Shallow water changes the scene for urban fishermen

November 29, 2012

(WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)
Steve Ciszewski started the perch fishing season on Navy Pier Wednesday.

As the Great Lakes experience near-record low water levels, fishermen in the Chicago area are running into problems.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports November water levels in Lake Michigan were 28 inches lower than the long-term average.

“You know the place called the horseshoe?” said Igor Danilishen, who has fished at Chicago’s Montrose Harbor for decades. “There’s a great big island in the middle of this horseshoe. We used to fish there. We don’t fish there anymore. Because it’s too shallow, yeah. It’s ducks and geese there instead of fish.”

The low water also affects industrial fisheries and cargo shipping.

The Army Corps says the lake region received about 13 percent less rain than usual this year.
 
The agency projects lake levels could hit record lows in the coming months.

“It not only affects the fishing in a negative way, it’s the whole ecological system,” said fisherman Steve Ciszewski, who grew up in Chicago and comes in from the southwest suburbs to fish. “Boy, we could use the water.”