Young voices yelling, "I got one!" echoed across the Little Rascals Pond on opening day of the Public Safety Center's fishing hole.
Law enforcement officers rushed around with tape measures, sizing up the trout that flopped at the edge of the pond, bending fishing rods held by children.
The second annual "Fish with a Cop Day" brought youngsters and their parents to cast their lines alongside officers from the Craig Police Department, the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado State Patrol.
The pond was stocked twice this spring with "cutbow" trout brought in by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Tim Jantz.
Jantz said the cutbow is a cross between the rainbow and the cutthroat trout. It's feisty and grows quickly, making it an ideal fish for children's ponds, Jantz said.
While other children tugged on their lines and tried to decide whether they had a fish or some pond vegetation, Jesse Ernst was busy putting his catch on a stringer.
"I use lures," Ernst said, throwing a sidearm cast halfway across the pond.
A few feet away, on a grassy point that juts into the water, 5-year-old Sidney Ferguson rolled a glob of pink bait into a ball and jammed it on the hook.
"She dives right in," her mother said. "You should see her with worms."
For a moment, everyone stopped when a thrashing fish was hauled to the opposite bank by a child who needed a little help from Mom.
Jantz smiled at the scene. He said he envisioned the pond to be a place where youngsters could catch a fish and get hooked on the pastime.
"You have someone 4 years old with a chance to catch a fish in a public place," Jantz said.
Each year, the pond is improving. It was once a stagnant pool. But it has been stocked with trout and freshwater shrimp. Walkways were constructed. Last year, it got a name. This year, the pond aeration was added, thanks to Duncan Draper, who donated equipment that adds oxygen to the water. A donation from the Veterans of Foreign Wars helped pay for the electric line that feeds the aerator.
"It's a whole community effort," Jantz said. "Law enforcement donates prizes, and all the guys are out here on their own time. We have a lot of people to thank."
The pond is open to children younger than 12, and children with disabilities younger than 18. It will remain open each day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Oct. 1. Children are limited to two fish per day.
Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org