Low-water levels are a concern across the Ozarks after the deaths of 2 fishermen

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 5:12 PM CDT
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TECUMSEH, Mo. (KY3) - After search crews recovered the body of the second missing fisherman on Saturday, the Tecumseh Access on Norfork Lake has been less busy than usual once reopening.

Fishermen and others familiar with the launch point say extremely low-water levels have exposed several hazardous obstacles around the launch, causing many to put in and fish downstream.

Investigators with the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office say the boat capsized around 3:30 a.m. Friday after it hit an object in the water. That caused the boat to take on water. A fisherman found him alone on the bank around 8:30 a.m. Searchers say fisherman Shannon Newton survived the capsizing. Micheal Dunlap, 32, of Norwood, and Robert Smith, 60, of Drury died in the tragedy.

Fishermen in the area Monday say low water levels can be extremely hazardous this time of year.

“Right now it’s low, you look and you’ll see sand bars down that way, and especially down that way,” said Troy Pinnon, who has fished along the Norfork for over 30 years. “Then after lots of rain, there will be logs and stuff floatin’ around.”

”The launch and ramp, the water is so low we could use some more water,” said Shannon County resident Kenny Bland. “We don’t know what they’re going to do about it, but something needs to be done.”

Officials with Arkansas Game and Fish say lake levels may not appear low in several places, but some of the areas known to be a problem can be severely low given limited rainfall in recent weeks.

”I was shocked that somebody would be going fast enough to do something like that, that late at night, especially if they knew the river,” said Pinnon.

Several say they’re fearful to launch near Tecumseh with current conditions.

”Use your sonar so you know how deep the water is and just be careful,” said Pinnon.

Tim Burnley with the Arkansas Game and Fish says if you’re traveling on unfamiliar waterways use extreme caution and is best to travel with another person to assist.

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