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ReptileFest, turkeys, show, variable fishing: WWW Chicago outdoors

It’s another one of those weekends with an eclectic mix of stuff, indoors and out, for the Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.

And also another spring weekend with weather being fickle or something worse. Parts of the area will see 70s today and by Sunday parts of the area could see snow.

But at least, as Larry Green tweeted while sending the topper photo, the crappie bite is starting to settle in better, yo-yoing weather or not:

If you work at it finding a few crappie in local lakes

I am wandering around to today trailing people who are tracking wood frogs on their way to “an explosive breeding strategy.” No I am not making that up. Just to be clear, “their way” refers to the frogs.

Tomorrow is kids time, going from a concert to their archery practice, always a chance to catch up on information and rumors.

I will get in some fishing in the next few days. Missed a chance to get out this morning with Capt. Bob Poteshman on a shake-down cruise with his guys this morning off Chicago.

And, though it is early and the spring cold, I did nose around a bit this morning, just in case a small morel had popped since yesterday.

With that, on to the regular stuff of this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

REPTILEFEST:  The Chicago Herpetological Society ReptileFest is this weekend at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. It is something I have long meant to do, but will not make it again this year. Click here for info.

TURKEY HUNTING: The first season in the north zone in Illinois opens up Monday. Despite the weather, several turkey hunters have told me that the birds are gobbling. Unfortunately, I have not seen any yet in areas where I can add some fresh turkey photos.

File photo of morel.
Credit: Dale Bowman

MORELS: Morel sightings barely moved north this week. Overall, I find the reports best for Illinois on the Facebook page for Illinois Morel Mushrooms. And they graphically noted yesterday just how far behind morel reports are this year compared to 2017.

TACKLE SHOW: The Walter Burzawa Sr. &Sid Holder Memorial Tackle Show is 9 am.-3 p.m. Saturday at Top Fuel Saloon in Braidwood. It’s hunting and fishing related stuff. Entry and vendor fees are donated to the Joliet Area Hospice. For info, email angusgibson72@gmail.com.

INLAND TROUT: Considering the weather last weekend for opening weekend of Illinois’ inland trout season, I think there will still be some trout around. Click here for the statewide release.

Daily bag is five. The other general regulations are that “anglers will need both a fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp to participate, unless they are under the age of 16, blind, disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces.”

Here are the northeast Illinois sites:

Cook County: Wolf Lake at William W. Powers State Recreation Area, Chicago; Green Lake in Calumet City, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Axehead Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Belleau Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Sag Quarry East, Cook County Forest Preserve District; Horsetail Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District

DuPage County: Silver Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District;l Pickerel Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District; Grove Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District

Kankakee County: Bird Park Quarry, Kankakee; Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park

Kendall County: Big Lake, Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area

Lake County: Banana Lake, Lake County Forest Preserve District; Sand Lake, Illinois Beach State Park

McHenry County: Lake Atwood, McHenry County Conservation District; Piscasaw Creek, McHenry County Conservation District

Will County: Lake Milliken, Des Plaines Conservation Area


Smelt netting is underway. As expected from poor prospects, reports and effort have been slim to none. Here are the general notes and regulations for smelt netting in Chicago, which are the same as last year, from the Chicago Park District’s Carl Vizzone:


Smelt Fishing is a family affair. It’s a community of Fishermen enjoying each other’s company and nature’s bounty. Let’s make this season a safe and clean one for families and our fishing future. The following rules apply:

* No open fires

* No enclosed tents

* No alcoholic beverages

* No parking or driving on the grass or sidewalks. Park only in designated areas. Violators will be ticketed and towed.

* Do not destroy fences, benches, trash receptacles, walkways, and grassy areas.

* Do not dump hot coals under trees, on concrete or on grassy areas. Dispose of all coals in the appropriate trash receptacles.

Harbor Gates will close at 1 a.m. –start breaking down at 12:30 a.m. to be out by 1 a.m.

That last one, the regulation is to be out of the parks by 1 a.m.

COOLING LAKES: Bass reports continue good at Braidwood. But weather has really limited boating efforts, especially on LaSalle. Heideke really needs to warm up. Frankly, overall, we just need some more stable weather. All three lakes are open 6 a.m. (6:30 for bank anglers at Heidecke) to sunset.

LAKEFRONT: Fishing continues variable, but there are hints of better coho and brown catching. Also starting to hear of some big smallmouth bass. heard of many whitefish in recent days, but I bet that will change again as more people get out.

MIDEWIN: The Ranger Trailer are open for the weekends, weather permitting, at the Iron Bridge Trailhead at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The seasonal guided hikes begin on May 6.

Both are something I highly recommend for individuals, families or groups. If you spot bison, it only heightens the visit.

Throughout the season, you can talk to volunteer rangers at the Ranger Trailer from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. During April, check updates–at www.facebook.com/Midewin or on Twitter at @MidewinNatTPon–on whether, depending on weather, the Ranger Trailer will be operating.

Trails are open daily, 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Come out and explore. #ItsAllYours! For the full list of 2018 programs, activities and events at Midewin, see: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd535052.pdf.

OCEAN FILM, MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY: BBC Earth and OceanX Media’s Giant Screen film “Oceans: Our Blue Plant” is at the Museum of Science and Industry’s giant screen theater.

Here are some details:

Oceans: Our Blue Planet will open in MSI’s Giant Dome Theater on March 16, 2018 and continue through spring 2019. It will be shown daily at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Also 4:30 p.m. on extended hour days.)

This film is not included in Museum Entry and requires an additional timed-entry ticket. For more information on Oceans: Our Blue Planet, visit www.msichicago.org/oceans.