Archive for Sunday, January 23, 2005

Marion, Melvern heated docks luring anglers

January 23, 2005


— The temperature hovered near freezing that morning, and a strong north wind blew horizontal pellets of slushy sleet.

But in the conditions that turned most avid outdoorsmen into indoorsmen, Dean Schmidt fished for several hours wearing only a light jacket, uninsulated cap, thin boots and no gloves.

Schmidt actually was fishing indoors and loving every warm, productive minute of it.

"This heated dock is really nice," said Schmidt, comfortably sitting in a chair, fishing rod in one hand, a bucket of crappie and white bass at his side. "I can usually come in and catch some fish. New Year's Day I caught about 100."

Schmidt spends much of his winter within heated fishing docks at Marion County Lake and Melvern Reservoir.

The docks are heated to keep anglers warm and, with the help of aerators, the water within from freezing.

The walls of both docks are lined with seats, with a wide expanse of open water between the chairs.

Those open spaces are above some of the best fishing habitat on the lakes.

"The dock's over about 26 feet of water and it's loaded with brush on the bottom," said Jim Rose, a Melvern Marina employee. "That's what makes the fishing good."

The deep piles of brush is what draws two of the state's most popular fish to the docks.

Dale Snelling, Marion County Lake superintendent, said channel cat come to the deep brush beneath the covered dock in the late spring through early fall. While there's no need for heat then, the covered docks provide ample shade and relief from wind and rain.

They also allow anglers without boats a chance to fish deep water.

Through the fall and winter, schools of crappie are what brings anglers from afar to the docks.

Both facilities charge fees to use the docks.

Marion County sells daily permits for $3 for those over age 12. Those 12 and under pay $1. The permits are available at the lake office/bait shop near the dock. The dock is open for fishing 24 hours a day.

The Melvern dock charges $4 for up to 12 consecutive hours of fishing. The dock is open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Friday, and 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, but may close earlier if use is low.

State fishing permits are required, unless exempt.

Snelling and Rose said that fishing the heated docks can be the same as fishing anywhere.

"Right now the fishing's spotty. It can be going real good, then two hours later nobody's catching anything," said Rose. "There are a lot of times when one guy's struggling and the guy next to him has a bucket full of big crappie."

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