By Jay Mann, Fort Rucker Public AffairsJuly 27, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With the construction phase of the Parcours renovations complete, now all fishers can do is wait.
“We are looking at spring of 2012 to open the lake to fishing,” said Daniel Spillers, fish and wildlife biologist with the Directorate of Public Works. “We have stocked it with a mixture of Bluegill and Shellcracker, and hopefully will get a first spawn, then we put the Florida Largemouth Bass in. The natural predator/prey action will take care of the numbers; it’s supposed to be 10 Bluegill for every bass.”
Spillers said people can visit the lake, sit on the benches and take a picnic as long as they stay out of the water and leave the fish alone.
He added that when the lake reopens, it will be for a different use than before.
“Before it was brought down it was a kid’s lake, just for people under 16 years old to fish in,” he said. “But when it is reopened for fishing next year, it will be for everybody who has the proper state license and Fort Rucker permit.”
He said there were a few reasons for last year’s renovations to the lake.
“What was happening is a process called Eutrophication " the edges of the pond fill in with dirt and silt and vegetation starts growing there, and gradually the pond gets shallower and weeds start to take over,” Spillers said.
The first step was to remove fish from the lake, said Spillers.
“So we let people catch as many fish as they could,” he said, adding that the lake was then drained and the edges deepened to three feet. “We deepened the edges so it would be a while before this problem happened again. We used the material we removed from the edges to extend the fishing piers, so people can walk out farther into the center of the lake to fish.”
Also, a gravel boat ramp and drain for the lake was built.
“While it was down, we collected Christmas trees on post and put them in the lake to provide some cover for the fish,” he added.
Spillers said once the lake reopens, there will again be rules for fishers: no outboard motors are allowed, only electric trolling motors; there is no swimming allowed; and people cannot use fish for bait.
“You cannot use minnows in Parcours,” he said. “In Tholocco you can, but in the small ponds you can throw the balance of the lake off if live minnows are introduced.”
Visitors to the lake might notice signs for people to be careful of alligators at the lake.
“We have not seen an alligator out there since we drained and brought the lake back up,” Spillers said. “We do have native alligators on Fort Rucker, but they usually do not cause a problem. The only time alligators really cause a problem is when people start feeding them and they lose their natural fear of humans.”
People wanting to fish on Fort Rucker should call outdoor recreation at 255-4305 for authorized areas, maps, and information on rules and permits, or visit the website.