Our Pledge To You


Snagging, Chicago lakefront: Legal spots, contacts for illegal

Snagging for salmon in the fall goes back decades on the Chicago lakefront as shown by Ron Wozy's (left) photo with Bobby Chow, now a world-class poker players.
Credit: Ron Wozny/For the Sun-Times

North Side pastor Mark Jones knows right from wrong.

He also loves shoreline fishing for Chinook in the fall.

Over the weekend, he emailed after an outing in nuanced pastoral tones, “We’re having some challenges with snaggers, which doesn’t surprise me. Can you remind me what number to call for the DNR to come out and check?’’

The No. 1 complaint I get is about illegal snagging.

Snagging for Chinook and coho salmon in Illinois opened Oct. 1. It is only allowed at the Jackson Park inner and outer harbors; the Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue Bridge; the Winnetka power plant discharge area; and Waukegan Harbor North Basin. No snagging is allowed within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.

Snagging is not for the faint of heart. It is ripping a lead-weighted treble hook through the water with a heavy rod to snag a salmon.

In terms of aesthetics, I am not a fan. But the reality is that snagging utilizes a resource that would go to waste. The salmon come back to shore as part of the spawning ritual and die. It’s also a good way to collect salmon eggs for curing.

Rafael Gutierrez, director of Illinois Conservation Police, emailed that the CPOs are dispatched through the Illinois State Police District Chicago. Or you can find CPO cell phones on the DNR main page or you can leave a message on the TIPS hotline: 1-877-2DNRLAW (1-877-236-7529).

The Chicago ISP number is (847) 294-4400. Callers should say they want to report a conservation violation. The listings for CPO cell phones can be found at dnr.illinois.gov. Click “DNR A to Z’’ on the top bar, then, under C, find “Conservation Police Officers, local.’’

In the old days, calling the TIPS line felt like yelling in an echo canyon.

But CPO Jed Whitchurch, a familiar face on the lakefront and at the winter outdoor shows, emailed that it has been streamlined and CPOs are now connected electronically to TIPS. He said it is the best way.

“I have been working the lakefront very hard the past few weeks,’’ he emailed. “All my efforts have been during very late night and early morning hours. I have been very successful in taking enforcement action against many of these violators.

“For example, I received a TIP complaint from my Sergeant about a snagger at Belmont Harbor very recently.The violator was caught a short time after.

“Now, this is not always the case, but it is a more efficient process now. We are doing all we can to use our resources in order to protect the great resources of this State.’’

BIG BOX: As whispered for months, the two big boxes in outdoors retailing are one with Bass Pro buying Cabela’s for $4.5 billion. Yes, B as in billions, as in big business. Not sure what that will mean for our area with three Bass Pro (Gurnee, Bolingbrook and Portage, Ind.) and two Cabela’s (Hoffman Estates and Hammond, Ind.)

HUNTING: Youth hunting will be served this weekend in Illinois. The north zone youth waterfowl hunt is Saturday and Sunday. The statewide youth deer hunt takes advantage of the Columbus Day holiday and runs Saturday through Monday.

Rains last week slowed harvest, but corn harvest was 43 percent complete by Sunday, opening fields up for goose and deer hunters both.

Just a reminder with bow season open for deer, Buck of the Week begins when the first offerings roll in at straycasts@sbcglobal.net, Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or Facebook (Dale Bowman).

WILD THINGS: Ed Buric was first to report a “sedge of sandhill cranes’’ headed south on Monday over Darien.

STRAY CAST: If Chicago baseball teams were trout, the White Sox would be lakers, the Cubs would be rainbows.