SEQUIM — As projects continue around Carrie Blake Community Park, officials with the city of Sequim are considering new options for fishing there as well.
For 12 years, families have started fishing each May for Kids Fishing Day and through the summer in the infiltration pond at the Water Reclamation Demonstration Site through a joint effort from the city, the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers and the state Department of Fish & Wildlife.
However, last June about 500 rainbow trout died due to warmer than normal temperatures in the pond, said David Garlington, Sequim public works director, at the Sequim City Council meeting in early October.
“The fishing pond in the reclaimed area wasn’t designed as a fishing pond, but an irrigation storage pond. Fish weren’t given any consideration whatsoever,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it’s not deep enough to stay cool when we get hot weather … It’s a great opportunity for kids to fish there. It was heartbreaking for everyone to bag up 500 fish.”
Now leaders with the city, anglers and Fish and Wildlife are exploring moving fishing to the pond by the Sequim Dog Park.
“We’re a long way from being there, but we started on the path,” Garlington said.
He said the pond by the dog park is bigger, cooler and, “in my mind, a much more pleasant experience.”
Dave Croonquist, vice president of the anglers club, said they’ve lost fish before in the reclamation pond due to different circumstances such as poor water quality.
“The pond doesn’t have enough circulation going through it, and with its current structure, you only get circulation on one end of the pond,” he said.
Annually, the club puts in about 1,800 trout for the first weekend of Kids Fishing Day, the third Saturday of May, and then plants the rest soon thereafter, totaling about 3,000 fish.
Croonquist said they pay for the feed and staff at Hurd Creek Hatchery to raise the trout that are provided by the state.
“This year, things just warmed up, and the water supply was marginal a couple of times,” he said. “It’s no fault to anyone.”
Garlington said he’s been in discussion with Fish and Wildlife staffers about allowing permitting to move the fishing area because it’s treated similarly to a fish farm.
“We won’t be able to [move] it in time for this coming season because of permitting,” he said. “It’s quite a big thing.”
Next summer, city staff plan to drain the reclamation pond and consider options for deepening it, Garlington said.
But any further action is dependent on available funds and grants, which he said Fish and Wildlife staff will look into with the city.
“It’s such a neat program, I’ve got to imagine someone would want to get on board and help us,” Garlington said.
Croonquist said the club will look to help financially and they’ve advocated before for a bigger, deeper pond but found the cost to be too much.
“The pond over by the dog park is doable,” he said. “Hopefully we can get that in place in the future.”
He added that the other pond would have more area and be better for fish, but trees would need to be removed for easier fishing.
Until plans and funding are secured, Garlington said, they’ll have at least one more year to nurse the fish through in the reclamation pond.
“I’m hoping next year we’ll be able to report we’re moving ahead with this [project],” he said.
Until conditions are improved, Croonquist said, club members might consider releasing less fish into the pond for the next Kids Fishing Day, which is slated for May 19, 2018.
“From my perspective, and the Fish and Wildlife guys like that idea, too, that they want what’s best for the kids and the fish,” he said.
Bob Keck, president of the anglers club, said the event remains important to the community.
“It’s the only location in the city of Sequim and in Clallam County where kids don’t need a license,” he said. “It’s been a great win-win for the club and the city of Sequim.”
Through the project, Garlington said, they’ll also look into ways to prevent the fish from entering Bell Creek, which fills the pond, too.
For more information on the Reclamation Water Reuse Demonstration Site, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 683-4139.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].