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Fish and Wildlife officer David Goodlett and Jason Chesser with Parks and Recreation maintenance, with the assistance of Officer Brian Wooldridge, tossed back the fish they found wriggling among the dead last Thursday.
They were able to save one small turtle that quickly ducked beneath lake weeds and disappeared from sight.
Goodlett initially estimated last Thursday that there were about 500 total dead fish and turtles caught in the three commercial fishing nets placed in the middle of the Anderson County community park lake.
Goodlett has been getting complaints of individuals illegally taking and re-selling catfish to pay lakes for the last two years, and initially thought the nets were the result of the same people.
In reality, the baited nets were placed in the community park lake as part of a sampling study with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, according to a biologist with the department.
Dane Balsman, fisheries biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, said he uses the baited hoop nets to check for length and weight of catfish in many of the 39 lakes participating in the Fishing in Neighborhoods program.
This was the first time Balsman had sampled the Anderson County community park lake with the nets to get an idea of stocking rates.
Balsman said they set the net for 72 hours, and typically, no catfish or other wildlife are fatally trapped inside the baited nets.
What happened at during the Anderson County community park lake sampling was unusual, Balsman said.
“Unfortunately sometimes we get by-catch, either other species of fish, in that case blue gill or crappy, but we get some turtles now and then,” Balsman said.
Balsman estimated the total loss to be closer to 25-30 turtles, two or three catfish and about 100 blue gill. He said the decomposition of the turtles caught inside the nets may have attracted other fish.
Balsman said because of the high rate of reproduction of blue gill and the lack of catfish that died in the nets, the monetary loss of stocked fish for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife was not that great.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife stock the park lake with about 800 keeper-size catfish and 1,500 trout a year, Balsman said. They restock the lake four times a year: March, April, May and August.
Anderson County community park has been involved in the Fishing in Neighborhoods program since 2009.