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Favorable weather draws crowds to lakes

Staff writer

Sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s sealed the deal this weekend as visitors flocked to both of the county’s lakes.

Marion County Lake was packed to capacity with campers eager to get outdoors after months of stay-at-home orders.

“We have 54 electric sites, and all 54 were taken,” lake superintendent Isaac Hett said, adding that he checked in about 45 boats. “We probably had another 20 campers out here, so we were very busy.”

Clarissa Dutton, Peabody, said thunderstorm forecasts that worried some visitors proved unfounded and the weekend turned out to be beautiful and busy.

“There were lots of boats and jet skis yesterday,” she said Sunday. “It’s been hopping all weekend.”

She and, her husband, Eric, camp at the lake every Memorial Day and caught a few “good-size catfish” this year.

“It’s been fabulous,” Dutton said.

Hett said visitors to the lake were courteous, and staff members encountered “no big problems, and no accidents.”

The annual Bluegrass at the Lake festival, normally in early June, has officially been rescheduled for July 31 and Aug. 1, Hett was pleased to announce.

“We’re excited all the bands were able to reschedule,” he said. “We are still working out the minor details, but we are 100 percent a ‘go’ for that date.”

Crappie fishing at the lake has “really picked up” as the fish move into shallow coves to spawn, Hett said.

The only ripple in the weekend’s smooth sailing was the apparent appearance of blue-green algae on a shoreline.

Hett sent water samples to Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which issued a provisional watch Saturday.

The lake’s waters will be tested Thursday. That will give staff a better picture of any problems, he said.

At Marion Reservoir, camping remains closed until June 1, but that didn’t keep anglers from trying their luck this weekend.

“Saturday was swamped. I bet there were about 100 boats out here on the lake,” Marion resident Jared Vondenkamp said.

A boat ramp in Marion Cove was the only one available, creating some parking problems.

“We tried to get out at 11 Saturday morning and every stall was full — and all the way around both roads were full,” he said.

Vondenkamp got his boat off the water at 10 p.m. and didn’t make to his nearby home until 11.

David Goering fished near the boat ramp with his son, Michael, for a little bit of “family time.”

The fishing has been good, he said.

“I talked to a couple of guys that came in off the boat ramp who were trolling. They said they caught nearly 144 fish,” he said.

Kevin McCoy, assistant reservoir manager said the weekend was “actually very quiet.”

“It was good, no issues – no citations or anything like that,” he said. “The weather played its role as well.”

McCoy said he is looking forward to June 1, when camping will finally reopen.

“This may be bigger than Memorial Day if the weather holds,” he said.

Clear skies and temperatures in the 70s are in store for the county Saturday and Sunday, said Thomas Vaughan, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the low 80s early next week.

“It should stay dry the whole time,” he said.

Last modified May 28, 2020

 

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