Thursday morning, there was ice just starting to form across the area, and that leads this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors; I should add against the first white background of the fall that settled in overnight.
These were penguins on ice at Nielsen's Channel off the Fox River in Port Barrington.
``Penguins on ice! Out front!'' e-mailed Marcy Paschky Thursday, in one of her usual witty updates from Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill. ``We have a good 1/2 inch in front, but edges aren't there yet. Under the bridge wide open.''
That will have changed by this morning. There will be ice fishing around the northern fringes of Chicago fishing this weekend.
A few minutes ago, Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch said the T Channel on the Chain O'Lakes had capped over yesterday.
``There's a chance they will sneak out there tomorrow,'' he said.
Conditions in northern Wisconsin are much better, though some of the early ice there was impacted by a heavy wet snow last weekend.
It certainly looks like real winter out the window this morning.
WATERFOWL HUNTING: I am hoping the arctic front will bring a crescendo end for duck hunters in Illinois' north zone, where the duck season ends Tuesday.
MUZZLELOADER HUNTING: The muzzleloader season for deer in Illinois, an increasingly popular season, is today through Sunday. The snow cover across northern areas should make for better hunting.
PERCH FISHING: The best has been up the river around 92nd and 95th, otherwise it is waiting on the lake to settle and clear.
ILLINOIS HUNTING PERMITS: On Tuesday, deer permits for the late-winter and CWD seasons become available over-the-counter.
SANDHILL CRANES: The numbers just keep growing. Tuesday's count of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski FWA near Medaryville, Ind. at 11,143 topped 11,000 for the first time this fall. This may be the best weekend of 2011 to see them. I really mean it this week. Site staff reported thousands more were also at a nearby electric generating station and the surrounding flooded fields and duck clubs.
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.
YOUTH GOOSE HUNTING: That for young hunters, not necessarily young geese. Registration ends today for the 12th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, which will be Dec. 26-27 at private clubs in the Peoria area. Call (217) 785-8060 to register, priority for first-time applicants.
INDIANA STREAMS FOR STEELHEAD: Streams still have steelhead in them, water should be clearing more each day. For those without experience on the Indiana streams, click here for access points on Salt, Trail and the Little Cal.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
UPLAND HUNTING: It could be interesting, if any snow sticks, especially for rabbit hunters. Click here for the annual prospects put out by the Illinois DNR.
SALMON SNAGGING: 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: I may try to sneak in ice fishing or at least go out and watch the craziness of guys testing an inch or two ice, either Saturday, Sunday or Monday morning. . . . I am waiting to see if a push of ducks come or not, but might sneak in a morning of duck hunting on Saturday at a place I never have hunted. . . . Valparaiso adventurer Lee Sczepanski might have an invite for an exploration on the Tippecanoe River in Indiana. . . . Otherwise, work continues on an ongoing writing project. OK, not as much work as I should be doing.