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 2009 Archives

The first year of Morel of the Week was short and sweet, but goes out with a bang.


Pat Stone of Munster, Ind. sent this find by Greg Starrett near Hanover in northwest Illinois on May 16.

MOTW was the suggestion of Ben Bultema earlier this month. And we thank him.

Here's Stone's tale:

Monee father and son Ron and Andrew Lindstrom won the eighth annual Exelon Nuclear's ``Fishing for a Cure'' at Braidwood Lake Saturday.


This 4.95-pound largemouth anchored their three-bass limit, which weighed 9.69 pounds. They had to cull through nine keepers (15 inches or longer) for their limit. That symbolized the best catching at any of the ``Cure'' tournaments, if my memory and sense is right.

Miller confirmed

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Well, one worry is gone. The Senate confirmed Marc Miller as IDNR director today. See the Pantagraph's story here.

Whew, there had been starting to be whispers and worries that the process might drag out to the fall. Thankfully our Senate leaders showed some sense.


This was Miller back on Feb. 5, when Gov. Quinn, in his first major move, named Miller to head the IDNR.

I think it is the third year in a row that I am fishing Exelon Nuclear's ``Fishing for a Cure'' with Jim Giglio.


And as tough as fishing as been at Braidwood, there are some good bass caught every year, such as these being released by volunteers Jenna Hanson and John Daniels last year.

If you want stuff mentioned in weekend wanderings, e-mail

Details ``Fishing for a cure'' and other weekend wanderings I think worth noting are below.

Rainy day bonus

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Here's why Mike Lynch is my kind of guy. Work was rained out Tuesday afternoon, so he went fishing at Heidecke Lake. The bonus was he happened to be there when it was stocked with walleye.


Here's details of one reason Heidecke may be our best walleye water.

Thanks to Bill Barkstrom for this video of a Des Plaines River northern pike, caught Monday near Lemont. It was Fish of the Week, and becomes the first video FOTW posted on STRAY CASTS.

Coming off a holiday, I think Raul Garcia Jr. summed up one of the best measures for Chicago fishermen: Was it worth the drive?


He sent this for Fish of the Week. It didn't make it, but it sure made a nice addition to the Midwest Fishing Report as a fine example of the largemouth bass being caught around the Chicago area:

Hey Dale. Caught this 22" Largemouth at Shabbona Lake yesterday. Tough day out there with all the wind and some rain, but did get a few bites on my plastics. Bass weighed in at 5 lbs. even. And caught it on a 7.5" Yum Ribbontail Worm on a 2/0 keeper hook. Took the 70 mile trip back to Chicago as a happy man! Thanks bud

Asked if he kept it or released it, he e-mailed, ``DEFINATELY RELEASED IT. MAYBE NEXT TIME SOMEONE CATCHES IT IT'LL BE A 7 POUNDER.''

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

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at

Garcia's bass, perch coming in, a charity bass tournament and the Daley Derby highlight this week's MFR.

We begin with lakefront perch.

On Monday, Bill Barkstrom pulled out another example of the return of the Des Plaines River, a 36-inch northern pike.

FOTWDes Planes 5-25-09 007

He weighed it at 8 pounds, 5 ounces, before releasing it near where it was caught by Lemont. It looked so good and the story was so good, that I doubted at first. But the 23-year-old from Burr Ridge had a very worthy Fish of the Week.

Shortly after talking with him Tuesday, he had it posted on YouTube. Well most of the video. He tried to make sure the exact spot was not visible.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times each Wednesday. An extended online version appears here by midnight Tuesday. E-mail FOTW nominations to

Here's the original tale via e-mail from Barkstrom. Below that I added some additional comments after I spoke with him.

The Cajun Archery team shot a 35-pound bighead carp, Bowfishing Association of Illinois record, on the DesPlaines River Saturday night.


Judd Hill (left) bagged the carp and had help holding it from Bob Paul. Chip Robb is the other member of the team, which was shooting upstream of the I-55 bridge during the Oneida 3 Rivers Championship held at Three Rivers Marina in Wilmington. (ADDS AND CHANGES MADE.)

Here's the report from BAI president Ed Devries:

Morel of the Week may be a short-lived segment in its first year, if this entry from Ed Bowen is any indication.


MOTW began earlier this month per the suggestion of Ben Bultema. The Humboldt Park man had the first MOTW.

An extended online version of MOTW, which runs in the Field Notes of the outdoors page of the Sunday Sun-Times, appears here on Sundays. E-mail nominations to If worthy entries keep coming, MOTW will keep running.

Below is Bowen's morose morel tale:

South on Northerly

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Unlike golf, fishing is not a good walk ruined, not if you walk the shores of the right places.


This is one of my favorites--Northerly Island. And I hiked and fished the length of it Saturday night.

And caught fish, just not nearly as many or as big as I had hoped.

The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe hosts a book party for Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States on Saturday. That's where I should be, but I can't make it.


Details on that and other weekend wanderings I think worth noting are below.

WHITTINGTON, Ill.--While I had IDNR director Marc Miller's ear at one meal, I asked if there was any chance of getting that damm July closure on perch on Lake Michigan lifted.

I'd love to tell you he smiled and nodded in agreement, but he didn't.

WHITTINGTON, Ill.--Director Marc Miller gave a State of the IDNR speech Monday at the revived annual gathering of Illinois outdoor writers and broadcasters at Rend Lake Resort.

Earlier in the day, I grabbed him about some other things and one of those quotes I would like to use as a preface to the formal speech he gave that evening.

With some force he said, ``I didn't take this job to preside over a slaughter.''


With that, here is the text of his formal speech:

This finally looks like the best fishing weekend of the year, and it comes on a holiday weekend. Hallelujah.

May many fish like this and other species be caught with and without irony.


I suspect a lot of big largemouth, like this Dan Cahill of the Garfield Ridge neighborhood near Midway caught in the southwest suburbs, will be caught this weekend as fish pull up. Cahill explained:

Caught this beautiful 5lber out of a quarry I like to tap on the southwest side suburbs on Saturday. She hit like a freight train out of the weeds. I started fishing tournaments for the first time this season as a co-angler and my total weight has added up to only .88lbs so far. Haha, damn irony! Fish was released.

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

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at

We open with an update on Wolf River white bass and the hot bite for trollers off North Point.

Had to

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WHITTINGTON, Ill.--For two nights, I went to bed looking at this right outside the window at the Flagship boatel at Rend Lake Resort..


So this morning before I left the revived gathering of Illinois outdoor writers and broadcasters, I had to climb over the rail and do something.

Russian Alexander Pavlenko sent this photo of a carp caught at Silver Lake in DuPage County for Fish of the Week consideration.


I considered, and it is FOTW, in interest of international relations. FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times each Wednesday. An extended online version is posted here, usually by midnight Tuesday.

Here's Pavlenko's story:

Right n time for the holiday weekend, walleye bags are increasing on 255 northern Wisconsin lakes on Friday.

Below is the release from the WDNR:

Illinois hunters bagged 15,488 turkeys in the spring seasons. That preliminary number 's down slightly from the 15,792 last year. The record spring total was 16,605 in 2006.

A decrease in the north zone was the source of the decline. Harvest there dropped to 9,135 from 9,505.

ADDED: Below is the complete release from the IDNR.

Back roads

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EWING, Ill.--Jason Johns is a guide for Todd Gessner Outdoors. But we weren't fishing last night.


He has other interests. And I was happy to tag along with him at an outdoor writers conference at Rend Lake Resort.


And we found them. What is it?

MORRIS, Ill.--Heidecke Lake may be my favorite shore fishing spot.


And it delivered on four hours of companionship with my friend Pete Riedesel. That's him coming off the east bank minutes before the gate shut.

Fishing was tough. But we caught a few between life conversations.

My hopes of sneaking in the first few hours of wading the Kankakee this weekend are gone, long gone. Even before the latest round of rain arrives the river was near flood stage.

May be able to go to plan B at Heidecke or Mazonia lakes for at least a couple hours Saturday afternoon.


This is a prime time to try for walleye at Heidecke. This one my buddy Pete popped opening day two years ago. There's plenty others like it and bigger in Heidecke.



If fact, Pete offered this walleye from last year as a better example of Heidecke walleye.

Then it's down to Rend Lake on Sunday, mainly for an outdoor conference, but I will get in some fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing around the gossiping.

Otherwise, I will talk with Steve Sarley about Illinois' first high school bass fishing championship on his ``The Outdoor Experience'' on WIND (560-AM) 8-9 a.m. Saturday.

With that, I'm bringing back a look at weekend options.

Bait shop notes

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John Rinchich is moving on but JJ's is staying in Bridgeview.

And ``Mac'' Sloan of well enough to be back at Mac's on 75th.


John was one of the top bass guys in the south suburbs, as the cake indicates

There's good ideas. Ben Bultema's suggestion for Morel of the Week.

And not so good ideas.


A not so good idea is taunting this guy about morels.

Ben and Leanna Bultema of Humboldt Park found morels last week, which led to another good idea: Morel of the Week. Ben gets honors with this photo from the south suburbs.


Ducks Unlimited backed a hike in the federal duck stamp from $15 to $25.

I think the hike is overdue.


Below is the complete release:

Illinois CPOs will conduct courtesy boat inspections from 1-3 p.m. Sunday.

Local sites are Chain of Lakes SP boat ramp, Alsip boat launch, Des Plaines CA and North Point Marina.

The complete release from the IDNR is below:

CARLYLE, Ill.--The best fish stories out of the IHSA bass championship had nothing to do with bass fishing. How about gar, gar, gar, a 42-pound flathead and a 15-pound channel cat.

We'll start with the Regina Dominican team, the only all-girls school to enter the tournament. They reached state level by finishing third at the tough Skokie sectional.


Boy was I glad they were there. In my line of work, Natalie Hogan 9right) is a godsend. She spoke in complete sentences and knew what she is saying. I made sure to talk with her every day.

Coming off the ramp on the final day, I asked if they had any fish. Her answer was to the point: ``We caught gar, catfish, carp, everything but bass.''

That may have summed up the overall experience of the world's first statewide high school bass fishing championship. There was a lot of fishing, but the best of it wasn't necessarily for bass.

We begin with the best of those stories from Josh ``Schnagg'' Stagg.

Status of the Wolf River white bass and weekend events top this week's Midwest Fishing Report.

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

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at

We begin with the status of white bass on the Wolf.

Sometimes, simple is better, and you just let the picture talk.


Jerry Mudryj sent this photo of a 73-pound blue catfish. For it, the Riverside man earns Fish of the Week honors.

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

E-mail FOTW nominations to

Here's his brief tale.

The Chain reopened to boating this morning.

And this afternoon the upper river opened. The lower river also opened, but at a no-wake restriction.

Check the Fox Waterway Agency for the latest updates.

So, I stopped by the Kroger's tonight and ended up back at Carlyle Lake.


Catching morels?

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Ben and Leanna Bultema of Humboldt Park went morel hunting in the near south suburbs.

And did all right.


What more can you say? Except this one is a beaut. And Ben is obviously a regular reader (or viewer).


Yes, I am envious.

CARLYLE, Ill.--There's a ton of fish stories that came out of the first IHSA bass fishing championship at Carlyle Lake Friday and Saturday. I need to figure out what to do with all of those stories.


James Ramirez put a keeper into the live well while Maine West captain Jim Powers CHANGED NOT Paul Zafiropoulos CHANGED celebrates on the final day. Thanks to Brian Brueggemann of the Belleville News-Democrat. Maine West finished 13th.

Below are the final results:

CARLYLE, Ill.--West Frankfort edged Zion-Benton Boat 2 by ounces to win Illinois' first high school bass fishing championship.


The Redbirds, fifth after Day 1, weighed a five-fish limit of 10-5 to total 16-4.

The Zee-Bees, who were fourth after Day 1, weighed next.


They came up short with with a five-fish bag of 8-7 to total 15-7.

CARLYLE, Ill.--Rumors flew Friday night and into Saturday morning that St. Charles North had kept fishing during the storm delay that eventually shortened Day 1 of the Illinois' first bass fishing championship to three hours.


North Stars fishermen and the coach said they had caught their limit of five keepers by 9:30 a.m. They lead the tournament after Day 1 with 10-8, next is Moline with 8-2.

Assistant executive director Dave Gannaway said, ``I was in communication with every team within a 30-minute time, trying to get all the people off. . . . We got everybody and we are fine with yesterday.''

Gannaway added, ``I personally talked with them and their coach.''

He said he was comfortable that the North Stars had sought shelter with a family on shore.

The storm had passed by the weigh-in and Kevin Rolfingsmeyer and other Carlyle city workers emptied chairs of water.

More notes below.

CARLYLE, Ill.---Maine West led off the Day 2 launch of the first IHSA bass fishing tournament on Carlyle Lake.


The Warriors were in 15th place going into the final day of the world's first statewide high school bass fishing championship.

It looked like a perfect fishing with a light cloud cover, though winds could make for a chop on the wide-open bowl portion of Carlyle, the biggest inland lake in Illinois.


St. Charles North (10-8) leads Moline (8-2) at the top of the leaderboard.

More at the end of the day.

CARLYLE, Ill.--St. Charles North had reason to celebrate Friday.


The North Stars weighed the best bag of 10-8, to lead Moline by more than 2 pounds and 6 ounces at Carlyle Lake.


Derrick Hoffman's 4-11 largemouth was the best fish of the day at the IHSA bass fishing championship Friday.

It was a beautiful fish, anchoring the North Stars top bag of 10-8.

But otherwise, details were sketchy from the North Stars team of Hoffman, Cody Hansen and Ryan Fasbinder.

``We caught them on hooks and north of the dam,'' Hoffman said.

Coach Tim Pinks wasn't much more helpful.

CARLYLE, Ill.--St. Charles North took a commanding lead with a five-fish limit at the weather-shortened opening day of the IHSA bass fishing tournament.


Derrick Hoffman (second from right) anchored that bag with the day's big fish of 4-11.

Weather shortened the tournament to jus tover three hours of fishing.

More to come.

CARLYLE, Ill.--Right on schedule, the world's first statewide high school bass fishing tournament took off this morning.


Boats were launching by 5:30 a.m. and nearly a dozen were on water by sunrise for the first IHSA bass fishing championship today and tomorrow.


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I'm off to the IHSA bass fishing championship on Carlyle Lake, otherwise, I think I would be trying for smallies from shore on the Chicago lakefront.

It should be a fun couple of days. And i hope the kids find some good fish on that big water at Carlyle. I haven't been this revved up on an outdoor event for some time, maybe since the 2000 BASS Master Classic.

I will update each morning and evening.

The first Boat & Tackle Market (new and used boats, boating and fishing equipment, accessories) is scheduled for Saturday at Soldier Field.

Here are the details from

Soldier Field's Boat & Tackle Market

05/09/2009 | 9:00 AM South Parking Lot - Boat and Fishing Market

Soldier Field is hosting a unique event in Chicago for boating and fishing fans and enthusiasts. Vendors and guests will be able to check out and/or purchase everything from boats, fishing poles, fishing tackle, trailers, boat accessories and anything else people have to sell! In addition, there will be fun activities for adults and kids, music and food in this festive location on Chicago's lakefront.

There is a $5 entry fee (free for kids under 12), but parking is FREE in the Waldron Parking Deck - across the street from the event in Soldier Field's South Parking Lot. All are welcome to fill out a vendor application to have a booth; all vendors need to fill out a display application and pay a fee ranging from $25-$300 - see the link under "What's New" on the home page or email for more information


Here's the thing.


The Illinois record smallmouth would have to be about twice as heavy as this one Capt. Ralph Steiger is hoisting against one of my favorite fishing back drops around Navy Pier.

He caught it late this morning.

Boy, am I glad i bumped into North Sider Cary Gelfond at a show this winter and he set up May 6 for a trip with Steiger.

I predicted the Illinois record will fall over the next week. Joe Egan came close on April 25.

Right on time

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A day earlier than last year, my daughter Sara and I found the first morels of the spring at our family spot.


She did the artful arranging for the photograph in backyard dandelions.

The bad news was that I looked around and it looked like somebody had sliced off some other ones earlier today. Figured that was coming. It's a public spot.

It's time. Although, my timing is way off as I was chasing Lake Michigan smallmouth today and am running late. Forgive me.

Weather is finally holding in more spring patterns and water temperatures around northern Illinois are nearing that prime range. Lilacs are blooming, generally a signal that river smallmouth are going, though water levels remain touchy this spring.

There's a good variety of fish being caught, including some varied big fish, such as this big blue catfish.


Paul Switzer of Tinley Park e-mailed:

Thought I'd send you a picture of a blue catfish I caught yesterday (5-2) at Braidwood while bass fishing. Caught it on a shakey head worm and 8 lb line. My buddy and I estimated it at somewhere around 25 lbs. Charles Bradley landed the fish since we did not have a net. If you are looking for a picture for your column, you have my permission to use it.

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

If you have suggestions, post in the comments section or let me know at

Let's start with the traditional run of white bass on Mother's Day on the Wolf River.

Steven Kachlic is a regular on the Des Plaines River in the Hofmann Dam area. But in 30 years of fishing there, the 50-year-old Stickney man never caught anything like he did on April 29, a 34-inch muskie.


Fortunately Berwyn photographer/artist Miro Ledajaks was walking with his son when they witnessed Kachlic battling the good fish before releasing it.

For the wonder of it from that location, Kachlic's muskie earns FOTW honors. FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. An extended online version appears here by midnight Tuesday.

E-mail FOTW nominations to

First Ledajaks' account, then details from Kachlic.

IDNR director Marc Miller held a phone news conference this morning with his top wildlife and deer biologists: Mike Conlin, John Buhnerkempe and Paul Shelton.

First, this kind of openness is news in itself.

The full proposals were posted here yesterday.

Below is my quick summary and take on it. More will come.

The IDNR will attempt to control the Illinois deer herd with an extended (seven days) late-winter antlerless-only hunting season spread over two long weekends--Dec. 31, 2009 - Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15 - 17, 2010.


Here's the complete release from the IDNR.

Apparently, I passed some break point.

While I was gone for four days of turkey hunting and trout fishing, spring rains turned the backyard into something only Holsteins (the Oreo cows, not the late folk singer Fred and his brother) could love.

So after picking up the pre-schooler, I went to work on it.

And shucked my shirt.

``It's time''

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That's all the explanation Kane County goose guide Jeff Norris sent with this photo.


The only thing that would make it better as a photo would be a Sun-Times as background, but at least the Beacon is in the S-T family.

A little late (I was hunting/fishing for a few days), but here are the latest spring turkey numbers for Illinois from Paul Shelton:

North Zone:
Third season in the North Zone ended Wednesday, 4/29/09. After three seasons, harvest stood at 5716, compared to last year's 6178. In spite of several very windy days and scattered rains, third season harvest was slightly higher than the same period last year. Top five counties are JoDaviess (428), Pike (353), Adams (265), Fulton 255), and Calhoun (218).

South Zone:
Fourth season in the South Zone ended Wednesday, 4/29/09. Hunters have harvested a total of 4819, up from last year's 4698. Hunter harvest in the South Zone have surpassed last year's totals in all seasons except the third. Top five counties are Randolph (284), Jefferson (259), Pope (259), Marion (249), and Wayne (227).

The Fighting Illini Bass Club won the the 2009 Big Ten Classic, the third time in the last four years the Illini have taken the championship.


It was fished on Brookville Lake, a reservoir in Indiana, on April 26. Kerry Ryan, a senior in integrative biology from Ingleside, sent the update. Most of the team is from the Chicago area.

Here are the details from Ryan:

WOODWARD, Pa.--It's reassuring in a bizarre way to see bear scat on the trail while turkey hunting.

It's almost as reassuring to have my wireless card work only a few miles from a deep woods cabin atop Sand Mountain.

I think.

Though there are times I enjoy the getting away and being in cell-phone coverage dead areas.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2009 is the previous archive.

June 2009 is the next archive.

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