The Indiana Department of Natural Resources stocked 200 channel catfish Thursday afternoon in Lakeside Park for a free public fishing event Saturday.
The catfish, said Randy Lang, DNR statewide hatchery supervisor, are 14 inches in length. The DNR raised them until they were 9 inches long and then last year passed them on to the Terre Haute Correctional Complex, which raised the fish in its indoor fish tanks to the 14-inch length. It was the first time the DNR had used its facility, which was originally used to raise Tilapia for the inmates. Unlike the DNR ponds, the water is kept at a constant mild temperature. Lang explained fish are cold-blooded and grow very slowly in the cold water of the DNR hatchery ponds.
The stocking is part of the DNR's Go FishIN in the City, a statewide effort to promote fishing in Indiana's urban areas. They were stocking fish in six cities, including Fort Wayne.
The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. DNR staff will offer short, instructional sessions on basic fishing equipment and techniques. The sessions will begin each hour at the fishing pier on the east pond. The DNR will also provide free bait and have cane poles, casting rods and other tackle for beginners. Saturday is a statewide Free Fishing Day, meaning no fishing license is required for Indiana residents to fish that day. Those who borrow equipment must register onsite. Staff will help those who need assistance while fishing.
The DNR also stocked 200 catfish in Shoaff Park Pond on the city's north side. Both ponds received 200 catfish last month. Lang said they will stock Lakeside again in June with another 100 fish.