OTTUMWA — Fishermen can’t point to a lack of fish in the Ottumwa Campground pond as the reason they aren’t getting any bites.
Thursday morning, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources released 1,500 rainbow trout into the pond, and according to David Marolf, the fisheries biologist who released the fish, they are all ready to be caught. Now it’s just up to the fishermen to know how and where to catch them — and the best way to cook them.
“They are excellent for eating,” Marolf said. “Just big enough for the skillet.”
All of the trout, which were brought from the Manchester Trout Hatchery, measure about a foot in length, with some exceeding that. Manchester is one of the three trout production facilities in Iowa. The others are the Decorah Fish Hatchery in Decorah and the Big Spring Fish Hatchery, which is just northwest of Elkader in Clayton County.
IDNR stocks the Ottumwa Campground pond a few times a year, and Thursday’s stocking will be the last one until the spring. As far as the trout go, they should hold over for the most part until the next stocking, which will be sometime around March or April, Marolf said.
When they come back with 1,500 more trout next spring, it will be for what Marolf called the “event plant.” Basically, local biologists will line up with city officials to have a program for anglers on the Saturday when IDNR comes to stock the fish.
IDNR has been stocking urban bodies of water with trout since the early 1980s. Under their Urban Lakes Trout Program, IDNR tries to bring trout fishing to anglers throughout the state who would not normally be able to catch them otherwise.
Trout are not native to the bodies of water that IDNR stocks, and since the fish generally do not like warmer water, the stockings usually happen in fall and spring.