OTTUMWA — Everyone from avid fishermen to young children could be found at the Ottumwa Park Saturday racing to catch fish.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources pulled a truck full of 2,000 trout to the edge of the pond, and with the turn of a lever, hundreds of fish at a time were released into the water. Families and fishermen gathered around the truck to watch the DNR employes work and to catch a quick glimpse of the fish they would soon be trying to catch.
The tank was full of brook trout and rainbow trout, and 100 of each were tagged and released with the rest of the fish. With this the fishing derby began. People pulled out all the stops to catch as many fish as possible, up to the five trout limit, some tried fly fishing and some used specially caught bait. Whoever had collected the tagged fish by the end of the event were eligible to win prizes.
The the anglers at the event were required to be properly licensed and posses an Iowa trout stamp. Mark Flammang, a DNR employee, said it is important to make sure all the fishermen are properly licensed because this helps the department with research and data.
The DNR Fisheries Bureau has been involved in cold-weather Iowa urban trout stocking projects since 1981 in order to introduce trout fishing to people who otherwise would never experience it. Trout have very specialized habitats that include cool water streams, so pond stocking while waters are still relatively cool is a must. The stocking is done in Ottumwa both in the spring and the fall, and the event is coordinated with the Parks and Recreation Department.
“What we are really aiming at is just to get people out and enjoying the spring weather,” Flammang said. “Get out there and introduce you entire family to trout fishing and fishing in general.”