Commercial fishing Hurts Fisherman & Wildlife

Since the rivers have been high this year, I have been spending a lot of time just getting photos. I usually like to drift down river below Sterling on the Rock River, but with so much current it is difficult so I have been going to a backwater slough between Sterling and Dixon, and popular fishing area for catfish and panfish. I have been going in there for the past few years and catching a few bass and crappie.

It has been really good for photos. I have need seeing, or have seen, Otters, Deer, Coyote, lots of ducks, geese, swans, cranes, blue heron, green heron, night heron, egret and lots of song birds. Then one day I went out and everything was gone. I knew something happened but wasn’t sure what.

A week later things started to come back. All the ducks were gone, but other wildlife was showing up. Then I noticed a boat, a commercial fisherman. He laid out 5 long gill nets stretching from bank to bank. Then he spent 2 hours using a plunger, revving his motor up and throw water in the air while beating on his boat, to spook the fish so they would run through his nets and get stuck. I tried to cross to the other side and he quick ran over and stopped me, and said I had to go around his bet and he left a 10′ space by the far bank, which is shallow and full of under water trees and stumps.

Then I sat out in front of the eagle’s nest to make sure he didn’t spook the eagles and chicks. After awhile he pulled in one net and sarted to go past me so I stopped him. I told him he was disturbing the eagle’s and he said he was doing his driving right in front of them last week and it didn’t bother them, the adults stayed by the nest. I then knew what had happened to all the wildlife in there. I told him about how he scared all the wildlife away, but he said he was just trying to make a living. He said he goes in there every spring. I think someone else had the permit last year because I saw them out in the main river and it wasn’t him. He is from Savanna. He could care less about the wildlife, the bass or catfish. He admitted he was getting catfish in the net. I had been catching a few fish before he started coming there, but haven’t caught much since.

Non the less, after a couple days after his disturbing everything, I started getting photos again, but the otter never did come back in. I was getting a lot of decent photos of the eagles bringing fish back, of the heron etc. The eagles are used to people being a busy area for boaters and house out on the main river. They don’t mind me at all.

With all the rain and cloudy days, and going to the Mississippi River and other pool on the Rock, I missed seeing him. I did see he left one net left out all night, but it was out of the channel and he may have had more nets out in the shallow areas.

Then last week I idled in to quick get to the Eagles nest area since most of the wildlife was gone, I found myself going over a net that wasn’t marked well at all. I had to cut the net out of my prop. Then I continued on in and with the sun low straight ahead and new lilly pads popping up, and a chop on the water from the wind, I ran into another net that wasn’t marked will. Again I had to cut my prop free. I ran into 2 more nets and then saw the last one wasn’t marked at all, just a rope. Then 2 hours later I saw him pulling in nets. He was yelling and cussing. He was running his boat around in circles. Now this is a small area, and with nets every 100 yards, boats can’t even get in there, and he is running around on plane? I left and went home and didn’t get a single photo, but I did get photos of his nets. You really can’t see them, but that was why I was taking photos of them. He acted like he was chasing me down but turned around just before he got to where I was.

So I made a video. I plan to get more footage if he ever does that again. The Eagles were gone for 2 days, I didn’t see them bring back food as the usually do and all three chicks were looking out as if they were hungry.

About Dave Tackett

Dave Tackett is from Sterling Illinois. An avid fisherman since childhood, he has fished all over the Midwest, mainly the Mississippi River pools 8-19. His home waters are pools 13 & 14. After fishing Bass tournaments for many years, he gave it up to fish for Walleye year round. He now guides and fishes for fun. He likes to take photos of the scenic places he visits on the river and likes to keep a video camera running to get footage for his Walleye DVDs. Photography is now where he most of his time working, using professional DSLR cameras and lens. These photos include landscape around the Mississippi River and the Rock River, river birds like eagles heron, egrets etc.
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