WWW Chicago outdoors: Early spring options

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Even with the return of winter weather, I find myself trying to figure out how to fit everything–MWC, Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic, Henry’s Spring Fever Reliever and a Hall of Fame banquet–in during this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

I don’t know who did this YouTube of the 2008 Illinois Deer Classic, but by what I am used to seeing on YouTube, it is quite good and truly gives the feel of the Classic.

The Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic has moved dates and place. It will now be at the Peoria Civic Center from today through Sunday. On a selfish level, I will miss the ease of access to the former site in Bloomington. However, I think the Civic Center is a better space and in some ways Peoria is almost the epicenter of hunting for whitetails in the world.

HENRY’S SPRING FEVER RELIEVER: The annual rite of spring for Chicago fishermen is 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Henry’s at 3130 S. Canal. As usual, they have a good lineup of speakers–Capt. Mike Evano (9 a.m.), Tony Boshold (19:15 a.m.) and Jim “The Crappie Professor” Kopjo (12:40 p.m.)–and the free Italian sausage and jambalaya for lunch.

MWC: The Spring Valley Walleye Club holds its 25th annual MWC tournament on the Illinois River at Spring Valley Saturday and Sunday. It will be cold, but I remember colder. The water will be high, but not nearly as high as some of the recent flood years. In other words, it should be an outstanding tournament. Weigh-ins begin at 3 p.m. daily at Barto Landing in Spring Valley. The MWC and National Professional Anglers Association will present a Youth & Family Fishing Clinic immediately after Saturday’s weigh-in. The first 50 youths will receive rods and reels, and tackle packages courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle.

HALL OF FAME BANQUET: The Illinois Conservation Foundation inducts its 10th class into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame Saturday night. Going in this year are Bob Long Jr., Thomas Dunstan, David Kenney and Ed Mullady. The banquet is the big fundraiser for the ICF’s youth projects and other matters. You can still get tickets. Go to ilcf.org or call (217) 785-2003.

COOLING LAKES: Braidwood and LaSalle lakes are the top spots around Chicago fishing.

In particular, LaSalle Lake is tops. As Mike Lynch put it, “For action Lasalle is the place to be.” That’s for multiple species and multiple techniques. Basically, it is worth fishing from shore or boat (well, winds have made boat fishing tough and dangerous). And the other issue at LaSalle is the absurd hours in March when it is only open 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Braidwood, the cooling lake south of Joliet, has had better bass fishing than I expected, and the usual action for catfish and bluegill.

LAKEFRONT COHO: Coho, those favorites of Chicago fishing, have started to come in, however, the weather made conditions tougher. With the weather, it has been more of a big boat fishery. From shore, powerliners continue to do better than casters. Weather really needs to settle some.

PERSONAL PICKS: The kids and I will do our weekend hike today, since they are on spring break. Nor sure where yet. . . . I don’t know how I am going to juggle things on Saturday. I had wanted to hit Henry’s, but that might be my only time to make the Deer Classic. May not make the call on that one until Saturday morning. . . . Saturday night is the Hall of Fame banquet. . . . On Sunday, my plans for now are to cover the MWC at Spring Valley, but there is a chance I may opt to hit the Deer Classic instead. . . . 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). There is some news coming shortly on the show. How’s that for a tease for those who read to the very end.

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