LONGMONT — After one year in operation, the Chick Clark Kids Fishing Program has a sure-fire motto: “Nothing does wonders for fishing like fish.”
With that mantra in mind, program founders Mike Mitchell and Lee Hooley stood on the bank of Izaak Walton Pond on Wednesday to watch 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout get dumped into the water.
The program allows children aged 15 and younger to fish the 15.7-acre pond at 18 S. Sunset St. Though adult volunteers often supervise and offer their best fishing tips, it is strictly youngsters only when it comes to wielding a fishing rod at the pond
“We’re going to get every fish we can in here for these kids,” Mitchell said. “There’s just nothing better for kids fishing than when they can catch fish.”
Wednesday’s fish dump was part of an effort to get the pond and the program ready for spring and summer fishing.
The 1,500 rainbow trout joined 1,500 channel catfish dumped into the pond last week. With these fish in place and more expected in May, organizers say they will more than double the 4,500 fish they stocked the pond with last year.
“There were kids out here every day,” Hooley said about the program’s popularity during its first year. He said volunteers have counted about 500 children fishing at the pond since last March.
Mitchell suspected that number was actually much higher.
“Usually, it’s about double that actually out there fishing,” said Mitchell, senior biologist and owner of Queen of the River Fishery Consulting. “The program has done so much better than we expected.”
The rookie program runs on nothing but donations and has flourished because of its volunteers.
“There was a guy out here last year fishing with his kids. I went to say hi, and he asked if there was any way he could help us out,” Hooley said.
“I said, ‘As a matter of fact, we do need a fence.’ And the next weekend he built that fence,” he said, pointing to a small square of chain-link surrounding the program’s storage shed.
According to Mitchell, the program’s 45 adult volunteers logged about 300 hours last year.
“And that really speaks well about who Longmont is,” he said.
Wednesday’s fish were donated to the program by Cline Trout Farm in Boulder. Ken Cline, owner and operator, donned his thigh-high rubber boots and delivered them himself.
The fish were delivered from Cline’s truck to the pond through a large plastic pipe.
The program’s one-year anniversary is bittersweet for its founders though.
Hooley and Mitchell named the program for their friend and admired community member Charles “Chick” Clark, who died last November.
“I’m just thrilled we got (the program) going soon enough for Chick to see it,” Mitchell said. “He would take a lap around the park and say hello to the kids.”
“He was like a big brother to some of them,” Hooley added.
Hooley and Mitchell hope to keep the program’s momentum going and continue to add fish to the pond each spring.
“Someday,” Mitchell said, “we’re really hoping a kid’s going to catch a 15-pound catfish or a 10-pound trout in here.”
Mikenna Clokey can be reached at 303-684-5336, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.