ISLAND LAKE – More than a hundred people have signed a petition asking that Island Lake be kept open to nonresidents for fishing.
The idea to only allow residents and their guests to fish on the lake has been tossed around the village’s Lake Management Committee for more than six months.
Instead, the committee has moved forward on “baby steps,” committee Vice Chairman Ken Wick said.
That includes creel limits and changing the color of nonresidents’ boat stickers, a move Wick hopes will encourage good behavior because visitors will know they’re more visible.
The plan is to update the creel limits when an Illinois Department of Natural Resources report on the lake is released sometime this summer, Wick said.
“We don’t want to be aggressive,” he said, “but if we see reason to pursue [the ban] further, we will. ... We’ll see where it goes from here.”
McHenry resident Ashley Nystrom doesn’t want to see nonresidents banned and started a petition on Change.org to gather support from other lake users.
“Part of the reason I feel Island Lake should remain open to nonresidents for fishing is because it has been that way for over 40 years,” Nystrom said. “People from Wauconda, McHenry, Lakemoor and other neighboring towns have been fishing Island Lake for many years. ... We formed our memories there as kids and want our children to have the same opportunities.”
Nystrom grew up on Hickory Terrace in Island Lake. Her grandparents raised her mother and her siblings there.
“In my youth I spent all my free time fishing, swimming, ice skating and exploring Island Lake,” she said. “To this day I love to go there just to drop in a line, relax on the beach and revisit my childhood.”
She doesn’t buy Wick’s argument that out-of-town fishermen are contributing to Island Lake’s algae and overfishing problems.
Several of the proposals made by the Lake Management Committee are designed to address these issues and for the general restoration of the lake, which Wick said has been neglected for the past six to eight years.