• Last modified 23 days ago (June 26, 2024)


staff photo by phyllis zorn

A pontoon boat sails across Marion County Lake this past weekend.

A hot attraction

Boating, fishing ebb and flow at county lake

Staff writer

Marion resident Mike Voit loves fishing at Marion County Lake.

It’s close to home and close enough to town to get what you need, and it offers great fishing, he said.

“It’s a nice little fishing lake,” he said.

Sometimes, he wishes there were fewer boaters and jet-skiers, though.

Lake director Isaac Hett said lake usage divides during a typical week, with 90% of lake visitors fishing Mondays through Thursdays, and 90% of lake visitors enjoying water sports like speed boating and jet-skiing Fridays through Sundays.

Boating also seems to be heavier when the water is warmer, such as around July 4, and lighter when water is cooler, such as Memorial Day weekend.

Already this season, lake usage is higher than previous years, Hett said.

“I see a lot of new faces,” he said.

Hett surmised that was because water levels were up while many other lakes in the region remained low. The water level at the reservoir also is up.

The lake offers 52 campsites with electrical service and as many primitive camping sites as people can find a place to pitch a tent.

Camping spots are filled on a first come, first served basis.

Rates are $18 a night ($14 for county residents) for sites with electrical service and $8 a night ($7 a night for county residents) for primitive campsites.

Camping fees collected for typical weekends this year have ranged from $3,800 to $4,200.

The campground was so busy over Memorial Day weekend the fees totaled $9,763.

Hett predicts the lake will be busy for the July 4 weekend.

He anticipates campers will set up July 4, head to Peabody for its 4th Fest celebration, and come to the lake for the rest of the weekend, including the lake’s fireworks show July 5.

Campsites are most full for Bluegrass at the Lake, an annual festival in August, Hett said. It’s typically double the number of campers on Memorial Day weekend.

Walleye, saugeye, channel catfish, wiper, white bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, and crappie all attract anglers to the lake.

The lake has a heated fishing dock near the lake office.

Fishing permits are not required.

A bait shop in the lake office sells items anglers might have forgotten to bring.

Other amenities include horseshoe rental, cable TV and WiFi for $1.75 a night, boat storage for $20 a month, and boat slip reservations for $10 for 24 hours.

Charges for boat permits are based on engine horsepower.

Golf carts and terrain vehicles are prohibited without a permit from the lake office.

Boats are subject to mandatory inspection for zebra mussels.

Last modified June 26, 2024