OK, from 110 degrees above normal to a mere 10 or 15, there is a lot of unexpected options to go with the planned ones in this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
Before I get going, I sure hope everybody got their kids or grandkids out at least once for fishing during this unbelievable stretch of March heat. I took the kids Tuesday evening after filing Wednesday's outdoors stuff for the Sun-Times. We had a ball, mainly catching small bluegill, but we also picked up a couple crappie, including one good one. I fried them immediately for supper. A couple of their friends stopped by; and it reminded me how important light line and tackle is for kids fishing. The guys were fishing with 15- or 20-pound mono and big rubber worms. I gave them small red worms and hoped they caught something. Even this weekend with more normal weather, the spring fishing should still be going.
COHO: The great spring tradition of Chicago fishing has shifted toward being a tremendous boat fishery, but Henry's Sports and Bait holds its eighth annual Coho Derby on Saturday. Register on the north seawall between the Adler and the Shedd, beginning at 6:30 a.m. Fishing is 7-11 a.m. Go to henryssports.com or call (312) 225-8538.
SHOWTIME: Illinois' big buck blowout is today through Sunday when the newly renamed Field & Stream Deer & Turkey Expo is at the Peoria Civic Center. The YouTube video above of owl calling was from last year's show. There's a lot of stuff at the show. ``Ginormica'' should be one of the highlights, but there is always some surprisingly good bucks that seem to come out of nowhere.
PERCH: There's been some action from shore, but the great explosion has been out of East Chicago Marina in Indiana on the Indiana shoals and by Gary Light. I've received photos of 15-inch perch and reports of many jumbos being caught.
MWC TOURNAMENT: The 26th annual MWC tournament is this Saturday and Sunday at Barto Landing in Spring Valley. With water temperatures well into the 60s, I am curious how and from where the winners will come.
MORELS: Considering how historically warm it has been, is it possible somebody will find the first morel mushrooms already this weekend? OK, that is probably wishful thinking on my part, but the reports are starting to mount in southern Illinois. It would make my weekend if somebody sent a nomination for Morel of the Week, the weekly celebration of morels I tend to run around May on Sundays in the Sun-Times outdoors page. It's early, but might not be too early.
COOLING LAKES: LaSalle, the cooling lake just south of Seneca is open Wednesday through Sunday in March, 6 a.m.-12:30 p.m. It would be my pick for big bluegill (east bank) and hybrids (south bank from shore). . . . For bass fishing, and I can hardly believe I am typing this, but I would go with Braidwood, the cooling lake in the southwest corner of Will County. Close time goes to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
MAZONIA LAKES: I normally don't start mentioning the 200-plus collection of lakes in southwest Will County until April or May. But nothing is usual about this March. People are getting out and catching fish. I have not heard of any bass pulling up already, but it would not surprise me.
CRAPPIE: There have been some very strong reports of crappie fishing on the channels of the Chain O'Lakes, from Arden Katz earlier this week with white Mini-Mites and spikes; from the usual south suburban spots--Saganashkee Slough, Monee Reservoir, Maple, etc.--and just about any pond with a history of good crappie.
BASS: From some of the photos sent to me this week, largemouth are pulling up on many local ponds. That seems absurd to type that in the final week of March, but there are big prespawn females being caught. I have not seen it on our town pond, but Mike Starcevich said bass were bedding on Wolf Lake.
ILLINOIS HUNTING PERMITS: Random daily drawings for spring turkey permits in Illinois is underway. Click here . . . Resident Illinois deer hunters may apply online for firearm and muzzleloader permits. Click the ``Online Services'' tab at dnr.illinois.gov.
PERSONAL PICKS: I had hoped to fish Henry's Coho Derby, but my wife roped me into a Friday night wingding for a book release by one of her friends. I am old enough and smart enough to know that going will pay rewards in the long run. . . . I need to figure out how to get down to the Deer & Turkey Expo, either Saturday or Sunday morning. . . . I plan to be at Spring Valley for the final weighin of the MWC Sunday afternoon. . . . Not sure if the family will get in a hike or not. . . . I am back into the swing of my Outside radio show on WKCC-FM (91.1). I am enjoying pulling shows together. Some good ones are coming up. . . . Work grinds on, too slow, on a writing project.