Find water, any water, fish, paddle, wade, swim: Notes around Chicago outdoors

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Kayakers working the bypass chute of the Fox River at Yorkville in early June.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Considering the heat this weekend and the oddness of a mid-week Fourth of July, I highly suggest finding water for this Wild Weekend Wandering.

But high water or flooded waters are part of the Fox and Des Plaines. I debated not running the photo above, which I took earlier this month when the Fox was at more normal levels. In terms of water levels, the Kankakee system is the most passable.

Not sure what I am going to do outside this weekend. My usual Friday work on the edible trail was canceled today, so I have some time on my hands.

Tomorrow I am tied up with family stuff and volunteering at a farmer’s market for Master Gardeners.

Sunday I am planning on taking part in the weekend “Explore the Lake Michigan Water Trail” in Lake County. With this heat, I find the idea better and better. Details below.

A couple big fishing events–the Kankakee River Valley Fishing Derby and Skamania Mania–are on this weekend. Details below.

With that, on to this Wild Weekend Wandering.

KANKAKEE DERBY: The Kankakee River Valley Fishing Derby began today. It runs through July 8. Click here for details.

SKAMANIA MANIA:The annual event by the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders is Saturday and Sunday out of Michigan City, Ind. There’s some steelhead in the streams. Click here for info.

PADDLING LAKE MICHIGAN: As I mentioned above, there are paddling events put on by multiple groups in the “Explore the Lake Michigan Water Trail.” Saturday is at North Point Marina; Sunday is at Illinois Beach State Park. Click here for more info and the flyer is below.


HUNTING DEADLINES: Remember Saturday is the deadline for two applications in Illinois hunting: the second lottery of firearm and muzzleloader deer permits and the first lottery for some public sites for dove hunting. Click here for the deer info. Click here for the dove permit details.

LAKEFRONT PERCH:Perch fishing on the Chicago lakefront has been up and down. But when it is good, it is good. Most consistent action, though it takes sorting, has been at Montrose.

WATER ALERTS:The Chain O’Lakes/upper Fox River areas remain no wake from the Stratton Lock and Dam to the Wisconsin line. I would note that fishing the Chain in no-wake can be very productive and also free of other watercraft.

Click hereto check updates on the Fox and Chain here.

POND FISHING:Even with the heat, frog fishing time is here on local ponds and lakes. It’s one of my favorite ways of fishing for bass.

FROG SEASON: Frog, bullfrogs only, season is open in Illinois. Daily bag is eight. A fishing license is required and legal means of taking them are “hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net.”

BERRY PICKING:Raspberries started in most areas and are pretty good. So are blackberries, as biologist Bob Massey noted. Michael O’Brien posted on Facebook that some serviceberries/juneberries are hanging on some gooseberries are opening quickly. Mulberries are nearing the end or are already done in some areas, still going in other areas.

MIDEWIN: The seasonal guided tours at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie run weekends through October. The Ranger Trailer is open weekends, weather permitting, at the Iron Bridge Trailhead. Trails are open daily 4 a.m.-10 p.m. For a complete list of events and programming go to

JAZZIN’AT THE SHEDD: “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” runs Wednesday nights through Oct. 10. Click here for more info.

ZOO TURNS 150: The Lincoln Park Zoo has the exhibit, From Swans to Science: 150 Years of Lincoln Park Zoo, through the summer. Click here for details and much more information.

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