Collaboration sparks innovation for two Cape County lakes

Collaboration sparks innovation for two Cape County lakes
Published: Mar. 2, 2018 at 3:23 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 7:40 PM CST
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A fisherman catches a large mouth bass Friday while at Lake at Cape County North Park. The lake...
A fisherman catches a large mouth bass Friday while at Lake at Cape County North Park. The lake and the one at the at the South Cape County Park will see improvements from a new collaboration later this year.

(KFVS) - A new collaboration between Cape Girardeau County Parks and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is generating ideas for two local lakes that they want to turn into a fishing paradise.

The agreement will apply to lakes at Cape County Park North and South and uses the conservation department's Community Assistance Program, which started in 1980.

"CAP is designed to provide quality close to home fishing in primarily urban settings," said fish biologist Mike Reed with the Southeast Region of MDC. "We're able to come in and actually manage these fisheries to the best of our ability to provide a quality fishing opportunity."

Reed said one of their major goals is to is to improve the overall fish population.

"We'll do routine fish surveys to see what we have, see what we can do to make it better, or maintain a high-quality fishery depending what the case is."

The conservation department is looking at restocking the two lakes with channel catfish and red ear sunfish, but before that Reed says they will drain the South Park Lake to do some habitat improvements.

"Maybe doing some dredging, creating some habitat types, bringing in rocks for spawning substrate, fish attractors, things of that nature," Reed said. "In the North County Park, we've already begun some of that activity by installing habitat structures."

The Cape County Parks superintendent Bryan Sander says that MDC will be in charge of enforcing of wildlife and area use regulations as well as provide raw materials, while his department will use their labor to develop the new facilities and maintain the properties.

"The Missouri Department of Conservation is footing the bill for the majority of the improvements," Sander said. "Where the county is coming in is to do the work."

Sander added that there will be other general improvements around the lakes that are geared toward everyone and not just anglers.

"In the south park lake, we're hoping to put in a lighted walking trail around the lake, with also some fishing jetties and a gazebo built to replace the aging fishing pier on the north side of the lake."

Sander believes the projects will supplement what the two county parks already have to offer.

"We recently opened Levi's Adventure Trail and we have Melaina's Magical Playland here in the north park," Sander said. "We get a lot of schools coming in for field trips and we just thought this is one more way, one more thing to bring in and provide for the community."

Between the two lakes is a kid's only fishing pond that is run the MDC Nature Center near the North County Park. Reed suggests families go there as a great place to get a feel for the sport before investing money into your own gear.

"At the Nature Center we provide fishing tackle, fishing rods, and bait," Reed said. "We've got instruction there, so folks that are maybe new to the sport or have interest but are maybe not experienced don't have to let that slow them down. We'd be happy to show them a little bit about fishing."

Organizers are hoping to confirm their plans for the two county lakes by June 1st when they know how much funding will be available, but anticipate starting the renovations in midsummer when it's dry.

For more information about CAP agreements, contact MDC's Southeast Regional Office at (573) 290-5730.

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