The “Weigh Station Pond” is very small puddle of water in Cottage Grove Oregon that sits a short walking path away from a truck weigh station. It also happens to be about a 1 minute walk from my office at the water treatment plant along the Row River. It is so heavily stocked at times that ODF&W has said it has more trout per gallon of water than any other body of water in Oregon. On average year it is stocked weekly with around 700lbs of trout in the 10 to 14″ range. For reasons unbeknownst to me this season they have only stocked it twice. Both times with 70 trout ranging from 6 to 12 lbs.
It was also unannounced this year with no stocking schedule posted and the trout delivery truck can only access the pond through my work property. The 1st time they dropped these pigs off myself and my co-worker had the whole place to ourselves for several days. I was a great opportunity to try and catch a 10 lb trout on a fixed line/tenkara rod. Even better was the opportunity to catch these toads on our lunch breaks.
I typically don’t fish this pond much. It is generally a cesspool for the outdoor worlds bottom feeders. A frequent sight of poaching, littering, snagging and general disregard for the area. Even though i have been a dedicated fly fisher for over 30 years Ive never become a pretentious prick about it. I will fish other methods, I don’t care how anybody fishes as long as we all follow the regs and pack out our trash. I don’t shed a tear when somebody bonks a trout on the head if its legal and I am not offended by the sight bait on a hook. That being said I do occasionally stroll down here on lunch breaks when I need to get out of the office and stretch my legs. I mostly just walk but on occasion will bring a tenkara rod I keep in a locker in my office.
While my preference these days is generally smaller mountain streams, wild native trout and traditional Japanese tenkara methods I am also a human being, a fisherman. Whether wild or grown in a swimming pool the sight of 70 gigantic rainbows swimming around within casting range gets my blood pumping and consumes all focus! As somebody who fishes without a reel my window of opportunity to catch these porkers is limited. They only stay close to the bank for the 1st 24 hours or so before they acclimate and angling pressure forces them to the center of the pond. The stars aligned and I showed with my “big fish” rod, the Dragontail Hellbender, and a box of my dirty little secret “flies”. I have found nothing a hatchery trout likes more than a small piece of squirmy wormy material superglued to a hook. Sitting just below the surface or on a slow sink the long tenkara rod allows tiny little movements and undulations to the worm. It paid off! Fighting these fish was not quite the epic Ahab vs the white whale battle I had invisioned but it was still a rush watching them inhale my “flies” and began thrashing about. With no current, nowhere to go and the soft fleshy bodies built by a lifetime in a pen eating food pellets I was able to land these fish fairly quickly. The hellbender had no issue turning and controlling them. Releasing these fish seems odd. Its a put and take fishery, generally if they aren’t caught they don’t last more than 2 weeks or so before dying off. A few weeks after the stocking you can walk around and spot the big belly up floaters out in the pond. While I do enjoy eating fish Ive just been releasing trout for so long that I don’t put any thought into it. Plus, while I am sure its safe I wouldn’t eat anything that came out of that pond. Just personal preference!