Brief History of The Flatlanders Chapter
The Flatlanders Chapter started from a group of Rockford, Illinois area anglers who fished the Headwater’s Spring Classic Tournament at Eagle River, Wi. They were impressed with the muskie release program and goals of Muskies, Inc. They decided to organize their own chapter with the help of the Headwaters Chapter.
On August 5 1981, the first meeting took place with the founder of Muskies, Inc., Gil Hamm, attending. He was accompanied by Headwaters Chapter member Chet Meyers. Together they spoke to about 70 area musky fishermen. At that meeting, 40 new members were signed up with Muskies, Inc. and on August 18th, the second meeting of the Flatlanders took place to elect the chapter’s officers.
Since then, the Flatlanders have been instramental in many projects. The chapter was the lead group in starting the Illinois Muskies Alliance, a statewide alliance of chapters to funnel information to and from the Illinois Department of Conservation. They also joined the U.S.A. of Illinois, an alliance of sport fishing groups. The Department of Conservation’s cooperation with these groups had a positive effect on the stocking of muskies in Illinois in the years to follow.
The chapter started their second year with an effort to raise muskies in a sewage plant lagoon at Monroe Center but the effort was not successful. However, they joined forces with the Mississippi Valley Chapter and the Illinois DOC for a muskie raising project at Lake Carlton which resulted in the stocking of 600 fingerlings in two lakes – Lake Carlton and Lake George. In addition, they purchased 100, 8 to 10 inch muskies from a hatchery which were stocked in Lake Shabonna. These were the first true strain muskies ever stocked in Lake Shabonna. In the spring of 2002, a new Illinois state record musky was caught from Shabonna weighing in at 38 pounds 8 ounces.
The Flatlanders Chapter helped organize two more chapters in Illinois – the Fox River Valley Chapter and the South Side Muskie Hawks. They also helped start the S.E. Wisconsin Muskie Hunters at Racine, Wi.
In 1986, the chapter became involved in the Portage Project in Wisconsin. This project resulted in the stocking of more than 60,000 muskies in Southern Wisconsin lakes, helping establish many class “A” muskie lakes.
Today, the Flatlanders are involved in a new project in Rock Cut States Park’s Pierce Lake. We have added cribs to the lake’s structure and stocked many muskies into the lake including both the barred and spotted strains. We are working towards the installation of a barrier net that helps contain the fish in the lake, so they can’t go over the spillway. This way they won’t die in shallow pools when the water receeds.
As of 2005 we have planted vegetation and built a new Rock reef in Pierce lake, one of our more proud achievements was the building of the Handicapped Pier. The support we received from our members to volunteer their time and effort for this project was something we all can be proud of. Currently we have scheduled the first annual Free Kids Fishing Day at Olsen Park on June 11th 2005. Our members are eager to teach the youth of our community the basics of fishing and to respect the resourse. Kid’s are the future of Muskies, and our Chapter is driven to ensure the future and enjoyment of Muskie fishing for everyone.
We are proud of the things we, as a club, have done for the sport and look forward to many more successful projects.