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Fish kill: A Hall of Famer's take

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Here's some stray thoughts from Don Dubin on the fish kill and Asian carp.


Dubin and I sometimes go around on ideas, not always seeing things the same way. But I respect what the Lincolnwood man thinks. He has done enough from salmon to muskies to the Chicago lakefront to be an easy choice for induction into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame in 2008.

Here's his thoughts on Asian carp:

Hi Dale,

Every time I watch television, listen to the radio, or read the newspapers, I am informed about the Asian carp entering and destroying our fishery. With all the efforts that are being done to control them, I feel that these carp may already be in Lake Michigan. With all the negative publicity about the doom and gloom that these fish will bring to the Great Lakes, I have not seen any positive ideas on how these fish can be controlled..

My feeling is that there might be some good to this bad situation. To start, these fish are filter feeders on plankton, and there may not be enough forage to support a large population of these fish to allow them to grow to a large.size. Also, the Great Lakes may not be suitable for them to reproduce.

If they do invade the Great Lakes,we have to be creative and find ways to control them. Perhaps our hatchery system could be expanded to plant large numbers of predator fish such as walleyes, bass, northerns, and muskies that could eat these carp. The Asian carp as a forage base could be the start of a great new fishery. To help protect our trout and salmon when they are planted, they could be caged and released at a larger size in deeper water. Also, Asian carp are good to eat and may support a commercial fishery. In today's economy, this would create jobs and a fishery that the fisherman would support.

Today, as the environment changes, so will our fishery. It will be our challange to find ways to manage it as a great fishery.


Don Dubin

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Although Mr. Dubin is a hall of famer and I respect his opinion, biological control (i.e. musky and other predator fish eat baby carp) of asian carp in Lake Michigan is probably not the route that we (we as in people in general) want to take. Sure, his idea could work and there could be an asian carp fishery in the Great Lakes that supports populations of predatory fish that people like to catch. The key word, though, is COULD. What if it doesn’t work? History has told us that biological doesn’t work very well, if at all. These fish have the POTENTIAL to cause massive destruction to the Great Lakes. Who here likes catching salmon, trout, perch, smallmouth, walleye, and others out of the Great Lakes? I’m sure there are many and there are MANY jobs that rely on these fisheries. Do we want to take the risk of harming those fisheries (and the jobs that go with them) on the off-chance that asian carp might MIGHT increase sportfish populations? Probably not (although everyone is entitled to his/her opinion). Preventing Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan, in my opinion, should be done at all cost (although the handling of the Asian carp issue has been a cluster) as the potential consequences outweigh the potential benefits.

If anyone thinks the Asian carp have not reached Lake Michigan there idiots. They been in Lincoln Park South Pond for a while now. Good chance they reproduced in their. That water runs into the Lagoon then to Diversey Harbor right into Lake Michigan. (swimming time from the pond to Lake Michigan, about 6 minutes for fish) The issue is what do we do now. We will have to wait and see. Lets hope they don't adapt to the big lake. But no one knows whats going to happen. It is impossibe to stop these fish from getting into the Great Lakes.

I think Mr. Durbin's point acknowledges that the carp are likely already in the Lake where he suggests responses to it, like increasing the sport-fishing stocking, etc. I am pretty sure he was not advocating just letting this ride out. It's an interestingly calm perspective given the emotion and frenzy around these carp. I for one sure hope they're not already in the Lake, but have a feeling this is a lost cause.

His thoughts did kind of sound like he was advocating letting it ride out at first look, but it could have been my misinterpretation. I also have the strange sense that it is a lost cause, but I really hope not. There may be a few in the lake, but that does not mean that they have a viable population (yet) and that eradication effors may be useful. They're in Lincoln Park South Pond? That sucks. I hope the proper authorities know (and are acknowledging the public's observations!) and can do something about it. This whole asian carp thing has been a total cluster and I fear that the current efforts are too little, too late.

I hope that if the Asian Carp (and I doubt that they won't) make it into lake michigan a natural balance with or without our intervention will be reached. For example plentiful gobies have resulted in well fed small mouth, we will have to wait and see.

Ohh and yes there were asian carp in the lincoln park south pond (has since recieved the rotenone treatment) but neither the south nor the north pond connect to the lagoon or the lake. If you look at an overhed map the diversey harbor turns into the lagoon and travels under the fullerton bridge.The ponds are divided from each other by fullerton pkwy and the zoo and the lagoon is seperated from the south pond by the park.

On the east shoreline of the south pond there is a small spillway. The water that spills into that spillway goes underground and empties into the Lincoln Park lagoon or rowing channel. When pond water is up, you can see the water discharge into the rowing channel. This spot in the lagoon was also a good spot back when we had high water in the lake, because it was a extra current that attracted baitfish, salmon & trout. Now the water just shoots out of the visible pipe.

South Pond of Lincoln Park was drained and all the fish were killed. Sadly, I don't think there was a single asian carp found.

Million pounds of fish were destroyed. Many will say that the "invasive" or "exotic" species were destroyed. I say the lake will no longer be one of the better fishing spots in Chicago that soon.

Let's clear a couple of things up. Invasive fish were ALL stocked by people. Asian carp were farmed for food, but got loose in a flood from their ponds into the river system. The German carp - king of that South pond, was stocked in the late 1800s by the Fish & Game Service as a source of food and sport fishing nation-wide. Sterile Grass carp are stocked because they are vegetarian and they reduce weed growth.
Grass carp are often confused for Asian carp.

One other myth, the common carp doesn't destroy the other fish. With poor water quality and huge fishing pressure, it is man's pollution and over harvest of the stocked fish that allows the carp to flourish- unchecked by predators. The human is the top predator and by removing the bass, pike and leaving only a few of 10 - 12" fish, there are no large fish to eat new fry from the king of the minnow family - the carp.

All carp & goldfish do support a fishing industry. In Broadway (moved from Oak Park), we are lucky to have our very own Chicago Carp tackle store. Wacker Baits is one of several nation-wide where tackle is exclusively for the carp species. Other bait stores in the area carry and sell carp tackle and bait as well. Mr. Dubin is correct that good can come out of a situation, there is money to be made in carp. While there is an award to pay for a $6 lb. smallmouth bass near Chicago, anglers are on the hunt for a 50 lb. carp in the same waters.

Last year there were tournaments in Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, New York and Las Vegas where prize money for catching carp ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 dollars attracting hundreds of anglers even from Europe! A winning catch of bass in 3 days of fishing might total 35 lb. of fish for an angler in a bass tourney. Wining bag of carp - try 996 lb. of fish. Carp anglers spend a lot of time fighting fish, not casting for them, walking around for them or driving boats around.

Instead of poisoning these resilient fish, perhaps we should be promoting them. Illinois could be a destination angling spot. To that point, I guided a fan from England and we caught over 150 lb. of fish in 7 hours in the Lincoln Park South pond.

Lincoln Park lagoon south was the best Goldfish fishery in the United states for one reason, apartments, condos and kid's fish bowls. After fun fairs and pitch the ping-pong ball prize wins, these fish are often "set free" after fish bowls aren't cleaned. Goldfish require more delicate tackle and presentation than trout do in order to catch them consistently. They are horribly awkward feeders and they eat the tiniest insect larvae.

$12 million to kill the fish and "improve" the lake. Sure a little concrete and edge improvement was needed -but they could have kept the fish in one half and fixed the other. Repeat the process and you would have maintained what was there.

The DNR poisoning, draining things is very expensive and is a temporary fix. I will fish elsewhere while I wait for the Lincoln Park Pond to return to its once great fishing destination- it will. I am certain that it has been stocked since it was filled again as there were many fun fairs this Fall.

For the Asian Carp situation - I think Don's assertions are spot on. When dealing with fish, take a fisherman's word. We are the ones who do regular studies, we see the fish that are present. While the Asian Silver Carp is an extreme nuisance, the issues are overstated without proper data based on very small shocking studies.

The DNR could better spend its resources on improving the release of predators, enforcing current regulations on poachers and education. The only way to fix inland waters is to make Bass or large predators catch & release only. Locals fishing for food strip out the predator population much faster than it is stocked.

I understand they were dumping poison to create a buffer while they could repair an electric fence. Inland poisoning is a waste of taxpayer money and a waste of catchable fish. Promote it rather than poisoning it in the future and let's stop thinking with 100- year old tactics. The DNR needs to evolve to stop it's own decline. What is truly shocking is that despite Illinois and Cook County's massive collection of taxes, our state is $5 billion behind in paying its bills, the DNR staff has been cut to ribbons and Illinois fishing ranks very low as a destination spot.

I know we can do better with our funds than drums of poison and draining ponds. Killing what fish are there is primitive, not intelligent and it is not a sustainable, cost-effective solution for any pond. A temporary fix to stall the Silver Carp, ok, but, this move should be criticized and this slow-moving migration of these fish should have been addressed several years ago with a better plan for maintenance.

In the future - DO - check in with anglers like Don for solutions or run the risk of feeling our barbs. Well, their barbs, I often fish barbless.

John and others, point of fact, there were a number of an Asian carp killed and found at South Pond. I don't have the exact number, but may have photos of some somewhere sent by readers.

See "Stray Casts" Feb 14, 09 "Asian Carp In Lincoln Park Lagoon".

Talk about a myth! That entire post can be considered one. Whats next a bunch of people start to like to fish for bighead carp and then try and promote them? The common carp is more destructive than the asian carp. They have altered every water they live in for the worse. Millions are spent to rid the waters of these pests. predator fish will never keep them in check as they grow too fast and have more eggs than any other fish hundreds or thousands of times over. i read somewhere that where a bass lays 30000 eggs per spawn a carp lays 300000 per spawn and spawns several times a year.They are fun to catch as they fight hard but can never be called a true sport fish due to their numbers. Common carp dont hurt other fish. you have to be kidding? Here are some links to info from the pros on this pest fish.
from the minn DNR

"Common carp are one of the most damaging aquatic invasive species due to its wide distribution and severe impacts in shallow lakes and wetlands
Their feeding disrupts shallowly rooted plants muddying the water
They release phosphorus that increases algae abundance
Carp induced declines in water quality causes declines of aquatic plants needed by waterfowl and fish"

there are hundreds of papers like this written by pro fisheries people. Kill them all as it will benifit real sport fish as well as the waters for everything that lives there.

Well, a few points. Any fish that can survive very polluted water either by chemical run-off or bacterial oxygen reduction is tough. Any fish that can survive angler pressure of 150 anglers per square mile is worth something. Warriors against the German or common carp rely upon figures of how successful they are at breeding.
The carp is of the minnow family. In an environment where predator fish have enough oxygen and are not removed by anglers, poachers, this member of the minnow family is kept in check. Where anglers take bass and put them in their minnow buckets when they are 8", 10" they are not left in check.
As a sustainable, no-cost source of angling the German carp, the carp is the urban king and will always be the best urban angling opportunity.
The German carp (common) which was stocked the same years that non-native bass were shipped and introduced all over the country in the late 1800's via fish train, was stocked the same as bass as a sport fish and source of food. Unfortunately, there are many more people fishing these city waters than in the 1800's.
Now, all carp have asian roots. The BigHead Carp or Silver carp are the really bad dudes. Filter feeders, etc. The true most-damaging thing to any water is man- by far. Removing predator fish, creating sediment, lawn fertilizers, discarded motor oil, transporting invasive plants, paint, solvents all destroy the balance. Worse yet, people transport these fish as cheap bait in buckets to fish for bass and channel catfish. They use goldfish for bait which come off the hooks while fishing for catfish & bass.
Without money to enforce and protect the top predators, I am afraid all poisoning and restocking efforts will be temporary and a long-term waste of taxpayer funds. Bass & Catfish angler buckets along with local condos will restock this pond with goldfish and they will take away the bass as fast as they old enough to take 1/2 a crawler or a crappie minnow on a hook. When a school fair goldfish is too big to eat for the local predator population, the urban lake balance begins.
As angling pressure increases, angling ethics, by percentage, become the urban enemy of a bass fishery. With the masses of geese that fly into South Pond, fresh carp fry and eggs will be transplanted into the water immediately this Spring. As the balanced shifts, predators will be removed and the true restocking of the South Pond will occur.
Instead of the labor that went into carrying away over 20,000 lb. of catchable fish, and all the cash that was spent on poisoning, draining, money should have been spent on growing the sport, angler education or something not so temporary.
While it might be fine to cast many times into the pond to pluck out a the handful of surviving 12" predators with mini bass lures, the ones not yet poached (or worse catch nothing), that's not for me. I much prefer my line tearing off the spool, hooks bending out and the thrash of a beastly 13 lb. South Pond monster. My other favorite was the delicate tiny feeding indications those chubby 2 lb. condo goldfish would make on my float. How about the chance at a 23 lb. grass carp. Maybe a 8 oz. bass that we spend thousands each year for stocking is more attractive.
While I love hooking into smallmouth bass that will bend a rod or watching a largemouth hit a surface bait, that's not reality. I would rather fish than wish. This is not a remote lake in Kentucky, this is not TV.

What Lincoln Park South pond had was a sustainable fishery. I had inquiries and anglers come from London to fish this and considered it the 2nd best water in the Chicago area before they poisoned it.
As stated, because of man, buckets, poaching, near zero enforcement, no DNR budget, this pond will return to its previous state. Instead of the DNR making excuses for poor fishing, they should work on sustainable fixes. Instead of Cook County poisoning, they should be balancing the budget or using funds to make some money, reduce some payroll.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 7, 2009 2:21 PM.

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