Rod, reel a good fit
By MIKE CORN
CEDAR BLUFF STATE PARK -- It's known simply as Pa's Pond, where fishing is restricted to the young and the disabled.
It's been improved as money becomes available, now even sporting a dock to fish from.
In the summer, it's a busy place.
But the pond quickly gets dark when the sun goes down. That's why park personnel gleefully wanted to install a light when a bit of extra money trickled in.
This isn't just any light.
It's a massive rod and reel, complete with a red-and-white bobber.
A massive nightcrawler would be needed for the hook. And the test weight of the line on the reel would be difficult at best to measure.
The idea came up one day while trying to decide what type of light should be installed, said park manager Chris Smith.
The idea came from the park's maintenance crew, he said, giving credit to Steve Seibel and Larry Eberle.
They took the project to heart and built it in the park's shop.
It's an accurate reproduction, right down to the guide wraps -- in this case metal wire -- holding the guides to the pole.
Nylon rope lines the baitcasting reel.
All of it is hand built, Smith said, other than the bobber.
That feature was found online, quickly ordered, and now adorns the fishing line hanging from the rod tip.
Smith said the pond and its improvements stem from the death of Greg Knoll, an avid outdoorsman and a member of Cedar Bluff's liaison committee.
"He was a good guy," Smith said.
When Knoll died, contributions were made in his memory to the Kansas Wildtrust for use at Cedar Bluff.
The money was used to rejuvenate the pond, sealing it to prevent water loss. The money also went to pay for the dock and a limestone sign recognizing Knoll and his contribution to future generations in the outdoors.
The pond is stocked each spring with channel catfish, bass and bluegill.
Recently, Smith said, Knoll's family said additional money had been made available and dedicated to use at Cedar Bluff.
That's where the idea of the light came from.
Using an LED bulb, the light will be set on a timer, allowing fishing into the night.
"We get a lot of kids coming up in the summer at night," Smith said. "It gets used a lot in the summer."
Once school is out, he said, the use goes way up, and anywhere from 50 to 60 youth will fish the pond each week.
Fishing in the pond is limited to youth 16 years old and younger and the disabled.
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The drought hasn't been kind to Cedar Bluff State Park, Smith said.
"Drought has been brutal to our trees," he said. "We've got some trees to take out."
But the drought, and the declining water level in the lake, has brought another boat ramp to the surface.
Smith said the ramp is located on the south shore, near the Page Creek area.
There are a series of boat ramps located in the lake, installed in the late 1980s as water levels plummeted to all-time low of more than 52 feet in December 1992.
The lake hasn't fallen that far yet.
Currently, Cedar Bluff is about 25.3 feet below its normal operating level.
Kirwin is 11.4 feet low, Webster's nearly 23 low, Lake Wilson is about 6 feet down and Norton is 13.3 feet low.