Craig Larson helps his 3-year-old son Barrett net a rainbow trout during Kids Fishing Day on April 23. It was Barrett’s first catch ever, Larson said. (Olympic Peninsula News Group Matthew Nash)

Craig Larson helps his 3-year-old son Barrett net a rainbow trout during Kids Fishing Day on April 23. It was Barrett’s first catch ever, Larson said. (Olympic Peninsula News Group Matthew Nash)

OUTDOORS: Sequim scales back Carrie Blake Park pond fishing for youth

Lost fish, water quality, event use cited

A victim of its own success, youth fishing access to Carrie Blake Park’s Water Reuse Demonstration Site Pond will likely be restricted to annual Youth Fishing and Special Needs days going forward. The move is expected to be made to thwart the occasional die-off of planted trout due to warm water temperatures and poor water quality.

In recent years, the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and city of Sequim Public Works Department have partnered to periodically stock the Carrie Blake Park Water Reuse Pond throughout the year with rainbow trout to provide fishing opportunities to those 14 and younger without need of a fishing license.

These plants have been popular, drawing children and parents plus friends and family to cheer on trout catches and untangle messes.

But the Reclamation Pond was never designed with fish in mind, leaving the shallow body of water prone to heating up during extended stretches of warm weather and to poor circulation, leading to reduced water quality. This has led to fish die-offs of varying sizes over the last decade-plus.

A spring 2014 die-off of approximately 400 to 500 recently planted trout was likely triggered by excessive oxygen levels in the pond or higher water temperatures.

Summer heat waves have typically claimed some rainbow trout and a small die-off of around 20 fish was reported in January 2022 — the potential causes for the winter season deaths including old age, people discarding caught fish or waterfowl wintering in the area.

Sequim Public Works Director Sarah VanAusdle cited fish die-offs, the cost prohibitive nature of expanding the pond and discouraging adding infrastructure to the park’s green space in explaining the move to limit kids fishing days in an email to Puget Sound Anglers board member Dave Croonquist.

“The pond was originally designed as a holding pond for irrigation, not fish, hence the difficulty of keeping the fish alive through rising temperatures,” she wrote. “While limited stocking of fish provides a great family event, maintaining increased numbers of fish throughout the year results in a lot of lost fish, public questions on the dying fish and water quality, and escalating maintenance costs.

“The city did look at the possibility of expanding the pond some time back, but the proximity of the infiltration system and monitoring well are prohibitive. Additionally, recent annual events and festivals at the Re-use Demonstrate Site have been utiltizing more and more of the green space. The city is discouraging any added infrastructure to the green space in order to accommodate the growing size of these events.

“Moving forward, the city would like to continue the annual Youth Fishing Day, along with the Special Needs day, but anything above that is too far beyond the original scope of the pond use to be productive and positive.”

Rain opens Dungeness

The switch to typical rainy fall weather is expected in full today with up to a quarter of an inch of in the forecast for Sequim. The likely deluge is enough for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to open the Dungeness River and Gray Wolf River to fishing starting Saturday.

Earlier this month, the Dungeness River was closed due to unseasonably dry weather and extreme low water conditions ahead of its typical mid-October opener. Expected precipitation and a forecasted rise in flows will allow fish to move upstream to spawning grounds and fishing to reopen.

Recreational fishing access in the lower Dungeness River is currently limited due to river restoration projects.

Anglers are advised to avoid all active construction sites including: at the Old Schoolhouse, levee construction in progress.

Towne Road, between the Schoolhouse and the Dungeness Valley Creamery, is closed.

The Old Corps Dike is closed from the Creamery downstream.

Construction site, off Fish Hatchery Road, just downstream of the Dungeness Hatchery.

State fisheries biologists said chinook have finished spawning in the Dungeness River, but concerns remain that the eggs in the gravel are vulnerable. Avoid stepping on chinook redds, which appear as depressions in the gravel.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

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