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Fish Daze brings more kids to popular pond

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They came, they fished, some went home with some nice filets, and a good many of the young fisherkids got something special — a hug from the Jazz Bear.

The appearance by the Jazz Bear early Saturday during the second annual Jazz Bear/Murray City Fish Daze at Willow Pond Park was about the only thing that could have torn the young anglers away from the pond full of fish.

His arrival, though, brought youngsters running; his departure sent them back to the pond.

About 700 young anglers showed up, invitations in hand, to receive instruction from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, free fishing and treats.

The appearance of the Bear was, as one parent said, "A nice touch to a perfect day for the kids."

To prepare for the event, the DWR, on a routine stocking schedule, put about 2,000 catchable trout and 2,500 pounds of catfish in the pond.

Many of the kids caught holdovers from earlier plants that went beyond catchable size. One fish topped the scales at nearly three pounds.

For many, the introduction to the Willow Pond, which opened last September, was their first fishing experience.

Mitch Plant, 7, got his first fishing lesson — and fish — at the pond and, being of few words, called it "fun."

Carrie Deal, 12, had a similar word for her outing but presented it with a larger smile.

"I guess that's the best part of this event," said Wayne Oberg, recreation coordinator for Murray City Recreation. "That is, the looks on the faces of the kids when the Jazz Bear gave them a hug or they caught a fish or won a prize. It's one of the events we hold that we have the most fun with."

It was made possible with support and donations from R.C. Willey, Murray city, Jazz Bear, Fish Tech Outfitters, Outdoor Resources Foundation, Stonefly Society, Utah Bass Federation, the DWR and its Dedicated Hunter and Urban Fish Club volunteers.

The Murray Park pond has the distinction of being the first urban fishery to be developed within a complex of other activities, such as baseball, soccer and volleyball.

The park officially opened on May 1, and fishing began last year with the official opening of the pond. Since that time the pond has become Utah's No. 1 fishing hole.

Recent surveys, pointed out Drew Cushing, urban fisheries coordinator for the DWR, show monthly traffic is running about 3,000 fishermen per acre of water. The Murray pond covers about four acres.

"On any given day you will find between 50 and 80 people fishing. That's a lot of people. The second most popular place is Farmington Pond, and it's not even close to Murray."

After Saturday's event, numbers will most certainly go up.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com