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Chicago fishing: Mayor's meeting notes

Some notes from the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting Thursday morning at 31st Street Harbor.

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty of the meeting, take a moment to enjoy the scenery of winter at 31st Street Harbor.

Vic Santucci, Lake Michigan program head, said that CPO Jed Whitchurch brought up a conservation question as much as a legal one: What can be done about returning perch to the holes in the ice from such high spots as Navy Pier and the pier north of 87th Street.

There was a discussion about how some have used PVC pipe or rain gutters to get undersized perch safely back into the hole in the ice from the high sides. There had been talk before about trying aerators where that is possible.

After a discussion, it was decided that a committee of Santucci, Tom Palmisano, Ken “The Lakefront Lip” Schneider and Scott Stevenson would seek permission to test a couple at Navy Pier. Could be cool. Stevenson said the aerators are called The Ice Eater.

In other notes from Santucci: He said that stocking numbers from last year are up on ifishillinois.org. I will save you looking for it: click here. . . . He said that, despite the run to weirs being down significantly in Michigan, Illinois did receive the regular number of Chinook and coho eggs for the hatchery system. . . . There will be an informational meeting on Lake Michigan at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Des Plaines DNR offices, as usual at 9511 W. Harrrison, Des Plaines. . . . A winter creel is being done by the Illinois Natural History Survey, the first year-round creel done in many years on Lake Michigan.

* Scott Stevenson of Westrec Marine said they have a 10-year contract to operate the harbors. Then he noted it had been 18 years he was here. That is pretty amazing.

“In the harbors, we retained a commitment to retain access for shore fishermen,” he said. “I am proud of the work done together. Expect us to continue to support the rights of fishermen.”

Capt. Don Enright, he of 50 years of slip rental experience, testified, “When a private company came in to run the harbors, I was a doubting Thomas. I thought it would be tough. But you started treating us like human beings and customers.”

Stevenson said there is a video at the Westrec-Chicago Park District booth at the Progressive Chicago Boat, RV and Strictly Sail Show, which runs through Sunday at McCormick Place South Hall, showing 18 years of history of the Chicago harbors.

* Tom Palmisano from Henry’s Sports and Bait said that fishermen have been better at buying pier passes, which allow legal access to select harbors, than in previous years. . . . In April, Henry’s will start a new tournament, “Henry’s Fishing Hall of Fame,” which will be more wide open and less restrictive than the old Daley Derby. . . . A bubbler system is being installed at Palmisano Park.

* Veteran Alsip bass pro Ed Bohn said there were problems with launching at the Daley ramp at 31st and Western because of stuff on the bottom. It will be looked into. But that may take some doing because it would probably involve work by a crane on a barge. . . . Bohn lobbied Santucci to make sure that the officials do not poison anything on the Cal again with Rotenone, as was done several years ago in a panic about Asian carp.

* Steve Silic, head fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said ice fishing has been OK. The forest preserves have 22 lakes open to ice fishing.

* Carl Vizzone wins a tiny trophy for fantasy bass fishing (yes, there is such a thing) and received his trophy, such as it was, from Bohn.