Oh, Current River, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways….

Terrain readers have counted two ways by voting the river their favorite for two activities: paddling and fly fishing. [Editor’s Note: Voting refers to the 2018 Terrain Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards.] But what about the people who live near the river, do they appreciate what they have right in their backyard? Let them tell you in their own words.

Tom Dooley’s great-great grandfather operated the grist mill that once stood on the spring branch at Pulltite. As a fifth-generation Current River resident, his roots run deep.

“My grandparents and parents took me when I was small to the Current River, and the river is where I met my wife, Cindy. We took our four sons to the river as often as we could. My wife and I try to go kayaking at least three days a week. It might be the same area, but I can say you never touch the same water twice in the Current River. Kayaking on the river is relaxing and you just feel alive. There is no other place I would rather be, and who needs to go away on vacation when you have the Current River? So please keep it clean and just enjoy it. I know we sure do.”

Mark Van Patten, a fly-fishing and fly-tying expert, is the author of Fly Fishing A to Z. His PBS show, “The Tying Bench,” ran for 200 episodes over 13 years.

“The Current River has a special appeal to those of us who seek the thrill of a wild rainbow caught on a hand-tied fly. The seven miles below Montauk State Park is a blue-ribbon designated trout stream bordered by pristine oak and hickory forests and towering dolomite bluffs. All of this is preserved as a national park, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

“I grew up fishing the Current with my grandfather from the time I was old enough to make a decent cast with an old fiberglass fly rod. As I progressed as a fly angler, I had the opportunity to fish rivers from the East Coast to West Coast and even Alaska and Canada. However, I was always drawn back to my home waters on the Current River. Nowhere compared to the soul-satisfying time spent wading the clear, cold waters of my favorite stream.”

Judy Stewart shares her love for the Current River with guests at her family’s Riverside Motel and Cabins, and with visitors to the Shannon County Museum, of which she is president.

“Growing up on the Current River at Akers, where the river ran through my backyard, has left me with wonderful memories. I have a deep love for the river and the people living in that community. My parents and grandparents were entrepreneurs who made their living using the river. I love the smell of the river on a foggy morning while I steer my canoe downstream. The beauty of the springs, caves, wildlife and flowers always brings me joy. I like to swim, canoe, kayak and inner tube on the river. I especially like to just sit in the river on a chair that lets the water cover me to my chest and meditate, listen to the water, and feel it trickle through my toes.”

Dave Tobey is an interpretive ranger at Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

“It was as though life truly began for me when my family purchased two small cabins just downstream from Round Spring at Courthouse Hollow in 1962. My father and I moved there as full-time members of the community in 1963, when I was 10 years old. The next few years were spent exploring the Current River on foot, horseback or in a johnboat or canoe.

“Although my education and career carried me away from the river, it has always been that special place where I would return to reflect and recharge as needed. In December of 2016, I was given the opportunity to come home to Round Spring as the district interpretive ranger. Our journey back has been similar to a long float trip on a meandering section of the Current River.”

Author: Barbara Gibbs Ostmann is a regular contributor to Terrain Magazine.