Outdoors: People ask all the time, ‘Is it safe to eat this?’

Many times I am asked, do you eat fish out of the Illinois River? I usually tell them that I have been eating them since 1978, so I am probably going to die. So how does one determine what is safe and what is not?

Take bass, for a case. Some folks say that bass accumulate toxins in their meat, and one shouldn’t eat them. Is this a real concern? I checked with a local biologist. He said depending on the age of the fish and the environment in which it was taken, it can accumulate some toxins.

Pollutants taken by smaller prey down the food chain can accumulate in a bass. Mercury, which is a well-documented bioaccumulator, can accumulate. But it rarely ever reaches the don’t-eat-this-fish level. In most Illinois fishing regulation books, it has a portion in the rear of the booklet for health advisories for most species, including bass. This will include most of the waters that you fish in. Follow these conservative guidelines, and you may eat the suggested amount of tasty fish without worry.

Hunting with Lady

Years ago, I purchased a black lab female. She was so gentle, I named her Lady. That name vanished when we were hunting. The Lady was all business then.

I remember one time when we were pheasant hunting and the dog became very birdy – that is, she was excited and smelled a bird close to the area where we were hunting. Seeing nothing, I began to doubt the dog’s intelligence. Soon the dog took off at dead run, not straight ahead but in a wide circle. She finally came back at us with her nose to the ground. Suddenly, a rooster flushed right at us. It was an easy shot.

The next time when she took off, I just gave her encouragement and never doubted her wisdom from then on. I kept that dog for more than 10 years, and I still miss that dog terribly.

Hunting report

I haven’t been able to check harvests with some local wild turkey hunters. I never did any good at all. In fact, I haven’t even seen a turkey on the six areas where I am allowed to hunt for the past two years. Before that, I took a bird every year for six years straight. Where have the birds gone? I don’t even have a clue.

I used to see some while I was fishing on the rivers, but not this year. If things don’t improve, I probably will not send for a permit next year.

Fishing report

The cooling lakes have been limited to shore fishing because of everyday high winds. Shore fishermen have been taking a few nice bluegills from the bank. Catfish also have been hitting on worms and minnows. An occasional hybrid striped bass has been caught near the spillway just north of the boat ramps.

I have no reports on Braidwood or Heidecke lakes.

River fishing has been only fair this past week. The waters came up a little from high water coming in from Indiana down the Kankakee River. They have had more rain than we have. I did catch a few nice walleyes and white bass.

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.