Fort Worth

Swollen lakes reopen to boaters with a busy summer ahead

Star-Telegram

At the Tackle Shop, a popular fishing spot on Eagle Mountain Lake, Preston White remembers when he could see just 28 inches of water at the end of the dock last year.

This summer, it’s 25 feet deep and the water levels at the lake finally seem to be returning to normal after a roller coaster ride of flooding over the last six weeks.

“It’s either been too low or too high,” White said. “Once this murky water clears up, the fishing is going to be good.”

Activity at area lakes is slowly getting back to normal. Boaters have returned to Eagle Mountain Lake and the same thing will happen at Lake Worth on Thursday.

With only chances of scattered storms predicted this week, the bloated levels of the Tarrant Regional Water District’s lakes should keep dropping, said David Marshall, TRWD’s director of engineering and operations support.

“They should be in great shape for Fourth of July,” Marshall said.

At Eagle Mountain Lake, there is pent-up demand for boating.

Marinas and restaurants have fielded calls from customers anxious to get back on the water. Eagle Mountain’s boating restrictions were lifted at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and it didn’t take long for some to get out on the water.

“They liked to kill us,” said Denny Steward of Augie’s Sunset Cafe, which sits right behind the Tackle Shop. “We had 7-10 boats tied up here [Tuesday night] and we’ve already had two today.”

For establishments like Augie’s, the return to normal lake levels will probably mean they’ll be swamped with customers this summer. Augie’s has already seen business way ahead of last year. Now that boaters can come across the lake and dock at the restaurant, Augie’s should only get busier.

“It will probably triple our business with the lake open,” Steward said.

Lake Bridgeport, where high water got into some homes last week, opened to boaters on Sunday.

Jeanne Kennedy, co-owner of the North Side Marina and Resort on Lake Bridgeport, said the phone has been ringing with both longtime customers and newcomers from the Metroplex looking for a lake that’s open for recreation.

“There was a line of people waiting to get on the water on Sunday,” Kennedy said. “We were already seeing the benefits of people booking cabins with us. But now that the lake’s open, I think we will be busy all summer.”

Mary and John Ford, who live on one of the lowest houses around Lake Worth, said water flooded their shed and their yard last week, coming within inches of getting inside their home.

“It’s leaving a big mess behind,” Mary Ford said. “There’s a lot of sticks, grass clippings and some Styrofoam bottles in the yard but it could have been a whole lot worse. We really dodged a bullet.”

It will take longer for some of the Army Corps of Engineers lakes to drop.

Lewisville Lake was reopened to boaters on Friday, but that reservoir, along with Grapevine, Joe Pool and Ray Roberts, will be holding water for some time. Lake Grapevine still has 25 feet of water in its flood pool.

If the weather stays dry, it will take “a few more weeks” for those lake levels to drop back to normal, said Denisha Braxton, a spokeswoman for the Corps’ Fort Worth District. Many parks and campgrounds around Corps lakes remain closed and will likely remain that way for some time.

For now, there doesn’t appear to be a repeat of May’s flooding rains on the way. It hasn’t rained at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport since May 30 and there aren’t any soakers on the way.

“I’m not seeing anything extremely heavy coming up in the near term,” said Jesse Moore, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The Climate Prediction Center’s 90-day outlook calls for below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation.

While the long-range outlooks predict more rain, it has suddenly turned dry across North Texas. That may be good for boaters but it may also mean a return to summertime heat. Wednesday’s official high was 98 at DFW Airport, but Meacham Airport reached 100.

The average first 100-degree day at DFW Airport is June 30.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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