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

August 2008 Archives

A week or so ago, faithful reader Chris Krzyston asked if I knew of the emergence of the Asian giant hornet in the Ottawa areas.

And I said, ah-ha, that's what those things are.

A few days earlier my 3-year-old and the neighbor's 3-year-old excitedly came to get me to show a huge wasp/hornet flying around the neighbor's porch.

I looked everywhere and could not figure out what they were. So I googled up images of the Asian giant hornet and that wasn't quite it either.

Fortunately, I knew Carl Strang loves bugs. His day job is naturalist for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. His love is bugs and insects.

And I sent him Chris' email.

Some of you can guess already what it most likely was, the rest of you will have to wait until the end to find out.

big hornet 015thekramersx

Here's a hint from Gail Kramer in Lockport, who were kind enough to send this photo Monday evening.

First Chris's e-mail.

This, the fifth ``Borrowed hooks & other looks,'' is one I wish I didn't have to put together.

But with the Labor Day weekend coming, I think it matters to post some more stuff on the small-boat launch at Western and the Sanitary and Ship Canal.


This ``Borrowed hooks & other looks'' comes from Jack Burns and Joe Kalas about the vandalism at the launch (see the glass piles in the pictures).

Gov. Blagojevich is apparently using closure of some state parks as leverage to push the General Assembly on funding issues.


Signs like this will be permanent instead of seasonal at 10 state parks and a state forest, as of Nov. 1, according to the IDNR. The 11 site closures would come with a cut of 39 positions.

Here are the 11:
Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
Lowden State Park, Oregon
Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park, Sheffield
Illini State Park, Marseilles
Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
Hidden Springs State Forest, Strasburg
Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
Moraine View State Park, Leroy
Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton
Wolf Creek State Park, Windsor

The original listed posted at was inaccurate.

I think Brent Manning, the former director who headed the old DOC and the IDNR the longest, put it best, ``There is no rhyme or reason [to the sites].''

This is a deadly serious political game being played by Blagojevich, and we all could end up big losers.

I promised more and below are other takes.

I had some suggestions from readers, including a real good one from Mark Pawlowski, after posting the first Illinois Hunting Report on Tuesday, so here it goes with some updates. If you have more suggestions, post in the comments or email me at



In a perfect year, we would see even more doves on lines like this. Obviously, the big news this week is opening day on Monday, Sept. 1, for dove and early September Canada goose, particularly the opening of dove season.

I added a couple sites to the dove preview and may add a couple more later today.

This bugs me, always has, with IDNR meetings: having no Chicago sites. (Even the usual fall meeting on the Lake Michigan fishery is held in Des Plaines, not Chicago).

The latest is the deer meetings around state by the IDNR and the Joint Deer Population Control Task Force.


None of the six meetings are remotely close to Chicago or the suburbs, where many deer hunters are from.

The closest meeting is the one at the Peru Eagles Lodge, 830 Harrison St. (just off U.S. Rt. 6), Peru, on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Or the one at the Rockford Public Library, 215 N. Wyman, Rockford (use Mulberry St. entrance), on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

All meetings are from 4-7 p.m..

The complete release is below.

David O'Leary doubled down Saturday morning.


The Blue Island man was casting a Zara Puppy topwater when he caught an 18.5-inch largemouth bass . . . and a 9-incher on Round Lake in Sister Lakes, Mich.

So make it Fishes of the Week.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times.

Let O'Leary tell his story.


I probably should have been doing this a couple months ago, but here is the first posting of an extended online Midwest Fishing Report, which normally appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at

fish08-27-08mikes pic's 030

It's catfishing time. Michael Bader, 20 of Hegewisch on the Southeast Side, caught these from the Kankakee River. He said it has been one of his best fishing years.

The expanded report follows.

The report has been updated reposted here.

You should be looking at a photo of black-necked stilts.


But I got sidetracked and this shot of another voyageur canoe making its way through the cattails on Thompson Lake will have to do.

Sometimes, I get too caught up in my job.

On Saturday, I had my first tour of Emiquon, the flood plain restoration project on the Illinois River near Lewistown, about an hour south of Peoria.

The Nature Conservancy project is stunning on many levels.

It started with an email from Joe Karczewski asking for more explanation of the story on Tim Potoczny and FLW Fantasy Fishing (well, more suggesting I didn't explain it well enough).

``If it is a fantasy then it doesn't belong here on a outdoors page but on a gamers page for XBOX or something'' was the gist of Karczewski's point.

That started an email exchange with the southwest suburban man, an exchange I transformed into the fourth ``Borrowed hooks and other looks,'' other views of Chicago-area outdoors.

stblog-3-20 inches 5.5 lbs

By the pictures and the sounds of it, Karczewski is a dedicated fisherman, but not a great fan of fantasy fishing.

Here's the second email, the setup:

The grand prize of a $1 million in first FLW Fantasy Fishing finals went to Michael Thompson, a Minnesota bass fisherman and fantasy fishing player.

But Tim Potoczny did OK. The Gurnee man took sixth and a $20,000 savings bond presented by the National Guard.


I'll admit I liked what Potoczny would have done with the million better. Click here for the story on his ideas for spending a million from yesterday's Sun-Times.

He and his daughter Elizabeth flew down to South Carolina yesterday for the finals drama.


FLW claims it is the biggest payday in any fantasy sport.

For details and more information on FLW Fantasy Fishing, go to

The complete release for the first finals of FLW Fantasy Fishing is below.

There was or is a black-bellied whistling duck at Hennepin-Hopper lakes.


On IBET, the birding network for Illinois, I saw a report by Doug Stotz, conservation ecologist/ornithologist for the Field Museum, that the site manager had seen the black-bellied whistling duck.

I hadn't talked to site super Rick Seibert in awhile, so it gave me an excuse to catch up.

Oh, there's karma in fishing.

On Aug. 2, David Godin took his friend Bruce Cozzi muskie fishing in northern Wisconsin.


However, it was this 50-inch-plus muskie, caught by Godin, that made the trip. And it made Fish of the Week.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times.

Let the Tinley Park man tell the story.

It sounded like an easy way to sneak in a midnight nap.

The boys could go on a quest of crayfish along the Kankakee River in the middle of the night, and I could sleep in my chair by the campfire with the stragglers.

Happiness all around.

We were on a men and boys getaway for the final free weekend before school at Davis Creek Campground for youth groups at Kankaee River State Park.


Friday was close to perfect, beautiful sunset over the river, then the full moon rising over the river. Cool enough to hold the mosquitos at bay.

I figured one of the kids was enough of an outdoors sort that they would at least come back with some crayfish.

And I would awaken with a grumbled ``way to go.''

Oh, they got crayfish.

Some people get to ride with the Blue Angels before Chicago's Air & Water Show.

Me? I get boat ride.

And love it, for views such as this of Navy Pier.


It's become a ritual each summer to take a boat ride with some staffers from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is based here.

On Thursday morning, as the clouds lifted, I launched from DuSable harbor with Dana Fennewald and Rob Newsome in a 31-foot Formula.

In part it was to see the new joystick docking technology (formally known as MerCruiser Axius Docking System), but it was also to enjoy a boat ride.

And Chicago may be the finest city to take a boat ride from.

Fair enough

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So the oldest boy and I hit the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday.

I didn't realize it was the day Gov. Blagojevich was going to be there and plenty of protesters were around.

If you think only the outdoors is being screwed under our beloved governor, you're wrong. The IDNR may be getting the worst of it, but plenty of other areas are hit hard too.


But the oldest and I had time to enjoy the complete fair experience. We spent the bulk of our time--other than that spent with his 4-H rocket project--at Conservation World.

Sometimes, you just know it's the right Fish of the Week.

Like when I called Ken Krzeminski on Tuesday to fact check on his nomination of his father Joe and his 42.5-inch northern pike and interrupted them fishing for smallmouth on Lake Erie out of Erie, Pa.


Back to this wonderful pike. Joe caught it In a late July outing in Ontario, Canada, north of Armstrong in a story worthy of the photo.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times.

The USFWS Service Regulations Committee approved waterfowl dates and bags for Illinois. Final approval should come in September.


And I would like to get permission to hunt the farm where these Canada geese are grazing, but that is probably dreaming.

Here are the duck seasons: North: Saturday, Oct. 18 - Tuesday, Dec. 16: Central: Saturday, Oct. 25 - Tuesday, Dec. 23; and South: Thursday, Nov. 27 - Sunday, Jan. 25.

The daily limit of six ducks may include no more than four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck, and one pintail. Canvasback season is closed statewide for 2008-09.

The odd ball seasons are scaup. The daily limit for scaup is one for 40 days and 2 for 20 days. Here are the 2-daily dates: North: Nov. 4-Nov. 23; Central: Nov. 11-30; and South Nov. 27-Dec. 16.

The teal season will be Sept. 6-21.

Canada goose seasons: North: Saturday, Oct. 18 - Saturday, Jan. 10; Central: Saturday, Oct. 25 - Sunday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Nov. 24 - Saturday, Jan. 31; South: Thursday, Nov. 27 - Saturday, Jan. 31.

The full release from the IDNR is below.

Change sneaks in, though it never really seemed like summer arrived.

Summer came more for brief visits, then was chased off by violent weather.


So I was surprised last week to see sunflowers towering some 8 feet high with big bold flower heads in the strip flower bed on the west side of the house.

The youngest boy had received them as part of a preschool project.

I looked closer at the heads and saw bees working hard.

Looking closer is always good.

One of the greatest weekends of regular-season baseball in Chicago history, and I can't take it any more.

It's not the insufferable Cardinals, their insufferable fans, or the even more insufferable Cards manager Tony LaRussa.

And don't get me going on Ron Santo. (Then again, later on, I will get going on Santo.)

What I want to know is: How do you regular Cubs fans put up with Jake Here, Neighborhood Guy?

At least, I believe every guttural groan of anguish is drawn from Santo like a wound to the heart. But Jake Here, may be the phoniest ad series I've ever heard. And it never stops during Cubs radio broadcasts.


Those ads are as out of place as these suburban turkeys, and just as big of turkeys.

I know I'm not alone on this.

Which leads to a history lesson on Stray Casts, life and baseball. In my world they intertwine.

Heading Downstate

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It's a week and a half to visit Downstate, starting today.

I at least plan to make Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair next week.


This is from a family visit a couple years ago while watching a demonstration by Trina Whitener at Conservation World, on the northwest corner of the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The fair runs through next Sunday, Aug. 17.

And there's the ATA Grand American at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta through next Saturday, Aug. 16.


I haven't been to WSRC since it opened two years ago, and really should get down next week, if only to see how the WSRC has progressed. A lot more things have opened there since I first visited.

The general press release on the Grand American is posted here.

Below is more on Conservation World.

The question on Marcus Miller's crappie was only which record crappie it would be.

At 4.52 pounds, it was going to be the biggest crappie verified in Illinois, whether, the black, white or hybrd record.


The answer is record hybrid crappie.

Miller's crappie surpassed the record hybrid (2.8 pounds) caught by Brett Larsen while ice fishing at Shabbona Lake in DeKalb County on March 9, 2007.

Miller, a 15-year-old Centralia High freshman, caught it on May 14 at the family's farm pond in Jefferson County.

Photo is courtesy of Rod Kloeckner, who broke the story originally in the Belleville News-Democrat.

I'm not sure there are many better lines in my world than ``Picture of 48" Muskie attached !!!''

Throw in it was a proud dad, Tony Raimondo, talking about the fish his 12-year-old son, John, caught on a birthday outing.

Well, you have a Fish of the Week.


FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times each Wednesday.

I know Wild Sunday is running a couple days late. Forgive me, it was a weekend swamp of kids stuff and celebrating my birthday.

Part of my birthday was fishing the Chicago River Sunday with Mike Skwira. We launched from the new small-boat launch at Western and the Sanitary and Ship Canal, and spot jumped to downtown.

The fishing was on the tough side, though we ended up with some 30 fish in nine species.

And the species are key. What is this species?


Skip Lubinski's account of ``the pageantry'' of fishing the Chicago lakefront is the third ``Borrowed hooks and other looks.''

It nicely captures the experience, not to mention the Clarendon Hills man caught some wonderful fish, like this smallmouth bass.


Here's his description of a late July outing.

The USFWS has proposed liberal waterfowl seasons, including a 60-day duck season for the Mississippi Flyway.

Also of note for the Mississippi Flyway, the season on harlequin ducks and canvasbacks would be closed, the daily bag on wood ducks would go to three and scaup may have a hybrid season.


Here's Mississippi Flyway stuff, followed by the complete release from the USFWS.

The dawn was spectacular at Montrose with the storm line passing through the heart of Chicago.

The reopening of perch fishing in Illinois waters of Lake Michigan was less so Friday.


Though I found a couple people who did all right, despite water temperatures well into the 70s.

About this Archive

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

July 2008 is the previous archive.

September 2008 is the next archive.

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