Christopher Smith

DuPage River Smallmouth Bass Help Cleanup

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Illinois state officials are using Dupage River smallmouth bass to help assess cleanup efforts on the West branch of the river.

The West branch is 35 miles long and starts in Schaumburg, Illinois.  It had been contaminated with industrial radioactive Thorium and was cited as a Superfund site for environmental decontamination.

Through a massive $180 million cleanup effort, the river is hoped to be returning to its previous glory and the state is turning to the beloved smallmouth bass to help determine the health of the river.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is partnering with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Natural History Survey for a research and monitoring project of sport fish in the river. As part of the project, 100 hefty-sized smallmouth bass were released Wednesday in areas of the river within the Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve and West DuPage Woods Forest Preserve.

Meister said the removal of the 1930s era Warrenville Grove and McDowell Grove dams will allow the river to regain a natural course and make it possible for fish to swim upstream.

The release of the bass on Wednesday is an important step in judging how well the restoration work on the river is going. The researchers and biologists from the three agencies involved now will assess the river’s return through the lives of the fish.

Good fishing and a healthy stream go hand-in-hand, said Jeff Stein, fisheries ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Anglers are encouraged to release the tagged fish back into the river.

“We are striving for the restoration of the sport fish population – we want to see adult smallmouth bass living, feeding and reproducing in this part of the river,” Stein said.

Stein said a healthy river has a clean habitat, with proper water flow and temperature, as well as a sufficient food supply for fish to thrive.

The researchers said they hope to see the return of sensitive fish, such as the smallmouth bass, thriving with the 25 other species of fish now in the river.  Original source

Smallmouth Fishermen can help too

Angler participation is crucial to the success of this project, which depends on reports from anglers of recaptured fish with tags to assess fish movements, habitat use, and population size.

Anglers who catch a tagged smallmouth bass are asked to report the following (the IDNR phone number is printed on the tag):

  • tag number and color (green or white)
  • date of capture
  • the location where the fish was caught
  • the length of the fish

Report tags to: 1-630-553-0164  Original Source

If you fish the DuPage anywhere along its West Branch, East Branch or main stem, these cleanup efforts and monitoring of the newly released DuPage River smallmouth bass will be important to assess.  Please practice catch and release and notify the DNR with any information about tagged fish.

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