By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — When the Iowa Department of Natural Resources started stocking Ottumwa Park's pond with trout, nobody knew exactly how people would react. But the chance to catch trout hooked area anglers and became one of the park's major draws.
The trout will return next month, with the pond scheduled to be stocked on October 31. That's a bit of a change from previous years. October 31 is a Thursday this year (and, yes, trick-or-treating is scheduled for that night in Ottumwa), and the trout have more commonly been stocked on weekends.
Stocking at Ottumwa Park has become successful enough to lure the IDNR out multiple times per year. And it still draws a crowd. While the numbers are down from the 300 hopeful anglers at the first trout stocking in 2011, people have gotten used to being able to pull trout out of the pond.
Most of the trout stocked in the pond are in the 10-inch range. But it varies and, if a trout manages to survive from a previous stocking event, they can be good sized fish. IDNR officials have said some may be four or five pounds when they hit the pond.
The IDNR stocks a number of urban sites around the state with the goal of allowing people an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have. And many of those sites wouldn't have trout naturally. Trout prefer colder water and ponds in an urban environment don't usually stay cool enough to keep them happy.
Trout fishing in Iowa has a couple of requirements beyond what regular fishing requires. Anyone over age 16 needs to have a fishing license, but there's an additional trout fee that must be paid. That runs $12.50 for Iowa residents and $15 for nonresidents.
If the angler is under 16, they only need to be with an adult who has a license and has paid the trout fee, provided the pair catches a daily limit of five trout.