Muskie rescue at Shabbona Lake

SHABBONA – About 40 volunteers waded in and along the chilly waters of Indian Creek on Wednesday, May 8 to save 23 walleyes and 91 muskellunge, commonly known as muskies.

“I have been doing this for about seven years now,” said Tim Pierce of Oswego. “I grew up on a creek near the Fox River so I have strong ties to the Fox River Valley.”

“What is kind of cool about this is that we corral them and get them back to their home,” Pierce added.

During periods of heavy rain, Shabbona Lake can overflow its southern spillway and the muskies and other fish can be carried into Indian Creek, according to Clint Sands, owner of the restaurant and bait shop at the lake and an organizer of the event.

Using an assortment of handheld nets and lengths of snow fencing, the volunteers slowly walked shoulder-to-shoulder upstream from Shabbona Grove Road toward the dam to catch the muskies and the walleyes that had escaped the lake.

The rescued fish were held in aerated tanks and returned to Shabbona Lake. The longest muskie to be returned to the lake was 44.5 inches and the longest walleye was 23 inches long. The lake is regularly stocked with about a dozen species of fish.

“The lake has a very strong population of muskie, and in fact Shabbona Lake has set four state records for muskie,” said Kerry Novak, superintendent of Shabbona Lake State Park. “They are one of those fish that a lot of people fish exclusively.”