Lakefront access stays key: Last 2 Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meetings

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Most of the regulars were on hand for the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting on Jan. 18, 2018 at 31st Street Harbor.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

I am catching up on cleaning up and posting notes from the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meetings. Forgive me, between holiday season and show season, time got away.

But it is worth cleaning up and posting the last two months of notes, interesting stuff was discussed and there was some movement on a few things.

I will start with the most recent meeting on Jan. 18, 2018. The recap of the meeting from Dec. 21, 2018 follows below it. Both meetings were held the third Thursday of the month in the community room of the 31st Street Harbor.

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Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting, Jan. 18, 2018

As usual,Tom Gray,of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, chaired the meeting.

Speaking of order, I go in the order of what I find most interesting or newsworthy, not meeting order, when compiling these reports.

* Carl Vizzoneis now formally filling Bob Long’s spot with the Chicago Park District as the go-to on fishing. His title is program and event facilitator.

* Don Dubin raised an interesting question, “Is there enough food to support the perch [in the class of 2015]?”

Vic Santucci, Lake Michigan program head for Illinois, noted that the 2010 class did not grow this well, so that would indicate there is food out there for them.

The harbors and slips were the perch are now packed have very cold water, so perch are not eating as much as in warmer months.

* Dubin led off an tangent about the fishing access at Navy Pier and it might be taken away when the new hotel and marina are built.

Santucci said the Fisheries Division wrote a letter noting that Navy Pier is a historical fishing spot and would like to maintain accommodations for fishing access.

One thing stressed was that the primary time when fishing access is vital is November through February, when the marina would very likely have little or no boat traffic.

Chester Kropidlowski saidBrian Murphy will try to make the next committee meeting and indications are there would accommodations for fishermen on the north side of Navy Pier.

* Santucci reported fish [salmon and trout] are in the hatchery and his office is working up data from last year. As an aside from my perspective, I think most of us will be curious how the data shakes out on that 2015 class of perch.

* He also noted that the Division of Fisheries may expand the inland trout program. In fact, Cook and Lake County fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek had just contacted Steve Silic, fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, about adding some lakes.

* Again, Santucci reiterated that the Lake Michigan program will not be holding an informational meeting, as is often the case in late winter, because no management changes are coming.

He did note that the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant may hold meetings this spring and fall in Illinois. IISG has held meetings in Indiana, which I found very informative, but poorly attended.

* Larry Connraised rather different question and wondered about dinner cruises, a major one, coming and going out of Chicago.Sonny Lisowskinoted there have been dinner cruises over the years. I think Conn’s question will be even more legit as the Navy Pier hotel and marina come.

* Silic said the FPCC budget passed with only minor adjustments. He said over 300,000 fish of eight species were stocked in 23 FPCC lakes in 2017. I have the breakdown on those stockings and will try to work it up some day. The numbers may also be seen at the FPCC booth at the Schaumburg Show and the Tinley Park Show, the two shows where FPCC will have a presence.

“These are typical numbers for us,” Silic said.

Most of those fish come from the state fish hatcheries.

* Brenda McKinneyhad no updates for the Urban Fishing Program as they are completely booked for fishing for spring with schools. She notedJackson Park really bad milfoil last year. Vizzone and Matt Renfree, senior program specialist for the Park District, said they would check on it.

* In response to a tangential question, Gray said the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee is a policy group.

Somebody noted that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has yet to make a committee meeting. Gray said that is still on the agenda.

* At meeting’s end, Ed Bohn suggested a group photo. I took the shot featured above. I need to dig up the last major group photo taken, many years ago when the meeting was held in the gym of the McKinley Park fieldhouse.

* * * * * *

Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting, Dec. 21, 2019

Gray chaired the meeting, a few days before Christmas.

* In doing her report, McKinney talked of an eighth grade class, where, out of 30 kids, 25 never had a rod or reel I their hands.

“So many kids in Chicago afraid of everything in the outdoors,” McKinney said. “They are just freaking out. Some of the adults are on the same wave length.”

Wow. I believe her and that strikes at the core of one of the main issues in modern outdoors, not just in urban areas.

McKinney said she was booked from April 30 through the end of school and was still doing environmental education and was booked through March with that.

* In new business at the end of the meeting, I then asked about bathroom facilities in winter. I find it despicable that I cannot take my daughter to the lakefront for any extended outdoors time because there are no working restrooms in the late fall to early spring.

It’s inexcusable in one of the world’s great cities.

There are portapotties atMontrose and Diversey. In my opinions, there should be more at Montrose, and also at Belmont, DuSable and around 95th/Southeast Side slips. That is true for more than fishermen, it also applies to the thousands of winter runners and bikers.

Ed Bohn correctly said, “Any new plans should include year-round bathrooms.”

* Vizzone said the Chicago Park District was ready for 2018 and they will have 10 fishing instructors. The plan is to again do fishing instruction for10,000 children and 200 events.

* Dubin said perch started moving into the harbors.

“People catching perch like I have never seen in all my life,” he said. “Some of the best fishing we have ever seen.”

* Gray took the discussion into a long one on how to get the advisory committee more publicity. I said I would put him in contact with a few people.

That led to someone saying they would like the Park District do its fishing brochure again. The question is funding. Even though a lot of stuff can be found online, those brochures were very handy and a lot easier to navigate than the Park District web site used to be.

* The Park District web site––is being revamped and updated. There may be a better fishing presence and it may be easier to update.

* Kropidlowski had sent around results of the Lake Shore Drive study, earlier.

* Silic said the FPCC offers ice fishing on 22 lakes, over half the fishable water bodies. He said the FPCC will be at the Schaumburg Show and the Tinley Park show.

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