PLEASANT GROVE — Officials would rather have pond-stocked fish end up in frying pans than have them die when the Manila Creek Park Pond is drained after next week.
"We don't want them to die, we want people to take them home and enjoy them," said Jay Dee Neilsen, Pleasant Grove's recreation manager. The pond, located at 3300 N. 900 West, will be drained about 10 feet or so, in order to make some necessary repairs to underwater equipment and to reinforce the pond's lining, he said.
The aeration tubes, which help provide oxygen for the fish, are blocked by hard water deposits and need to be fixed to provide a "better aquatic balance," Neilsen said. The pond and adjacent swimming beach will also be cleaned of some of the moss and grime that has accumulated in the almost three years since the pond was built as one of the state's urban fisheries.
Existing fish in the pond will likely die from the decreased water level, or will freeze in the pond during the winter, Neilsen said.
In an attempt to put more stocked fish to use this season, state officials have upped the daily fishing limit. Anglers can typically take up to two fish per day from the 7-acre pond, but until the pond is drained, the limit is eight fish per person, per day.
"We came out two days ago and within a half-hour, we caught 12 fish," Russell Miner, who is visiting the area from St. George, said Saturday. "We thought we'd try our luck again today and within about an hour, we caught 15 or 16 fish. We threw most of them back and just kept the big ones."
Miner was fishing with his two sons, Karsen, 7, and Kyle, 4. They planned to take their catch of rainbow trout home to the boys' grandfather for a big family dinner.
"It's a good time to get outside, get away from the Xbox and away from being stuck inside," he said. "It's a good time for the boys."
Manila Creek Park Pond is one of seven urban fisheries in Utah County and one of 45 statewide. It was established as part of the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources' Community Fishing Program, "to get children outside to interact with the environment" and to protect and preserve existing recreation sites throughout the state, according to the department's website.
Kids under 12 can fish in Utah without a license, but annual licenses are $5 for 12- and 13-year-olds, $26 for age 14 to 64, and $21 for 65 and older. DWR also sells one-day and seven-day fishing permits, for $8 and $16, respectively.
Urban fisheries throughout the state are regularly stocked with various species. Manila Creek, which was first stocked with fish last year and is replenished weekly, has mostly rainbow trout, some brown trout and a few bluegill.
The pond will likely be drained beginning Oct. 19. The city is hoping to have the work done in the next month, but definitely prior to the opening of the 2013 season. The pond is expected to be refilled in the spring with runoff from winter storms.
Provisions will be made to allow divers to repair the aeration tubes in the future, eliminating the need to drain the pond year after year.
Contributing: Kathryn May