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July 2003

Des Arc, Wynee, Forrest City & Brinkley

BATTER UP!

Summer fish fries.  They’re as much a part of Arkansas as church potlucks and backyard BBQ’s.  No matter what kind of fish we’re eating - bluegills, crappie, bass, catfish, walleye or others - we like it best when it’s deep fried, served up crispy and hot with hushpuppies, coleslaw, thick sliced onion and home-made pickles on the side.  Most times we opt for a simple batter recipe, usually some cornmeal with salt and pepper, but Arkansas cooks like experimenting with new recipes as well, adding different spices, seasonings and other ingredients to produce new taste sensations that keep our guests coming back for more.  Here are two taste tempters that show the variety of ideas that can be used.  Use with any of  your favorite fish, filleted or pan-dressed.

LIGHT FISH BATTER
1 c. Bisquick
1 egg white
Club Soda
Extra flour

Put Bisquick in a bowl, then slowly pour in club soda, stirring with a fork until the mixture has a consistency of very heavy cream.  Fold in egg white.  Dredge fish in the extra flour, dip in batter than deep fry until golden brown.

DILL FISH BATTER
1 c. Bisquick
1 t. dried dill weed
½ t. onion powder
½ t. garlic powder
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
2 c. lemon-lime soda

Extra Bisquick
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In a large mixing bowl, combine dill weed, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Add soda and eggs, and mix well.  Dredge fish fillets in the extra Bisquick, then immerse in the prepared batter.  Refrigerate fillets in the batter for 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove fillets from the batter one at a time, allowing excess batter to drip off.  Deep fry until golden brown, and serve hot.


DEEP LAKE BARNETT OFFERS CHANCE AT BIG BASS

A lake on a bayou in a canyon is unique in itself.  Toss in stories of 12 pound largemouth bass, 11-pound largemouth bass, “lots” of 8-pound largemouth bass, and you get the attention of numerous Arkansas fishermen.  At 245 acres, it is small but not tiny, Lake Barnett is in western White County near the Floyd community.  When James Modlin of Floyd landed one largemouth a bit over 12 pounds and another a tad over 11 pounds this spring, fishermen took notice.  But, a word of caution is appropriate.  Barnett is not a place where you can run out, toss a lure and grab a lunker.  It can be difficult to fish, especially for first timers.  Abundant stickups in many parts of the lake are deceptive.  They are just a short cast away from water approaching 100 feet deep.  Bayou Des Arc rises in the hills close to Romance and snakes its way to the White River in Prairie County near Des Arc.  Its early course is deep through steep wooded hills.  This is where the bayou was dammed in a multi-partner project with two purposes – flood control and recreational fishing.  The lake is managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and it’s fished for bass, bream, crappie and catfish.  Barnett’s fishing rules are the same as statewide regulations except there is a 13 to 16 inch protected slot limit on largemouth bass.  Modlin gave a clue to Barnett’s current fishing success.  “This lake has abundant shad.  The fish I caught had been schooling and chasing shad in anywhere from 3 to 15 feet of water.”  He said he caught the big fish on a clown-colored Smithwick suspending Rogue.  That’s a stock bait that takes some knowledge and skill to work efficiently.  Barnett is narrow and deep in spite of being on a bayou.  A bridge carries the county Gravel Hill Road over the lake, which divides its upper and lower sections.  In the spring, Modlin said anglers head up past the bridge for much of the action.  Lake Barnett was named for Eldon Barnett of Floyd, a leader in the long campaign leading up to the birth of the lake.  Barnett has two access areas with boat ramps, both on the south side and reached off Arkansas Highway 31.  Barnett Access is near the Center Hill Road and bridge.  Reed Access is about a mile downstream and off Washburn Road.  A small private campground on Highway 31 has recreational vehicle facilities, and bait and other supplies are available in Floyd, which is about 10 miles from U. S. Highway 67 at Beebe.


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