KENNEWICK --- Where do you go fishing if you're a kid and live in the Tri-
Cities, an area known more for its sagebrush and sand than lakes and ponds?
Beginning this spring, you can go to Columbia Park Lagoon, where dozens of
volunteers have been busy in recent weeks transforming a former rock quarry and
swimming hole into a seven-acre fishing pond.
And while fishing will not be restricted just to kids, adults must be accompanied
by a juvenile if they want to bait a hook.
That's because the pond, situated just west of the main bridge that spans the
Columbia River and connects Kennewick to Pasco, was recently chosen by the
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for a pilot project aimed at encouraging
families to fish together.
Under rules adopted by the commission, juveniles (youngsters 14 and under)
can fish the pond without a state fishing license. Anyone older who wants to fish must
buy a license and be accompanied by a juvenile.
"What we're trying to do is encourage parents and others to be teachers and
mentors to our children while having fun outdoors," said Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Bern Shanks. "We can't think of a better place than
this to teach kids basic conservation values."
While the idea to set aside the pond for family fishing activities was WDFW's,
the idea to create the fishing pond came from Tri-Cities stockbroker Ken Johanning,
who was playing golf one day at a local course when he saw a young boy trying his
luck fishing at a water hazard.
"I thought, 'This is the pits'," Johanning recalled. "So after talking to some
friends, I decided to see if something couldn't be done to turn the spot into a great
place for kids to fish."
With labor and materials donated from Bechtel Hanford and numerous other Tri-
Cities companies and individuals, work was started to turn the former quarry into a first-
class fishing pond. A non-profit group, the Fishing Connection, was formed to work
with the Tri-Cities Visitors and Convention Bureau and coordinate construction
"What this project does is bring together state and city government, corporations
and numerous individual volunteers into a collaborative partnership for kids and fish in
the Tri-Cities," said Keith Wolf, WDFW's fish program manager for the area.
"This is a great example of how partnerships for fish and wildlife can be
extremely effective and create something of enduring value for a community," Wolf
Jim Cummins, a WDFW district fisheries biologist, said plans call for the pond to
be drained and deepened. Large screens designed and built by WDFW and volunteer
workers will then be placed underwater to keep planted fish from swimming out of the
pond and into the Columbia River. A short canal connects the pond to the river.
In addition, rocks and large woody debris will be placed on the pond's bottom to
create fish habitat. Floating walkways leading from shore to an island will be
constructed, and 7,000 trees will be planted on parkland surrounding the pond.
Educational signs also will be placed throughout the area.
Once work is completed, the pond will be stocked with rainbow trout, bass,
channel catfish and other warmwater fish species. It will be open to anglers year-round.
WDFW will oversee fishing activities, while the Kennewick Parks and Recreation
Department will be repsonsible for maintaining access to the pond and surrounding
areas, according to Cummins.