Well-stocked lakes in Griffith repurchased
By Carrie Napoleon For Sun-Times Media
Catch and eat: Fish A While Lakes in Griffith is not a catch and release environment. Visitors can purchase the fish they catch for $2.30 a pound. | Supplied photo
Hook a kid on fishing – not drugs.
That is the message Terry Daniel and his partner Lou Pringle want to spread through Fish A While Lakes in Griffith.
“We’re parents. Our children were raised on fishing and water sports and things like that. Parents need to become engaged with their children. What better sport to do that than fishing,” Daniel said.
The pair purchased the property — 1447 Broad St. — that features four stocked fishing lakes on 11 wooded acres last June in an effort to revitalize the site and bring it back to its former glory. Daniel had previously owned Fish A While, selling it 20 years ago to pursue other interests.
“I always regretted selling it. It was a fun place. It is a great place for families to go and enjoy the day,” Daniel said.
Dialed back in
Since purchasing the lakes last year with Pringle they have cleaned the grounds, added picnic tables and benches around the four lakes and extensively renovated the bait and tackle shop. The bait and tackle shop also recently received health department approval to sell food and they now offer breakfast items and lunch fare including barbecue beef and pork, ice cream and Torrelli’s pizza.
“We’re getting it dialed back in,” Daniel said, adding his wife Janet, general manager of Fish A While Lakes, has been instrumental in some of the changes. "She oversees the operation of the overall business," he said.
Part of the dialing-in process is ensuring all four lakes are fully stocked with ready-to-eat, farm-raised catfish and, soon, hybrid blue gills.
Daniel said visitors can come empty-handed and find everything they need for a fun fishing experience. Rod and reel rentals, and bait and tackle are available in the bait shop. Since Fish A While is a private lake, no fishing license is required.
Visitors to Fish A While pay $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger to get in and then $2.30 a pound for the fish they catch. The average catfish size is three-fourths to 2.5 pounds. For those who need it, a filet service is available for $1.25 a fish.
“The smaller they are the better they are to eat,” Daniel said.
Since Fish A While is a stocked lake fishing environment, catch and release is not permitted. Visitors are asked not to catch more fish than they can afford.
That is unless, of course, they manage to hook one of the lakes’ monster catfish. Daniel said there are several monster catfish weighing in at 20-plus pounds lurking around in the water. The monsters are fun to reel in, but not quite as tasty to eat. When a big one is on the line, visitors are asked to get staff to assist with the release so the large fish can be returned to the water undamaged and ready to thrill another youngster.
“You can fish any lake when you come and all lakes are stocked heavily,” Daniel said, adding people often call asking what stocking day is, a ritual not really necessary given the amount of fish in the lakes.
Fish longer than a while
It’s also not necessary to be the first one through the gate at 6 a.m. to ensure a catch, or labor for hours in the hopes of landing a fish. Visitors can come and stay as long as they like, though Daniel said it does not take long to fill a stringer of fish.
“(Visitors) are constantly rotating,” Daniel said.
One family came and in and pitched a tent with their young children and stayed the afternoon, the type of visitors Daniels said he encourages.
“When they walked out the kids were smiling ear to ear,” he said.
For more information about Fish A While Lakes, contact manager Chuck Householder at (219) 865-1234.