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Your Environment. Your Health.

Fishing at Discovery Lake

NIEHS and EPA personnel, contractors, their families, and guests are welcome; however, in accordance with NIEHS Security Policy, government employees and onsite contractors must accompany their fishing parties.

Protected Fish

Discovery Lake's "Triploid" Carp and "Hybrid" Striped Bass are protected.

NIEHS Operations and Security Branch is responsible for supervising the use of Discovery Lake. Removal of "triploid" carp or "hybrid" striped bass from the lake is prohibited.

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. Violators will lose their fishing privileges.

Other fish species are there for the taking as long as lake rules are observed.

Below are pictures of all the varieties you might encounter in Discovery Lake.

Prohibited Varieties

Triploid Grass Carp
Triploid Grass Carp

Striped Bass
Hybrid Striped Bass

Others that can be taken within specified size limits

Channel Catfish
Channel Catfish

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass


Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)

Registration & Recordkeeping

All members of the fishing party must check in at 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 4th. Discovery Lake fishing badges must be returned before leaving campus. Fish catches must also be recorded at this time.

Sample Sign-in Sheet (42KB)

Number Limits

  • 5 Large-mouth Bass of legal size (see below) per person per day
  • 2 Channel Catfish of legal size per person per day
  • 25 pan-fish (Bluegills, Sunfish) may be taken per day
  • Fish identification pictures are posted at NIEHS Security office

Size Limits

  • Largemouth Bass: 14 inches or greater in length, except two of the five may be less than 14 inches
  • Catfish: 14 inches or greater in length
  • Pan-fish: No limit

Undersized fish and protected fish should be handled gently, the hook removed with as little injury as possible, and the fish returned to the water as quickly as possible. Do not put these fish on stringers.

The total length of a fish is measured from tip of snout with mouth closed to top of compressed tail.


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
  • Live minnows or any other non-resident fish species may not be used as bait or 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 regulations for safe equipment and registration markings. U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs)  must be worn by each person aboard.

Boats may be launched from the NIEHS Campus near A-Module, at the D-Module picnic area, and by the MRI Building. The water point near the northeast corner of Discovery Lake serves as the boat launch for the EPA Campus.


Violators will have their fishing and/or boating privileges suspended or taken away. First offense will result in a 30-day suspension. Two-time offenders lose all fishing privileges for the remaining calendar year. NIEHS/EPA personnel and contractors are responsible for their family and/or guests. Violations by family and/or guests result in a suspension or removal of fishing and/or boating privileges for both the violator and the host.

Please report fishing violations to NIEHS Security at 919-541-7515.


Policy Information & Enforcement:

NIEHS Security Office
Telephone: 919-541-7515

NIEHS Operations & Security Branch:

Don Jackowski
Security Manager
Tel 984-287-4370

NIH Office of Research Facilities:

Brian W. Harris
Project Officer
Tel 984-287-4380
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