Good weather shows the hope of young anglers

Three stories of young anglers in mid-April with successes that bodes well for the future of the outdoors and fishing around Chicago.

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James Drake, 9, caught his first walleye, 22 inches long, April 13 from the Fox River.

James Drake, 9, caught his first walleye, 22 inches long, April 13 from the Fox River.

Provided

Good weather in mid-April lifted my spirits, in part because of the promise shown by young anglers.

• On April 15, Morton senior Hector Berlanga ‘‘caught this bad boy, a 4.2-pound, 18-inch largemouth bass!’’ Miguel Romero emailed.

Berlanga caught it on a swim bait at Sag Quarries on the second outing for the new Morton bass-fishing team.

Morton senior Hector Berlanga holds his 4.2-pound largemouth bass caught on a fishing team outing April 15 at Sag Quarries. Provided photo

Morton senior Hector Berlanga holds his 4.2-pound largemouth bass caught on a fishing team outing April 15 at Sag Quarries.

Provided

‘‘This year, I received permission to start a bass-fishing team at Morton High School in an effort to bring a love of fishing to urban kids that may not otherwise have the opportunity,’’ Romero emailed.

I bumped into Romero, a ‘‘PE teacher from Cicero who fell in love with fishing on a whim,’’ in 2019 when he landed the first legally caught largemouth in modern times from Tuma Lake the morning it was reopened to fishing after many decades by the Cook County Forest Preserves. Click here to read that column.

Even then, Romero talked about starting a fishing team at Morton. You gotta have faith.

• Karsten Zurawski, 13, caught a 19.5-inch, 3-pound, 10-ounce crappie April 15 in far northeastern Illinois.

‘‘[It was] released to spawn and create a whole new generation of tankers!’’ dad Dave messaged.

That’s a monster crappie for our area for anyone, let alone an eighth-grader.

Karsten Zurawski, 13, holds the monster 3-pound, 10-ounce crappie he caught on April 15 from far northeastern Illinois. Provided photo

Karsten Zurawski, 13, holds the monster 3-pound, 10-ounce crappie he caught on April 15 from far northeastern Illinois.

Provided

‘‘He’s a fishing machine!’’ Dave noted proudly. ‘‘Pretty much fishes every day! He is truly a mini me! Lol.’’

Karsten is in good company. Dave is an accomplished tournament walleye and ice-fishing angler.

• James Drake made his first walleye memorable April 13. The 9-year-old from Yorkville caught a 22-inch, 3-pound walleye while fishing under a bridge by Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area. He used a Zebco 202 and a rubber worm on a jig.

‘‘He was so excited when he caught it,’’ dad Damien emailed. ‘‘I thought it was a largemouth until I watched him reel it out of the water. I was like, ‘Holy cow, you got a walleye.’ ’’

Youth muskie fishing

The 10th annual Illinois Scholastic Muskie Tournament, open to student anglers, is May 20 at Wheel Lake in Banner Marsh SFWA. There is no entry fee, and loaner nets and bump boards will be available. For more information, go to shawneemuskiehunters.org. Questions? Check with Jim Beaty at (618) 971-7806 or beatyesox@gmail.com.

Illinois hunting

Sunday is the deadline for Illinois residents for the first lottery for firearm or muzzleloader deer permits.

Wild things

It was a rare year for me in which I didn’t watch sky-dancing by woodcocks. (My fault, not the lack of woodcocks.)

Stray cast

White Sox baseball or modern smelt-netting?

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