Five-year-old Valor Kemper of Gillette fights to land a catfish at Gillette Fishing Lake at Dalbey Park Friday morning.
Gillette Fishing Lake at Dalbey Park receives 250 catfish
When the cork went under, five-year-old Valor Kemper leapt up from the ground and set his feet. The line went taut as he rocked back to set the hook. His Uncle Aaron Kemper set his own rod down in case his nephew needed help. A look of sheer determination and intensity washed over the young boy’s face as he cranked the reel. He needed no help.
“Don’t give him any slack,” Kemper told his nephew. “That’s it. Reel him in.”
The fight lasted less than 30 seconds. When it was over, Valor reached and grabbed his line, lifting up the foot-long catfish so his uncle could get a look as the boy’s intense expression gave way to a smile.
“I knew you had him,” Kemper said.
So far this morning the pair are tied at two fish apiece as they fish on the shore of Gillette Fishing Lake at Dalbey Park Friday morning. Kemper, who moved to Gillette last September to work and to be closer to his brother and family, said he brings his nephew fishing at the lake whenever his work schedule allows. They enjoy spending time together, he said, and while they do keep score, he always hopes he loses.
The Kempers weren’t the only local residents out at Dalbey Park that morning. All around the lake, fishermen in singles and pairs were baiting hooks, walking the bank and casting.
And for all of them, the odds just got better.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) announced in a press release Thursday that they recently stocked 6,000 channel catfish into 19 community fishing ponds statewide. The lake at Dalbey Memorial Park got 250.
The catfish are larger than typical stocking size according to the release. At 13 to 14-inches each in length they should put up a good fight.
The catfish come from the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk from their in-house aquaculture program. This is the first time Game and Fish has worked with the Women’s Center facility. Normally species such as catfish, because they require a warm water hatchery, are acquired by fish trades from other states.
Even though the new fish are big enough to make good table fare, Toby Fiske of the Gillette Parks Division says it’s not recommended that they be eaten.
“Essentially the lake is part of the city’s storm water system,” Fiske said. “Anything from the lake west drains into Donkey Creek. Basically, any water draining from residential areas of the city could wind up in the lake.”
While you shouldn’t eat the fish from the Dalbey Park lake, they’re sure fun to catch, according to Fiske.
“There are some big fish in that lake,” Fiske said. “I rescued a 30-pound carp that had gotten hung up in there recently.”