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Chasing perch on Chicago lakefront, south to north, catching a few

Hunting perch on the Chicago lakefront started fine with four quick keepers at Steelworkers Park, then more waiting.

My guess is that this size of perch, caught Monday at Steelworkers Park, will be typical this winter around Chicago.
Dale Bowman

It’s not a good sign for perch fishing when you park at Steelworkers Park and are the only vehicle.

But I trekked back to fish the North Slip. Dawn came spectacularly through a break in the cloud deck.

Both spinning rods and reels had monofilament line (one 6 pound, other 8). One was a double-jig rig, the other had two gold hooks above however many split shot I needed for conditions.

On the first cast at 6:34 a.m. with fatheads on the double-hook rig, a perch slammed the top hook near the wall.

I was stunned. Instead of needing to wax poetic about the sunrise and time alone, there was fishing. A few casts later, I had a second. Then I experimented with wax worms on the double-jig rig and lost one. I went back to the fatheads and caught a double at 7 a.m.

Then nothing, though I gave it two hours.

All four perch were about the same size, the two best going 10 inches. I suspect those are the perch we will fish this winter. The class of 2015 is coming of age.

I spot hopped north, Northerly Island, then Montrose Harbor. I gave each an hour, but zeroed at both. I had hopes at Montrose because guys were clumped around the harbor mouth, but realized pretty quick they were doing what I was: wishing on perch showing up.

It was time.

I pulled out my sandwiches and thermos of soup, then soaked in my favorite view of Chicago from the south side of Montrose Harbor.

At least I had enough perch fillets to fry for my daughter and myself. Three of the four perch were males, so I only had one sac of eggs to scramble with chives in my eggs Tuesday.

Later in the day, Victor Blackful gave 87th a shot, then tweeted, ``Well you motivated me. Lol I got 3 aka snack lunch.’’

Soon enough the perch will be in for the full meal at Navy Pier, the Chicago River (already some early reports) and the Calumet system. Water needs to cool a couple degrees and that should happen this week.

At Steelworkers, the legal fishing access is the park district land on the slip’s eastern end. Take 87th east off South Lake Shore Drive. Free parking is at the end. More space to fish is at Northerly Island, Navy Pier and Montrose.

Fresh perch fillets plated with home-cut fries made a splendid meal after catching perch at Steelworkers Park.
Dale Bowman

ILLINOIS HUNTING: Nicky Strahl, hunter heritage biologist at William Powers SRA, emailed that 11 ducks and three coots were bagged over the weekend. More notable were 23 ducks and three geese bagged last week. The change comes.

The rut showed in the archery deer harvest update (27,635 through Sunday, compared to 25,162 last year) where the percentage of males harvested jumped to 58 percent last week. For a fuller breakdown, go to

STRAY CAST: Thanks to the Bears my Sunday afternoons opened up for deer hunting, duck hunting and fishing, even raking leaves and puttering.