Fish are now for keeps at Walker Road Park

Avon Lake

By Nicole Hennessy

A few hundred rainbow trout are set to be stocked at Walker Road Park tomorrow, a task being carried out by the Ohio Division of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife (DOW).

The pond will no longer be catch-and-release only. In accordance with state regulations, keeping what you catch will now be permitted, with restrictions.

Avon Lake Resident Dale George says he’s been fishing for more than 60 years.

He comes to Walker Road Park to enjoy some quiet time while his wife walks the dog, he says.

“I haven’t really caught a lot, but I don’t really have a problem with it,” said George, who says he doesn’t mind not being able to keep fish.

“I don’t really come here to catch dinner or anything.”

Commenting that the new fishing rules will serve as a good learning opportunity for kids, George said, “I wouldn’t mind taking a couple trout home.”

Phil Hillman, fish management supervisor with the Ohio DOW, said there is a 12-inch length limit on largemouth bass (under 12 inches must still be released) with a bag limit of five bass per day.

Catfish will have a daily bag limit of six fish, and one fish can be 28 inches or more.

All other fish, such as bluegill, Hillman said, “They can keep what they want to.”

This change in policy is because trout cannot survive once temperatures exceed about 75 degrees.

“Trout will not persist in the pond, so it is our hope that people will enjoy both catching them for sport as well as enjoying a delicious filet,” said
recreation program manager Nicole Haas, who
explained this has to do with the fact trout are a cold water species.
“They are stocked statewide at select locations as an added fishing opportunity and with the intention of being caught,” Haas explained of the trout, which are raised at hatcheries.
“Therefore, since they cannot survive long-term in these locations, the ability to allow fishermen (and) women to keep these fish must be permitted. It was DOW’s recommendation that we align the pond rules to the state regulations. This is a fluid process and will be reassessed to ensure the bass, bluegill (and) additional fish populations remain intact.”

ODNR will stock trout annually. Catfish are stocked every other year. All the other fish are expected to continue reproducing on their own.

Hillman said the state doesn’t necessarily discourage catch and release fishing. It depends on the area and the populations present in any given lake or pond.

“The annual cost for the fish stocking is nothing to the city of Avon Lake,” Haas said.

“Avon Lake, along with Bay Village, entered into a joint Walker Road Park Fishing agreement with ODNR DOW in 2016. This agreement benefits all sides as DOW will give guidance and stock the pond. DOW’s benefit is that a fishing license is now required to fish at the pond (not required for those under 16 years old) as well as an opportunity to increase fishing opportunities and education in the community.”

For the fish that are released after being caught, Haas and Hillman both said most fish suffer little, adding that mouth wounds heal quickly.

Educational opportunities will be available throughout the summer, including the city’s Fishing with Friends program, which will take place from June 13 through Aug. 11.

Days of the week and hours open have been slightly modified this year. More information is available at avonlake.org.

In addition to educational opportunities, part-time attendants will be on-site at the park to be sure things are running smoothly.

“As a part of our program, we aim to teach children proper techniques, including safe handling,” said Haas.

“Our park attendants complete the Passport to Fishing instructor program which covers an array of topics ranging from wildlife laws to safe handling and habitat conservation.”

Tags:


Print this story