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May Thu 19, 2016 3:54 pm
“Stocking Pike in Chicago River: Hopeful Signs of a Beginning,” Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Streams specialist Steve Pescitelli stocks northern pike fingerlings into the North Shore Channel.
Full article text: A pair of Canada geese with a lone gosling waddled the shoreline. A mallard pair swim and dove by the dock.
Life builds along the Chicago River system as it cleans up.
A boost came Tuesday afternoon with the stocking of 2,000 5-inch northern pike fingerlings on the North Shore Channel by Dammrich Rowing Center in Skokie.
“I thought it was a good match, a little more sexy than channel catfish [stocked last year],’’ stream specialist Steve Pescitelli said.
Fisheries technician Mark Moldenhauer made the four-hour drive from the Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery in Topeka in a pickup with well-oxygenated tanks.
“Swim and be free,’’ intoned Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River, as she released one that fell from a net.
Similar to the channel catfish stocking, the project built on a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chi-Cal Rivers Fund.
As to why pike, Pescitelli said some are already in the system and, with the planned reintroduction of emergent vegetation, stocking pike makes sense.
They will be “nailing down spots’’ for reintroduction of vegetation this year and the work will likely begin next year.
Lizard’s tail, which grows well in shade, should do well along the shaded waters of the North Shore Channel and North Branch. But Pescitelli said in areas where bank restoration was done, there are sunny spots with rock substrata natural for water-willow.
Similar aquatic plant reintroductions have done well on the Fox and DuPage rivers.
He acknowledged that some of the pike will likely end up in the Chicago harbors because pike move around so much.
“But, with the vegetation there, we are hoping they stick around and provide some angling in the North shore Channel,’’ Pescitelli said. “But we are fine with that being a source for moving out in the system. They will spread out.’’
He expects the pike to be 8-10 inches by next spring.
“It is pretty exciting project,’’ he said. “Put some plants in there and some pike and see how it works.’’
When I asked, Frisbie said, “My hope and dream is to be swimming with the fish. I’m an optimistic. I like to think by 2020.’’
To tweak a line from The Persuaders, it is a thin line between optimism and insanity.
But I like that possibility.
May Thu 19, 2016 8:04 pm
2,000 is an awfully low amount of fingerings, especially with the amount of shad and gill forage in that stinky river. A large portion will end up in the buckets at River Park, probably this fall when they're about 7inches and biting crawlers with the sunfish.
May Fri 20, 2016 7:01 am
Yea not worth stocking them unless they though they would breed, and if that was the case they should dump 50-75K per year for several years. Create a breeding river or don't bother at all.
May Fri 20, 2016 8:23 am
The big picture is that the Friend's of the Chicago River is doing something to help improve the river. While people and companies were abusing and dumping crap into the river in the past, organizations like this were formed and stood up to save the river. Fortunately, they have become very successful and the river has undoubtedly improved. This is a group that has many volunteers and staffers that truly care. Based on their efforts, we get to enjoy an improving natural amenity. They also go beyond the river and river banks, reaching out into the watershed areas. They work hard with Aldermen, Army Corps of Engineers, City, developers and volunteers. Margaret and her team do this with donations, grants and fundraisers.
I'm an avid angler and a city dweller that would love to see the Chicago River improve. I help the Friends once a month and contribute via membership fees. I trust their knowledge and efforts in helping the environment. Sure, if funding wasn't an issue, I'm sure they could do much more. Working with what they have, I think they're doing a damn fine job. I encourage you guys to share your knowledge and experience with the staff by sending them an email. They are an advocate for anglers, so please support them any way you can.
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