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

October 2008 Archives

It was a little odd in Lincoln Park Friday afternoon across from the Lincoln Park Zoo.

llbean10-31-08linclonpark

Freeport, ME?

Yeah, L.L.Bean was there hyping its newest, and second Chicago-area store with a camping/fly fishing show in Lincoln Park.

Of the four fly fishing guys on hand, Tony Baade said, ``Between the four of us, there is 200 years of experience fly fishing.''

L.L.Bean is anything but ageist. They value the experience of well-seasoned fly fishermen.

The exhibit in Lincoln Park, complete with some deals, runs again Saturday, Nov. 1, until 4.

Signups for Illinois' ground-breaking high school, bass fishing tournament officially are 210 schools.

``However, we would likely accept additional entries,'' IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said. ``We have an early entry deadline since this is a new activity.''

The IHSA will hold the state finals, the nation's first, at Carlyle Lake on May 8-9, 2009.

About 2/5ths of the schools are from the Chicago area, including six from Chicago: Brother Rice, De La Salle, Marist, Simeon, St. Patrick and Taft.

The complete school list is here.

General information on Illinois becoming the first state to offer such a statewide bass fishing tournament is here.

Sighting in alert

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The Illinois State Police range in Lockport will be open Nov. 15 for hunters to sight in their shotguns.

However, Lt. Luis M. Gutierrez, ISP spokesman, e-mailed, ``No sir, the Elgin range is not open.''

I would suggest those who use this service, get on the stick and make their reservations.

Here are the details for the District 5 range in Lockport.

ISP District 5 Opens Range to Public


JOLIET, IL - Deer hunting season is around the corner and in years past, Illinois State Police District 5 has provided an opportunity for local hunters to sight in their shotguns. Once again, this service will be offered to the public. Open range is scheduled for November 15, 2008 and will be held at District 5 headquarters located at the intersection of Illinois Route 53 (Broadway Street) and Division Street in Lockport Township.

The service will be offered in one-hour increments between 8:00 am and 11:00 am, then again between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. No class is scheduled at 12:00 pm. The one-hour class includes a safety presentation and sighting of the shotgun.

Space is limited and reservations are made on a first-come, first-serve basis. For any inquiries or to make a reservation, call the Illinois State Police District 5 at 815-726-6377.

Winds finally calmed enough for fishermen to get back out for perch in Indiana.

An exuberant Mike Starcevich called from Mik-Lurch Thursday morning: ``Officially, they are in. It is like clockwork at Halloween every year.''

Portincaso dies

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Modern fishing teacher and innovator Tony Portincaso died while taking a walk in the woods along the Rock River near his home in Oregon, Ill., on Tuesday.

Mr. Portincaso apparently had a heart attack.

Along with such fishing innovators as the Lindner brothers, Al and Ron, and Spence Petros, Mr. Portincaso honed and taught modern fishing methods.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

While the number fishing dropped, there has been some outstanding catches, such as this 6-12 largemouth on the Chain O'Lakes.

FOTW10-29-08

C.J. Smith Bait Shop and Resort reported Rich Bonow, while fishing with his son Rick, caught it Thursday, Oct. 23, on a crawler, and released it.

And the Fish of the Week was an 8-4 caught by Mark Alaimo at Plainfield Fishing Resort.

Wind and weather truly limited effort around Lake Michigan.

This is the extended online Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. I try to post the MFR here by Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net.

For such a big fish, a rare northern Illinois 8-pound-plus largemouth, the first message was remarkably direct.

FOTW10-29-08Bass

``Mark Alaimo caught this 8 lb 4 oz. largemouth bass at the Plainfield Fishing Resort on Renwick Road.''

CORRECTION: His girlfriend Colleen Boe took the photo. I apologize for the errort in the first post.

There were a couple big bass caught in the past week, this is the fall time for them, but Alaimo's was easily the biggest and earned him Fish of the Week honors.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. An extended online version appears here about midnight Tuesday.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

The first beer sign of the fall welcoming hunters always makes me feel like hunting season is really here.

huntingsign10-25-08

And I found mine last week while I had a camera in the car.

The opening day of upland game used to be OPENING DAY for hunters in Illinois. Deer season now surpasses it.

Even so, there will be plenty of hunters in the field for opening day for cock pheasant, rabbit, bobwhite quail and gray partridge on Saturday.

Prospects are so-so, and slow crop harvest (by Sunday corn harvest was 46 percent complete compared to 94 last year) will not help the early days of the season.

Biologist John Cole spoke the truth when he said, ``Big problem, especially with pheasants, is access to property with cover to hunt.''

The good factor (or bad I guess) in 2008 is the reduction in roadside mowing because of the poor economy and high gas prices. That may mean better brood counts than actually noted, Cole guessed.

The central zone opener for waterfowl was mixed.

During the hunting seasons, the extended online Illinois hunting report is posted here on Tuesdays. Otherwise, the Illinois Hunting Report comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays.

If I get an update on sighting in shotguns for deer season at state police ranges, I will update.

If you have suggestions, email me at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net or post in the comments.

Full report follows.

Bob Shirley is an old hand at this, putting on fishing-oriented shows for ordinary fishermen.

And he has a new one, the Chicago Fishing and Outdoor Expo.

In the 1990s, Bob and crew put on what most of us called ``The Shirley Show,'' then he headed the Arlington Sportfishing Expo in the northwest suburbs from 1998-2003.

Bob may have been the best at putting on a show for Chicago fisherman.

``It will be the real deal,'' he told me Friday. ``We are putting in as much of what used to work.''

Will his methods still work?

I suspect they may with some new wrinkles and the good-will Bob has in the industry and among regular fishermen. He already has an impressive batch of the manufacturers lined up.

I have never gathered fall mushrooms, even though I've heard tales of massive finds by friends.

It is mainly a fear factor on my part.

honeymushrooms

Then on Monday, North Sider John Vician sent a note about honey mushrooms that had me thinking again.

Bill Guerrini, the late Don Hankla, Dwight Hoffard and George Rabb were selected as the four 2009 inductees to the Illinois Outdoor of Fame.

The four were selected from a final list of 13 pared from 33 original nominations.

In other news from the Hall of Fame, according to Illinois Conservation Foundation executive director Greg Legan, is the permanent home for the Hall at Starved Rock is on hold because of structure issues at the log cabin behind the visitor's center. I still think that would be the ideal location for the Hall. (Note: wording in graph added Friday afternoon to clarify.)

Legan also had a sample of the big wood plaques that they hope to use when the Hall finally gets a permanent home.

icfplaque

Obviously, this is Bill Cullerton Sr from the second class in 2003.

Details of the 2009 selections are below.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

(Northwest Indiana added Thursday morning, had a brain cramp and missed it earlier)

The Richard J. Daley Memorial Sportfishing Derby, which ran May through September, gives an annual snapshot of Chicago fishing.

Steve Palmisano of Henry's Sports/Marine called this coho ``the most notable fish for the entire season'' in the Daley Derby.

FOTW07-16-08

Kathyrn Maher, 12, caught the 12-pound, 7-ounce coho on an outing with her grandfather Capt. Bob White on Kingfisherman charters on July 9.

It was a wonderful fish, but I favored the 2-10 crappie caught from Lake Calumet by Edward Buckley on Aug. 25.

Other top catches were perch (Ray Felt, 1-10, June 11, Montrose); chinook (Robert Quintana, 15-12, June 22); catfish, (Dwayne Armstrong, 14 pounds, Lake Calumet); steelhead (Linda Motyka, 8-8, July 10, Jim Buoy charters); and carp (Michael Jasick, 29-2, Chicago River, Aug. 13).

Otherwise, we are into fall crappie, sporadic perch in the Indiana shoals, sauger starting on the Illinois river and the Wolf River going crazy for big walleye, white bass and crappie in Wisconsin.

This is the extended online version of the Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I post the MFR by Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net.

Allan Stohl proved the last worm gets the big one.

Back on Father's Day (yeah, I misplaced this one), the 6 1/2-year-old was fishing with his dad Mark at Grove Lake in Addison, catching lots of bluegill on worms and bobbers.

They were down to their last three worms and Allan insisted on making casts until they were gone.

FOTW10-22-08

As you see, it paid off with a 21 1/2-inch largemouth bass worthy of Fish of the Week.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. An extended online version appears here.

Here's the story from the proud Dad.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

Waterfowl seasons opened in the north zone last Saturday, Oct. 18; the central zone opens this Saturday, Oct. 25.

geese10-18-08northaurora

As the Canada geese in the partially harvested soybean field near North Aurora show, key was finding harvested fields.

Harvest is picking up, but remains far behind last year (corn was 32 complete by Sunday, compared to 89 last year; soybeans, 63/91.) In northeast areas, soybean harvest is doing much better, 87 percent complete by Sunday.

State waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla offered this hope as central zone waterfowlers:

``There are plenty of harvested cornfields in the central part of the state so field hunting should be good. I have seen several bunches of field feeding mallards and geese lately.''

Public sites had fair opening weekends in the north.

At William Powers, 48 hunters took 10 geese and five mallards on Saturday; down to 28/4/2 on Sunday. At Heidecke, 79 hunters took 24 ducks and six geese Saturday; down to 40/19/9 on Sunday.

During the hunting seasons, the extended online Illinois hunting report is posted here on Tuesdays. Otherwise, the Illinois Hunting Report comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays.

If you have suggestions, email me at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net or post in the comments.

Full report follows.

Adam Galardini caught the only keeper as bass fishing tournaments for Illinois high school students informally began with a 15-boat tournament at Shabbona Lake Sunday morning.

ihsashabbona10-19-08adamgalardini

The Batavia junior caught his 17.5-inch largemouth, weighing 3.1 pounds, while slow-rolling a spinner bait off a deep weed edge near Shabbona's east bay.

It is underway. I am excited, and I am only reporting on it.

I was glad to have Marmion coach Joe Large e-mail, ``As a coach, I had the same feelings of anticipation as when I fish a tournament myself. The conduct in the boats was exceptional. The students were working hard--fishing and taking turns running the trolling motor the entire time.''

Large and Batavia coach Brian Drendel set up the preliminary tournament, which drew teams from all over Illinois.

The IHSA formally begins its first of its kind statewide bass fishing tournaments in the spring.

Sometimes, bagging work/school is a good thing.

In the spring of 2005, I was at a writing conference in Madison, Wis., and bagged the afternoon sessions one day to visit the International Crane Foundation. And happened to be there to see a newly hatched whooping crane chick on display to the public.

whoopingcrane6-19-05ICF2cropped

Whoopers have given me much for an enriched life.

The first year that young whoopers were led by ultralights in 2001, in quite the innovative project, on a flight from Wisconsin I was invited to the farm of Steve Benoit outside of Kankakee to watch the takeoff.

It was one of those special moments to see a goofily dressed pilot (for the bird's sake not to look like a human) leading a string of young whoopers. On one hand, i was awed; yet another, I was slightly uncertain whether such extreme mucking around in nature is right.

On Friday, Oct. 17, the eighth group of ultralight-led whoopers, 14 this time, began their migration from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin toward Florida.

There's a new migration route this year for the project. The flight will go straight down Illinois, instead of the original route circling Chicago by dropping into LaSalle County, then east through Kankakee County and into Indiana and south.

I will miss seeing them. Several years, I guessed the timing and was able to spot them strung out near dawn as they made their way from Benoit's toward Indiana.

Here's a couple things I recommend highly with whoopers.

Even Buck couldn't contain himself. Every time Jeff Norris made a goose call Saturday morning, Jerry Pabst's 6-year-old black Lab uncontrollably whimpered in anticipation.

jeffnorris10-18-08buck

If you think humans get opening day yips bad, Buck had it even worse.

It was beautiful to see a dog that gungho, whining every time Norris blew his goose call.

Not that Norris was much less antsy. As we lined up, counting down the minutes to shooting time on the edge of an uncut cornfield to pass shoot at wood ducks, he had said, ``This is like Christmas with guns.''

Saturday was opening day for waterfowl hunters in Illinois' northern zone.

The piers were simply irresistible on Lake Marie, so we stopped and caught a nice mess of crappie and bluegill on Mini-Mites and waxies.

chain10-15-08mariecrappie

But we were after other things, one of the great advantages of fishing the Fox Chain O'Lakes.

As we launched from Barnacle Bob's on Lake Marie, Capt. Darrell Baker asked what I wanted to fish for in the few hours we had Wednesday morning. And I said walleye, if there was a decent chance of catching some.

Oh, there was.

God, I love fall on the Chain.

``A lot of people put up their fishing rods too soon, some of the best fishing is October and November,'' Baker said.

Indeed.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

Fall trout starts Saturday. And it looks like perch are arriving in Indiana. And big lake trout are being caught on the reefs out of Waukegan.

FOTW10-15-08

Here's one of the biggest, a 24.5-pounder caught by Bostonian Derrick Higgins. Here's the story from Greg Urasky:

``Here is a picture of Derrick Higgins catch from lake michigan on Sunday 10/12 . Derrick from boston, mass caught this 24 1/2 lb. lake trout onboard Craig Marfia's "FISHERMAN" charters out of Waukegan harbor. Derrick was in town for a National Van Lines sales conference and stated he has never caught a good fish before , well lake michigan certainly changed that in a hurry.''

This is the extended online Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. I try to have it posted by Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net.

Ryan Kovac made his first muskie something worth reading about.

FOTW10-15-08kovac

The 10-year-old from Oak Lawn caught and released a 38-incher from the Rhinelander Flowage over the weekend with his dad Frank. And wanted it in the newspaper.

Kids who read newspapers and catch big fish deserve Fish of the Week honors.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. An extended version appears here.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

The youth hunt in the north zone last weekend was a success, as this timely photo from Kane County guide Jeff Norris shows and bodes well for the regular season opener in the north on Saturday.

youthhunt2008

The string of cold fronts should benefit the opening day on Saturday for waterfowlers in the north zone.

The curveball is crop harvest, which remains far behind (corn was 20 percent complete by Sunday, compared to 80 percent last year).

During the hunting seasons, the extended online Illinois hunting report is usually posted here on Tuesdays. Otherwise, the Illinois Hunting Report comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays.

With the aerial surveys for waterfowl being flown (they are weather dependent), I will update if needed.

If you have suggestions, email me at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net or post in the comments.

Full report follows.

From time to time, Chris Taglieri sends the most interesting stuff, like this bunch of photos of deer in a forest preserve.

I finally looked through them Saturday. And there was a photo I have been trying to get for 30 years, a fawn nursing.

deer2008taglierifawnsuckling

And he had done it, in a forest preserve, as part of a whole series of deer photos.

After seeing it, another faithful reader Bill Anderson sent a link to a similar photo.

Back from catchin'

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FREMONT, Wis.--I said I was gone fishin'. Make it gone catchin'.

wolfriver10-10-08brucezolnabowman

That's a typical double of black crappie Bruce Zolna and I pulled from old wood across from Nipple Beach on the Wolf River near New London, Wis. Friday afternoon. The doubles weren't typical but crappie like that were, mostly 10 inches or longer, a few topped 12 inches.

Fishing started spotty in the morning when guide Bill Stoeger started us in old wood and brush south of town.

It took most of the day, but we limited out on a gorgeous fall day on one of my favorite bodies of water, the Wolf River and the associated lakes.

Come along.

Gone fishin'

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For a day or so, I will be holed up in a cabin or fall fishing, so no comments will be OK'd until I return to the computer and the civilized world..

I need this. We all need this.

And a perfect couple days it looks to be.


OVERALL OUTLOOK

channellakebass

It's fall big fish time, as this photo of a largemouth caught by Don Letrich shows in this report:

``Last Thursday my friend Joe Shury and me caught an enormous Large mouth Bass in Channel Lake Il. At 9:30 am fishing in a Channel lake " fish crib" the monster hit a Yum Blue Wooly Bug with a yellow jig head...fought like hell. Hope I sent the picture the right way! she was released unharmed didn't weight her but she was over 7 lbs.''

This is the extended online Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I will try to have the MFR posted by Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net.

Justin Meyer is making this an early October habit for big channel catfish.

justinmeyer1

As much for the story as the 33-inch, 19-pound channel caught from a lake in Lisle, Meyer earns Fish of the Week honors, a year after landing a 26-pound channel.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. An extended version appears here.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

Illinois bowhunters are off to a record start through Sunday, Oct. 5, despite crop harvest being far behind schedule.

doesinfield

Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this:

``Harvest this year [through the first five days] was 6229, compared to 2951 (2007), 4281 (2006), and 4690 (2005). Not all of the previous years' results contain an entire weekend, which definitely factors into such early season results. 2007 was Mon-Fri; 2006 was Sun-Thurs; and 2005 was Sat-Wed.

``We had very cooperative weather during this period, although crops were just beginning to come out in this part of the state. Sex ratios this year so far are 71.4% female; 28.6% male.

``Top five counties are Pike (333), Peoria (190), Fulton (161), LaSalle (141), and Vermilion (138).''

Through Sunday, corn harvest statewide was only 10 percent complete, compared to 71 last year.

When big buck photos start coming in (I would guess later this month), Buck of the Week will begin again.

During hunting seasons, the extended online Illinois hunting report is posted here on Tuesdays. Otherwise, the Illinois Hunting Report comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays.

With the aerial surveys for waterfowl being flown (they are weather dependent), I will update if needed.

If you have suggestions, email me at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net or post in the comments.

Full report follows.

Turn the canoe over, let it drain: it's over.

I feel like I'm on a fantasy-fishing trip where I am landing 4-pound smallmouth after 4-pound smallmouth while my buddy is skunked. As much as I try to feel bad for him, my gloating turns barbed as the old snelled Eagle Claw bait hooks.

MEDARYVILLE, Ind.--The sandhill cranes numbered in dozens. In a few weeks, there will be thousands at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area, one of the great stops for sandhill cranes.

In recent years, the fall migration count has topped 10,000 at the peak. The highest official count was 34,629 on Nov. 26, 2002.

The sandhills are just beginning to arrive. On Wednesday, Oct. 1, the official count was 1,225. By Tuesday, Oct. 7, that had jumped to 3,086.

Even with migration just beginning, I was within a few miles Sunday morning and made a detour and enjoyed a nice break.

sandhill3x

This photo was taken in the fields around Jasper-Pulaski a few years ago when I took the Crane Cruise, a fund-raiser for the Medaryville Lions Club, with my oldest boy..

Sheez, the Cubs played a series worthy of Ron Santo's emoting, sorta like darkened fall salmon are worthy of snaggers. May the Sox do something worthy of a striper or smallmouth: show some fight.


A few years ago I waded my favorite stretch of the Kankakee for the first time after a winter with hard icing and, while wading a familar piece, stepped into a new deep hole; my feet never found gravel, suddenly I was floating downstream with my waders filling with water and ballooning with air.

That's what Chicago baseball feels like going into Saturday night.

Organizer Tim Prokop announced the launch site of inaugural Union Park Bass Open is moved to Waterfront Pub--(708) 862-5118--in Burnham because of forecast winds. Otherwise, the benefit for the March of Dimes Foundation will go as planned Sunday.

Here's Prokop's note:

``Due to the forecast for Sunday morning, the Union Park Bass Open tournament committee feels in the safety of the anglers we will be changing the ramp from 95th st. to Waterfront Pub in Burnham, IL. Union Park Bass apologizes for any problems this change might cause but the safety of the competitors is our main concern. The address for Waterfront Pub is 14042 S Croissant Dr Burnham, IL 708-862-5118. We will have staff posted at 95th st. Sunday morning to notify anglers that did not get the message about the ramp change. Please notify others of the ramp change.''

If you have questions, contact Prokop at unionparkbassopen@yahoo.com or (630) 816-4696.

I would love to fish this tournament, but can't.

hofmann

Listening to the third inning of the Sox game felt like looking at the Hofmann Dam: stuff just kept coming down with a roar. (Oh where's the mighty Quinn when you need him? Or a timely Cabrera hit?)

At this rate with the Sox and Cubs, I'll be done with these daily stray casts by the weekend.

deerclassic2-24-08chuckthomebuck

Chuck Thome, yes Jim's brother, showed his Fulton County buck (netted 150 7/8) at the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic in February. Nice enough, but I will prefer what Jim racked up for the Sox last night.

(Sorry, I don't have any DeRosa brothers and bucks.)

This is the extended online Midwest Fishing Report, which appears in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. Normally, I will try to have the MFR posted by Wednesday morning.

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at outdoordb@sbcglobal.net.

OVERALL OUTLOOK

It's fall, the big story remains lakefront salmon.

Well, slight adjustment, the big story is yet another big walleye, at least the third in the last year, caught by a salmon fisherman Monday.

walleyelakefront

Here's the story from John Lazarich, who took the photo:

``Dale, this 5.8lb walleye was caught 9-29-08 in DuSable around 8:30 p.m. Glen Rolseth was throwing a frenzy in pursuit of a King Salmon when he hooked up this beauty. I thought you might be interested if there are walleye being caught around the lake front. My name is John Lazarich, I was also fishing for salmon and always have my camera with me and I was able to get some photos of this healthy fish.''

Complete fishing report is below.

Fish of the Week 10-01-08

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For Isabella Grimaldi, 3 seemed about the right age to start fishing.

Isabella's First Fish

As much for the photo and story her mother Jody sent as much as anything, Isabella and the bluegill she caught at Whalen Lake in Bolingbrook earn Fish of the Week honors.

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

Here is the story from the proud mom Jody.

About this Archive

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

September 2008 is the previous archive.

November 2008 is the next archive.

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