Lakepoint Resort: The place for fishing, history and family fun
By John N. Felsher
From small local clubs to major professional tournaments, some event launches out of Lakepoint State Park Resort nearly every weekend to fish Lake Eufaula near the picturesque town that bears its name.
“We usually host more than 90 fishing tournaments a year,” says Sone Kornegay, Lakepoint State Park Resort sales director. “We have some of the best marina facilities in the state. That’s a major attraction for many tournaments to come here. It’s not uncommon for bass anglers to catch more than 20 pounds a day in a five-bass tournament.”
One of the best fishing lakes in the nation, Lake Eufaula ranks Number 41 onthe Bassmaster magazine list of the top bass waters in the United States. The lake also provides excellent panfish, crappie and catfish action. In fact, Fishhound.com named it the top catfish lake in the country.
With some of the best inland facilities in the state, Lakepoint Marina rents both covered and uncovered boats slips and can also provides excellent launching facilities. Anglers who forget something can usually buy it in the marina store. Guests without their own boats can rent a small fishing boat or pontoon boat. Open during weekends, the marina restaurants serves lunch to sportsmen who wish to take a break from fishing.
“The lake is our best asset and the park is right on it,” explains Jack Tibbs, Eufaula mayor and owner of Strikezone Lures (www.strikezonelure.com). “Lakepoint State Park Resort is a world class facility for hosting fishing tournaments. In the past, the park marina hosted tournaments with more than 300 boats. If we didn’t have a facility like that, we couldn’t hold such big events. Without that park, it would be very difficult to get the number of visitors that we get every year to our city.”
Even a small local tournament might impact the town economically, but a major event could inject thousands of dollars into the town overnight. Some professional events span several days, but anglers also arrive days earlier to practice. In addition, competitors planning to fish a big tournament might visit the lake periodically in the weeks leading up to the event to scout for the best spots.
“When a big tournament comes to town, people spend a lot of money,” says Tibbs, who sometimes fishes tournaments himself. “They might stay a week or longer at the park. Some anglers bring their families. While staying at the park, they’ll buy food and fuel. They’ll eat in the park restaurant and in restaurants in town. While the anglers are fishing, their families might visit some of our historic sites and other area attractions. A big tournament could bring in more than $1 million in economic impact.”
While visiting the area, people may choose several lodging options. Renovated and reopened in 2009, Lakepoint State Park Resort Lodge offers guests more than 100 hotel-style rooms or executive suites, a first-class restaurant, a convention center, meeting rooms and banquet halls that overlook the lake. Many large groups overflow to the Lakeside Terrace, which overlooks the water and offers excellent accommodations for weddings and receptions. Each room comes equipped with all necessary modern conveniences. Each suite comes with a king-size bed, bath, kitchenette, dining area and separate sitting area.
“Fishermen want to maximize their time on the water so many of them stay on the park,” Kornegay says. “They eat a seafood buffet at the restaurant Friday night and get up ready to go Saturday morning. Many people dock their boat and come to eat in the restaurant or at the marina grill.”
In addition, guests may stay in 29 cabins or 10 lakeside cottages near the marina. Cabins and cottages come equipped with everything people need to stay a few days including linens, dishes, utensils, satellite television, wireless connectivity, kitchen appliances, irons and ironing boards, charcoal grills, picnic tables and other amenities.
For those who like to rough it, the park campground provides 192 improved campsites for recreational vehicles. These sites include water, electricity and sewage. People can also erect tents in primitive camping areas and utilize nearby bathhouses.
“The park started with just the golf course and the campground in the 1960s,” says Sharon Matherne, Lakepoint State Park Resort general manager. “We’re now one of the biggest super parks in Alabama. We’re also one of the busiest parks in the state. In 2013, we had more than 118,000 guests. That doesn’t include people just coming through the gate for the day to fish off the bank or do other activities.”
The 18-hole public golf course stays open seven days a week. The Club House offers shower and bathroom facilities. The Pro Shop sells golfing supplies. Golfers may also practice on a nearby putting green. To hone their skills, golfers may sign up for lessons from the club pro.
While staying at the lodge or any park facilities, many guests enjoy meals at the Water’s Edge Restaurant overlooking Lake Eufaula. The restaurant can seat up to 225 people and another 450 in the banquet facilities. Guests may also use the picnic areas, tennis courts or swimming pool.
“We do a variety of meals, but it’s casual dining,” Matherne explains. “Fishermen can come here with their families, but it’s still a nice meal. We offer an excellent grilled tilapia dinner. We’re also known for our catfish and chicken meals.”
Nature lovers may hike seven park trails or visit the adjacent Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1964, the 11,184-acre refuge spreads across parts of Barbour and Russell counties in Alabama plus Stewart and Quitman counties across the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. The refuge offers hunting for whitetail deer, waterfowl, doves, squirrels and rabbits in the fall. Many people enjoy watching and photographing wildlife and birds, such as bald eagles, herons and various shorebirds. Sportsmen also hunt the nearby 27,358-acre Barbour Wildlife Management Area.
“For people into photography, the Eufaula NWR right next to Lakepoint is a great place to take photos,” Tibbs says. “It has a lot of wildlife and birds. They have some observation decks where people can go to observe wildlife and take photos.”