Let’s squelch a rumor here. Jeff Foxworthy, the "‘you might be a redneck" fellow, did not name Peckerwood Lake in Arkansas.
Industrialist Edgar M. Queeny named it a long time ago. It was his lake. He had it built.
Once upon a time, Peckerwood was the largest man-made lake in Arkansas. But because it is privately owned, it’s not familiar to many Arkansas fishermen.
Privately owned, yes. However, anyone can go fishing there with payment of a $7.50 daily fee. Quite a few people do, and they catch fish.
Peckerwood Lake is in Prairie County between Hazen and Stuttgart. It is an impoundment on Lagrue Bayou, and it was built in 1943 for irrigation.
Crappie, catfish, bream and largemouth bass are the sport fish in Peckerwood, and all are catchable nine months out of the year. The lake is closed to fishing after Oct. 21 until Feb. 1. That is the duck hunting time of the year, and Peckerwood is a major duck wintering area.
Sprawling across 4,000 acres in the Grand Prairie, Peckerwood has an assortment of fish habitat. It is generally shallow in comparison to many large Arkansas lakes, and trees, stickups, brush and other vegetation help make it fish friendly.
What is the best fishing on Peckerwood? This depends on who you ask.
Crappie often comes up as an answer. So does catfish. Bream are caught on the lake in large numbers. A few days ago, a visitor to the Bottoms, a DeValls fishing and hunting store, was told about a fishermen bringing in "an ice chest full of big bass from Peckerwood."
Big bass, the visitor asked Ashley Wood at The Bottoms. She answered, "Yes, big bass. Really big bass," and she held her hands more than 20 inches apart. "He caught them on lure he bought here at our store, and he came back for more of them."
The lures were Booyah spinner baits with white shirts. Bass have also been hitting Strike King KVD lures, Wood and fellow worker Hunter Adams said.
But summer is hitting Peckerwood hard. Jack Hartley, who operates Herman’s Landing with his wife Frances, said crappie action has been below par most of the year. Bream have slowed from earlier good catches because of the hot weather, and catfish are coming in. Some bass are being landed too.
"My grandson caught some nice catfish the other day," Harley said, "and he used bologna for bait."
Hartley said fishing improvement may be near.
"The lake is falling, and pretty soon the stumps will be showing up. People ought to get crappie then when they can see the stumps," he said.
Peckerwood’s history begins with Queeny, the St. Louis resident whose middle name was Monsanto, like the chemical company. His family founded the giant enterprise, and he headed it for many years.
Queeny visited the Stuttgart area, fell in love with its duck hunting and developed a large farming operation called Wingmead. It covered 11,000 acres. For a dependable source of water for growing rice and other crops, Queeny built Peckerwood.
Supposedly, the name came from abundant woodpeckers around the lake, not from the derogatory term for a country bumpkin.
Queeny built a lodge — his term — at Wingmead. Mansion most of us would call it. Guests were from all over, and dinners at Wingmead required formal attire for both men and women.
He never lost that passion for Arkansas ducks, and he wrote a book, Prairie Wings, called a conservation classic, that is a collector’s item today. Queeny died in 1968.
Wingmead, including Peckerwood Lake, was bought from his estate by Frank Lyon Sr. and Frank Lyon Jr. of Little Rock.
Peckerwood is reached by Arkansas 86 off U.S. 63 on the west or Arkansas 33 on the east.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.