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

WWW Chicago outdoors: Water, arts, kids, prairies

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Indoors and out, this is the most varied and packed Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors I ever remember pulling together.


Let's begin with doing good with bad things.

THIS RIVER IS OUR WATER: Included in Saturday's ``It's Our River Day'' doings are a bunch of clean-ups (the photo above was on the Kankakee River last year) and other activities. Click here, then hit the ``Find an Event near You'' button. There's a bunch of options. I've done this quite often, and it gives quite a sense of doing good. And generally is rather amazing how much junk turns up, even in these enlightened times.

WILD FILM: Through Thursday, Ghost Bird, an ``eco-noir'' documentary about the ivory-billed woodpecker, will show at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Click here for listings and info.

SHORELINE SALMON: In Chicago fishing, this is the top bite right now, as it should be. It continues to be a smattering of reports along the Chicago lakefront. Kenosha, Wis. has had better reports on night fishing. North Sider Arden Katz called the fishing at Kenosha the best he was seen in several years.

UP NORTH COLOR: As of Thursday, the Fall Color Report for Wisconsin had two areas with more than 25 percent change. They were Hurley and Mercer. We're getting close.

HEY BUDDY: Fishin' Buddies! and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County host their annual youth fishing derby at Wampum Lake in Thornton Saturday. It's free with lots of good stuff. Register at (773) 980-9350 or

PRAIRIE COMPANIONS: Saturday is the big celebration at The cq Nature Conservancy's Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove. ``Autumn on the Prairie'' is free and goes from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. This is a place I need to see. Wish Saturday was not so packed. Call (815) 456-2340 or click here.

MUSKIE OPEN: Saturday is the Muskie Open at Shabbona Lake. There's $100 for the longest muskie caught before 7 p.m. (immediately released after measuring). There will be a judge boat on the water. Click here for details or call (815) 824-2581.

WADING: Should be a good weekend for it. Frank Macikas dropped this note on the DuPage:

I got out after work on Tuesday and today; not sure why but it surprises me how early it gets dark now. Anyway had a tough go both days; but I'm pretty sure its just the stretches I was in; and not having but an hour on the water doesn't help either. But here is whats important; the river is in PERFECT shape. These conditions are what I have been waiting for all summer; clear water, perfect flow, and not too low. The only downside are certain stretches are completely overrun with grass. Best bet for this weekend is timber close to deep water. I would fish a weightless, weedless plastic as far into the wood as you can and with a fast retrieve to provoke the strike. I have plans to fish all three days this weekend and hopefully will have something good to send you come Sunday night!

Click here to check the status of rives around Chicago.

WISCONSIN STURGEON: Wisconsin's September hook and line sturgeon season is open. Minimum length for harvest is 60 inches. I haven't been up in a couple years, but I love doing it at the Dells. Usually, a buddy and I stay at River's Edge near the Wisconsin Dells, then go night fishing for them. As of Tuesday, River's Edge had not registered any keepers. The biggest so far was 58 inches. Catching sturgeon is not rocket science, fish a gob of crawlers in a deep hole. Unfortunately, I don't think I will make it up this September.

Click here for more.

HAWK WATCH: The Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch runs through Nov. 28. At least one counter/observer is there from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Click here for details.

SQUIRREL HUNTING: More leaves are falling and the weather looks reasonable, should be a good weekend for it with a lull in most other hunting. In northeast Illinois, open sites include Iroquois County SWA, Matthiessen State Park, Marseilles SFWA (Monday through Thursday), Silver Springs SFWA, Momence Wetlands and Kankakee River SP.

BIKING/PADDLING: Chicago River Canoe & Kayak has one of its more interesting doings on Saturday, the Chicago River Canoe and Kayak Paddle & Pedal. It begins at 10 a.m. Reservations required at (773) 704-2663 or

TEAL HUNTING: Season runs through Sunday. Haven't heard much.

ARCHERY: On Sunday, the Lincoln Park Archery Club holds its championship 900 Rd & Picnic. Scoring starts at 9 a.m., . . . Archery Bow Range Chicago offers beginner courses regularly. Click here. . . .

ILLINOIS PERMITS: On Monday, random daily drawings for fall shotgun turkey permits begin.

GREAT BEAR WILDERNESS: The Brookfield Zoo's good exhibit of the Great Bear Wilderness keeps going. Click here for details.

THEATRE-HIKES: Theatre-Hikes does the Thornton Wilder classic, ``Our Town,'' at
the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

PERSONAL PICKS: On Saturday, I need to juggle helping my kids and our church youth group, which annually help with the cleanup on the Kankakee, and poking my head in at Wampum Lake for the Fishin' Buddies! youth fishing derby. . . . Sunday my wife has me roped in for an art walk. I think I will even give up the Bears game. Look at it this way, I am building collateral for later in the fall when hunting starts swallowing whole weekends. . . . Earlier this week, I had two widely different boating trips: one on Lake Michigan and one up the Cal. More on those later. But that meant I didn't get in my evening or morning of shoreline salmon fishing. That probably needs to happen one night this week.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 17, 2010 6:20 AM.

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