The big news here in Neosho: they’re almost done!

The big news here in Neosho: they’re almost done!
That would refer to our three trout production ponds that have been undergoing renovation since May. They were last used for rainbows back in April, and were seined and drained for the last time as dirt-bottom ponds then. The last time these structures had any significant work done was back in the late 1930s, when WPA projects helped with their cleaning and rebuilding, along with construction of four miles of rock walls. So almost 80 years later, the pieces came together allowing us to revisit those important components of our fish production.
After the ponds dried from their trout holding days, and after our spring flooding rains came through, the initial steps began in earnest. Jackhammers and heavy equipment made short work of the old walls, and many piles of bottom dirt were removed. The old ponds were rather bowl-like in their appearance, but the new design would have a flatter bottom surface. The dirt bottom worked fine for fish all these years, but workers had to fight with plants, algae and mud when trying to get the fish out. Also, the outlines were smoothed so there were fewer irregular places were fish could hide from our attempts at removing them – another plus.
Workers took most of June off as we had a lot of traffic around the hatchery. We always host two big fishing derbies in June – Kids Day and Senior Fishing Day, plus lots of visitors. With the heat of summer upon us, work resumed with the reshaping of the ponds, pouring concrete footers, then new walls, adding decorative stones to the walls (to help commemorate our past), adding new ramps and sluices, and finally the new liners for the bottoms. The final touches were to fill in all the holes and plant grass where things were disturbed. The grass has actually done a good job sprouting, despite the fall coolness when it was planted.
All we are waiting on until water goes back in is some covers for the sluices and various other screens and plates. So as mentioned above – things are just about done with this huge project! It won’t be long before these relics from 1888 are back in business again with a bit of 2017 know-how and a look ahead for the next hundred years of hatchery happenings.

Bruce Hallman writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.