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Interesting take on smallmouth regulations

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If you aren't a member of the group on Facebook you will probably need to request inclusion.

I found it a very interesting, though unlikely scenario. 

One guy has suggested that he would like to see Rock Creek closed for all angling during the spawn. He is passionate about it...and has a "plan". 

You can draw your own conclusions from this. 


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The original: 


So after seeing the post today about smallies being kept I think I'm ready to publicly announce my idea and see who has any valid points in support and who has any valid points in disagreement. First this is intended to be an open discussion between adults with a common interest and passion. If it gets out of hand you will be removed no warning given. 

I am looking at getting a petition drawn up and sending it to a few different agencies and groups. The main goal is to push for a 100% closure of rock creek in the state park from May 1 through June 15th. This would include no fishing at all from the river mouth where the creek ends all the to where the waterfall is in the upper part of the creek. As well as a no intrusion zone in the same area. This timeline would allow trout anglers adequate time to fish for the stocker trout and still allow for the creek to be shut down during the main smallie spawn. 

The goal is to provide a safe haven for smallies to spawn while not being harassed for a month and a half while they are easy targets. As most of you know or have witnessed rock creek shores are lined with people, especially on the weekend, when the smallies show up. Its their natural response to remove things from their nest making them easy targets. This fish are not just getting caught once. They are caught over and over and over. Eventually, causing them to ignore natural instincts and in some cases even abandon their nest leaving it to be pillaged by other animals in the creek. Their willingness to bite also makes them easy targets for poachers that ignore the no keep season. Shutting this creek down would make them stick out like a sore thumb and CPOs along with park staff could easily enforce this. 

Along with no fishing goes no intrusion. We have all seen it. People wading through the creek, swimming, and jumping off the cliffs. Keeping people and pets out of the creek keeps feet out of beds and lowers the stress levels of the fish and hoping produces and better spawn year  in and year out. 

 The river is changing and rock creek is one of only a few unchanged spawning areas left in the river. It draws a large amount of smallies each year and that draws anglers far and wide as well as people wanting to enjoy the creek with various other activities. Our CPOs do a fantastic job but they can't be everywhere all the time. Even with your help calling it in they can't always be there.

Remember this post is to be kept clean."

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My initial response: 

I can relate from the perspective of the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance lobbying for new regulations on the Kankakee back in 1996. 
The DNR invited the group to a meeting and after some ideas were exchanged, they informed the group that a C&R season was being enacted on ALL of the streams in the state, and not just the Kank. 
The ISA was ecstatic to hear that!

Now....for some context. 
This decision didn't just come about because a group of anglers was being vocal. 
There were no less than 8 meetings for public discussion. Volumes of scientific data lay in folders. White boards with geographical smallmouth data at the front of the room. 
Studies were done. Streams sampled. 
All of these things come with a cost. 
Studies aren't free. 
This might explain why none were done when Rock Creek was included in the statewide trout program. 

Then there is the issue of public perception of every move the IDNR makes. This is something they take VERY seriously. 
While we might like to see a stream closed for angling for protection of smallmouth, there are others who purchase a fishing license, contributing to their budget, that might feel differently. Their voices carry the same weight as any others in the eyes of policy makers. 

Back to 1996.....

Jim Mick, Illinois' chief streams biologist, might have been in need of a travel agent at the time.....

"I'll want to be as far away as possible when we have to make a decision," he said at the second pulse-gathering session on proposed statewide smallmouth bass regulations.
After sessions in Rock Island and Rockford, Mick said he had been buttonholed by anglers from every possible position.

"Some want no regulations at all, while others want every stream to be entirely catch-and-release."

While it sounds like a great idea on the surface to some, it isn't as simple as sending a petition and hoping for the best.
As far as the IDNR is concerned, they already addressed the concern of smallmouth anglers statewide in 1996. This decision avoided the concept of "Well, what about my stream?"
That in itself will be the first question asked in public and private forums. 
If you do it for one, there will be others all across the state waiting in line for a piece of that same cake.

Then there is the issue of what your "plan" entails. 
What are the reasons for your concern? 
Do you have documentation for these concerns that have scientific validity?
Has this documentation been reviewed by the scientific community (biologists, etc.)?
What are the concerns of the community as a whole? 
Have there been public forums conducted to hear the voices of all affected? 
Who is going to pay for the new signage required to replace all the signs that are already in place? 

I'm not discouraging anybody from being proactive in stream management in the least. 
Just pointing out the elephant in the room here. 

Carry on....

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The signs I put up usually last about a week. 

I'm pretty sure the site staff isn't keen on signs near the mouth of Rock Creek. Just the parking areas. 

Norm and I installed one at the Warner Bridge small parking area bulletin board years ago. It lasted about 3 days. 

The one I put up with a conservation sign at the trailhead by the parking lot got vandalized. I removed it a few years ago. 


I also had a sign and post near the restrooms and it was removed by the staff. The next day. 

I installed 2 at Wilmington north park. Long gone. 

Tim Smith and I found our sign and 4×6 post at Deselm ripped out of the ground and tossed in the woods on trout opening day several years ago. 

There is an IDNR sign at the concession parking lot. 

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Sounds like more yellow signs need to go up in the area for sure. Last time a sign was up was anywhere from  a few years to several years ago. While you plan your fight to close the creek to anglers during the spawn season, a few signs put up, here and there, will help inform  all the NEW anglers we have. 

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2 hours ago, Mike Clifford said:

Not my plan. Somebody else's. Never going to happen. For the reasons I posted in my reply.

Ha! Sorry, I forgot this was a post from a Facebook group. My bad.  We should still try to get a couple signs up there. Maybe those sign destroying jerkwads have grown up and moved on to billboards. Sounds like it’s worth a shot again.

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49 minutes ago, Terry Dodge said:

Ha! Sorry, I forgot this was a post from a Facebook group. My bad.  We should still try to get a couple signs up there. Maybe those sign destroying jerkwads have grown up and moved on to billboards. Sounds like it’s worth a shot again.

No doubt. Just have to be a little discriminate. The one's on the permanent sign boards in every parking lot of the KRSP are fine. 

One thing I also pointed out later in the discussion was that pure nature types don't like signs of any kind mussing up their natural world. I had a biologist from an environmental group tell me that when we were doing an interview at the SP for an article on the airport plan. But that same person told me they would also just as soon we leave the fish alone. That was awkward. Good thing we had a local outdoors writer and author Joel Greenberg (A Natural History of the Chicago Region) along. 

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2 hours ago, Kev-mo said:

Hmm, have to give the guy credit for his passion  and resolve. However you're more than likely right in that it'll never happen for all the reasons you list. 


The main reason being that the IDNR already addressed smallmouth bass. If they are sampling the river and finding little to no problems with their numbers and size, there is no reason to stir the pot. I don't fish the creek enough to have a strong opinion on the matter one way or another. If the guy was somehow magically successful in getting the creek closed to anglers for any period of time, then more power to him. I couldn't get them to stop stocking trout while the director was a personal friend of mine. That is a revenue stream they take very seriously. The bottom line with this "proposal" is that it causes controversy. That is not something they willingly embrace. Quite the contrary. 

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