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First day of fishing at LaSalle Lake sure sign of spring

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Updated: April 14, 2013 6:46AM



Winter can kiss my arse goodbye. That’s the true meaning of the reopening of LaSalle Lake to fishing in mid-March.

LaSalle, the cooling lake south of Seneca, reopens to fishing Friday. Things look promising.

It escaped any major fish kills during the historic heat wave in July. In fact, those targeting big blue catfish, the glamor fish in recent years, did extremely well during the heat wave.

Fisheries biologist Ken Clodfelter said fish up to 30 pounds have been netted in surveys, but there have been reports of fishermen catching blues topping 50 pounds.

‘‘We have seen those big ones, but we haven’t been able to dip [net] them,’’ Clodfelter said.

Last summer, he had some fishermen send him a photo with four or five blues of 35 of 40 pounds hanging from an oar between two boats.

Fishermen are taking twice as many pounds of blues from LaSalle as any other species. Blues generally are stocked annually, but last year there was a problem with the supplier and a year was skipped.

Good fishing is the draw at LaSalle, but the opening-day experience is special. I appreciated that more when I started sleeping in my car the night before and boat-fishing with Jeff ‘‘Woody’’ Roberts. But I also enjoy the openers when I walk or bike out the south bank with the hundreds of other shore fishermen in time to see the sunrise.

That’s walking into spring.

Clodfelter said hybrid striped bass are running
5 to 8 pounds, with a few to 9 or 10 pounds.

‘‘We don’t have the huge ones,’’ he said.

As for largemouth and smallmouth bass, Clodfelter said there are good numbers of smaller fish.

‘‘I wouldn’t call it great, but it will be like recent years,’’ he said.

Largemouth are stocked at the rate of 40,000 4-inchers annually, smallmouth at 20,000 4-inchers annually and hybrids at 20,000 11/2-inchers annually.

The bluegills continue to look good, many in the 7- to 8½-inch size, especially along the east shore and on the south side of the dike going back west to picnic point. I’m surprised more don’t target bluegills.

As usual, channel catfish remain on the skinny side.

In March, LaSalle will be open from 6 a.m. to sunset Wednesdays through Sundays. A concessionaire is expected shortly, but probably not in time for opening day.

During the crush of the opening days, site superintendent Ted Love said fishermen will be allowed to line up the night before and vehicles will be allowed in until the lots fill.

Scholarly fishing

The Illini Bass Fishing Club of the University of Illinois (fightingillinibassclub.com) will hold its second High School Open Tournament on April 7 on Clinton Lake. Registration will be capped at 75 boats for the largest high school tournament in Illinois. To register, contact Luke Stoner at (309) 202-2018 or stoner2@illinois.edu.

Clubbing

Smallmouth expert Jim DaRosa will speak to the Riverside Fishing Club (riversidefishingclub.com) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the LaGrange American
Legion.

Hunting

Online applications started for the first lottery for Illinois residents for firearm and muzzleloader-only deer season. Click the Online Services tab at
dnr.illinois.gov.

Showtime

The Evergreen Park Police F. O. P. Lodge No. 27 will hold its annual Fishing and Sport Show from
7-11 p.m. Friday at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park. Tickets are available for $20 at the police station or for $25 at the door.

CPO testing

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is seeking applicants for Conservation Police Officer trainees. For information, go to dnr.illinois.gov, click on ‘‘Safety and Rules,’’ then click on ‘‘Law Enforcement.’’

Stray cast

NFL free-agency day feels like a close-out bin of crankbaits, with general managers rooting for that hidden hot-chub Tail Dancer.



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