Water temperature: Creek arms - 64 degrees • Main Channel - 52 degrees
Water Clarity: Gin Clear
Catch by species:
Black bass: 5 • White bass: 7
Crappie: 7 • Catfish: 3
The Corps of Engineers park, as it is known around here, will reopen this year on May 1. This is later than normal, but at least it will be open for business, and that's important for this area. I was told last year there would be changes in how the park would be operated this year, and one of the changes would be that the Corps was planning on having volunteer attendants, a big change from the paid attendants that have been the norm for many years. As I am writing this newscast, we're still not sure just how this will work, or if that is still the plan. We were told the park would be open, though, and that was a worry because of the White River Valley Tournament on May 3. Parking for that many boats and trailers would be almost an impossibility without the Corps park’s launching ramp and parking area.
The great thing about this park is that it is at the water's edge with level sites, but the real problem is that the Corps sometimes closes it, and sometimes it can stay closed all season. This hurts the entire area when you consider there are about 40 sites, and on holiday weekends it is full or overfull. That’s a lot of families who shop uptown as well as at the marina and eat at Cookie’s.
This is the reason Fort Cook was built almost 40 years ago, because of the flood of 1973. Dad and I saw the results of high water that season and made a trip to Little Rock to meet with Corps staff. We told our sad story, and as is the standard response, now it is the same as it was then. They had no funds. At lunchtime several staff members, Dad and I walked a short distance to a restaurant and continued talking about the need for an RV park above flood pool. One of the Corps personnel was a man named Ted Cook (no relation), and as we walked, he got beside me and said, “Young Cook, why don't you do it yourselves with a little help from the Corps?”
That became the talk around the lunch table. Long story short, Dad and I talked all the way home. That was in the fall of 1973, and this discussion continued until sometime in 1974 when we bit the bullet. It took us several years and lots of work to get people to camp away from the water – until we had high water. Then we would fill up. When we built Fort Cook, our plan was to use the facilities for the resort guests as well as those camping at Fort Cook, and that made our decision a lot easier to spend the amount of money required.
Fort Cook is now a big part of TMR with just under 100 sites, and it stays full year-round with a waiting list. Like so many of our facilities, it was built when we saw a need, and most have turned out OK, but not all of that. That's a story for another time.
You still have time to sign up for the White River Valley tournament on May 3, and like in past years, Cookie’s will open at 5 a.m. that Saturday. Contact Cindy Rains at 417-335-9335 for more information.