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The Winding Stair and Rich Mountains give birth to numerous streams which serve as tributaries for several major rivers in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Runoff from Rich Mountain feed the Kiamichi, the Little, and the Ouachita Rivers. Streams beginning on Winding Stair Mountain feed the Poteau and the Kiamichi Rivers.
The Talimena Scenic Drive straddles a geographic “divide”, a line or geographic zone separating the flow of water. Water falls on the north side of the drive is collected in streams that eventually flow into the Arkansas River or the Ouachita River. Water that falls on the south side of the drive flows to the Red River, which forms the boundary between Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. All of the water that fall on these mountains are reunited in the Mississippi River.
During the 1900s, a number of lake and reservoirs were built on area streams. The Army Corps of Engineers developed Lake Wister and the Broken Bow Reservoir to control flooding. Cedar Lake was developed by the Forest Service in the 930s and Lake Wilhelmina was developed by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for recreation purposes.
Fish caught from these streams and lakes include smallmouth, largemouth, spotted and rock bass, green sunfish, walleye, chain pickerel, channel catfish, and trout below them Broken Bow Lake Dam and along the Mountain Fork River.
For more information on great fishing destinations near the Talimena Scenic Byway…
Western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma have a distinctive group of nongame, native fish. Twenty-seven species are considered to be inhabitants of the streams, creeks, and rivers. Included amount them are the stoneroller, golden shiner, redfin shiner, steel color shiner, freckled madtom, spotted sucker, channel darter, bluntnose darter, dusky darter, and orange throat darter.