Big day for fishing enthusiast kids this weekend

While many Canadians grow up with access to water bodies and learn to fish from a young age, there are others who live without doing so.

While many Canadians grow up with access to lakes, rivers and creeks and learn to fish from a young age, others can go their whole lives without picking up a fishing rod.

That’s one of the many reasons why West Stettler Park’s pond is a great destination for urban fishers.

“I think (the ponds) adds the fishing component (to the community),” Lee Penner, Town of Stettler’s recreation director, said. “It’s a lot of natural fun for kids who don’t normally get to see it.”

Penner, in addition to working for the town, is an avid fisherman who brings his family to the park on a regular basis to reel up one of the thriving northern pikes that swim in the three interconnected ponds.

The ponds, which were originally built as stormwater holding ponds, were stocked with rainbow trout, Penner explained. However, the salty soil led to salty water, and the stocking did not survive.

“We stocked the pond with jackfish about 10 years ago,” Penner said, using another name for the northern pike. “One-hundred-and-seventy-five fish were introduced.”

Other than that first stocking, there haven’t been others; the fish flourished in the pond and have multiplied in natural ways ever since.

“A 42-inch fish was caught there this year,” Penner said.

The park operates on a catch-and-release system, which means anglers are required to release fish back into the ponds after capture. The catch-and-release system helps keep the ponds stocked and healthy so others can enjoy fishing.

“It’s always great to watch the young ones catch their first fish,” Penner said. “They get so excited.”

The lake is home to a wide variety of natural life, with minnows and other creatures creating a healthy eco-system in which the pike flourish. The water is also home to Canada geese, ducks and blackbirds, muskrats and gulls.

Children under the age of 16 don’t need a fishing licence to fish in the ponds, but adults do, Penner said. Licences for Canadian residents are $28. The ponds fall under jurisdiction of the province, so the same rules apply as if anglers were on a natural lake, river, or creek.

Stettler is part of the province’s Watershed Unit PP2, which covers the Red Deer River watershed downstream of the Dickson Dam west of Innisfail, the Battle River watershed, and the North Saskatchewan River downstream of Highway 22/39 near Drayton Valley.

The annual Kids Can Catch day is coming up on Saturday, July 9, between 9 a.m. and noon at West Stettler Park.