Most of us have a tendency to take familiar things for granted. It’s human nature.
Today’s illustration is Cadron Creek.
In Jenny Oliver’s Yesterdays column in the Log Cabin a few days ago, an item talked of Cadron Creek as a drinking water source for Conway 75 years ago. Good water, someone told the proprietor of the Hotel Bachelor.
Here in 2009, the average person in our neck of the woods pays scant attention to Cadron Creek. We would be willing to bet on how many actually know what it is and where it is. No, the drinking water in Conway doesn’t come from Cadron any more. It comes from Brewer Lake.
Just to keep from straying too far off course, Cadron Creek has long been a highly productive fishing stream. Catfish, crappie and bream – take your pick. But don’t tell just anybody that Cadron has plenty of decent smallmouth bass in it as well.
Way back when – but not 75 years ago like the Yesterdays item – this writer had a quick legal lesson when there were lawsuits over the water in Cadron Creek. It was a drought time. The creek was low, and the creek supplied Conway drinking water. Farmers also pumped water from the creek to keep struggling crops alive.
"Riparian rights" supplied the legal lesson. This young reporter walked down a hall at the courthouse after copying information on a lawsuit that had been filed. Copying, understand. Pencil and paper. This was long before computers, e-mails, copiers and such. The lawsuit was a mass of legalese, and the phrase riparian rights was peppered abundantly through it.
In the hall, a seasoned Conway lawyer nodded at the reporter. The newsman spoke up, "Hey, Mr. Will. Could you do me a favor? Tell me in a few words what riparian rights means."
Will Clark has been gone many years now. He probably was busy that day at the courthouse, but he paused and gave a concise legal lesson to the reporter on riparian rights.
People who own land along a waterway have some rights to the water of it, and the principle goes back to old England. What the rights are varies by state in this country, and Arkansas law was murky on the point of how much water farmers could pump out of Cadron Creek.
The court case dragged on forever, it seemed, long after rains came and refilled the creek. One result was the building of Beaverfork Lake as a backup water supply for Conway.
Cadron Creek, lawsuits and all, provided fishing for quite a few people in this area. It still does. It also is a fair to middlin’ canoe float stream – in some places and at certain times of the year, meaning don’t try it right after a heavy rain. Don’t try upper parts of the creek in drought times, either.
We’re talking about Cadron Creek as a whole. This includes the North Fork, the East Fork and Beaver Fork. The stream is two words; the lake is one word.
A memory from about 30 years ago is fishing the long pool on the East Cadron just downstream from the Arkansas Highway 107 bridge. A young co-worker and I slid a canoe down the bank and rigged up with worms and crickets. We were going after bream.
What we caught were nice green sunfish – bream all right but not the bluegills that we expected. We brought in about a dozen of the green sunfish, most about eight inches long and a few a little longer.
The co-worker’s light spinning rod suddenly jumped nearly out of his hand. He raised it and we heard that pleasant "zziiinnnggg." Line peeled from his reel. He handled the fight well and brought a fish into the canoe. Then he asked, "What is this thing"?
You have to understand that this fellow was brought up in Memphis. He had caught a nice smallmouth bass. A pound and three-quarters, maybe close to two pounds, it wasn’t a wallhanger, but it was an exclamation point to our fishing outing on the Cadron.