I've been thinking about restoration lately. Such thoughts stemmed from some newly acquired concerns. Those concerns are for smallmouth bass in a lake that is ingrained in my family's culture and not only from fishing but by time and memory. The lake's smallmouth grow slow but large. They are as strong, wild and as beautiful as the lake they call home. At one time no one really paid attention to these water-dwelling residents. For instance, in prime season, there would be not but a few boats fishing for bass, usually in simple, small bass boats and most of the time catch and release (or I hoped so). Indeed, I was clued into this bass fishery from my dock by observing a rickety old bass boat work the shallows for a couple years. The fisherman seemed focused, simple, and deliberate - a way which could only come from being dialed into a fishing pattern. One day I got my dad in a canoe and we battled wind, wave and distance and came to find we had been sitting on a lake which held a heck of a bass fishery.
Fast forward through time and many great memories to find the DNR constructed a new boat ramp allowing famous bass television show hosts and 250 HP motors powering souped up "glitter boats" to invade. Worse yet, My dad and I showed the fishery to a cousin. Now he brings his bass buddies up and have a few days of fish fry every year. The horror! The horror! These thoughts have kept me up at night. Such a reaction might seem silly, even ridiculous, and, frankly it probably is, but I grew up as a fisherman pursuing these bass and I grew up emotionally, dare I say spiritually, connected to this lake. I can say, albeit cautiously, that the lake, while not a part of my family, is akin to a characteristic trait just as blue eyes or curly hair. So you can say I have a relationship with this fishery, I've studied it, even swam with the bass and taken a great deal of effort to watch out for every fish I've come across. I've had a smallmouth hunt crayfish beside me, snatching the little crustaceans as I shuffled stones on the bottom. That's a personal connection that few fisherman can say they've shared with their beloved fisheries. Now, the introduction of nonnative, invasive fisherman could potentially soil the very waters and fish I hold so dear.
With that in mind, I have come to find my neighbor is both a fly fisherman and avid conservationist. Indeed he was once the president of the local TU chapter. After speaking with him briefly, the man is clearly dialed in to the conservation issues the great lakes fisheries face and I'm looking forward to getting involved and lend a helping hand. He is part of a restoration project that is attempting to restore the small creeks here in northern Illinois one ravine at a time. The project has a blog which I have included to my list and is the following: http://hpravines.blogspot.com/