Duck River Reservoir reopens to boat fishing; careful outdoor recreation still a safe option

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A couple enjoys a little fishing time on Duck River Reservoir in this Tribune file photo. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) announced Wednesday that the Duck River Reservoir will reopen to boat fishing Thursday, March 26. In a message, CEDA Director Dale Greer wrote:

The main boat ramp on the East Side of the Reservoir at the dam and the launch on the West side of the lake off County Road 1670 (formerly County Road 1651) will be open at daylight Thursday with a maximum motor restriction size of 25 horsepower.

Reservoir Manager Tim Scott said the lake level is down approximately 11 feet below full pool and there are some shallow spots on the lake that could pose a hazard. Scott urges fishermen to exercise caution when both launching boats and operating the motors on the water.

Access will not be allowed to the dock at the dam boat ramp because of the steepness of the walkway.

Restrictions on the reservoir, creel limits and other information is posted at the boat ramps.

Required fishing permits may be obtained on the City of Cullman website at www.cullmanal.gov or on the Duck River Reservoir Facebook page by clicking the blue “Signup” button on the right side of the page and completing the form.

Outdoor recreation opportunities are permitted under Governor Kay Ivey’s State of Emergency. Recreation is a healthy, stress relieving activity.

Every local, state and national health organization recommends following social distancing guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Other opportunities to get outside safely

Greer reported that walking/biking trails are also open at Duck River, and at other area sites like Heritage Park and Hurricane Creek, though he cautioned that playground equipment is off limits due to social distancing restrictions.

In a recent release by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, David Rainer wrote:

Not only does our state have some of the best fishing opportunities in the nation, both freshwater and saltwater, but the spring turkey season is also about to open in most of the state.

If hunting or fishing is not a preference, consider the beautiful natural hiking trails and camping facilities available at Alabama State Parks close to where you live, not to mention the natural beauty on the Forever Wild tracts available to the public. Visit www.alapark.com and www.alabamaforeverwild.com for the many options available.

“I know with the children out of school and many parents home as well, people will want to do things together as a family,” Blankenship continued.  “Many will want to take the youngsters who are out of school to explore our state’s great natural wonders, but please do so responsibly.”

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Director Chuck Sykes said this is a perfect opportunity for those who love the outdoors to adhere to the “social distancing” guidelines.

“I fully expect Alabama hunters and fishermen to take advantage of the social distancing prescriptions by all the coronavirus experts, and I expect many of them will get outdoors, either on the water or in the woods,” Sykes said. “Turkey season in most of the state comes in Saturday (March 21). Fishing is phenomenal from what I understand.”

Sykes said WFF’s operations will be minimally impacted by the measures instituted to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“It’s going to be business as usual for us except in our offices,” he said. “I don’t want people to think that the game wardens are going to be sitting at home, not doing anything. Our staff basically has been practicing social distancing for years. They work by themselves for the large part. They work outside. The only thing the public will see different from Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries is our district offices and the Montgomery offices will be closed to public walk-in traffic. But we will still have a skeleton staff to take phone calls and answer Game Check questions, which will be forwarded to officers and biologists in the field. Other than some headquarters and district office staff continuing their work from home, it’s going to be business as usual providing services to the public.”

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