[EDITOR'S NOTE: UPDATED ON JUNE 2, 2019, TO INCLUDE FLOODING CLOSURES, CANCELLATIONS]
OZAWKIE — Perry Reservoir in Jefferson County is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the man-made lake has never had this many options for entertainment — though recent flooding has put some of those options temporarily on hold.
Perry’s typical offerings include everything from fine dining and golf to boating, fishing, hunting, camping and a breathtaking fireworks display.
Lake Perry Country Club, 6506 Cherokee Lane in Ozawkie, offers a challenging course with a beautiful view. It is under the ownership of GreatLIFE Golf and Fitness, meaning members of the program get golf, fitness and other perks from the course.
Located near the golf course is Lake Ridge Bar and Grill, run by 2 Chefs Catering. The restaurant is open from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The bar is open until midnight.
“Our popular dishes include hand-breaded chicken fried steak, chicken bacon Gorgonzola,” said Tricia Peterson, a Washburn graduate who runs the restaurant with her husband, Ryan Peterson. “We have lots of salads and homemade dessert, including cheesecake and chocolate ganache torte.”
Lake Perry Marina, located at 10770 Perry Park Drive on the southeast side of the dam, had to close recently because of flooding. When open, it offers an array of rentals, from pontoons to ski boats, along with a full-service boat repair shop, dock store and a restaurant called Hookers and Reelers. It is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fishing from the store dock also is allowed for $4 per person per day. The Perry Yacht Club on the west side is a sailboat-only club that hosts races and open regattas.
The lake traditionally hosts a Fourth of July fireworks celebration for boaters and campers, but in recent years the fireworks had fallen through. This year, the show again fell victim to weather, as heavy flooding caused the show to be postponed. However, the Lake Perry Marina is hopeful the show can go on this year. More information is available at https://www.lakeperryfireworks.com/.
Perry State Park, when open, offers multiple camping options — including cabins and utility hookups for trailers and RVs — as well as a swim beach and hiking, biking and horseback riding trails with scenic views of the lake. On the west side, there is also the Longview Disc Golf Course for those interested in Frisbee golf.
In the 1990s, Perry became nationally recognized for its fantastic catfishing opportunities thanks to the Hog Trough, a roughly 4-acre span of the lake where fermented soybeans were dumped in large quantities dating back to the 1970s to bring in huge numbers of channel cats.
“The original Hog Trough was south of the big state park ramp on the west side before the cove,” said Kirk Tjelmeland, water resource planner at the Kansas Water Office and a former fisheries biologist at Perry.
Catfishing has since become a more widespread endeavor on the lake thanks to the introduction of feeders, the growth in popularity of the sport and the introduction of different tactics for catching catfish. Nick Kramer, the current fisheries biologist at Perry, says there is still a group of chummers that mainly fishes around Devil’s Gap, but the group nowadays isn’t as large “as the lore of the Hog Trough suggests.”
“I don't think I have seen many boats around the Hog Trough area since I’ve been here,” Kramer said.
It also is well-known as a great crappie and white bass lake and is gaining a reputation for its black bass fishing, as well, with the lake ranking 60th among Bassmaster.com’s top 100 bass lakes in 2012.
The lake is usually host to many fishing tournaments throughout the spring and summer months. The lake hosted the 2019 Kansas BASS Nation College State Championship, the Kansas State University Fishing Club’s Big Bass Bash benefit tournament and a Catfish Chasers event in April, though heavy spring rains caused some flooding in the state park that hampered those tournaments a bit and led to the cancellation of others later in the spring and summer, including tournaments from the Kansas Crappie Club, Kansas Crappie Trail, Catfish Chasers and Muddy Waters Hunting and Fishing Adventures. Once flood waters subside, hopefully in the fall, those tournament trails should be hitting the lake once again in full force.
During the spring and fall, hunters also take advantage of public hunting areas around the lake, including 16 waterfowl marshes. Hunting opportunities include turkeys, waterfowl and deer, among other such wild game as pheasant, quail and dove.