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High water recedes, Lake Isabel pier finally open

For the past few years, anglers have been able to cast their lines into the calm water of Lake Isabel from the comfort of a fishing pier. This summer, however, the pier was missing for much of the season and was only installed about three weeks ago.

Staff in the city's Parks and Recreation Department struggled all season to get the pier in place, said Parks and Recreation Director Barry Bernstein. It was a matter of high water that kept them from installing the pier, he said.

First, high water had submerged the lower portion of the wooden walkway leading to the pier.

"It's designed for that, but generally the high water comes and goes," Bernstein said. "This summer, it stayed."

Rather than spending resources installing the pier when it would be inaccessible anyway, Bernstein decided to wait. But what usually is a wait of a few weeks turned into nearly four months. The pier is typically installed around the second week of May. But the walkway was submerged until just a few weeks ago.

The second issue was one of mechanics. When the pier is stored for the winter, the aluminum gangway that attaches it to the wooden walkway is pushed onto the pier. About a third of it hangs off the edge, however, and has to be supported by a float. When it comes to putting the gangway back in place, the float stays under the end until it's bolted and secured to the wooden walkway. But with water levels as high as they've been, the float has put the gangway too high to secure properly until recently.

The pier is popular, Bernstein said, and he's received several calls from people asking when it would be installed this year. The day after it was installed he saw six people fishing off it, he said.

"We wish, as our residents wish, we could've installed it sooner," Bernstein said. "Once the water levels cooperated we had it installed immediately."

The pier isn't just a good spot for fishing.

"It's a great viewing spot for waterfowl, migratory bird watching," Bernstein said.

Summer is over, but the pier will still be available to the public for a little while at least. It has to be removed for the winter so shifting water and ice flows don't damage it, but it will be in place through the end of the fishing season or later.

"It'll be out there probably till there's ice sufficient to remove the gangway," Bernstein said.

Once the lake freezes, staff can bring equipment onto the ice to dismantle the gangway.