LAKE VIEW, Iowa -- A couple dozen anglers and fishing enthusiasts came together for a ribbon cutting on Tuesday to formally signal the opening of the new Fish House on Black Hawk Lake.
The event was the culmination of a $320,000 effort, one that began five years ago
"I went to Carroll (Iowa) to the Swan Lake project," said Fred Huffman, of Lake View. "I got the blueprints and pictures and presented the idea to the DNR here."
Ben Wallace, fisheries biologist serving the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, had a similar effort in mind when approached by Huffman. That initial effort, though, didn't land "the big one" as fishing talk goes, as DNR funding dried up.
When it appeared this year that state funds might be available, Wallace, Huffman, Lake View Mayor John Westergaard and others starting reeling in local donors, as a match amounting to $26,500 was needed in two months time to see this $320,000 Fish House project through. DNR funding, after all, came to 90 percent.
"I went around and some friends helped me," Huffman said of a soliciting effort. "I went to businesses, seeing them all face-to-face and a bunch from Carroll also came up and donated money."
In the end, the money was secured and construction began on a structure that stands atop a 40-by-56-foot platform just off the Ice House Point area of Black Hawk Lake. While the building isn't heated or cooled, it offers protection from rain, sun and wind. Inside, there's an open area surrounded by railing, into which anglers can cast to their heart's content. There are two areas where anglers in wheelchairs can fish inside; outside on the deck, there are other areas for this handicap-accessible site.
The joint project between the DNR and the City of Lake View was also brought along by donations from area groups such as the Sac County Sportsman's Club, Izaak Walton League, and REAP Open Spaces, and via a grant from the American Fisheries Habitat Society. Amenities such as interior benches were provided by donations from Tate Lahr's Reel Fun Fishing Tournament and Cupcakes for a Cause. (Lahr is a 10-year-old Lake View angler who has organized his own tournament to raise funds for local causes.)
"The level of support that we received from the local community is another example of how we can get great projects done when we pool our resources," Wallace said. "It makes me proud to work in this town and to be part of a bigger effort to keep this community thriving."
Wallace noted that officials with Dixon Construction, which helped construct the site, invited Wallace and coworkers Sam Johnson and Matt Mork to drop in habitat, including 36 Mossback fish structures, beneath the deck in their effort to attract fish. Some 130 artificial trees and bushes were placed atop some 20 tons of rock placed beneath the opening inside the Fish House. A rock bed surrounding the structure extends to what is considered casting distance of the pier. Boat anglers will also be able to target this rock bed.
"When you're investing the kind of money to have this out here for people to use, we wanted to make sure we could attract fish," Wallace said.
Additionally, an agitator at the site brings warmer water up from the bottom of Black Hawk Lake, keeping the water circulating and open, allowing shoreline anglers the chance to fish year-round.
"Our data from recent creel surveys show that angling effort from shore at Black Hawk Lake is much higher than that of other natural lakes in the region, including Storm Lake, Clear Lake and Big Spirit Lake," Wallace noted. "This information gives us confidence that improvements we make to shoreline access and fishing are worthwhile and will be well received."
Wallace mentioned that several fishers caught a significant number of 12- and 13-inch crappies when the site became available three weeks ago.
"This fizzled on the first try," said Huffman, who wore a wide smile throughout the brief proceedings on Tuesday. "They had extra money this year and the DNR gave it a shot. Everyone in the community really loved this. We like to shore fish, so now people can come out and sit. It's year-round fishing with an aerator. I'm so damn tickled with it!"