WWW Chicago outdoors: Fall trout & waterfowl openers

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It should be a good weekend for combining fall color watching with other outdoor activities in this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

But first a bit of a side trip to think about our world, via the UP, where my wife and I honeymooned some years ago.

Kristi Mills talks on the dangers of sulfide mining and uranium exploration in the Great Lakes area at the Oakbrook Trout Unlimited meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Oak Brook Recreation Center.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled WWW Chicago outdoors.

Fall certainly arrived over the past week: falling leaves and changing colors to fallen hedge apples. You don’t have to be an outdoor savant to notice. And now we are getting into the heart of the hunting seasons.

NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL: On Saturday, the regular duck and Canada geese seasons open in Illinois’ north zone. The big change is in southern Cook, Will and Grundy, where the goose zones line has shifted north to I-80 while the duck zones line remains where it was the past five years. Weather looks fair by waterfowling standards, at least it won’t be as pleasant as it was a few days ago.

FALL TROUT: The big thing around Chicago fishing is the opening of fall trout season on Saturday in Illinois. I know the official IDNR release says a 5 a.m. opener, but some sites, like the Cook County ones, open at sunrise. Open lakes in the nine-county area include: Axehead, Belleau, Horsetail (Cook County); Pickerel, Grove, Silver (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee); Big Lake at Silver Springs SFWA (Kendall); and Sand lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana (Lake). As usual, those 16 and older need a fishing license and inland trout stamp. The daily bag is five.


The hot area remains in the Indiana streams. Some rain came through yesterday, not sure if it will be quite enough to really kick off fishing or not. The fishing has been so good that there has been a lot of pressure, which, coupled with low clear water, has made for tougher fishing in recent days, despite tremendous numbers of kings with some steelhead and coho mixed in.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER: It has been some years since I fished the St. Joe, sounds like the fall to do it again. One of the better falls just keeps going. There’s some wild numbers moving past the South Bend Fish Ladder, according to the Indiana DNR: 2,217 steelhead, 1,314 coho, 484 chinooks and even a dozen browns (who rarely make it that far), as of last week. The DNR said the best steelhead fishing has been below the Twin Branch and Mishawaka Dams in Mishawaka; best for coho (on bright spinners) has been below the Mishawaka Dam at Central Park; best for kings has been at Leeper Park in South Bend and Lincoln Park in Mishawaka by Kamms Island. . . . Earlier in the week, Tyler Harmon messaged that a few fall/winter steelhead were showing up around St. Joseph, Mich.

McHENRY DAM: There is a public meeting to discuss the winter drawdown operation of the William G. Stratton Lock and Dam on the Fox River in McHenry at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Conference Center at McHenry County College.

BOWHUNTING: I would expect this, the third weekend of bowhunting for deer, to show good numbers. There are rumblings that at least smaller bucks are getting restless. Rut time nears.

WADING/FLOATING FOR SMALLMOUTH: Even with the rains, rivers are low; though Ken Gortowski noted that the Fox is holding up a bit considering the long dry spell. This is the kind of weekend that will usually only draw the hard-cores. But it should be a good one.

YOUTH HUNTING: The central zone youth waterfowl hunt is this weekend. There’s a ton of public sites open: Anderson Lake SFWA, Banner Marsh SFWA, Batchtown, Braidwood Lake SFWA, Calhoun Point, Clinton Lake SRA, Coffeen Lake SFWA, Freeman Mine, Fuller Lake, Glades-12 Mile Island, Godar Diamond/Hurricane Island, Horseshoe Lake State Park (Madison County), Horseshoe Lake SP (Chouteau Island Unit), Kankakee River State Park, Marshall SFWA, Marshall SFWA – Sparland Unit, Marshall SFWA – Duck Ranch Unit,Mazonia SFWA, Meredosia Lake, Mississippi River Pools (All located in Central Zone), Momence Wetlands SNA, Pekin Lake SFWA, Piasa Island, Quincy Bay, Ray Norbut SFWA, Reds Landing, Rip Rap Landing, Rice Lake SFWA, Sanganois SFWA, Sangchris Lake State Park, Shelbyville SFWA, Spring Lake SFWA, Starved Rock State Park, Stump Lake, Weinberg-King State Park – Spunky Bottoms Unit, Woodford SFWA

HUNTING BITS: Woodcock season opens Saturday in Illinois.

ILLINOIS PERMITS/SEASONS: On Tuesday, leftover firearm/muzzleloader deer permits become available over-the-counter.

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT: The bite has been winding down in Chicago, it’s that time to go lighter line and float some spawn in hopes of smaller trout and younger salmon.

SALMON SNAGGING: Henry’s said Jackson Park has been best; while the Salmon Stop said Waukegan has been good, too. Snagging for chinook and coho is open on the Illinois lakefront at four locations only: Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue, Waukegan Harbor (North Harbor Basin only); Winnetka Power Plant discharge area and Jackson Park Harbor (inner and outer harbors). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.

ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.

PERSONAL PICKS: Today I am doing a tour of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Wilmington. It’s one of my favorite landscapes in the area. . . . Saturday, hopefully, I am shooting ducks and geese. The weather looks fairly promising, not perfect, but promising. . . . The family hike will be Sunday, what with the Bears playing late and all. On Columbus Day, the kids and I had a tremendous hike for frogs. Saw dozens of them, and the little guy had one go through his fingers. They even did a good Army crawl to get close. . . . Work continues on an ongoing writing project. . . . As always, a fair amount of my spare time is spent working on “Outside,” the radio show Joel Greenberg and I are doing at 4:30 p.m. Mondays on WKCC-FM (91.1).

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