Adults not following rules at pond

Jefferson County Youth Fishing Pond

by: Photo by Holly M. Gill - Kaden Umnitz, 5, is all smiles as he tries his hand at fishing at the new Youth Fishing Pond.

   Just a week after the Jefferson County Youth Fishing Pond opened at the fairgrounds, it's already becoming a popular place -- maybe too popular.
   Nearly one acre in size, the pond was built for youths and handicapped adults. A 10-foot-wide paved path encircles the pond, which features a handicapped-accessible fishing platform, as well as several peninsulas for fishing.
   Last Wednesday, Jack Palmer, manager of the Round Butte Fish Hatchery, stocked the pond with 2,200 trout, which weigh about 1 pound and measure about 14 inches long, as well as about 300 that weigh from 3 to 5 pounds each, and measure 20 inches or larger.
   The problem is that some local residents are not complying with the rules posted at the pond.
   The rules clearly state that angling is restricted to youths up to age 17, and holders of Disabled Anglers permits. Youths from 14 through 17 must have a valid Oregon angling license, and all anglers may take no more than two fish per day. Fishing can only occur during daylight hours, and fish cannot be cleaned at the pond.
   Although the rules are simple, Palmer said that they have already caught adults fishing at the pond, which could jeopardize the availability of the pond for everyone.
   "If adults can't be good, we may have to close until next year, when the state fishing regulations are in place," said Palmer.
   Additionally, some people have been cutting fish open at the pond, and disposing of unusable parts in trash cans or in the pond itself, which attracts pests and leaves the area unclean for the next angler. "They can't clean a fish and throw parts back in water," he said.
   "Come to the park prepared to put the fish in a cooler or bucket, or on ice, but don't clean them there," Palmer advised. "We had a guy trying to clean the trash cans who got stung a couple times because yellow jackets were down inside the can."
   "Other than adult fishing and cleaning of fish there, I think everything has been going well," he said. "I just hope people in the community will abide by the rules and others will police it to keep people honest. I want kids in there fishing."
   Palmer organized the effort to build the pond, and applied for and received a grant for $54,000 from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Restoration and Enhancement Program.
   Portland General Electric, ODFW, Deschutes Valley Water District, North Unit Irrigation District, Rask Excavation, the Bean Foundation and numerous others assisted in the funding, excavation, or construction of the pond.
   "We're pushing $200,000 with all the donations of time and equipment, and the $54,000 grant," said Palmer.
   The county approved $5,000 from its community development fund to help with the operational costs, including the purchase of excess water from North Unit, and rental of a portable outhouse.
   The city of Madras donated time and labor to paint the parking lot, install handicapped signs, and put down ground asphalt from the entrance off Fairgrounds Road.
   "There's so many people who've donated time, equipment, and given us price breaks," said Palmer, who is grateful for the community's support. He hopes to go back to the ODFW to apply for another grant this fall.
   "We're trying to get the money to build a handicapped-accessible restroom facility and a covered picnic area," said Palmer. "We would like to have a grassy lawn area. That's the vision; hopefully we can get the money to do that."