By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 27, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 27, 2014) -- Summer is in full swing, and Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation offers a variety of activities to keep people going throughout the season.
From cabins at Lake Tholocco to boating to water slides, people will be hard pressed to find themselves bored when it comes to outdoor recreation on the installation, said Megan Royer, Lake Tholocco Lodging business manager.
For starters, the area around Lake Tholocco boasts 22 cabins, 21 of which are two-bedroom cabins and one three-bedroom cabin, all available for rent to Soldiers and Families, active-duty, retirees and DOD civilians.
People can take advantage of everything the cabins have to offer, which include: fully-furnished accommodations, fully-equipped kitchens, screened-in back porch 32-inch flat screen TVs, satellite and DVD players and complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access.
Twelve cabins -- the Singing Pines Cabins -- are found on the lake's West Beach, where people can enjoy breathtaking sunrises, said Royer, and 10 cabins are along East Beach, where people can enjoy a view of an Alabama sunset.
"There are four cabins that are pet friendly, so if people want to bring their fur-children, that is totally acceptable," said the lodging manager.
RV park or rent
In addition to cabin rentals, there is also a recreational vehicle park that people can take advantage of.
"We have a recreational vehicle park with a total of 88 camp sites, 18 of which are long-term sites -- the rest are short term that are rented at a maximum of 2-weeks at a time," said Royer The sites rent for $18 per night and the long-term sites can be rented for two to three months at a time depending on the season.
People can also rent travel trailers -- there are six available for rent that can sleep anywhere from two to six people. They are $45 a night or $200 for six nights, and they can go off the installation with no mileage limits.
Camping equipment is also available for rent.
One of the largest and most well known attractions to Fort Rucker is Lake Tholocco's West Beach, which is the designated swimming area for the lake. West Beach is fitted with a water trampoline and two water slides.
"Adults are welcome to jump on the trampoline, as well as children, and the slides are also large enough for them to go on -- they're not just for the children," said Royer.
"We also have eight pavilions available for rent, two of which are indoor and air conditioned, and they are open to the public," added Melissa Kelley, ODR lead recreation assistant. The rental rates range from $25-$85, and there are also canopies available for rent ranging from 10'x10' to 30'x30', along with folding chairs, tables and basically anything you need for outdoor parties.
To go along with people's camping or cabin experience, outdoor recreation also has what they need to take to the water.
"We have boat rentals available ranging from Jon boats, pontoon boats and ski boats, and we also have canoes, kayaks and paddleboats that are available on a first-come, first-served basis," said Kelley.
To be eligible for the boat rentals people must be DOD civilians, active-duty military or retiree, and boat rental prices depend on the amount of time people wish to rent.
Boaters are not required to have the Alabama vessel requirements to rent boats, said Kelley, but they do need to complete the Fort Rucker Boater Safety Course, which consists of 25 questions and is an open book exam that people can take free of charge. The course is available online at www.ftruckermwr.com/recreation/outdoor-recreation/boating-safety-course/.
Lake Tholocco isn't the only lake on Fort Rucker with prime fishing areas. There are many well-kept secrets on the installation for people to discover.
There are six different lakes on Fort Rucker covering more than 670 acres that house a variety of different fish ranging from largemouth bass, hybrid bass, catfish, crappie and bream, that people can test their skills with a rod and reel, according to Bob Schotter, recreation assistant for Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation.
The first and most well known of all the lakes is Lake Tholocco, which offers two different fishing piers, one on East Beach and one on West Beach, and shoreline fishing is also permitted.
People can catch largemouth bass, bream, catfish and crappie in Lake Tholocco's waters, and something most 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 ODR 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 compete the boater's safety course before taking any boats out on the lake, he added.
Lake Tholocco is also the only lake on the installation that permits powerboats, said Schotter. Any boats in the other lakes on Fort Rucker must be self propelled.
Although the lake is full of fish, there is a limit on how many fish people can take home, said Schotter.
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.
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 sunup to sundown, Schotter said.
Parcours Lake is another popular fishing spot on Fort Rucker, but this particular spot is reserved for the installation's youth anglers, he said.
"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 some 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.
Eck 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 Eck 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 recreation assistant.
Beaver Pond is the smallest of all the lakes on Fort Rucker and is also the least developed, 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.
People 16 and older must have a state fishing license and post fishing permit to fish on Fort Rucker. People can visit the outdoor recreation service center to obtain a license and permit.
For more information, call 255-4305.