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Lakers, daffodils, early gardening: Odd January, Chicago outdoors

Father and son, John and Sean LeTourneau (left), of Darien, and their friend Joe Cima, of Willowbrook, caught a rare triple in the rare open-water January fishing on southern Lake Michigan with Capt. Ralph Steiger.
Credit: For the Sun-Times

Sprouting daffodils to mid-winter jigging for lake trout, an odd January stays weird.

In 60-degree warmth Saturday, Don Birsa said this is the first January that he shot at the Illinois State Rifle Range in a just a sweatshirt.

“Would you believe (actually I believe that you will ) that today in the middle of January my daffodils have begun to poke through the ground,’’ Ed Buric emailed Saturday.

Mid-winter spinach growing. Credit: Dale Bowman

Mid-winter spinach growing.
Credit: Dale Bowman

My late-fall spinach is greening up. Ken Gortowski said his neighbor’s silver maple is budding, which usually happens March. He has parsley growing, chives coming back.

Ice fishermen are some of the lone dissenters as they retreat north of the Illinois border.

But the lack of ice on Lake Michigan opened spring fishing early.

Friday, Luis Gonzalez messaged when his buddy landed a coho at Montrose Harbor. Then Saturday, he messaged back, “False alarm.’’ Ten powerliners had zero fish. Carl Vizzone speculated that the wind shift away from northeast probably mattered. When northeast winds return, try again.

The unusual lack of ice allowed Capt. Ralph Steiger to ply the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan in January.

On Saturday, he posted, “I can honestly say that today was one of my most memorable trips since I have been guiding. Jigging for lake trout was nothing short of amazing, followed by 34.5- and a 35.5- inch pike caught casting, then followed by my personal biggest steelhead I’ve ever caught casting.’’

They were using 6- to 10-pound braided line with a 3/8th-ounce sunrise Northland Thumper jig with a white Northland Impulse grub.

Steiger had a trip earlier in January when father and son, John and Sean LeTourneau, of Darien, and their friend, Joe Cima, of Willowbrook, caught a rare triple on lakers while jigging with Big Dude bladebaits and some rattling baits in 35 feet.

There’s been flurries of jumbo perch when the ice stays out at Navy Pier and the South Side slips.

Think taste of spring.

LEARNING LAKE MICHIGAN: Capt. Dan Keating again holds his Great Lakes Angler Super Salmon Clinic Saturday and Sunday at Lake Michigan Angler in Winthrop Harbor. Capt. Arnie Arredondo will guest present. Preregister ($60 includes goodie bag and lunch) by calling (847) 395-5730.

STRAY CAST: Alternative facts are supposed to be the domain of fishermen alone.