What to know
While etching itself a place in the American consciousness, the Mississippi River has marked mightily the land, the people and the culture of eastern Arkansas, a part of the nation’s largest alluvial plain. Known regionally as “the Delta” and stretching from Cairo, Ill., south to the Gulf of Mexico, the plain covers more than 15,000 square miles in Arkansas alone, including all or part of 27 of the state’s 75 counties. The river’s natural legacy can be seen in the region’s remnant wetlands and many oxbow lakes, including Arkansas’s largest natural lake, while its impact on human history is evidenced in historic river ports such as Osceola and Helena. The Delta Cultural Center, a state museum in Helena, explores the Mississippi’s natural and historical legacies and its influence on regional culture, especially Delta blues music. Helena’s Reach River Park provides a dramatic view from an elevated boardwalk of the river Mark Twain celebrated. Fishing: In September, big blue cats, some topping 100 pounds, hold near river channel drop-offs, humps, holes, outside stream bends, log jams and toppled trees. Among the best fishing areas are the junctures of the Mississippi and large tributaries like the St. Francis, White and Arkansas rivers. Use heavy tackle – rods 8 to 12 feet long, big level-wind reels and 30- to 100-pound line. Shad, dead/cut herring and sunfish are common baits.