Community fishing day set at city park

First Posted: 4/30/2009

A community fishing day extravaganza is planned later this month at the restored Tumbling Rock Reservoir at Westwood Park in Mount Airy, a first-of-its-kind facility.
We think it is actually the first public still-water fishing area (locally), said Darren Lewis, assistant director of the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department, which is spearheading the Fishstock 2009 activities.
Scheduled May 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the event open to all ages will allow the public to fish for free at Westwood Parks newly stocked pond, climaxing years of planning to restore a 1920s-era city reservoir for new uses.
In addition to launching the first serious fishing at the facility off Galax Trail, the upcoming event will include music by two groups, concessions provided by Boy Scout Troop 556, prizes and simply a peaceful day in a scenic setting.
Being located inside one of the city parks is a huge benefit for citizens, said Lewis. The fishing opportunity has been developed with assistance from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission under a state program designed to provide public angling opportunities in urban communities.
City recreation officials are urging church youth groups and other organizations to take advantage of the special event.
One of the highlights of Fishstock 2009 will be a youth fishing derby from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., sponsored by a local business, Opies Candy Store. The Wildlife Resources Commission will drop 500 additional catfish into the pond the day before to aid the derby, Lewis said.
While admission and the fishing will be free at Fishstock 2009, anglers older than 16 should have a valid North Carolina fishing license.
Even poles and bait can be provided to residents lacking them by calling Reeves Community Center at 786-8313. The center has a limited quantity of loaners that the public can reserve.
From 2 to 3 p.m., music will be provided by the group Peace of Mind, with Midlife Crisis slated to perform from 3 to 5 p.m.
Participants also will be able to enjoy other amenities at the park, including a disc golf course and walking trails.
The fish stocking began at Westwood Park in 2007 as part of a meticulous process that has involved injecting different species at strategic times to allow each to reach maturity.
Those steps began in late 2007 with the stocking of 1,200 standard bluegills, a type of sunfish also known as brim. Then in the summer of 2008, largemouth bass were added, followed by red-eared sunfish, or crackers, last fall, with the introduction of catfish delayed until this year.
Conditions including food availability have been carefully balanced in order to prevent one species from becoming overpopulated and to allow a permanent fish population to be established in the pond.
The development of the old reservoir and surrounding facilities has been part of a recent major facelift at Westwood Park, which opened in the 1980s.
In addition to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Mount Airy developed the fishing site with funding and other assistance from a number of entities.
They include the state Clean Water Management Trust Fund, North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, The Resource Institute, Pilot View Resource Conservation and Development, Surry Soil and Water Conservation, North State Environmental Inc. and Adams-Heath Engineering Inc.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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