Water temperature: creek arms, 65 degrees; main channel, 62 degrees.
Water clarity: fairly clear
Catch rating by species:
Black bass: 5 • White bass: 5
Crappie, 4 • Catfish, 3
Signs of spring
Warm weather and reports of white bass and crappie are one sign, but here in Theodosia it's a strange noise on the roof of the marina office in late March that lets us know spring is here for sure. The return of the purple martins is a sure thing and has been for 59 years. So it's official for 2014 now.
This all started early in 1955 when Earnest Blankenship, our first employee and the man who helped build our first docks, asked Dad if he could build a martin box. Dad told Earnest he had never seen one, but he thought it was a great idea. Early that spring, we dug a hole in the field above the boat dock and set a 12-foot pole in the ground. Earnest built the box on the same pattern as our new office dock with a house on each end. It even had a breezeway in the middle. Each house had four small compartments equaling a total of eight birdhouses with its shingled roof, just like the boat dock.
Earnest said that with any luck the martins should arrive sometime after March 15 and, after raising their young, would leave by the end of July. All went as planned that spring and again in the spring of 1956, and our little martin house was busting at the seams.
Then came 1957, and we were extra busy trying to stay ahead of the fast-rising waters of Bull Shoals, not knowing anything about dealing with high water. This was our first high-water event and the biggest flood ever until 2011, so we had no idea how high we could go or what to do with the boat docks. One thing was for sure, though: the martin house was in our path and had to be moved somewhere.
We waited until the water was high enough so we could use a boat to move the birdhouse. Most of the nests had eggs, so here we were in a boat, moving this martin house full of eggs, and the adult birds were upset. With the lake still coming up, our best move was to place the house on the office-dock roof and let the birds move with us. It took awhile for the birds to settle down, but with their eggs in the nests, they moved back in, and all’s well that ends well. The 1957 flood was what killed all the timber on the bluffs and forever changed the shoreline on Bull Shoals Lake.
The reason it killed the timber was that the water stayed up all summer, just like the flood of 2011 did. In the spring of 1958, we were very busy with a normal lake level, and March comes early so we heard them before we saw them. The martins made the decision to return to their home that was still on the roof of the office dock, and as they say... the rest is history!
The original house lasted several years, but more room was needed, so we started using aluminum boxes and lots more houses. On your next visit to the marina, stop on the walkway in front of the office dock and you will see, and hear, some very happy birds.
By the way, check out our new website at tmrbullshoals.net, and let us know what you think. We're getting good feedback so far.