Fishermen won’t have to wait for the reopening Aug. 1 of perch fishing on Lake Michigan. July will be open for the first time since 2001. | Dale Bowman/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 15, 2014 9:04PM
July will be open for perch fishermen.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will announce Monday that July will be open for fishermen to catch yellow perch in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan for the first time since 2001. IDNR director Marc Miller made it a goal to open July, but he said the situation will continue to be monitored extensively.
The daily limit remains 15 perch daily. Beginning in 2015, perch fishing will be closed from May 1 to June 15
around the spawn and
July is by far the most popular month for perch fishing in Illinois, with the month sometimes accounting for 40 percent of the sportfishing catch.
The July closure has riled fishermen from the beginning, in part because it took away one of the most socially significant outdoor activities in Chicago and in part because that is the only month all Chicago kids are out of school. For years, fishermen suggested that closing the season around the spawn to protect spawning females made more sense.
‘‘We listened to anglers and experts alike during the Lake Michigan Yellow Perch Summit held March 22,
2014, in Chicago, and this rule change was developed as a result of that meeting,’’ Miller said.
Perch fishing on Lake Michigan was restricted after populations crashed during the 1990s. Various
restrictions were placed on sportfishing around the lake, and nearly all commercial fishing — including all in Illinois — was closed. The four Lake Michigan states used reduced daily bags, partial closures and even a despised slot limit (briefly) in Illinois to protect the perch fishery.
‘‘Illinois’ regulations are part of a multijurisdictional approach to managing yellow perch in Lake Michigan,’’ Lake Michigan Program manager Vic Santucci said.
Perch, like other species in Lake Michigan, suffered because of the effects of
invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels, which remove microscopic plants and animals from the water. Because of a lack of food, fewer perch survived past hatching.