MATTHEWS, N.C. (Dec. 16, 2011) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently partnered with the Matthews Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resource Department to construct a new handicapped-accessible fishing pier at Squirrel Lake Park.
Personnel from Matthews and the Wildlife Commission constructed the floating, T-shaped pier on the lake this fall. The pier is 43 feet long with a 48-foot wide T-section at the end and incorporates low, angled handrail sections that allow easy access for children and anglers confined to wheelchairs.
To enhance fishing opportunities, Commission staff installed a fish feeder within casting distance of the new pier. Staff also stocks the lake with 400 catchable-sized channel catfish in April, June and September of each year, to supplement the existing bass and sunfish fisheries.
The fish stockings, pier and feeder are features of the Community Fishing Program, a cooperative venture between the Wildlife Resources Commission and local governments to improve fishing opportunities in city and county parks. The Commission paid 75 percent of the costs of the fishing pier, fish feeder, fish feed and catfish stockings through the Sport Fish Restoration program, while Matthews paid the remaining 25 percent.
“The Community Fishing Program allows parks to provide better fishing opportunities for visitors because they can stretch their budgets by cost-sharing things such as piers, fish feeders and monthly catfish stockings,” said Keith Hendrickson, fisheries technician with the Commission. “While it’s a win-win situation for park personnel and the Wildlife Commission, it’s the park visitors who benefit the most from these cost-sharing endeavors.”
The new pier is part of extensive renovations and improvements made throughout the park, which were completed recently.
“We are appreciative of the Wildlife Commission’s help in building this pier,” said Hazen Blodgett, Matthews town manager. “Staff with the Wildlife Commission worked closely with our staff to ensure that we have a premier pier.
“This amenity is very valuable to our residents and will be enjoyed by all. Before, people just fished from the banks of the pond and accessibility was difficult.”
Squirrel Lake Park, which is located at 1631 Pleasant Plains Road, has a playground area, picnic tables, grills, trails, a large picnic shelter and pavilion. Fishing is allowed year-round when the park is open, which is from dawn to dusk. Everyone age 16 and older must have a basic inland fishing license to fish Squirrel Lake.
For more information on Squirrel Lake Park, visit http://www.matthewsnc.com/.
For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit www.ncwildlife.org/fishing.