In January, the water level at Clarks Hill Lake was nearly 15 feet below full pool, and there was concern about what would happen in the spring and summer months if the levels stayed the same.
The concerns were allayed as the levels started to rise gradually, hitting full pool (330 feet) on Saturday.
Barry Frazier is 59 and has been fishing in the area his entire life. He is a member of the Clarks Hill Committee and said the lake is the best he’s seen it in years.
“Everybody was worried,” said Frazier. “A lot of the business people were worried too. I reckon the good Lord blessed us. The good Lord had to give us some rain.”
Frazier was at Wildwood Park on Friday afternoon in support of the PotashCorp Fish Back Open Team Tournament. The two-day tournament that donated all its proceeds to the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance and the North Augusta fishing team would have held its event no matter what.
“We’ve only been planning this for three months and the lake was on the rise,” said Joey Bruyninckx of Potash. “We would have done the tournament regardless. There’s still fish to be caught.”
Across the lake from the “mega ramps,” Bob Burnett, Stephen Reasoner, IV and Brian Newman were sitting in a campsite outside Burnett’s RV.
They camp out from Masters Week to November and participate in bass fishing tournaments every Saturday.
One of the biggest problems they have faced is having to repair their boats when the lake level is low.
“You run up on a hump before you know it when the lake’s low, but now, you ain’t got no problem,” said Burnett. “The problem is finding the fish. They’ve got a lot of room right now, but we’re glad to see lake levels up.”
One of the business owners who was nervous was David White, owner of Augusta Marine in Martinez, especially when the ramps at Wildwood Park were being closed intermittently in the winter months. Worries about his sales dropping have gone by the wayside.
“We’re extremely busy,” White said. “The lake levels are unbelievable ... The stress of having Wildwood Park closed is crucial to the Augusta area. That’s the door to the lake.
Business is good and I think everybody is making use of the lake. The lake is absolutely beautiful.”