Fall is here for real and activities for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors lines up with that change.

There’s mushroom picking, bowhunters getting more serious with the cooler weather, signs the fall feeding frenzy is here for fishermen, the north zone youth waterfowl hunt this weekend and an open house in Wisconsin on Saturday.

As for myself, I will be attending the Illinois Water Trails Conference on Monday in Channahon. Details below.

Today, I was finally able to do some Friday morning work on the edible trail and helped plant two more pawpaw trees and one persimmon. The edible trail slowly takes shape.

Otherwise, my weekend is pretty much centered around our youngest son’s playoffs in soccer.

I would like to sneak in some fly fishing for early catch-and-release trout season, but I suspect time will get away from me.

With that, to this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors and the many eclectic options.

WATER TRAILS CONFERENCE: The inaugural Illinois Water Trails Conference is Monday in Channahon. It costs $40 beforehand and $50 at the door. Continental breakfast and lunch is included.

I will be there for the all-day affair.

Click here to sign-up or for more information.

FALL FEEDING FRENZY:  Well, I hit on a fall feeding frenzy Thursday at Mazonia lakes, which closes Tuesday. What the drastic weather change does to the bite, I have no idea.

FALL ‘SROOMS: Fall mushroom picking is underway. Click here for my column on Wednesday about learning to feel comfortable beginning to do my own picking. Thanks to Ron Wozny introducing me to Pat O’Byrne.

Mushroom of the Week, which runs as warranted on Wednesdays in the Sun-Times, is off to a fine start. Send nominations to straycasts@sbcglobal.net, Dale Bowman on Facebook or @BowmanOutside on Twitter.

Resized/Sun-Times

A crossbow at the ready, a much more common scene in Illinois.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

DEER NOTES: Bowhunting is off to a slow start. Click here for the update on deer harvest on Tuesday. Corn harvest was at 63 percent through Sunday, well ahead of the five-year average of 41. I do suspect crop harvest slowed down this week.

I do not have my crossbow yet, but it should be here in time for the rut later this month (I hope).

YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNT: The north zone youth waterfowl hunt is this weekend.

Public sites open in the north zone are these (as provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources):

Chain O’Lakes State Park
Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area
Lake DePue SFWA
Sinnissippi Lake Wildlife Area
Mississippi River Pools (All located in North Zone)
William W. Powers State Recreation Area

STEELHEAD OPEN HOUSE: Another one of those things I have meant to do for years.

From the Wisconsin DNR:

Join us Saturday October 13, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for an open house at the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine, where we collect eggs from trout and salmon to produce the next generation of fish to test Lake Michigan anglers. 

Everyone is encouraged to attend this fun-filled event, whether you’re a novice angler, a veteran angler, or just like to eat fish! Enjoy guided tours of the facility with DNR crews demonstrating fish spawning procedures, fishing rod casting lessons, knot tying, fly-tying, and more.

The Root River Steelhead Facility is located in Lincoln Park along the beautiful Root River in Racine, WI. The facility was built in 1992-1993 by the DNR and in partnership with the Salmon Unlimited fishing club, to aid in the capture and egg collection of migrating trout and salmon. Millions of trout and salmon are stocked annually into Lake Michigan tributaries, where they spend their young lives before entering Lake Michigan as adults to live and grow, and eventually returning to the same stream that they were stocked to perform their annual spawning rituals.

. . .

If you have any questions regarding the open house, please feel free to contact Cheryl Masterson at (414) 382-7923 or Cheryl.masterson@wisconsin.gov.

Directions to Facility

To get to the Root River Steelhead Facility from I-94, go east on Highway 20 to Highway 31. Go north on Highway 31 to Highway C (Spring Street). Turn right onto Spring Street to Domanik Drive. Turn left on Domanik Drive and go to Lincoln Park. Follow the DNR signs to the Facility.

WOOLLY BEARS: With crop harvest going fast, I am seeing a lot of woolly bears. I would like to know what people are seeing with woolly bears. I’ve had a complete mix.

CHINOOK: There’s not many around, but the ones that do show up on the Chicago and Illinois lakefront are big kings, though starting to turn.

FLY FISHING TROUT: Catch-and-release fly fishing for fall trout is open at nine sites around Illinois. The regular fall trout season opens Oct. 20.

Here are some notes on the early catch-and-release fly fishing from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Fly fishing anglers can use fly fishing gear to catch and release trout beginning Oct. 6 at the nine sites. No trout may be kept during the fly fishing period, but all anglers can keep trout after the opening of the regular fall trout season on Oct. 20.

As to general requirements for the early fly-fishing, the IDNR noted this:

All anglers — including those using fly fishing gear who intend to release fish caught before Oct. 20 — must have a valid fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces.

Here are the north region sites that allow early catch-and-release fly fishing:

Jo Daviess County: Apple River, Apple River State Park *
Kankakee County: Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park *
Ogle County: Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park *

FROGS: Frog hunting ends Monday in Illinois.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Trevor Edmonson sent a note about a big bird at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge (Hennepin-Hopper). Click here for details on Facebook.

FALL AT MORTON ARBORETUM: The Fall Color Festival, with a mix of activities begins Monday and runs through October at Morton Arboretum in Lisle. October is also just a splendid time to visit the Arboretum. Click here for more on the Fall Color Festival.