Three small ponds are the centerpieces of the peaceful 18-acre park off Packhouse Road in Fogelsville. On Tuesday morning the only two human visitors shared the park with a muskrat and deer.
But go underneath the placid surface of the pond water and it’s a fish-eat-fish world. Bluegills eat bass fingerlings and the eggs bass lay. Large bass feed on the smaller bluegills.
That’s where Joe Klach comes in. Klach, an avid fisherman and regular at the ponds, recently told Upper Macungie Township officials that he’d be happy to feed the fish regularly so the bass and blue gills could grow bigger. All the township has to do is supply the food.
“You’ve got a quality fishery here,” Klach said Tuesday. The three ponds are largely populated with blue gill, bass and crappies. Klach said he has spent hours using a rake to clean out vegetation on the surface of the largest pond in order to make it easier to fish and for the fish to catch bugs on the surface.
Klach suggested the township do a pilot project, letting him feed the fish regularly to see if by 2013 there are more large fish to catch. That makes more sense than to simply stock the ponds with trout or bass fingerlings, he said. Trout need cold water and the ponds can get quite warm in the summer.
The township put in about 200 bass fingerlings last year and Klach said many likely became food for the blue gills. “You don’t have a lot of baby bass because you have bluegills eating the baby bass,” he said. “What you really need is to supplement the feed.”
The township Recreation Board discussed Klach’s suggestions at last week’s meeting but made no decisions.
Klach’s other recommendation is to make Apple ponds – and all public ponds in Pennsylvania – catch-and-release for bass only. He has e-mailed the state Fish and Boat Commission arguing that such a policy would be good for the fish population and ensure young fisherman have a more exciting experience.
“There’s nothing like catching a big fish to get a kid hooked on fishing,” he said.
Currently, a sign at the Apple Park ponds encourages fishermen to practice catch-and-release but it’s not illegal to keep the fish you catch there. “My belief is if people start to keep the fish it will devastate the fishing here,” he said.
Messages left for a state Fish and Boat Commission spokesman were not immediately returned.
Upper Macungie is planning to hold its Family Fishing Day at Apple Park on July 21. A representative of the state Fish and Boat Commission will be on hand to teach participants some of the basics of fishing.