Parkersburg ponds stocked with catfish, bluegill

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Parkersburg ponds stocked with catfish, bluegill

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce dumps a netful of hybrid bluegill into the City Park pond Friday. The City and Southwood Park ponds were stocked with catfish and hybrid bluegill delivered by Rainbowhead Farms near Clarksburg. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The ponds at City and Southwood Park were stocked with hybrid bluegill and catfish Friday.

It’s the first time in years the ponds have been stocked with anything other than trout for the annual fishing derby.

“There are a lot of people who do fish in City and Southwood parks,” Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce said just before helping a representative of Rainbowhead Farms near Clarksburg unload the fish at City Park. “And if we can make a better experience, particularly for younger people, that is taxpayer money well spent.”

The fish were evenly distributed between both ponds and cost the city $1,445, according to Finance Director Eric Jiles.

“The hybrid bluegill are a good fish for youngsters,” Joyce said, noting they usually get hooked fairly easily through the lip. “The catfish most likely will not breed in this pond because they need a hollowed-out space to breed.”

The stocking follows City Council’s approval this week of an ordinance making the ponds catch-and-release only. Joyce has previously said he proposed the change because he didn’t want people taking the ponds’ fish to use as bait elsewhere.

Joyce said the topic of stocking the ponds came up while he was running during last year’s election and since he took office this year and City Council was in support of it.

Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl, one of two council members on the newly appointed Advisory Commission on City Parks, was present at the stocking for Southwood, which is in her district.

“People were gathering around,” she said. “It was really good to see; people were interested in what was going on.”

Parkersburg resident Don Richardson was at City Park Friday as the fish were released. He said he’s been fishing at the pond there for the last couple of weeks with his wife, catching some bluegill and crappies, and was glad to see the new fish going in the water.

“We’re just doing it for entertainment,” Richardson said.

Joyce said the efforts to improve fishing conditions at the parks don’t end with the stockings. The fish must be fed, something he and Kuhl plan to do initially. Eventually, city employees may taker over or forage and feeder fish could be added. At some point, coin-operated dispensers that allow visitors to feed the fish could be installed.

Later this year, an assessment will be made of the ecosystem in the ponds to see what other adjustments should be made, Joyce said. That may also be handled by Rainbowhead Farms.

“I just think, with a little bit of luck and some planning … we can make a better fishery at both City and Southwood parks,” he said.

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