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Work means no fishing for two years

Lake Lincoln State Park officials are in the process ofrepairing a water level control valve and are looking forward to animproved attraction when the lake is able to reopen for fishing inabout two years.

After the lake was drained earlier this month, Lake ManagerDonald Campbell said repair workers found a piece of debris thathad worked its way into a sliding gate structure used to keep waterin or let it out of the lake. He said the debris was a mangledpiece of hard plastic about the size of a screwdriver handle.

“We got the debris out and it’s working well,” Campbell said,adding it was not clear how the debris could have gotten into thestructure.

While small, the debris was apparently a source of problems atthe lake since before the state took it over in 1996. Campbell saidthe debris would float around, get lodged in the structure and keepthe approximately three-feet tall gate open at an unknownlevel.

“The only way we were able to keep water in the lake during thesummer was drop sand bags,” Campbell said.

Campbell said divers inspected the gate last year, but they wereunable to determine the problem. He said it was hard to see thegate due to murky conditions and the depth of the water, which wasabout 22 feet.

With the gate forced open, a long metal rod used to open thegate was bent and had to be replaced last year.

Campbell said the rod was bent again this year and is in theprocess of being replaced. He expected that to take about two weeksand then the process of filling the lake up with water couldbegin.

How fast the lake fills up will depend on the weather andrainfall, Campbell said. While the lake remains open for campingand cabin use, he said there will no fishing for approximately twoyears.

“We’re hoping to open it back up for skiing and some other lakeactivities this spring,” Campbell said.

While the lake is drained, officials are taking the chance to dosome other improvements at the lake, most notably restocking itwith fish.

Campbell said the lake was overpopulated with white perch andshad, a bait fish. He added they will be removed from someremaining water holes before a new batch of fish is put in.

The fish, which include catfish, bream, bass and black perch,are on hold and waiting to be delivered.

Campbell said the lake’s closure has not had much effect onvisitation. He said fishermen are looking forward to newopportunities when the lake reopens.

“It really hasn’t been that much of a change,” Campbell said.”We’ve had a lot more who are pleased we’re restocking the lakethan upset that we’re closing it.”

With the work being done in the off-season, the lake could beimpacted next year due to the no fishing ordinance.

“It will affect us some, but we don’t expect a great drop invisitation,” Campbell said.

Campbell mentioned some other possible lake improvements.

“We’re hoping to get the boat ramp extended and get it out intothe deeper part of the lake,” he said.

Campbell said the request for that work has been sent in. Itwill depend on funding availability and personnel to do thework.

Another fishing-related improvement is the addition ofunderwater tree structures.

“It’s really critical for good fishing,” Campbell said. “It’smore of a challenge for fishermen as well.”