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Sportfish in the Illinois River are dying younger.
That’s the conclusion of a paper released last fall by the Illinois Natural History Survey. Between 1993 and 2017, catch rates for many sportfish species have markedly declined. The losses are most prevalent among older, larger fish.
INHS Field Research Coordinator Levi Solomon is one of the researchers who studied the populations of six species of bass, bluegill, and crappie along the LaGrange stretch of the river, which stretches roughly 80 miles from the Peoria Lock and Dam in the north to the LaGrange Lock and Dam near Quincy.
Of those species, only black crappie are regularly living to age 3. Only yellow bass have seen a jump in catch rates over the two-decade window.
Solomon said this could have a big impact on river towns which rely on fishing tourism.