As a long-time fisherman, I always judge a lake on two things: fishability and scenery. I’ve fished in a number of different lakes around the state, and they all look the same: lots of water and lots of houses.
My favorite place to fish is the Canadian wilderness, because when you’re on the lake, it’s like being inside a room made of trees with the lake for the floor. You don’t get that experience in Indiana. When I fish on a Hoosier lake, it’s like being in the backyard of hundreds of houses. Wherever you look, you see where people live. There’s no sense of solitude and quiet that I get in Canadian lakes.
But there is one lake in Indiana that has that sense of solitude that I enjoy.
I had a chance to take my family to spend a night on a floating cabin courtesy of the Patoka Lake Marina in Birdseye, Indiana. My typical visits to southern Indiana were monthly business trips to Jasper, Bloomington, Nashville, and Corydon, with the occasional stop in Loogootee because I liked the name.
While I oohed and aahed with the best of them during those trips, I never stopped to consider what all is down in this part of the Hoosier state. If the only thing you know about southern Indiana is seen from I-65, you owe it to yourself to spend a few days exploring this part of the state. And if you’re a laker, make sure you spend time at Patoka Lake. You won’t see anything else like it in the state.
This trip was a great excuse for me to visit a part of the state I’ve rarely visited. I’ve only driven through the Hoosier National Forest once, so this was a nice treat. We made sure to take the longer, more scenic route to get to our destination, and we weren’t disappointed. The Hoosier National Forest is something you should spend a day in, just enjoying the scenery. I’m looking forward to taking a visit this fall.
The floating cabin is just that, a cabin built to float on the water. It’s basically like a big houseboat but without the engine. Our cabin was a spacious two bedroom/one bath cabin, complete with gas stove, full-sized refrigerator, TV and DVD/VCR combo. Plus, it had air conditioning! Try finding that in some of those 3-season cabins you can rent on — excuse me, near — other lakes. It was nice and cozy, and for anyone who enjoys simple living, especially on vacation, this is the ideal setup.
The cabin builders must have taken lessons from the RV builders in Northern Indiana, because they didn’t waste one inch of space. Everything was compact, efficient, and we realized there was a lot more space than we thought, given the attention to detail the builders had made.
We managed to sleep five people in the cabin, the girls in one room, my wife and I in another, and my son on the couch. And it wasn’t a tight fit, but rather nice and cozy. We made dinner with stuff we picked up at the Patoka Lake Station (that’s where you check in), and watched a DVD we brought from home.
At the Marina itself, my kids and I fed the carp that live under the docks. These are the tamest fish I’ve ever seen. They know that when people come to their spot, they’re going to get fed. You can buy fish pellets for 25 cents and then just drop them in and watch them eat. Some of these carp were huge, and looked like they weighed 7 – 10 pounds easily.
The next morning, I took the kids out on a pontoon for a quick spin around the Marina and part of the lake. Patoka Lake is plenty big though, and we were running short on time, so we didn’t get to see everything. But everywhere we went, it was nothing but green trees, no houses, and beautiful waters. I need to come back another time when I’ve got my fishing gear and lots more time.
Harvey Edwards, the proprietor of Patoka Lake Marina, told me they get close to 900,000 people at the lake over the summer, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a gorgeous lake, the people at the Marina are very friendly, and it’s a lot of fun.
A night in a 2-bedroom cabin is $199 during the regular season, $159 in the off-season. You can also stay in a 3-bedroom cabin for $279 in-season, and $199 in the off-season.
If you’re looking for a quiet getaway with a great water view, visit the Patoka Lake Marina and enjoy a few days on the water.