It's a decent-looking weekend in April with a multitude of opportunities for this Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.
There's everything from lakefront browns (Skip Lubinski caught this 9-10 brown while smallmouth fishing near Chicago Light on Monday) to watching woodcocks displaying to turkey hunting to lakefront smallmouth to smelting to watching spawning sturgeon to perching in Indiana, and more.
We'll start with the browns.
LAKEFRONT BROWNS: One of the highlights on southern Lake Michigan this spring has been the shoreline browns, including a near-state record in Indiana by Scott Garrison in early March. I'm not sure why, but big ones keep being caught, both from boat and shore. Ray Hinton just sent another photo of a 14-pounder taken from shore at 95th by 84-year-old Clarence Ross.
WOODCOCKS DISPLAYING: If you have a prairie near you, this is the time to catch the unique mating ritual of the woodcock at dusk. COS is holding an event tonight at the Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve. I did this several years ago and it was something special.
BOATING FOR INDIANA PERCH: There's enough pressure on the big school of jumbo perch at Gary Light, that Capt. Chuck Weis of Ace Charters called for a long thoughtful discussion about whether we need to do something to protect them. If the winds hold OK, Gary Light will have a flotilla coming out of East Chicago or 95th Street this weekend.
TURKEY HUNTING: The first season in Illinois' north zone opens Monday. The first season in the south ends today, the second season in the south begins Saturday. An updated list of remaining permits was posted Tuesday. I had a bad luck on my draw this year (yes, I do get paranoid that somebody in licensing is notching my application) and just tried again this week on the random daily draw. We'll see.
STURGEON SPAWNING: The folks in Wisconsin understand the outdoors. They're even smart enough to know that some of us would be interested in watching sturgeon in their spawning rituals, and established viewing spots and a viewing trail. Click here for details on watching the prehistoric fish on their spawning run. I haven't done this yet, but would love to some year. My problem is there is so much going on in April it is tough to get away for it.
LAKEFRONT SMALLMOUTH: It's just beginning, and the water is cold, but smallmouth are starting to be caught along the Chicago lakefront, both from shore and boat.
SMELTING: It's open. There's been a smattering netted. Nets may go in at 7 p.m. Netters must be out of the park by 1 a.m.
ARCHERY TOURNAMENT: The Lincoln Park Archery Club holds indoor championships (300 rd) at Pulaski Park field house on Saturday. Click here for details.
PERSONAL PICKS: It's spring. My weekend is loaded as usual. Today is a conference on wolves by a loose group trying to get ahead in thinking as wolves begin arriving more frequently in Illinois. . . . If I have the time, I plan to hit the COS event at Wolf Road to watch woodcocks tonight. It just fascinates me. . . . Tomorrow is a high-school fishing event I plan to cover, then hope to spend a few hours fishing the Chicago River. . . . I really need to hit the lakefront for smallmouth bass and do the perch off Gary Light, that's probably on tap next week.