clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Des Plaines River rebirth: Erik Brztowski gives a young man’s appreciation

Though only 18, Erik Brztowski gives a heart-felt appreciation for the rebirth of the Des Plaines River.

Erik Brztowski holds a beautiful largemouth bass, anywhere, but particularly from the Des Plaines River, caught and released in late August. Provided photo
Erik Brztowski holds a beautiful largemouth bass, anywhere, but particularly from the Des Plaines River, caught and released in late August.
Provided

Erik Brztowski started sending fishing reports and nominations for Fish of the Week while he was in high school at Lemont.

Now that he has started college, online, he keeps sending reports.

Last week, he sent a longer note from his heart about the changing Des Plaines River.

“I remember the days when I was little, fishing the dirty [Des Plaines] with worms, going for anything that bites,” he messaged. “But the river has been absolutely mind-blowing as of late. I have been exploring lots of new stretches, and the work [the Illinois Department of Natural Resources] has done definitely paid off in a big way. The river is clear and rocky with all the silt gone, thanks to dam removal, and the fish are thriving.

“Been putting in lots of miles with the waders around Cook County and have been able to get hundreds of smallmouth bass in the past few outings, with some big largemouth bass mixed in. Key baits have been Ike’s Micro Jigs and small swimbaits, fished on light line. In lower-light conditions, topwaters have also worked very well.

“I highly urge anyone to get out and explore what the DPR has to offer. You may be surprised.”

The recovery of the Des Plaines River was kick started by the removal of the Hofmann Dam in 2012; this is the view just days after the completion of the removal. Credit: Dale Bowman 
The recovery of the Des Plaines River was kick started by the removal of the Hofmann Dam in 2012; this is the view just days after the completion of the removal.
Dale Bowman

For those of us who have followed the struggle for dam removal, the years piled up, so it’s very heartening to see an 18-year-old write something like that.

It took until 2012 for the Hofmann Dam to finally be removed from the Des Plaines. That opened the floodgates, so to speak, and virtually all the dams should be gone from the Des Plaines within the next year or so.

That’s how you begin the restoration to a real river, flowing “clear and rocky.”

Cast & Compare this weekend

The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance holds its Cast & Compare 2020 event from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Glenwood Forest Preserve in Batavia (masks and social distancing). Bring your own new or favorite rods to compare with others. The Yorktown Center Orvis will bring new gear. Sage pro staffer and Spey instructor Doug Taylor will be there.

Wild things

Foraging for fall mushrooms is underway and should only improve with the rains. . . . Several readers mentioned it has been a good butterfly year. I agree, but I wonder if it’s related to the pandemic restrictions, which have led people to be home more and noticing more.

Stray cast

WGN-AM continues a mindless drift toward a low head dam (canning overnight Walk of Famer Nick Digilio for a generic can of corn for truckers?). May dam backwash entrap WGN’s brain trust.