A beautiful 27-inch walleye was among the 100-plus fish collected Thursday for tagging in the Kankakee River Valley Fishing Derby.
J.R. Black, a 2004 inductee in the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Famer and the main mover in the Northern Illinois Anglers Association, the operating group behind the derby for 27 years, got the honors of carrying the beauty from the shocking boat to the holding tanks.
Biologist Rob Miller, who was running the shocking boat, said it came up then went down. Then a small flathead came up and they netted it. Miller said he thought they weren't going to get the walleye, but a second swipe put the walleye in the boat.
I asked him if it was usual for a walleye and a flathead to be in the same spot. Miller said no.
Most of the rest of the fish collected were the usual mix of smallmouth, rock bass, channel catfish, carp, a few largemouth, etc. They were seeing redhorse, but I don't think they saved any of those for tagging.
It was an interesting day on many levels.
For the last couple years, a NIAA members has asked our church youth group to help lugging nets of fish from the shocking boat to the holding tanks. So I have put together a carload of kids to help.
Well, only two kids this year, my second son and the girlfriend of my oldest boy.
Getting out was an adventure. The original launch point was at Bird Park Quarry in Kankakee, just downstream of the dam and the Route 17 bridge.
But high, dirty water made them rethink that. The Iroquois is pouring a lot of extremely muddy water into the Kankakee at Aroma Park.
So they opted to go well upstream to Momence Anchor Club. The water there was muddy, but the current manageable. I tucked into a caravan driving out 17 behind Norm Minas and his son Zach.
I love how my life and my work overlap.
I was curious if the high dirty water made it difficult to shock. Miller said no, but what it made difficult was netting the fish.
One of the biologists helping out was Bob Rung.
Rung reminds me of some of the old-timers working the copy desk at the Sun-Times. There's a crustiness to him.
When I told him, I estimated the walleye at 25 inches, he said good, that would mean it would not surpass anything he surveyed from the Fox River.
After it was measured at 27 inches, I told Rung his walleye mark from the Fox was surpassed. He grunted, I think, in response.
Click here for info on the derby, which runs through July 4. I am curious how the high water will help or hinder catches in the derby.