Lake trout trending upward in winter on the Chicago lakefront

Lake trout are more noticeable this winter near the shore on the Chicago lakefront.

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Morgan Luis Jones holds his surprise catch of a lake trout, an upward trend on the Chicago lakefront in winter, caught while he perch fished at the North Slip near Steelworkers Park.

Morgan Luis Jones holds his surprise catch of a lake trout, an upward trend on the Chicago lakefront in winter, caught while he perch fished at the North Slip near Steelworkers Park.

Provided photo

Lake trout made fishing extra special this winter on the Chicago lakefront.

Take Morgan Luis Jones, 14, catching a laker on March 4 at the North Slip by Steelworkers Park.

“The kid just loves the sport and outfishes me every time!,” his dad Edziu Brzozowski emailed. “Fills my heart with joy to see him land such a whopper! We were trying to catch perch and hooked that monster instead!”

For a long time, lakers were occasionally caught by perch anglers, especially at Navy Pier and at the South Side slips. It went to another level this winter.

It’s is not just social media, though that contributes.

“I would agree that anglers catching lake trout off the Chicago lakefront in winter has increased in recent years,” emailed William Stacy-Duffy, assistant aquatic ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Lake Michigan Biological Station. “But anecdotally, I’ve noticed increased prevalence on social media and YouTube of people catching lake trout in winter off the Chicago lakefront, both from shore and by boat.

“The question, in my mind, is does this represent an increase in the number of fish present or simply an increase in the popularity of the fishery? I think the attention on social media and YouTube may have driven more angler effort and fueled sort of a positive feedback cycle. It also makes sense that the dramatic increase in winter fishing for perch means there are simply more lines in the water that will occasionally pick up lake trout.”

Stacy-Duffy is on to something.

Charlie Roswell, who manages the Lake Michigan creel surveys for the INHS, said the creel survey this winter found both more lakers caught and more anglers targeting them.

“It was pretty noticeable this winter that more people were targeting them,” said Roswell, Wednesday night at the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Lake Michigan fisheries workshop. “It’s definitely more popular.”

Wild things

John Heneghan put up hummingbird feeders on Friday. Seemed early, then Christian Howe sighted his first of the year Sunday. So I put my hummingbird feeders out Monday.

  • Mark Wallner reported a “trans” shoveler Friday at Pine Dunes Forest Preserve on Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts (IBET). He posted that a guy with a USDA truck suggested it might be “an old hen that has lost hormones and was getting some drake plumage.”

Tamima Itani had the best response, “It’s a good thing they are in Illinois, where they are welcome and can use any pond they need.”

Illinois hunting

Spring turkey season opened Monday in the north zone. Morel hunting is closed until 1 p.m. at public sites open to turkey hunting.

Stray cast

Steve Stone and Jason Benetti are like walleye and shore lunch.

Chicago White Sox broadcaster and Cy Young Award winner Steve Stone with Jason Benetti at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Chicago White Sox broadcaster and Cy Young Award winner Steve Stone with Jason Benetti at Guaranteed Rate Field.

James Foster/Sun-Times Media

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