clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Piers in, Heidecke, coho derby, smelting, new licenses: WWW Chicago outdoors

As Lady, our family’s mutt,, and I rambled around the town pond this morning, I saw the first Canada goose of the year nesting on the island. Heidecke Lake reopens to fishing on Sunday. Smelt netting begins Sunday night in Chicago.

Check’em off one by one. The spring signs keep coming for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

Early nesting Canada goose, on March 30, 2018.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman
Early nesting Canada goose, on March 30, 2018.
Credit: Dale Bowman

The Chicago Park District’s Carl Vizzone texted the photo at the top from Burnham Harbor and this explanation yesterday:

Fishing piers were installed at Montrose and Burnham today

I already got out to test the early catch-and-release fly fishing for trout in Illinois with Ed Buric. More on that another day. I was surprised how many people were doing it.

Also this week, I had a chance to get out to watch the brood stock collection of walleye on the Kankakee River. More on that Sunday.

I had hoped to go to the 14th annual Henry’s Spring Coho Derby at Navy Pier Saturday morning, but timing does not look right because my wife needs me to do some running for her.

Last week, I still put in some time trying to find more shed antlers, but no more luck. I also need to get out and try to catch the “sky dance” of love by woodcocks. Haven’t done that yet this year and time is running out.

One really important reminder: All four Lake Michigan states have April 1, Sunday, as the day when new licenses for fishing are required. Trust me, it is easy to forget. Get your license before Sunday.

With that, on to the regular stuff of this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

LICENSE REMINDER: Yes, one more time, new fishing licenses are required as of April 1, Sunday, at all four Lake Michigan states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

HEIDECKE OPENER: Heidecke, the former cooling lake near Morris, reopens to fishing on Sunday. Prospects look generally good, especially for walleye and crappie. Click here for my column on Wednesday.

As to boats getting under the bridge, site tech Mikical Davis sent this on Thursday:

I have been off for a few days. I did however, check that level. there is currently 44″ of clearance from bottom of the bridge to the surface of the water. That will change of course with the weather. Good to hear from you, hope that you are doing well.

Heidecke opens daily at 6 a.m. (6:30 for bank fishermen) and closes at sunset.

COHO DERBY: Henry’s Spring Coho Derby at Navy Pier is Saturday at, well, Navy Pier. It’s free. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., fishing is from 7 to 11 a.m. Parking is $7. Call (312) 225-8538 for more details.

SMELT NETTING

Smelt netting begins Sunday night. Prospects are poor to non-existent. Here are the general notes and regulations for smelt netting in Chicago, which are the same as last year, from Vizzone:

SMELT REGS FOR CHICAGO LAKEFRONT

Smelt Fishing is a family affair. It’s a community of Fishermen enjoying each other’s company and nature’s bounty. Let’s make this season a safe and clean one for families and our fishing future. The following rules apply:

* No open fires

* No enclosed tents

* No alcoholic beverages

* No parking or driving on the grass or sidewalks. Park only in designated areas. Violators will be ticketed and towed.

* Do not destroy fences, benches, trash receptacles, walkways, and grassy areas.

* Do not dump hot coals under trees, on concrete or on grassy areas. Dispose of all coals in the appropriate trash receptacles.

Harbor Gates will close at 1 a.m. –start breaking down at 12:30 a.m. to be out by 1 a.m.

I would emphasize that last one, the regulation is to be out of the parks by 1 a.m.

FLY FISHING TROUT: The catch-and-release fly fishing season is open at nine sites around Illinois, including at three nearby sites: Apple River, Apple River State Park, Rock Creek, Kankakee River SP and Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park. (Regular inland trout season opens April 7.)

The other six sites Downstate for fly fishing trout are Siloam Springs State Park Lake, Gridley Lake, Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA, Horton Lake, Nauvoo SP, Morgan Lake at Nichols Park, Jacksonville, IDOT Lake, Springfield, and Willow Lake at Peabody River King SFWA.

Here are the basics on licensing from the IDNR:

Anglers will need both a fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp to participate, unless they are under the age of 16, blind, disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces.

Here are the basics on the catch-and-release fly fishing season:

The Spring Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing season opens at nine sites on March 24. Anglers can use fly fishing gear to catch trout at that time, but they cannot keep the fish. All trout must be released until after the opening of the regular spring trout season, which begins at 5 a.m. on April 7. Anyone attempting to take trout before the legal harvest season opening will be issued citations.

CHAIN O”LAKES CRAPPIE AND PERCH: You read that right, crappie and PERCH on the Chain. The bite is on for the Chain, Arden Katz and Ken Schneider had a helluva day mid-week for perch and crappie. But be aware the water levels are low and some channels are inaccessible.

WOODCOCK: We are still in the time to watch the “sky dance” of love. I hope to try this weekend, but Saturday evening at the right time I will be watching Loyola in the Final Four and Sunday is Easter, so time may get away for me.

RIVER FISHING: Water remains very cold and, in general, the spawning cycle is behind schedule, as I saw this week when the water temperature on the Kankakee was 44 degrees when 50 is considered ideal for walleye spawning. But at lest water levels in general are pretty good.

COOLING LAKES: I suspect the winds on Saturday will make the cooling lakes of Braidwood and LaSalle a tough go for boaters in particular. Otherwise, the bass bite at Braidwood generally continues good and LaSalle is producing blues of note.

LAKEFRONT: Weather and winds need to settle, but when conditions allow, there’s some coho, browns and steelhead around, especially for powerliners, in Chicago and boaters in Indiana (when conditions allow).