Cory Bloyd stepped off the plywood at the edge of Gainesway Pond and sank up to his knees in goo.
It was an unusual start to a fishing trip, but then, it was unusual fishing.
Bloyd and Bert Remley, biologists who work for Third Rock Consulting, were using electric shocks to catch fish from the pond, which is being drained in an elaborate effort to revive it.
The mild shocks made the fish jump from the water and temporarily stunned them, making it easy to scoop them into a net.
“We're going to put them in deeper water and make them happier fish,” said David Gabbard, a city engineer who watched from the bank.
Tuesday's fish rescue was part of a $1.3 million effort to transform the south Lexington pond from a stagnant mess to a showplace of environmental friendliness.
Most of the money is coming from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Employment Solutions Inc., a nearby business, also is contributing.
When it's completed this fall, there will be a walking trail, boardwalk, wetland, amphitheater, and native trees, bushes and aquatic plants.
It also will be a good place to fish.
But the fish eventually snagged on a hook won't be the same ones caught Tuesday.
The several catfish and 1,000 small brim and green sunfish caught Tuesday were taken to West Hickman Creek and released. When the project is finished, Gabbard said, the pond will be restocked with bass, bluegill and a few catfish.
Tuesday's fish rescue was arranged quickly by Gabbard when he noticed that the fish were becoming stressed and that some were being eaten by turtles.
(It's assumed that the turtles and many frogs in the shrinking pond can crawl or hop to a nearby creek and save themselves.)
The catch of the day was a huge grass carp about two feet long. Because it is not a native species and can't be put into a creek, it found a new home in a city pond in Hartland.
The carp had been 8 inches long when Gabbard put it and five others in the pond in the fall of 2006 to keep down algae.
In the first step in the restoration, the 70-year-old pond was drained in 2006, and 10,600 cubic yards of muck that Gabbard refers to as “pudding” was hauled away to be used as landfill cover.
Wildlife officials said the fish in the pond then were of poor quality; they were not moved.
The small fish caught Tuesday could have come in as fish eggs stuck to the feet of ducks and geese. Some might have been put in by local residents.
Gabbard said he is considering putting a sign up on the completed project, asking people to not introduce variations to the official restocking program.