By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Quick action was taken after the hatchery-bred trout were found floating dead in the pond Wednesday.
The annual event went on as planned after the Water Reuse Demonstration Park reservoir was restocked with about 400 fish Friday, said Jan Sivertsen, president of the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.
“We're doing so much better than I thought [we] would, so I'm thankful for that,” Sivertsen said in a phone interview Saturday.
“Everybody's having a great time, so that's the whole thing.”
The event was organized in coordination with the Puget Sound Anglers chapter, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Sequim Public Works Department.
It offered children 14 and younger the chance to learn how to set bait, cast their lines and clean fish by watching club members, Sivertsen said.
Participants could bring their own bait and poles, though both were supplied free of charge by the anglers club.
The pond had been stocked Tuesday with about 1,300 rainbows from the Fish and Wildlife Hurd Creek hatchery, about 5 miles away, said Tom Duttrey, an organizer with the club.
A check of the pond Wednesday morning, however, found that between 400 and 500 fish had died, he said.
“[It was] kind of sickening, more than anything else,” Duttrey said.
The anglers club raises money each year to feed between 3,000 and 5,000 fish at the Hurd Creek hatchery for use in the Kids Fishing Day, Duttrey said.
The cost is about $1.50 per fish.
Not all of a year's brood is used for the event, he said, so organizers were able to get more trout from the hatchery to replace those that died.
“I think it was due a lot to the water temperature that was too high,” Duttrey said, referring to the likely cause of the fish kill.
Tests of the water also found that the oxygen levels were especially high, he explained, likely due to non-toxic algae in the pond.
Too much oxygen can overwhelm the fish's systems and prove deadly, he added.
City crews flushed the pond with colder water from the nearby water reclamation facility, Duttrey said.
He said the last time a large fish loss happened was about five years ago, though a certain percentage of fish die every year just from the stress of being transferred into the pond.
Most of the dead fish were returned to the hatchery and disposed of, Duttrey said, and some were taken home by club members for use as crab bait.
Despite the setback, Sivertsen said the children's fishing day proved successful.
By early Saturday afternoon, Sivertsen estimated that about 300 children and families had caught between 80 and 100 fish.
“It's fishing, not always catching,” Sivertsen said, “[but] it's much better than I thought it was.”
Hailey McDonald, 14, of Sequim was one doing the catching as she reeled in a glistening 4-pound trout from the water with the help of her dad, Eric, and brother, Drew.
“That's one of the bigger ones they put in there,” Eric McDonald said as he helped his son cast his line into the pond.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.