Perch fishing reopened Wednesday on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan; however, no less than for this shore angler, it was extra about having fun with the morning and wandering the Chicago lakefront than catching perch.


Within the half-light earlier than daybreak Wednesday, I used to be just about alone on the south facet of Montrose Harbor.

Not an excellent signal on the reopening day for perch fishing on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan.

Few anglers have been at Park Bait after I checked in for fatheads and spikes round 4:30 a.m. I had a half-hour earlier than the meters on Montrose Harbor Drive went to pay — simply lengthy sufficient that I’d know whether or not perch have been round.

They weren’t.

‘‘There are yellow perch on the market, for positive, Dale,’’ Vic Santucci, Illinois’ Lake Michigan program supervisor, emailed that morning. ‘‘Nevertheless, their abundance stays nicely beneath historic ranges, and my guess is that the fishery shall be fairly just like what we’ve seen prior to now 5 to 10 years. It’s the ‘new norm’ that we’ve mentioned prior to now, possible associated to declining lake productiveness and invasive species (spherical gobies and quagga mussels).’’

I drove north to Foster Avenue Pier, the place there’s free avenue parking. However the waves have been crashing from the north winds an excessive amount of to fish it, so I sat and watched the waves because the solar rose. That made my morning.

I used to be not alone. Loads of walkers and joggers have been on the rocks and the trail. And no less than two skilled photographers have been arrange with the vigorous waves.

The view of downtown Chicago from exterior of Diversey Harbor on Wednesday, reopening day for perch fishing.
Dale Bowman

However I actually wished a perch, so I drove to Diversey Harbor, the place whispers had come that perch have been in on the lake facet. Others should have heard the identical as a result of various bike anglers have been there. Parking within the Diversey Driving Vary lot is $5 for an hour, $9 for 4. The perch weren’t out, however numerous walkers, joggers and bikers have been. At the least I caught an enormous gobie.

Earlier than I walked out, a motorcycle angler on the opposite facet caught and launched a smallmouth bass. He fished like he was utilizing a Ned Rig.

My subsequent cease was at Henry’s Sports activities and Bait to get a brand new allow for parking at both of the small fishermen’s tons at DuSable and Burnham harbors. They’re $10 for a two-month allow. I used to be the one one within the lot at Burnham, which wasn’t an excellent signal. I solely had the peck-peck of gobies on Northerly Island.

‘‘I don’t anticipate any massive adjustments for this summer time concerning shore angling as a result of ultra-clear water and the modified distributional patterns we’ve noticed of late,’’ Santucci emailed. ‘‘Years in the past, perch congregated at shoreline construction through the summer time and have been readily accessible to anglers. As you understand, that’s not the case anymore. Now evidently good catches could be had from shore or boat often throughout summer time as colleges of perch transfer round in our portion of the lake. The larger fishery today when it comes to harvest is the autumn/winter fishery off Chicago, particularly in Calumet Harbor and the Cal River space.’’

That space was my closing cease. I hopped south on Lake Shore Drive to 87th, the place there’s free avenue parking. I labored my method round Steelworkers Park, however I had solely gobies to indicate for it.

Dale Bowman caught no yellow perch on the Chicago lakefront Wednesday on reopening day for perch fishing, but the round gobies were active. Credit: Dale Bowman

Dale Bowman caught no yellow perch on the Chicago lakefront Wednesday on reopening day for perch fishing, however the spherical gobies have been lively.
Dale Bowman

It was time. I wound my method to ninety fifth, then dwelling.

‘‘Catches of grownup perch within the IDNR gill internet survey this spring have been just like what we caught in 2019,’’ Santucci emailed. ‘‘We did catch some smaller people in our smallest meshes this yr, which hopefully bodes nicely for perch fishing three to 5 years down the road. In fact, these little ones have to survive and develop to harvestable sizes earlier than they contribute to the fishery.’’

Waves crashing around Foster Avenue Pier on Wednesday, reopening day for perch fishing. Credit: Dale Bowman

Waves crashing round Foster Avenue Pier on Wednesday, reopening day for perch fishing.
Dale Bowman

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