Outdoor adventures: DNR saves its love for walleye, lets catfish languish
If ever there was a phrase that described me best it would have to be one I just ran across on Facebook. It read “Growing old is Mandatory ... growing up is optional.”
I was laughing so hard when I read it I lost my train of thought, which is already a short train. I ended up staring at the monitor for the next 10 minutes trying to remember what I was writing about. Ah yes, I remember now. I was ranting. Or venting. Or whatever you wish to call it.
You know, to this day, almost every person that calls me from the Midwest wanting a guide trip asks me about the fish kill a few years back. Then, naturally, as hard as I try to avoid it, the questions about the river’s current status come up.
What was done? What is being done, and so on and so forth. I usually just go with the “I’d rather not talk about it” defense, but sometimes I explode and tell ‘em how I really feel. See, this has been brewing for sometime.
So here goes.
As most of you know, the state walleye record was broken a few months back. Then, as luck would have it, it was broken again weeks later. So far so good, right? I am very happy for the anglers and for the fishery. Incredible, to say the least. It was one of the longest-standing records in state history. And it was smashed not just once, but twice in a short amount of time.
Local officials were real happy about it, as well. In fact, they took full credit for the fish being there, bragging about their stocking efforts and even going so far as to say that both these fish were fish they stocked.
Well, a couple of things bother me here. First off, while this might be true, how do you know for sure? Second thing that really gets my goat, is while swooning over your beloved walleyes, you forget about leaving our catfish high and dry. Oh sure, you threw a few thousand babes in the river. You even moved a few flatheads around. Hey, don’t hurt yourself.
This just goes to show the lack of respect catfish get. I promise you a full-scale war would have ensued if 50,000 walleye and smallmouth would have floated to the surface that June day a few years back. Hatcheries in and out of the state would have been dragging fish here within a week’s time.
See, somewhere along the line our DNR needs to realize that catfishing is what fuels our economy here in the summer. We are buying gas and boats and bait. We are having tournaments and drawing visitors and sponsors. Stop hiding and ignoring our catfish in this river.
You know they are struggling, so stop dragging your feet. Numbers are down, average size is way down. How about a creel limit? How about a size limit? This can be a trophy cat river and not just flatheads, either. I mean, the trophy potential in this river is endless. The forage base is wonderful.
I see it every day. IDNR buys this. IDNR hires new chief this and new director that. Hey, we are right here, guys. I know, I know, we are just a bunch of beer-drinking, chew-spittin’ good old boys layin’ on the river gettin’ fat. I’m alright with that. In fact, I’m proud of that. That doesn’t mean we are going away. It doesn’t mean we don’t know what is going on.
So how about helping us out here? I know you’re reading this, so how about an update? Any plans to do any more or are you just hoping it quietly goes away?