Opening day of fishing at LaSalle Lake was outstanding. More on that later tonight or tomorrow.
It was something to have three fish already by the time dawn came.
Unfornately, a late boneheaded call from Springfield will turn closing time into a zoo. As far as I can so far piece together, on Friday, somebody in Lands at the IDNR made a decision to close the lake at 4 p.m. during March. That was news to many of us in line or on the lake.
That's a boneheaded call on several levels.
I reached new IDNR director Marc Miller Sunday afternoon. He was very apologetic and mortified about the word not getting out about the early closing time.
But that such a boneheaded decision was even considered, let alone carried through on, is of far greater concern to me.
The reopening of LaSalle Lake to fishing, traditionally on March 15, has become the top event in northeast Illinois fishing.
In the old days, Braidwood used to hold that honor, back when its reopener on March 1 drew thousands of fishermen. In its prime, opening night of smelt fishing on the Chicago lakefront was close too. Spring catchable trout is bigger in sheer numbers, but that is spread across more than a dozen sites.
Already, March is restricted on LaSalle to Wednesday through Sunday only. We should be looking to expand the great March fishing spot to seven days, quite the opposite of restricting its access.
Miller said the reasoning was that in April the seasonal workers will be available, so the hours can return to normal then. I understand the thought, but it is a thought built without understanding how important a role LaSalle plays in March. And somebody at the top in Lands should know that.
We should be looking to expand the use of LaSalle: build that east-side parking lot for winter shore fishing, restore the concessionaire and shore fishermen delivery. LaSalle is a rich and useful resource, not an afterthought.
It should be treated that way.
Let me give an inkling of of the importance and value of LaSalle.
I arrived at 10:30 Saturday night, and was all the way back at 33rd in line. I was shore fishing and made my first cast at 7 a.m. I looked out at the road and the line to enter went extended a mile to the east of the entrance. That meant there was still two miles of vehicles waiting to come in at 7 a.m.
There was still a line of shore fishermen waiting to come in when I left at 1:30 p.m. Shore fishermen could only enter as a shore vehicle left.
I will update later today with reports on how the 4 p.m. close goes. I envivision a zoo. There's a more colorful word, but I'm not sure I can use it even on a blog..