Mixed weather impacts Labor Day weekend

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Anglers enjoy holiday at RRSP Democrat Photo/Lindsay Reed On Labor Day, a large group of Roaring River State Park visitors stopped at the hatchery raceways to watch staff member Julie Fraley gather over 400 trout, which were stocked into the stream on Monday night. Fraley said that 1,800 trout were stocked in Roaring River on Monday. The park store sold over 3,000 trout tags during the holiday weekend.

With a warm start and a cool finish to the three-day weekend, area marina owners gave mixed reviews regarding recreational activity during the Labor Day holiday. Roaring River State Park issued over 3,000 daily trout tags this weekend.

"The weekend went really well," said Gene Stimble, Campbell Point Marina owner. "It started off hot but turned out nice and cool. People went from buying ice cream on Saturday to sweatshirts on Sunday.

"It was a typical Labor Day weekend," said Stimble. "We were very busy on Saturday and Sunday, and everyone went home on Monday. Everyone came out and had fun, which is the main thing. That's what you come to the lake to do."

Campers filled the campgrounds around the Campbell Point Marina for most of the weekend.

"We were busy, but it was nice and steady," said Stimble. "Busy, but not too busy to enjoy it."

On the other side of the lake, fewer campers visited campgrounds around the Eagle Rock Marina. Darrell Tilford, marina owner, reported that there were several vacant campsites during the holiday and all campers left the campgrounds by 3 p.m. on Monday.

"Saturday was okay, but Sunday should have been a better day for us and it wasn't," said Tilford. "Monday was a total bust. We rented all our boats out on Saturday and only had two left on Sunday. Monday, we didn't rent a boat all day."

Tilford credits the economy and weather for the downturn in lake traffic this year.

"I think the economy has finally trickled down to us," said Tilford. "We didn't see many locals out this weekend. On Sunday, it cooled down, and they were predicting rain. Although it never did rain, the wind blew and it got quite cool."

Lake traffic was heavy on Saturday but fell off through the remainder of the weekend, said Tilford. Marina staff members counted over 60 cars in the business' parking lot on Saturday, but the number of cars dropped to 40 on Sunday. On Monday, only a handful of cars were parked in the lot.

"On Friday, we have football going on now, so people didn't come down until Saturday around noon," said Tilford. "They filled their boats up at the local filling stations in town before they came, and after they burned out their gas on Saturday and the weather changed, they decided not to pull their boats out again."

Even though fewer campers visited Eagle Rock, more vacationers opted for time off at Roaring River State Park this weekend. According to Superintendent Dusty Reid, all of the first-come-first-served electric sites were filled by early last week.

"It was a great weekend," said Reid. "We had high attendance. The campsites, cabins and motel were all completely booked. The weather was spectacular. Our day use was up. We saw an increase over last year's Labor Day weekend.

"We had no incidents," said Reid. "Everything went very smoothly. It was just another great weekend at the park."

The park store sold 3,059 trout tags during the Labor Day weekend. Tag sales were as follows: 970 on Saturday; 1,161 on Sunday; and 928 on Monday.

"This was a great turnout," said Paul Spurgeon, hatchery manager. "The weather was picture perfect on Sunday. The fish we stocked were 12 inches.

"They seemed to be biting well, and the hatchery received no complaints," said Spurgeon, "only kudos on the quality of fish and fishing. The hatchery was extremely busy with visitors all three days."

Although Labor Day is often cited as the end of the tourist season, local marina owners and park officials remind community members that camping is a great recreational activity for fall.

"Our campsites will be open through Oct. 31," said Stimble. "It is supposed to be a nice fall, and we hope to see more people come out over the next few weeks. It is supposed to be in the 80s next weekend."

Tilford will also continue to operate the Eagle Rock Marina through Halloween.

"The first part of the year, people couldn't get on the docks because of the high water that continued through June," said Tilford. "The excessive lengthy heat we saw in July and August deterred a lot of people from coming to the lake.

"Overall, we are probably down 10 percent compared to last year," said Tilford. "I wasn't happy with our Labor Day weekend turnout, but I was happy to have what we go. Hopefully people will keep coming into the fall."

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