Fishing has been made much easier at Clover Dell Lake thanks to an anonymous resident who donated a park bench at the handicap accessible dock.
“I met someone while fishing here at Clover Dell Lake,” Barbara Reyes, of Sedalia, said Monday. “He too wanted to fish, but because he was in a wheelchair he couldn’t. Together with an anonymous donor we asked the Sedalia Parks Department to help.
“Mark Hewett and the great crew did an incredible job bringing access and safety here,” she added.
Hewett, director of the Sedalia Parks & Recreation Department, met with the Sedalia Democrat Monday morning at the lake to talk about the recent improvements.
“First of all we have this nice dock area, but we had a couple problems,” he said. “First of all this is real shallow and extends out so it’s hard to fish from. We really needed a handicap access here and of course safety is one of the primary objects.
“We had this nice area that wasn’t being used,” he added. “So we had a person come forward and offer to donate this bench. In order to make this happen, we had to figure out how to get it handicapped accessible.”
Hewett said there were problems on both sides of dock and compounding the problem was the changing levels of the lake.
“The water goes out and you can’t fish, and then it comes in and it would be completely underwater,” Hewett noted. “So, the Parks Superintendent had the idea to come in here with a back-hoe.”
The Parks Department “drudged out” the lake bottom near the fishing dock, making it deeper.
“So, we brought the water to the dock,” Hewett added. “We checked with the (Missouri) Conservation Department and they said that was fine too.”
Now those who wish to fish may do so from a concrete dock, complete with a metal safety fence and a donated fishing bench. The lake level at the dock edge is now approximately three feet and can rise up to five feet, making it much simpler for those casting out.
“We will dredge it out every few years to make sure it doesn’t fill back up,” Hewett said.
The area now accommodates three to four wheelchair accessible areas for fishing.
“Now we have it accessible and we have the safety aspect,” he said. “A wheelchair can come in here and park right here and use this bench. We hope maybe someone else will come forward and donate another bench.”
Hewett said Clover Dell has another fishing access on the south side of the lake that has the same problem. The Parks Department hopes to remedy this in the near future.
Clover Dell Lake takes in 12 acres and is considered a natural sustaining lake that has catfish, bass, perch and bluegill. The lake sits in a portion of the park’s 175 acres and is maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“This is what is called a natural sustaining (lake), they stock the Liberty Park pond with catfish,” Hewett said. “This (Clover Dell) is natural.”
Hewett added that the Missouri Department of Conservation comes to the lake every year or two and shocks it, allowing the fish to come to the surface. Once the fish rise, the Conservation Department counts them.
“There’s some nice fish in here, they go all the way around,” he said. “It’s a nice lake.”
He also noted that besides fishing, visitors can view various types of wildlife, birds and waterfowl year-round.
“You are right at the edge of town and in the middle of nowhere,” he said.
Hewett added he hopes more people will come out and take advantage of the park.
“I would encourage people to come out,” he said. “There’s still a lot of people who don’t come out here. I would encourage them for the lake, but we also have the dog park and disc golf.
“A lot of people think it’s a soccer park, but it’s more than that,” he added.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.