Thursday, June 19, 2014

Save Our Sandy - Sandy Creek, IL

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll recall my post from last fall about Sandy Creek, IL. If not, here's the link:

Sandy Creek is one of my favorite fish spots in central Illinois. It has an incredible diversity of species, such as darters and redhorse that serve as indicator species for clean water, smallmouth bass and sunfish for casual fishing, and big river species like flathead catfish and smallmouth buffalo. Last fall I counted 27 species of fish in the short stretch of Sandy Creek between the IL-26 bridge and the Illinois River. Since then I've found 16 more species, bringing the total up to 43.
  1. creek chub
  2. western blacknose dace
  3. southern redbelly dace
  4. sand shiner
  5. red shiner
  6. spotfin shiner
  7. emerald shiner
  8. golden shiner
  9. central stoneroller
  10. suckermouth minnow
  11. bluntnose minnow
  12. fantail darter
  13. johnny darter
  14. rainbow darter
  15. orangethroat darter
  16. mud darter
  17. banded darter
  18. blackside darter
  19. logperch
  20. walleye
  21. blackstripe topminnow
  22. western mosquitofish
  23. shorthead redhorse
  24. golden redhorse
  25. northern hogsucker
  26. quillback
  27. smallmouth buffalo
  28. common carp
  29. grass carp
  30. channel catfish
  31. flathead catfish
  32. tadpole madtom
  33. white bass
  34. smallmouth bass
  35. largemouth bass
  36. rock bass
  37. bluegill
  38. pumpkinseed
  39. green sunfish
  40. longear sunfish
  41. orangespotted sunfish
  42. shortnose gar
  43. gizzard shad
I'm writing this post because Sandy Creek is being threatened by an industrial hog factory that is proposed to be built adjacent to the creek. The Save Our Sandy facebook page has links to articles about the issue.

If you don't use facebook, you can search online for "Sandy Creek hog factory" to find articles.

I'm not a professional in any fish or conservation related field, but I hope my personal experiences can help show why Sandy Creek is a resource that we should not throw away. I've spent many hours in the creek, taking photographs of fish to post on this blog, fishing for fun, and also fishing to put food on the table. Earlier this spring, my girlfriend and I caught about a dozen shorthead and golden redhorse in Sandy Creek that we used to make fish burgers. I've served these redhorse burgers to friends and family, and they've always been a hit.  If Sandy Creek becomes polluted, these redhorse won't be able to survive.

Shorthead Redhorse (Moxostoma macrolepidotum)

Golden Redhorse (Moxostoma erythrurum)

A few weeks ago, I caught this flathead catfish and brought it home to put meat in my freezer. I practice catch & release most of the time, but when I find spots like Sandy Creek where fish populations are thriving, I'll often take a few fish home. This one fish put 10 lbs of meat in my freezer, some of which I've already cooked and eaten. It has a good clean flavor, which is a testament to the water quality in Sandy Creek.  If the water becomes polluted, these taste of these catfish is going to reflect it.

Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris)

10 lbs of meat for the freezer!

Please join the fight to keep this hog factory from being built alongside Sandy Creek.  If it is built, it will only be a matter of time before pig waste ends up in the creek, and many of the unique species will be gone.  Help out in any way you can, but as a start here is an online petition that you can sign.

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