Maciulis: Fishing For a Cure aides Coal City and Diamond communities
By Bob Maciulis For Sun-Times Media June 20, 2014 11:34PM
Updated: July 23, 2014 6:39AM
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to slip behind the curtain to see just how our fisheries are managed.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources took a quantum leap during the days when a group of talented, dedicated and passionate young biologists jelled under the leadership of director Brent Manning. It wasn’t long before fisheries professionals from throughout North America were visiting Illinois hatcheries to study how this state had become so respected.
You can imagine the exhilaration of seeing raceways filled with millions of salmon and trout at a hatchery, or stripping walleyes and sauger then processing the eggs, nurturing the fry until they could either be released into outside ponds where they could grow into fingerlings or to see them stocked by the hundreds of thousands into the cooling lakes.
Yes, the cooling lakes. Braidwood, Heidecke and LaSalle.
We were able to participate in the walleye egg collection after an MWC tournament on the Illinois River. In concert with the tournament anglers and the sponsors, the walleye and sauger caught during the tournament are the brood base for the IDNR walleye and sauger stocking program.
The private sector works with those governmental agencies that are charged with the improvement, management and protection of our natural resources. There is no better example of this cooperation than in our back yard, where so many of us can enjoy fishing the cooling lakes.
And, Exelon Generation — the parent company that leases the lakes to the IDNR — found other ways to enhance our quality of life.
According to Exelon communications director Neal Miller, Exelon’s “Fishing for a Cure Tournament” raised a record $65,000 for the Coal City and Diamond Tornado Disaster Relief Fund. The total represents donations from the April team bass fishing tournament and the kids fishing derby held June 7 at Godley Park.
The money raised will help the more than 240 homeowners and business owners affected by the devastating tornado that swept through the Coal City and Diamond communities in November.
Fifty youngsters, ranging from ages 2 to 12, sought bragging rights for the most fish caught and the biggest fish caught. Jacqueline Dodge, of Wilmington, caught the biggest fish, a 22-inch catfish, and also got the trophy for most fish caught with five. She was competing in the 5 and under age division. Also in that age group, Mason Gardner, of Custer Park, reeled in four fish, with Matt Ericks, of Morris, catching three.
In the age 6 to 8 division, Tina Ericks, of Morris took top honors, snaring six fish. Second place went to Plainfield’s Katie Oleniczak, while Coal City’s Lance Cuddy took third.
Auston Kap, of Lockport, netted first place in the 9 to 12 age division, catching eight fish. Destiny Dodge, of Wilmington, took second and Jace Shaw, of Coal City, took third place. The honors for smallest fish, 5 inches, went to Micah Ludvick, of Bourbonnais.
All proceeds raised through tournament entry fees, raffles and sponsorships go to the recipient charity, which is selected annually by station employees. Organizations and businesses contributing to the cause include: D Construction, Berkot’s, Catering, CB&I, Demark Inc., Monical’s Pizza and T&C Anglers and Antlers.
Since its inaugural tournament in 2002, Fishing for a Cure has raised more than $365,000 for local and regional charities. Last year’s event raised $57,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Illinois.
It’s easy to complain and it’s fashionable to criticize. This was an opportunity to applaud businesses huge and small for making this a better place.