Exelon adding artificial fish habitats at Braidwood
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org June 25, 2012 9:54PM
Kyle Danhausen, Illinois Representative for Shimano, a fishing equipment company, throws an artificial fish habitat into Braidwood Lake part of an Exelon Nuclear company program in Braceville, Illinois, Monday, June 25, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 27, 2012 6:17AM
BRACEVILLE — A heron glided over tall grass rustling in the wind along the channel at Braidwood Lake. Sunlight glistened on the narrow blue waterway, lined on either side by quiet green shade. A bullfrog sounded low.
The fishing pole whipped back with a swoosh, and the line went straight. Kyle Danhausen of Kankakee had caught another largemouth bass that was feeding in the shade by overhanging vegetation and abundant cover.
“I’d say this area is literally teeming with fish,” Danhausen said.
The important word here is cover. That’s what the fish like, and that’s what Exelon Generation wants to provide. That way, anglers can enjoy a sunny day like Monday — or Exelon’s popular charity tournament, “Fishing for a Cure,” every spring.
Braidwood Lake, created from flooded strip-mine pits, is a 2,500-acre cooling lake for Exelon’s nuclear power plant.
On Monday, Exelon officials participated as a fleet of bass boats fanned out over Braidwood Lake and deployed 68 artificial fish habitats in various locations. The team included Exelon Generation’s Braidwood Station, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and three bass clubs: American Bass Anglers, the National Bass Anglers Association and Bass PAC.
This is the sixth consecutive year of the project, and the combined effort has provided a total of 518 artificial habitats, said Neal Miller, spokesman for Exelon Generation.
The habitat units are designed to provide multiple benefits to largemouth bass, a favorite of Midwest fishing enthusiasts, at various stages of the bass’s life. The units act as a nursery for young fish and provide feeding sites for larger, older bass.
Fishing for a Cure
The habitat project supports Exelon’s “Fishing for a Cure,” which benefits a number of local charities. This spring, the event raised more than $48,000 for four local food pantries.
Those agencies are able to provide nearly 280,000 meals combined to area families thanks to proceeds received from the May 19 tournament. The food pantries are the Community Care Center in Braidwood, Kuzma Care Cottage in Wilmington, Church of Hope Food Pantry in Gardner and Coal City Food Pantry.
In the mid-1990s, the Braidwood Generating Station started running at a higher capacity, warming the water in the cooling lake. Vegetation started to die, and the fishery declined.
A stocking effort and the artificial habitats are bringing back the fishery because the habitats replace some of the green that was lost, which the fish need to thrive, Miller said.
On Monday, Danhausen caught 18 largemouth bass on a catch-and-release trip after he deployed his share of habitats on the north side of the lake. Danhausen is the Illinois representative for Shimano, a manufacturer of fishing equipment. He attended Monday’s effort as a volunteer. He then had a busy morning fishing in the cooler channels off the main lake. And at the conclusion, he emphasized the importance of catch-and-release fishing.
As the boat sped back to the landing, a cormorant flew over a main channel of the lake. Braidwood Lake is a local natural resource to be preserved, enhanced and enjoyed.