PLEASANT GROVE -- Slightly more than 200 people arrived at the Pleasant Grove Manila Creek Reservoir on Saturday to celebrate its grand opening as a fishing and wading pond created by the city for free public use.
Additionally, it was Utah Free Fishing Day and many had come to take advantage of the annual opportunity. There were several other free fishing events across the state including the 33rd Annual Huck Finn Day in Spanish Fork and the "Kid's Fishing Event" at the Wasatch Mountain State Park pond, west of downtown Midway.
"Of course, afterward we would prefer you also get a fishing license," said Tanya Kieffer, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Community Fisheries biologist. She spoke at the Pleasant Grove event before the ceremonial fishing line ribbon cutting for the pond facility.
Stocked with thousands of albino and rainbow trout, the Manila Creek pond competed for program attendence with most chosing to listen to the speeches from the speaker system rather than leave their fishing vigil by the shore.
In keeping with the public response, speeches were kept short and to the point.
"We want to get everyone outside and not in their house playing on their Xboxes," Kieffer said. "We want all of you to enjoy this and we should thank the city. They have been working super hard to get this done."
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocks the Manila Creek pond and works with the Pleasant Grove Recreation Department to provide fishing for everyone, however, those 12 and older must have a license to fish.
She said the seven-acre pond would be stocked with 10,000 fish by season's end and not all of those were fingerlings. Sizes range from 6 to 18 inches, although Pleasant Grove Mayor Bruce Call said there was a 24-inch rainbow in there waiting to be caught again that had been caught and then released by an avid fisherman.
"This is a great asset for this community," said Call. "It's a reservoir for our water and for our recreation as well."
Families of all sizes, some multigenerational, were at the park as were a few young men there with a fishing buddy there to enjoy the sport. Small children were using the roped-off wading spot with its sandy beach set apart from the fishing area. Benches are placed around the large pond and there was a fish cleaning station for those who wanted to take their catch home.
Chuck D. Harvey, of Pleasant Grove, came to fish with his son, Chuck F. Harvey, and the rest of his family. He has been coming to the pond everyday since its unofficial opening.
"I look at the beauty, you can't beat this," Chuck D. Harvey said. "Three years in the making and from my home in 10 minutes I can be here."
Both men had caught their limit and then released their catch back into the pond. They said they planned on working then returning to the pond after they were done.
Free hot dogs, chips and drinks were served and the mayor and other officials were handing out custom Pleasant Grove fishing bobbers after the program was concluded.