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Chicago outdoors: Local loon, mudpuppy at Belmont Harbor, acres restored/protected by DU, smelt memory

A loon spotted locally, a mudpuppy caught at Belmont Harbor, acres restored or protected by Ducks Unlimited, and a smelt memory from Montrose Harbor are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors.

Ray Adams caught this mudpuppy on the Chicago lakefront. Provided photo
Ray Adams caught this mudpuppy on the Chicago lakefront.

Notes come from all around Chicago outdoors and beyond.

Bowman’s outdoor notes for April 3, 2021. WOTW and Mailbag photos attached



“Mudpuppy? [photo at top] I caught this fish in Belmont harbor. Is it rare?” Ray Adams

A: Yes, it is a mudpuppy and relatively rare. Chicago anglers occasionally catch mudpuppies in the colder months, especially at Navy Pier. They are rare enough that the Shedd Aquarium was involved in an extended study on Lake Michigan and Wolf Lake. Mudpuppies are amphibians, one of the largest salamanders. Click here for a column about that study at Wolf Lake. Click here for a follow-up column based on this scholarly article.


Brian Konet photographed this loon [below] in late March and emailed, “It was cool seeing a loon, not too common. It was on a pond in Frankfort.” Loons are one of my favorite birds.

WOTW, the celebration of wild stories and photos around Chicago outdoors, runs most weeks in the special two-page outdoors section in the Sun-Times Sports Saturday. To make submissions, email ( or contact me on Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or Instagram (@BowmanOutside).

Loon spotted in Frankfort. Provided photo
Loon spotted in Frankfort.



Today, April 3: Spring trout opens statewide, except for Forest Preserves of Cook County sites

Through Sunday, April 4: Second youth spring turkey season

Monday, April 5, to Friday, April 9: First spring turkey season, south zone

Wednesday, April 7: Spring trout opens at five Forest Preserves of Cook County sites: Axehead, Belleau, Green, Horsetail, Sag Quarry East


15 million: Acres of habitat restored or protected in North America by Ducks Unlimited, a mark reached earlier this year.


“I rented a 35-foot motor home for Smelt Fest a few years ago. You become VERY popular with the ladies, if you have a nice bathroom for them to use at Montrose.”

A lakefront regular with a smelt-netting memory from days of yore (smelt season opened Thursday night in Chicago)