Liberty Park Pond was stocked with 1,212 trout on Friday morning in a joint project between the Missouri Department of Conservation and Sedalia Parks and Rec.
This is the seventh year for the program, which has proved hugely successful, according to Parks & Rec Director Mark Hewitt. The fish were raised at Bennett Springs, according to Trish Yasger, fisheries management biologist for the MDC.
“It’s extremely popular, it’s one of the best things and the cooperative effort is just great; we’re going to continue (the program),” said Hewitt.
“Especially in November, you can drive by on a nice day like this and easily find four to a dozen or more people (fishing),” added Yasger.
It took all of three minutes to deliver 1,200 trout into the water. Anglers were on standby to be the first to try their hand at trout fishing this season in the big cement pond in Liberty Park. Another 12 large lunkers were to be delivered a short time later, Yasger said.
Those fishing at Liberty Park must possess a fishing license and the program is catch-and-release until March 1. After that date, a trout permit is required to harvest the fish, Yasger noted. Permits may be purchased online, in person at the MDC office on South Limit, or at any permit vendor such as Wal-Mart.
“If we allow harvest (now), they’d be gone in a few weeks,” Yasger said. “So this spreads the harvest out over the entire winter season. So lots of people can enjoy them.”
Catch-and-release provides a wintertime activity at the park and helps keep vandalism down, the Parks & Rec director noted. “And it help to have a year-round bathroom,” he said, pointing to the facility built a few years ago near Convention Hall.
Hewitt recalled the time four of five years ago when the entire area was covered in snow, and there were four or five people fishing Liberty Park Pond. “And it was cold!” he said. And a couple of years ago, Hewitt received a letter from one small group of men from Blue Springs who regularly made the trek to Sedalia once a week just to fish for the sport of it. “They didn’t like (to eat) fish, but they’d fish here, have lunch and drive back.” Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.