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Gaston’s white river resort has it all

by Minden Press-Herald

I was on an outing last week with a group of folks from states all around the country. A new friend, Bill Cooper, has a fine outdoor media business going. I’m sure I couldn’t quite hide my quizzical look when I asked him where he is from.

“Muh-zur-RUH”, he said. Hmmm….I thought it was pronounced Muh-zur-EE. Since he lives there, I guess he knows better than I do the pronunciation of his state.

He probably thinks the pronunciation of my home state is LOUISE-e-anna.

Linguistics aside, the outing Cooper and I and a couple dozen other outdoor media types enjoyed was spent at one of my favorite places to visit in the whole world, Gaston’s White River Resort near Lakeview, Arkansas. (www.gastons.com).

Our host for most of the past decade has been the owner of the resort, Jim Gaston. Sadly, Jim passed away a few months ago and frankly, I was concerned that the event I have enjoyed for the past half dozen or so years might come to an end.

Not to worry; Gaston’s grandson, Clint Gaston, has taken over the business and after this year’s visit, there is no doubt that Clint is not only continuing his grandfather’s legacy; he’s taking it to new heights.

For starters, he has hired a new chef for the world class restaurant at Gaston’s. Rick Gollinger comes to Gaston’s with an impressive resume. Gollinger has served as an executive chef at country clubs and restaurants all around the country and after sampling what he can do with a duck leg or a piece of venison, the cuisine he prepares is already attracting attention from diners all around the area.

At dinner on the first night, the main course was Duck Confit, a “Muscovy duck leg, slowly braised in duck butter served with a rare pan-seared duck breast adorned with a wild mushroom brandy cream presented with grilled asparagus and mushroom potatoes.” Desert was Crème Brule.

Dinner the second night was Tornados of Venison ala Dunkirk, which is “twin petite farm raised New Zealand loin steaks pan seared presented topped with grilled shrimp and sauce béarnaise served with stuffed zucchini twin mousses of carrot and broccoli accompanied by fresh chive duchess potatoes.” The raspberry key lime pie that followed was wonderful. Dining both nights was to die for.

One of the culinary experiences I always enjoy at Gaston’s is shore lunch where guides clean the rainbow trout we caught, hand them over to a team of expert cooks who prepare a fish fry second to none.

Before adding another notch to my belt, I have to mention the reason our group assembled at Gaston’s initially. That, of course, is the fishing. It doesn’t matter if it’s 20 degrees or 100; the water flowing off the bottom of Bull Shoals Lake into the White River is always in the 40’s, just the right temperature to put fight and friskiness in the trout that call the river home.

My partner for the day of fishing was Memphis outdoor radio broadcaster and writer, Larry Rea. We fished with one of Gaston’s best guides, Bob Kelly. We had a bit of a problem with mats of aquatic vegetation flushed out of the lake and fouling our lines. However, Kelly found some quiet water where the moss wasn’t such a problem and we caught fish.

Before departing for home, I visited Gaston’s Ozark Nature Trail and Wildlife Refuge on the property observing and photographing strutting gobblers, peacocks, and pheasants. Add this to the great fishing, outstanding dining and comfortable cabins and the chance to see a bald eagle or two makes the seven hour drive from north Louisiana like a virtual hop; skip and jump.

Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden

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