Big brother vs. bigger brother


All right, I've had it with the various federal and local conservation agencies. After reading a recent article in a local paper here in northern Illinois regarding the Fox River, I am perplexed and totally confused as to whom we trust when it comes to our beloved natural resources.

The general gist of the article is that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is indicating that they are no longer tracking nitrogen in the waterways, because they feel it is not the sole source of algae blooms.

They feel it is not necessary to track something leeching into the Fox River from the various sources in the area (fertilizer from lawns and farm fields seems to be the biggest offender). Even though algae blooms are negatively impacting oxygen which negatively impacts the health of the ecosystem, they say, don't blame nitrogen.

Fuhggetdaboudit. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency claims that the nitrogen is still a major indicator of concern regarding the health of the river, and track you must.

Uh, um, what? I'm no scientist, but it sure seems as though nitrogen is an issue, along with a zillion other problems. I guess what is truly problematic to me is that there seems to be more of a struggle to keep states rights separate and sovereign from the hands of the Czars who now control D.C. Politics as usual.

Believe me, I'm anti-federal government expansion, but what seems to be a real environmental problem sure seems to be political ping-pong between the Land of Lincoln and Uncle Sam.

For me, I can only provide anecdotal information for the last several years. I average about two days per week fishing the Fox River from April through October. I've put in a lot of time and effort studying this stream and doing my part to protect it.

First off, the algae blooms are certainly on the rise in the stretches of the Fox River in Illinois that I fish. Second, since the Illinois DNR lifted the catch-and-release only restriction, the fish size and numbers have certainly decreased in the areas I fish.

The only increases are the number of anglers fishing from shore with live bait when the bass are spawning and over-harvesting them. It's sad to see buckets filled with smallies that should have been spawning or protecting their eggs. Unfortunately, over the last five-plus years, I haven't encountered one conservation police officer (game warden). No enforcement of the regulations means these poachers run amuck.

Third, the invasion has begun. Zebra mussels are all over the place now. If your jig or crankbait makes contact with the bottom, odds are you will hook into a mussel.

Fourth, there are less sport anglers fishing this river than there were five years ago. As previously stated, the numbers of bank anglers fishing with bait during the spawn is up, but I generally am fishing solo when I'm out. It's clear that since there are fewer anglers out, the decrease in the quality of the fishery has zero to do with fishing pressure. What is clear is that there is a problem with the quality of the fishery and ecosystem in general.

It's sad that it seems the Federal and state EPAs are not playing well together on this matter. If the two EPAs keep working together in this manner we can be assured of one thing, this river and others will continue to deteriorate in quality of fishing and environment, while being touted as environmental success stories by political groups, bureaucrats and politicians who simply want to continue cashing a check at the taxpayers' expense.

Dave and Kristin Landahl host The Fishing Fanatics, www.TheFishingFanatics.com, radio show on ESPN radio affiliate AM 1360 WLBK in northern Illinois Thursday evenings from 6-7 PM Central time. You can also tune in to hear The Fishing Fanatics at www.1360wlbk.com and check them out at www.walleyecentral.com