Sharing the fishing party for salmon during the Nightmare Fishing tournament at Jackson Park

Larry Powell earned his second championship belt in three years to highlight the fishing party during the Nightmare Fishing tournament at Jackson Park.

SHARE Sharing the fishing party for salmon during the Nightmare Fishing tournament at Jackson Park
A group shot with most participating anglers clustered around Larry Powell (front row, second from right), who wears his second championship belt in three years and holds the winning salmon, Saturday at Jackson Park during the Slamming Salmon Nightmare Fishing LLC Tournament. Credit: Dale Bowman 

A group shot with most participating anglers clustered around Larry Powell (front row, second from right), who wears his second championship belt in three years and holds the winning salmon, Saturday at Jackson Park during the Slamming Salmon Nightmare Fishing LLC Tournament.

Dale Bowman

Hearing Larry Powell talk about the art and science of fishing made it no surprise to find out that he won two of the first three belts in the annual Slamming Salmon Nightmare Fishing LLC Tournament at Jackson Park.

He did it again Saturday with a nine-pound-plus salmon caught halfway out on the pier on a jointed Flicker Shad

Fire Tail.

As I walked out on the pier early in the evening, I caught up to him as he walked in.

‘‘I just about had another damn near snatch the rod out of my hand,’’ he said.

Where it really got interesting was when he spilled some of his secrets of salmon fishing. He plays the wind and cloud cover, especially for Chinook.

‘‘They are finicky about what they react to,’’ he said.

For example, he broke down some popular lures by their timbre or pitch.

‘‘Flicker Shads’ rattles are shallow,’’ he said. ‘‘Shad Raps have more bass. The Frenzys have even more bass. The Mag Wart, it has a thumping bass.

‘‘I notice the pitch of the rattles. I am a bass fisherman.’’

I had walked out to the pier earlier with Marco Warren, who, I think, caught the Illinois-record yellow perch this summer but didn’t get it weighed. I will revisit that story another day.

While we talked, Warren made casts hoping to top Powell’s salmon. He talked about many things, including his love for Jackson Park.

‘‘It is important to have a place nearby to fish and not have to drive two or three hours,’’ he said.

That’s something understood by Wayne Hankins, who had his love of fishing fostered at Jackson Park. Out of that love grew a series of YouTube videos and the group Salmon Nightmares.

That group holds several main gatherings/contests focused around the timing for perch, sheephead (freshwater drum) and salmon.

‘‘This morning, [the salmon] were jumping like crazy,’’ Hankins said. ‘‘One guy lost three of them.’’

When salmon return to harbors in the fall, they’re often spotted porpoising in the harbors.

Fishing formally started at 7 a.m. and was the main focus. But as important was the building of a fishing community.

That, Hankins said, included grilled salmon, hamburgers, brats and chicken. Or, as he put it, ‘‘We had the whole shebang.’’

Larry Powell sports his second championship belt in three years and hoists the winning salmon Saturday at Jackson Park during the Slamming Salmon Nightmare Fishing LLC Tournament. Credit: Dale Bowman

Larry Powell sports his second championship belt in three years and hoists the winning salmon Saturday at Jackson Park during the Slamming Salmon Nightmare Fishing LLC Tournament.

Dale Bowman

I asked Powell what he would do with his salmon.

‘‘I catch them and give them away,’’ he said.

This salmon went to Warren, who earlier delivered an enlightening oration on the side benefits of making your own salmon caviar, a sort of fall fertility rite.

Powell put on the bluish camo belt with studded plates, which included Gone Fishin’ and artful line drawings of jumping fish. The big middle plate had Nightmares Fishing LLC 2022 Champion on it.

The group — most of the 20 listed anglers (19 men and one woman) — gathered for photos around Powell as the light faded.

In the background, the thumping music from a nearby party even had me wanting to move.

It was time.

Chicago fishing

The Chicago Park District now has an active email for fishing questions and observations at Fishing@chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Illinois hunting

The Nature Conservancy again offers a waterfowl hunting program at Emiquon Preserve. Applications are open until Sept. 30. Registration is at preserve.nature.org/page/111825/survey/1.

Wild things

Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts had a report of another record early migrant at Montrose Beach: a purple sandpiper first sighted Saturday.

Stray cast

Sports-talkers doing parody songs works as well as your kids skipping rocks where you’re fishing.

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