Just to annoy some of my dear outdoor friends, let's begin this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors with bird watching.
It's a big time for it. The Great Backyard Bird Count begins today and runs through Monday.
I know this drives some of my more traditionally oriented outdoors friends nuts, but I find this fascinating to do. I have usually participated.
That goes back to the days when we lived in West Rogers Park and I was staring over a Chicago alley and lucky to reach double figures.
Living in a small town now with a backyard, my variety is a lot greater. And considering what has been flying overhead, I should pick up some Canada geese this year.
I especially suggest GBBC for teachers and students, or parents who have the kids home on Monday, like I do.
Click here for info.
MAPLE SYRUP: The events are beginning. Check with your local park district or nature center. This is still one of my favorite winter activities I have done with my kids. One of the first events is ``The Sweet Taste of Maples'' on Sunday at Isle a la Cache Museum outside of Romeoville. It's free Call (815) 886-1467. . . . On Monday, there's a tapping event at Fullersburg Woods in DuPage County. It's $3 per family. To register, call (630) 850-8110.
BASSMASTER CLASSIC: The 2011 Classic sets off in a few minutes. Click here for a live blog. And, no, Steve Bowman is no relation to me that I know of.
ICE FISHING: Despite the warm-up, or maybe partially because of it, ice fishing continues. Jim Kopjo called yesterday to see if I could hit Shabbona Lake today. But I couldn't. He and some friends have been doing extremely well for crappie.
Yes, there's slop on top the ice, but we probably have a couple more weeks of ice fishing. The Chicago harbors require more caution.
PERCH FISHING: A good run of perch is going at Navy Pier and in the river around 92nd and 95th. Carl Vizzone found open water earlier this week between ice floes at Navy Pier. I would think the open water will keep expanding. The cold that is coming is not as brutal as we had a little over a week ago.
OPEN-WATER FISHING: Ken Gortowski and Ed Schmitt are finding more open water along the Fox. Norm Minas found some along the Kankakee earlier this week, and we may try to get out next week; but many portions of the Kankakee remain iced in. On the Illinois, Time on the Water Outdoors said guys started getting out this week and catching sauger, especially launching at Ottawa and Hennepin.
Boat fishing opened Tuesday at Powerton Lake, the cooling lake outside of Pekin. Shore fishing is already open. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. I have not talked to any friends yet who have been done. But it is a wonderful lake for white bass, catfish, flatheads, blue catfish and smallmouth.
CHARITY ICE FISHING: The annual ice fishing derby put on by the Island Lake Lions Club is a go for 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. There are prizes in adult and children categories for the longest fish in many categories. Headquarters are at Eastway Park.
MUSKIE MANIA MONEY: There's more than $21,000 in prizes for the fundraising banquet of the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies, Inc. It will be Saturday evening at Schaumburg Golf Club. Click here.
PHEASANT FUN: The Lake County chapter of Pheasants Forever holds its second annual banquet Saturday evening at the Antioch Moose Lodge. Call David Mattea at (847) 606-9842.
ILLINOIS HUNTING PERMITS: Monday is the deadline for spring youth turkey hunt permits for IDNR special hunt areas.
On Saturday, Musky Road Rules Cabin Fever Clinic is at the Holiday Inn in Elk Grove Village.
SNOWSHOEING: I am not sure if conditions are permitting, but when they are, L.L.Bean's Walk-On Adventures includes snowshoeing on Saturday and Sundays this month at both the Skokie--(847) 568-3600--and South Barrington--(888) 552-5548--stores.
PERSONAL PICKS: I will be doing some bird watching during the GBBC. I usually try to do all four days, but doubt that I get in all four this year. . . . I hope to play some today, haven't decided it whether to try for open water on the Kankakee or slop around the ice on the town pond. . . . Saturday is shot. I will be in Lisle covering a sectional for Beat the Champs, the 50-year charity bowling event, for the Sun-Times. . . . I will be checking in on the Bassmaster Classic, via updates and the live blog. . . . As always, a fair amount of my spare time is spent working on ``Outside,'' the radio show Joel Greenberg and I are doing at 4:30 p.m. Mondays on WKCC-FM (91.1).