Pond excavation project leads to impromptu fish rescue effort


Mel DeBuhr, co-owner of M&M Excavating. Newton, uses one of his 72,000-pound power shovels capable of a 60-foot reach to remove silt and moss buildup in a pond south of Hillsboro and owned by Carriage Hills Development Association. The group of homeowners contracted the company to not only remove the sediment, but also to deepen the pond. The work started Tuesday and was expected to take less than a week.

The term ?catch and release? took on new meaning for avid fishermen Max Heinrichs, Len Coryea and Jacob Fish last week.

The three Hillsboro men were responsible for rescuing between 60 and 80 trophy-size bass and crappie from the pond at Carriage Hills housing development on the city?s south side.

Using Tupperware storage bins, a bushel bucket and smaller pails, they managed to finish the rescue mission in less than three hours.

The trio made three ?release? trips to Willow Glen pond, south of where the fish had called home.

Although Heinrichs was aware of the excavation project at the housing development where his residence is located, he didn?t envision the fishing project to turn out the way it did.

?Our (housing) association voted Sunday (Jan. 18) to dig out the pond, remove the silt and make it deeper,? Heinrichs said. ?But I asked for time to get the fish out.?

Monday the excavation work started with pumping out the pond water.

Much to his surprise; however, by Wednesday Heinrichs said he got word the pond was almost drained.

?It (the water) was down to the point we could see dorsel fins,? Heinrichs said, ?but the fish were swimming (and not suffering).?

Even so, Heinrichs and his two helpful friends pitched in from 4:30 p.m. to after 6 p.m. carrying buckets of water filled with fish.

The excavator, Mel DeBuhr owner of M&M Excavating, offered to help by digging out the silt around the small area of water so it was easier to catch the fish, Heinrichs said.

It was impossible to get all the fish removed and transferred to the other pond, he said.

As for the larger fish, Heinrichs said he and his associates watched how well the bass and crappie were doing in their new home.

?All of them swam off and we felt good about that,? he said.

Heinrichs wasn?t sure how old the pond at the Carriage Hills was, but he knew it was more than 18 years old based on personal knowledge.

He said he moved back to Hillsboro 12 years ago and the pond was there at that time.

With the excavation completed, association members will have the pond refilled to a deeper level and sludge-free.

Another part of the plan is to install a fountain in the pond.

?It was a busy week with the tournament (Trojan Classic) here at the high school,? said Henirchs, who is principal at Hillsboro High School.

But in the end it all worked out because the fish rescue mission landed on Wednesday, which was an off-day at the tournament, he said.

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