How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

NIAA has been cleaning up Kankakee River for 23 years

Muskie fishing has vastly improved in this fishery. See bottom of article.

The Northern Illinois Anglers Association was one of the first groups to host organized cleanups along the Kankakee River. Stan James kicked off its original cleanup 23 years ago.

Since those humble beginnings set the bar, the event has grown until there was an incredible 600 volunteers at the most recent cleanup. According to the NIAA, the group picked up more than 80 tons of litter, filling eight large dumpsters and four dump trucks. Among the items cleared from the river and its banks were tires, 55-gallon drums, furniture, appliances, car parts and more. The event was joined by 27 groups which had volunteered for the NIAA's Adopt a River program.

Congratulations to co-chairs Janice Hartmean and Sam Thomas and to the major sponsors, which included Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., Illinois EPA, Kankakee County Board, Reed's Rent All and Sales, Apollo Disposal Service, United Disposal Service and Aqua Illinois. Thank you for the incredible work you do that keeps this unique river clean, clear and so delightful to fish, paddle or enjoy in some other way.

For information about how you can get involved, contact the NIAA at PO Box 188, Bourbonnais 60914.

How valuable is the Kankakee River?

Kevin Culver, regional compliance manager of Aqua Illinois, Inc., Kankakee, cited statistics about the river's water flow in a report published in the NIAA newsletter.

"To understand the magnitude of the average amount of water that flows each day in the river," Culver said, "that is more than enough water to supply the entire Chicago Metropolitan Region with its daily water demand and have enough left over to supply a second Chicago Region. That¹s a lot of water — and, it's home to a lot of fish."

From walleye to smallmouth, northern pike to rock bass, channel and flathead catfish, crappies, bluegill, even gar, golden eye and ell. The Kankakee supports an incredible and varied fishery. Best of all, virtually the entire 60 miles of the river from the Indiana line to its juncture with the Des Plaines, where they form the Illinois River at Dresdon, is very fishable.

Whether you like to wade, bank fish or prefer using a boat, most of the river is very accessible.

If you don't want to spend the next 50 or 60 years learning the secrets that will unlock this incredible fishery, you've got a few days left to register for Ed Mullady's popular Kankakee River Fishing Class.

This spring's session will be held at the Mokena Park District (10925 Laporte Road) this Saturday. Doors open at 12:45 p.m. and the class begins at 1.

Mullady has been editing the Sportsman's Letter and the annual Kankakee River Fishing Atlas for more decades than he cares to admit to and it is absolutely essential for anyone wanting to learn this wonderful river.

His son Matt has been guiding full-time on the Kankakee all of his life and works alongside his father to provide the finest fishing seminar anywhere.

Fee is $35 for adults and half-price for kids attending with an adult. Call (815) 932-7285 to register or to order your copies of the Kankakee River Atlas or a subscription to the Sportsman's Letter. Credit cards are accepted on-line at .

• The Mokena Park Disrict will host a boating safety education class conducted by Bill Brady on April 1-2. For information or to register, call (708) 479-1020.

• A hunter safety education class will be held at the Deer Creek Recreation facility in Plainfield on April 22-23. Call (815) 723-1978, but the one scheduled for this weekend is filled. These classes fill quickly. For advance notice, call 1-800-ASK FISH and follow the computer prompts or log on to the IDNR web site at www.DNR.State.IL.US/ .

• Norm Minus, one of the best fishermen on the Kankakee, also spends much of his time working to enhance the river, to promote the fishery through his articles and he has been a staunch advocate of improving our awareness of day-to-day things many of us do that affect the environment.

A while ago, he compiled a list of seemingly innocuous things we all can do to help keep the Kankakee River healthy:

"Did you know that storm water does not go to a treatment plant first?" he asked. "Rain landing anywhere including streets, driveways and lawns flow directly into storm drains. The water from the storm drains flows directly into your favorite river or stream. Any pollutant on the ground can easily find it's way into your favorite fishing hole.

As a homeowner, there are steps you can take to reduce the flow of pollutants.

1. Do not use the storm drain for disposing of motor oil, antifreeze, the old gas from your lawn mower, pesticides, paints, solvents or any other such substances.

2. Keep your car maintained by repairing any leaking fluids.

3. Keep leaves and grass clippings from accumulating on the sidewalk, driveway and street.

4. Sweep soil and fertilizers off the sidewalk and driveway into your lawn where it will do you some good. Do not wash it into the street with your hose.

5. Minimize your use of salt on driveways and sidewalks.

6. Do not dump pet wastes into the storm drain. It may seem like a little bit, but multiply that little bit by how often you and your neighbor does it and it will add up. Besides, even a little bit is too much.

7. Redirect your downspouts from paved areas to vegetated areas.

Simple things, sure, but 10,000 neighbors inadvertently doing any of these can result in horrific damage to our foremost natural resource.

• Illinois fishing licenses lapse on March 31 as they do for most states throughout the upper Midwest. Licenses are now available online or at local vendors. Illinois has initiated a computerized system for license sales, similar to those used by Michigan and Wisconsin for years.

• The latest report from the Quad County Hawg Hunters chapter in Plano, among the most active chapters in Muskies, Inc., one with a long record of helping to make nearby Shabbona Lake a better bodes well for the many musky hunters who fish the 300-acre lake.

Consider this news from Mark A Johnson, vice president of the Hawwg Hunters: 125 muskies (Leech Lake strain) 10-14 inches long were stocked into Shabbona in late December. The fish were received from Minnesota Muskie Farm of Alexandria, Minn.

"This is the first release in many years accoriding to some of the old-timers in the club," Johnson said. "The State of Illinois has had a couple problem years raising fish for release so the club had fundraisers and put donation jars around at various places of business this year to help stocking our lake. The muskies cost us $1,250 for 125 fish and a $250 delivery charge)."

Shabbona has produced four of Illinois state record muskies.


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