LONGMONT, CO – MAY 27, 2020: Xiu Xiu Miller, and her father, Louis, catch a fish at Izaak Walton Nature Area on May 27, 2020. Fishing is restricted to children 15 and younger. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Stocked with bluegill, trout and green sunfish, the waters of Izaak Walton Pond are teeming with life.

Since 2003, the Chick Clark Kids’ Fishing Program has designated the nearly 16-acre pond for youths 15 and under, offering them a place to cast a line and learn the craft without the competition of adults fishing nearby. The city, however, has received complaints that adults, despite numerous signs, still come to the pond and fish.

A 7-year-old boy and his mother, ...
A 7-year-old boy and his mother, who asked not to be identified, fish at the Izaak Walton Nature Area on May 27, 2020. Fishing is restricted to kids 15 and younger.

“It continues to be an issue,” said Dan Wolford, the city’s land program administrator . “It’s no secret that the pond is for youth 15 and under, but we continually have adults who either sneak in or totally disregard the signs. With people wanting to get out (due to the coronavirus), we will probably see more and more people out there.”

A police officer, animal control officer or city ranger can issue a citation for violation municipal code to adults who are caught fishing in Izaak Walton. The citation could include up to a $1,000 fine, according to Wolford. Enforcing park rules and regulations, however, with only three staffed city rangers is a challenge, Wolford said.

“The difficulty is we have an existing ranger program; however, the rangers are housed at Union Reservoir and as crazy busy as Union Reservoir has been, they don’t have the ability to get out and patrol any of the other city facilities,” Wolford said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife helps to stock Izaak Walton twice a year with various fish, including black crappie, black bullheads and carp. Other program partners include Kids Fishing Inc. and the Longmont Breakfast Optimist Club.

Wolford approximated that a couple of dozen adults violate the rule and fish at the pond over a given warm-weather weekend. Others who take their children to the park regularly have also seen adults fishing.

Laura Martinez, of Longmont, said she has seen adults fishing at the pond, usually in the evenings. She said “yes,” it does bother her when she sees them violating the rule.

“I like that this is just for youth,” Martinez said. “That way, there’s not a competition from adults.”

On Friday, her son Angelo Martinez and his friend Diego Guzman , both 14, fished off the pond’s pier.The teens have been visiting the pond roughly once a week for the past month. For the past roughly three years, they’ve also participated in community events at the pond.

“I just appreciate the wait and the fishes getting on the line,” Guzman said.

Just after 11 a.m., Guzman said he had caught four fish and that they were some of his best catches yet. When asked what Guzman has learned fishing at the pond, he said “patience.”

On the other side of the pond,  Patrick Simons fished with his sons, 2-year-old Calvin and 4-year-old Kian.

“We’ve been to a couple of other (fishing) places,” Simons said. “I’m just trying to get the kids interested in fishing and teach them patience.”

Within about 20 minutes of father and sons standing on the shore, there was a tug on the fishing line. Simons helped Kian reel in a roughly 4-inch blue gill. Kian smiled as he held his catch and Simons snapped a picture with his phone.

Simons said the pond is stocked with fish for the kids and that adults should respect that.

“It’s nice to have something just for the kids,” he said.

Wolford said if a parent does see an adult fishing at the pond, they can call the Longmont Police Department’s non-emergency number — 303-651-8501 — to report it. He asked people not to confront others if they see them disobeying rules. Wolford asked adults to follow the rules.

“This has been designated for the kids of Longmont and the surrounding community. Let the kids have a space where they don’t have to compete against adults to catch fish,” Wolford said. “The concept is to get kids outdoors.”

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