Now that Thurmond Lake is at full pool, lake merchants are hoping the added water will help overflow their cash registers.
"People are going crazy," said Joe Scarboro, an employee of Tracker Jack's hunting and fishing supply store on Furys Ferry Road in Evans.
"I've had fishermen coming in and buying minnows by the dozens ever since the lake got full again. People are real excited about it. I've got my tackle box with me just waiting for a chance to get out there myself."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last week that Thurmond Lake has risen to normal levels.
On Feb. 27 the lake reached 330.24 feet above sea level, the highest it has been since July 31, 1998, when it was 330.30 feet, according to the Corps' Web site.
John Baumann plays with his dog, Onyx, at the West Dam Recreation Area. The U.S. Corps of Engineers announced last week that Thurmond Lake has returned to normal levels.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The announcement was welcomed news to lake enthusiasts and to merchants who rely on the money they spend.
"My husband owns Soap Creek Marina in Lincolnton and he has been selling boats like crazy," said Ginger Dawkins, an employee of Pollard's Corner store, 6007 Clarks Hill Road. "He's also had a lot of people come in to get their boats serviced now that they can use them again."
While business for lake merchants has improved in the past week, some are remaining cautiously optimistic.
"We've seen some improvement recently, and I'm optimistic that we're going to have a good spring, but I'm worried what might happen in the summer," said Alvin Tanner, whose father, Jack, owns Pollard's Corner.
"We've been getting a lot of rain lately and that run-off has been spilling over into the creeks that feed the lake, but we can have some long, dry summers around here," Tanner said.
Tanner said he's happy to see more fishermen taking an interest in the lake again, but families are his "bread and butter." And families need good weather to enjoy the lake, and that hasn't happened the past two weekends, when rain hit the area.
Louis Miskelly (left) and Jason McCall play a game of chess near the swimming beach at West Dam Recreation Area. Thurmond Lake is full for the first time in two years.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Pamela Bugg, the owner of Little River Marina and Family Resort at 4271 Old Lincolnton Road in Appling, agrees with Tanner's assessment and says that families will decide whether a full pool at Thurmond Lake is going to make a difference in her pocketbook.
"A lot of what we do here and other places on the lake are geared toward families and they're the ones that will make a business successful," Bugg said.
"A lot of fishermen are going to come to the lake regardless of the water level. What's exciting is seeing families coming back, even if it's just to feed the fish off the back porch," she said.
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