Stephen F. Austin State University

Peek into Panola (May 2014)

Peek into Panola
By Vina Lee

A silver pickup straddles pine cones and honeysuckle vines stopping in the vacant drive next door. A man and woman get out surveying the cabin and narrow lot.

Al McDow lived in the fishing cabin next door when we moved to East Texas twenty years ago. We first met him as he sauntered into the back yard with his day's catch of catfish and bass. Amazed at the size of the fish, we exclaimed, "Where'd you catch these fish!"

He twisted his face in a fanciful sort of way replying in a thick Texas drawl, "Well," he stuck his finger into his cheek, "about right here!"

He came to Lake Maurvaul every week from Wednesday through Saturday, then drove home in the evening for church in Shreveport. At first, we came home from work watching for the 83 year old to guide his turquoise bass boat into the boathouse and trudge the wooden pier to his cleaning station in the back yard. I would send my husband, Bob over with a plate of dinner for him. Eventually, we just waited for him to come in and clean his catch, then invite him to eat with us...and he did.

Mr. McDow said he and his wife bought the first lot sold on Lake Maurvaul. It was all timber and they came out, camped in a tent and fished, cleared the lot and eventually built a cabin.

Lake Murvaul has an excellent and highly utilized largemouth bass fishery. The reservoir received national recognition in the 1960's for its trophy bass production and continues to produce bass over 8 lbs.

During the late 1990's, a supplemental stocking program was conducted to increase the Florida bass genotype in the population and harvest regulations were modified to protect intermediate-size bass and increase fishing quality.

Channel catfish are abundant providing excellent fishing opportunities for anglers. Quality-size crappie are present with best fishing success in winter and spring. Sunfish (bluegill and red ear) are present in good numbers with high numbers of 6-inch fish available for harvest.

Al McDow became part of our family and his wife, Gracie was an elegant southern lady who didn't like to fish, but came with him to the lake occasionally. Al's first wife had died years ago and he remarried, but his first wife camped with him, worked with him on the land and fished with him. Yes, he still missed her. They had married while he was in the US Navy and were partners in everything. Al died about ten years ago.

Today, a new neighbor is pruning the oaks and saplings, planting red roses in the front yard and readying the cabin for summer as Lake Maurval takes on a fresh face lakeside off 1971.