How would you like to your local elementary school to raise and plant smallmouth bass in a stream near you? Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t and its been happening in DuPage County on the West branch of the DuPage River for the last three years. In a program called “Bass in the Class”, over 3,000 students in many elementary schools have been raising smallmouths in their classrooms and planting them in the DuPage River each fall. This fall the date for release was October 21st on the West Branch in downtown Naperville. I observed the exciting release of hundreds of bass (some of which were up to six inches long) in October by the students that raised them.
|Edison Middle School–proud of their work|
|Smallmouth bass ready for release|
Here is how this program works:
The raising of fish is incorporated into the participating teachers’ regular fall curriculum designed to teach students firsthand about predatory/prey relationships, the importance of water quality, the need for biological diversity, and other issues that impact the bass’ chance for survival.
Each class cares for about 10 bass and is responsible for feeding and regularly cleaning the tank. Each week the classes are visited by Forest Preserve staff with a delivery of minnows used as the bass’ food. After two months of study the bass are ready to be released. Currently, there are twenty classes compromising about 2,400 students on the programs waiting list.
The DuPage County Forest Preserve District has expressed an interest in working with the ISA to help sponsor more classes and educate students on fishing and catch and release.
|Bass in the Class stocking in action!|
|The beautiful West Branch of the Dupage River|
I have been in contact with Tom Pray of the DuPage County Forest Preserve and the DuPage Rivers Fly Tyers who also have expressed an interest in getting involved with this project. This years participation was a little too late but we plan on meeting this winter to coordinate the interest of The ISA and DuPage Rivers Fly Tyers in getting involved with this worthwhile project. Please contact me with questions or if you would like information regarding “Bass in the Class.”