Why the crush of pink salmon now? Karre Cromwell catches second pending Illinois record in a month

For the second time in less than a month, an Illinois angler caught a pending Illinois-record pink salmon. What is going on?

SHARE Why the crush of pink salmon now? Karre Cromwell catches second pending Illinois record in a month
Cheryl Kranz (left) and Stacy Brady (right) with Karre Cromwell and her pending Illinois record pink salmon, caught Thursday on the “Confusion” charter boat out of North Point Marina.

Cheryl Kranz (left) and Stacy Brady (right) with Karre Cromwell and her pending Illinois record pink salmon, caught Thursday on the “Confusion” charter boat out of North Point Marina.

Provided

Karre Cromwell said: ‘‘When we pulled it up [Thursday], the captain thought it was a state record. We’re like, ‘Really? Are you sure?’ ’’

Capt. Bob Poteshman was sure it was another Illinois-record pink salmon caught on a charter from North Point Marina.

The fish weighed between 5 1/2 and 6 pounds on a BogaGrip. That’s much heavier than the current Illinois-record 3.9-pounder caught July 10 by eighth-grader Alex Niemiec out of North Point on a charter with Capt. Gerry Urbanozo. (Here’s the story on Niemiec’s catch.)

And Poteshman was certain about his identification of a pink salmon.

‘‘Scales are microscopic, almost iridescent,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s pretty easy when you get it in the net and see the scales.’’

Cromwell, a financial planner who was on the annual Edward Jones outing, isn’t a frequent angler, but she did her part in boating the fish.

‘‘It fought, but not crazy,’’ she said. ‘‘[Poteshman] told me to lean against the boat and keep reeling. Captain did a great job of telling me what I should do. My adrenaline went way high.’’

The fish was caught in 140 feet of water, east of the old nuclear plant at Zion, on a Moonshine glow spoon down 56 feet on a downrigger.

‘‘I instantly texted my family,’’ Cromwell said. ‘‘My husband instantly texted back, ‘Have pictures? What size?’ ’’

It was 23 1/2 inches long with a 13-inch girth. When the pink salmon was weighed several hours later at Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor, it had dropped to 4.9 pounds.

Karre Cromwell’s pending Illinois record pink salmon on the scale at Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor. Provided photo

Karre Cromwell’s pending Illinois record pink salmon on the scale at Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor.

Provided

Becky Redman, who also certified Niemiec’s record, certified Cromwell’s on Friday as a pink salmon. The record will be official when fisheries chief Mike McClelland signs off on the paperwork.

When asked whether the record might be topped again this year, Poteshman said, ‘‘Yeah, definitely, if they know what it is.’’

Pink salmon, a Pacific salmon also known as a humpback or humpie, were brought to the Great Lakes.

‘‘Pink salmon were introduced to Lake Superior in very small numbers at Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, in 1956,’’ according to ‘‘Pink Salmon Populations in the U.S. Waters of Lake Superior, 1981-1984’’ in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

The U.S. Geological Survey noted pink salmon were the first salmon ‘‘to develop a self-sustaining population. . . . However, it has not become abundant.’’

‘‘It’s interesting that pinks usually showed up in higher numbers in Illinois waters in odd-numbered years,’’ emailed Vic Santucci, the Lake Michigan program manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. ‘‘I am not sure why this year is different. I am hearing reports of nice pinks being caught all up and down the Illinois shoreline, even in Chicago. All I can say is, better get ’em while they’re hot!’’

Cromwell did and now has something for the wall beside the 5-foot yellowfin tuna her husband and oldest son caught on a Hawaii charter.

‘‘It was the type of memory they made,’’ Cromwell said. ‘‘Now this is another one.’’

Special meeting

The Riverside Fishing Club will host stream biologists Tristan Widloe and Steve Pescitelli and will hold a tribute to John Mach and the Hofmann Dam River Rats at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the La Grange American Legion.

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