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Representatives of the Lake Athens Property Owners Association brought information to the Athens Municipal Water Authority Board Friday concerning visiting fishing tournaments on the lake.

Todd Garrett said the competitions have created some problems on the small 1,799 acre body of water. 

"These visiting fishing tournaments have now become the number one issue for our membership," Garrett said.

LAPOA is not anti-fishing, Garrett said, but fishing is what is having the greatest impact on the lake at this time. He said, they are also not anti-visitor.

"I've heard some guys say we want a private lake," Garrett said. "Those words have never come across our lips."

The lake is being overrun and over-crowded, Garrett said. At present, the COVID-19 restrictions have slowed the number of tournaments, but visiting fishermen are still in abundance.

Garrett said, a petition was circulated among the LAPOA members to get their opinion on the problem. There were 309 responses. Many were concerned about the possible re-emergence of giant salvinia on the lake and the possible appearance of zebra mussels. The more visiting boaters on the lake, the greater the chances of these infesting the waters.

Garrett said, if a tournament comes with 100 boaters, they will go to every part of the lake.

"They're also out all hours of the night," Garrett said. "From sunset to sunrise, fishing boats will race around our lake."

The lake is now overfished, Garrett said and for the most part, the visiting fishermen don't contribute a lot to the local economy.

"They don't buy gas. They don't buy food and they don't buy fishing gear," Garrett said. "If you watch, they're going around FM 2495 straight to the lake."

Garrett wants to see boat traffic restored to its historical level.

"This has been a recent phenomenon " Garrett said. "The lake was not always this way."

Garrett said some ideas to combat the problem are to restrict parking and charge a boat ramp fee. Another is to impose a night-time speed limit on the water.

The POA discussion was not an action item on the agenda, so no vote was taken.

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