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Notes from the 2017 Southern Regionals

The Southern Regionals was held this past week at Lymanland Lake, starting July 19 and ending July 23.  Around 200 skiers from the seven states of the Southern Region competed in the 5-day event.

It’s safe to say that, as a team, the skiers from our state of Kentucky had a historic and unprecedented performance, one unlike anything in recent memory.  While total skiers and total pulls were once again down from the previous year, Kentucky continued to make a strong presence – 18 total skiers – close to our largest-ever contingent.

There were so many outstanding performances, it’s impossible to single out individual performances for commentary without the risk of leaving out others that were equally deserving.  So I’ll just list the individual winners and placements at the end of this article.  In addition, many of these performers can be viewed in the “2017 Southern Regionals in Pictures” feature adjacent to this article.

However, there are some highlights that just have to be noted!

  •  Team Kentucky collected 8 gold medals, probably the most ever.  In addition, we just missed out on two others in high profile slalom run-offs for first place.
  •  Our team collected 30 total medals, also undoubtedly a state record – a phenomenal performance by the small “Northern Kingdom” of the Southern Region.
  •  Our junior skiers collected three of the eight “Most Improved Skier” awards in the Boys/Girls 3 Divisions – Saylor Davidson (G3 Jump), Garnet Fowler (B3 Slalom), and Kassidy Hawkins (G3 Overall).
  •  Our junior skiers placed two of the seven skiers on the Southern Region Junior All-Star team – Austin Collins and Kassidy Hawkins.
  •  Our senior troops (Division 5 and up) collected 11 total medals, tying our juniors, who had 11 total medals.  The other 8 were collected by those middle-aged skiers in Divisions Men/Women 1-4.  So Kentucky had excellent representation and performances across the board age-wise.

Individual winners were:

  • Lake Jones – Boys 2 Slalom – Lake became the youngest Kentucky skier to medal, and it was golden!
  • Austin Collins – Boys 2 Jump – Austin has won every Regionals jump competition he’s skied in, starting in Boys 2 – five in a row.
  • Josh Kelley – Men 1 Slalom – First Kentucky skier in memory to take first in Men 1.
  • Carl Marquess – Men 6 Tricks – Second consecutive for Carl.
  • Pat Coomes – Men 6 Jump – Pat beat some of the biggest names in jumping to take gold.
  • Errol Bryant – Men 9 Slalom, Tricks, and Overall – Errol scored a “triple” in claiming first places in all three categories for Men 9.

Other placements for medals (top 5) were:

  • Kassidy Hawkins – Girls 3 – 2nd in Slalom, 5th in Jump, 3rd Overall
  • Austin Collins – Boy 3 – 5th in Tricks, 2nd Overall
  • Garnet Fowler – Boys 3 – 4th in Slalom; 4th in Jump, 4th Overall
  • Jackson Hawes – Men 1 – 4th in Tricks (first-ever Regionals medal)
  • Josh Kelley – Men 1 – 3rd in Jump, 4th Overall
  • Leland Rouse – Men 2 – 3rd in Jump; 3rd in Tricks; 3rd Overall
  • Eric Kelley – Men 4 – 2nd in Slalom;
  • Pam Guthrie – Women 6 – 4th in Slalom
  • Carl Marquess – Men 6 – 4th Overall
  • Pat Coomes – Men 6 – 5th Overall
  • Dave Keller – Men 7 – 2nd in Tricks; 4th in Slalom; 2nd Overall
  • Bob Harris – Men 7 – 5th in Slalom (first-ever Regionals medal)

Truly an outstanding team effort!

Go, Kentucky!!

2017 Regionals


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Patriot Lake Steps on To the Tournament Scene
On Saturday, July 15th, Patriot Lake became the fourth active tournament site in the state of Kentucky, hosting its first-ever sanctioned competition.  Eric Kelley and his crew didn’t just step into the tournament scene with your basic competition – they went big!  The tournament was held as a Class “L” Record Capability tournament for slalom (Class “C” for tricks and jump), and there were a ton of top level slalom skiers in attendance.

Patriot Lake is a gorgeous skiing venue, well protected from wind from virtually every direction.  Old-growth trees line the sharply sloping terrain on the sides, and the ends are protected by bends in the valley where the lake lies.  Saturday was no exception, as excellent weather prevailed and water conditions were virtually perfect all day.  The tournament featured about 90 minutes of tricking at the start and an hour or so of jumping at the end, sandwiched around seven-plus hours of slalom.

Some noteworthy performances by Kentucky skiers:
  • Lake Jones nearly matched his state record in Boys 2 Slalom, running 2 @ 35 off – only two buoys off the record.
  • Austin Collins had PB’s in all three events and overall – 2180 in tricks, 2 ½ @ 32 off in slalom, and a 139-foot boomer in jumping.  His 2608 overall total was less than 100 points off his Uncle Tyler’s state record.
  • Saylor Davidson had successive PB’s in jumping with 81 and 82 feet distances on her first two jumps.
  • Josh Kelley had the longest jump of the tournament, a very respectable 147-foot leap on his first jump.
  • Tournament “boss” Eric Kelley performed well in slalom, skiing into 39 ½ off in both of his slalom rounds, 2 ½ @ 39 off being his best.
  • Nick Roshelli had a PB in slalom with 2 @ 35 off in the third round of Men 1 slalom.
  • Gary Gambrel had the top trick run of the day with a score of 3140 points.
  • Mark Coomes finally got the Men 6 Nationals qualification he’d been chasing all summer, running 2 @ 35 off in Round 1.
  • Leon Leonard and Dave Keller had slalom scores that would make them competitive in Men 7 at the Regionals, Dave running 5 @ 32 off in the first round, and Leon topping that in Round 3 with 1 ½ @ 35 off.
  • Errol Bryant had his best-of-the-year slalom performance, scoring 1 buoy @ 32 off in Men 9.
  • Kyle Jones continued his excellent slalom skiing with a day’s best of 3 ½ @ 39 off.

A grand salute goes out to Eric, Danita, and associates for their preparation in getting ready for this first competition at Patriot Lake.  Also, a big thanks to Chief Judge Kirby Whetsel, Chief Scorer Cathy Burkhead, Chief Driver Tim McKune, Tech Controller Bob Harris, and all of the Appointed (Senior and Regular) Judges for making a Record capability tournament possible.


2017 State Championships
Outstanding Conditions, Outstanding Performances

The state tournament weekend started out somewhat less than auspicious.  The Friday Junior Clinic was plagued by high winds, and wicked thunderstorms moved through the area Friday evening.  However, this turned out to be simply a grand introduction to one of the best weekends of weather and water conditions in memory for a state championships.  Near-perfect conditions prevailed for Saturday and Sunday at Stillwater Lake, home of this year’s state competition.  The result was some of the best skiing ever seen in this annual competition!

When the waters had settled after completion of Sunday’s second round, five new state records had been established – four in slalom, one in tricks.  One of the best slalom performances ever on Kentucky waters by a female skier (albeit by a non-resident skier) had been witnessed.  And performances across the board were generally “out the roof” by pretty much every skier who strapped on one or two skis – particularly in the slalom event!

New State Championship records were set by:

  • Lake Jones – Boys 2 Slalom – 94 buoys (4 @ 35 off)
        This crushed the old record of 91 buoys jointly held by Tyler Collins and Andrew Streater!

  • Josh Kelley – Men 1 Slalom – 104.5 buoys (2.5 @ 38 off)
       Again, the old record of 101 buoys (Ryan Harris) was shattered!

  • Kyle Jones – Men 4 Slalom – 104.5 buoys (2.5 @ 39 off)
        This edged out the old record of 104 buoys set by Kyle in 2015, which had been tied by Eric Kelley in             the same round of competition on Saturday.

  • Joe Duff – Men 10 Slalom – 1 buoy
       The most significant aspect of this record is that Joe became the first Men 10 skier ever in a state                competition held in Kentucky!

  • Errol Bryant – Men 9 Tricks – 1150 points
        Errol upped his own record by a whopping 450 points (old record, 700 points) set at the 2016 state              championships.

Event and overall winners (in addition to those noted above) were as follows:

  • Troy Fowler – Boys 2 – Tricks/Jump/Overall
  • Austin Collins – Boys 3 – Tricks/Jump/Overall
  • Saylor Davidson – Girls 3 – Slalom/Tricks/Jump/Overall
  • Jackson Hawes – Men 1 – Tricks
  • Josh Kelley – Men 1 – Slalom/Jump
  • Gary Gambrel – Men 5 – Slalom/Tricks
  • Mark Coomes – Men 6 – Slalom
  • Carl Marquess – Men 6 – Tricks/Overall
  • Pat Coomes – Men 6 -- Jump
  • Bob Harris – Men 7 – Slalom
  • Dave Keller - Men 7 - Trick/Overall
  • Errol Bryant – Men 9 – Slalom/Tricks
  • Lauren Harris – Women 1 – Slalom/Tricks/ Jump/Overall

Noteworthy in the above were clean sweeps by Saylor Davidson, Lauren Harris, and Errol Bryant in their respective divisions!

Other noteworthy observations from the tournament included:
  • The outstanding skiing was noted above.  Just how outstanding was it?  Consider this:
    • Eleven slalom skiers skied into 35 off.
    • Of those eleven, four skied into 38 off.
    • Of those four, three skied into 39 ½ off!!
       Sensational slalom skiing!

  • Austin Collins landed the only flip of the tournament, a back flip in the second round.
  • Austin also landed the longest jump of the tournament – 135 feet on Sunday.
  • Saylor Davidson scored the longest jump by a female skier – 81 feet on Sunday (a “PB” for Saylor, by the way)
  • Carl Marquess had the high scoring trick run in the tournament by a state skier, 2590 points on Sunday.  Not Carl’s best, but he’ll take it!
  • The highest scoring trick run of the tournament was by Elizabeth Fowler (say what?!) at 2660 points.  Elizabeth, who could easily have slipped in as a state skier but acknowledged her current residence in Ohio, has always been known for her stellar slalom, but she’s turned into quite the tricker over the past couple of years!
  • And that “best performance ever on Kentucky waters by a female skier?”  Well, that was by Samantha Dumala, a non-resident who just happened to be “hanging” with Ryan and the Harrises last weekend, and ran 3 ½ @ 39 ½ off on Sunday!  WOW!!

What a great state championships!  The numbers were down a bit, but the quality of performances certainly was not!  Congratulations to the Stillwater Ski Club for hosting a superb event, and thanks to all of our officials and other volunteers who made this competition possible.

    DATELINE:   Axis, AL
                                                                June 26, 2017

    Hawkins Places Third in U. S. Junior Open

    The 17th U. S. Junior Open was held on June 24th & 25th at Ski Chaste Lake in Axis, AL. Top juniors in the world competed, by invitation only, for titles and placement in slalom, tricks, and jump.  Two Kentucky skiers, both members of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, were among those participating.

    Kassidy Hawkins, skiing in the Junior Women slalom event, made the podium in third place. Hawkins finished the preliminary round as second seed with a run of 1.5 buoys at 38 off.  Luisa Jaramillo took first place in the windy final round, followed by Kennedy Hansen and Hawkins.

    Austin Collins, competing in the Junior Men jump event, had a solid performance in the preliminaries with a leap of 123, but narrowly missed the finals.  Collins finished 6th in the event.

    A total of 42 skiers were invited to compete.
    DATELINE:   Walton, KY
                                                                June 26, 2017
    Tournament Cancelled Due to High Water
    The Cruises Creek Pick-n-Choose, scheduled for June 24th, had to be cancelled due to high water.
    Heavy rains on the Friday preceding the scheduled event caused flooding of the lake, making it impossible for the Cruises Creek Ski Club to proceed with the event.
    There are no plans to reschedule the event at this time.
  1. 06/29/17

    2017 Kentucky Lake Open

    With a terrific weekend of near-perfect water conditions at Twin Oaks Lakes in Paducah, KY, several excellent skiing performances were recorded at the 43rd Kentucky Lake Open.  This year, for the first time ever, the KLO was run as a Class “C & L.”  A total of 22 skiers competed.

    At the risk of (unintentionally) leaving out some outstanding performances, the following stood out on the final scoreboard:

    • Kassidy Hawkins set a new state record in Girls 3 slalom.  She was the only skier in the tournament to clear the 35-off rope length, running one buoy at 38-off in Round 1, which helped move her into the #4 spot in the Girls 3 national standings list in slalom. She also had a PB 3,650 points in tricks.

    • Robert and Troy Fowler, skiing in Boys 2, both had PB’s in slalom – Robert scoring 1 buoy at 34 15-off and Troy rounding 3.5 buoys at 28 15-off. Troy also had a jump PB of 45 feet.

    • Austin Collins set his personal high mark in jumping with a leap of 137 feet.  This moved him to #8 on the national standings list for Boys 3 jump.

    • Garrett Stallings, a Tennessee skier, had the high trick run of the tournament with a score of 6,150 points.

    • Saylor Davidson, Leon Leonard, Carl Marquess, Errol Bryant, Jeanette Van Akelijen, and Debbie Kern all had Nationals qualifying performances in one or more events.

    The KLO was preceded by the annual 3-day Advanced Juniors Clinic, held for the 11th consecutive year and hosted by the Ski Nuts.  The clinic lead instructors were Zane Nicholson and Ric Stallings, and eleven state skiers attended.
  1. 06/18/17

    Hawkins & Collins Selected to Compete in Junior U. S. Open; Jones Highly Ranked

    Two Kentucky skiers have been selected to compete in the U. S. Junior Open Water Ski Tournament.

    Kassidy Hawkins of Paducah and Austin Collins of Murray, both members of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, were selected in their respective strongest events – Hawkins in slalom and Collins in jumping.  Hawkins is currently the #4 ranked skier in the U. S. in Girls 3 Slalom, while Collins is ranked #8 in Boys 3 Jumping.

    In other significant news involving our junior skiers, Lake Jones of Corbin is currently the #3 ranked skier nationally in Boys 2 Slalom.

    Congrats to the outstanding skiing of all of our junior skiers.

  1. 06/07/17

    Kentucky Advanced Juniors Clinic

    Once again, the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts will be hosting the Kentucky Advanced Juniors Clinic at Twin Oaks Lakes in Paducah, to be held on June 14-16.  This will be the 15th year for this 3-day ski school, which was started in 2003 to improve the competitiveness of our state juniors at the regional and national level.  Over the 15 years since, Kentucky juniors have moved from an afterthought in our region to one of the most accomplished of any state in the Southern Region.

    The clinic will begin at 8 AM Wednesday morning and continue through the end of the day on Friday.  Featured instructors this year are Zane Nicholson and Rick and Garrett Stallings.  The clinic is essentially free for all state skiers, with participants responsible only for their share of expenses (which are usually defrayed to “pocket change” by supplementary donations of other state skiers which make final costs minimal).  Age eligibility includes all skiers through college age (generally set at 21 max if not enrolled in college).

    Please contact Bob Harris at 270-210-7552 by either direct phone call or text message if you are planning to attend.

Tee Shirts for Kentucky State Championships

All - For this year's Kentucky State tournament, we will be doing tee shirts and taking preorders  While we might buy a few extras, the best way to guarantee to get what you want is to preorder.  Shirts will be available in short sleeve and long sleeve, and in three colors: light gray, white, and pale pink.  All three colors are available in both long and short sleeve.  Sizes will be adult small through 3XL.  My intention on prices are $12 for short sleeve and $15 for long sleeve, but I need to order a decent quantity to get the cost down to be able to do that.  So, order several so I can hit those prices! These will be high quality Gildan 5.3 oz shirts.   Please call, text or email Jim Roshelli at the contact info below to order, and specify size, color, and sleeve length.  Deadline to preorder is Monday June 19th.  I will bring them to the tournament in Eminence, which is Saturday/Sunday July 8th & 9th.   
Jim Roshelli
6211 Perrin Drive
Crestwood, Ky.  40014

cell 502-291-4669


2016 Award Nominations

We are approaching the deadline for nominations for the “Best of 2016!” for the state of Kentucky.  Joy reminded me yesterday that the winners will have to be determined within the next week or so, in order for her to get plaques made and customized.

If you have someone you would like to nominate, remember the following categories:
                Junior Skier of the Year
                Skier of the Year
                Member of the Year
                Kentucky Water Ski Hall of Fame

All of the above are awarded each year with the exception of the Hall of Fame, which is elected only as the membership feels a fellow state skier/official becomes worthy of this award, by way of accomplishments over a period of time.  For additional descriptive information on the above awards, please refer to the state website.

If you wish to nominate someone in any of the above categories, please send along a short biography of accomplishments that would make that person worthy of the award.  Final determination will be made by vote of the KWSF board members.

Thanks, and keep on skiin’ !!


Stillwater Lake Season Kick Off

Stillwater Lake kicked off the Kentucky ski season on June 3rd with its annual Summer's Here 3 round slalom tournament.  Numbers were low, (14) but met expectations.  Many skiers commented on their lack of water time up to this point, due to an unusual number of windy days thus far this Spring. Unfortunately, the performances for most skiers supported their assertions. Thirty-five off was only run twice, and that by Kyle Jones. Lake Jones,
despite being early in the season, is getting close to the B2 record that he currently holds jointly with Austin Collins.  Joe Duff is starting out the season with plans to hit several tournaments this season.  John Harris took
advantage of the ZBS rule and shortened to 22 off, under max, all three rounds.  The truly bright spot was Lauren Harris, recently graduated from Florida Southern and skiing in KY regularly again.  Lauren was able to ski
up to her average by running 1 and, later, 2 buoys at 35 off. 

Special thanks to the Paducah gang for bringing their spanking new Malibu, and the Schmitts for bringing their MC for us to use.


Tournament - June 3

The Stillwater Lake Club will be hosting its first tournament of the summer, and the first in Kentucky this season -- the "Summer's Here Slalom" -- on June 3rd at Stillwater Lake in Eminence.  This tournament is three rounds,
slalom only, and entry fee is $70.  First-time tournament skiers will receive free entry.  The club will be taking 30 entries max.  For additional information, contact Leon Leonard at (502) 845-2850 or e-mail at .

Other tournaments in Kentucky scheduled for June are the "43rd Kentucky Lake Open" on June 17th and 18th, and the "Cruises Creek Pick N Choose" on June 24th. This year's KLO will be a Class "C & L" event, pick and choose, with
10 pulls max, and will follow the three-day Advanced Juniors Clinic held at Twin Oaks Lakes.  The Cruises Creek tournament is a 3-round pick and choose, six pulls max.  More information for all three of these tournaments can be found on-line at USA Water Skiing, and the latter two are both listed in the paper copy of the Regional Guide.

Good skiing to all,

Joe Burkhead, President


USA Water Ski National Junior Development Team

Once again, Austin Collins of Murray, Boys 3 overall skier from Murray, a member of the Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts, has been named as a member of the USA Water Ski National Junior Development Team.  This is the second
consecutive year for Collins to be included with this elite group of 24 male and female skiers from across the country.  Collins is the only skier from Kentucky on the development team, and one of five skiers from
the AWSA Southern Region to be so named.



Well, everyone, winter seems to be just about over the hump (Have we really had a winter in Kentucky?).  The long range forecast shows the rest of February projected to be above average in Kentucky, after a very cold day today (February 9).  Not sure what OUR groundhog saw, but it must have been cloudy that day!  In any case, it’s time to start thinking about water skiing, at least a little bit.

Following are some random notes concerning water skiing in the upcoming season:
  • Patriot Lake near Bowling Green (Eric Kelley and company) is planning to host its first-ever sanctioned tournament this summer – scheduled for July 15th.  It will be a 3-round, 3-event competition.
  • There are currently seven tournaments that have been sanctioned in our state for the 2017 season.
  • The Kentucky Lake Ski Nuts will once again host the Kentucky Advanced Juniors Clinic, June 14-16, at Twin Oaks Lakes in Paducah.  There will also be at least one additional clinic for juniors, the one-cay clinic held on Friday, July 7th, in conjunction with the state championships.
  • The Ski Nuts will host a Safety and Drivers (drivers, on water portion only) on Friday, June 20th, in advance of the 42nd Kentucky Lake Open, and during the Advanced Juniors Clinic.
  • The 2017 Southern Regionals will be held at Lymanland in Tuscaloosa, AL for the second consecutive year. Dates are July 19-23.
  • The 2017 Nationals will once again return to San Marcos River Ranch near San Marcos, TX.  Dates are August 9-12.
  • A site for the 2018 Nationals has already been selected.  Nationals will be held at a new (to Nationals) site – Mystic Lakes in Maize, KS August 8-11.  Mystic Lakes is a two-lake site, and Maize is about 20 minutes west of the Wichita airport along I-285.
  • The ongoing battle between the Ski Nuts and the Asian Carp (see additional article) will hopefully draw to a close this weekend, as we plan to sterilize the north lake on Saturday (February 11th).  We completed work on the south lake the weekend before Christmas, then took a few weeks to recover before tackling the second lake.
  • There are a few proposed rules changes for 2017 that some of us will be interested in.  Probably the most significant (at present) is an extension from last year of the rule for juniors which allowed juniors to make progressive line shortenings below max speed, and increase their scores at below max speeds.  Rumor has it that this rule has been approved at the national level for all divisions.  This may make for an interesting challenge for scorers and judges.
  • An additional rule modification, along the same lines, is that a skier may ski above the maximum division speed and score a higher buoy count at a given line length than a skier at the standard division speed.  Example: In Men 3, a skier skiing 6 at 36 mph/28 off would have the same score as a skier skiing 6 at 34 mph/32 off.  Hmmmmmmm ------ .

If anyone else has any additional news you’d like included in the above, please let me know, and we’ll add it to the list.

Lastly, I need NOMINEES FOR SKIER PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH !!!!  I’m out of names right now, so if you give me the info on somebody, they’ll most likely become Ski Personality for February

Stay warm everybody,
Joe B



Many of you already know about the battle the Ski Nuts have been waging against the Asian Carp invasion of Twin Oaks Lakes.  This has been an expensive, time consuming, and exhausting war against these evil critters – starting in October and continuing through mid-February.  We hope to bring this to a conclusion the weekend of February 11-12.

Asian Carp infested Twin Oaks during the 2011 flood, when the Ohio and Clarks rivers backed up into our ski lakes.  The carp had a wide-open shot into the lakes for several weeks, and they obviously took full advantage.  The spawning habits of Asian Carp direct them to migrate upstream into tributaries to lay their eggs (an adult female can drop up to one million eggs in a single batch), and we became an upstream tributary to the carp.  When they got to the lakes, they hit the end of the line, so they stayed put in massive numbers. 

At the time, we were not aware of this, but it became evident over the last couple of years as dangerous jumps by silver Asians became more and more frequent.  This past summer, one of our skiers (Kassidy Hawkins) was hit while trick skiing, and suffered a severe leg bruise.  That was the final straw, and we decided we had to take drastic action to completely rid the lakes of Asians.

A little info about Asian Carp.  There are four types of Asian Carp which are prevalent in U.S. waters – silver, bighead, grass, and black.  The first two are the ones that have become extremely problematic to ecosystems, and the silver carp are the ones with the high jumping ability (as high as 8 to 10 feet above the surface) which have caused numerous, and sometimes severe injuries.  These fish, which are strictly vegetarian, will wipe out a lake or pond by simply outcompeting every other species for base level food (vegetation), thus starving out other species starting with the bottom of the food chain and going all the way up to primary game fish.

After evaluating several options for exterminating the fish from Twin Oaks, we decided to pump the lakes down to virtually empty – one lake at a time.  Then we’d seine out all the fish we possibly could, to salvage the game fish and eliminate the carp, and sterilize the remaining water to get 100% eradication. There is a significant market for the carp here in western Kentucky, with a processing plant in Wickliffe (30 miles west) that would take all we could ship, so we planned to capture and sell.  We had no idea how many fish we’d catch, but the best “WAG” was that we might pull out 10,000 pounds from the two lakes. Geez, were we ever wrong!!

The chronology of events has gone something like this:
  • Pat Coomes secured a 16-inch agricultural pump (tractor driven) in early October from a farmer friend in Owensboro, and we put it in the lakes and started pumping in early November.  With the larger of two tractors we had available, we were able to pump about 5,000 gpm (seven million gallons per day – enough to fill 140 Olympic-size swimming pools), dropping the lake level over a half-foot per day.  Fortunately, we were in a dry period, we started out with a relatively low lake level, and we did not have to deal with any run-off for several weeks.
  • We knew the north and south lakes would completely divide at about four feet down, which they did.  At this point, we used heavy equipment to move dirt and raise the dividing levee on the west end to completely separate the two lakes at normal summer pool, so we could deal with one lake at a time.
  • We continued to pump from the south lake (the larger lake, takes all run-off water) until we got it as low as possible with the big pump, then switched to four smaller (3-inch) pumps to continue pumping down to large “puddles.”  We ended up with three distinct basins on the south side, each having to be dealt with separately.
  • Now it was time to seine fish, and find out what was really in the lake.  A friend of the Ski Nuts secured a 200-foot commercial net, and we set up to seine the southeast basin (the one in front of the Burkhead home) on December 3rd.  This basin collected about one-fourth of the total area of the two lakes.  Little could we have imagined what we’d find, expecting maybe two to three thousand pounds of carp, and a lot of game fish.  As we dragged the net the length of the basin, which now had a max depth of around 12 inches, we could see the frenzy of fish start to increase.  By the time we were within 50 feet of the end of the basin, the net had collected a churning cauldron of madness!  Pulling slowly from each bank with a tractor on one end and a 4WD large pick-up on the other, we started to bog down with the truck.  Then one entire end of the net gave way and released half our catch back into the basin!
  • We were able to drag about half the catch out onto “dry” lake bottom before everything gave way (dry lake bottom was actually muck up to 3 feet deep).  As you can see from the pictures, our catch was a little larger than expected!!  We loaded out 5,000 lbs of carp to market before we pooped out (dragged the carp to tractor buckets positioned on solid surface, dumped buckets into large hoppers), and left at least 3,000 lbs on the bank.  AND we had lost an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 lbs back into the basin.  AND this basin represented only about one-fourth of the lakes area/volume.  Based on these numbers, we now estimate we were “housing” around 60,000 lbs of Asian Carp in our 32 acres of lakes.
  • The largest carp we caught that first day was a bighead, around 110 lbs (see picture).  We caught dozens of carp, silver and bighead, over 50 lbs, hundreds over 20-30 lbs.
  • We had virtually no success in saving game fish on this first attempt.  They were just too buried in the carp!  The “half net” of fish resulted in a pile about 100 feet long, 20 feet wide, and up to two feet deep!  Game fish simply got buried in the mass. (again, see picture)
  • We went through the same process on December 17th with the jump basin (area of the ski jump) and the crescent basin (around the southwest island), except we did not even try to salvage game fish.  We were faced with heavy rains that evening and we knew we had to get finished that day or suffer several weeks of setback.  We were successful, and the south lake is now 100% clear of Asian Carp.  Rain and run-off have already filled it back to nearly two-thirds full.
  • We’re now in the process of finishing the north lake.  We could relax a little more with this one as we did not have to worry about run-off flooding us out.  Like the south lake, it divided into two major basins and one smaller one.  We started pumping down in late January, and have all basins ready to finish off on the weekend of February 11th.  We’ll try to seine for game fish the week of February 6th and hope we have better luck salvaging a restock base.  We’re dealing with the same problems, however – bottom muck that is as much as 3 feet deep – impossible to work in – so we have to do all seining from the banks, using ropes.
  • Once we’ve finished the north lake to 100% kill, we’ll cut a connecting (boat) gap through the temporary levee and allow both lakes to refill together.  We hope to have this done before the end of February.
  • Carp Wars – WE WIN!!  Or at least we look like we’re in good position to do so by the end of this week.

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