Chicago Sun-Times
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Perch poaching (or have a brain)

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When two well-separated people, one who has shared my home and one whom I've never met as far as I know, send a similar note of concern on Lake Michigan perch I pay attention.

The issue is the fishing or overfishing of the hot perch action in the river around 92nd and 95th.

The first came Friday (while I was off veggin' in Michigan) from C. Eric ``Mac'' Sloan, the young new owner of Mac's Bait Shop on 75th on the South Side.

The second came from Lloyd DeGrane, a Chicago photographer and long-time Perch America guy. He took one of my favorite photos of our family (eating a taco supper) for a book on families. And he hooked me into a cooperative effort on one of the favorite articles I ever wrote, a freelance piece for Lake Magazine which ended with Johnny Payphone hurtling naked into the North Branch of the Chicago River.

But I digress.

To perch poaching, first from Sloan:

Hello Mr.Bowman, my name is C. Eric Sloan or "Mac", I'm the young and new owner of Mac's Bait Shop on 75th Street. This place used to be called Jim's Bait Store back in 1982.

Anyway I wanted to tell you about these fishermen coming into the shop, YOU MUST LET PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THE LIMITS OF THE FISH!!!! I can do only so much until these old-timers figure out that I'm not just some young punk who "thinks" he knows everything.

You ran what Steve [Palmisano] said about 95th street and "honestly" I think they are sendin scouts over to my place just to ask where the action is. Anyway the problem they have down on 92nd and 95th are the cops. And they're{the fishermen} ignorant about the rules to how many perch can be caught, I say let them ALL go and keep only what you're gonna eat for that night.

The perch are FULL, not with food... with eggs, even the little ones people are catching. But these people are KEEPING all of them. There have already been 5 fishermen who came by and said they have gotten $75 tickets for the amount of their catch. When I ask "How many ya get?" they say things like 47, 60, 80 fish!!!! The limit is 15.....and these are small perch at that, some jumbos are caught, but give me a break!

While all this craziness is happening (I heard of a fight breaking out over line-crossing) my friend Ray Hinton Jr (The Wolf Lake Master) caught more monsters on 63rd street pier that same day. I haven't seen a big Lake Trout pulled from shore fishing since I was in Canada back in 86'....never saw one in Lake Mich, but Ray had got one and 2 huge Coho, I've kinda run off my subject but, the point is this, the people who read your column really need to put things into perspective of "what type of fisherman am I ?"

Because the majority of my customers seem like great people, some of them are GREEDY and don't think that their actions have any consequences to the ecology of wherever they go. Yes they may be able to catch 80 perch, but why keep them if the perch are only 7 inches long??? Why is it so hard for somebody to have a brain, or at least, use it???

If somebody solves that question, I am willing to listen.

And now DeGrane:

Yes, as you reported, fishermen are killing them(perch) at the 95th St. Bridge. Some though, to the point of killing them 3 or 4 times over. IDNR officers were out in full force last week issuing tickets and arresting those breaking the law. However, many poachers went undetected.

I observed 2 ways poachers operate. One, they catch a 15 fish limit, drive home, unload the first limit of perch then drive back and take another limit and sometimes another after that. One person bragged that they had 4 limits in one day. Two, the poacher catches a near limit calls a friend or family member then gives that person his catch and continues fishing for another limit.

Poachers break the law! Perch America worked so hard to keep commercial fishing boats from decimating the perch population. Now, it's some fisherman themselves that are abusing the regulations that were set up to protect the perch.

Message to fisherman, report poachers, Lloyd DeGrane

p.s. Culling a perch catch by throwing small perch 5 stories off a bridge does not help species survival.

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Thought you would be interested in this, excerpted from the DNR website under law enforcement/monthly reports;

On 02/17/2009, two subjects were caught grossly taking over limits of yellow perch out of Lake Michigan waters.

After receiving a complaint, a male and female subject were observed catching yellow perch at Navy Pier, putting them in plastic bags, and hiding the perch in public garbage cans behind them. They were removing the perch's eyes for bait. Two bags of perch were found in two separate garbage cans. One bag contained 20 perch and the other bag contained 21. The two also possessed a bag of 15 perch in front of them for a total of 56 perch between the two. Both were given two citations each for taking over limits of yellow perch and will appear in court.

http://www.dnr.state.il.us/law3/report/09/feb.html

Strange how they commercial fished for perch for 150 years and there was was plenty of them up until a recreational fishery started with the masses in the last 30 years then all of a sudden it is the commercial guy supplying food for the nation that is wiping them out and not the recreational fishermen by the thousands filling his freezer so he can throw them out in a few months freezer burnt.We have seen it in Fla with Snook as it has been 52 years since the last commercial set was made on them and the Snook population has went down hill ever since and lot of it due to recreational poaching.

None of this would be a problem if IL/IN/WI would wise-up a get on the same page with all the great lakes states. MI has a limit of 35 perch - why not have a great lakes state-wide limit of 35 perch? I'm not justifying greedy/poaching fisherman, but if somebody isn't happy with 35 perch they are just ignorant. I have news for you folks: if you truly perch fish a lot, you'll notice the huge amounts of small fish as well as different age classes: the fish are HEALTHY and REPRODUCING. I've been fishing the river for 2 weeks straight and see the #'s. Increasing the limit will not hurt a thing and I challenge those that think otherwise. I've been perching MI waters for over 25 years and their fishery is healthy as ever (while under a 35 fish limit, irregardless of ever having commercial netting). And, if you want to talk stupidity, how about the ILDNR closing the season in the summer for a month - and that does what? If they were smart they'd close the season NOW while these fish are full of eggs. You want to protect the fishery? Close the season for the most important time period when those fish are full of eggs waiting to spawn. Most of the area boat perch fisherman are hypocrites anyways, because they'll be the first ones running up to Waukegan taking those HUGE females in 50 ft. of water here in a month or so. Then, you tell me the difference between people who poach and take more than their limit, vs. those that'll throw a 12 incher back to get a 13 or 14? Come on? It makes me sick to my stomach while trolling in Waukegan seeing floating 11 & 12 inch perch thrown back with stomachs blown out because some "greedy" anglers wanted bigger ones. Some of you guys need to look at yourselves first before you criticize others throwing back small ones of a bridge.

None of this would be a problem if IL/IN/WI would wise-up a get on the same page with all the great lakes states. MI has a limit of 35 perch - why not have a great lakes state-wide limit of 35 perch? I'm not justifying greedy/poaching fisherman, but if somebody isn't happy with 35 perch limit (instead of trying to sneak extra fish) they are just ignorant. I have news for most folks: if they truly perch fish a lot, you'll notice the huge amounts of small fish as well as different age classes: the fish are HEALTHY and REPRODUCING. I've been fishing the river for 2 weeks straight and see the #'s. Increasing the limit will not hurt a thing and I challenge those that think otherwise. I've been perching MI waters for over 25 years and their fishery is healthy as ever (while under a 35 fish limit, irregardless of ever having commercial netting). And, if you want to talk stupidity, how about the ILDNR closing the season in the summer for a month - and that does what? If they were smart they'd close the season NOW while these fish are full of eggs. You want to protect the fishery? Close the season for the most important time period when those fish are full of eggs waiting to spawn.

For what it's worth, most of the area boat perch fisherman are hypocrites anyways, because they'll be the first ones running up to Waukegan taking those HUGE females in 50 ft. of water here in a month or so. Then, you tell me the difference between people who poach and take more than their limit, vs. those that'll throw a 12 incher back to get a 13 or 14? Come on? It makes me sick to my stomach while trolling in Waukegan seeing floating 11 & 12 inch perch thrown back with stomachs blown out because some "greedy" anglers wanted bigger ones. What's the difference between those that cull fish in deep water and those that actually take extra? Either way, fish are still dying. Some of these guys need to look at themselves first before they criticize others throwing back small ones back off a bridge. I'm sorry, but releasing big fish (after pulling them from that deep water off of Waukegan) doesn't compare to small fish being sorted through and thrown back in shallower water.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 24, 2009 7:24 PM.

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