Changes at Steelworkers Park, pier passes, ice: Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Comm.

SHARE Changes at Steelworkers Park, pier passes, ice: Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Comm.

Self-portrait as reflected in Roman Villareal’s “Tribute to the Past” at Steelworkers Park.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Planned changes at Steelworkers Park lead this batch of notes from the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee Meeting on Jan. 24, 2019.

It was the first committee meeting since November.

As usual, Tom Gray of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events chaired the meeting at the community room of 31st Street Harbor. Also as usual, I kind of put the notes in order or impact or importance.

* Carl Vizzone, who runs the fishing programs for the Chicago Park District, said changes are coming at Steelworkers Park. After destructive driving by those illegally driving over natural areas and through prohibited areas, there will be new fences and barricades. There will be a locked gate for park staff. Work should be completed when the weather becomes more sensible.

* Ben Alden, operations manager for Westrec Marinas, noted that we are starting to see ice in the harbors. He asked that if anyone sees damage to the docks from ice that they contact Vizzone, by calling (312) 859-2395.

He said that “The Commissioner,” the park district’s ice-breaking tug, only operates on the south end of Burnham Harbor.

Hall of Famer Don Dubin reminded all that the IDNR is having an informational meeting at the Des Plaines office on Feb 20.

* Vic Santucci, the IDNR’s Lake Michigan Program manager, could not make the meeting and sent that note and others in an earlier email:

Committee members, I will not be able to attend the meeting next week due to a conflict with another scheduled meeting. For my update: · Our IDNR Lake Michigan Program will hold a public meeting at the Des Plaines office on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from 7:00-9:00 pm. This will be an informational meeting covering salmon and trout, Yellow Perch, lakewide prey fish abundance and lower trophic level changes in the lake. I will make sure everyone on this email receives a copy of the meeting announcement, which should be available soon. · Jake Wolf Hatchery informs that we are looking good for hitting our stocking targets for Lake Michigan in 2019. Adequate numbers of salmon and trout eggs and fry have been secured and egg incubation and grow out to stocking size is proceeding as planned this winter. Our stocking plan calls for 150,000 Chinook Salmon; 300,000 Coho Salmon; 60,000 Arlee strain Rainbow Trout; 50,000 Skamania strain (steelhead) Rainbow Trout; 110,000 Plymouth Rock strain Brown Trout. In addition, USFWS is scheduled to stock 120,000 Lake Trout at Julian’s Reef. · The Salmon Unlimited fin clipping event at Jake Wolf Hatchery is scheduled for March 25, 2019. We will be fin clipping about 100,000 Coho Salmon destined for stocking in Diversey Harbor in early May. Hope to see you all in February. Respectfully, Vic

* Steve Silic, fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said, “Things are looking fine for 2019.” The biggest news from him was that they will add some lakes to the fall trout fishing.

Last year, they stocked more 620,000 fish of seven species. There will be increased muskie stocking at Busse South.

He passed out the new, very cool, fishing guide. which includes more accessibility features and locations as well as the new size limit on muskie (upped to 42 inches). It was distributed at “The Schaumburg Show” and will also be at the FPCC booth at the Tinley Park Fishing Show on Feb. 9-10. Otherwise, you can find the free guides at nature centers and park offices.

Silic also noted that the fishing page on the FPCC web site–click here for the fishing page–includes a lot of field collection data made readable for the public. He’s right there is a wealth of information there.

I asked if they were revisiting the possibility of trying one lake for early fly fishing during the trout seasons. He said not, which I understand.

But he added, “We have seen a great increase in fly fishing, some of it because of Tenkara. Fly fishing is catching on in Cook County. It’s nice to see. We have lots of open shoreline.”

In other Chicago Park District notes, Vizzone said a record number of pier passes have been sold already, somewhere around 500 so far. He said they have started booking parks for the year in fishing ahead and already have 4,000 kids booked.

“I’m excited I got a budget,” Vizzone said. “We’re bumping up to 12 instructors and a coordinator. I lost two instructors to other jobs, so I will need at least four instructors.”

Instructors must live in Chicago. When the jobs post, I will pass along the notices.

Vizzone said the park district is working on an updated fishing guide for Chicago, which hasn’t been done since 2008. When completed, it will include such things as launches and fishing regulations. But he warned because of the work remaining to get it updated, it might not be ready for distribution until 2020.

Vizzone asked if anyone knew if the group licenses would be brought back by the new administration. He was strongly urged to speak directly to the IDNR’s new fisheries chief, Mike McClelland.

Vizzone said the inability to get a group license hurt their overall numbers last year, not just the adult numbers, but overall numbers. That is especially true at the programs on the Riverwalk.

“It is hurting our numbers,” Vizzone said.

The IDNR’s Urban Fishing Program coordinator Brenda McKinney said that the same amount of fish should be stocked in the Chicago lagoons this year. She expects to have the same instructor and coordinator in place by April. She said they are “totally filled” for fishing through the end of school in June and the environment classes are going well. The issues of a bureaucratic nightmare of fingerprinting with the schools has been solved.

* Chester Kropidlowski could not attend the meeting, but sent this update:

Mayors Fishing Committee Note latest North LSD info below:(Important to remember there is no money to fund any of what turns out to be the proposed improvements to North LSD at this time. I suspect any work done, when it is done, will be in segments of North LSD.) North Lake Shore Drive REDEFINE THE DRIVE Task Force ( On October 17, 2018, Ald. Cappleman hosted the first of three meetings for the community to discuss potential changes to N. Lake Shore Drive that would directly affect his Ward including eliminating the Wilson exit and entrance ramps onto Lake Shore Drive. CDOT and IDOT are using this information and come up with designs based on community feedback provided at this meeting . The first meeting was attended by approximately 50 area residents, many of which had concerns about the traffic impacts to the condo and apartment buildings along Local LSD and the emerging commercial activities along Wilson that could result if the Lake Shore Drive- Wilson Ramps were eliminated. Somewhat related, the closure of the Wilson Ramps was discussed at a meeting of the Mayors Fishing Advisory Committee, the Committee also being a Task Force Member. In the past, as a result of frequent Montrose Harbor access delays at the Montrose Lake Front Bike Path, Wilson became a backup Montrose Harbor access location. The recent use of the tunnel under Montrose by bikers has helped resolve this problem and the Committee has no objections to the elimination of the Wilson Ramps.

* In other tidbits, Ken Schneider was remarkably quiet; formal meeting notes for September, October and November are being finalized (or find my take on those meetings at the online outdoors page of the Sun-Times); meetings are generally held the third Thursday monthly from September to May.

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