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RALEIGH, N.C. (June 27) – While Raleigh may be growing by leaps and bounds, there are still a few quiet places where people can cast a line, kick back and wait for something to bite.

One such place re-opened on June 16. Lake Raleigh, which had been closed to the public since a breached dam drained the lake in 1996, officially opened after a kids’ fishing event and pier dedication ceremony were held earlier in the day to commemorate the re-opening.

The lake, owned by North Carolina State University and located on its Centennial Campus, is the latest addition to the more than 50 public fishing areas the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission maintains across the state. As a new public fishing area, Lake Raleigh has accessible piers, cleared banks, cut-and-cabled trees and a paved parking lot.

The lake’s two wooden, floating piers, boat ramp and dock provide accessibility for anglers of all abilities. A wildlife-viewing pier extends 26 feet from the shore with a 48-foot T-structure at the end, while a fishing pier extends 48 feet from the shore ending with a 32-foot long T-structure and low, angled handrail sections that provide easy access for fishermen confined to wheelchairs.

The boat ramp and dock can be used to launch non-powered watercraft, including canoes, kayaks and car-top john boats. Motorized watercraft, including boats with electric trolling motors, and boats on trailers are not allowed.

In early June, Commission staff cleared the banks of underbrush, trimmed low-hanging branches from shoreline trees and cut and cabled trees along the banks to enhance fishing opportunities near the piers and ramp.

A universally accessible parking area has space for seven vehicles and provides access to all portions of the site. Additional parking is available behind the Partners I building, located on the corner of Main Campus Drive and Research Drive. A parking permit, which can be obtained at the visitors’ booth on Varsity Drive near the Avent Ferry Drive entry to Centennial Campus, is required during normal business hours.

“In keeping with the Commission’s environmentally friendly building located about ¼ mile down the road from the lake, the parking area and sidewalks are paved with pervious concrete,” said Tom Covington, Construction and Capital Projects section chief with the Commission’s Division of Engineering Services, who oversaw construction of the project. “This porous substance stores and filters rainfall and untreated runoff, allowing it to seep into the ground, rather than flow into the water.”

More than 70 children spent the morning of June 16 casting for bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish at the free fishing event, which was sponsored by N.C. State University and the Commission.

Mayor Charles Meeker, along with representatives from the Commission and the university, attended the pier dedication ceremony and spoke about the importance of the lake as an opportunity for city residents and the campus community, especially the young, elderly and physically challenged, to enjoy the pleasures and benefits associated with fishing and the outdoor experience.

As indicated by the catch during the kids’ fishing event, a variety of fish — from nice-sized largemouth bass to pan-sized bluegill — inhabit the lake. N.C. State University students sampled the 90-acre lake in July 2006 and found 17 different fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black and white crappie, warmouth, gizzard shad, threadfin shad, golden shiners, bullheads, channel catfish and white catfish.

Anglers, whether they’re fishing the piers and the adjoining banks or from boats, most likely will catch bluegill, the dominant fish species students found when sampling the lake as well as the majority of the fish the children reeled in during the fishing event.

However, largemouth bass populations are good with biologists finding mostly larger fish in the 14- to 20-inch range.

The lake is open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, and state harvest regulations apply: no limit on crappie, bluegill and other sunfish; a 5-fish-per-day creel limit on largemouth bass 14 inches and longer, except that two may be less than 14 inches. Anglers ages 16 and over must have an inland fishing license.

In addition to providing fishing and non-motorized boating opportunities, Lake Raleigh, along with its surrounding wetlands, will be used by the university and the Commission for fisheries research and management, as well as education and outreach programming.

For more information on Lake Raleigh access and user guidelines, call the university’s Centennial Campus Development Office at (919) 513-7961.

For more information on Centennial Campus, visit http://centennial.ncsu.edu/.

For more information on fishing in North Carolina’s public, inland waters, visit www.ncwildlife.org or call the Commission’s Division of Inland Fisheries, (919) 707-0220.
 
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