Daily Limit: ‘Stress relief’ on the lake

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Mike Suchan
Shawn Jackson pulls up to the bank to go park his truck and trailer before going out for an afternoon of fishing on Arkansas' Lake Maumelle.

Seeking “a little stress relief,” Shawn Jackson launched his bass boat early Sunday afternoon on Lake Maumelle outside Little Rock, Ark., in hopes of leaning on some fish.

“I got an itch today to go wet a hook,” he said. “Hopefully, the bass are getting on the beds. I’m hoping they’re getting up shallow. The water was 64 degrees the other day, so it should be decent.”

Jackson, 44, had made the half-hour drive from his Bryant home just two days earlier. Considered an essential employee at Benton Utilities — “we keep the utilities going, so we don’t get a day off” — Jackson took his 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son out for a little fishing.

It was a day to get them out of the house as they suffered through a second week of being out of school. They have been keeping their social distance because of the pandemic coronavirus that has infected more than 1.4 million worldwide and killed more than 80,000.

“They’re not liking not getting to see their friends,” said Jackson, practicing Bassmaster’s initiative to Live Smart, Fish Smart. “Honestly, today is a little stress relief for me.”

A lot of others in the area had the same idea. The ramp at WestRock Landing had a waiting line at times, and the parking lot was full of vehicles and trailers. Most were bass fishing, but there were some families getting out in the sunny 65-degree temps on pontoon boats.

“I’ve been bass fishing ever since my dad brought me out here when I was probably 6 years old,” Jackson said. “I haven’t come back to this lake since then. This year I just started coming back to fish the tournaments.”

While he usually fishes Lake Ouachita and DeGray Lake, Maumelle “is just a little closer, a lot easier to get to.” Jackson and team partner Denis Gee competed in the first derby of the Lake Maumelle Bass League two weeks ago.

“I’m kind of wondering if our tournaments are going to get canceled out here,” he said.

Whether his day can be used as scouting for the next event or ends up being purely just for fun, Jackson appreciates that the facility was open. Some parks and boat ramps in the country are closed as a precaution.

“I worked at Ducks Unlimited for 11 years under wetlands conservation, so I got a pretty good understanding of our natural resources,” he said. “God gave them to us, to protect, enjoy their beauty and use them what they’re intended for.”

Jackson did note that Lake Maumelle is a primary water source for the city of Little Rock. Dammed in the late 1950s, the lake has 8,900 acres that are used by anglers and recreational boaters. There is no swimming allowed.

“Since I’m with the utilities department, I appreciate why this is here,” Jackson said. “It’s for drinking water, but we obviously get to come out and fish and have fun on it, but clean drinking water is a key to our existence, especially with the coronavirus going.”