Archive for Sunday, January 8, 2006

Fish no small matter at lake’s public salvage

Two boats capsize Saturday at recently drained reservoir

January 8, 2006


By Saturday afternoon, the whole back of the black pickup was slopped full of flathead catfish.

And not just any catfish, either. These suckers were big.

"There's gonna be a fish fry tonight," Dan Dempin said, looking over the haul with his fishing buddy, Greg Wessling. With three fish over 40 pounds, there might be a few fish fries on the horizon, Dempin said.

Saturday was day one of the Douglas County State Fishing Lake's public fish salvage - a time for local fishermen to stock up on any fish left in the recently drained lake.

Which was, at this point, a pond. And if you could handle the inescapable mud and muck of the lake's bed, plenty of critters remained in the shallow water for salvagers to fish out by whatever means allowed.

According to state rules, this included netting, handfishing, snagging - everything except trotlines and shooting handguns at them, it seemed.

The salvage will continue through Jan. 15.

Down about 15 feet below the lake's natural shore, Gene Roberts ate a ham sandwich while he told some buddies about a boat that capsized early Saturday.

Two guys in a little john-boat, Roberts said. One got a cat on a drifting line; then, when he was trying to reel it in, the big fish just turned on him.

"Then, boom," Roberts yelled, smacking his hands together. "It just turned up right like that."

Another boat capsized earlier as well, but from all accounts, everyone was fine and ready to get back to fishing less than an hour later.

From high on the rocky shoreline, Joe Born and a friend watched the action all afternoon. Born had binoculars and cameras, and crept up to the new shoreline when two guys pulled a couple of 30-pounders up from the muck.

"Check these guys out," he said, pointing at the fish squirming in the dirt. His friend came over and snapped some shots on a disposable camera.

Everyone seemed to be impressed at the size of these things. Back up at the black truck, kids jumped around the bed with the fish, which, in a few cases, were bigger than they were.

Wessling leaned against the truck bed, looking in.

"I'll never catch three fish this size again," he said. He hopped in the bed and picked the two biggest ones up, grabbing the catfish underneath their wide jaws.

Passersby looked on, amazed.

For Wessling and Dempin, it was time to head back and clean the mud off of their catch. But one final task remained.

Wessling looked around for help, spotting two mudless civilians - reporter-types, probably - who were just standing around.

"All right," Wessling said. "Now you guys can come help us clean out the boat."


glockenspiel 12 years, 5 months ago

Would have rather had the fish moved to other county lakes...

james bush 12 years, 5 months ago

Too funny! Thanks, LJW, for covering the lake story. Now I won't have to drive to see the lake. I'd been thinking of a trip to watch!

Jeff_75110 12 years, 5 months ago

I think the State should have caught the fish and held them in a hatchery untill the "new" lake was ready to restock. Then return the fish to the lake where they came from.

mr_sassy_pantsss 12 years, 5 months ago

another example of displacing the indignous inhabitants.... and eating them.

Alison Smith 12 years, 5 months ago

Honestly people! Hatcheries are for baby fish not these big guys... Think of how much space & food would be needed to sustain them over the next year or so. BESIDES, the lake is there bacause we put it there and so are the fish. Fish which we put in the lake so we could catch them and eat them.

If you really want to protect the environment, step back from the faux reality of these fish and look at the pictures of the fishermen - rosy cheeked and exuding pride. If you want to save the world, you got to have people that want to be in it.

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