Hennepin & Hopper Lakes Opens to Fishing Tuesday

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Hennepin and Hopper Lakes on the Illinois River will be reopened to public fishing under special rules Sept. 1-27, the first fishing allowed there since 2009.

Anglers will need a permit from The Wetlands Initiative. No fee will be charged. Applications will be available starting Tuesday by the boat launch. Anglers older than 16 also must have a state fishing license.

Fishing has been closed on the lakes since 2009 so that The Wetlands Initiative and DNR could reduce numbers of common carp and stock the lakes with native fish. Re-infestation of carp scratched a plan to reopen it in 2012.

The Wetlands Initiative waited for approval from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, according to a press release.

“It took much longer than we expected to get all the sign-offs needed in Springfield,” said Paul Botts, executive director of The Wetlands Initiative, which owns and manages the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin and Hopper Lakes.

Fishing will be allowed from sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday. No gas-powered motors and no shore fishing are allowed. Kayaks and canoes are welcome.

“We've had so much interest and want to make sure the health of the lakes and the fishery isn't jeopardized, nor the experience of visitors who come to the refuge for hiking, birding or other activities,” said Suzanne Wagner, director of development and communications for The Wetlands Initiative.

The only live bait allowed is red worms, wax worms and night crawlers. You cannot use other animals or animal parts as bait including reptiles, amphibians, minnows, crayfish, leeches and cut bait.

Fishing is allowed only in a designated fishing zone south of buoys extending from the boat launch and north of buoys in the southern portion of the lakes.

The parking lot by the boat launch is limited to 40 vehicles with boat trailers, first-come, first-serve. When the parking lot is full, no more boats will be allowed. No alcoholic beverages are allowed.

Conservation officers will do spot-checks. State fishing regulations apply. State fines will be assessed for violations. Those who refuse inspection are guilty by default. Violators will have their Hennepin & Hopper permits revoked for one year.

Permits cover all immediate family members listed on the application. Children under 12 must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

Anglers must use a logbook by the boat launch, entering name, permit number, date and time prior to fishing. After fishing, anglers must log the number and sizes of each species caught and the number of species kept and released.

Fishing may be closed at the discretion of the site manager for special events and weather conditions. Final authority rests with the site manager.
Fish Limits

Here are the minimum size and daily creel limits at Hennepin & Hopper. Species not listed must be released and no other animals can be taken.

Bluegill — Any size, no limit.

Pumpkinseed — Any size, no limit.

Channel catfish — Any size, six fish.

Crappies — 9 inches, 20 fish.

Largemouth bass — 15 inches, three fish.

Muskellunge — 42 inches, one fish.

Northern pike — 24 inches, three fish.

Walleye — 18 inches, 3 fish.

Source: News Tribune