Mayor’s meeting: All over the lakefront and fishing stuff

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A late winter look east across a calm 31st. Street Harbor, minutes before the state of the monthly Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting on Feb. 16.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Stockings, status and other notes from the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday,  Feb. 16, at 31st Street Harbor.

Bob Long Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy,” for the Chicago Park District, filled in for Tom Gray as meeting chair.

Brenda McKinney, Urban Fishing Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, opened with this truth, “State still does not have a budget. As far as I know, stocking will continue and my program will be in operation.”

She has been doing “lots of schools” and said she is  “totally booked with a school” from the last week of April until the school lets out in June.

In response to a question, she said that West Ridge Nature Preserve (Park No. 568) at 5801 N. Western will be on the bluegill stocking list for May.

Hiring of fishing instructors at this point is still up in the air, but they usually do not post until March anyway.

The venerable Don Dubin asked whether Gompers is on the list of lagoons for repairs by the Chicago Park District. Long will check if anything is planned.

Steve Silic, fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said though there is a “little bit of budget issues, it will not affect fisheries division.” He said stockings will proceed and FPCC may pick up any slack left by the state. He said response at the outdoors shows this winter were positive in general for fishing in the forest preserves. They are also part of a multi-agency grant application for improving habitat and non-natives.

Silic introduced Mike Feldman, technician with fisheries section. He had internships with several area agencies and has a bachelor’s from Northeastern. He started as a resource technician, before becoming a fisheries technician.

“I always wanted to be a fisheries biologist,” he said.

Alsip bass pro Ed Bohn asked what is the direction for the committee in 2017. He also said he thought it was time for a ramp on the Calumet system. There did not seem to be a lot of support either way. He suggested lowering the launch fee to $15 at Cal Park and the Daley Launch on the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Don’t expect that to happen.

I brought up the deplorable conditions at the launch at Cal Park. Long requested photos. I also said this winter the South Side slips have had the best perch fishing since the time when the Steelworkers Park opened four years ago. Long asked whether there are issues with trash and trash cans. There is.

A guest brought up a rambling list of complaints related to DuSable Harbor, but when questioned whether he had reported any of it, said no. The key is to call 911 or, if too afraid of that, contact Long at (312) 656-3852 or call the main Chicago Park District number–(312) 742-PLAY–and ask for security.

Tom Trudeau, former Lake Michigan Program head, had nothing to report, but I tapped him before the meeting for some insight on how Lake Michigan issues work in reality among the different states.

Vic Santuci, current Lake Michigan Program head, said salmon and trout stocking numbers were 879,185 last year, typical for most years. He said all fish are in the hatchery now for the coming year. Chinook stocking will drop from 230,000 to 150,000. There will be 110,000 rainbows/steelhead, 110,000 brown trout, 120,000 lakers and 300,00 coho.

“Just got the steelhead from Indiana two weeks ago,” he said. “Coho and Chinook are looking good and growing well. Should be good fish to stock in May.”

Steelhead and browns are stocked later in the year.

A discussion built around Wisconsin’s bizarre decision, based on pressure from its charter boat captains, to change the suggested cuts in Chinook stockings by making cuts in browns and lakers.

Santuccie noted that about 64 percent of Illinois-caught Chinook are wild, not stocked.

There was some discussion about bass tournaments, particularly from Indiana, not returning fish to Illinois waters. It is not a cut and dried issue.

Don Enright, said he is always nervous about cutting stockings and added, “I am against cutting [Chinook] and I believe in overstocking.” I will add an editorial comment and say I sure hope Illinois sticks with science and does not go down the road that Wisconsin just did in that regard.

Ken Schneider brought up a discussion of the lack of restrooms in the cold months and how it impacts every one. Fishermen need to start showing up and commenting about the lack of cold-weather facilities at the park district board meetings, which are held the second Wednesday each month.

Click here for meeting dates and sites for 2017.

Schneider is considering having Chicago visitors, whom he meets regularly, send letters to the Park District.

The mayor’s meeting is typically held the third Thursday morning of most months, generally at 31st Street Harbor.

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