by: Eric Allee 9/21/2017
Our plan yesterday was to head up to Longmont and fish Izaak Walton pond in Longmont. Iíve been taking my son little Eric there since he was two or three years old. Itís always been an awesome place to get kids into a number of different species. Over the years weíve caught bass, crappie, catfish, carp, and tons of trout. After the flood a few years back we fished it once, but the pond was still recovering from the flood so the fishing was a bit off. I called the city of Longmont yesterday to make sure they were still stocking it and the lady assured me it was still fishing great.
The drive up little Eric was describing how awesome Izaak Walton pond was to my fifteen-year-old niece Payton. He explained how it was a pond just for kids and after she turns 16 sheís no longer allowed to fish it. ďItís a spot where kids can catch fish without the adults screwing it upĒ he said. As we pulled into the parking lot that proved to be an inaccurate statement.
It was 4pm as soon as we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a couple of guys sitting in their car in the parking lot. Thereís no PC way to put this but they looked to be tweakersÖ I donít want to write an entire report on what a tweaker looks like, but itís an unmistakable look. I immediately started weighing our options. At first I thought you know what itís only two dudes and itís theyíll probably leave in a few anyway. We got out of the truck and went to go check out the water. As we were walking down a woman came over from the river and sat down next to the lakeÖ again with that unmistakable look. Before we started heading back to the truck I noticed there wasnít a single kid there fishing.
Like I mentioned earlier in this blog Iíve been taking little Eric there since he was two or three years old. Weíve fished there on some frigid days where we had to make multiple trips back to the truck and warm up. This was the first time we didnít see anyone else fishing. It was 4 oíclock which means kids were out of school but not one kid fishing. I didnít see the normal foot traffic around the path we used to see eitherÖ Now Iím sure this could all be coincidence, but it certainly didnít seem like it. As we made our way back to the truck more people were walking in from the river into the park. Once we got into the truck I asked the kids what they wanted to do and they both said letís go somewhere else. We start backing up and almost get plowed into by three people speeding through the parking lot. If Iím coming across too judgmental I apologize but they three people in the car that almost hit us again looked to be tweakers. We all felt a sigh of relief as we pulled out of that parking lot and away from a KIDS POND!
I decided to call the non-emergency line for the Longmont Police department after we drove away. I asked them if this was normal for there to be this kind of activity at the fishing pond designated for kids and was told thereís a large homeless population in Longmont and they can use the parks just like anyone else. The woman I talked to actually seemed defensive that I called asking questions about it.
My take on this might be insensitive but I care more about the neighborhood kids having a pond where they can fish without worries than I do some tweakers having a safe haven to do whatever the hell they want. I also understand thereís a difference between a homeless person and a tweaker or drug addict. Iíve worked in Commerce City my entire adult life and thereís no mistaking the zombie like appearance of someone abusing meth. Itís one thing to see these people in areas weíre used to seeing them itís another to see them in the parking lot of a pond thatís helped countless kids get hooked on fishing.
When weíre young our fishing world is the ponds that are within a bike ride of our homes. It saddens me to know there are likely kids in neighborhoods all across the front range that feel safer sitting in front of their TV playing video games than they do riding their bikes down to the pond. It stings even worse at Isaac Walton because itís been stocked to the gills with different gamefish for years and itís designated as kids pond. Before it was perfect and Iíd recommended this pond to anyone with a young angler looking to have a blast. Now Iím advising people to steer clear and head elsewhere. I guess it could have just been our timing, but with zero kids fishing it, and the Longmont Police department dispatchers comments things donít look good.
The fact is weíre losing good ponds that have been the catalyst to getting countless young anglers hooked on fishing up and down the front range for decades. Like I mentioned earlier in this blog I care more about the kids having safe places to fish than I do the people whoíve decided to make these parks or ponds their new stomping grounds. This isnít an easy thing to talk about and obviously itís extremely complex with high cost of living, drug addiction, etcÖ I do think there has to be something that can be done especially in cases where itís happening at a park designated for children to fish!
Iím grateful for all the wonderful families I see who make sure their children and their childrenís friends are exposed to how awesome fishing can be. Conversely Iím also deeply saddened to think thereís a kid with a their tackle box and fishing rod sitting next to a bike ready to go, but for safety reasons they might be stuck inside playing video games.
Little Eric years ago with one of many rainbows caught that day at the kids pond.
Blog content © Eric Allee
Tbubb, CO 9/21/2017 9:51:50 AM
Sad situation, but I have to say...
I would not solve it by giving police the power or 'right' to go make people move or leave or whatever becuase of how they look, etc...
I'm a rule of law guy, and if you give the cops the power to "do something" they will "do something" alright, and it won't be limited to what you have in mind.
So what is the solution? Where else can Tweakers go? What programs or resources are preventing that tragedy?
I guess that's nto fishing related, but the problem is much bigger than feeling uncomfortable fishing at a pond.
I took my 3.5 year old (at the time) up and down Boulder Creek fishing and wading last summer a few times. There are camps/users of various stripes along the bank. It is really happening. I hear in Denver you have to watch out for the needles now, along the S Platte through town...
So now what?
Ajax5240, CO 9/21/2017 10:30:47 AM
Forward that story along to the local news, police chief, and anyone else with authority you can. While they may have a right to use the park, they don't have a right to "use in the park".
If we can get harassed about if a can of beer is 3.2 or not in a state park, how the heck can a blind eye be turned towards people smoking meth (or whatever you do with it) in a public area?
Eric Allee (TigerHunter), CO 9/21/2017 10:40:17 AM
It's a sad situation for sure and as you'll notice in the blog I don't offer up a solution as I don't have one. It's an extremely complex ordeal that goes well beyond fishing like you mentioned. That being said I won't downplay the importance of being able to go fishing and be comfortable especially in areas that are geared for kids. One of the reasons I wrote this blog is to open up some dialog and talk about these issues, and always clearly steer people clear of that particular pond for the time being. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people who're dealing drugs or abusing drugs in parks we set aside for a children to be arrested.
Goosehunter82, CO 9/21/2017 12:27:56 PM
Good wright up. Unfortunately this is the future of this country, especially Colorado. Marijuana is the gateway drug to bigger and better things. Colorado has made its self very attractive to pot users nation wide. The police in one way or another already have the power but untimely you move one drug user there is another two to fill there place. Until there are more treatment options and better youth educational programs ($$$) the problem will only get worse.
Luke the Dog, CO 9/21/2017 1:02:01 PM
They have a right to use the park, but not a right to use drugs or litter at the park! Too bad the cops decide it's not worth their time, often all they have to do to get rid of a bad element is take a drive through the parking lot every couple hours. I live in Pueblo and you wouldn't believe some of the creeps I see around the river access areas on a regular basis, the only thing that keeps them away is cold weather in the wintertime....
JKaboom, CO 9/24/2017 6:15:21 PM
That's a shame.
Basschaser, CO 9/27/2017 11:49:23 AM
I belive the big picture was already covered at engineers pond forum. In a nut shell you should carry a defensive weapon ( sad I know) also recognize that 99% of career homeless are drug addicts who contribute nothing and only destroy their surroundings then move on.
Holwayout, CO 9/27/2017 8:29:41 PM
Sorry to hear about your negative experience. I would have done the same--call the non-emergency number. Pretty pitiful response from the the dispatchers, I agree. What are you supposed to do in that situation? The last thing any of us would be inclined to do is engage seemingly unhinged individuals into a friendly conversation about fishing at that location. Wondering what the outcome would have been if you stayed and fished. It sucks because you don't want to spend the day constantly looking over your shoulder. That's when a concealed carry license would come in handy--you're minding your own business trying to enjoy fishing, and if creeps try to menace you at least you have some k form of protection. It almost seems like that's the scenario the unsympathetic dispatcher might be trying to encourage?
Still, wouldn't it be great to bring a big group of kids and adults there and use the pond for fishing and make the tweaker set want to leave in search of some place else?
Abel1, CO 9/28/2017 8:32:03 AM
Sounds to me like "their" presence is because there is "no" presence. Gather up a few of your friends or maybe hold some type of fishing derby/seminar/draw attention from the kids and parents in the area and take it back. Make them uncomfortable and they'll move on. Right now if its fairly vacant for most the time then its a nice place for them to hang out.