The 27-acre Discovery Lake, the centerpiece of NIEHS campus, provides habitat for various aquatic plant and animal species. The fishing policy must be followed to allow outdoor enjoyment while minimizing environmental impact. The NIEHS Operations and Security Branch (OSB) supervises the use of the lake while the Site Ecology Team reviews policy and monitors ecosystem health.

Lake Visitors/Users

NIEHS and EPA employees, on-site contract staff, and guests may fish Discovery Lake. Employees and contract staff must accompany their guests at all times. A fishing party consists of an employee or contract staff along with their guest.


All members of the fishing party must check in at the NIEHS Security reception desk in the Building 101 lobby and be issued a Discovery Lake fishing permit badge. Any person who is 16 years of age and above must also have a valid NC Fishing License. Exception: Residents with a valid Unified Subsistence Fishing License Waiver are exempt from the fishing license requirement. Also, a license is not required to fish on July 4. Discovery Lake fishing badges must be returned before leaving campus. Fish catches must also be recorded at this time.


Swimming is not allowed in the lake. Feeding of fish and wildlife is prohibited. Pets, smoking, drugs, firearms, alcoholic beverages, and open fires are also prohibited.

Access Hours

Daylight hours only, weekdays 5:00 p.m. until dusk; weekends & holidays dawn until dusk.

Number/Size Limits

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has temporarily suspended fishing restrictions to allow unlimited collection of all fish species from Discovery Lake. This action is an effort to remove as many fish as possible prior to lake draining for the Discovery Lake Dam repair project.

Types of Fish

The "triploid" carp are a non-reproducing strain introduced to control algae and aquatic vegetation, while the "hybrid" striped bass, which are also sterile, were introduced to help manage smaller fish species. Below are pictures of all fish varieties stocked in Discovery Lake.


Triploid Grass Carp
Triploid Grass Carp

Striped Bass
Hybrid Striped Bass

Channel Catfish
Channel Catfish

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass


Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)



Rod and Reel, or cane pole only (one per person). Capture netting and stunning methods are not allowed. No unattended fishing devices. (Note: "unattended" means traps, trot lines, jug rigs, etc.)


  • Crickets, worms and artificial bait are allowed.
  • The use of live minnows or any other non-resident fish species as bait is prohibited. Fish caught at off-site locations cannot be released into Discovery Lake.


Only boats which can be hand-carried to the lake are permitted. No gasoline engines are permitted; however, electric motors are allowed. Boats must comply with all North Carolina and Federal boating regulations. U. S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) must be worn by each person aboard.


NIEHS Security and Access Policies apply to all visitors to the lake. Cars can be temporarily moved to the boat launching points for unloading and loading boats, but then must be properly parked. Any parking lot can be used, but vehicles must not leave the road or paved parking areas.


Discovery Lake is a haven to many species of wildlife. Nesting waterfowl are a common sight at the lake's edge. Please give wide berth to any nests or creatures which appear to have staked out a territory. Curb your curiosity and observe from a safe distance.


Use the lake at your own risk. To report emergencies, use an emergency phone or call 919-541-2800 using a cell phone. Emergency phones provide a direct link with NIEHS Security and are located on the NIEHS side of the lake.


Violators of any fishing policies will have their fishing and/or boating privileges suspended. Please report fishing violations to NIEHS Security at 984-287-4500.


Policy Information & Enforcement:

Bill Steinmetz
Environmental Compliance Officer
Tel 984-287-3396
[email protected]
Don Jackowski
Security Manager
Tel 984-287-4370
[email protected]
Brian W. Harris
Project Officer
Tel 984-287-4380
[email protected]
NIEHS Security Emergency Line
919-541-2800 from a cell phone or 911 from an NIEHS office (VoIP) phone