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

(Updated) Launches, blackberries (eaters) and kids perch for weekender for July 4, 2008

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Outdoor things to do, indoors and out, this weekend.


1) The small-boat launch on the Chicago river system is open. It's a perfect time to explore fishing downtown for largemouth and smallmouth. I hope to sneak along with somebody on Saturday.

Westrec expects to staff the site from 8-6 today (July 4) and 8-4 over the weekend. Launch fee is the usual $20.

It's located on the southwest corner of Western Avenue and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

(Just received word that apparently a boat caught fire next to the dock Thursday night or Friday morning and part of the dock is burned.)

2) I know I mention this often, but picking mulberries, raspberries and blackberries (and blueberries, if you are lucky enough to find some) is a perfect way to get kids to connected to the outdoors.

OK, and I just the whole idea of snitching the ripe fruit and popping it in my mouth while tramping around outdoors.

Mulberries are nearly over, raspberries and blackberries are still hanging in there.

Picking berries on a hike or fishing trip can make the difference in making memories.

3) Speaking of kids, one of the great under-utilized kids possibilities is perch fishing on Lake Michigan. The crowds aren't there (well, they will be today), but there's still perch around places like the Chicago harbors, especially Montrose.

Kids 15 and younger may catch and keep 10 perch in July. Those 16 and older may not keep any perch during July.


Yeah, that's my second boy on the first year July was opened for kids by former IDNR director Joel Brunsvold. My daughter is behind him peering at her rod on the north side of Navy Pier.

4) The Skyscraper Canyon Trips are paddling trips downtown, beginning at 6 p.m. most Sundays. Some Sundays are sold out already this year, but contact Chicago River Canoe & Kayak for details at

In the days when the Sun-Times offices were on the main stem of the Chicago River, I loved watching the canoeists in the forerunner to this event.

5) Boating restrictions on the Fox River and Chain O'Lakes are history. If you're going fishing, go early and avoid the boat traffic.

6) For waders, the Kankakee is in absolutely wonderful shape. At some point, I will put in time there this holiday weekend.

7) The Kankakee River Fishing Derby continues through Sunday. It's $20 per family or individual. The big catfish and walleye indicate some serious catching going on.

Go to

8) It will be trickier weekend for waders on the Fox.

Here's a distillation from wading guide Ken Gortowski from

``Well, the river was coming down fast every day, to the tune of about 500 cubic feet per second every 24 hours.

``Then this rain came along and stalled the plunge to normal water. It's starting to drop again, but it's too hard to tell how fast it will continue to come down. At just about 3200 cfs, only the most experienced waders should go out to the spots they know well. The novices should still stay out of the water. Unless you like figuring out for yourself what your limits are.

``How do you think I did it?

``If it gets back to how it was coming down before the rain, by Sunday, even novices can get out and do some exploring. Being careful is still the order of the day. By Sunday the best it could be is around 1500 cfs, which pushes surprisingly hard when you get in up to your waist. 700 to 900 is ideal, so there is still a little way to go.

``The creeks that feed the Fox are in absolute perfect condition.

``All other rivers around here look as good as they get and I would imagine any creeks feeding into them are perfect.

``And I would be on the Apple River if time and economics allowed it.''

9) In July, the Richard J. Daley Memorial Fishing Tournament drops perch, but there's plenty of other options: carp, catfish, coho, chinook and steelhead.

Register fish at Henry’s Sports & Bait, Park Bait Co. or Vet’s Live Bait.

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1 Comment

Great blog! I love the concept. I stumbled upon it while looking for ino on mulberries in the city. Would you mind sharing where I can take the kids to go scrounging for wild raspberries, blackberries and other surprises? My email is


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 4, 2008 9:43 AM.

(Updated, updated) Chicago river system launch open was the previous entry in this blog.

Back roads and black bears on a Wild Sunday for July 6, 2008 is the next entry in this blog.

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