It’s unclear whether the bass and panfish would agree, but anglers coming to Lake James State Park have something to cheer about – a new, fully-accessible fishing pier which opened this week at the park’s new Paddy’s Creek Area.
The 60-foot-long structure was a joint effort of the state parks system and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and provides much-needed pedestrian fishing access on the Burke County side of the 6,812-acre lake.
“This is an excellent example of two state agencies working together to provide a new recreation opportunity for people in North Carolina during a challenging time of funding shortfalls,” said Park Superintendent Sean McElhone. “The wildlife agency came to us with the materials and manpower to put in this handicapped accessible fishing pier. To us, it was a no-brainer.”
The state park opened its new Paddy’s Creek Area in September 2010, which initially included a large swim beach, bathhouse and picnic areas. It marked the initial development on a 3,000-acre tract purchased from Crescent Resources Inc. in 2004. The access area on the lake’s north shore is becoming the epicenter for the only public park on the reservoir. The new pier is just west of the bathhouse and near a new trailhead.
Planning for the project began about three years ago. The wildlife agency’s Division of Inland Fisheries was instrumental in launching the idea, using funds from the federal Sport Fish Restoration Act. The structure was actually built in sections and floated into place by park maintenance mechanics, rangers and Wildlife Resources Commission staff. The finishing touch will be a pair of fish attractors to be sunk into the lake within easy casting distance of the pier.
The location itself should be a natural fish attractor, said park rangers, as the currents of Paddy’s Creek and a smaller tributary intersect nearby and contribute to good habitat.
The structure conforms to the Americans With Disabilities Act, as does a hard-surface pathway leading from the parking area. The state parks system has plans to pave the short trail section to improve accessibility.