Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

May 2008 Archives

There was a lot of looking for big bass at Exelon Nuclear’s ``Fishing for a Cure'' bass tournament at Braidwood Lake on Saturday. And volunteer Jenna Hanson, 9, got an eyeful of the day's biggest largemouth bass before volunteer John Daniels released it.


South suburban brothers Jerry and John Luehrs won the seventh annual charity event.

Marcus Miller, a 15-year-old Centralia High freshman, apparently caught an Illinois record crappie in Jefferson County.


Just which of the three crappies--white, black and hybrid--recognized by Illinois is Miller's 4-pound, 8.2-ounce fish will be determined by DNA testing. And that could be awhile, according to Rod Kloeckner's story in the Belleville News-Democrat. Thanks to Kloeckner for the photo.

When and if approved by the IDNR, Miller's crappie will likely be the third Illinois record fish caught in 2008. Most wonderfully, all three will have been caught by teenagers.

The Puppet Bar

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Why is an old photo of ``The Puppet Bar'' on Stray Casts?


It's a piece of history from the Fox Chain O'Lakes.

A rare good Cook County walleye is Fish of the Week. The nearly 28-inch female was caught and released Friday evening by David Groch.


FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. Photos and more extended stories are posted here.

A couple weeks ago Bob Nelson asked a goose question I've wondered about for several years. The Crystal Lake man wanted to know if Canada geese reshuffle their broods.

His question gave me the impetus to find the answers.

Here's at least four broods of geese packed together like a preschool for goslings on our town pond Saturday morning.


At its best, Fish of the Week is a fish of a lifetime.

Tracy Bridgford caught one of those last week on Sturgeon Bay. The 6-13 smallmouth is a FOTW for May 21, 2008. Her husband Allan sent three interesting photos and a good story, too.



Illinois turkey hunters bagged a reported 15,159 turkeys, the second highest spring harvest.

That preliminary statewide harvest trails only the 16,605 in 2006.

I expected to find my dad gimping around the little cabin we rented for a long weekend. Or maybe even thinking about bed by the time I rolled in late Thursday after a late hard drive in I-80.

Think again, the old man (he turns 80 this summer) was wired. He had a bear story.

This is one of my dream fish, a 6-pound smallmouth from Lake Michigan. Congrats to Dennis Price III on catching and releasing this 20-inch smallie. it weighed 6-2 on his digital scale. It was Fish of the Week for May 14, 2008.


Brothers John and Andrew Chione both caught record redhorse suckers from the Fox River in late April.

Here of the photos, much thanks to Mike Noland of Oswegoland Fishin' Fools. First is John, 13, with his 6.71-pound silver redhorse, caught April 24. Second is Andrew, 15, with his 3.74-pound shorthead redhorse caught the next day.



Is it an otter or a beaver?


John Vician, an experienced outdoorsman from the Northwest Side, sent this photo taken ``at the lakefront in 2006 at Henrys fall salmon derby.''

I've seen a good number of wild otters and beavers swimming in my life, but I can't say positively whether or not it is an otter, even after blowing up the photo. Vician originally labeled the photo a beaver, but had been rethinking that.

However, naturalist Joel Greenberg, author of A Natural History of the Chicago Region, did me a favor and looked at the photo. He said the head was too broad for an otter.

In late April David W. Ruiz reported an otter at Northly Island. They have been sighted in Chicago's rivers for several years, but lakefront reports have been sketchier. Now James Fernandez reported seeing one last year just south of the Museum of Science and Industry.

Eagle cams have been around for awhile. Illinois now has one at Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in Montgomery County. Just go to You can watch the bald eagle family daily between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

Because I am curious about stuff like lakefront otters I am trying to track any earlier reports for the lakefront. If you have one, please email me at

First morels

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The first morel inspired me to look harder Wednesday afternoon. And my 6-year-old daughter and I found three of about three inches. It will make a good snack tomorrow.

Hunting morels should be a family tradition.


I have a problem. It's a good problem. (At least my connection problems were solved by lunchtime and I am able to post this.)

Fish of the Week for today was selected from at least four or five candidates just as worthy. But I went with one of the mythical 16-inch perch on Lake Michigan.


My problem is what do I do with the other great offerings for FOTW.

Illinois Bowfishers member Darin Opel shot a 92.5-pound bighead carp, apparently the second biggest bighead documented in the United States, from the Mississippi River near Alton on Sunday, May 4.


Keith W. Ruiz was fly fishing around Northerly Island on Wednesday, April 30, when he was treated to an otter swimming in Burnham harbor.

I'll let Ruiz tell it (paragraphs were added for easier reading), then have Bob Bluett, the Illinois wildlife biologist much involved with the reintroduction of otters into Illinois, gave some explanations.

High-water springs tend to be good ones on the Fox Chain. Considering the weeks that the Chain was no-wake after ice-out, and portions of the Fox River were closed to boating, it small wonder that the fishing has been so good.

Earlier this week, I asked district fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek about the 17.5-inch crappie caught by Larry McClelloge on Lake Marie on April 22.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2008 is the previous archive.

June 2008 is the next archive.

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