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Caddo River

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General Information

Description - Flowing out of the Ouachita Mountains, the Caddo River is one of Arkansas' most unappreciated streams. Those that know it, however, describe the Caddo as among the best family outing type streams in the state. Throughout this 40 mile journey, the Caddo is never very far from civilization. Railroad tracks parallel the stream for several miles, a few houses can be spotted from the river, and cattle frequently gaze down at passing floaters. The Caddo is generally quite peaceful, but to prevent paddlers from becoming too complacent, a number of class I and II rapids can be expected.

Most communities along the Caddo include gas stations and grocery stores. Camping sites are available at the Crystal Recreational Area north of Norman off Forest Road 177.

Recreation - The Caddo River offers mellow canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and fishing opportunities. Like most of Arkansas canoeing streams, the Caddo usually gets too low in the summer and early fall for good floating. The best months for a successful trip are March through June. The floater often travels next to forested hillsides and past rocky outcrops. In several places the stream flows under a green canopy of overhanging hardwoods.

In particular, this small river offers excellent fishing in a peaceful setting that's ideal for a weekend family outings. Smallmouth and spotted bass are the most notable sport fish inhabiting the Caddo. The most productive bass angling begins near Caddo Gap and ends below Amity. During low water periods, portions from Caddo Gap to Glenwood can be floated. Longear and green sunfish are often caught in this stretch as well.

Climate - Arkansas has a temperate climate with the coldest temperatures near freezing during December, January and February. Daytime highs for these months usually reach 55 degrees F. Spring and fall temperatures are very mild with lows dipping to 44 degrees F and highs reaching 70 degrees F. July and August are the hottest months of the year with average temperatures reaching 90 degrees F. June and September average temperatures usually reach into the mid-eighties. Spring and winter months are the wettest of the year.

Location - The Cossatot River begins in southwestern Montgomery County, flowing out of the Ouachita Mountains before entering the backwaters of Degray Lake in west central Arkansas.

The Caddo is an easy river to get to. Access points are numerous, and the shuttle routes are almost always along paved roads. Traditional put-in and take-out points include: the bridge immediately west of Norman, the low-water bridge west of Caddo Gap, the old low-water bridge on Arkansas Hwy. 182 north of Amity, and the Arkansas Hwy. 84 bridge northeast of Amity.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Tommy Cooper (Hot Springs, AR)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My favorite part is the Amity access to the next bridge. It's about a 5-6mi float might be a good family float, but my intrest is fishing. The first couple miles is pretty shallow respectively and here lately the water lvl has been at about 5ft (a little low if you're expecting a smooth no- draggin trip). I've caught a few smallies in the first half, but very few quality fish. Ideally you would want to hit the last half of the float around 2ish then take your time in the deep pools with a finesse worm (i like mine wacky rigged) keep natural colored baits on the line. Leave your worm weightless and just kinda let it float and flick around in the water. well placed casts could land you the big one. I caught a 3-4 pounder about a mile from the takeout. I also keep a topwater stick bait on a seperate line and i cast it way ahead of my kayak to attract bass suspended off the bank. Also don't neglect the rapids as a prime fishing spot. I know it's shallow but often times this is where i catch my biggest bass and is the most likely place to catch the smallmouth they may be smaller than those largemouth but they fight like giants and when they hit that topwater they can rip the pole right out of your hands if you're not ready. Have fun in my fishing spot, but one thing i ask is that you leave some for me!

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Kayaking the Caddo!!!! A family of four, my kids are age 12 and 8. We just came back today and the river was low. So we could only do the 2 mile run, normally we do the seven mile run which takes us 5 to 6 hours to float. My kids were disapointed that we were only out for 2- 3 hours, and that includes the stopping and swimming. But let me tell you a litte secret. Kayak, don't canoe!!! I even felt sorry for the tubers. Kayaks can do circles around everone else. Even my kids can paddle cicles around us, including up stream. When the river is low you paddle until you find a nice swimming hole, then take a break. We met new people along the river who had a portable grill and they were giving away hot dogs. We Passed out drinks and snacks and just enjoyed the crystal clear waters. Then hoped back on our kayak until we found another spot that we just had to swim in. Three weeks ago the river was high and I have to admit, was a bit of a challenge for the entire family. I was very glad that I insisted that my kids wear a life jacket, even my 12 year old boy. And thank you to all the stangers who help fellow river rats when in need. I love the river and the entire family enjoys it. Just remember...wear River shoes, take snacks and drinks,not just BEER, bring water and Gatoraide to rehydrate. Re-apply sun screen. And pay the little extra to KAYAK. It's the best for the entire family. Oh and remember the kids are lighter in weight and WILL go way ahead of you if you don't watch. So WWWWOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: My family went of a canoe trip on Saturday July 1st, 2005 . The gentleman stated “the river is quite low and there are a few place you will have to drag your canoe across”. This was an understatement. The 4 hour trip turn into an 8 hour struggle to reach the end point. There were more rock slides (rapids /drag zones) than float areas it seemed. The recommendation from this patron would be if you weigh more than 200 pound DO NOT attempt a float trip on the Caddo River during low water(< 5.5). This trip which sounds like a great idea and fun filled day on the river for the family. You start out floating, then you round the first bend and encounter the first shallow, then the struggle of dragging a canoe down the river begins. There were several occasions I would have simple left the canoe if I had found an exit point or cross road and walked back to my vehicle. Secondly, be more specific to the type of shoes people really need. Since I was dragging my canoe more than floating in it the shoes became very important. Luckily for me I was wearing hiking sandals, but the rest of my family had flip flops. These are clearly not suitable for dragging a canoe the amount of time required during low water. The best shoes, by observation, were an old pair of tennis shoes. The main issue became the amount of weight in the canoe. The groups with less than 200 lbs in the canoe seemed to fair much better than us at 450 lbs. The river level was 4.88 as noted on the USGS water level data link. With this data I hope you will not be subjected to the same disappointment on the Caddo River.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Just make sure you don't spend too much time fishing, we were having so much fun, time got away from us and it got dark on us!! There was one place where we came to an end of the river (slack water?) because we missed the turn to the left,the trees were grown over the turn and water was barely flowing, it's a miracle we finally found our way out!! I was sure we were going to have to spend the night on the river!! The four hour trip took us eight hours. We will leave very early next time:) We saw more different fish in the Caddo than we have ever seen in any river!!!! Big ones too!! Go check it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly

More Information

Contact Information:
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, One Capitol Mall , Little Rock, AR, 72201, Phone: 501-682-7777, Fax: 501-682-2523

Additional Information:
Arkansas Rivers and Streams - Arkansas has numerous rivers and streams located throughout the state. We have information on 13 rivers, four creeks and one bayou.


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