On Sunday, I wrote a column about Rose State College history professor Jim Hochtritt’s poor bass fishing in the Oklahoma City urban “Close to Home” waters.
State wildlife officials say money is the primary reason the bass fishing is so poor in the urban ponds and small lakes, which are primarily stocked with channel cats and bluegills.
Bass is too expensive to raise and stock in the ponds.
Hochtritt is not buying the “party line,” however, and had this to say about the state Wildlife Department’s response to his complaint.
“First, every single one of the Close to Home lakes has a sign that indicates that they have been stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish or perch (I cannot recall the term they used for the panfish). They also indicate that the policy is catch and release for the bass. But according to Mr. Gilliland the lakes are “for the most part” home to channel cats and blues. He said that bass are rarely put in the ponds and in some cases the habitat is not there. Well, gee. Then why doesn’t someone create the habitat if they are going to the trouble of putting up a sign that says bass are in the lakes. What logic!Secondly, he claims that it costs about $4 to grow a largemouth bass to 12 inches. Why do the bass have to be 1 pound fish? Why can’t fingerling bass be placed in the ponds and lakes? They would probably die and survive at the same rates that natural fingerlings die and survive. And I can’t believe that a fingerling costs $4 but maybe so. I will have to check into the matter.Moreover, once a healthy bass population is put in a “catch and release” lake or pond, they will self-produce and since most people are too impatient to fish for bass on lakes that get a lot of fishing pressure and such, the ponds and lakes would become self-regenerating like the urban ponds I fished in the San Francisco Bay Area, smack dab in the middle of urban sprawl and congestion. They have had a nice bass population since I was a kid and I’m 55! And they are not, ever stocked, except for the occasion when they had to repair a dam and drain a lake.
I do agree with the bills he says have not gone anywhere. I know that people fight for every little piece of the pie and seeing that local ponds and lakes have healthy fish populations is probably not a high priority.
At the same time, that type of thinking is what discourages me about Oklahoma City. I have lived here for 17 years and I love this state and area very much, but at times, it fails to understand basic quality of life issues. All one has to do is see the lack of well-kept parks, bike trails, green urban spaces, sidewalks, and such, to understand that.
Eagle Lake in Del City is a prime example. It is a nice body of water. It has great fish habit in numerous places. There are catfish, bluegill, spotted gar, and, ah um, bass in it, but it is, I am sure, underfunded, and obviously not a top priority.
If the city cared about fixing it up or if the county did, it could be turned into a beautiful urban space with a paved walking trail around the whole lake, shore access around the whole lake, and green lawns and picnic areas.
Instead, it is garbage strewn, fairly dicey park at certain times of the day, and attracts the kind of people who do not care about themselves much less the park. It is, by all standards, a dump, but I fish it and catch nothing on a fairly regular basis because it is convenient and close to home. I look at a space like that and think, this is the mindset of Oklahoma. In almost any other city or state, that lake would be pretty instead of an eyesore.
Midwest Regional Park is a classis example of something done right. Years ago, there was not much there, but the city has spent a lot of time and effort fixing that place up and now, surprise of surprises, it is used on a regular basis by all kinds of people. It’s a beehive of activity from morning until evening.
People get very excited about a pro-basketball franchise, and deservedly so, but other amenities in the metro area are sadly lacking. Quality of life means many things, and just claiming to be a major league city because we have a NBA franchise is rather short-sighted.
Since living here, I have always found it highly ironic that I am in the “country,” if you will, and yet I had better places to fish in the San Francisco Bay Area or I can find better places to fish in the suburbs of St. Louis. All I can do is shake my head and laugh.”