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Lake access discussions continue

By Anna Erickson

Fish Hook Lake and River accesses will remain open.

An overflow crowd of anglers, lake residents and others attended Monday night’s Hubbard County Parks and Recreation board meeting after hearing a petition to close an access on Fish Hook was on the agenda.

The Fish Hook Lake and Fish Hook River Association were originally going to present a petition to close one of the two public accesses on Fish Hook Lake and Fish Hook River, said Mark Thomasen, speaking on behalf of the association.

When fishermen initially heard about the petition, there was an immediate backlash about the possibility of limiting public access to public waters.

Since the issue was put on the agenda, however, Thomasen said the association was dropping the petition.

“We were concerned about the lake and possible contamination along with the cost of monitoring the accesses,” he said.

With growing concerns about the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species on lakes near Detroit Lakes, Alexandria and others, the association was looking at ways to protect the lake.

“Now we’re going to drop our petition because we realize it’s in the best interest to work with COLA (Coalition of Lake Associations),” Thomasen added.

Lynn Goodrich, incoming Hubbard County COLA president, said he does not want to limit access to the county’s lakes.

“All we want to do is have everyone buy in to the importance of inspections and work together,” he said.

COLA was not aware of the petition until a call from the Enterprise, Goodrich added.

Bill Jones, a member of the Upper Bottle Lake Association, said many Upper Bottle Lake residents have volunteered to be trained as inspectors and it was very helpful. He recommended that Fish Hook residents volunteer to have similar training.

Public accesses on Fish Hook Lake and River won’t be closed anytime soon and not without a significant amount of public input and notice, Hubbard County commissioner Cal Johannsen assured the crowd.

It likely isn’t even up to the county to make that decision, either. There are state laws in place that require public accesses to be in place 24 hours a day.

During discussion Monday night, a fisherman alerted others that a sign had been placed at one of the Big Sand Lake public accesses saying that it was unlawful to launch a boat before 9:30 a.m. This, however, is not correct. Someone without the authority to do so likely placed the sign because there aren’t inspectors out before that time.

Sheriff Cory Aukes, who also attended Monday’s meeting, assured everyone that the sign would be removed.

Although the petition was dropped, others pointed out that if a public access was closed on Fish Hook it would be a concern for the Let’s Go Fishing pontoon and the Community Fish House that are used by the public.

If the issue is revisited, fishermen want to be included in the discussion, said Dan Walker, an avid angler.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561