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Anglers prepare for heated dock fishing tourney

Staff writer

Norman Alexander and Michael Woodward are doing a solid for other fishermen.

They don’t plan to compete in Saturday’s 13th annual John Waner Heated Dock Fishing Derby at Marion County Park and Lake.

Woodward caught the biggest fish last year — a 1-pound 6-ounce crappie.

The two men spend a lot of time at the heated dock, evidenced by their warm camaraderie and back-and-forth jokes.

“When the wife lets me — once or twice a week,” Alexander said of how often he fishes.

“Amen to that,” Woodward said in return.

Alexander set up his fishing poles at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

“If it’s my day to fish, I’m out here all day,” he said. “It’s nothing for me to put 12 hours in out here.”

Alexander and Woodward fish for crappie and flathead catfish. Although there’s no rule about returning small fish to the water, superintendent Isaac Hett said, Alexander and Woodward would like to see one.

“A good fish starts at 12 inches,” Alexander said. “Anything that starts at 12 inches on up is a good crappie.”

The dock is open 24/7 year-round, though it’s not heated in the summer.

It was renovated in 2021. The lake has offered a heated dock since 1964.

Woodward has been fishing at the lake since he was 13 years old.

“I’ve been coming to this lake before I had a driver’s license,” Alexander said. “I would walk from Marion.”

Alexander now lives in Newton. Woodward lives in Marion.

The dock can get crowded at times.

“Early morning is the best,” Alexander said.

The fishing derby will begin at 7 and end at 11 a.m. Cash prizes will be awarded for the largest crappie by weight, the most inches caught, the first fish caught, and the smallest fish caught.

Participants may register at the lake office in advance or at 6 a.m. Saturday. Early registration is $20, and registration the day of the derby is $25.

Proceeds will go toward upgrading the dock.

Alexander and Woodward have an idea for an upgrade: a coffee pot. They’ve been nagging Hett for one for a while now.

Last modified March 30, 2023

 

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