RALEIGH, N.C. (April 26, 2005)

Some day in the not-so-distant future, people may drive for hours just to go fishing in Fayetteville. While that may sound a bit far-fetched today, by as early as next summer, it could be a reality. Or at least that’s what officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission hope after they announced last month that the Commission will begin construction on a new state-of-the-art fishing education facility in Cumberland County this summer.

Named after Wildlife Commission Chairman and Fayetteville attorney John Pechmann, the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, located off Lake Rim Road, will provide anglers of all ages and abilities with opportunities to learn about fishing and aquatic ecology in a natural setting. The center will comprise a 4,800-square-foot building with a classroom and exhibit hall, a handicapped-accessible fishing structure and deck near the water, an educational pavilion and more than six acres of ponds teeming with a variety of popular gamefishes.

Artistic rendition of the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center provided by David Hall Associates, Inc. Architectural Illustrations, Raleigh, N.C.

“It will be the only facility of its type in North Carolina where kids and their families can come to learn more about fishing and aquatic resources in a fun, hands-on environment,” said Kristopher Smith, a fishing education and outreach coordinator for the Wildlife Commission. “Getting students involved and actually doing things, such as casting, knot tying and, of course, fishing, is the best way for them to learn and to stay interested.”

The center will offer a variety of aquatic programs designed to teach first-time and experienced anglers about North Carolina’s aquatic resources. Some classes will teach fundamental fishing skills, such as casting and selecting the right equipment. Advanced classes will cover topics such as fly-tying and fly-fishing. Most programs will be free.

“We will tailor the programs to appeal to a broad range of anglers, from those who have never picked up a rod and reel to others who have fished their entire lives,” Smith said. “While many of these programs will be geared toward kids, we will continue to work cooperatively with the Lake Rim Parks and Recreational Center to offer clinics that involve the entire family.”

Over the last several years, the Wildlife Commission and Lake Rim Parks and Recreation have co-hosted many family-oriented fishing events, such as Grandparents’ Fishing Day and Mother-Daughter Fishing Day. Their most popular event, the Greenwings Fishing Rodeo, routinely draws more than 1,500 kids and their families in September every year.

Once the center is completed, Smith expects the partnership to flourish. Both agencies will plan and conduct a variety of fishing events on a year-round basis, offering the public more opportunities to catch largemouth bass, channel catfish and sunfishes.

The two agencies will continue to bring unique angling challenges to anglers interested in catching fish not normally found in Fayetteville, such as rainbow and brook trout during the winter.

The new center is replacing the current facility — a former state fish hatchery that has little accessibility for disabled anglers and a makeshift classroom.

“By constructing this new building and handicapped-accessible structure, as well as creating more interactive fishing programs and events, the Wildlife Commission hopes to cultivate citizen interest and long-term participation in fishing,” Smith said.

While plans for the new educational complex were solidified in 2004, the complex was unnamed until last month, when the 19 wildlife commissioners voted unanimously to name the center in honor of Pechmann, a well-known conservationist and outdoor sports enthusiast.

“For as long as I’ve known him, John has been a staunch supporter of fisheries management, conservation and education,” said Richard Hamilton, executive director of the Wildlife Commission. “He has unfailingly directed Commission meetings, attended numerous public hearings on fishing and hunting regulations and spent many hours in the halls of the N.C. General Assembly supporting legislation that would improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats.

“We’re naming this complex in his honor to recognize his commitment and years of service to the Wildlife Commission, to fishing in North Carolina and to anglers across the state, who like him, have dedicated their lives to serving as responsible stewards of our state’s aquatic resources.”

For more information on the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, contact Smith at (910) 868-5003. For more information on freshwater fishing in North Carolina, visit the NCWildlife.org Fishing section.
NC Wildlife Resources Commission (http://www.ncwildlife.org) Used by permission.