This Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors is going up early on a Thursday night, for a good reason.
I'm gone to the deer stand early tomorrow morning and this will be the only view hinting of civilization. Depending on how things go, I will spend most of the next three days there.
Afield is where some 200,000-plus will be from Friday through Sunday--deer hunting somewhere in Illinois for the first firearm season.
But there are other things to do, too.
LAKEFRONT PERCH: Come Thanksgiving morning, I expect to be on the north side of Navy Pier. There's been a smattering of reports from there, better shore reports from Montrose and Diversey. It's still spotty, but I would expect the favorite of Chicago fishing to keep improving with the west and south winds. The fish are small enough that light line (Arden Katz goes 4-pound or lighter) matters. Minnows appear to be taking the larger fish, small jigs and spikes better numbers.
The boat fishery around Indiana/Illinois is improving rapidly. Most consistent has been the Hole-in-the-Wall. Other good spots have been the 39-foot hole off the Inland Steel point and Cal harbor (best spot varies day to day, depending on wind and weather). Ed McCain at Mik-Lurch said one help in the areas with remaining dirty water is to cut the minnow in half to leave a scent trail.
WATERFOWL HUNTING: Ducks are pouring into the area. Braidwood had its best week last week, and with some hunters focused on deer, there might less competition for another good weekend of duck hunting.
PIZZA AND ICE (FISHING): Tony Boshold hosts a pizza luncheon and fundraiser for USA Ice Team, which is headed to Kazakhstan in 2012, at Moretti's at 1645 W. Jackson from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
INDIANA STREAMS FOR STEELHEAD: Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert said more fresh steelhead have come into the streams in northwest Indiana. For those without experience on the Indiana streams, click here for access points on Salt, Trail and the Little Cal.
UPLAND HUNTING: Most will be deer hunting. Click here for the annual prospects put out by the Illinois DNR.
CRAPPIE FISHING: Water is cooling into the 40s and crappie action should be picking up for the weekend. And, by Saturday, the weather should be nice enough to bring fall crappie fishermen out.
SANDHILL CRANES: The count of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski FWA near Medaryville, Ind. on Tuesday was 8,000. It should be a good week to take a break from Thanksgiving feasting and stretch the legs.
If you have never gone to the site southeast of Valparaiso, Ind., I highly recommend a fall trip. The sight and sounds of the cranes is something to behold. Best viewing is sunrise or sunset at Goose Pasture Viewing Area. But I find it worth touring the area to watch the sandhills in the surrounding fields, too. Click here to see, listen and learn details of the site.
ILLINOIS PERMITS/SEASONS: Applications are open online for late-winter deer special hunt area permits and for spring turkey permits.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
SALMON SNAGGING: One of the better falls for snagging keeps going, even if the fish are starting to look pretty yucky. Snagging for chinook and coho is open on the Illinois lakefront at four locations only: Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue, Waukegan Harbor (North Harbor Basin only); Winnetka Power Plant discharge area and Jackson Park Harbor (inner and outer harbors). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.
PERSONAL PICKS: This is my weekend for deer hunting. . . . Otherwise, work continues on an ongoing writing project.