A year-round float stream, the Eleven Point is fed by
numerous springs making it an ideal destination for floaters any month. About 70 percent
of its flow is supplied by these springs. Even when the river is low after a period of
drought, all shoal areas can be navigated.
Rising in the Ozarks of Missouri, the Eleven Point flows
southward through the Mark Twain National Forest, passing rocky, dramatic country. But
once it enters Arkansas, the terrain becomes more alluvial. Its pace slows from frantic Ozark whitewater to slow and steady, and the
scenery becomes bucolic. From the river, a fringe of forest hides the
pastures and farmhouses just beyond.
A clear, unpolluted stream, the Eleven Point is a favorite
of canoeists because of its frequent Ozark whitewater rapids. Sand and gravel bars on the lower river, some
of considerable height, are subject to cave-ins due to the natural action of the water.
This can be a problem to floaters, since the resulting debris can obstruct the
Islands are characteristic of the Eleven Point, probably
formed in times past by these cave-ins. Passage around some of these islands may be
blocked, requiring an occasional portage. In addition to the islands, there are five old
stone dams providing their own form of hazard if the stream is high. Below the community
of Dalton, inexperienced canoeists should avoid the river due to the tricky nature of
these dams. However, above Dalton, the stream is reasonably safe for all when the water is
low to medium in height.
SECTION DESCRIBED: From Missouri State Highway
142 to the stream's confluence with the Spring River, a distance of 44 miles.
A traditional put-in point is at the east end of the
Missouri 142 bridge near the Calm community. Five miles downstream, the Missouri-Arkansas
line is crossed, marked by an "Entering Arkansas" sign. Another mile or two and
floaters come to the first of the old stone dams. The best way to navigate this one is to
walk the canoe through a small chute on the left.
The second old stone dam is at the 15-mile mark. While it
can be negotiated to the left of the center island with a sharp right turn, it's
perhaps simpler and safer to drag your canoe over gravel on the right.
Just beyond is the Arkansas 93 bridge at Dalton. Campsites
are available on private land here; inquire at the grocery store for details, and for
directions to the nearby put-in point. The swift current along the shore is difficult to
maneuver, and it might be best to walk a canoe through, keeping it out of the current
before getting underway.
A third stone dam lies just about eight miles downstream,
shortly after an island and its accompanying brush-filled channels. There is a break in
the dam to the right that can be run, but because of willows just beyond, it might be best
to walk the craft through. Less than a mile beyond is the Arkansas 90 bridge, supported by
high banks. There is deep water on the left, and a landing beyond the bridge, but the
property is private and posted.
Next comes the Black Ferry Bridge, on a county road. Steep
banks and deep water make this a difficult launching site. (The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has
proposed in times past the damming of the Eleven Point at a site just beyond, to be called
Water Valley Dam. The resulting impoundment would have extended to the state line.)
Just above the U.S. Highway 62 bridge is the fourth dam,
which can be run at low water. On the upstream side of the bridge you'll find a
put-in on the east bank. Seven-tenths of a mile below the 62 crossing is an emergency exit
on the left at the site of the old bridge for the highway.
The fifth stone dam comes into view next, complete with
several breaches for lining a canoe through. Within a few miles the Eleven Point enters
the Spring River, and four and a half miles later the Spring joins up with the Black
River. The Game and Fish Commission maintains a public landing ramp on the right bank of
the Black River just below the junction. Access is provided by a county road from Black
Rock, a little over a mile away.
Because of its numerous springs, the Eleven Point is a
year-round stream. However, when the river is up and charging southward, all but the most
experienced Ozark whitewater canoeists should stay on the bank.
Principal access points are: Missouri 142; Dalton
(Arkansas 93); Arkansas 90; the county road at Black Ferry Bridge; and U.S. 62.
Although farmland borders the Eleven Point throughout most
of its Arkansas length, the heavy growth along the banks tends to conceal the signs of
civilization and to give the floater the sense of being miles from anywhere. Black gum,
sycamore, bois d'arc, oak, sweet gum, willow, walnut and river birch are found in
this lush growth. Wildflower displays are frequent and a special treat of the Eleven
Point. Herons often stand sentinel in quiet reaches of the stream. And, on hot summer
days, the Eleven Point makes a delightful swimming hole because of its spring-fed
The Eleven Point River fishing scene is ideal for smallmouth bass fishermen, thanks to its graveled path. While an occasional three- or four-pounder is taken, most will weigh from one to two pounds. Even so, the number of smallmouth bass in the river is phenomenal, and in the world of Eleven Point River fishing, it's not unheard of to haul in a pair of smallmouth bass on a single crank-bait. When the water is clear, minnow-replica crank-baits on fairly light line are recommended. On those rare occasions when rains give the water some turbidity, large spinner-baits and crank-baits are also good producers.
One of the most overlooked fish species in Arkansas's cold-water streams is the channel catfish. While most people associate channel catfish with muddy, slow-moving waters, they actually prefer clear, gravel-bottomed streams, like those found on Eleven Point River. Fishing for Channel catfish isn’t difficult, as they are abundant in the Eleven Point and will accept a variety of offerings including chicken liver and stinkbaits. The flathead catfish, another common Eleven Point sportfish, prefers live baits such as minnows and small sunfish. Anglers will also find good action for spotted bass and longear sunfish.
The Eleven Point offers fish a smorgasbord of aquatic foods such as crayfish, hellgrammites, leeches, salamanders, mayfly and stonefly nymphs, a variety of chubs, darters and small fish, worms, mussels and an occasional terrestrial insect washed in during a cloudburst. It goes without saying that fish use these foods on a day-to-day basis in this and other float streams, so our Eleven Point River fishing tip is that a fresh, well-fished live bait offering is often more enticing than an artificial lure.
The nearby city of Pocahontas is a major trade center for
the area around the Eleven Point. Public campsites are available at Davidsonville Historic
State Park southwest of Pocahontas.
Since along most of its Arkansas length, the Eleven Point
flows past privately-owned farmland, visitors need to be mindful to avoid trespassing