Chicago lakefront salmon/trout: The fall tradition and other ambiguities of fishing in the pandemic

Fishing for salmon and trout, a fall tradition, is going on the Chicago lakefront despite the pandemic restrictions; and updates on other pandemic related notes.

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It seems like a decade ago, but a favorite evening photo at Montrose Harbor during fall fishing for Chinook just last September. Credit: Dale Bowman

It seems like a decade ago, but a favorite evening photo at Montrose Harbor during fall fishing for Chinook just last September.

Dale Bowman

Salmon are jumping and porpoising in the Chicago harbors.

This promises to be a special year in more ways than one.

This summer boaters caught some Chinook within several pounds of the Illinois record.

Now shore anglers have their shot, a much anticipated shot.

Right on schedule, Chinook began their return to shore in late summer and shore anglers been catching them in recent weeks. There’s been bonuses too, including coho, a few steelhead and some big northern pike.

“They’re seeing a lot more coho than usual,” said Stacey Greene, proprietor of Park Bait at Montrose Harbor.

As to the number of coho, Lake Michigan program manager Vic Santucci said, “That is exactly what I said might happen when we talked about the impact of no fishing in the spring.”

The shore fishing in Chicago is going despite the lakefront being officially closed east of Lake Shore Drive. It’s impossible to take that closure seriously when the Chicago Park District has been hyping Go Run Chicago since late July and drawing thousands to the lakefront.

It’s impossible to take the closure seriously when the Lakeshore Drive-In is officially operating in the parking lot of the Adler Planetarium.

Fortunately, Chicago Police and security have the common sense not to harass anglers who are fishing and social distancing naturally.

In other pandemic related fishing matters:

  • “We stocked everything this year,” Santucci said. “We didn’t miss anything in terms of Lake Michigan.”
  • Next week, as usual, snagging season opens on Oct. 1. Mature salmon that have come back to die may be snagged and utilized at a few specific spots. Jackson Park Inner Harbor and Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton are west of the LSD, areas officially open. Jackson Park Outer Harbor is east of LSD, but it has been fished for months. The other two legal snagging areas are in Winnetka and Waukegan.
  • Staying with ambiguity of 2020, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has not released official word on the status of fall trout season. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County opted out for its three trout lakes last week. Carl Vogel, director of communications for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, emailed Tuesday, “The Forest Preserves has not made a final decision on opening for trout season, due to conditions related to COVID-19.”

CLEANUPS

National Public Lands Day is Saturday, but the pandemic limited events. The 35th International Coastal Cleanup Day is also Saturday and the Shedd Aquarium is hosting daily events all week around Chicago. With the pandemic, groups are limited. Sign-ups are required. Email ActionDays@sheddaquarium.org. More details are posted here.

BASS GUYS

Congrats to Ryan Whitacre, the skateboarding Stray Casts guy, who won the Wisconsin BASS Nation State Championship Sunday on Green Bay with a two-day total of 35.97 pounds. . . . Jeff Miller, one of the southern Lake Michigan greats, won the Anglers Dream Tournament of Champions for a second time with teammate Al Huhra on Lake St. Clair in Michigan Saturday with a two-day total of 43.43 pounds.

WILD THINGS

Paul Strand indicates fall mushroom are good, dry weather or not. . . . Fall colors are turning, quicker than usual locally. Parts of northern Wisconsin are well on the way.

STRAY CAST

The Bears are to an all-time defense what I am Rick Clunn.

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