Our Pledge To You


Wild Weekend Wandering: Wolf Lake, Busse, Hennepin-Hopper, fly fishing

A dawn over Walf Lake.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Oh my, the juggling act for the next few days, not just because of the packed fall Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors, but because of a whole plethora of Chicago sports.

Quite frankly, the most important sporting event may be Monday night when Mitch Trubisky makes his debut for the Bears on Monday Night Football at Soldier Field. But before then, there’s Cubs playoff games tonight, Saturday and Monday, if rain allows. And the Bank of America Chicago Marathon pretty much ties up Sunday.

My weekend is focused on the Chicago Marathon, which I cover for the Sun-Times. I will leave home at 4 a.m. Sunday and get home somewhere between 6 and 8 p.m. It should be an interesting race this year.

In terms of outdoors stuff, barring weather being too weathery, I plan to cover the weigh-in Saturday for the Rayjus Outdoors-Oak Lawn Community High School Bass Tournament out of Stratton State Park in Morris. Oak Lawn runs some good tournaments and I haven’t covered one for a while. This one is also an Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation High School championship qualifier.

There’s a good pile of organized stuff this weekend, too, around Chicago outdoors: a clean-up at Busse Lake, a festival at Wolf Lake, early catch-and-release fly fishing opening up and seed gathering at Hennepin-Hopper.


When I first heard of this, I immediately thought of Chuck Thompson, who died earlier this year. Mr. Thompson was a regular at the northern lakes of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. About 20 years ago, he got pissed off at the trash at Busse and organized a clean-up that became a regular thing.

Now there is the Busse Blitz, which is 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. They prefer you register beforehand–click here for that–but you can also register near new boathouse.


There’s a whole bunch of stuff planned–fishing, canoeing, grilling, archery, insect petting zoo and live animals (Hoo Haven Wildlife)–for this free event at William W. Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago’s Southeast Side. It runs 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Click here for more details.


Some people even practice fly fishing during the summer on Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park, one of the sites opening Saturday to early catch-and-release trout season.
Credit: Dale Bowman

One of these years, I am going to do this. I haven’t bought an inland trout stamp for years, but for this I might think about. The early catch-and-release trout season in Illinois opens Saturday at nine sites statewide. Here are those sites:

Jo Daviess County: Apple River, Apple River State Park (*)
Kankakee County: Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park (*)
Ogle County: Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park (*)

Adams County: Siloam Springs State Park Lake (*)
Cass County: Gridley Lake at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA (*)
Hancock County: Horton Lake, Nauvoo State Park (*)
Morgan County: Morgan Lake, Nichols Park, Jacksonville (*)
Sangamon County: IDOT Lake, Springfield (*)

St. Clair County: Willow Lake, Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area (*)

Here are the applicable regulations for those doing the early fly fishing:

Two weeks prior to the fall trout opener, the Fall Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing Season will open at nine sites (locations marked with an asterisk (*) in the list below) on Saturday, Oct. 7.  Fly fishing anglers can use fly fishing gear to catch and release trout beginning Oct. 7 at those nine sites. No trout may be kept during the fly fishing period, but anglers can keep trout after the opening of the regular fall trout season beginning Oct. 21.

. . .

All anglers – including those using fly fishing gear who intend to release fish caught before Oct. 21 – must have a valid fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily catch limit for each angler is five trout.

Illinois fishing licenses and Inland Trout Stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets. For a location near you, check the IDNR website at this link:

Fishing licenses and trout stamps can also be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).



The Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, which many of us also know more as Hennepin-Hopper Lakes, has its fall seed harvest on Saturday. Originally I had planned to do this, but had other stuff come up.

Here are the details from The Wetlands Initiative:

Join our Fall Seed Harvest at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge

Saturday, October 7, 2017
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Free lunch provided after

Welcome fall by helping to collect native seed in the Dixon Refuge’s beautiful restored prairies and wetlands. The seed you harvest will be planted elsewhere at the Refuge over the winter to enhance diversity of the habitats. No experience is needed for this fun and easy volunteer activity!

We’ll meet at 9:00 a.m. at the parking lot by the observation tower. Bring a water bottle; snacks, tools, and gloves will be provided. Join us for a picnic lunch at the Refuge farmhouse when you’re done harvesting.

Click here for a map and driving directions to the Refuge.

Please email us if you plan to attend. That’s also twi@wetlands-initiative.org