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Double-edged lulu at LaSalle

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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.

Here's why.

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..

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Marc Miller was promoted as someone who understood Illinois outdoors and would be a friend to those who use the states resources. The resource I use most often is LaSalle Lake. The running joke about LaSalle's misuse is how under utilized it is. Not open on Monday's and Tuesday's in March, that's a joke. The early weeks will provided the best action of the year to thousands and thousands of anglers. Closed for the few dollars it would take to man the office clearly showed the person in charge just didn't get it when it came to LaSalle. So I get there this afternoon more excited than usual because of a friends morning report of good fishing and the fact that with daylight saving time I'll get in an extra hour of fishing. I waited more that an hour in line with dozens of others. When I finally got in I discovered they were closing at 4. UNBELIVABLE. There were still dozens of guys behind me in line. I was going to get only a little over 2 hours instead of 5 hours of fishing on one of the best weather days of the year. The scene at 4 was beyond goofy.

I was hopeful a new director meant better things for the people who use Illinois's natural resources. Dale outlined ways that LaSalle should be improved in this post. The decision to close early makes my favorite spot WORSE than is was before Miller. Hundreds and hundreds of anglers are going to be negitively affected by this clueless decision.

Is Miller a friend of fisherman? Does he understand Northeast Illinois? He can start by making sure come Wednesday LaSalle is open till sunset. Then he can start working on finding a few bucks and announcing LaSalle will now be open on Monday and Tuesday's in March. Or, he can allow this 4 o'clock policy to stand and clearly show he doesn't get it.

Director Miller is new. I doubt he had any idea of the closing time or that there are problems with seasonal help. Give him a chance to get his feet on the ground. It's incredibly lame, Pete, to jump on someone who had no idea there was an issue. There are thousands of minor problems, and yes this is minor compared to many others in the diverse IDNR, that will take time to resolve. Especially given what the agency has been through for the past seven years.

Thanks for your thought and putting it into a bigger perspective. I know this stuff and the big picture matter to you.
But let me defend Pete a bit and throw it into the context of an even bigger picture.

Marc will be given a break if the actions of the IDNR in this case sees some change, namely the 4 p.m. closure in March goes away.
It just bugs me no end that it was thought to be OK to pull a stunt like that without any input from the people it impacted. I'm sorry but that is mind-bogglingly inept.
It's not OK, and it doesn't bode well for the decision-making in the department.
Yes, the big-picture is important, and I am anxiously awaiting Wednesday's budget, but the devil is in the details, and this detail showed a devasting lack of understanding of LaSalle's importance.
And we see far too much of that lack of understanding of issues related to northeast Illinois from Springfield. I truly had hoped and still hope some of that would change.

hes a idiot i cant get off work and fish there cause it closes at 4pm ... maybe they can get some t.a.r.p. money from Obama and open it up agian

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 15, 2009 3:26 PM.

Higher in the pecking order: IDNR issues was the previous entry in this blog.

LaSalle opener is the next entry in this blog.

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