During these lazy, hazy days of summer lots of anglers hope to get out of town for a fishing weekend, but finding the time sometimes proves tricky.
But there's good news for Farmington's fishers - living in a town where there's more than 100 ponds means there's plenty of fishing holes, right here at home.
It's pretty well known that the Vermillion River is a protected trout stream, and lots of anglers enjoy going out and doing some catch-and-release fishing for the brown trout in the river.
But ask a few of Farmington's parks and recreation employees, and they can give you a few new spots for catching some pretty good pan fish, right in town.
Forget taking any kind of motorized boats out on the bodies of water in Farmington. Doing so goes against city ordinances and will likely land you a ticket. But there's plenty of shoreline and other spots where you can spend hours with a line in the water.
Farmington parks maintenance specialist Don Hayes works with the community's water system and is an avid fisherman of those same bodies of water.
"There's actually a lot of good fish out there," he said.
It's just a matter of finding them, right? The best places to start are the larger bodies of water - the Prairie Waterway ponds on the southeast side of town; Lake Anne south of 195th Street in the Mystic Meadows development; Lake Julia in central Farmington; and the new ponds near North Creek in the Riverbend addition on the northeast side of the city.
Technically, all of Farmington's fishing holes are man-made ponds, even though two of them have been dubbed lakes. And, parks and recreation director Randy Distad said, only Lake Julia is actually acknowledged as a lake in Farmington's park system. Lake Anne is the name the developer of Mystic Meadows gave to the stormwater runoff pond he built as part of that project.
What's out there
According to Distad, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stocks the Prairie Waterway ponds and Lake Julia in May, because the depth of each body of water provides the appropriate amount of oxygen to sustain a panfish population. There are crappie, sunfish and bass to be had out of either of those two ponds.
But Hayes said there's a good chance for walleye, and maybe even some northerns out of those ponds, too. He said anglers will catch larger fish on bigger lakes, then come and release them in Farmington ponds. Eventually, those fish begin to populate the local ponds, as well.
Though the practice of releasing fish into local ponds isn't necessarily endorsed by Farmington natural resources specialist Jen Dullum, she acknowledges it has happened in several neighborhood ponds around the community, not just the four larger ones.
"A lot of people will walk out their back doors and walk down to the shores to fish," she said.
Mother Nature does her part to stock the local ponds, too, Dullum said, but some of the fish Mother Nature is bringing in are a little less desirable. Bullheads, carp and catfish somehow find their ways up to the recreational ponds via the many streams around the community.
Rules and regulations
Dullum said the city's ordinance against using motorized boats on Farmington's waters makes good sense for a few reasons. First, the city owns the parkland that is home to Lake Julia and the Prairie Waterway system, and eventually the pond in the Riverbend development. That means the city accepts the liability associated with those bodies of water. And besides, the purpose of those ponds ultimately is to collect stormwater runoff.
But maybe more important is the fact none of the ponds in the community has a landing for boats to go in and come out of the water. And that means it would add complications for rescue personnel should a boat overturn.
"We don't promote any type of watercraft on our ponds," Dullum said, "but we do promote shoreline or dock fishing."
Both Lake Julia and the Prairie Waterway section near Prairieview Park on County Road 50 have docks where anglers can drop a line. On any given day, Hayes says he counts 10 to 15 people out at Lake Julia, many of whom have just found a favorite spot along the shorelines.
"I can only imagine they were catching something because if you don't catch, you don't keep fishing," Hayes said.
All of Minnesota's regulations apply when it comes to fishing in Farmington. That means anglers have to have a valid license, and the fish are subject to the state's limits.
The Prairieview Pond system is Farmington's only body of water listed in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Fishing in the Neighborhood program. According to DNR information, there is a large population of bluegill in the water. In addition to the black crappie, sunfish and largemouth bass also present, the DNR has identified white suckers and yellow perch in the ponds, as well.