Chicago outdoors: Chicago merlin, Stanley Cup of bass, fishing-eating safety, Indiana barn owls

A dramatic photo of a merlin in Chicago, winning the Bassmaster Classic and the Stanley Cup, a frequent question on the safety of eating fish and the growth of nesting barn owls in Indiana are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.

SHARE Chicago outdoors: Chicago merlin, Stanley Cup of bass, fishing-eating safety, Indiana barn owls
A merlin taking flight in Chicago. Credit: Paul Vriend

A merlin taking flight in Chicago.

Paul Vriend

Notes come from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.


Paul Vriend photographed this merlin taking off and noted, “I am seeing an increased variety of raptors in the city.”

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).


“I read the article about the fish that were caught [Fish of the Week on Wednesday]. Could you eat them fish? Is it safe?” Cindy Silva

A: This is one of the most frequent questions I receive. In general, eating fish from Lake Michigan is safe within boundaries. I’ve fed them to my family for decades. The Illinois Department of Public Health issues annual advisories on fish consumption.


79: Number of nest boxes with barn-owl nests found by the Indiana DNR barn-owl nest in its survey, nearly double (43) in the last survey in 2017. The Indiana DNR credited, “This sudden rise in the number of nests is partially due to the efforts of DNR and private landowners providing nest boxes in large open grasslands of 100 acres or more.”


“This is my Stanley Cup.”

Jeff Gustafson, on being the first Canadian to win the Bassmaster Classic championship last Sunday in Knoxville, Tenn.



Wednesday, April 5: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s spring workshop, Wilmette Harbor Club, 6-8:30 p.m., (virtual viewing will be April 13 6-8 p.m.), click here to register for either


Click here for the complete list of show, outdoors classes and swap meets.

Through today, April 2:Illinois Deer Classic, Peoria Civic Center

Thursday, April 6:Midwest Musky Club Mega Raffle, Village Sportsman’s Club, Alsip


Through today, April 2: Second youth spring turkey hunt

Monday, April 3: First of five spring turkey seasons, south zone, opens

Through April 30: First lottery, Illinois residents only, fiream or muzzleloader deer permits


April 29: Help send autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson, currently ranked sixth in the nation, to the National Bass Trail National Championships, Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, Musky Tales, Antioch, 5-9 p.m., contact Jeff Henderson (847) 409-1410 or


April 22: Illinois & Chicago chapter’s 50th annual fundraiser and banquet, Medinah Banquets, Addison,


April 22-23: Momence, (815) 472-4900

April 28-29:Morris, or (815) 343-7330

May 6-7: Ingleside, S.FREY2008@YAHOO.COM


Monday, April 3: Northfield, Dan O’Connell,

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