By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 17, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 17, 2014) -- People are starting to hit Fort Rucker's pools and lakes as temperatures start to rise, but the installation's lakes offer one form of recreation that people can enjoy year round -- fishing.
There are a number of different lakes on Fort Rucker that cover more than 670 acres, and house a variety of different fish that people can test their skills with a rod and reel on, said John Clancy, outdoor recreation manager.
Ranging from largemouth bass, hybrid bass, catfish, crappie and bream, people can fish for all sorts of different species, most of which can be found in Fort Rucker's signature water hole.
The first and most well known of all the lakes is Lake Tholocco, a 640-acre lake located on Johnston Road that's mostly known for its West Beach swimming area, lodging cabins, recreational vehicle park and ODR service center, but also offers a paradise for fisherman who want to get lost on Fort Rucker's largest lake, according to Bob Schotter, ODR recreation assistant.
The lake offers two different fishing piers, one on East Beach and one on West Beach, and shoreline fishing is permitted.
People can catch largemouth bass, bream, catfish and crappie in Lake Tholocco's waters, and something many people don't know is that night fishing is allowed on the lake.
"Night fishing at Lake Tholocco is the only authorized activity after sunset," said the recreation assistant. "People can fish from the shore or from a boat, and as long as the boats are equipped with proper lighting, fishing at night is permitted anywhere on the lake."
People operating the boats must first complete the boater's safety course before heading out on the lake, added Clancy.
"Boats also must be registered," he said. "That doesn't mean they have to be registered with the state of Alabama, it just needs to be registered with the state they reside in."
Lake Tholocco is also the only lake on the installation that permits powerboats, said Schotter, adding that any boats in the other lakes on Fort Rucker must be self propelled.
For largemouth bass, there is a limit of five for less than 14 inches in length and only one for more than 18 inches. Any largemouth bass caught between the sizes of 14-18 inches must be thrown back, he said.
For bream, there is a limit of 30, for catfish the limit is 15 and people can catch up to 30 crappie longer than nine inches in length.
Although the other lakes on the installation don't compare in size to Lake Tholocco, they come pretty close when it comes to the experience and are available from sun up to sun down.
Parcours Lake is another popular fishing spot on Fort Rucker, but this particular spot is reserved for the installation's youth anglers, said Schotter.
"Because of the size of the lake -- 4.1 acres -- and its proximity to the housing areas, it's only permitted for those ages 15 and younger," he said, adding that parents are allowed to assist their children in fishing, but children must reel in their own fish.
The lake is home to bream, catfish and largemouth bass, and is located on Farrel Road behind Lyster Army Health Clinic.
Another hidden gem on Fort Rucker, more known for its trails than its fishing, is Beaver Lake.
This 7.7-acre lake is open to all ages for fishing from sun up to sun down, and houses largemouth bass, bream, catfish and crappie. The limit on fish at Beaver Lake are: two largemouth bass larger than 16 inches; 10 bream of no size limit; unlimited catfish; and up to 30 crappie with no size limit.
Beaver Lake is located off of Third Avenue across from the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center's football field.
There are also a few lakes that are relatively unknown to most on the installation, but the fishing they provide is just as enjoyable as their more well-known counterparts, said Schotter.
Ech Lake is a 7.7-acre lake that is open to all ages also filled with largemouth bass, bream, catfish and crappie. To get to this hidden gem, turn from Christian Road onto Johnston Road and take the first unpaved road on the left, then follow the signs.
The limits for the lake are: no more than two largemouth bass 16 inches or larger; 10 bream with no size limit; unlimited catfish; and up to 30 crappie with no size limit.
Schotter said there is an alligator that lives in Ech Lake, but "he never bothers anyone."
Buckhorn lake is another lake that isn't very well known, but it's also one of the installation's most restricted lakes due to its location and proximity to training areas, said Schotter.
The lake is 13.2 acres and is home to largemouth bass, bream and crappie, but days of operation vary from day to day.
Buckhorn Lake is located 2 miles past Silver Wings Golf Course on Hatch Road.
"The lake is only open about half the time, so people should call outdoor recreation before they head out to the lake to confirm the times," said the ODR recreation assistant.
Beaver Pond is the smallest of all the lakes on Fort Rucker and is also the least developed of all the lakes, according to Schotter. Beaver Pond is open to all ages and is located off of Andrews Avenue between Silver Wings Golf Course and the Ozark Gate.
For anyone ages 16 and up fishing on Fort Rucker must have a state fishing license and post fishing permit. People can visit the outdoor recreation service center to obtain a license and permit.
Clancy reminds people to use common courtesies when in the fishing areas to ensure that everyone has a good time.
"Please don't litter, and make sure to dispose of all used fishing line into trash cans," he said. "Be courteous to other (people fishing) and obey all the regulations -- Fort Rucker's and state -- and always help others if you see they need assistance. It's all about enjoying the outdoors and having fun."
Outdoor recreation will also be hosting a youth fishing tournament April 19 from 7-11 a.m. that will include prizes for top winners and door prizes for all participants. Registration is $10 per youth and participants must be 15 years of age and younger.
For more information, call 255-4305.