Recreational fishing is one way that a large segment of visitors to Great Parks interact with nature. However, as Greater Cincinnati becomes more suburbanized and less agricultural in nature, recreational fishing needs a boost in excitement to attract young people. In order to make this connection, the Park District is working on a new initiative to provide fish for stocking that will ensure that the experience will be exciting enough to compete with video games and other activities that compete for kids’ attention.
This initiative is Great Park’s Aquaculture Program. The species targeted for production is the hybrid bluegill, which has a reputation as the fish that will bite on nearly anything and offer a vigorous fight. These fish are actually a cross between two native species: green sunfish and northern bluegill.
Great Parks has made a commitment to grow these fish in three specially constructed culture ponds at Miami Whitewater Forest. Construction was completed in fall of 2009. The project enables fish to be stocked for public enjoyment at less than half of the cost that they can be purchased. Production can be achieved with such savings partly due to donated labor feeding and caring for the fish by Volunteers in Parks. A second reason is the savings in transportation cost. Did you know that to ship 1 pound of live fish, you must also ship between 8 and 16 pounds of water? Purchasing small fish, then growing them locally saves shipping cost and reduces fossil fuel usage.