- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

ADAIR VILLAGE, Ore. (AP) - Four-year-old Quinn Moss’ face lit up as he cast his first line Wednesday morning.

Family friend Ray Wilson said he’d been waiting for that moment all morning. It’s Quinn’s first time fishing at the small pond tucked in the corner of the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area just north of Adair Village. Wilson, wife Roz, grandson Brady McCullum, 4, and Angie Weeks and her two children, Quinn Moss and five-year-old Isabella Moss, decided to make the trip to the popular fishing hole so that the kids could experience the tradition Ray’s known since he was a boy.

“This is what my dad did for me and what I’m hoping to do with my grandson today,” Wilson said. “It’s not about catching fish, it’s about getting closer to the outdoors and having fun experiencing something out here. How many times do you get to do something like this?”

Without the help of a newly installed windmill at the pond, the answer to Wilson’s question would’ve been much more bleak for the hundreds of anglers from Adair, Corvallis, Albany and Monmouth who visit each year. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the mid-valley chapter of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders built the windmill in late April to help trout breathe a little easier and hopefully extend the fishing season a few more months.

Visitors may notice bubbles surfacing near a red-and-white buoy in the center. The windmill oxygenates the water by driving a compressor that pushes air into a submerged airline that bubbles into the pond, increasing oxygen levels needed for fish to survive, according to ODFW. Biologists discovered that dissolved oxygen content had fallen to levels too low to support fish after the pond was stocked with trout earlier this year and some of those fish died. ODFW previously drained the pond to remove aquatic vegetation and make the fishing experience better, but the improvements and the unseasonably warm weather led to spiking water temperatures.

“When the algae died its decomposition used up a lot of the oxygen in the pond, leaving less oxygen available for fish,” said Elise Kelley, ODFW district fish biologist. “When we tested the dissolved oxygen levels in the pond after the fish died, only the top six feet of the pond had sufficient oxygen to support trout.”

Don Wenzel, past president of the Northwest Steelheaders, said he helped construct the windmill because he wanted to help preserve a popular fishing area and ensure that the pastime continued in Benton County.

“I brought my grandson out here a few times and now he’s an avid fisherman,” Wenzel said. “It’s a great place to take young kids because it’s open and calm and there’s plenty of fish because they keep it well-stocked.”

Wenzel is one of the 170-plus members of the Northwest Steelheaders, a fishing advocacy group that provides fishing-based community service all over Benton and Linn counties.

The group worked with Karen Hans, ODFW salmon trout enhancement program biologist, to install the windmill and provided the labor to design its platform, build concrete pads, erect the windmill and make the aeration system functional, according to ODFW. E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area staff assisted in the project.

Following the windmill’s completion, officials stocked the pond with 1,750 rainbow trout and will stock an additional 2,300 trout over the next two weeks.

“If you look around the area, we have a few other spots, but not many that are this great,” said Wilson, while smiling and watching grandson Brady cast his first line. “This is so handy for everyone in town. It’s a great idea to put the windmill out here so we can come out here more. It’s so much fun and gets the kids outside and lets you introduce them to nature. And it keeps fishing alive, which is what it’s all about.”


The original story can be found on the Corvallis Gazette-Times’ website: https://bit.ly/1IwMZGb

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