Pike County Lake: It has it all

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 28, 2003

From catfish to bream to crappie, Pike County Lake has it all.

And after a good hard rain like Pike County experienced this weekend, surprises can pop up from time to time.

"We pulled an eel out of there yesterday," said Hansel Thompson, who manages the lake. "After a big rain, the water must have flowed up over those beaver dams at the edge of the lake and some of those eels might have spilled on over."

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Thompson said he had the eel frozen and hoped to cook it up one of these days soon.

But the main things coming out of the lake have been fish - and there have been some big ones, Thompson said.

"Business is good," he said. "We've had bass up to 12 pounds come up out of there this season and a catfish that was about 13 and a half pounds."

But whether pulling in big ones or just enjoying an afternoon away from the jabber of the television and the intrusions of modern life, people in this area do love to fish, Thompson said.

From the old folks who fish up into their 90s to the young folks for whom Pike County Lake is hosting a fishing rodeo on June 7, all ages can agree on the tranquility of tossing a line into water and waiting to see what bites it.

The fishing rodeo will certainly be exciting, with the lake opening at 7 a.m. on a special "free fish" day, in which no license is needed to fish. Young people will be able to try their luck at a specially stocked section of the lake and prizes and drawings will be added bonuses for those looking to stretch their legs and soak up some sunshine outdoors.

In a day and age where video games and television can command tremendous amounts of leisure time, Thompson said he enjoyed seeing nearly 150 people turn out each weekend to do some fishing.

"There are a lot of nice people out here and it's been fun to get to know them," he said.

Thompson and wife Heidi took over the 52-year-old lake back in April and fishing runs in his blood. He grew up by the shores of lakes in Pennsylvania, looking for salmon and trout in Lake Erie, and later moved to Orlando, where he was less than an hour from salt water fishing and some of the biggest catches in the nation.

"We came up and were going to open up a campground in Luverne and we found out that we had the opportunity to manage the lake here and we just jumped on it," he said.

Pike Countians have been feeling the same attraction for the lake for years. The 45-acre lake remains a popular attraction, as do the 421 acres surrounding it. Though camping is prohibited, grilling, picnics and just relaxing are definitely encouraged.

For $2.50, a person can fish for a day, provided that he or she has a license. If a person is unlicensed, Thompson said he'd be more than willing to sell a year-long pass for $9.50.

A permit isn't all Thompson can provide. From bait (Thompson recommends livers for catfish and red worms for bream) to lures and tackle, the shop at the lake has almost everything a person might need. If you don't have a rod and reel, Thompson has a supply of old fashioned cane poles on hand.

Pike County Lake is closed on Tuesdays and, starting July 1, will be closed Mondays as well. But on all other days, folks are welcome to come out and try their luck at breaking some of the lake records.