Agencies drain, treat Grandpa’s Pond for unwanted fish

HURRICANE — A popular fishing spot in Hurricane, Grandpa’s Pond, also known as Stratton’s Pond, is currently drained of most of its water as a result of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources treating the water to remove invasive fish species.

Grandpa's Pond, nearly empty of water after draining, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News
Grandpa’s Pond, nearly empty of water after draining, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

One of six urban fishing ponds in Washington County, Grandpa’s Pond is owned and managed by Hurricane City and the Washington County Water Conservancy District. The pond is ordinarily stocked with rainbow trout by the Division of Wildlife Resources in the spring and occasionally with Bluegill and Largemouth Bass.

The project involved treating the water with a chemical to remove the fish, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation Outreach Manager Lynn Chamberlain. Fish such as goldfish, koi, and even plecostomus, which are commonly known as algae suckers, have been found in the cleanup.

One of the algae suckers they removed from the pond, which you would normally see on the glass of an aquarium, was over 2 feet long, Chamberlain said.

Visitors have also illegally stocked the pond with fathead minnow and common carp, Chamberlain said, both invasive species that will upset the balance of the pond and voraciously eat food meant for the stocked fish.

While aquarium fish thrive in the warm waters of the summer, it’s harder for rainbow trout and bass to survive the heat of the summer so the project was timed to correspond with the draining of the pond by the Water Conservancy District at the request of the Division of Wildlife Resources. It was done to keep invasive fish out of the Virgin River, the district’s public information officer, Karry Rathje, said.

The Division of Wildlife Resources used rotenone, a chemical derived from the roots of South American plants, to kill the invasive fish. Rotenone completely decomposes, leaving no harmful residues and is only toxic to fish; other wildlife and humans would not be affected. The chemical has been used on many projects and no problems have been encountered with its use.

A common water purifier was used after the cleanup to assure that the rotenone would not affect any downstream areas.

“Don’t worry,” Rathje said. “It will be restored to its former glory. We just needed to do some treatment out there.”

Grandpa's Pond, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News
Grandpa’s Pond, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

Fishing should be open again this fall, Chamberlain said. “(In) October, we’re going to come back in here and put some largemouth bass in, and some bluegill, which actually haven’t been in here before. So that’s going to be a new fishery for this particular pond.”

With rainbow trout being restocked early next year, the pond will be sustainable all year long, said Chamberlain.

“You can see that the pond, now that it’s drained, is not very deep,” said Chamberlain. “Typically, you’ll see a lot of vegetation under the water, you can see out in that plain there, that flat, that there’s nothing but mud. So those other fish have taken all of that vegetation out, (which) supports an insect population, which then supports fish population.”

“Without that component, it’s impossible to keep fish in here that you would want to catch and take home and eat,” said Chamberlain.

“We need to tell the public to make sure that they do not dump their aquarium fish, their pond fish, or any fish at all in any water body in the state of Utah,” said Chamberlain. “It’s illegal, and it’s very costly.”

The pond will be open in October with largemouth bass and bluegill stocked, said Chamberlain. June 4, 2016, is free fishing day at Grandpa’s Pond.

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