The Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority, citing budgetary issues, decided not to open Randleman Dam Reservoir on the scheduled March 1 date, and will instead wait until April 1.

The lake, which covers 3,007 acres on the Guilford-Randolph county line, opened for public use on March 1. 2010. PTRWA authorities only made the announcement of this delayed opening on Feb. 24.

Darrell Frye, a PTRWA official, indicated fishing isn't a prime motivation for keeping the lake open. He called fishing an "option" the lake's governing body "wants to do as economically feasible as possible."

Yet many are puzzled why PTRWA would keep the lake closed during one of its potentially highest-use months. Anglers clearly are chomping at the bit to get on the lake and sample its fabulous largemouth bass fishing, plus fishing for crappie, bluegills and catfish.

But Frye said that in March 2010, the lake averaged 40 boats per day. The PTRWA said it must average 65 boats per day to pay for its operation, but lake rules permit only 100 boats on its surface at one time.

Frye said as 2010 progressed, "I guess weather, vacation and other things declined the average," noting that closing the lake during March 2011 was the best option, instead of reducing summer hours.

But spring is typically the busiest season for fishermen on most North Carolina lakes, drawn by the spawning season when many popular fish move into shallow water and are more accessible to anglers.

"(This decision) is almost as if NASCAR called off the Daytona 500 because it comes too early in the racing year," another fisherman said. "It makes no sense."

When the lakes first opened to the public last spring, it drew tremendous interest from fishermen. On opening morning, some fishermen camped out al night to be at the entrance to the lake's main marina on Adams Farm Rd., just of US 220, a mile north of Randleman and 20 miles south of Greensboro.

The line of boats waiting to launch stretched approximately one-half mile. Boats often lined up to get to the marina throughout the spring and summer.

In March 2010, 877 boats used the lake, an average of 41.22 per day, except on Mondays and Tuesdays, when it is closed. The average rose to 82.14 boats per day in April and 78.04 in May.

"Sometimes, we waived the 100-boat regulation when we had lots of boats last year," said Doug Nixon, the lake warden.

With launch fees at $15 per bass boat (containing three people) and $5 for each additional person, plus $6 for sailboats and electric-powered boats, $4 for canoes, kayaks and paddleboats and $2 per day for pier anglers, Randleman Dam averaged between $1,800 to $2,000 per month in fishing fees in March and almost double that amount in April and May 2010.

Once word leaked out about the lake's outstanding fishing, especially for largemouth bass, Randleman Dam was flooded with users. However, the tremendous number of boats launched turned the gravel driveway leading from the parking lot to the ramp into fine rock particles. When boaters drove back and forth, they raised clouds of dust, Nixon said.

"We probably lost some business because we didn't correct the dust problem," Nixon said. "Several bass anglers told us they wouldn't return because of dust."

PTRWA ultimately decided not to pave the 300-yard-long section of driveway leading to the launch ramps.

Nixon and assistant lake warden Randy Howard are paid by the PTRWA, but part-time help when the lake is open is paid from launch fees. Gasoline used in the lake warden's boat and other equipment also is paid for by launch fees.

Nixon said the idea of opening the lake only on weekends during March 2011 wasn't discussed, to his knowledge.

Attempts to reach John Kime, executive director of the PTRWA, to discuss reasons behind the decision to not open Randleman Dam Lake until April 1 weren't successful. Kime did not return telephone calls.

One official of the PTRWA, who did not wish to be named, said weather concerns also was a reason the lake would not open to fishermen in March.

The official said a snowstorm the day after the lake opened last March closed the lake for two days. He said some PTRWA officials have said they feared a repeat snowstorm in March 2011.

The lake will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during April, then 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 1-Aug. 31, then 7 a.m.-7 p.m. from Sept. 1-Oct. 31, then 8 a.m.-5 p.m. during November. It will be closed from Dec. 1, 2011 until April 1, 2012, unless regulations change. 

The lake also will be open Easter Monday (April 24), May 30 (Memorial Day), July 4-5 and Labor Day (Sept. 5).

Construction started on Randleman Dam Reservoir, first proposed in 1937 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in 2001 after the Corps withdrew its application to build the impoundment. Funding came from Greensboro, High Point and Randleman, plus federal money. The dam was completed in 2004 to provide water to those municipalities.