Un(Chain)ed muskies: Muskies on the Fox Chain O’Lakes, from stockings to accidental catches
An accidental catch of a muskie by Joe Szkorla and the stocking of muskies in the Chain O’Lakes by the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies, Inc. is filtered through biologist Frank Jakubicek’s observations.
Arden Katz heard Joe Szkorla say, “I’m stuck, back up,” while they were fishing for crappie on the Chain O’Lakes.
“I said, `You’re not stuck, you got a big fish on, a walleye or a big catfish,’ “ Katz said.
It was big, but neither of those. Try muskie.
Muskie have become both a destination target and accidental catches on the Chain.
This year the Illinois Department of Natural Resources did not have muskies to stock the Chain. But the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies, Inc. did.
On Oct. 5, FRV stocked 535 9- to 12-inch muskie, from Gollon Bait and Fish Farm in Dodgeville, Wis., into Long and Channel lakes. The muskies were bought with $6,150, raised by such things as the annual FRV banquet and the Challunge on the Chain tournament. This is the second year for the stocking help from FRV, spearheaded by Mike Pierce.
Fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek said it was one of a few stockings of Long over the years.
“[The Chain] gets a ton of pressure, but there are big fish out there,” he said. “Biggest I ever saw was 51 3/4 [surveyed]. Some of the muskie guys say they have seen 53s and 54s.”
Over the years, Jakubicek watched the appeal of Chain muskie build.
“People definitely come here to fish, it is a destination,” he said. “The thing about the Chain is you don’t have motor restrictions. There are user fees, but you are not fishing one open area. The uniqueness of the Chain is lots of different lakes and different places.
“I am kinda surprised we haven’t had a state record. When gizzard shad showed up in 2007, that is when I thought the size of the fish would jump. The fish are fat.
“Maybe it has to do with the amount of cold water. You have to have that cold water to get them through the summer time.”
Szkorla can vouch. He successfully battled his muskie on 4-pound line with a No. 8 Aberdeen hook. He was able to boat the muskie because the Aberdeen hook snagged between two teeth, so the light line wasn’t cut.
“It was like winning the Lotto,” Katz said.
So was the net job.
“He swam right into the net,” Katz said. “I was swiping at it with a walleye or bass net and grabbed it by the tail, too.”
Their bump board only went to 40 inches. The muskie spilled over. Katz guessed to 44 inches. The release was good.
Leslie Borns forwarded a note from Louise Clemency of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Jeff Skrentny, who is on a quest to peer identify 2,500 living things in Cook County this year. He added western banded killifish from a Montrose swale. Click here to read about Skrentny’s year-long quest.
Watching the Bears Monday brought to mind the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s “Skim Pickens.”