Hunting and Fishing Days Sept. 24-25

Northern Illinoisans will mark the 35th annual celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days during the fourth weekend in September (Sept 24 & 25) at Silver Springs State Park , just West of Yorkville.

Hunting and Fishing Day events around the country provide opportunities for outdoor-oriented people to learn more about outdoor skills and available local recreational activities.

Hands-on events are scheduled for archery, firearms and muzzleloader shooting, there will be kids fishing pond with free fishing poles and bait, paddle your own canoe with free usage of canoes, 18th century cooking demonstrations, story-telling and much much more!

There will be wildlife art and taxidermy exhibits, dog training sessions featuring retrievers and pointing breeds, hunter and wildlife education and outdoor skills enhancement for camping, hiking, bird watching and wildlife photography demonstrations. There is something for "kids of all ages". 

There is even an authentic 18th century voyageur's encampment showing what it was like to be an explorer during the height of the fur trading era.

Illinois' celebration will again be held along the Fox River some five miles below Yorkville, in Silver Springs State Park, among the lush, rolling stands of hardwoods overlooking clear, stocked lakes and the river itself.

It still stands as historical fact that America 's hunters, fishermen and farmers were in the forefront of the early push to conserve the nation's natural resources.  Today, sportsmen pay over $3 million every day for conservation. The National Shooting Sports Foundation calculates that over $1 billion (58%) comes from state hunting and fishing license sales. Another $378 million (16%) from taxes paid solely by sportsmen (21%). Some $300 million from other sources, including Duck Stamp sales, income tax check-offs, interest and fees for license sales. The final 8% totaling $153 million comes from states' budgets, including taxes paid by everyone, including sportsmen.

Hunters and fishermen provide more than 75% of the annual income of the 50 state conservation agencies leading it to conclude that sportsmen are clearly the largest contributors to conservation- paying for programs that benefit all Americans and all wildlife.

The traditions of respect for the land, for the wildlife and for the environment that is not only essential to all life but critical in shaping the quality of life that we have been priviledged to enjoy for generations past, present and hopefully long into the future.  Those traditions are always celebrated during the fourth weekend of September here in Illinois and throughout the nation.

As always, in the Silver Springs Hunting and Fishing event there is no admission, parking is free and ample, food and refreshments are sold on site.

It is a simple, wonderful weekend to enjoy with your family, friends or alone,,, to walk this sacred land and to revel in the good things we have done and will continue to do to conserve it. You needn't be a hunter or a fisherman, but just someone that enjoys being outside RAIN OR SHINE to bond with nature. Everyone is welcome, which is another strong American tradition.

(For more information about the celebration of Northern Illinois  Hunting & Fishing Days, log onto the Committee's website at  ).

Special Pass Available for Illinois Resident Armed Forces

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is offering an Armed Forces Special Pass to military members who live in Illinois and who have served abroad, including guard or reserve members called to active duty. The special pass provides camping, fishing and hunting fee exemptions for qualified military members, guard and reserve memebers who can apply within two years of their return from abroad or release from mobilization.

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation authorizing the IDNR to provide the fee exemptions, acknowledging the contributions of Illinois residents who are returning from service abroad or who were mobilized by the President as an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces, the Illinois National Guard, or the Reserves of the United States Armed Forces.

The Armed Forces Special Pass provides qualifying military members, and guard and reserve members who were mobilized, to camp at IDNR campgrounds (camper responsible for utility, rent-a-tent and cabin fees) free of charge. The pass also offers a combined Sportsman's License and Habitat Stamp for hunting and fishing, and an archery or firearm deer permit if requested and available.

Military members are eligible for free sport fishing, hunting and camping for one year for each year (and portion of one year) served.

To receive an Armed Foreces Special Pass from the IDNR, qualifying military members must appear in person at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources headquarter, One Natural Resources Way, Spirngfield, within two years of their return from abroad or release from mobilization, provide verification of dates of service and provide a phot ID.

DNR approved waterfowl hunting seasons announced

After pouring through hundreds of Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Surveys, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (INDR) has approved a 60-day duck-hunting season statewide, along with 86-day Canada goose seasons in the north and central zones and a 57-day Canada goose season in the south zone for the 2005-2006 waterfowl season. The Illinois season dates and bag limits will be forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for concurrence.

"The decision on these season dates follows a review of scientific data and consideration of the ways in which we can offer hunters as much opportunity as possible this fall and winter," said IDNR Director Joel Brunsvold. "The recommended waterfowl season dates and limits for Illinois are based on factors including hunter preferences, aerial waterfowl survey data, and weather records of the average freeze up dates in each waterfowl hunting zone in the state."

The INDR approved waterfowl season dates are as follows:

Duck Season

North: Saturday, Oct. 15 - Tuesday, Dec. 13
Central: Saturday, Oct. 29 - Tuesday, Dec. 27
South: Thursday, Nov. 24 - Sunday, Jan. 22

The daily bag limit is six ducks, which may include no more than four mallards (two hens), two scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads, one pintail and one black duck.

The canvasback season dates are as follows ( bag limit is one):

North: Saturday, Oct. 29 - Sunday, Nov. 27
Central: Saturday, Nov. 12 - Sunday, Dec. 11
South: Thursday, Nov. 24 - Friday, Dec. 23

September Teal Season

The statewide nine-day teal season is Sept. 10-18 from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit is four teal with a possession limit of eight.

Canada Goose Season

North: Saturday, Oct. 15 - Sunday, Jan. 8
Central: Saturday, Oct. 29 - Sunday, Nov. 6 and Wednesday, Nov. 16 - Tuesday, Jan. 31
South: Thursday, Nov. 24 - Sunday, Nov 27 and Saturday, Dec. 10 - Tuesday, Jan. 31

The daily bag limit is two geese.

In each case, an entire zone would close early if the quota in the quota zone of that region
is reached before the scheduled end of the season.

The quotas for the regular Canada goose season are as follows:

Statewide - 80,600

North Zone - 25,800
Northern Illinois Quota Zone - 16,000
Non-quota Counties - 9,800

Central Zone - 38,900
Central Illinois Quota Zone - 20,600
Non-quota Counties - 18,300

South Zone - 15,900
Southern Illinois Quota Zone - 8,200
Non-quota Counties - 7,700

September Canada Goose Season

The statewide September Canada goose season is Sept. 1-15 with a daily bag limit of five in the northeast zone and two in the north, central and south zones. Possession limits are 10 in the northeast zone and four in the remainder of the state.

White-fronted Goose Season

(Bag limit is one in the north and central zones and two in the south zone. By Federal rules, zones that are open more than 72 days must reduce the bag limit to one)

North: Saturday, Oct. 15 - Sunday, Jan. 8
Central: Saturday, Oct. 29 - Sunday, Nov. 6 and Wednesday, Nov. 16 - Tuesday, Jan. 31
South: Thursday, Nov. 24 - Tuesday, Jan. 31

Snow Goose and Brant Season
(Bag limit 20 snow geese, one brant in all zones)

North: Saturday, Oct. 15 - Sunday, Jan. 8
Central: Saturday, Oct. 29 - Tuesday, Jan. 31
South: Thursday, Nov. 24 - Tuesday, Jan. 31

If any zone reaches its quota and is closed early to Canada goose hunting, the season for white-fronted geese and snow geese will close with the Canada goose season. The Conservation Order Snow Goose Season would then open the next day in that zone and remain open through March 31.

Conservation Order Snow Goose Season

(No bag limit; unplugged shotguns and electronic calls permitted; hunting hours close one-half hour after sunset)

North: Monday, Jan. 9 - Friday, March 31
Central: Wednesday, Feb. 1- Friday, March 31
South: Wednesday, Feb. 1 - Friday, March 31

Hunters are reminded that regular snow goose (includes snow, blue and Ross' geese), white-fronted goose and brant seasons will close with the Canada goose season if the quota is reached earlier in the zone. The Conservation Order snow goose season will open the day after Canada goose season ends if the Canada goose season closes early due to the quota being reached.

Youth Hunt

The Youth Waterfowl Hunt days for 2005 are listed below for each zone.
(Bag limits the same as during regular seasons - including canvasbacks - except no white-fronted geese may be taken in the north and central zones)

North: Saturday, Oct. 8 - Sunday, Oct. 9
Central: Saturday, Oct. 22 - Sunday, Oct. 23
South: Saturday, Nov. 12 - Sunday, Nov. 13

Outdoors with Mike Norris is heard every Thursday from 3-4 p.m. on WBIG (AM-1280). For more information on his fish guiding service, Mike Norris can be reached at

Coalition Calls for Multi-Billion Dollar Funding, Better Policies

‘To Enable Americans to Safely Enjoy the Great Lakes’

DULUTH, Minn. (July 7) – A national and regional coalition of restoration-minded groups today warned that the forthcoming plan from President Bush’s Great Lakes task force would languish without sufficient funding from the administration, Congress, and state governments.

“This plan is a good first step toward comprehensive restoration of the Great Lakes,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our WatersSM (HOW) Great Lakes Coalition. “But it is only one step, and it will go nowhere unless it leads to state and federal funding, and inspires better government policies that enable Americans to once again safely enjoy our Great Lakes.”

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a task force appointed in December 2004 by President Bush to develop a blueprint for restoring the Great Lakes, is expected to release their draft plan on Thursday. The draft plan is the first ever to match comprehensive Great Lakes restoration policies with detailed funding recommendations. Even more noteworthy, the plan is supported by a broad consensus of federal agencies, state and tribal governments, cities, and representatives from business, agriculture, and conservation and environmental organizations.

The plan will make approximately forty recommendations to address disappearing wetlands, closed beaches, unhealthy fish, and toxic pollution, including:

Restoration of 550,000 acres of wetlands and 1 million acres of streamside buffers;
$13.7 billion to modernize municipal sewers to stop the overflow of raw sewage into the Great Lakes system;
New federal laws to stop aquatic invasive species from entering the lakes; and
Cleanup of toxic hotspots over 15 years at a cost of $2.25 billion.
The total 5-year price-tag for the plan is approximately $20 billion, with $13.6 billion from federal sources and the remainder from state and local budgets.

“If it is funded, the Collaboration’s draft plan will make critical progress toward our goal of restoring balance to the Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, director of National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office, and co-chair of the HOW Great Lakes Coalition. “Cleaning up raw sewage and toxic hotspots, and restoring habitat is not cheap, but there’s no alternative: Our economy, our environment, and our way of life depend on it.”

Legislation pending in Congress calls for $4 billion to $6 billion to restore the Great Lakes.

HOW Coalition member George Meyer of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation said that the plan only accounts for a portion of the reforms that are needed, noting the absence in the plan of several policies necessary to bring the Great Lakes back to health, including greater protection of wetlands and stronger curbs on mercury emissions from power plants.

“These measures, though controversial, are just as important as money to healing the Lakes,” he said. “They should be added to the plan or enacted independently by federal and state governments.”

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration is lead by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The release of their draft plan launches a 60-day public comment period, including a series of public hearings that the EPA will conduct in the region.

“The public hearings are critical to the Collaboration process,” said Reg Gilbert, Restoration Coordinator at Great Lakes United. “The lakes belong to all of us, and the general public deserves to have a say in how we protect our drinking water, our beaches, and our fish. We encourage everyone who has a stake in the lakes to get involved this summer.”

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration is slated to approve a final plan to restore and protect the Great Lakes by the end of the year.

The Great Lakes comprise almost 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water and supply drinking water to more than 40 million U.S. and Canadian residents. The Great Lakes also support local agriculture; a diversity of wildlife, including a world-class fishery; maritime trade; industry; and tourism.

The draft plan is available on line at:

IDNR Announces World's Largest Blue Catfish Caught
Fish Landed in Illinois Waters Near Alton

ALTON, ILL. –The world’s largest catfish was caught in Illinois. Bethalto Fisherman Tim Pruitt caught the blue catfish at around midnight on Saturday, May

The blue catfish weighed 124 pounds. It was 58 inches long, and had a girth of 44 inches. It was the largest catfish ever caught in Illinois, and the largest blue catfish ever caught in the world. The previous Illinois record catfish was 85 pounds, and the previous world record blue catfish was 121 pounds, eight ounces.

“That part of the Mississippi River is full of fish,” said Mike Conlin, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director of Resource Conservation. “Tim fought the fish for about forty minutes, and it dragged him more than three miles downstream in his boat before he was able to haul it in.”

Conlin says Pruitt was fishing with thirty-pound test line, using moon eye fish for bait. He was fishing below the Melvin Price Lock and Dam at Alton. Conlin
describes Pruitt as a long-time hobby fisherman.

“I don’t know if there’s another fish quite that big down there, but there are certainly more very sizable catfish in that same region,” said IDNR District Biologist Fred Cronin. “The fishing is just spectacular right now. It’s certainly not unusual pull fifty pound cat fish out of those waters.”

The fish died while being transported by employees of a store, which had planned to put it on display. The cause of the fish’s death is undetermined.

U.S.Angler’s Choice, Southern Lake Michigan Division.

Team bass fishing tournaments on southern Lake Michigan and the Calumet River. For more info contact:

U.S. Anglers Choice,
Southern Lake Michigan Division
Tournament Director
Edward D. Bohn

New Reciprocal sportfishing agreement for Calumet Harbor area of Lake Michigan

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have created a new reciprocal sportfishing agreement for the Calumet Harbor area of Lake Michigan that allows for resident anglers of each state - as well as individuals holding non-resident fishing licenses from either state - to fish in the reciprocal area.

"This new agreement, replaces one established in 1989 and allows individuals in each state to enjoy their sport to the maximum allowed by law in either state," said Illinois DNR Director Joel Brunsvold. "While the two states have had a reciprocal agreement for many years, there had been ongoing confusion by anglers as to what was included. This new agreement clarifies it once and for all."

The agreement means Illinoisans holding both a resident Illinois license and a nonresident Indiana license can fish in the reciprocal area, taking the daily limit for whichever state they choose, but not for both states. The place from which an angler launches a boat does not impact his or her rights under the agreement.
The boundaries for the reciprocal area are as follows:

- The east-west portion of the breakwater system which extends lakeward from the Lake Michigan shoreline at about 85th Street in Chicago on the north (the area north of the breakwater is not included).
- On the east, the reciprocal area extends from the far east end of the northern boundary, southeast to the southern boundary.
- On the south, the area extends from the southern tip of the breakwater system, southwest to the east side of the pier at the south edge of the Calumet Park beach.
- The western boundary is the existing Lake Michigan shoreline from Taylor Pier on the south edge of Calumet Park beach to the far western point of the northern boundary.

The reciprocal waters also include the main channel of the Calumet River from Lake Michigan downstream to the Ewing Avenue bridge, anglers fishing from the Illinois shoreline of Lake Michigan in Calumet Park and from the Calumet Harbor breakwater system and from any other publically accessible areas in the reciprocal zone.

The reciprocal agreement does NOT apply to the channel waters of the North Slip on the northwest corner of Calumet Harbor and the South Slip off the Calumet River northeast of the Ewing Avenue Bridge. The agreement also does not include privately-owned shorelines, including both shorelines of the Calumet River and the Ewing Avenue Bridge.

Fishing access from the Lake Michigan shoreline in Calumet Park is allowed only at areas and hours allowed by the Chicago Park District.

Sports fishing is big business in Illinois. Each year, more than 1.2 million anglers spend more than 16 million days fishing, helping to generate more than $736 million in retail sales with a total estimated economic impact of more than $1.6 billion annually.

Illinois' catch limits on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan are as follows:

- Trout and salmon - 10-inch minimum length limit; 5-fish (singly or collectively) daily limit, except 2-fish daily limit for lake trout
- Yellow perch - 15-fish daily limit (season closed during July; taking of yellow perch from charter boats is prohibited)
- Large or smallmouth bass - 21-inch minimum length limit, 1-fish daily limit

Illinois and Indiana residents who are exempt from sportfishing license requirements in their home state are also exempt from sportfishing license requirements in the reciprocal fishing area. For example, a young Illinois angler under age 16 would not need an Indiana fishing license to fish in the reciprocal area and take the Indiana limit of perch in July.

Individuals can take only one daily limit of fish per day, so anglers from either state with both an Illinois and an Indiana license must choose which state's regulations they intend to follow - they cannot take both an Illinois and an Indiana limit of fish.

Anglers Encouraged To Watch for Asian Carp In Illinois Waters

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Anglers in Illinois are being encouraged to be on the lookout for and report any new sightings of bighead and silver carp, two species of invasive Asian carp threatening sportfishing throughout the Mississippi and Illinois River basins and Great Lakes region.

A new poster is being distributed (check it out here) to bait shops in Illinois to assist those fishing in the state in identifying bighead and silver carp - and outlining what anglers should do if they find or catch the invasive fish. The poster was developed by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Natural History Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The poster features images of the fast-growing species, along with images of juvenile bighead and silver carp. The juveniles are more difficult to identify and are similar in characteristics to baitfish often used by Illinois anglers, such as gizzard shad. (See poster image attached).

Biologists encourage those fishing in Illinois waters, particularly on the Illinois River and its tributaries in northern and northeast Illinois, to learn to identify bighead and silver carp and to report sightings. If bighead or silver carp are caught by anglers, they’re asked to note the location of the catch, to freeze the specimen in a sealed plastic bag, and to contact the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program (847/872-8677) or the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (309/968-7531).

Bighead and silver carp compete with young sport fish and forage fish for food sources including plant and animal plankton, posing a threat to commercial and recreational fishing in the region. The Asian carp migration through the Illinois River toward the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and Lake Michigan prompted a joint effort among state, federal and international agencies to develop strategies for preventing the spread of the fish. A temporary electric barrier designed to prevent the fish from passing through was installed on the canal in Romeoville in 2002. Depending on the availability of funding, a second electric barrier in the canal is expected to be constructed later this year.

New Web Site Launched As 2004 Fishing Season Begins

A new fishing season has arrived in Illinois, and with it comes a new web site ( that provides the public with an array of informative resources about fishing and boating on Illinois waters.

"The weather is warming up and everyone is eager to get out on the water. The Department is excited to begin the new fishing season with the launch of," said Joel Brunsvold, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "For anglers looking for a place to fish – in search of that elusive hot spot – ‘ifishillinois’ provides one-stop-shopping."

Weekly fishing reports, sport fishing prospects, regulations, and fishing tips are just a few examples of the services provided by Information is provided about more than 70 inland lakes, eight major rivers and streams and Lake Michigan, making it one of the most comprehensive online resources for Illinois fishing available. There’s also a special section called "Kids and Family Fishing," which includes a kids fishing hotspots information and identifies the best spots for family outings where kids can expect to catch a lot of fish.

The website features profiles of inland lakes in Illinois that include lake maps describing habitat types and depth contours, information about on-site public recreational facilities, sport fishing prospects, and annual sport fishing status reports generated by Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists. The website also features a science section that highlights various fisheries-related studies conducted by DNR personnel, including creel survey reports, fish species profiles, and information about exotic and endangered species.

The Department’s fisheries programs are also highlighted on the website, including information on the Tackle Loaner, Urban Fishing, and Hatcheries and Stocking Programs.

"We believe this site will be a tremendous tool for anglers across Illinois," said Mike Conlin, DNR Fisheries Chief. "We intend an ongoing expansion of "ifishillinois"in the coming months by adding more lake and stream profiles and developing online access to summary fisheries data collected by our staff."

The web site ( was developed cooperatively by two divisions of DNR – the Division of Fisheries and the Illinois Natural History Survey -- and is partially funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Fund.