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It’s become a tradition: Christian Howe’s fall report from southern Cook County to the Northwoods

Christian Howe gives his annual fall colors and outdoors report going from southern Cook County to the Northwthwoods.

A maple, observed over the last two decades, as photographed on Thursday. Credit: Dale Bowman
A maple, observed over the last two decades, as photographed on Thursday.
Dale Bowman

I just enjoy Christian Howe’s fall colors and general outdoors report each fall from southern Cook County to the Northwoods.

It’s become a tradition. For me, the tradition is photographing the tree (which lost about half itself in a storm last year) at the top. That tree is sort of a snap shot of the growing season. In a really good year, it turns a brilliant red. It looks sort of average this year from the 21 years I’ve observed it.

Here’s Howe’s report for this fall from their drive north:

Here is my Falls colors report, from Southern Cook County to Iron County, MI via I294-94, I43 to US 141.

Southern Cook County to Lake County, IL - starting to see some subtle changes, mainly fading summer green. My locust trees have begun to lighten in the past few days, the neighbors maples are going red.

Lake county to the Cheddar Curtain - starting to see a few oaks and other hardwoods brighten, cottonwood nearing peak along with scrub brush.

Cheddar Curtain to Port Washington - pretty much the same. A few bright spots, most trees in early stages of changing.

Port Washington to Sheboygan - oak, maple, birch are brightening in patches, other areas still green. Cottonwoods still green. Next weekend could be near or at peak colors especially near the Big Pond. Ferns are down, scrub and saplings are in full color.

Sheboygan to Green Bay (Booo)- Everything is on the brink of breaking out in peak colors. Some vibrant oaks, maples and birch mixed in with the stragglers. With the stable weather for the next few days near peak colors should be next weekend.

Green Bay to Lena - The big show is on! Closer to Lena the colors started tapering off in spots, but what a show.

Lena to Florence - fading fast. The winds Friday likely sped the trees dropping their leaves along. What color is left are a few bright birch, and Tamark’s (my favorite) starting to change.

Florence to the Ottawa National Forest via US 141 to US 2 - Tamark’s near full color, most hardwoods have dropped their leaves and are done. A few spots along US 2 between Iron River and Watersmeet are just past peak, but made the drive worth it. We wandered some back & US Forest Service roads and found a few more pockets of color, but they’re fading fast. We stopped along the Bond Falls Flowage to take in sights and weren’t disappointed. The flowage holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I cut my teeth as a teen Walleye fishing with my brother Adam and brother in-law Darvell.

This fall is different than the past for me. There won’t be any fall duties or fishing squeezed in. I broke my foot at work in July and I am awaiting surgery to repair the damage. We came as a family came up to Iron County MI to take it easy and ignore the outside world for a while. Consequently I have no personal fishing report. From friends south of this cheddar curtain said musky are in fall mode taking suckers, walleye are anywhere on any given day, and if you can find chubs you’re lucky. Other wise a sucker on the smaller side and jigging raps are taking some fish. The weather changes are messing with a true pattern.

The neighbors report the rut is going and we’ve seen first hand that it is, a few zombie bucks chasing does around, and a few fresh roadkills too. Ducks are moving too. I see them come in and out of the backwater of the River at my wife’s family cabin. Teal, a few mergansers, and a wood duck so far today. Oh, mallards too. Lots of mallards.

I hope to see you out there soon chasing perch, if not see you for powerlining.

Chris Howe