Armed with a fishing rod and a few chunks of cheddar cheese, Nathan Joch can be found casting a line at the Waskasoo Park Pond.
Joch said he enjoys the quiet in lower Heritage Ranch, which doesn’t have as much foot traffic as Bower Ponds.
Joch says putting cheese at the end of the hook draws the rainbow trout. He learned the trick from a Nova Scotian who used to wrap up cheese or fish in pantyhose and tie it to the end of the hook.
Twice a year, the Alberta Conservation Association stocks the pond with 1,000 rainbow trout. It’s one of a handful of fishing spots available in the city for recreational fisherman.
Bower Ponds was stocked up until 2005. That stopped because the rainbow trout were being eaten by the large northern pike population.
Anglers looking to catch a big one can also try their luck at the ponds at Three Mile Bend and along the Red Deer River. Mandatory fishing licences are sold by private licence issuers throughout the province.
In the Red Deer River, anglers can enjoy catching rocky mountain whitefish, goldeye, brown trout, pike and walleye.
Ken Lehman, the City of Red Deer Parks planning and ecological specialist, said the populations have declined in recent years because of the floods in 2008 and 2013.
He said the 2013 flooding knocked the fish populations back physically because of the water and debris. Lehman said trout is the most sensitive species but all the species have taken a hit. Bug populations have also plummeted on the river.
“We were just trying to rebound from 2008,” said Lehman. “Then 2013 hit and knocked them back down. It’s a fragile system. High water can impact fish populations.”
The province sent out a request earlier this year cautioning anglers to take it easy on fish populations. It will take a few years before they rebound.
In the meantime, Lehman is promoting respectful angling practices to protect fish populations, which includes proper fish handling, keeping the fish in the water as long as possible, catch and release on the river and taking trash with you when you leave the fishing areas.
“We have seen (discarded fishing line) in the ponds that has affected wildlife directly, both fish and waterfowl,” said Lehman. “Last year, we had to take a goose out of Waskasoo Pond because both legs were coming off. The fishing line had restricted it so she struggled. We had to put the goose down. Medicine River Wildlife Centre came out. It was a bad scene.”
Lehman said dropping oil down drains or using heavy chemicals on the lawn works its way down to the river and affects the watershed.
Information about obtaining fishing licences, regulations, limits on catch and release fishing and responsible fishing is published annually in the Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations, which is available at the www.mywildalberta.ca.
The Waskasoo Pond may be in for a name change in the coming months. City council will hear a recommendation to rename it Mitchell Pond after angler Barry Mitchell of the Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine. The Municipal Features Naming Committee committee endorsed the request from the Central Alberta Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada in June.
To reach Waskasoo Park Pond, from 32nd Street travel north on 60th Avenue, turn west at 43rd Street (Cronquist Drive) and travel 1.5 km through Waskasoo Park to the pond.