Click here for Wednesday's column about stocking smallmouth bass at the recently removed Hofmann Dam on the Des Plaines River; below is a bit of a journey via photos.
I just find the view above astonishing. I understand why people are driving from miles away and bring their old dads to see what happened after the dam was removed.
The sound is what gets me. Only weeks from the removal and already it sounds like a river.
These smallmouth were broodstock past their age of ideal production, so they were trucked from Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery to be stocked.
In other words, they were big ones, as streams biologist Steve Pescitelli showed.
Pescitelli and fellow streams biologist Bob Rung (left) implanted ID tags of various colors. The colors don't mean anything, just happened to be the colors they had.
At first, Pescitelli handled the fish and stuck the tag, while Rung recorded info. Then they switched during the handling of 126 big and very lively smallmouth.
The smallmouth were being added in hopes that they will kickstart natural reproduction in the newly revived stretches of the Des Plaines, especially above the former dam, where the pools used to contain very few fish.
John Mach, president of Hofmann Dam River Rats, organized a bucket brigade, to take the fish from the truck to the river.
Rich Rogoz is one of the regulars who keeps an eye on the river and how fishermen behave. The area below the former dam is catch-and-release. And I certainly hope that fishermen release these fish and let them do their thing.
Dale Penkava at 78 earned honors of releasing the first fish. This is a later one he walked down to the river when I went up to the bridge to see the big picture.
This is something, truly I big picture that is 16 years in the making.