ALBERTON -- You know those fish stories, about the ones that got away, those big fish that no one ever seems to be able to bring to shore?
“We don’t tell stories,” emphasizes Dean Harkness, vice-president of the P.E.I. Bait Fishers Group.
Prior to a truck arriving from Northern New Brunswick Thursday morning with the fish his group purchased for the Alberton Pond Harkness had indicated there would be more than 750 fish delivered, of which at least 300 would weigh between three and five pounds each. Most of the rest would be in excess of a pound.
And no, it doesn’t appear Harness or other members of the Bait Fishers’ group were telling fish stories. The town pond is now teeming with trout – big fish – for the town’s annual Canada Day weekend fishing derby. Harkness said the fish raised at a hatchery in Charlo, NB, are certified disease-free.
The pond is now closed to fishing to give the new trout, which have a combined weight of close to a ton, time to acclimatize.
It reopens Sunday for a children’s 15 and under fishing derby. The pond will be closed on Monday and reopen on Canada Day, Tuesday, for a family fishing derby open to all ages.
This is the fourth year that the Bait Fishers’ group has stocked the pond for a Canada Day derby and group president Floyd MacKinnon makes it clear why he is so enthusiastic about the activity. “Kids and seniors. They are my priority,” he says.
He sees the derby as a way to get children excited about fishing, and he’s excited about making fishing accessible again to people who might otherwise have difficulty getting to a stream.
“This is free, “ MacKinnon adds, pointing out the town and the bait fishers group hold the license for the pond, meaning people can fish there without an angling license. To make the experience as easy as possible, MacKinnon said the Bait Fishers Group will have rods and reels to loan to people who don’t have their own gear, and they will even supply bait.
The limit is five fish a day and, with the exception of derby days, no more than one of those fish can be in excess of 40 centimeters in length.
During the children’s derby on Sunday there will be prize for the angler who is first to catch a fish as well as prizes for largest fish caught and for the largest catch (combined length of up to five trout). The longest catch last year was 79 inches. Judging by the size of fish CJL Aquaculture delivered from Charlo, N.B., Harkess thinks the catch could be even longer this year. An 89.5-inch catch won the prize during a derby the Bait Fishers’ group hosted last weekend in Stratford.
Besides the recently-stocked fish, the Alberton Pond is home to fish from previous stockings as well as fish that spawned there.
Reflecting on the size of fish delivered, Harness advised, “you might want to tell them to bring stronger line.”