Originally created 05/12/00

Wingates sell Lunker Lodge on Lake Seminole



BAINBRIDGE, Ga. -- Jack Wingate, who made Lake Seminole a bass fishing destination for thousands of fishermen, has sold his "Lunker Lodge" after operating it for nearly 45 years.

"I feel really good about it," said Wingate, who is nearing 71 years of age, during a telephone interview on Thursday. "You know, we've got 36 toilets on this place and every time one of them stopped up, I'd have to go fix it. Now I don't have to worry about it."

Wingate sold Lunker Lodge to Troy and Mark Barfield of Bainbridge. The Barfields are electrical contractors and are renovating the restaurant, campground, cabins, motel and boys camp to meet federal and state standards.

"We're giving the place a complete facelift," Barfield said in a Bainbridge Post Searchlight story. "We've already painted the outside of the restaurant, poured a new porch with handicapped access, added an extension to the store and restaurant and moved the drink boxes there. We're going to shut down for three days sometime this month and take all of the equipment from the restaurant for cleaning and refurbishing and put a new floor in the kitchen area."

Wingate, named a legendary guide by the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame a few years ago, lives in a home adjacent to the site and isn't going anywhere.

"I'm staying on for another five years to do what I do best and that's to sit in a rocking chair and talk," Wingate said. "I'll be handling the public relations end of it."

Visiting fishermen and outdoor writers were treated like family by Wingate and his wife, Joyce, and the former owner believes the Barfields will continue that tradition.

Wingate got up early Thursday and went fishing. He didn't catch anything, "but I went!"