By Charles Paxton
Just sharing some pictures taken at Bayou Deloutre (Bayou of the otter) last Saturday (Aug 22). There’s a landing just 7 minutes away from Antioch by car, but a world away in terms of isolation. We only saw one other family all day, some friendly young men fishing from the slipway. They’d caught 5 Bream, one of good size, and a 9″ long Channel Cat ( aka Blue Catfish). I said that’d look good in an aquarium and the fisherman laughed and said it would look pretty good frying in butter too!
Once out on the bayou we were alone among the birds and the beasts.
There was a sweet breeze running up from the south that cooled us off every now and then. Kayaking is the best way to explore the bayous, it’s really fun and Deloutre is lovely. It isn’t big and intimidating and there are lots of bird encounters.
It runs down into Louisiana from Arkansas and varies greatly in width and depth along the route. At times it seems no more than a narrow creek, by the time it reaches Stirlington, it has widened and deepened into what feels like a major river.
Near Antioch Deloutre is lined with Tupelo trees and Bald Cypress and has an intimate feeling, it’s just the right size for an expedition. About the width of the Thames above Medmenham and with no discernable flow, it is as easy paddling up north or down south.
The water runs from Arkansas down to connect with the Ouachita River (the upper reaches of which we canoed with my sister and brother-in-law). We had lovely sightings of Kingfishers, Herons, Swamp Turkey (Anhinga), many frogs of various sizes, a water snake and a raccoon!
We saw turtles, but they dived before we could get to identification distance – canny little critters.
There are so many places that you can access only by kayak, aluminium fishing boats are too wide and have too deep a draft. Motors are too noisy. Kayaks are perfect!
In the shallows you can see tangles of wood and fish moving about. There seem to be small frogs everywhere and curious hopping insects that visually blend into the sand very well.
At one stage we saw a sandstone bedding plane exposed in the bank and at another, a striped river prawn approximately 2 inches long.
If you’re hungry and thirsty afterwards (you very likely will be), stop off at Antioch’s country store on Highway 2, The Bienville Scenic Byway for a very tasty burger.
If you’d like a restaurant meal you can enjoy the full works at the ’50’s Diner across the road. I enjoyed a good cheeseburger there on Texas toast with country fries. The folks are real friendly and there are nostalgic antiques.