By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
The Fourth of July weekend is here, and in addition to the fireworks and barbecues, many across the country will be enjoying another favorite pastime this Saturday and Sunday – fishing.
Arkalon Park in eastern Seward County is among those favorite fishing holes with its pond areas, and despite recent rumors of a lack of fish there, anglers of all ages can experience a bite or two during the holiday weekend.
Rumors claimed the city had a lack of money in its budget to stock fish in the pond. Liberal Finance Director Chris Ford said this is because the city’s budget does not include money for such an item.
“The city doesn’t stock the ponds at Arkalon,” he said. “The state does. We’ve got an agreement with them.”
Ford said, at one time, the city issued fishing permits and used the money from that to stock the ponds.
“However, the state came along and said, ‘Instead of you guys charging for permits, we’ll take over that responsibility,’” he said.
Ford said the city receives $5,000 per year from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. This agreement came into place about three to four years ago, and the pact included having the state stock the Arkalon ponds.
“Whatever revenue we get from our permits plus they send us $5,000 a year, and the state actually takes care of stocking the ponds,” Ford said. “I wouldn’t say the city doesn’t have money to stock them. It’s true that we have nothing budgeted because, per our agreement, it’s not our responsibility.”
Ford said he understands the nature of rumors.
“Sometimes, there’s truth to them, sometimes there’s not. I have not heard of any issues with that one,” he said of the lack of stocking at Arkalon.
Ford said while the money the city receives from KDWP could be used for stocking, it is primarily used for items such as road improvements and road and park maintenance.
Lowell Aberson, a fisheries biologist with KDWP in Pratt, said ponds such as the ones at Arkalon are stocked on an annual basis.
“They get about 4,000 channel catfish put in there every year at the end of our culture seasons,” he said. “In our hatcheries is where those fish come from.”
One of those hatcheries is located at Meade Lake State Park. Aberson said Arkalon’s pond received 400 fish which averaged about a pound and a quarter in July of 2008, and in September of that year, 4,100 channel catfish were put into the lake.
“That’s generally what we put in every year,” he said. “That’s normally, what we do.”
Aberson would like to remind fishing enthusiasts of some new regulations. He said some of the older laws were somewhat confusing, and those have been updated to be more in line with state regulations.
“It’ll be five channel catfish a day is what any individual can have.”
Aberson said there are no limits, however, on the size of the fish caught in terms of channel catfish. He said in addition to that species, there are others in the pond area of Arkalon.
“Last year, we put quite a few blue gill in there,” he said. “Basically, the forage species. That’s what the channel cats and largemouth bass need to have to eat.”
Aberson said those 16 and older have to have a Kansas fishing license, and this is all that is necessary to enjoy a day of angling.
The City of Liberal is part of KDWP’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program, through which it is paid annually, and this allows people to enjoy free fishing. Be sure to read the regulations on signs at each fishing pond.