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Ponds get 2,500 new fish
Wyoming Game and Fish culturist Pete Starr freed a netted bundle of trout into one of the Big Bend Ponds. The ponds were stocked with about 2,500 fish last week. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Ponds get 2,500 new fish

Apr 30, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The trout are expected to grow about 2 inches by the end of this summer.

Fishermen often shy away from sharing their best spots, so good information can be hard to come by. So, anglers take note: On Wednesday, Wyoming Game and Fish stocked 2,500 rainbow trout in the Big Bend Ponds.

Fish culturist Pete Starr said the 8- to 10-inch fish need about two days to acclimate to their new environment. They should be ready to hit the hook on Friday, just in time for a weekend outing.

"They're big, fat fish, that's for sure," Starr said.

There are seven ponds in the Big Bend group next to the Wind River just south of Monroe Avenue, but not all received fish. One rectangular pond lies in the most central position, and Starr stocked 1,000 fish in that one.

Its three little islands set that pond apart. Starr, following Game and Fish fisheries plans, stocked 500 fish in each of the three, oddly shaped little ponds southwest of the central one.

That same day, he stocked 1,500 rainbow trout in Luckey Pond off Chittim Road in Lander.

Starr filled the ponds by pulling great, wriggling netfuls of rainbows out of a large tank on his truck. He knows there are 4.71 fish per pound and guesstimates the net's weight to calculate how many fish are in it.

"Sometimes we use scales if we need to be more accurate, but I've been doing it for a few years," Starr said.

Then, he simply dumps the net in the pond's shallows. The ball of silvery tails and fins seems to explode once it hits the water, and fish shoot off in all directions.

A few, the ones Starr calls lazy, sit where they fell in the mud and few inches of water, their dorsal fins poking through the surface. With an encouraging prod from Starr, the dawdlers seem to remember they can swim and dart off after their siblings.

Before he starts stocking, Starr tested the pond's water and found the pH was 8.5 and the temperature was 50 degrees.

"This water's pretty good," he said. "They should be able to grow out here."

Starr said rainbow trout thrive in 60 degree water but can live in temperatures from the low 30s up to about 65 degrees. They can handle a pH of 3 or 4 up to 8.5, he said.

Starr predicts the fish will grow about 2 inches by the end of this summer.

Transportation, the new environment and the change in temperature stress the fish, and will strike right away, he said.

"Over the next couple days they'll figure out where they want to hang out," Starr said.

The stocked fish came as eggs from the Story Hatchery south of Sheridan. They hatched and grew for almost a year at the Dubois Hatchery before they were stocked.

Starr thinks Game and Fish will stock again in late May before the Kiwanis Club's Kids Hooked on Fishing event brings lots of youths to fish the Big Bend Ponds.

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