The spring thaw has arrived, and it’s time to return to water recreation! If your kids have watched people fishing along Reston’s lakes and streams and begged to give it a try, this weekend is their chance. Thanks to RA, you can introduce your kids to fishing this Saturday, free of charge.
Reston Association is hosting its annual Kids’ Trout Fishing Day this Saturday, March 21, 2015, from 8am-12pm. It will take place along Snakeden Branch Stream in Reston, between Soapstone Drive and Lake Audubon. The stream will be stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout, and kids aged 2-12 are invited to learn to catch these fish. All necessary equipment will be provided, and volunteers will be available to teach the kids how to use it. Additional volunteers will clean and fillet the fish that children catch. Imagine the kids’ pride if they catch dinner for their families!
Participation is free, but you must register here to reserve a spot. Only children may fish during the event. After it ends at noon, adults and teens who have Virginia fishing licenses may fish for the remaining trout. You can get a fishing license online at www.dgif.state.va.us.
To learn more about this event, and about Reston fishing in general, I spoke with Nicki Belleza, the Watershed Manager for Reston Association. She is responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of Reston’s lakes, streams, and watersheds. I know very little about fishing, so I was curious to hear her inside perspective.
One of the first things I wanted to know is the process of stocking a stream with fish. How does that even work? Nicki explained to me that for the Kids’ Trout Fishing Day, Reston Association has purchased 400 rainbow trout from a farm in Goshen, Virginia. The fish will be delivered in water tanks on a truck. Nicki, her colleagues, and a group of volunteers will carry the fish in buckets from the truck to the stream, and release them into the water.
Nicki explained that trout has to be stocked for this event, because these kinds of fish aren’t able to live in Reston’s streams year-round. During the summer, many area streams dry up, and the remaining streams get too warm.
A variety of fish do reside in Reston’s lakes, though. RA conducted a fish survey in 2007 to examine the quantity and conditions of fish present. The survey revealed that largemouth bass and bluegill reside in all four lakes, and you may also be able to find sunfish, perch, black crappie, and more.
One troubling discovery in the survey was that largemouth bass are not growing as large as they should. This type of large fish may be desirable to catch, but they are important predators in the lakes’ ecosystems. People have been catching and removing the biggest largemouth bass, disrupting the balance of the lakes’ fish.
To address this problem, RA requires that people catch and release all largemouth bass larger than 12 inches long. Smaller largemouth bass should be removed from the lakes when caught.
For more guidelines and information about fishing in Reston, read RA’s fishing page. And if your kids would like to try to catch a rainbow fish this weekend, be sure to sign up for this free event. I do love the diverse recreation opportunities here in our city in the trees.
Photo credit: Sean Bahrami and Nicki Bellezza from Reston Association. Many thanks to both of them for their contributions to this article.