The Tri-State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to Herald-Dispatch.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

A large crowd is gathered on the dock surrounding the Beech Fork Lake Marina. Teenage boys are feeding the massive school of carp gathered at the dock. The water is so thick with fish, the ducks are able to walk on the fish and snatch the food the boys are throwing into the water.

Frantic adults are busy on their cell phones talking loudly enough that a stranger understands that someone in their party is lost and trying to find their way to the lake.

The parking lot has a row of about a half dozen cars all with Pennsylvania license plates. A final vehicle with Pennsylvania tags joins the lot and four teenagers pile out followed by a frazzled-looking adult.

A major youth soccer tournament is happening in Barboursville and these people are taking advantage of their day off to enjoy a day at the lake.

It's frantic, but marina manager Heath Wooten is calm as the group steps aboard their rented pontoon boats.

"It's been a little bit busier with the soccer tournament going on," Wooten says.

The group from Pennsylvania were renting pontoons, but that's not the only watercraft the marina offers to rent.

"We rent Tracker bass boats," Wooten says. "We rent fishing boats, which are Jon boats, along with canoes, kayaks and pontoons."

If someone went to Beech Fork with nothing, the marina could outfit them with everything they would need to start fishing, from licenses to live bait.

Wooten said people visiting the lake for the first time find it remarkable.

"We have people come in from out of town and they brag on how beautiful our hills are," Wooten says. "They may be from somewhere like Arizona where it's a little more arid and they love the water and the trees and how beautiful the lake is. People love it out here."

It seems the carp are the stars of the show around the marina.

"Everyone comments on the fish," Wooten says. "Everyone loves to come out here and feed the fish."

There is so much to see and do at Beech Fork.

"People come down and take advantage of the hiking trails," Wooten says. "People rent shelters for events. We'll have people who will rent a boat from us and they'll be having a family reunion or something like that in one of the shelters and they will give boat rides back and forth all day in the lake."

As the group from Pennsylvania floats off on the lake, a peace descends upon the marina once again. It's perfect for little Devonte Stevens, who is looking suspiciously at the stranger talking to his aunt and uncle, Jeremiah and Ashley Abbott.

All are from Barboursville, and today's visit has been the first one in a long time.

"It's been many years," Jeremiah says.

"Seven or eight years," Ashley adds.

For the Abbotts, there's magic in the hills around the lake.

"(For us) it's the landscape and the hills," Jeremiah says. "We love coming out here and we hadn't been able to do it in a long time. And, of course, now we have our nephew for a little while. We wanted him to be able to experience it like we used to when we were growing up."

"There are so many good memories as kids for us out here," Ashley says.

As little Devonte looks at the fish and takes off after a duck with Ashley quickly following, the most important question of the day is asked: Is uncle Jeremiah going to get him a fishing rod?

"Yeah. Oh, yeah. Sooner or later, it's coming," Jeremiah says with a laugh. "It won't be long. I mean, he's only 2 now so it's getting to be about time. He's going to learn."


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Recommended for you