Welcome to Week CIX of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
From the time Michael Buchholzer, Director of Environmental Services with the City of Yorkton, first hinted they were looking at creating and stocking a trout pond as part of the overall water treatment plant (WTP) project in the city I was both intrigued and excited.
The intrigue came as a result of recognizing the trout pond idea being a rather innovative one in terms of the larger WTP project.
The overall WTP for the city was something needed to bring local services up to changing provincial standards in terms of water quality, as well as positioning the city to handle a growing population, and the industry that could come with that growth. The overall cost was near $35 million with the plant officially opened in 2012.
With the WTP came the need to handle backwash water, and instead of having the water simply added to the sewer system, a rather unique system of backwash water settling ponds was created, which then led to the development of a small manmade stream and then the fish pond.
Watching the recent stocking of 750 rainbow trout into the water easily conjured visions of a warm Sunday afternoon in October sitting in a lawn chair at the pond, the last leaves of fall resplendent in all manner of reds and oranges and slowly sending a small fly out over the water. By then the tiny six-inch trout released into the pond could be double their size, wary from past experiences with a hook, and feisty on a light line.
It sounds like a rather idyllic fall afternoon.
Adam Matichuk with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation handled the actual release. He said the fish were already active, jumping and going after existing food in the water, almost as soon as released.
"There's a pile of minnows in here too, fathead minnows from what we can see," he said, adding the minnows may be too large as food for the just released trout, but as they grow they will eat minnows.
While there are insects and minnows, Matichuk said they are going to be supplementing the trout's food with commercial pellets too.
"We'll feed them every day, at least until fall," he said.
When asked how large the trout might grow in the pond, Matichuk said that was "a little hard to tell."
"We don't know how much food is in here," he said, adding the summer water temperature will also be a factor.
"But they could grow as large as 12-inches (by fall)," he offered.
The fish are expected to winter in the pond too. Matichuk said while expecting they will winter without assistance, water is 2.7-to-3-metres deep, aeration could be added if required.
That bodes well for even larger fish in 2015.
In terms of populations in the pond, long term additional releases could be made, including adult trout and while the initial permit covered only rainbow trout, other species including brown and tiger trout could be viable in the pond.
What this means is, down the road local fisherfolk could enjoy a pretty diverse species mix in the pond.
What makes the pond such a wonderful addition to the community is that it is close enough to easily escape any evening for a few casts, letting the stresses of the day evaporate with the ripples of the fly landing upon the water.
Now I say flies, although there is nothing to preclude someone from using spinning gear at the pond.
In fact, the regulations for the pond are pretty straightforward.
To start with no provincial fishing license will be required. That makes it an ideal pond for someone new to the sport to give it a try. It's also great for young families just to get out and fish.
The pond is catch and release, which is a good thing to instill in new fisherfolk too. Certainly keeping perch and pike and walleye for the frying pan is perfectly acceptable, the idea of safely releasing fish to reproduce and be there for future fishermen is never a bad idea.
The pond will also require barbless hooks, which is the case in all catch and release waters.
It is an ongoing debate about whether barbless should just be the norm. I am no expert in terms of impact on fish, but freeing a fish from a barbless hook is certainly quicker and easier.
I also believe barbless makes you better at handling a rod with a fish on, since you can't rely on the barb saving you if you allow the fish to gain slack in the line. It forces better skills to be developed, and that is not a bad thing in my books.
Now I will note here the Yorkton pond, while unique in using backwash water from the WTP is not unusual in terms of a community having a trout pond.
Matichuk said he couldn't tell me how many community ponds there are, explaining some were developed through local SWF branches; others were developed by various community groups. He added locations are hard to nail down because the information on the type of fisheries is limited.
Matichuk did offer a few he was personally aware of;
Melville SWF trout pond - I think you have to be an SWF member to access this pond
Wynyard - reservoir stocked with trout
Kamsack - old town water reservoir at the golf course has fish in it
Porcupine Plain - developed a trout pond a few years ago
Tisdale - two trout ponds east of the town
Goodeve - used to have a reservoir stocked with trout but it winter kills. We cannot find a cooperator to take on the operation of an aeration system so it remains fish-less.
Grenfell - I'm told Grenfell has a trout pond, but I've never seen it.
With a number of trout ponds within an easy drive, I hope the Logan Green Pond in the city will be the rallying point for both beginner and experienced fly fishermen to come together.
This past winter under the tutelage of Patrick Thomson, a few of us have gathered on a roughly monthly basis, to learn a bit about the craft of tying flies.
The new pond might help that effort grow into a bit more of a quasi official club. The Parkland Disciples of Izaak Walton has a rather nice ring to it. But really what would be great to see is a group dedicated to fly fishing locally.
The new pond area is getting good support from the Yorkton chapter of the SWF, including them planning a fishing dock, but there is much that could be developed around the pond to promote fishing and stewardship of a wetland ecosystem and it would be great for a new club to be involved.
The club could also arrange a few area road trips to the ponds mentioned by Matichuk. While fishing can be a great solitary activity, the camaraderie of a field trip to cast for trout would be outstanding as well.