Spring trout season approaching fast
The dawning of spring trout season in Illinois can also be considered the beginning of a big family event.
Ed Cross, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) director of communications, recently said that the program generates a lot of interest. About 45,000 to 50,000 Inland Trout Stamps are sold annually, he said. And for some people, the season's opening — set for 5 a.m. April 1, according to the IDNR's website — is an event in which parents and kids hit the stocked public ponds and lakes together.
“It creates a whole family atmosphere ... we like to see that,” Cross said. “That's one of the things that we really like to see is, you know, is that you've got adults fishing with their kids and hopefully they'll pass that on down the line and continue family traditions with that.”
IDNR's website said that the department stocks more than 80,000 trout for the season across 52 bodies of water across the state. The daily limit is five trout per angler. Every angler 16 and older must have a valid fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp to participate; those who are younger than 16, Illinois residents on leave from active duty, and blind or disabled residents do not.
The website also said that the state's catch-and-release spring season opens March 18 at nine sites. Cross said no trout can be taken from the water from March 15 through the official spring season opening.
“We really want people to realize, A, it's against the law, but B, it kind of dampens the fun for other people,” he said.
Horsetail Lake in the Cook County Forest Preserve District system is a new site for anglers to fish at this season.
“We want to provide as many outdoor opportunities for as many people as we can,” Cross said.
Safety tips that Cross emphasized include not getting too close to the water's edge to avoid slipping in. He also suggested having children wear life jackets.
Anglers need to be aware that many of the fishing sites can get crowded, Cross said, so they should give themselves as much as space as possible to avoid hooking another angler or casting into their space.
Additionally, Cross recommended to bring pliers along to make removing hooks from the fish safer. Broken lines and damaged lures need to be properly disposed of to keep parks and waterways clean.
“A good rule of thumb is try to leave a place cleaner than you found it,” Cross said.
Weather and water conditions need to be kept in mind, he said. In addition to watching the forecast and dressing appropriately for the weather, Cross said that water temperatures would not necessarily be safe if an angler were to fall into the water at that time of year.
“You could fall in, you may think that, well, the air temp is 65-70, the water will be OK — that's not the case,” he said. “Water does take a while to heat up in that scenario, so the possibility of hypothermia still hitting you fairly quick is a reality. You want to respect the danger that does come with that scenario.”