When summertime has lakes feeling bath-water warm, the White River below Beaver Lake dam flows ice cold on the hottest days.
Puffs of cool breeze swirl from the chilly water when it's 90 degrees in the shade to caress the warm faces of canoe or kayak paddlers and shore fishermen. Cold water is drawn from deep down in Beaver Lake and released through the dam when electricity is generated. That keeps the White River downstream from the dam flowing about 55 degrees even in summer.
Water that cold is the perfect temperature for rainbow and brown trout to thrive. Fishing brings platoons of anglers to the fish-filled river.
Legions of paddlers in bright-colored kayaks also are finding the cool water is a paradise for summertime paddling.
The White River below Beaver Dam, also called Beaver tailwater, offers a menu of float trip options. When no electricity is being produce at the dam, there's minimal current in the river. Paddlers in kayaks or canoes can launch and paddle upstream to their heart's content, then return downstream to the same spot. No need to mess with a car shuttle.
During electricity generation, the water level rises and an easy current carries paddlecraft down river as if cradled in a gentle hand. Float trips short as two miles or as long as 12 miles are options.
Four public access areas with boat ramps let paddlers put together nearly any distance. An ideal trip for kayakers who do more drifting than paddling is the 3-mile float from the access just below Beaver Dam to Bertrand Access.
That was the preferred option of a gaggle of eight kayakers on a warm and sunny July 2. It's one of the most scenic stretches of the White River, with tall bluffs, lush forested banks and bright gravel bars.
Crane's Roost Bluff, about 1.5 miles down from the dam, rises from the water on river left. In short order, kayakers pass the Parker Bend public fishing access. It's possible to launch or take out kayaks at this spot.
Wallace Bluff rises 100 feet or more downstream from Parker Bend on river right. Bertrand Access is another mile downstream on river left to end the 3-mile trip.
Other float options abound. The trip from Beaver Dam to Houseman Access is seven miles. Or go for the gusto and tackle the 12-mile trip from Beaver Dam to the town of Beaver. The Beaver city park provides access, just downstream from the Golden Gate Bridge of the Ozarks suspension bridge.
There's a saying among river runners that goes like this: If deciding between a short or long float, choose the short float. Better to finish refreshed and happy than being tired and hollering "are we there yet" with two miles left to go.
Paddlers and bank fishermen have the river mostly to themselves from the dam downstream to Bertrand Access. Few motor boats are seen this far upstream. Kayakers share the river with more power boats the farther they paddle downstream.
For lots of paddlers, it goes against their nature not to take a fishing rod. Anglers 16 and older need an Arkansas fishing license and a trout permit to fish between Beaver Dam and Houseman Access.
For tackle, a light-action spin cast rod and reel spooled with 4-pound test line is ideal. Some anglers downsize their line to 2-pound test. Most kayak anglers use lures, including small jigs, spoons or crank baits.
Bank fishermen like to lounge in lawn chairs and use prepared trout baits, worms or nightcrawlers.
Learn the state fishing regulations for the stream before casting a line. That'll keep anglers out of hot water with a wildlife officer at this cool summertime paddling oasis.
Short or long?
Here are some distances for float trips on the White River below Beaver Dam:
• Dam to Bertrand Access, 3 miles.
• Bertrand Access to Houseman Access, 4 miles.
• Houseman Access to the town of Beaver, 5 miles.
Source: Staff report