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Dawn as seen looking east over Calumet Harbor and Lake Michigan from North Slip at Steelworkers Park.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Chasing perch dreams: Reality of rare alone time in Chicago outdoors

SHARE Chasing perch dreams: Reality of rare alone time in Chicago outdoors
SHARE Chasing perch dreams: Reality of rare alone time in Chicago outdoors

Ijammed aMondayedition of the Sun-Times —‘‘L.A.-L.A. Land’’ — between the windshield and dashboard, so passing security guards or police officers wouldn’t think a miscreant ditched a car at the easternmost end of 87th Street.

Then I disappeared for a couple of hours at Steelworkers Park.

Disappearing was not my original goal; catching yellow perch was. But I’m old enough to know to take what the outdoors gives.

A fisherman’s breakfast–red-beet eggs, orange juice, bagel and cream cheese–in a rare morning alone in Chicago outdoors at the North Slip at Steelworkers Park.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman

A fisherman’s breakfast–red-beet eggs, orange juice, bagel and cream cheese–in a rare morning alone in Chicago outdoors at the North Slip at Steelworkers Park.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Venus showed brightly under a crescent moon over the darkness before dawn on Lake Michigan.

As I gathered two spinning rods, a tackle wet bag and a small cooler, waves crashing over the north wall of Calumet Harbor pulled up the embedded refrain ‘‘the slopping of the sea’’ inWallace Stevens’‘‘Sea Surface Full of Clouds.’’

I’m not a big Stevens fan, but the poem’s conclusion sums up time on or by water: ‘‘Then the sea/And heaven rolled as one and from the two/Came fresh transfigurings of freshest blue.’’

After the walk back to the south wall of the north slip (the slip north of 87th), I was challenged to bait in the half-dark. I’m that age. One rod had an impromptu crappie rig with earthworms; the other was a double-jig rig with wax worms.

A V of Canada geese cut the shoreline edge at dawn. A mix of cormorants and gulls passed.

I was focused on fishing in hopes of early yellow perch. That was not to be, explaining why I was the only one out and blissfully alone. The only person I saw in 2½ hours was a security guard, who waved and turned her car around after checking the gate to the private property.

A note to boaters: The west end of north slip (the private property) was blocked.

The view west at North Slip.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman

The view west at North Slip with the blockage for boaters in the distance.
Credit: Dale Bowman

I worked the south wall, then went to the northeast point of Steelworkers Park. My first fish was a rock bass. It was a morning for gobies and rock bass. After a couple of hours, I called it quits.

On the way back to the car (free parking on 87th), I stopped to soak in a piece of public art called ‘‘Tribute to the Past,’’ created by Southeast Side artist Roman Villarreal.

The inscription read: ‘‘To all the union men and women and their families who shared the steel dreams.’’

I fear perch dreams trend the way of steel dreams.

It was time.

Back to the Dan Ryan and I-57, post-morning rush. I added filleted rock bass to jambalaya in the evening.

Ike, Jeff Norris’ 1 1/2-yeer-old yellow Lab retrieved every goose flawlessly.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman

Ike, Jeff Norris’ 1 1/2-yeer-old yellow Lab retrieved every goose flawlessly on an outing.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Illinois hunting

ThroughSunday, Illinois bowhunters had harvested a preliminary total of 7,793 deer, compared with 7,738 for the same period in 2016. Click here for a larger breakdown of the harvest. . . . Duck and Canada goose seasons openSaturdayin the north zone. . . . The youth waterfowl hunt in the central zone isSaturdayandSunday. Nearby sites open include Braidwood Lake, Kankakee River State Park, Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area and Momence Wetlands State Natural Area.

Wild things

Readers note sandhill cranes on the move around Chicago. The count Tuesday at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, southeast of Valparaiso, Indiana, was up to 4,759. Click here for updates at Jasper-Pulaski.

Stray cast

Justin Turner’sbeard is toJohn Fox’swhatJohn Chione’ssilver redhorse is toWesley Mills’warmouth.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.


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