Uptown Chicago History Correspondent
We had lake front fishing at its finest—perch, still the best eating fish bar none. Whether fishing with cane pole or trolley, the fishing was always great. Herring came in twice a year and smelt came in April.
I would bike to Gompers Park with a fly rod for pan fish. Sometimes I would fish the lagoon at the Waveland Golf Course just east of Montrose Harbor. Carp snagging at Belmont Harbor was one of my favorites. The north end of Belmont Harbor was shallow and clear. I would rig my casting rod with a treble hook and a 1/2 ounce lead weight. There weren't any snagging hooks commercially available in those days, so we had to make them. I would tie a piece of white cloth to the line about a foot above the hook. This would allow me to see where the hook was in the water.
We would walk along the edge of the harbor, spot a carp, and then cast over it, and by watching the white strip we could tell where the hook was as it approached the carp. We gave a hardy pull, and if every thing worked right, would snag the carp. All hell broke loose when that fish tried to get away.
There were only 2 or 3 of us that ever did this type of fishing, knowing it would never catch on as an Olympic sport. In addition to carp, people would throw in their gold fish, and these fish would grow to large sizes, looking like the koi fish of today.
Some years later while fishing with my youngest son, age 11 at the time, we were at the dam in Jefferson Wisconsin and I noticed a lot of carp in the still water. So I said, "Dan, watch this trick." I got out a treble hook and cast out to snag a carp, at which time some DNR guy said, "You're under arrest"! Wisconsin had just passed a no snagging law.
I explained to the DNR guy that meant Lake Michigan for salmon, and since there are no salmon in the Rock River, it doesn't apply here.
Well, he had an interpretation that was a little different than mine. The outcome was four hours later; a daughter came up to bail us out. $200 later we were on our way home.
Son Dan wanted to know that if I had any more tricks to show him, if I'd just keep them to myself. We went to court and the judge hollered at the DNR guy for being stupid and wasting his and the court's time and me, I just wanted some of his blood.