The gaping hole on the west side of Mitch Drive Park in the Gardnerville Ranchos will soon be transformed into Douglas County's premier urban fishery, according to Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District Manager Bob Spellberg.
"We're hoping it's well-used," Spellberg said Tuesday. "The district is always looking for public input about what we should do next."
The 2-acre pond has been in the planning stages for years. Spellberg put the total cost of the project at $600,000. The district secured a State Question No. 1 match grant to cover approximately $281,250 of that amount.
"It's taken three years to get to the point where we are now," Spellberg said. "We're doing everything we can to make sure it's going to work out for the public."
Spellberg said workers have been lining the bottom of the large hole, which reaches a depth of 15 feet, with clay and a chemical compound for sealing. Erosion control, landscaping and berming are also part of the work.
Spellberg expects inflow from a nearby well to commence by the second week of November, and for the hole to be completely filled by early December. He said an artificial outflow will help circulate the water and will be used to irrigate surrounding trees and grasses. Four aerator stations will further maintain adequate oxygen levels.
"The end of this November we'll start introducing food, nothing catchable, just minnows," Spellberg said.
In March, the Nevada Department of Wildlife will begin stocking the pond with trout. In June, the department will add bass, bluegill and channel catfish.
"NDOW required the pond to be this big so they wouldn't have to come back so often," Spellberg said.
Trout, a cold-water fish, may not be self-sustaining in the pond. Bass, bluegill and channel catfish, however, are warm-water species that will be self-sustaining, Spellberg said.
"If some trout go deep and live, then great," he said.
Some residents in the area have expressed concerns over the safety of the pond, worried that children may venture into the water. Spellberg said the district has installed a fence around the playground at the park to separate the two features.
He compared the pond to the Martin Slough in Gardnerville, a popular fishery on the edge of Chichester Estates. Like those ponds, the Ranchos pond will be open to anyone with a valid fishing license. State regulations will apply, and swimming and boating will be prohibited.
"We think it's something close to our constituents, something that people can walk to or ride their bikes to and where they can spend time with their families fishing," Spellberg said. "Eventually the gazebo will go up, we'll get picnic tables and shade trees, and it will be a place where people can recreate without having to go far from home."