By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show
The water level of Knox Lake, one of Ohio premier largemouth bass fishing destinations, has been rising since mid-May after being lowered a year ago for dam construction — which is now complete. Austin Levering, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) wildlife officer for Knox County, said, “The dam itself is complete. They’re just putting the finishing touches on it right now.”
ODNR began rehabilitating Knox Lake’s 60-year-old dam last June to adhere to safety standards and lowered the water level of the lake approximately six feet during construction. ODNR scheduled construction to be completed by the end of last month.
“It took about a year; they were right on schedule,” Levering said. “Patrons of the lake have been allowed to use small watercraft, such as kayaks, during construction, but large watercraft have not been permitted throughout the low-level period.”
ODNR shut off the siphons — pipes that bring water from the reservoir over a dam — on May 24. On May 25, the siphons were removed, said Marty Lundquist, fish management supervisor at ODNR. “The water level has been rising since then,” he said.
The plan was to bring the water level up to within 6 inches of normal level until June 30, after which it is slated to reach normal level. Lundquist noted that rainfall could speed up the process.
“The more rain the better,” he said.
ODNR’s goal for the construction was to stabilize the spillway in case of a maximum flood, Levering said.
“This entailed drilling holes in the spillway walls and floor down into the bedrock and then using hundreds of stabilizing rods to pour the concrete into,” he said.
Other additions made during the past year include the installation of new gates to control lake levels and riprap to prevent erosion, smoothing out the back side of the dam for easier walking and mowing accessibility and the installation of new boat ramps. The boat ramp located on Armentrout Road near Grandpa’s Tackle Box has been renovated and the courtesy docks in that area have been replaced.
Lundquist said it was not yet clear if fish in Knox Lake had died because of low-oxygen in low water levels, which had been a concern when construction began. ODNR fish biologists will assess the fish populations in fall 2021 and spring 2022, during typical sampling seasons, to determine whether fish should be restocked, he said.
The project, funded by the motor gasoline tax received by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, cost $4.6 million, Lundquist said.
Shoot-‘em-up Wednesdays at Woodbury
The Woodbury Wildlife Area shooting range operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is now open on Wednesdays. The range features accessible parking, shooting benches and restrooms. The rifle and pistol range offers 38 wooden and 12 concrete benches under a shelter. Shooting distances of 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards are available. An archery target range offers shooting distances from 10 to 40 yards and there is a walk-through archery course with 23 targets and a shooting tower. An official skeet and trap field is available for an additional fee.
An annual range permit for adults is $24, a combination permit and hunting license is $29.12 and a one day permit is $5. Those under the ages of 17 do not need a permit, but must be accompanied by an adult. The range is open March 1 to Dec. 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed for major holidays and from Sept. 13 to 23. For more information, call the range at 740-327-2109 or go to wildohio.gov.
Calling all timberdoodles
The American Woodcock Society – NE Ohio Chapter recently supported a significant regeneration planting project at the Grand River Wildlife Area located in northeast Ohio. The project consisted of a multi-day coordinated effort between the AWS and the Division of Wildlife which will help restore five acres of idle field into a diverse and productive young forest habitat.
A woodcock singing grounds area was also established to ensure that the species gains full benefit of the planting. The following species were planted: aspen, crabapple, dwarf Chinquapin oak, hazelnut, red osier dogwood, silky dogwood, thicket crabapple, thicket plum, and white oak.
Calling anglers of all abilities
Angler of all abilities have an additional place to wet a line this summer at Buck Creek State Park. Working with ODNR’s Division of Wildlife, a new accessible fishing pier was installed near the marina at Clarence J. Brown Reservoir by ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft.
The dock-like pier was built by Merco Marine and assembled by the park staff. The cost was split between both divisions. ODNR’s Division of Wildlife will be installing underwater lighting, which will attract fish for evening fishing.
“ODNR is using important capital improvement funds to add new state park facilities,” said ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft Chief Glen Cobb. “Parks and Watercraft, along with the Division of Wildlife, are committed to making sure that all visitors can enjoy our state parks.”
This is the second new accessible project at Buck Creek State in the past year. Last Fall, the park created a new accessible trail, Coyote Run Trail. Later this year, the park plans to develop an accessible archery range. Buck Creek State Park has many activities for visitors to enjoy including hiking, fishing, swimming, disc golf, and more. To learn more about Buck Creek State Park, please visit: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/go-and-do/plan-a-visit/find-a-property/buck-creek-state-park.