Kyle Miller of Chicago messaged an innocent-enough question April 27.
‘‘With perch fishing closed May 1 to June 15, does that indicate you cannot fish for them at all or it’s catch-and-release only?’’ Miller wondered.
I emailed and called fisheries and law-enforcement staff, then received three different answers. Finally, Lake Michigan Program manager Vic Santucci, in consultation with veteran Conservation Police Sgt. Jed Whitchurch and Illinois fisheries chief Dan Stephenson, sent this clarification:
‘‘Our DNR Administration Rule 810.10 for the perch closure specifically refers to harvest being prohibited. Nothing about targeting the species during the closed season.
‘‘ [Subsection] (d): ‘In Lake Michigan, the Calumet River and the Chicago River, including its North Branch, South Branch and the North Shore Channel, the sport-fishing harvest for yellow perch shall not be permitted from May 1 through June 15 annually.’
‘‘So, technically, targeting yellow perch is allowed during the closure, but harvest is not permitted.
‘‘The closure is not meant to shut down lakeshore fishing. It is intended to reduce perch-harvest losses, so that there are enough mature adults around to allow for successful reproduction and recruitment in years when conditions in the lake allow for it. Anglers can provide added protection by not targeting perch during the closure (avoiding additional losses from hooking mortality), but legally they can practice catch-and-release fishing for perch any time of year.’’
There’s nearly two decades of evidence that the perch closure, in its various time frames over the years, nearly shuts down lakeshore fishing, especially for shore fishermen.
I don’t have a magic solution to protect the yellow-perch stock, which has declined dramatically in those decades, and to protect perch fishing on the lakefront, a core experience in Chicago outdoors.
My true hope is that the Springfield and Des Plaines DNR offices understand that protecting the core Chicago outdoors experience is as important as crunching the numbers of perch populations.
The final day of spring turkey hunting is Thursday. FromFriday on, hunters of morel mushrooms or birders observing spring migration no longer will be restrained by the 1 p.m. start at public sites open to turkey hunting.
Illinois’ plan for the ongoing reintroduction of alligator gar is available online at dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/ALGPlan.pdf.
I haven’t seen a ruby-throated hummingbird yet, but the map of the spring migration (hummingbirds.net/map.html) shows them reaching Canada already.
I go out fishing feeling like Yoan Moncada but generally come back feeling more like Kyle Schwarber.
Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.