Columbia lakes will open earlier for morning anglers

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission approved a recommendation for lakes to open earlier for prime fishing time Thursday evening. 

Phillips Lake, which at 40 acres is the biggest lake in Columbia, opened at 6 a.m., which some fishermen said they did not like since most fishing action happens around 4 a.m. 

"I have noticed that the fish like to bite a little earlier than 6 a.m., and so I think it will be a good thing," said Columbia resident William Jessop.

Only seven lakes in Columbia will open at 4 a.m.; American Legion, Antimi, Nifong, Twin, Cosmo-Bethel, Stephen's and Phillips Lake. These lakes are all stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation and will also be patrolled by its agents. 

Some members of the commission wanted only to approve one or two parks for these recommendations, but Director Mike Griggs said the MDC would not approve of that. 

"The MDC wants us to do this all the way or not do it at all because agents don't want to try and remember which lakes are fishable that early in the morning," Griggs said. 

Hiring someone else to patrol the parks was also a concern for members, but Griggs had a solution of just reorganizing the already two over-night rangers routes. 

Parks will still be closed during the new early morning hours, so fishermen must distinguish themselves from park goers by having a pole in the water and a permit. The lakes will be open to people ages 16-64, and be patrolled by both the MDC and Columbia Park Rangers. 

"We only want people with a line and a pole and a permit," Griggs said. "If they don't have that we don't want them in there that early."

There is no set date for when lakes will start opening earlier.