BANNER ELK, N.C. (Aug. 22, 2013) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, in partnership with Grandfather Mountain Home for Children and Edgar Tufts Memorial Association, is bringing more fishing opportunities to anglers of all abilities with the recent construction of a universally accessible, floating fishing pier on Wildcat Lake in Avery County.
The pier, which was completed in May, is 59-feet long with a 48-foot wide T-section at the end. Benches and alternating high and low handrails with bait shelves on the fishing pier help accommodate children and anglers in wheelchairs. In addition to the pier, staff created a paved path from the parking lot to the pier and erected a kiosk that provides information on fishing regulations, such as size and creel limits, as well as information about the lake’s fisheries.
Wildcat Lake is part of the Commission’s Public Mountain Trout Waters program and is operated as a hatchery-supported trout water, which means that it closed to trout fishing in March and has a seven-fish creel limit with no minimum size limit the rest of the year. Commission staff stocks 6,500 brook, brown and rainbow trout in the lake from March to July. In addition to the annual trout stockings, the Commission stocked largemouth bass and bluegill in the 14-acre pond in 2010.
Wildcat Lake is located in the heart of Banner Elk, on the campus of Grandfather Mountain Home for Children. The lake’s popularity as a tourist destination made it a good candidate for a Commission-managed public fishing area, according to Commission Fisheries Biologist Chris Wood.
“The Wildlife Commission develops free public fishing areas around the state to increase fishing opportunities,” Wood said. “At many of our PFAs, we’ve cleared banks of underbrush, built universally accessible fishing piers, created gravel or paved parking lots and installed fish attractors.”
The Commission provided the pier, fish attractors and concrete for the path from the parking area to the pier with money from the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which utilizes state fishing license money and funds generated from taxes on fishing tackle and other fishing-related expenditures. Grandfather Mountain Home for Children staff provided all of the grading, forming, and installation of the handrails.
In addition to improving fishing access on Wildcat Lake, Commission staff this spring constructed universally accessible fishing piers on two nearby public fishing areas — Broughton Pond Public Fishing Area in Burke County and Dallas Park’s large pond in Gaston County.
For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, including an interactive map of more than 500 public fishing access areas throughout the state, visit the fishing page. For a list of all boating access areas open to the public in North Carolina, visit the boating page.
a high-resolution version of the photo above. Please credit Jim Swinkola.