Winter fishing provides prospects
With colder weather rolling in, local fishermen are ready to test their mettle against Mother Nature.
Temperatures have made large fluctuations in recent weeks, but both county water sources have seen consistent use on a daily basis.
A half dozen people show up at the county lake per day during the week, with double that on weekends, lake supervisor Isaac Hett said.
The winter season, which Hett thinks of as mid-November to mid-March, shifts the primary target to crappie, he said.
Marion Reservoir saw similar success last year and through the early part of this season, assistant lake manager Kevin McCoy said.
“Last year the ice fishing was phenomenal,” he said. “We had people out here every day. You could easily figure there would be a dozen people here from sunup until evening.”
The prospects of the reservoir freezing over are unpredictable, so McCoy prefers not to call it “ice fishing” season.
“It’s just fishing season,” he said. “If the ice isn’t there then it’s regular fishing season.”
One of the big differences between the two bodies of water is the heated dock, Hett said.
“It brings people from all over,” he said. “People come from El Dorado, there’s a group of guys who come down from Salina, regular users.”
The heated dock isn’t better than ice fishing, just more comfortable, Hett said.
Among those who prefer the county lake is Oris Schrag, who comes from Newton once a week. Schrag used to fish off the reservoir and go ice fishing there, but the risk of falling on the rocks was too great, he said.
Schrag has places available to fish in Newton, but he prefers the county lake for its atmosphere.
“Number one, it’s a very pretty lake,” he said. “Number two, all the docks are publicly accessible and there’s a good variety of fish.”
Despite the late time of year, Schrag had his kayak on the water as recently as two weeks ago.
Using the kayak is something he likes to do at both sites in the county, but he has to keep it out of the water 10 days before going to a different site.
McCoy doesn’t fish at the reservoir, but some of the other employees do. Having employees who interact with the other fishermen on a personal and informal basis is an asset, he said.
“It allows a depth of information they can pass on to the public,” he said. “It definitely builds a relationship.”
For Schrag the fishing pursuit goes beyond getting fish. Part of the allure is making homemade lures.
He creates bait by pouring plastic into an aluminum mold, which he tests out at the lake after it’s done.
“I enjoy catching fish on stuff I make,” he said.
Last modified Dec. 6, 2018