For quick and easy outings, whether fishing or floating with canoes, kayaks or flatbottom boats, Cadron Creek is hard to beat. It’s close, it has good water most of the time, and it is certainly fishable.
Conway doesn’t get its drinking water from Cadron Creek any longer, but the creek with its several branches is still with us and remains a somewhat hidden and underutilized recreational resource. Recreation here means fishing primarily, and the Cadron offers numerous fishing opportunities.
Several decades of Hendrix and University of Central Arkansas students have partaken of the knowledge of the Cadron’s canoeing assets. And some of these collegians fished a bit also.
There is the Cadron, which formally means downstream from the joining of the North Cadron and the East Cadron west of Wooster. The lower Cadron expanded with the damming of the Arkansas River, and when you can catch it right, it’s a fine stream for crappie, catfish and several other species.
The major problem with the Cadron in all its branches is access.
With a handful of exceptions, you can’t get to the Cadron except through private land. Gates tend to be locked, for much of the land along the creek is cattle country. Find a landowner, ask politely, and you stand a good chance of being allowed to travel to the creek and fish a little. Barge on to the land without permission, and you’re asking for trouble.
Nearly every one of the people owning land along the Cadron can tell unpleasant stories about abusive and littering trespassers.
There are public access areas on the North Cadron at the Arkansas Highway 310 crossing west of Guy (this isn’t a formal access), U.S. Highway 65 crossing, downstream at the Arkansas Highway 285 crossing and on the lower Cadron at U.S. Highway 64.
Depending on the time of year and rainfall, the Cadron can be a sluggish creek or a rolling and dangerous torrent. There are places you don’t want to travel in a canoe after a heavy rain, even if you thing you are good with a paddle.
Let’s narrow the focus to the good times, the periods when rain has been adequate to make travel on the creek by canoe or by flatbottom feasible. The fishing can be as good as you are, meaning if you know how to fish a creek and work at it, you’re apt to assemble a nice catch.
Most anyone who has fished the Cadron a little or a lot has a favorite stretch on the Creek. Mine is in the East Cadron, usually regarded as less scenic than the North Cadron but still very much fishable.
A long, quiet pool has fairly high banks on each side, and it’s lined with trees. On one outing, we couldn’t see the water for the heavy covering of trees. We would toss out a bait, and it would have to sink through floating leaves for fish to find it. The fish did find the baits those days, nice bream and two or three modest-sized largemouth bass.
This is a stretch where our customary tactic is to float slowly downstream and fish, paddle back upstream and do it again.
There are places on the Cadron, especially the upper portions, where wade fishing is the way to go. You can do it in old shoes and shorts in the summer or in waders most any time except when the water is high and rolling.
North of Mount Vernon are some of the wade waters of the east Cadron, and upstream from Highway 65 to well past Guy, you can wade the North Cadron -- if you are careful.
If you are wade fishing with artificial lures, think small on the Cadron. The little jigs, the small crank baits, the smallest topwater lures you can find are apt to be the most productive.
And if you aren’t acquainted with the Cadron, go look at it. Find the access areas. You may find yourself a dandy close-to-home fishing spot.
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 email at firstname.lastname@example.org.