The headline in our Log Cabin Democrat reads: "Crappie Tourney Attracts Pros and Visitors to Conway"
"For the first time in Arkansas, the Crappie Masters Ultimate Challenge One-Pole event will take place next Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.
Over 160 fishermen are expected to overtake Lake Conway in the two-day event."
Let me tell you about Lake Conway. It is a man-made lake outside the city limits. Small homes have been built around a good portion of the lake, beginning back in the 50's, so most of the housing out there is pretty old. So are the building codes under which those homes were constructed, if there were any codes at all.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about Arkansas in general. It's a little (read:alot) backward. Arkansans are also a very independent lot. If they think they can build a house, even if they know absolutely nothing about construction, they will, by God, build a damn house. Whether it will withstand the test of time and building codes is another issue. Times have changed some, but that change has taken place mostly within city limits, where building codes are now routinely enforced and building contractors have been dragged, albeit kicking and screaming, into the 20th century...and yes, I know this is the 21st century.
The former owner of the property we purchased out in the country in 1994 built a chicken coop, small feed barn, dog kennel and dog runs and a shop, and we lived in the mobile home already on the property while we built our house.
About eight months after we moved into the mobile home, the sink started backing up. I knew we had a septic tank, so I called a septic service to come out and pump the septic tank. Before the guy came out, Tom dug all around the front of the yard and finally found the "cap" to the tank, a round piece of concrete with a small piece of re-bar bent over for a handle. We were ready for the pump truck.
The septic guy arrived in the early afternoon, backed his pump truck up the gravel driveway as far as he could go and dragged a long, fat hose to our septic tank and began to pump the sewage from the tank.
The smell was so bad, I had to walk away. I don't know how these guys can do this work. They are to be commended. I could never, ever do it.
"It just keeps fillin' up," the guy said after three attempts at getting to the bottom of the tank.
I watched him as he got down on his knees, steadied himself with his hands against each side of the hole and stuck his head into the tank next to the hose to assess the problem. I was holding my nose and thinking, Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus, how does he even do that?"
Long story short, there wasn't a "tank" anywhere to be found after all. The previous owner, one of those "I can do it myself, I don't need a septic company to just dig a hole" kinda guys, dug a big hole ... but a hole much smaller than a normal septic tank ... lined the sides of that hole with 3/4 inch plywood ... yes, just the sides and yes, with plywood ... then ran his sewer line from the trailer to that plywood-lined hole, capped it with a homemade cement circle and called it a septic tank. The reason it kept filling up was because our ground water was so high, it would flow back into the "tank" and partially fill it. Of course, that would also be the reason that during our first rainy season living on that property there was a horrible smell in the front yard that seemed like it was coming from the standing water in the lower areas of the yard ... "tank" overflow was overflowing and seeping up through the ground. The thought of it still makes me throw up in my mouth just a little bit.
So, you are wondering what this has to do with the Crappie Tournament and Lake Conway. Everything. You see, almost all of those homes all around Lake Conway still have septic tanks - really, really old septic tanks - if they are, like mine, "tanks" at all. The Lake Conway Conservation Committee did a study in 1999 and found that the lake had a "serious problem with septic effluent flowing into the lake." That's just another way of saying that Lake Conway is contaminated with human poop. Yet, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission continues to stock this lake with bass, catfish, bream and crappie. And fishermen are out on the lake daily catching those bass, catfish, bream and crappie.
What do those fisherman and tournament competitors do at the end of the day? Why, they're gonna have themselves an old fashioned fish fry with their catches of the day.
Oh, yummo. Gag, hack, blechh