Cape County Park South Lake to be renovated, MDC invites public to collect fish

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation invite the public to collect fish from the lake at Cape County Park South. Work began this week to renovate the lake as part of Cape Girardeau County’s Community Assistance Program (CAP) agreement with MDC to improve fishing opportunities at the park. MDC anticipates shallow water to dry conditions at the lake while it’s drained several feet for the renovations, which could cause a fish kill. By inviting the public to collect fish, biologists hope to avoid a fish kill and encourage harvest of the fish.

“I’m hopeful the public will come out and collect as many fish as possible for several reasons,” said Jason Crites, a MDC Fisheries Management Biologist. “First, we want to be sure the resource is used. Second, I’m anticipating restocking the lake when renovations are completed, and if the current adult fish remain, they may eat some of the juvenile fish that we stock later.”

This fish salvage effort is allowed for in Rule 3CSR10-4.110 of the Wildlife Code of Missouri with following special conditions: The permit is valid only for South County Park Lake within the South County Park until Sep. 15. All County Park rules and regulations as well as City ordinances still apply. During the timeframe of this special permit period, all species of fish may be taken and there are no daily creel limits for this lake. Participants may use standard fishing methods as well as all types of nets including trammel, gill, hoop, dip nets, and seines. No bow fishing, spearfishing or any other projectile may be used. Participants must possess a valid Missouri fishing permit. No boats or swimming is allowed. Rules of the county park apply.

“The lake won’t be completely drained, but it will be drawn down to a point where the basin of the lake can be sculpted,” Crites said. “This will reduce the water space allowed for the fish, consolidating all of the fish to a limited area and reducing available oxygen, so we hope the public will come out and collect these fish, to ensure they’re harvested and not wasted.”

The renovations may take around two years, Crites said, depending on weather. Improvements to the lake include: the construction of jetties to increase shoreline access for anglers, sculping the basin to increase depth diversities and improve fish habitat, adding a lighted walking path around the lake, an island with a gazebo, a new fishing dock and ADA compliant parking and pathways.

“All of these improvements will increase fishing opportunities and help people to engage in nature at the park,” Crites said.

When construction is complete, MDC will restock the lake with bass, bluegill, red ear sunfish, and channel catfish.

For more information on renovations at Cape County Park South Lake, contact MDC’s Southeast Regional Office at (573)290-5730 or Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation at (573)339-6340. To find nearby fishing opportunities, go online to