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Help needed: Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Meeting

The Daley Launch on the Sanitary and Ship Canal and Western Avenue.
Credit: Dale Bowman

City of Chicago Fishing Advisory Committee

March 24, 2016

Community Room, 31st Street Harbor

Tom Gray: Chairing meeting

Here is a recap and highlights of my notes from the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee Meeting.

I lead with a couple requests for help.

Scott Stevenson, Westrec Marinas, said he might be able to assist with clearing debris at the Daley Launch on the Sanitary and Ship Canal at Western Avenue, but he needs a good sidescan or 3-D image of what is there in the launch basin. If a boater or fishermen can get either the memory card or download the image and get it to me (dbowman@suntimes.com) I will make sure Stevenson gets it.

Tom Snooks, head of security for Westrec, made an impassioned plea for fishermen to keep their eyes open on the North Side. A young woman went missing on Feb. 26 at Foster on the lakefront. She had parked at Montrose and went for a run. Snooks said in particular to keep an eye out for shoes or a white scarf. If you notice anything, contact Detective Mark Skweres at (312) 744-8266

Stevenson, fuller report

He said with the two terrible winters 2013-14 and 2014-15, there was at least $1 million in damage in each winter in the harbors. “This year, much smaller amount of damage,’’ he said.

He said they are in “good shape to open the harbors on time.’’ Official opening is May 1.

Once again there will be challenges with higher lake levels, something to note at Diversey in particular.

Because of a park district directive, the gates to parking were no longer kept open in winter. He said they will be open at Belmont and Montrose in time for the smelt opener on April 1.

The floating ramp should be going in the next few weeks at 95th.

Tom Palmisano, Henry’s Sports & Bait

Henry’s 11th annual coho derby is at Navy Pier on Saturday, April 9, roughly from dawn to noon. Reduced parking of $6 will be available.

Have had some issues with pumping and water levels at Palmisano Park.

IDNR

Urban Fishing Program coordinator Brenda McKinney

She said the usual 13 city lagoons will be stocked with bluegill and catfish, the new North Side park may get stocked.

She will be able to hire eight instructors and one clinic supervisor and start fishing at end of April.

Vic Santucci, Lake Michigan Program manager

Everyone should have received the newsletter update that was sent last month in lieu of the usual winter gathering on the state of Lake Michigan fisheries.

Though the IDNR had some difficulty getting Chinook and coho–they ended up getting all their coho from Wisconsin this year–there should be enough for the usual stockings. The problem with getting eggs was the low rate of return to the weirs.

Santucci was just back from a lakewide meeting and there are low Chinook numbers around the Great Lakes, which makes him wonder if some of it is climate related.

Good news is the perch spawn looks very good around Lake Michigan.

And the natural lake trout reproduction is approaching the 50 percent mark around the southern end reefs such as Julian and Waukegan. That drops off considerably to the north.

Alewives remain near all-time low. Which is true of most prey fish.

The low predator-prey ratio means another reduction in predator stockings on Lake Michigan is being considered and probably likely.

The venerable Don Dubin suggested increasing brown and steelhead, because of their possibility of increasing shore fishing.

Steve Silic, fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County

He said the stockings are on schedule for the April 2 opening of spring trout at Axehead, Belleau, Green and Sag Quarry East.

The five campgrounds are fully functional this year.

The walleye propagation program will go shortly.