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Back again: Notes on Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting

Cory Gecht listens intently at his first Mayor's Fishing Advisory Committee meeting.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Notes from the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting Thursday morning at 31st Street Harbor, the first committee since the beginning of summer.

There was a bunch of stuff to catch up on.,

That’s Cory Gecht in the photo above. He is the newest member of the committee. He is the grandson of late Willie Greene, the long-time proprietor of Park Bait at Montrose Harbor.

Tom Gray from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events chaired the meeting as usual and generally kept the people in line.

Bob Long, “The Fishin’ Guy’’ for the Chicago Park District, said the free family fishing events at Northerly Island will continue to run Saturdays, 8-11 a.m., through October. The Fish’N Kids program will be running for a bit yet Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Contact Carl Vizzone at (312) 859 – 2395 or Long at (312) 656-3852 for more information and to register.

It was a bit of stretch for Fish’N Kids this summer. Usually they have 12 instructors to handle the usual 12,000 booked each summer for instruction. Instead they only were given 10 instructors, but were effectively down to seven for most of the summer for various reasons.

“Thanks goes to Carl for shuffling the schedule that was impossible,’’ Long said.

Long said again nobody got hooked and there were no police calls.

“People respect the blue shirts, people respect the fishing shirts,’’ Long said of the shirts worn by instructors.

Tom Palmisano of Henry’s Sports and Bait said the Palmisano Fishing Foundation, fished just under 1,900 kids at the lagoon at Palmisano Park. They bussed in nine busses this summer and had two designated instructors at the lagoon from 8 a.m.-noon.

Palmisano had me (Dale Bowman) tell the tale of Ricardo Cruz weighing his Illinois-record whitefish at Henry’s this summer. It was caught while perch fishing at Montrose. Discussion ensued about how bigger ones were caught this spring and not weighed.

Vic Santucci, Lake Michigan program manager, said there was the stocking of browns in July. Steelhead, 50,000 of them, are being stocked. The IDNR had to scramble to get enough eggs for Chinook because of the poor returns at Michigan. They ended up getting coho eggs from Wisconsin.

“Last two years had really difficult returns,’’ Santucci said. “Hopefully things are more normal this year and we can get our eggs this year from Michigan.’’

Originally, the managers around Lake Michigan were proposing a 62-percent cut in Chinook stockings. Strong push-back from fishermen led them to reconsider. Instead it appears likely the reduction will not be that severe and there will be some reduction in lake trout, and possibly a raising of the daily two-fish limit on lake trout. Pending finalization, Illinois would go up to 120,000 Chinook stocking from the originally reduced stocking of 90,000. There will be another meeting in October of lakewide parties involved.

Santucci said there was a better than anticipated class of alewives.

As to yellow perch, Santucci said, “Another measurable year class, that is a positive thing in my book. Maybe it is the mild winters.’’

That is the second year in a row with significant counts in the annual seinings, a first in decades.

There was a long discussion on what is considered Lake Michigan when it comes to smallmouth and yellow perch fishing. Santucci will come back with a more definite answer.

There was a discussion of Bob Rung, 71, the recently died streams specialist and the great mover behind the aquatic plantings along the Fox River, who died Monday.

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant will hold an informational meeting on Lake Michigan from 6-8:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Hammond Marina. Click here for details.

Tom Trudeau, retired Lake Michigan program manager, raised the question of Illinois not being able to staff its hatcheries because of retirements. Santucci said there is a meeting in October of managers where that dire possibility will be discussed.

Don Dubin brought up how the once state-of-the-art Jake Wolf Memorial Hatchery is now heading into disrepair.

Steve Silic, fisheries biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said the camping program has had pretty good success, in part because people are utilizing it to test equipment and just suitability for camping.

He said contractors were hired to handle aquatic herbiciding at Skokie Lagoons and Busse. That will likely become an annual effort to fight back against the invasive curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil.

Silic said some 45,000 walleye ( 1 1/2-2 inches) were stocked in five lakes; 10,000 largemouth were put in half a dozen lakes, as well as a supplemental stocking of 5-6 inch fish; 22,000 channel catfish (6-8 inches were stocked; and they are about to get a supplemental bluegill stocking in six to 10 lakes.

As to fall trout, which opens Oct. 15, here are the planned stockings of rainbow trout from the IDNR and FPCC: 2,000 pounds, north pool of Busse; 1,250 pounds each at Axehead and Belleau; 700 pounds at Green; and 1,000 pounds at Horsetail. Yes, Horsetail will have a fall stocking.

Just because of the logistics of the FPCC lakes, there is not any special fly fishing areas planned.

“Doesn’t mean you can’t fly fish, we just don’t have the early season,’’ Silic said.

In old business, Palmisano noted that no unusual obstructions were found at the Daley Launch at Western Avenue and Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Meetings are generally held the third Thursday of each at 10 a.m., generally at 31st Street Harbor.