By Kelly Morgan – Lebanon Daily Record
Flooding early this week made travel difficult for people and easy for fish — although the fish took only minimal advantage of the opportunity.
On Sunday flood waters rose higher than the levy that separates the Bennett Spring State Park trout hatchery from the spring branch, making it physically possible for the trout to escape into the spring branch. However, Hatchery Manager Ben Havens said that while some fish probably did get out, the majority of them seem to have stayed at the hatchery, confining their adventures to visiting other raceways.
“A lot of times when we have flood events like this, the fish tend to hunker down just as they would if the were out in the wild in the stream,” Havens explained. “And they’ll hunker down and kind of stay out of the current, and a lot of times they’ll be pretty much in the same spot they were once the water recedes or the event passes.”
Havens said he is optimistic that most fish stayed in the area of the raceways and went back into the runs when the water receded, but the water is murky and hatchery staff have not had a chance to inventory the hatchery’s fish.
“Once we get some time under our belt here, we’ll have a better understanding of the significance of what happened,” Haven’s said. “It’s still really dirty; the water’s really dirty. It’s hard to see in the raceways. It’s not near the clean, pristine water that you normally see, so it’s hard for us to tell, it’s hard for us to get in there and work with the fish because we can’t really see what we’re doing.”
While the trout mainly stayed on the hatchery side of the levy, they evidently felt comfortable traveling from one hatchery run to another. Havens said the fish, which were previously organized based on size, are now mixed together.