Fishes of the Week: Lakefront lakers

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Ray Hinton began one of Chicago’s historic fishing streaks with a lake trout, weighing 17 pounds, 6 ounces on a Rapala hand-held scales, on Oct. 30. That historic streak earns him and friends a special Fishes of the Week.


No, that is not the 17-6. Like much of October, rain was falling, so the Chatham man didn’t break out his camera. Plus the big laker was spurting eggs, and he wanted to quickly release it.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times each Wednesday. An extended online version appears here by midnight Tuesday. We are cutting it close tonight.

Hinton’s catch began the best streak of shoreline fishing for lakers in modern Chicago history.

Over two days at the end of October, Hinton, his Indiana cousin Harrel Hinton (below) and Chicago fisherman Eddie Hudson landed 14 of 24 lakers they hooked into at South Side locations from Northerly Island to 95th.


“I have never in the history of recent shore fishing witnessed Goliath lake trout cruising our shores,” said Hinton, one of Chicago’s best fishermen.

The biggest one hit a Moonshine glow spoon. The others came on deep-diving crankbaits or common salmon spoons like Cleos and K.O. Wobblers.

There’s long been sporadic catches of a few lakers from shore over the years in Chicago, but nothing like that.

Lake Michigan Program biologist Dan Makauskas thought he remembered retired biologist Rich Hess talking about some shoreline fishing for lakers around 1980.

That gave me an excuse to track down Hess in Minnesota.

Part of Hess’ response was

Dan M. has a good memory, but I don’t remember a laker fishery at the Monroe breakwall around 1980. Of course, many shore stocked lakers returned to various Illinois shoreline areas over the years from Waukegan to Chicago, but when we didn’t see any successful reproduction from them inshore we switched the emphasis of our lake trout stocking program to selected offshore reefs.

Speculation is that the cold October caused the oddity of lakers on the Chicago shoreline. That’s one unknown.

Hinton and crew kept a couple of the smaller ones (the daily limit on lakers is two). A couple were grilled. Hinton smoked his with applewood.

Hinton had another unknown:

`I finally locked into a laker that I couldn’t handle, I battled this fish for more than 10 minutes. Making four runs in and out on me, the lake monster gave it’s powerful tail a final burst, took lure, line swivel and all and headed for the great unknown.

That’s the great unknown.

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