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January 12, 2014

Heated docks keeping anglers fishing

TULSA — On a winter morning at 7, the air still and crisp and the temperature in the teens, it is routine for cars to line up outside coffee shops and office buildings in Tulsa and surrounding towns — and for some cars to line up outside fishing docks.

Eight vehicles lined the row nearest the water in the parking lot at Claremore Lake this Monday. Save the defrosted windshields and sound of cooling engines under the hoods, there was little clue anyone belonged to these trucks and cars. The lake appeared to be empty, with barely a ripple on the water here and there, and nary a soul in sight.

But just down the boardwalk from the parking lot, inside a garage-sized building on the water, a social scene was in play. In this floating dock over 12 to 16 feet of water, people gather daily to fish for crappie in one of Oklahoma’s heated crappie docks.

John Yocham, who lives a quarter-mile from the dock as the crow flies, described it well:

“You know those coffee shops where everybody sits around every morning and solves the world’s problems? It’s like that — only without the coffee.”

Arnold Brown fishes the dock every morning and most everyone knows him. He holds the lake record for crappie, a 2-pound 8-ouncer he hooked last year while fishing inside the heated dock. Lloyd Jones is part of the afternoon crew.

“He comes in at 11, 11:30 every day,” Brown said. “We have a regular crowd. If Lloyd isn’t here by about noon we’ll be wondering where he is.”

“Weekends can get busy,” said Claremore Park Ranger David Daniel. “We definitely have regulars, I mean to the point if they don’t show up for a couple of days, someone’s probably going to be calling them to see if they’re OK.”

The dock has a 20-person limit fishing inside and 10 on the outside, Daniel said. Each pays $2 for a day’s fishing.

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