From out of the flood, a charming fish rescue tale

Dad, children save blue gills washed out of flooded nature preserve pond

USING NETS AND BUCKETS, (from left) Sydney, Sam and Sierra Hoeft scooped up fish washed out of a pond at the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in the Town of Belgium by floodwaters Monday.
Ozaukee Press staff

The Brad and Sue Hoeft family in the Town of Belgium stumbled upon a life-affirming experience after all the wreckage caused by the storm.

 Just before 7 a.m. Monday, Sue was walking the family dog through the nearby Forest Beach Migratory Preserve when she saw a pond overflowing and hundreds of fish spilling out and down a hillside.

The fish were working to make their way back into the pond, but they needed help.

“She came back home and said the pond is overflowing and fish are all over the place,” Brad said.

So Brad and his son, Sam, 11, ran to the pond with nets and started scooping up fish, mostly blue gills, and throwing them back into the pond.

“It was actually water running down the hill. It was a much bigger job than we expected, so I called my wife and told her to send out our daughters with buckets,” he said.

Soon daughters Sydney, 13, and Sierra, 9, were working alongside Brad and Sam to get as many fish back in the pond as quickly as possible.

He estimated the group was out there for two hours or more.

“We had two shifts going, hauling buckets up the hill to the pond. It turned into a pretty big job,” he said. “We were trying to keep the cycle going as long as we could. We weren’t even aware that pond held any fish.”

Hoeft said they’ve lived in the area for 13 years. In that time, the pond has been full before but never to that level.

“We’ve had heavy rains before and winter thaws where there’s been an overflow but never anything like this,” he said, theorizing that the pond’s outlet channel was unable to handle the volume of water that fell in such a short time.

It was an adventure in any case.

With school at St. John XXIII Catholic in Port Washington starting Tuesday, “we were doing a good deed for the last day of the summer,” he said. “It was quite the rescue mission.”


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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