How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Oak Lawn's Thompson in Muskie Hall of Fame

By Bob Maciulis, Outdoor Notebook
Ray Thompson (Oak Lawn) has been at the heart of the Illinois muskie program since it was literally a pipe dream shared by a handful of fishermen who saw the incredible potential the species held for Illinois starved fisheries.

That was during the mid-1960s and Ray helped nurture the program through endless meetings with the then IDOC and the various constituencies, including the Illini Muskie Alliance which he now heads as President. The IMA is an umbrella organization comprised of Illinois¹ chapters of Muskies, Inc., as well as independent clubs like the Midwest Musky Club headquartered in the southwest suburbs.

For his lifelong dedication to the promotion of muskies, the conservation and enhancement of the habitats where they live and for his strong environmental activism, Ray was recently inducted into the Muskies, Inc., Hall of Fame.

Among the myriad projects Ray spearheads in spreading the good news about muskies is his annual review of the 30-some lakes which support thriving muskie populations state wide.

A quick review of some of his notes about local favorites should fill your calendar for the coming season.

From Ray's 2006 Highlights from Status of Muskie Fishery in Illinois just released:

Evergreen- This 900-acre lake received 926-12.6-inch muskie in 2005. A fall 2005 survey showed that 60 percent of Evergreen's muskie were over 30 inches, 20 pecent were over 35 inches and 9 percent were over 42 inches. Trap net surveys have produced two 49.5-inch muskie that were heavier than the 38-pound, 8-ounce state record. There is a 10 H.P. limit, a 48-inch minimum size limit and a user fee at Evergreen.

Fox Chain-The Chain received 1,100-12 inch natural fingerlings from the Jake Wolf Hatchery in 2005 and 320-12-16-inch Leech Lake strain muskie donated by the SOB chapter of Muskies, Inc. The Fox Chain has developed into an outstanding muskie fishery, thanks in part to the donation of larger than normal size Leech Lake strain fingerlings provided by the SOB chapter. To date, the largest muskies collected in the spring sampling were two 49.5-inches in 2003 and 2005, both of which exceeded 31 pounds. Since 1995, proportions of muskie larger than 36 and 42 inches have been increasing. In 2005, these proportions were 55 and 13, respectively.

Heidecke-This 1,955-acre cooling lake was added back to the muskie stocking list in 1999. This lake was stocked with 1,955-10-inch muskies in 2005.

Muskie catch rates have been increasing as the population grows in both number and size. With the success of recent stockings, it should not take long for this lake to produce 30-pound natural muskies, as it did in the past.

This lake is open through mid-October. Collins Station, the electrical generating plant, for which the lake was created, is in the process of being demolished. Without the warm water from the plant, Heidecke will evolve into a more typical northern Illinois lake.

Kinkaid-The spillway barrier net was installed in the fall of 1998 at this 2,750 acre lake. No muskies have been observed below the spillway since the net was installed. In fact, the average muskie collected at Kinkaid has increased in size the last few years. The spring 2002 survey produced the largest muskie to date, a 50-inch, 34.7-pound female (who had dropped her eggs). A spring 2005 trap net survey produced 228 muskie, with the largest being 48.6-inch, 31.3-pound. There are a "tremendous number of muskie in the 30-40 inch range" at Kinkaid. A muskie tagging study is being conducted at Kinkaid. At the end of 2002, there were over 700 tagged muskie swimming in Kinkaid.

Anyone catching a tagged fish should contact Shawn Hirst at (618) 687-4546 with the tag No. Last year, Kinkaid was stocked with 2,000-10-inch muskie.

€ Mill Creek-Located in Clark Co., this 731 acre lake was first stocked in 1999. This lake was stocked with 366-10-inch muskie in 2005. Mill Creek has a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 22 feet with an abundant gizzard shad and white sucker population. Numerous fish over 36 feet were captured in 2003 and a 44-inch muskie was captured in 2004. There is a 42-inch minimum size limit for muskie and an access fee charged at this lake.

Pierce- This 162-acre Winnebago Co. lake was added to Project Green Gene in 2003. As part of the study 300-10-inch Illinois, 302-10-inch Ohio River Strain and 166-9-inch Upper Mississippi River Strain muskie were stocked in 2005. Gizzard shad are among Pierce's prey species. The Flatlanders Chapter of Muskies, Inc., working with the IDNR has introduced water willow to supplement the natural vegetation in this lake and help control erosion. There is a 10 HP limit on this lake.

Shabbona-Members of the Quad County Hawg Hunters chapter of Muskies, Inc. periodically rescue muskies below the spillway barrier on this 320 acre impoundment. Trap net surveys from 1997-2002 have collected two muskies, estimated at over 40 pounds. A muskie over 50 inches was reported from Shabbona in 2004.

This lake was stocked with 800-10-inch muskie in from the Jake Wolf Hatchery 2005. The QCHH chapter supplemented this stocking with 200-12-16-inch Leech Lake strain fingerlings in December of last year. There is a 48-inch minimum size limit and a 10 HP limit on this lake.

Shelbyville-2005 stockings in this 11,100 acre impoundment were 563-11-inch and 1,342-12-inch Illinois natural muskie fingerlings. The lake received an additional 520-12.6-inch muskie that had been hatched in Indiana. To date, this lake has produced the largest released muskie in the Illinois Voluntary Muskie Creel Survey at 53 inches. Shelbyville also produced the new state record 50.75 inches-38 pound-8 ounces in 2002. Once again, this lake produced the largest muskie registered in the Voluntary Muskie Creel Survey (50.25 inches) last year.

Wolf-Located on the Illinois/Indiana border, Wolf is a series of eight pools separated by a series of dikes. Pools are connected by a culvert with a constant flow of water. Boat ramps are located on four of the pools. Wolf had been stocked with tigers by the Illinois DNR from 1985 to 1997. In 1995, the Indiana State Record tiger, weighing 24 pounds was captured in Indiana waters by an Illinois angler. In 1999, Indiana's DNR stocked 1,000 10.5 inches naturals. Wolf has not been stocked with naturals by the Illinois DNR. There is a total of 805 acres of water in Wolf (391 in Illinois and 414 in Indiana). The Illinois portion is mostly shallow, with dense vegetation. The Indiana portion is deeper, and harbors most of the larger muskies. There is a 10 H P limit at Wolf. Note: If you are in Illinois waters and cast your line into Indiana waters (or vise/versa), you are required to possess both state licenses.

Speaking of Illinois muskie fishery, you should be aware of the remarkable accomplishments of Muskies, Inc. during the past four decades.

From the announcement celebrating the organization¹s 40th anniversary: MI is an active, service-oriented, non-profit organization with the focus of improving the sport of musky fishing. Their mission is to promote a high quality muskellunge sport fishery by supporting conservation practices and research. They are committed to the abatement of water pollution, maintenance of records of musky habits, growth and range; and the dissemination of musky information to everyone. They also seek to promote good fellowship and sportsmanship among all fishermen.

Founded in 1966 by Gil Hamm, the organization has grown to over 50 chapters nationwide. M.I. has financially supported a wide variety of research projects and full scale symposiums.

Pioneering the catch and release concept, M.I. members have recorded over 200,000 releases. From manpower to financial help, M.I. helps its local communities whenever possible. They also work closely with DNR officials.

Chapter meetings consist of sharing information and techniques and organizing fund raisers and outings. Youth activities are very important to M.I. and run the gamut from fishing derbies to educational programs. All members have ready access to a database of information and to a monthly magazine, Muskie.

Congratulations to Muskies, Inc. on all their accomplishments and for celebrating their 40th year. Special articles and photos will be included in their publication, Muskie, throughout the year to denote this milestone.

Illinois has nine chapters-four in the Chicagoland area-Park Ridge, Antioch, Elgin and the south/southwest suburbs.

Anyone interested in more information about joining Muskies Inc, should contact: (888)710.8286 or visit


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