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Opening day: A trek from duck opener at Heidecke Lake to trout and waterfowl opener at Wolf Lake

Snapshots taken of opening day for duck hunting at Heidecke Lake with pandemic protocols and opening day for trout fishing and waterfowl hunting at Wolf Lake.

Faith Lofton enjoys a moment with a rainbow trout she caught Saturday at Wolf Lake. Credit: Dale Bowman
Faith Lofton enjoys a moment with a rainbow trout she caught Saturday at Wolf Lake.
Dale Bowman

Snapshots from opening day of duck hunting at Heidecke Lake and trout fishing and waterfowl hunting at Wolf Lake:

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‘‘There were two guys ahead of us,’’ Scott Malone said. ‘‘They got here at 6:30 [p.m. Friday].’’

Three generations of Malones — grandfather Ken, son Scott and grandson Mitchell — came off Heidecke Lake at midmorning Saturday, ahead of building winds, on opening day of duck hunting in Illinois’ north zone.

With the pandemic protocols, Heidecke, the former cooling lake near Morris, operated on a first-come, first-served basis. The Malones arrived around midnight and were third in line.

They saw a few mallards and about 30 divers and had one shot. But they were hunting as a family.

‘‘My dad took me hunting when I was little,’’ Ken Malone said with pride as he arranged stuff in his 18-foot camouflaged Lund, which was brushed and loaded with decoys. All they had to do was pull the cover over it, and it would be ready to go next time.

Ken Malone hands a motion-wing decoy to his grandson Mitchell Malone after hunting the morning at Heidecke Lake Saturday on opening day of Illinois’ north zone duck season. Credit: Dale Bowman
Ken Malone hands a motion-wing decoy to his grandson Mitchell Malone after hunting the morning at Heidecke Lake Saturday on opening day of Illinois’ north zone duck season.
Dale Bowman

When Mike Pina came in, he said they had lots of shooting and bagged a wigeon and a hen shoveler.

They arrived around 3:30 a.m. and were sixth in line.

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Then east to Wolf Lake at William Powers State Recreation Area on the Southeast Side.

Anglers spread around the inlet by the nature center, where trout are stocked. Dave Dempsey had four when I checked in around 11.

Krys Kimber had plans for his trout. He bakes them with lemon, salt and pepper.

As I walked around, Oscar Muniz caught a trout.

‘‘First time I am trout fishing,’’ he said. ‘‘Normally, I am going for bass.’’

Dorian Lofton had daughter Faith, 8, out. He mainly had a jig and Gulp! for Faith, who was catching them well. She made me laugh when she picked one up and said, ‘‘Get in there with your fish friends.’’

Trout jumped around the inlet.

On opening day of inland trout season Saturday, anglers lined the north edge of the inlet at Wolf Lake where trout were stocked. Credit: Dale Bowman
On opening day of inland trout season Saturday, anglers lined the north edge of the inlet at Wolf Lake where trout were stocked.
Dale Bowman

At the harvest-card drop, I talked with two cousins who said they had done lots of shooting for ducks and Canada geese. Then they laughed and said they hadn’t done much bagging.

They said the pandemic protocols flowed well.

On Monday, hunting heritage biologist Nicky Strahl said 37 hunters bagged five Canada geese, 11 mallards and 14 other ducks over the weekend at Wolf Lake.

Wild things

File photo of a hedge apple from last fall. Credit: Dale Bowman
File photo of a hedge apple from last fall.
Dale Bowman

Fallen hedge apples, the fruit of the Osage orange, cluster along fencerows and back roads.

Stray cast

The Bears’ season reminds me of paddling the Kankakee River when it’s low: There’s lots of jumping out to drag the canoe through the riffles.