Emiquon Pitfall #10 – Invasion

Emiquon has led a rather precarious existence from the outset due to its proximity to the Illinois River. As an angler, I had concerns about how long the incredible fishing would last in the face of a collection of natural and man-made challenges.

Originally posted 8-15-10

One need not look far in the regional outdoor news or for that matter even the national headlines to find reports of the latest scourge to hit the waterways of Illinois. Often grouped together as Asian carp, a pair of prolific exotics known more specifically as silver and bighead carp has currently invaded a number of the state’s river systems. There’s plenty of information out there on these fish written by those much more knowledgeable than yours truly. Therefore, I’ll leave the particulars and the debates to someone else.

Only a narrow levee separates Emiquon from the burgeoning population that now calls the Illinois River and the Spoon River home. You only have to look about eighty miles upriver to the Hennepin-Hopper complex to get a feel for the disruptive nature of some members of the carp family. This similar wetland/backwater lake restoration project was undertaken in the early 2000’s and by 2004 was open for limited public fishing. However, by 2009 the common carp had so significantly disrupted the habitat that a total rehabilitation was warranted.

I’m not big on gloom and doom (see global warming) but it doesn’t take much of a leap to see that the carp next door certainly have the potential to foul things up in a hurry. (2019 note: the Hennepin-Hopper complex is back in business with positive reports on the fishery, particularly for northern pike).

Nature does its thing when given a window of opportunity. For as long as I can remember I’ve been repeatedly punctured while wading through the natural hedge known as multiflora rose. More recently I trample the ever growing groves of garlic mustard in search of my already elusive morel mushrooms and spy the purple traps hanging around in local ash trees.

In addition, Dad and I had a strange day on Emiquon a few years later that was both puzzling and alarming.

From my 7/8/2013 Emiquon Report

Carp Flotilla – The lake was literally littered with carp carcasses in varying stages of decay. Everywhere you looked there were bloated floating brown and white fish of the common carp variety. For my money, any dead carp is a good carp on this relatively new restoration project so I can’t say it hurt my feelings. Unfortunately, the frequent splashing and thrashing meant that there were still plenty more of the lake wreckers still swimming. I will say that I do enjoy catching and fighting carp but overall they are just bad news in terms of lake health. Luckily there was some wind and the temperature was not typical July as I’m sure the place would have been really ripe. I’m not sure what to make of the whole situation but it was certainly a new look.

Now I realize that fish and fishing may not be the primary objectives of such restoration projects but they certainly play crucial roles. And the window of opportunity mentioned above leads me to the collective entity that makes up Potential Pitfall #9 to come your way tomorrow.

Having been out of the Emiquon loop for quite a few years now, I’m not certain how it has evolved other than recent years have seen a significant drop in water levels. There’s also been plenty of contentious debate to be found on the internet regarding management practices. I welcome any comments on the status and often think that the best way to find out would be a return invasion of my own. Talk to you later. Troy

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