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Chase for the biggest Chinook and early kings on Chicago lakefront: The Year of the Salmon Return

More tales of 30-pound Chinook around Chicago fishing come in as well as the first king returning to shore

Mike Smith caught a 34-pound, 42-inch Chinook on his first trip on the boat of his father-in-law, Dennis Goron, while fishing out of Waukegan.

Memories pile up in a memorable year for salmon on southern Lake Michigan.

More reports come of Chinook in the 30-pound range. First reports start of kings returning to shore.

Hints of kings appearing on shore came last week, then Saturday night Michael Foley caught a 6-pound king at the mouth of Diversey Harbor on a 3/4-ounce Moonshine spoon.

``I was fishing Milwaukee all week with nothing,’’ he messaged. ``And was tired of wasting the gas so I decided to fish Diversey.’’

Michael Foley caught this Chinook, signalling the early returns of kings to shore, Saturday night at Diversey Harbor.

His catch mirrored the same day the first verified shoreline king came in 2018, a 16 1/2-pound king caught by Joe Wilk from the Montrose Harbor jetty.

On that note, Andy Mikos seemed prescient in his weekly report.

``This is not the biggest king (8.5 pounds) but it was one of three jacks we caught on Sunday,’’ he emailed. ``All three were males that were just starting to turn colors. The pictured fish was important because we were slowly trolling in from the R4 . . . when this fish hit in 59 feet of water at about 10:45 a.m. I bet it was going to be at Montrose by nightfall or the next day. The shore fisherman should start seeing fish very soon. The males are starting to stage in close.’’

Capt. Josh Slawkin messaged about a 31-pound king caught on Bama Breeze Sportfishing out of North Point Marina on Sunday. It came on a bullfrog/glow Stinger Spoon on a downrigger in 175 feet of water.

Fish of the weekend goes to Mike Smith, who caught a 42-inch king (photo at the top) on his first trip out on the boat of Dennis Goron, his father-in-law. Goron emailed that the king weighed 34 pounds three hours after being caught. They were fishing out of Waukegan in 190 feet of water and it came on a full core setup running a Moonshine spoon.

``It is a personal and boat largest taken in all my years on the lake,’’ Goron emailed.

Maybe the Illinois-record Chinook (37 pounds) will be challenged, something I figured never would happen. Marge Landeen caught that record on Aug. 7, 1976 in Lake County.

ILLINOIS HUNTING: Applications end Friday for the third lottery for firearm and muzzleloader deer permits . . . Applications begin Friday for the first lottery for public duck/goose hunting, including the first for Black Crown Marsh (by Moraine Hills State Park).

WILD THINGS: Responses came on Pete Lamar’s observation of seeing several fawn triplets in the western suburbs.

Alan Anderson, Chicago Audubon Society board member, messaged, ``Last week one morning, on my way to work I turned south on Talcott from Touhy and there were three fawns right there. . . . One was IN the road and two were on the west grassy area adjacent to the forest preserve. Thought it unusual to see three together. Waited for the one in the road to join the others, then continued to work.’

I’ve only seen a few triplet fawns in my life, but Bruce Vang messaged that he even sees quads on his Vermilion County farm, where quality deer management techniques are used.

STRAY CAST: Umpire Joe West mimics the defensive mechanics of a hognose snake.