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Fall colors, rut, ducks, fall fishing, geese: WWW Chicago outdoors

Good weekend for a road trip, whether to find bucks wandering in road or to see fall colors.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Road trips.

Sounding like real fall or a promise of winter, the wind howls around the corners of our house as I type in the darkness early this morning.

With it comes the promise of change or push to move it.

Certainly a different feel and action for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors than last week.

The closest I am coming to outdoors stuff this weekend is helping volunteer Saturday at the last Kankakee Farmers Market of the year in the Master Gardners/Master Naturalists booth. Otherwise, my weekend is tied up in family and church stuff, freeing me up next week for a small double-up trip to bowhunt for the first time for deer after a morning goose and duck hunt at a new spot in central Illinois.

I plan to leave Wednesday night right after attending the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s “Lake Michigan Fisheries Workshop.”

The workshop is 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hammond Marina. Click here for more details. Below is the description.

Learn about research on salmon stocking, migration, reproduction, and feeding, as well as the reintroduction of native ciscos, and the economic impact and value of recreational fishing in southern Lake Michigan.

Yes, that is stretching the definition of Wild Weekend Wandering, more like Wild Week Wandering.

Definitely a change this week.

I just love this report that Christian Howe sent Thursday on fall colors and fishing from southern Cook County into the North Woods:


Fall colors report, from Morgan Park to Vilas County WI via I94/41 to US45 North. 

Southern cook just getting going

Lake county almost in peak in places near Illinois beach state park 

Cheddar Curtain to Wauwatosa peak to just past peak, falling rapidly though picturesque in places. 

Wauwatosa to Oshkosh has oaks still vivid in places, maple done and a few birch still colorful. Tamaracks starting (my favorite)

Oshkosh to Antigo tamaracks at peak,  remaining willows, alders and scrub going.  Ferns and grass brown already. 

Antigo to the WI/MI border has the tamaracks fleeting. Most leaves have dropped with the winds and rains past few days with the first accumulating snow expected Friday into Saturday. 

Here’s hoping the fish cooperate for me in between the fall duties.  Reports from the local guides have musky finally going for big suckers, Walleye taking large fatheads and walleye suckers deep on 1/8-1/4 jigs (colors vary). Red tails are non-existent right now as the trappers are having trouble getting them. Crawler bite is done. Some walleye being taken over shallow weeds or wind swept shores in  6-10’ on #11 rapalas in blue and yellow, some days rattled work better.  Crappie/perch are fair.

Good luck to the hunters out for the bow season and to the duck and goose hunters up this way; Still seeing plenty of activity prior to the rains arrival.


Speaking of up north, I know more than a few are heading north, as true winter weather settles in up there, to chase muskies, as Howe mentioned. I also know others will be heading for the white bass run on the Wolf River (and with this weather change might be able to double up with walleye.).

I think Ben Dickinson caught the spirit of the season for bowhunters when he posted Thursday from the DNR office in Michigan City, Ind. where he is the assistant Lake Michigan fisheries biologist:

Sure wish I was in a tree this morning instead of sitting in an office

I suspect this will be the big weekend at the beginning of the rut. Dickinson had seen a big-body deer wandering on his way in to work Thursday morning. I hope to see any deer within range next week when I get out.

On a more local level, four lakes in the Chicago area received bonus trout this week. So might have another big weekend for trout fishing again, too. Click here for details on that.

Goose and duck hunters should be anticipating moving ducks and geese with the winds and weather change. Central zone duck and Canada goose seasons open Saturday; the north zone opened last Saturday. Resident geese have been around plenty. I am curious whether the weather will reshuffle ducks.

Back to fishing, with the weather change, I think hardier souls will be out trying for fall crappie, too.

Back to fall colors, this might be the perfect weekend to explore one of the many scenic drives in Illinois, particularly the one along the Illinois River or the Great River Road by the Mississippi River. Click here for those scenic routes.

I may do that on my way home next week, I have a route I improvise along the Illinois River. If I do that, I usually end up making a stop at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge (Hennepin-Hopper lakes) near Hennepin.

Road trips once or twice a year usually include a stop at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, now would be a good time.
Credit: Dale Bowman