Wading, a boat show and a variety show of other stuff headline this Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.
WADING/FLOATING: Barring a major blowup of rain tonight, all local rivers should be wadeable and good. In fact, the weather forecast looks right for making wading a necessary weekend activity. The way this summer has gone, I probably just jinxed us all.
But overall, the DuPage and Fox should be fine, and the Kankakee is actually low.
Norm Minas had one of his 100 fish days this week on the Kankakee and sent this note:
The river is below it's average flow for the first time this year, moving about 1,200 CFS. Visibility was only about 6 inches or so. The weather was bearable, the excessive heat and humidity was gone for the day at least. Partly cloudy, not much of a breeze.
I started out fishing chutes and neckdowns between a series of water willow covered islands. These chutes were on the shallow side less than 2 feet so I figured if any fish were up there, they would be in an aggressive feeding mood. I started out with a 1/4 oz rattlebait and pretty much stuck with a rattle bait all day as they were producing. I moved to a bridge and fished the shaded side of the abutments and the shade lines cast by the bridge. Next up was a series of riffle areas that are real close to one another. I moved next to a small midstream island that had some riffles within casting distance on the wider side of the river. I moved from there to a flat that was from knee to just past waist deep on me. Next up was a midstream hump and then I worked some waterwillow beds that were in the shade. I caught fish everywhere most of them in the 10 to 15 inch range with 15 in the fifteen to 17 inch range. I had three really good streaks of 23, 21 and 17 fish where I got one about every 2cd to third cast.
No fish on a weighted keeper hook/plastic, 1 fish on a crankbait, 17 on the jig/pig and 83 on the rattlebaits.
The oddest thing was that the rattlebait bite died about 7 PM and all the fish after that came on the jig/pig.
Frank Macikas sent this about the DuPage:
I have been watching the gauges and weather all week and this weekend looks to be shaping up perfect. Flows in all areas are reading just right. As much as I'm excited to get away for a weekend its killing me because it's been almost a full month since I have been able to get on the Dupage. On the bright side is we are headed full steam into fall patterns and if the rains hold off the fishing should be hot! Weather looks great for the next 10 days so hopefully I can get a marathon weekend going next weekend.
Even the Fox is headed toward sane ranges. Earlier this week, Ken Gortowski sent this:
This is setting up for some excellent Fox River fishing conditions. The levels are dropping and should be normal by the weekend. They are excellent now for those that don't mind a bit more water.
Click here to check the status of rives around Chicago.
ART AND BOATS: Michigan City Boat Show, Lake Michigan's biggest in-water boat show, is at Washington Park in Michigan City, Ind. through Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, it's in combination with the Lubeznik Center's long-running Lakefront Art Festival, making for an "Anchors and Art Weekend." Click here for boat show details.
SQUIRREL HUNTING: Weather will be beyond borderline in terms of heat for squirrel hunting in Illinois, at least in my world view. Iroquois County SWA and Matthiessen State Park are two nearby public sites open now. Most other local sites open in September.
I got out Thursday morning. Put in a couple hours. It was good to be out, even if the mosquitoes were bad enough to make me alter my plans.
ICF KIDS HUNT: Today is the deadline to apply for a youth teal or dove hunt on Sept. 4. The Illinois Conservation Foundation will offer the youth hunt at the Torstenson Farm, an idyllic 750-acre farm in Winnebago County. ICF executive director Mark Spangler will accept applications (about a dozen youth slots for doves, six for teal) through today. Call Spangler at (217) 720-4389.
PERCH: It continues to be variable, sometimes without much logic to why it is variable. Boaters started having a tougher time off Navy Pier this week. Shoreline fishing is spotty and takes sorting.
PADDLING: Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Chicago River Canoe & Kayak holds its Chicago River Canoe and Kayak Little Calumet River Trip. You need reservations, so call (773) 704-2663 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ILLINOIS PERMITS: Monday is the last day to apply for the second lottery for fall shotgun turkey permits. Click here for updates.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers beginner courses regularly. Click here. . . . On Saturday, there is a FITA Round (144 arrows) tournament at Lincoln Park Archery Club. Scoring begins at 9 a.m. Click here for details.
CONSERVATION WORLD: Conservation World runs at the Illinois State Fair runs through Sunday in Springfield. Conservation World is open and free with fair admission from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Here are highlights from the IDNR:
Among the most popular activities at Conservation World are the youth fishing clinics - which include a chance to bait a hook and go fishing - five times each day. All bait and tackle are provided. The free fishing clinics for youngsters are part of the IDNR Urban Fishing Program and are scheduled at 10:30 a.m., 12 noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. each day of the fair.
Kids can also practice their casting skills from the pier at the Conservation World Lake or enjoy a ride on the 20-passanger Voyager canoe.
Fishing is also the focus during the free programs at the Bass Tub, a 5,000-gallon climate-controlled water tank stocked with bass, crappie and a variety of other Illinois sport fish. Experts will provide tips on proper baits, casting and other fishing techniques four times daily at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Volunteers from outdoor recreation organizations and the IDNR Safety Education Program invite children to test their archery and shooting skills at specially-designed bow and BB gun ranges in Conservation World. The practice ranges are open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily during the fair.
Visitors can see a display of mounted deer heads, purchase Illinois hunting and fishing licenses, get a photo and application for a FOID card and learn about the duties of a Conservation Police Officer at the IDNR Law Enforcement tent.
In the IDNR Director's tent at Conservation World, visitors will find displays highlighting the state's natural resources, can subscribe to Outdoor Illinois magazine with a chance to win an exciting outdoor prize package, and learn about youth, habitat enhancement and outdoor recreation programs supported by the Illinois Conservation Foundation.
IDNR fisheries, wildlife, and habitat restoration biologists and staff host displays and are available to answer questions about fishing and hunting prospects, habitat enhancement programs available to assist private landowners, endangered species protection and conservation activities.
Conservation World displays also feature recreation opportunities at state parks, the state's important mining and oil production industries and regulation, forestry management and tree farming, and flood protection and improvements on Illinois waterways.
Information on home landscaping, plants and gardens is available at the gazebo adjoining the Illinois Green Industry Association Amphitheater in Conservation World.
Demonstrations by sporting dogs and their owners are planned for the first three days of the fair (4 p.m. on Aug. 13-15) in Conservation World, and a popular antler dog demonstration includes canines that can track down shed antlers in the field.
Chris Camp, "The Whip Guy," will present his whip-cracking show on the hillside near the IDNR Law Enforcement tent daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Chainsaw artists Wendy and Mike Rhodes will demonstrate their unique artistry throughout the fair.
I highly recommend Conservation World. For that matter, I think going to the State Fair matters too.
GREAT BEAR WILDERNESS: The Brookfield Zoo has good summer exhibit of the Great Bear Wilderness. Click here for details.
PERSONAL PICKS: Wading is on the agenda, maybe both Saturday and Sunday. . . . Today is swimming at a campground. . . . We are going to miss the state fair and Conservation World, unless we change our minds and make a road trip Sunday. . . . It just seems like a good weekend to be waist deep in a river, a sort of good-by wave to the summer. I will probably get the kids out for one more wade before school starts next week. We missed it yesterday. . . . Did squirrel hunting yesterday. That's probably it for the year on that.