For the mystery, wonder and koi of Illinois fish records prepare to get ready with May coming

May is the greatest month for fishing records in Illinois, here’s an apt reminder, spurred by a catch of a koi on the Fox River, on what to do to be ready.

SHARE For the mystery, wonder and koi of Illinois fish records prepare to get ready with May coming
John Cichy with a beautiful koi from the Fox River. Provided by Dicky’s Bait Shop

John Cichy with a beautiful koi from the Fox River.

Provided by Dicky’s Bait Shop

‘One of our customers thinks they could have a state-record goldfish. Do you know where they could get a weight certified?’’

The question came in a text Saturday night from Dicky’s Bait Shop in Montgomery.

Good question. Most major retailers won’t weigh wild fish on their scales. I suggested the angler try a mom-and-pop grocery or butcher shop.

Four area bait shops have certified scales (none open Saturday night): Henry’s Sports and Bait (Bridgeport), Salmon Stop (Waukegan), Kankakee River Trading Post (next to the state park) and Park Bait (Montrose Harbor). The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has certified scales at Silver Springs and Chain O’Lakes state sites.

The basics of a possible record fish are that it must be legally caught and weighed on a certified scale with two witnesses. Take photographs and contact the IDNR.

John Cichy caught his fish on ‘‘a Dicky’s Bait Shop minnow’’ on his first cast around 5 p.m. at North Aurora Dam.

When Mike Cronsell texted the photograph, I noticed it was a koi, not a goldfish. A top area koi angler — call him Fenton Quagmire (a nod to Patrick McManus) — confirmed it was ‘‘a feral pond-grade koi. Possibly a Fang Sheng release [a Buddhist practice].’’

Illinois doesn’t keep (yet) a state record for goldfish. Koi are another matter.

‘‘Koi are common carp — perhaps prettier, depending on your taste — and would only be a record if it eclipses the 51-pound state record for common carp,’’ assistant fisheries chief Kevin Irons emailed.

Steve Davis caught the Illinois-record common carp (51 pounds) May 1, 1994, from Lake Hillcrest in Madison County.

While beautiful, Cichy’s koi was not that big.

These are all things to remember because May is the most productive month for Illinois fish records with 16. See Fish of the Week for another example of a possible record.

Chicago stockings

Chicago lagoons will receive their usual stockings of hybrid bluegills (bluegill/green sunfish this year rather than bluegill/redear) but no channel catfish from the IDNR, according to the Chicago Fishing Advisory Committee.

Wild things

Many asked, so, yes, I pulled all my bird feeders Thursday — following the IDNR recommendations — as a precaution against the spread of avian flu. That’s overly cautious, but our town has many crows, neighborhood Cooper’s hawks and occasional blue jays, all species susceptible to the outbreak.

Stray cast

Apparently, having a Hall of Famer manage a modern baseball team is like letting the anchor drag when trolling.

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