Fishing derby lets residents test waters at Philips Park dedication

Thursday, May 19, 2011 | 9:23 p.m. CDT; updated 4:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 21, 2011

COLUMBIA — Whether you’re an avid fisher or just a beginner, the newly developed Philips Park Lake is fully stocked and ready for its opening debut.

The Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation has planned a dedication ceremony at A. Perry Philips Park, 5050 Bristol Lake Parkway, on Saturday morning. As part of the dedication, Parks and Recreation, along with the Missouri Department of Conservation, will be hosting a fishing derby.

Craig Gemming, a fisheries biologist for the Conservation Department, said the fishing derby is a good way to promote the park’s 40-acre lake.

“It’s a new lake, so we’re just trying to make Columbia and Boone County residents aware of the fishing available to them,” Gemming said.

The fishing derby is free and open to all ages.

The event will begin with registration and check in at 9 a.m. The dedication will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the fishing derby is scheduled to begin immediately following the ceremony until 11:30 a.m.

Although the pre-registration deadline has passed, participants can register in person Saturday.

Prizes will be awarded for the first fish caught and the longest and shortest fish in each age category: 10 and under and 11 and older.

Courtney Deters, a city recreation specialist, said winners will receive a gift card to Bass Pro Shop and a medal.

Gemming said Philips Lake is stocked with a variety of fish and the participants can look forward to some fun fishing.

“There are lots of bass, bluegill and channel catfish,” Gemming said. “The bass are a pretty easy catch so it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s catch-and-release during the tournament, but people can come back and harvest the fish according to statewide regulations if they want.”

Gemming also said it is important for participants between ages 16 and 64 to bring a valid Missouri fishing license. “Anyone who fishes in public waters needs a fishing license,” he said.

Since the lake opened to the public in 2008, the park has undergone several developments.

Mike Griggs, park services manager, said that the city had a budget of $407,000 for the first phase of projects at Philips Park including a $157,000 grant from the conservation department.

“The grant was primarily used to open up the fishing lake, as well as put in a boat ramp, fishing dock and boat,” Griggs said.

Griggs said the department has plans for additional amenities at the park.

“One of our plans would be to create a large flat area that would be multi-use that could be used for different sports like soccer, lacrosse, football and rugby,” Griggs said, as well as balloon launches and other special events.

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