Managing Game Fish at Harrier Lake

by Dan Grigas,
Resource Management & Development

On a cool day in early April I ventured out to put the final touches on a years-in-the-making project at Harrier Lake at Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne. Our Forest Preserve District’s Natural Resources Department envisioned creating a cool-water fishery that would not only sustain high value game fish — including walleye, yellow perch and smallmouth bass — but also allow species to thrive. It was designed on the principles of providing quality natural resources for visitors who frequent the preserves and enhancing the biodiversity in the ecoregion.

The District planned to stock the lake with game fish shortly after it was constructed, but circumstances delayed the plan. Years later I started as an ecologist at the District, and I hoped to take up this former stocking initiative at the lake.

Recently, the District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources worked to stock the lake with 50 adult smallmouth bass to provide an active spawning fish stock. These fish will provide two to three years of robust spawning activities and provide the lake with the push it has needed to establish a thriving metropolis of the elusive and revered “bronze back.”

Today, the lake’s yellow perch population is thriving and the walleye population is on the upswing, so we’ve nearly accomplished our vision for Harrier Lake. Although we are happy with our achievement, it will take active management to sustain this fishery over the long term. We’ll measure our success through the ecological fortitude this lake provides to the greater area and the recreational value it brings to anglers and patrons. I can say that I am thrilled to be part of such exciting, challenging and rewarding endeavors and will continue to strive to provide robust and quality natural resources for residents and visitors to enjoy in DuPage County. 

The smallmouth bass arrive in wells on a flatbed truck.

 Grigas pulls a bass from the net.
Grigas prepares one of 50 bass for release in the lake.
All fish are catch and release only but for largemouth bass, which are three per day at 15 inches, at Harrier Lake.
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