Spring is slipping into town so that means it’s time to head to Monee Reservoir for fishing and boating activities.
While the preserve is open year-round, the Monee Reservoir Visitor Center and concessions stand will reopened for the season on Tuesday, March 2, after a winter hiatus. Bait, snacks and fishing licenses will be available for purchase at that time. Pedal boat and row boat rentals begin April 3, and kayak and canoe rentals begin May 1.
The visitor center and concessions stand serve the 248-acre preserve and its 46-acre lake, which is home to a wide variety of fish including channel catfish, largemouth bass, Northern pike and white and black crappie.
Anglers who like to compete can join the annual "Big Fish" contest when it begins in July 1. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the contest on August 30 for biggest bass, catfish and panfish. And for youngsters who are new to the sport, the site will be giving out a "My First Fish" certificate for kids who hook their first catch.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, precautions will be taken with all rented items, said facility supervisor Jessica Prince.
“We disinfect between boat rentals, including paddles, oars, carts and personal flotation devices,” she said. “And staff at the concessions window wear masks whenever engaging with the public.”
With the pandemic continuing in 2021, it's important to make sure Monee Reservoir guests are safe and all precautions are being taken, said Jason Stevenson, the concessions manager.
“We worked hard on coming up with a system for disinfecting all of our equipment here at Monee last season,” he said. “We used a hospital grade disinfectant along with natural sun power and Lysol on all rental equipment.”
Equipment is disinfected multiple times a day, he added.
“In fact, many customers were very pleased with the precautions we were taking to keep them safe," he said. "We used a very similar system inside the building for employees. We had a record number of customers last year, 1,000-plus on weekend days, and the precautions we took seemed to work well.”
The visitor center will have a limited capacity of eight people at a time inside the building due to the state’s 25 percent capacity limitation. But that number could change as the state adjusts its Restore Illinois COVID-19 plan.
Hours for the concessions stand shift as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. In March, the building will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and in April 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1-September 14 hours are 6 a.m.-7 p.m.
In addition to selling bait and snacks and renting boats and boating equipment, the concessions stand also rents anchors, trolling motors, and fishing poles, and sells kayak and canoe launch passes (for personal vessels launched on the lake).
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