Sunny skies and above average temperatures led to a busy holiday weekend at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park — a trend one park official says he hopes continues this weekend.
“At the campground, we had 184 of the 204 sites taken,” Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller said. “Twenty weren’t sold. We have 28 non-electric sites and anytime now people want electric if they come. We also had some sites that were underwater. With that being said, I am very happy. All seven cabins were full.”
Activities around the park also were full. Miller said the miniature golf course and basketball courts were packed.
“The Sunday movie was well attended,” Miller said. “People seemed to keep to themselves. What I am seeing now is that people are bringing their own games, like cornhole, and playing with their family and friends.”
Lake side, Miller said traffic on Grand Lake St. Marys was light on Saturday and Sunday but it picked up on Monday. The shelterhouses and walking paths also saw an increase in visitors on Monday.
“The lake was very, very busy yesterday (Monday),” Miller said. “It was great to see. I think we finally caught a break in the weather and people were able to enjoy themselves.”
Law enforcement issues at the lake were minor. Miller said a handful of people received citations for a few offenses.
“The division of wildlife had some littering tickets and also had a few fishing without a license,” Miller said. “But as far as park officers, it was pretty quiet.”
Grand Lake St. Marys could again be packed with anglers as a result of this weekend’s Get the Carp Outta Here fishing tournament. The derby, which will help remove rough fish from the lake, is expected to attract anglers eager to tackle the fish.
“My goal is to see families having fun out here,” Miller said. “I think we will see a lot of people having fun. I think this thing could be huge.”
The registration fee for the tournament is $5 and it is set to take place Friday through Sunday. Fish will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the East and West banks. Registration forms can be found at the state park office, Auglaize/Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau or at marinas around the lake.
“I think it’s something unique and we’ve got some inquiries from people about cabins,” Miller said. “We will just see. It’s always a hard weekend because of graduation parties. Schools are finishing up and sometimes it can be slow. It usually will pick up a little later in June and I think we will see some busy areas around the lake this weekend.”
Anglers will have to steer clear of barges slated to start dosing the inner portion of the lake with alum. The applications, scheduled to start Thursday, are aimed at helping to tie up phosphorus found in the lake and prevent it from being able to be used as a food source for algae.
“The alum will be the first big thing happening here,” Miller said of the battle to help heal the lake. “We are very optimistic and excited to get that first application and phase down in the lake and see the EPA monitor the results. I think it’s a real positive piece for the area to get that first dose in the lake.”
It is expected to take 20 days to apply the alum. Miller said rain should not impact the application. However, windy conditions could prevent the barges from hitting the lake.
Dredging and rough fish removal also have been helping to supplement the action to clean up the lake. Miller said more than nine tons of rough fish have been removed from the lake. More than 30,000 cubic yards of dirt also have been removed via a dredge.
Another event going on around the lake Saturday is the annual South Shore Sportman Club’s fishing derby at Windy Point. The event is open to children ages 3 to 15. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and fishing will last from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Door prizes will be awarded to each participant.
By Mike Burkholder, The Evening Leader