A scene in Cal Harbor, which should be easier to access for boaters with a promise to improve the ramps by May 1.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Ramps at 95th, honor & Chicago fishing stuff: Mayor’s Meeting

SHARE Ramps at 95th, honor & Chicago fishing stuff: Mayor’s Meeting
SHARE Ramps at 95th, honor & Chicago fishing stuff: Mayor’s Meeting

Honor to a pig on a leash.

I’ll get to the nuts and bolts of theMayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, March 24, at 31st Street Harbor. The meeting was chaired by Tom Grayfrom the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

But let me start with honor, do the general notes and end with a pig on a leash.

Westrec Marinas’ Scott Stevenson took time from the crush of getting the Chicago harbors open for a report and to answer questions.

In the process of that, Larry Conn asked if there was possibly any relief on the cost of launching, then mentioned that some were counterfeiting their launch tickets. Let’s not mince words, stealing.

Stevenson said that Standard Parking now monitors all revenue for the launches, then Stevenson made a point I think worth making, “My honor is worth more than $30 for a launch.”

Bingo. In the big picture, you can justify the stealing of the launch fees (I’m not a lawyer or cop, so I am not sure what the true charge would be but it is, simply put, stealing) because of the high cost, crossing an ethical or moral line.

I could understand doing that if it was about access, but it is not. It is about the cost of access.

But I digress on my high horse.

On the good news front, in regards to the disgraceful conditions of the ramps at 95th, Stevenson said, “By May 1, we will have those ramps back in shape.You have my promise.”

Prepping the harbors for the new boating season is going well with the third winter in a row without “terrible ice.” His crews are progressing well enough that he hopes to have the harbors ready two weeks early.

Stevenson touched on Westrec taking over North Point Marina, but I will handle that another day. The Chicago contract is a short-term management one; North Point is a 25-year lease where capital improvements come from Westrec.

In a broader issues, Stevenson said they are working on easing some of the regulations that hamper harbor management in Chicago. Obviously, that will be a process of suggesting changes, public hearings and ultimately a board vote.

* * *

Steve Robillard, veteran fisheries biologist for the Lake Michigan program, filled in for Vic Santuci, Lake Michigan program manager.

He said things are on track for stocking all fish this spring on Lake Michigan.

He saidBrenda McKinney, Urban Fishing Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is short four clinic instructors–Washington Sherman, McKinley and Douglas–and they are needed quickly. Contact McKinney directly at (312) 771-9741.

In response to a question about the plethora of small perch, Robillard said, “Whether those perch make it to 6- 7- inches depends on whether they can change their diet.”

* * *

Tom Snooks, now working lakefront security for the Park District, brought up fishermen doing damage to the gate at the fee booth at the parking lot on the north side of Belmont Harbor. And it is fishermen causing the damage, they know this from camera footage.

Other than that he didn’t see many issues with fishermen and he generally finds them useful for seeing them.

His contact number, if fishermen do see something, is(312) 448-3793.

He said right now inner harbor access at Jackson Park is OK. That may change if Westrec starts working on docks.

Later, he introducedAl Krok, a former Chicago detective who is now director of security for Westrec for the harbors.

“My goal is everybody to enjoy themselves,” Krok said. “Not here to change the world.”

* * *

In response to a question from Don Dubin about lagoon restoration at Gompers,Bob Long Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy” for the Chicago Park District, said that there is a revolving list every year. Gompers is on that list, but it will not be done this year.

Long also pointed out that all lagoons/parks have advisory committees, “If you want to be involved on a deeper level.”

I know a few people on those committees and it matters. Those committees get things done.

He said they are still seeking fishing help this summer with the fishing program. Go to, then click on “Join Our Team.” The slots are listed as camp counselors.

Christopher Rollins, site superintendent, just retired at William Powers State Recreation Area. So far there is no one taking his place on site. That could be a big deal, because Rollins did much to restore the dignity of recreating at Wolf Lake.

That’s something I will have to follow up on.

Long, after the meeting, sent this note on smelt regulations.

SMELT REGS FOR CHICAGO LAKEFRONT Smelt Fishing is a family affair. It’s a community of Fishermen enjoying each other’s company and nature’s bounty. Let’s make this season a safe and clean one for families and our fishing future. The following rules apply: * No open fires * No enclosed tents * No alcoholic beverages * No parking or driving on the grass or sidewalks. Park only in designated areas. Violators will be ticketed and towed. * Do not destroy fences, benches, trash receptacles, walkways, and grassy areas. * Do not dump hot coals under trees, on concrete or on grassy areas. Dispose of all coals in the appropriate trash receptacles. Harbor Gates will close at 1 a.m. –start breaking down at 12:30 a.m. to be out by 1 a.m.

* * *

Steve Silic, fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said stocking of spring trout is on track with1,250 pounds at Axehead, 1,250 at Belleau;700 at Green,600 Horsetail (new this year for spring) and500 at Sag Quarry East scheduled.

He said with demise of northern pike stockings from the IDNR because of the budget issues, the FPCC is in conversation with doing some 5-inch muskie stockings. (I wondered about that since they would be too small to be minnow-finished. He said it is being considered as an experiment). And they are looking to purchase 8-inch northern pike.

* * *

Odds and ends. There was questions about parking at Challenger Park, which will be looked into.

Reminder that the pier passes end March 31.

Ken Schneidersaid there are no major issues, other than some trash issues at around the South Side slips.

In the best piece of humor, Schneider relayed the tale of the cops being called because somebody tried to bring a pig on a leash to the dog beach at Montrose.

Even Chicago has limits on pork.

* * *

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

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