to create a 100-yard run of Class II rapids with drops, standing waves and eddies, just the stuff that whitewater kayakers and canoeists seek. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
When the water gets cold at most lakes, bass fishing heats up at SWEPCO Lake, one of the Ozarks' most unique reservoirs. The 500-acre lake, located near Gentry, stays warm all winter thanks to a discharge of hot water from the coal-fueled Flint Creek Power Plant. Bass fishing at Swepco during winter is like fishing elsewhere during spring, said Kenny Stroud of Siloam Springs, an avid Swepco angler. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
A hike along the Goat Trail high above the Buffalo National River leads to breathtaking views of the stream and river valley. It's an out-and-back hike of 6 miles, 3 miles in, mostly downhill, and 3 miles back, mostly uphill. The Goat Trail meanders along the middle of Big Bluff, one of the tallest bluffs along the Buffalo. A group of six hikers visited the Goat Trail on Nov. 9. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Renderings of proposed renovations to the Walton Arts Center.
Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day on the Elk River for a float-fishing trip along the storied Ozark stream. Ron Duncan of Springdale and outdoors editor Flip Putthoff cast superstition to the wind and enjoyed a stellar day of fishing and canoeing on the beautiful Elk River, near Pineville, Mo. Summer blended into fall on the 5-mile drift that took place Friday, Sept. 13. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Gigging is a tradition that's practiced by a small legion of fish giggers on the clear streams of the Ozarks. Each September, a gaggle of giggers gathers to gig enough fish for a family fish fry. Giggers may spear rough fish including suckers, carp and gar. Jerry Bonebrake, Larry Bonebrake and Gary Wellesley of Springdale gigged in the rain on Friday, Sept. 20 2013 on Indian Creek and Big Sugar Creek in southwest Missouri. It took some doing, but the men gathered the main ingredient for their annual fish fry. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
The came, they cooked, fried and fricasseed game fresh from the tree into creative cuisine at the World Champion Squirrel Cook-Off held Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, in downtown Bentonville. Thirty teams competed in the squirrel cook-off and whipped up recipes that included squirrel fajitas, Korean squirrel tacos and Dutch-oven squirrel with morel mushrooms. Cooks could prepare their squirrel dishes any way they wanted. Teams had 2 1/2 hours to cook their entries before a panel of 10 judges tasted their creations. Squirrel chefs Brandon Estes and Blayne Estes, brothers from Bentonville, won the cook-off with their dish, squirrel sausage. They won $500, which they donated to the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter, beneficiary of the cook-off. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
The Great River Rumble drew more than 150 canoe and kayak paddlers to the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers for a week-long, 111-mile trip. The expedition began on the St. Croix at Grantsburg, Wis., and traveled six days down the St. Croix. Paddlers entered the Mississippi River on the final day and took out at Red Wing, Minn. to end the trip. Both rivers form the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The St. Croix started out shallow and rocky at Grantsburg, but was up to a mile wide by the time it joined the Mississippi River. Paddlers enjoyed pleasant weather, grand scenery and hospitality in the towns along the route. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Ozark streams don't come much more delightful than Indian Creek, a ribbon of clear, cool water that meanders through southwest Missouri near Anderson. Indian Creek features miles of beautiful water that's ideal for floating and fishing. Smallmouth bass are the prize fish on Indian Creek, but anglers can catch goggle-eye, largemouth bass and catfish. Russ Tonkinson of Rogers and outdoors editor Flip Putthoff enjoyed a pleasant float along Indian Creek on June 26. They caught and released about 50 smallmouth bass and a few goggle-eye on a picture-perfect day with an ideal water level. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Trolling is one of the best ways to catch a mess of fish at Beaver Lake and Ben Lipscomb of Rogers has trolling down to a fine art. Lipscomb and NWA Media outdoors editor Flip Putthoff spent a pleasant evening on May 30 trolling crank baits in the Shaddox Hollow area of Beaver Lake and caught a mixed bag of fish. The catch included about 20 crappie, several white bass, some spotted bass and a 20-inch walleye. Lipscomb shows how it's done in this photo gallery. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Timing couldn't have been better for a canoe trip last week along the entire floatable length of the Kings River May 23-26. The trip from the Marble access to Table Rock Lake covered 65 miles in four days. Flip Putthoff, NWA Media outdoors editor, enjoyed a perfect water level, ideal weather and good fishing on the solo float. The Kings can be floated upstream of Marble, but the Marble to Table Rock stretch is most popular among paddlers. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
River runners went to Plan B during a wintertime float trip on the War Eagle River on Monday, Feb. 4. Fishing was to be the main event, but when Daniel Godwin of Huntsville and outdoors reporter Flip Putthoff arrived at the stream, they found it high and muddy. Fishing was out of the question, but a fine float to watch wildlife and enjoy the winter scenery took shape. The six-mile float from Parker Ford to the Gar Hole low-water bridge was one to remember. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
Nothing like hard-fighting rainbow trout to warm cold fingers on opening day of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Roaring River State Park near Seligman, Mo. Hundreds of anglers shunned freezing temperatures and occasional snow to fish on March 1, which is the traditional opening day. Catch and keep fishing runs through October. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff
It was a day for birds on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Beaver Lake and Hobbs State Park. A day of birding activities kicked off at 9 a.m. with a birding hike at Rocky Branch park on Beaver Lake hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society. About 30 bird enthusiasts saw a variety of waterfowl, songbirds and raptors on the hike. Trip leader was Joe Neal of Fayetteville, author of several books on birds. Later, Neal gave an informative program on birds at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area on Saturday afternoon. That was followed by a program on raptors and vultures by Lynn Sciumbato, a wildlife rehabilitator who lives near Gravette. She brought a live screech owl, hawk and turkey vulture to her presentation. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff.
A vacant church building in Springdale burned Sunday night in Springdale. All Springdale fire engines, trucks and ambulances responded to the fire except for one engine and one ambulance. A ladder truck from Fayetteville responded to the fire as well.
The Civil War Battle of Pea Ridge is the focus at Pea Ridge National Military Park. There's a 7-mile driving tour, but visitors who strike out on foot along 10 miles of hiking trails see parts of the 4,300-acre park that aren't seen by car. There's a hidden lake, cemetery, orchard and vast acres of prairie that hikers can explore. Some new sections of trail opened in 2010. Staff photos by Flip Putthoff