There's a good mix--morel hunting, smelt opener, Heidecke opener and a bike exhibit--for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
MORELS: Last week, I said I was hoping, considering how historically warm it has been, that somebody would find morels in time to start Morel of the Week on April 1. Usually, I run the weekly celebration of morels I tend to run around May on Sundays in the Sun-Times outdoors page. Well, it happened. First was Pete Banach with the two above, found in southern Cook County. Last night, a second reader sent a note that he found some. I love it. This will be by far the earliest start for MOTW.
SMELT: Smelt netting begins Sunday night and runs the month of April in Chicago. Nets may be set at 7 p.m. Netters must be out of the parks by 1 a.m. Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Steve Robillard said to expect the same low numbers. Warm water near 50 to start the season won't help. But I expect some to continue one of the great traditions of Chicago fishing, even if it is a shell of what it once was.
HEIDECKE: The former cooling lake east of Morris reopens to fishing on Sunday and should be open daily. Launch opens 6 a.m.; bank fishing, 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. District fisheries biologist Rob Miller expects a banner year for walleye, because of the high stocking in 2009; muskie, smallmouth and yellow bass (state record potential) are doing fine; crappie are coming on; hybrids are OK, bigger ones down; largemouth are OK; channel catfish are not. I expect to be there and expected it to be crowded and packed. Walleye will be the main draw, but I would emphasize that Heidecke without a doubt holds the state-record yellow bass, and that crappie fishery is really coming along, especially on the north side.
FAIR WEATHER WARNING: With the warmth forecast for today, just a reminder that new fishing licenses are required as of April 1 in all four Lake Michigan states.
NATIONAL WILD TURKEY FEDERATION: There's a couple local banquets of note. . . . Tonight, the Cook County Turkey Baggers hold theirs at Chicago South Elks Lodge #1596 in Midlothian. Contact Carleton Rendel at firstname.lastname@example.org. . . . On Saturday, Will County Cutters hold theirs at Beecher AMVETS Hall Post #67. Contact Troy Claus at email@example.com.
BIKES AT THE NOTEBAERT: The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum opens its newest, self-produced exhibition Bikes! The Green Revolution, on Saturday. The Notebaert is one of Chicago's hidden treasures.
Here is the release:
Cycling in the City!
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Opens Bikes! The Green Revolution on March 31
CHICAGO - March 29, 2012 -Learning to ride a bike is a near universal rite of passage and is the beginning of a lifelong passion and adventure. A bike ride is also one of the simplest and most powerful ways to engage with the rich nature that surrounds us right here in Chicago. As the urban gateway to nature and science, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is excited to inspire visitors with its newest, self-produced exhibition Bikes! The Green Revolution.
Riding a bike allows the perfect speed to see and explore the city of Chicago and the exhibition is filled with ways to maximize your cycling experience in the city. Bikes! The Green Revolution showcases the essential historical role Chicago played in the nation's ongoing love affair with the two-wheeler.
"Bikes are an ideal, sustainable and democratic form of transportation," said Deborah Lahey, Nature Museum's President and CEO. "Bikes are good for people's health, the health of the environment and are just plain fun.
The exhibition features the opportunity to:
• See 13 different historic bikes from the 1880s to today
• Sit atop a real high wheel bicycle and a tall bike (yes, you can pedal!)
• Take a bicycle taxi on a virtual tour of Chicago
• Discover some of the wildlife you can see on Chicago's bicycle trails
• Play the role of bike mechanic and customize a wooden bike
• Honk a plethora of unique sounding bike horns
Appropriately enough, the introduction to the exhibition features Geoffrey Baer, a reporter and producer for "Chicago Tonight," and the star of Biking the Boulevards, the definitive documentary on Chicago's biking history.
"Those 28 miles of boulevards to bike are one of Chicago's overlooked treasures," Baer said.
The first part of the exhibition features a journey to Bike Town. There, you see how bikes have evolved from the 19th century to the present day, with a particular focus on Chicago's unique role in that evolution.
"It's like going through a time machine," said Alvaro Ramos, Vice President of Exhibitions and the Museum Experience.
The Green Revolution portion highlights how riding a bike is good for the environment and features a bicycle taxi and examples of what you can see on area bike trails, courtesy of the collections of the Chicago Academy of Sciences.
The exhibition concludes with Wheel People, a miniature bicycle repair shop built into the exhibit gallery. In addition to the interactive area for kid bike mechanics, there are how-to videos created by local bike mechanics focused on maintenance tips and descriptions of the science behind biking. This is also where much of the special public programming will originate from.
Bikes! The Green Revolution was developed entirely in-house by Nature Museum staff and will run through Sept. 9.
Adjacent to Bikes! is the addendum exhibition Monsters on Bikes, which showcases cute, spooky, fanciful monsters and their pedal-powered vehicles. This playful, family-friendly art exhibition features the work of more than a dozen artists.
Admission to the Nature Museum, including special exhibitions, is $9/adult, $6/child 3-12, $7/seniors and students. Thursdays are suggested donations days for Illinois residents. Located at 2430 North Cannon Drive in Chicago's Lincoln Park, the Nature Museum is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit naturemuseum.org or call 773-755-5100.
COHO: The great spring tradition of Chicago fishing has become mainly a tremendous boat fishery, but there were still a few caught from shore this week.
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. The only limiting factor has been the weather and waves. When boaters get to them, the fishing has been unbelievable in Indiana, including many big fish
COOLING LAKES: LaSalle, the cooling lake just south of Seneca, opens daily from 6 a.m.-sunset, beginning on Sunday. It would be my pick for big bluegill (east bank) and hybrids (south bank from shore). . . . For bass fishing, and I still 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.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
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 have been putting in a few minutes each day trying to find morels at two of my favorite spots. Without any luck. But I am getting hopeful. . . . Family duties will likely rule out our family hike on Saturday. . . . I am fishing Heidecke on Sunday with my friend and guide Pete Riedesel. I expect I will need to get there early. The weather looks perfect. . . . If I have the energy, I expect to be on the lakefront to check smelters Sunday night. . . . 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, toward the end, on a writing project.