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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

Lake Monroe at near record-high level after spring rains

Chris Pickrell

Heavy spring rains that pushed Lake Monroe to near-record water levels have submerged boat ramps and roads, prompting state wildlife officials to open a ferry service to take boaters to their vessels.\nFrom a tent-like office near the lake’s shoreline, Roy Arthur mans a ferry station that has moved about every three days as the normally 10,750-acre reservoir recedes. Arthur said he’s at the station 24 hours a day to take boaters from shore to ship and back on his pontoon boat.\n“They come and go at all times,” he said. “They honk or call on the radio. Usually about the time I’m going to pour a cup of coffee I go get ’em.’\nArthur’s office at the Paynetown Recreational Area, about five miles southeast of Bloomington, is a tarp equipped with a coffee maker, microwave and a nearby campfire.\nMonday evening, his station was 10 feet from one of Paynetown’s submerged campsites.\nThe reservoir’s high waters have swamped portions of lakeside roads, lengthening local residents’ road trips to work because they have to drive around flooded areas.\nAnglers are excited, though, because the high waters have allowed them to reach fish-filled sections of the lake that previously were inaccessible to their boats.\nCarl Syphers of Indianapolis said he embarked on a fishing trip last weekend and was surprised by the number of fish he caught.\n“I’ve never had crappie fishing like this,” he said. “With high water, really high water, you can motor in and around the logs and the shrubbery where the fish are moving in. They’re moving in because of all the fresh food that can be found along the new shoreline.\n“The fish follow the food and I follow the fish,” he said.\nBarbara Shedd, who owns a nearby bait shop called The Fishin’ Shedd, said she’s had brisk sales so far this spring. Already, the glass on the counter near the register is filling up with Polaroid snapshots of strings of crappie and a group of teenagers holding up slippery catfish.\nPatty Robertson, the office administrator of the Army Corps of Engineers, urged boaters to be careful as they approach the lake’s new shorelines because there could be trees, bushes or even fences just below the surface.\nShe said the Army Corps is discharging as much water from the reservoir’s spillway as it can to lower the lake’s level, which is dropping 3 to 4 inches a day.\nRobertson said the lake reached 17 feet above its normal height on April 13, about a foot below the record set in 2002.

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