I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
Home | Columns |
Photos | Books
| Biography | Links
Different creatures of the Kishwaukee
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................April 10, 2012
Our local Kishwaukee River ecosystem is a fascinating place
to search for species that most of us overlook. We may have fished
the Kish, canoed or even swam it in our younger days, but there
are other aspects of the river beside recreation and sport.
Al Roloff, natural resources manager for the DeKalb County Forest
Preserve District, recently shared some findings from a survey
he and others from the Kishwaukee River Ecosystems Partnership
and Open Lands researchers have documented.
I never knew what species reproduce without ever meeting its
mate. They just lie in wait for the sperm of the male to float
by, impregnating the female. Later, the female expels the fertilized
eggs (larvae) into the water where they seek out passing fish
to attach themselves to the gills. Another target for attachment
may be a passing salamander.
Open Lands project scientist Roger Klocek gathers mussels
from the Kishwaukee River as part of an ecosystem survey to identify
different species in the river. (Provided photo)
Eventually, they grow and drop off somewhere downstream to begin
a life that may span 30 years. That is unless a hungry raccoon
grabs them up for a tasty meal.
If you already noticed the accompanying photo of the scientist
collecting mussels in the river, you know I am talking about
clams. Roloff gave me some of the colorful names they are known
by fatmuckets, creepers, elktoes, slippershell, threeridge,
wabash pigtoe, plain pocketbook, giant floater, pimpleback and
white heelsplitter, which describes the shape or pattern of their
shell. If you ever stepped on a heelsplitter underwater, you
know why its sharp edges were given that name.
I found out they are now all a protected species, so dont
go on a hunting expedition. Only raccoons and other small mammals
are allowed to forage for them.
The clams spend their life in sandy or gravelly river bottoms,
opening up to catch plankton and algae for sustenance, occasionally
reaching out with a protruding wormlike appendage to attract
a fish so they can eject their eggs toward the unsuspecting host.
Roloff explained some 14 species of mussels have been found alive
in the river during the last two years, so it is testament to
the fact our local rivers water quality is improving. Barring
any major pollution spills, it can sustain many forms of wildlife.
Their research also could mean more grant money for this ecosystem,
with the knowledge the river is thriving and worth protecting.
Since I am on the subject of the Kish, I found two old newspaper
articles that show some fish stories are really true. In a May
1951 article in the Sycamore True Republican, it was reported
that Arthur (Hap) Carlson landed a 31-inch Northern Pike from
the river near Ohio Grove that weighed 7¾ pounds, using
a live minnow for bait.
Another article from May 1955 states Dean Gerard, also of Sycamore,
caught a whopping 19-pound carp, also 31 inches long, just north
of Sportsmans Lake. Gerard found he needed a net to bag
this whopper, so he secured his pole on the bank and ran to his
car for the net. Luckily the big one had taken only 10 more feet
of line. After 30 minutes, he exhausted the fish and was able
to drag it ashore.
It just goes to show you dont have to drive north to Wisconsin
to enjoy some nice fishing.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115