Outdoor notes: Electric carp barrier gets go-ahead

As you should know, the snakehead is not the only Asian invader Illinois is trying to fight.

Last week, I reported the U.S. House approved spending more than $8 million for an electric barrier that would keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Congress has authorized increasing spending from $5 million to more than $6.8 million on the permanent barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Romeoville, which connects the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction in a few weeks and expects to finish the barrier by April.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois has committed the bulk of the states’ share of the $9.1 million project, with $1.7 million. The other Great Lakes states will fund the remainder, about a half million.

The announcement comes more than two years after a temporary electric barrier was installed amid concerns that the voracious carp—which can grow to 150 pounds and eat 40 percent of its body weight a day—would devour so much food it could starve native species. That barrier proved effective, but now is deteriorating, said the Corps of Engineers.

The new barrier will be the “last line of defense” in the battle against the carp, said Rep. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale, an Illinois Republican who represents the area where the barrier will be built and spearheaded the effort to increase federal spending on the project.

Meanwhile, state officials are working to try to reduce the population of the carp in other rivers, including the Illinois River, where the fish already has a firm hold. Some pools on the Illinois River, from which the invaders are headed toward the Chicago canal, are up to 75 percent carp, officials said.

Joel Brunsvold, Illinois DNR director, said officials are examining the possibility of building a processing plant that would accept carp from fishermen and turn them into such things as fertilizer or pet food.

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MWC Champions: Eric Eichorn and Dan Felber outlasted fierce competition and Mother Nature’s challenges to claim top honors and $26,000 in the 20th annual Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) World Walleye Championship at Prairie du Chien, Wis.

Eichorn and Felber of Red Wing, Minn., brought 55.31 pounds to the scale during the Oct. 14-16 event on pools 9 and 10 of the Mississippi River. The champs also were awarded customized trophies and gold rings.

A trio of heavy baskets—21.36, 20.76 and 13.19 pounds, a 15-fish MWC allowable limit—built a 4.65-pound cushion between the champs and second-place finishers, Minnesotans Dennis Clark and Kent Eide of Rochester. The winners used Lindy rigs.

Conditions were less than ideal for the 42 qualifying teams. Water and air temperatures dropped steadily each day, with wind speeds up to 35 mph on the final day. The field consisted of the top point accumulating teams from the 2003 MWC season, plus the top five finishing teams from the 2003 Cabela’s National Team Championship. They were allowed to weigh five fish per day measuring 15 inches or more.

Clark and Eide weighed 13 fish totaling 50.66 pounds worth $13,000. Third place went to the father-son team of Donald and Michael Olson of Andover, Minn. Their 15 fish weighed 47.83 pounds, earning them $9,000. They also had the biggest fish, a nine-pound walleye.

The entire field shared a $100,250 cash purse. Total of 414 walleye and sauger, weighing 965.55 pounds, was caught in the MWC catch-and-release format.

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Annual Meeting: Rockford Sportsman’s Club will hold its annual meeting Saturday, Oct. 30, at the club grounds, which are located behind Kishwaukee Forest Preserve on Blackhawk Road. Entry is through the forest preserve.

Lunch will be at noon, followed by a short meeting, said club President Maynard Wibom. Memberships for next year will be available for $12.

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Anglers To Meet: Rock Valley Anglers fishing club of Rockford will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday, Nov. 3, at Harmony Club, corner of 7th Street and 15th Avenue, Rockford. Meeting starts at 7 p.m. Denny Carroll is president of the all-species club, reachable at (815) 988-0298.

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Fly-Tying Classes: Rock River Fly Casters will hold intermediate fly-tying classes on four consecutive Saturdays 9 a.m.-noon starting Oct. 30. Cost is $25 per person, with other family members paying $15. The fee includes all materials except for black 6/0 thread. Class size is limited to 20 people. Contact Dave Chaudoir at (815) 877-0403 for more info or to sign up.

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