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hoglaw

Trip Report - 3/29 And 3/30 And An Armed Confrontation With Landowners

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We did my favorite float on CC last weekend. We always make this one an overnight float. The water on Saturday was a little higher than I'm used to, so fishing conditions were somewhat difficult and the shoals and turns were pretty treacherous with a fully loaded canoe. Despite those issues, we absolutely tore them up. I've never done this well in terms of an "average." We caught very few fish that were shorter than 15", and had a couple of really nice ones. My fiancee (wife as of tomorrow) outfished me, but I wasn't too far behind. She caught the big fish too, a seriously chunky smallmouth that was 3lbs plus.

I'm trying to get her permission to post pics of the big fish. She wasn't happy with the way she looked in the picture...you know how women are. All of the fish were really pretty and I got a few of mine that I can put up, but they're on my good camera so I have to figure out how to download them and such.

The biggest story from the trip though was we got confronted by two armed landowners at our campsite. I won't mention his name yet, but it was a very tense deal. They both had rifles and came down to our campsite after dark. At first they were telling me I had to leave, but there was no way I was floating after dark and would have much prefered law enforcement get involved at that point. Finally, they relented and let us stay the night with instructions to leave in the morning and never come back. That's the very short version of this story, and there will be a much longer version at some point in the not too distant future. Since I've returned, I've become very well versed in the state of navigable waterway law in Arkansas, and have read all of our reported cases dealing with the issue. I'm going to try the nice approach with this guy first, but I'm assuming that won't work. If it doesn't, I intend to file a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment as to the navigable status of crooked creek and the public's right of use below the high water mark including gravel bar camping, and seeking an injunction to prohibit him from interfering with the lawful recreational activities of the public taking place below the high water mark. That's a last resort since I don't really want to make this a big public to-do, but it's what I do. I wasn't confident of the state of the law on that issue before this trip which is why I don't chime in on the periodic discussions on that issue that take place on this board. But now that I know the correct answers, I've gotten our likely attorney-general to be involved as well as a number of other colleagues (including a friend who is about to file a petitoin to enjoin the CAFO operations on the Buffalo) on board who have an interest in these types of issues. More on that before too long.

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First off, congrats on your marriage tomorrow!

Wow, that's a scary thing, having a couple of armed folks come down to confront you at night on the river bank, glad to hear nothing bad happened. it will be interesting to hear how this turns out.

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Wow Kyle that certainly makes for an interesting trip. I think I'll stick with boring trips. Glad y'all caught them. I'm usually not on the creeks this soon. Apparently, that's an oversight on my part.

Best Wishes on the nuptials. I hope to meet the wife one day and I hope for only the best for you both.

It's best not to argue jurisprudence with a couple of angry gun bearing land owners in the dark. I'm certainly glad cooler heads prevailed. I have NOT done overnight trips on Crooked Creeks for just that reason. I knew there was limited spots to camp and that the land owners considered there to be NO appropriate spots to camp. Keep us in the loop and let me know if you need numbers of people in attendence in Yellvillie.

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Very interesting report, I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Any couple that can overnight float and deal with the unfortunate encounter you two had is destined for a long and happy future. Thanks for your efforts.

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That kind of confrontation is certainly uncalled for. I hope they get a good laugh out of it before they leave the court room, hopefully there will be nothing left to laugh about. The desire to go to court over recreational rights and public use of flowing waters is common, but the ability to afford a lawyer isn't. I suppose many of us are just waiting for a lawyer to have the desire and opportunity. I don't wish anyone the experience, but I hope yours goes a long way toward preventing future ones.

Tel your wife to be that all women pictured on this site holding smallmouth are absolutely beautiful.

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First of all... Congrats on your wedding tomorrow!

Second of all.... I bet those guys had no idea they f'ed with a lawyer. I hope you make an example out of these a-holes

And third of all... There's no such thing as a bad-looking woman holding a smallie. My wife would probably say the same thing though. Would love to see some pics, and keep us posted on the legal situation with the gun-wielding a-holes

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I've never floated any of the streams, but have followed the topic of access to them with much interest. I congratulate you on your willingness to take legal action if need be. And a "big public to-do" might be exactly what is required - especially if you are on the winning end of a precedent setting case.

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The precedent is set. Sort of. Just not with respect to crooked creek. There was a big case from around 1980 dealing with the mulberry river, which is comparable to crooked creek in many important respects. The case established that the mulberry was a navigable waterway, and the general public had a right to the use of the stream up to the high water mark for hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, and attendant "recreational activities." Unfortunately it did not specifically reference camping one way or the other. The landowners were held to have the ability to refuse access through their property to the water, but not to interfere with the lawful recreational activities of those in the waterway. Arkansas does not appear to be alone in this rationale.

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Hoglaw: So, as an aside to your fishing trip report, you just happen to mention being confronted by two armed individuals, at night, on a popular fishing stream, threatening you and your fiancee, yet, you don't mention exactly where it happened.

Why not?

Don't you think people ought to know where this happened? So as to be informed and prepared? Why mention it if you don't tell us this obvious danger to fishermen and campers?

I don't get it.

Please tell us exactly where and what gravel bar this happened. The safety of others hangs in the balance.

Again, I don't get it. I get no sense of fear or outrage. Just rote ramblings about navigable waters and other pointless legalese. And kudos about your impending marriage.

I'm quite sure I am missing something. My apologies.

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Joe

I believe in second chances for everyone and don't believe either the landowner or myself caught each other on our best day. For that reason my preference is not to disclose his name on a public forum. I'll either resolve the issue amicably or it will all be a matter of record at some point. In the meantime if anyone is considering an overnight trip on cc I will be more than happy to share my thoughts on overnight spots to avoid. Just shoot me a pm.

Was I outraged at the time? Of course. I was in genuine fear for our safety. Am I still burned about it? Absolutely. But by the same token I can understand his perspective. He didn't handle the situation the same way I would have, but ultimately he didnt threaten me or point a gun at me. He scared me and chewed me out for ten minutes and then left me alone with instructions to float and fish all I want but never set foot on "his land" again.

Simply put I'd rather resolve this with the landowner directly. I feel like throwing names around in a public forum won't help me do that. I'm not out for a pound of flesh. I just want to make sure I can camp safely in the future.

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