Vicente Valadez and his son George in their raincoats in the rain, snow and sleet Saturday morning on a trout open day at Green Lake in Calumet City.  Credit: Dale Bowman

A small child screeched Saturday as a rainbow trout was pulled in, crossing Green Lake on an inland trout opening day.

I thought 12 year old George Valadez was the only young angler who braved the weather. Something vaguely frozen fell: rain, snow, and sleet (sometimes all three).

“I'm crazy,” Valadez said of the condition.

Her father, Vicente, had just covered the two of them with a plastic raincoat.

Valadez already catches trout on PowerBait nuggets, a popular bait. The hatching rainbow hits a lot of baits: small jigs, wax worms, nails, worm pieces, small spinners, small spoons, etc.

Vicente Valadez and his son George in their raincoats in the rain, snow and sleet Saturday morning on a trout open day at Green Lake in Calumet City.

Green, located in Calumet City, is one of six lakes in Cook County open to spring trout. Statewide, 58 bodies of water opened for trout springs this year. Trout stockings are funded by the $6.50 inland trout stamps required for those 16 and over who need a fishing license.

Rainbows are not native to Illinois, but they have been preserved for decades, an obscure history. Assistant head of fisheries Kevin Irons noticed that last year.

So he contacted Mike Conlin, Illinois' longest-serving head of fisheries (30 of a 38-year career), who had been retired since 2009.

Conlin recalled in an email: ”Before my time, the FBI kept trout in the Illinois DOC Coleta Trout Ponds (three) and several Chicago Park District ponds.

”During the '70s, the fishery began stocking rainbow trout of catchable size (larger than the FBI stocks) into the Coleta Trout Ponds, Lake DOT in Springfield and a state lake near Danville.

”In 1984, I believe, we began stocking all three lakes with fish kept at the Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery (Jake Wolf opened in 1983). After raising them in Jake's for several years, we found it cheaper to buy trout from a private dealer in Missouri.

”During the 80s, 90s, 2000s and beyond, lakes were added to the supply list. So in short.”

Stocked trout sometimes make history.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's popular children's program for trout fishing takes place the Saturday before regular trout season opens. This year, it's March 25th at Grove Lake in Wood Dale.

Rob Gutierrez and wife Isabel Sotelo have their children—Fernando, 6, and Aurora, 7—there. Fernando caught one of the biggest rainbows I've ever heard of while fishing for shore trout. It weighs 4.25 pounds and is about 22 inches long.

”He caught it with a basic Zebco setup: two PowerBait nuggets on a No. 1 single hook. 10 and eight ounce egg weight,”ordered Rob.

Family history.

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