Gone Fishin': Base lakes offer relaxing outdoor entertainment

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Summer's winding down, but fishing at one of Robins' lakes always offers a relaxing option to indoor activities. 

This article introduces you to Scout and Luna lakes.

Scout Lake is Robins' largest. It offers beautiful views from Turner Housing, which parallels its western shore, and has ample space for fishing enthusiasts. 

Pull up a lawn chair, and cast a line and hook from the wide, grassy embankment along the water's edge. Or if you want to be a bit more adventurous, cast your line from a Jon boat across the lake's calm waters. 

Always remember to bring a life jacket. And don't use gas-powered motors, or cast gill or seine nets. Let's all do our part to keep the lakes clean and give fish a sporting chance. 

Looking back
At just over 22 acres, the lake dates back to the mid-1950s, when its basin was excavated to provide fill dirt for base development.

Among the many interesting management projects at Scout Lake, visitors may first notice a small island near its center. Built with sediment from the lake bottom, during its initial years there was no greenery growing on it. It was basically an ugly mound of clay.

In the mid-'90s, the site was improved as a habitat for wildlife. You can find birds, snakes, turtles and ducks resting and feeding on any given day. 

"It looks like a natural island in the middle of the lake," said Bob Sargent, natural resources manager and wildlife biologist. "We literally irrigated the new sod we placed there by running a PVC pipe to sprinkler heads on the island. Here we are almost 20 years later, and it's a beautiful, young, forested island." 

Over the years Scout Lake's fishery had gotten out of balance, meaning the numbers of some fish species far exceeded what was appropriate for the lake.

Following a series of sampling efforts in the late '90s and early 2000s, it was discovered that bluegill, red-ear sunfish and crappie were far more abundant than bass populations.

"We like to see a 1-to-5 or 1-to-10 ratio with respect to predators versus prey. Instead we were seeing a 1-to-45 ratio out here. As a result, bream were so over-abundant that their growth was stunted, he said. "They were eating all of the food that young bass need. Whatever bass reproduction we had going on at the time, they weren't growing up to be adults. The crappie population was making matters worse because that species preys on young bass."             

Sargent tried stocking large bass, over a foot in length, for three years, with a catch-and-release rule, in order to reduce bream numbers and balance the fishery. But it didn't make a substantial difference. With the lake still out of balance, another measure needed to be taken. 

Working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, in 2010 over 200,000 fish (about 95 percent were bream less than four inches long) were removed from the lake.

During the next year, dramatic improvements were made, starting with stocking specific ratios of bass and prey fish, such as red-ear sunfish, bluegill and catfish. Sterile grass carp were also stocked in an effort to help control aquatic weed problems.

It's now a healthy, well-stocked fishery for anglers to enjoy. 

Catch-and-release rules continue. Anglers can now catch and keep up to two bass per day, provided the fish are at least 14 inches long. A permit can be bought for a small fee at Outdoor Recreation; and you must possess a state license to fish on base.

Other interesting events to note are the annual yellow pollen rings that form around the margins of the lake. Sargent receives many phone calls about this each spring. We know how thick pollen gets in the springtime, so when you see this phenomenon, don't worry. It's not a pollutant, just pollen.

A shallow lake
A fairly shallow lake, the average depth is less than four feet, with large parts only two feet. However, there's a hole near its south end that is nine feet deep.

The shallow margins provide ideal growing conditions for nuisance plants, such as alligator weed, originally from South America. 

Because it's shallow, the lake can quickly heat up. It puts fish under stress because dissolved oxygen drops as water temperature rises. When temperatures reach into the 90s, be aware that this can sometimes result in dying fish.

Unlike Robins' Duck Lake, Scout Lake doesn't have natural streams feeding into it. A concrete drainage ditch near the southwestern corner feeds storm water into the lake only after heavy rainfall.  

Its water is more clear and blue than Duck Lake because it has fewer suspended nutrients and less plankton. It's much more accessible than Duck Lake due to its open, grassy perimeter, and has a popular pier for visitors to fish from.

Cinder blocks, tires and old Christmas trees can be found under its surface to attract fish, especially near the pier, which can improve the chances of those wishing to catch a few. 

Luna Lake
Head 30 seconds east and you'll come to Luna Lake, the smallest of the base lakes. 

It's likened to an artesian swimming pool and resembles a big rectangle. It was established in 1968 when its basin was excavated so its dirt could be used to cover a nearby landfill.

At nearly eight acres, one side borders the FamCamp recreational area, the other features a pier and the Lodge - a popular facility for social events.

Luna Lake has no inflow of water, and is routinely refilled with well water due to leaks in its basin. 

The deepest spots in the lake are nearly seven feet, with most at four feet or less. Just like Scout Lake, because of a lack of nutrients, you can see the sky's reflection in the water.

"If you don't have plenty of nutrients in a lake, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, you won't have an abundance of plankton. You'll have a lake that reflects the color of the sky," said Sargent. "When you don't have plankton, you don't have a huge, healthy population of bream." 

If you want a nice, healthy fishery in lakes you fish in across the state, anglers know to look for a green tint in the water. 

Refilled and thriving
In November of 2005, an outflow pipe and part of a berm near the former nature center collapsed, and lake water rushed out. 

In about three days, the lake was nearly empty, with a couple of one-foot deep puddles. For several months it was a big mud pool. Repair recommendations included installing a lining that wouldn't leak, but that was too expensive.

The lake was ultimately refilled, and continues to rely on input from a well. 

Today, catfish can be caught here. About 500 to 800 catfish are stocked in the lake each fall. A few large bass can be seen, along with bluegill and red-ear sunfish. 

For those catching fish, up to six catfish can be kept per day, but they must be at least eight inches in length; up to 25 bream of any size daily are allowed. 

Folklore handed down from Sargent's predecessor suggested that while Luna Lake was being excavated, someone said you had to be a 'lunatic' to create a fishing pond in that sandy upland location. 

Scout Lake's name resulted from a scout hut located onsite; and Duck Lake, well, ducks like to hang out due to its natural beauty and water inflow.

Remember, if you'd like to catch a few bites, take heed of a few suggestions. Read the signs posted nearby, have your base permit and fishing license, bring your patience, and relax while enjoying some of Robins' best natural treasures.