Chicago Sun-Times
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WWW Chicago outdoors: Waterfowl; fall colors, trout & mushrooms

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Beginnings for waterfowl hunting in Illinois' north zone and Illinois' fall trout season, well, let's just make it fall outdoors, lead this Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.


NORTH WATERFOWL OPENER: The waterfowl seasons in the north zone open on Saturday.

The good news is the nearly complete corn harvest, even here in northeast Illinois. Reports on numbers vary, other than reports on Canada geese are pretty good.

State waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla sent this:

Aerial surveys on the IL river indicate we have almost twice the normal number of ducks for this time of year. Mallards, pintails, gadwalls, wigeon, bluewings, greenwings, shovelers etc are all above average. On the other hand I am hearing lots of reports from ND that there are few of the above species there and many experts are speculating that many may have actually moved north into Canada where wet conditions and lots of crops are providing duck heaven. Only time will tell what to expect on Oct. 16 in the north zone. There should be plenty of wood ducks and teal at the least. I will be checking hunter shot ducks for avian influenza on the Chain O Lakes this Sat so I might get a feel for how the opener went.

FALL TROUT: The season opens Saturday. Steve Palmisano at Henry's had the good basic recommendations: wax, butter or leaf worms, jar-paste bait, corn or Velveeta on small hooks under a small float on one rod. On another rod, use small inline spinners.

Stocked area lakes include Axehead, Belleau and Horsetail (Cook County), Silver, Pickerel and Grove (DuPage); Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee); Big lake at Silver Springs SP (Kendall); and Sand Lake at Illinois Beach SP and Banana (Lake). I forgot to double check yesterday, but the parking at Horsetail is supposed to be corrected by Saturday.

Anglers must have a fishing license and an inland trout stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily bag is five.

FALL COLOR: Fall colors are nearing peak even around Chicago.

Click here for the update from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Let me offer something different from our nearby National Park, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore:


Bright yellow, orange, red, and some green are waiting for you along
the trails at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Your neighbor national park
is just one hour from Chicago or South Bend. The fall colors will peek over
the next couple of weekends and you can take in nature's canvas for free!

The national lakeshore is easily accessible via the South Shore train,
or by car from Interstates 80/90, and 94. Indiana Highway 12 also ambles
through the park. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore charges no fees of any
kind for entrance or parking and encompasses more than 15,000 acres in
Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties in Indiana. With more than 12 miles of
Lake Michigan shore and 40 miles of trails, this unit of the National Park
System offers a colorful hike or drive.

Maple trees are showing their bright red color and can be found
throughout the park. They are prevalent in the sugar bush along the trail
between the Chellberg Farm and the Bailly Homestead. There is ample parking
nearby on Mineral Springs Road between U.S. 12 and U.S. 20 in Porter,
Indiana. Cottonwood trees shine a bright yellow along the 12 miles of Lake
Michigan shoreline. Oaks and other trees are holding on to their green, and
create a quiet canopy to walk or hike along a trail. A special fall treat
awaits those who venture to the open house at Pinhook Bog, and meet the
Rangers on the trail from noon-3:00p.m. Saturday October 16, 2010. Pinhook
bog can be found off of County Road 200 North, turn south on to Wozniak
Road drive about one mile, then look for the NPS sings. Be sure to arrive
by 2:00p.m.

Hiking in the national lakeshore is an adventure, and even though it
is hunting season you do not need to wear blaze orange because hunting is
not allowed in the national lakeshore. Most people understand hunting
includes animals, but are often unaware that it may include other
organisms. In the national lakeshore, the hunting prohibition also includes
mushrooms. Mushrooms perform an important function in the ecology of the
forest and removing this organism slows down the production of soil.
Mushrooms do not typically grow conveniently on a trail. When people go off
trail to take the mushrooms they stomp on fragile plants leaving a path
that may take years to recover.

Not sure where to start your fall adventure? Stop at the Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Porter, Indiana at the intersection of
US 20 and Highway 49 to pick up self guided trail maps of several places in
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Do not forget to tell someone where you
are going, and when you expect to be back. Fall is fantastic so do not
forget your camera.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 394 units of the National Park
System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake
Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the
northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this
national park each year. More information can be found at

The Fall Color Report for Wisconsin suggests peak has shifted toward southern areas.

FALL MUSHROOMS: They just keep coming. I am receiving enough photos and tales of fall mushrooms to start running a fall version of Mushroom of the Week. Puffballs remain the stars.

Again, I offer this nugget from p. 130 of Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States, the wonderful book by Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller (beginning on p. 129 for puffballs):

The real problem most people have with food this big is the same problem people would have with a giant zucchini or a gallon of pudding; it's impossible to enjoy it all without getting sick of it. Eventually, you will give up trying to find ways to cook and eat this monster mushroom, especially if the laxative effect some people experience after too many puffballs kicks in.

WADING: The rivers are so low that I even started hearing tales, tall tales, of fishermen back in 1988 sitting in lawn chairs in rivers and fishing. Yes, some of our rivers are nearing those kind of low levels.

It looks like temperatures may actually settle into a more normal stable pattern. We should be in a good stretch for fall wading, though now you will need waders again. On Monday, I wet waded one last time, what an odd feeling for the second week of October.

Click here to check the status of rives around Chicago.

SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT: In Chicago fishing, this remains the top bite, but it is very variable. I am not sure why the season has been so off. There's been more emphasis on finesse fishing and targeting fish inside of the harbors.

WOODCOCK HUNTING: Season opens Saturday in Illinois. I have not shot a woodcock since I was a teenager. That's just not something I target other than as a tangential target. However, I have missed a few in recent years.

BOWHUNTING DEER Bowhunting for deer slowed dramatically with the extended stretch of hot weather last week and early this one. I suspect with more moderate weather, those numbers will improve significantly this weekend.

All the same, deer hunting totals for bowhunting are already up to 10,751 by this morning.

Click here if you're interested in keeping tabs on the running deer totals in Illinois.

CIGAR EVENT: The Downtown Chicago chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is holding its first scotch and smoker event at Iwan Ries, 19 S. Wabash, Chicago, from 8-10 p.m. Thursday.

Here's the gist:

For a small donation of $30, you will receive one fine cigar, and the opportunity to learn more about the Downtown Chicago Chapter and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. You will also be able to browse a fantastic selection of fine cigars, available for your enjoyment that night, or after. There will also be an open bar to enjoy for the evening.

Contact John Schreiner at or (312) 807-4390 or David Slovick at or (773) 680-5711.

DEER PERMITS: On Tuesday, the remaining resident and non-resident firearm and muzzleloader deer permits will be available over-the-counter from IDNR license vendors on a first-come, first-served basis, until quotas are exhausted or the close of the firearm deer season.

SALMON SNAGGING: There's still silver fish around for snaggers. Open spots on the Illinois lakefront are the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.

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.

THEATRE-HIKES: Theatre-Hikes does ``Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde'' at
the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers beginner courses regularly. Click here.

TRAPPING CLASS: Something different a bit on ahead, a trapping class in Joliet on Saturday. Call (815) 483-5305

PERSONAL PICKS: Saturday I am hunting morning ducks, then Canada geese as waterfowl hunting opens in Illinois' north zone. . . . I should be doing some fall smallmouth on a couple rivers or Lake Michigan smallmouth, but haven't had the time. . . . And I need to do the fall salmon from the lakefront shoreline before all the silver fish darken. But that will probably have to wait until next week. . . . My daughter has been asking to get in another day of fishing. Trout fishing with her might be an option on Sunday. I shall see. More likely is the town pond after the Bears game (I think they play early.) . . . . Two different fishing friends have offered opportunities I had to turn down: one on a wonderful secret pond, the other, oh, I am sworn to secrecy, but will just say Downstate.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on October 15, 2010 6:47 AM.

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