As I watered my garden before dawn to prevent several rows of sugar peas, leaf lettuce and spinach from freezing, I realized this is the first time in a month or so when the weather matters negatively in Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
In the 15 minutes or so it took me to water the sprouts, I could see frost forming on my lawn and those of our neighbors. It came that quick. Ice was thick on windshields.
Obviously, this return to more normal spring conditions has an impact.
MORELS: Last weekend was a productive one for at least some readers. I had a surprising amount of reports emailed or messaged. I am still morel-less for the spring, and I have been looking nearly every day at two sure-fire spots.
The above photo is morels found by Rich Josepher and, at least I think this, are rather artfully displayed.
PERCH: Weather this week limited the great flotilla of boats chasing perch out of East Chicago Marina in Indiana on the Indiana shoals and by Gary Light. I expect this to be the great fishery of the weekend as weather settles some. There's nothing too tricky, just minnows on the bottom.
ILLINOIS' SPRING TROUT: Whoops, almost forgot to add this. Spring trout season opens Saturday in Illinois. Click here for sites around the state and other information. I do not do it with my kids, but that is a story for another day.
SMELT: Smelt 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. Reports, as expected, have been poor. Water in the low 50s is not helping with one of the great traditions of Chicago fishing.
HEIDECKE: The former cooling lake east of Morris is open daily to fishing. Launch opens 6 a.m.; bank fishing, 6:30 a.m. Close is sunset. Opening day was slower than expected with 55-degree water, but there were some quality walleye caught (I thought the walleye numbers would be better) up to 7 pounds, and a fair amount of muskies. Friend and guide Pete Riedesel and I boated one muskie each and lost two others.
BIKES AT THE NOTEBAERT: The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has its newest, self-produced exhibition, "Bikes! The Green Revolution." The Notebaert is one of Chicago's hidden treasures.
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 is back to being a tremendous boat fishery, when weather allows.
COOLING LAKES: LaSalle, the cooling lake just south of Seneca, is now open daily from 6 a.m.-sunset. 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 still go with Braidwood, the cooling lake in the southwest corner of Will County. Close is 7:30 p.m.
SALMON WORKSHOP: The registration deadline is Tuesday for the Lake Michigan Salmon Stocking Workshop. The free workshop is 1-4:30 p.m. on April 14 at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich. Register at miseagrant.umich.edu/fisheries/stocking/index.html.
TURKEY HUNTING ILLINOIS: North zone youth hunt for turkeys is this weekend. If there are any good stories, I would love to hear about them at email@example.com. . . . The first season in the south zone opens Monday; first season in north zone, April 16.
ILLINOIS HUNTING PERMITS: Random daily drawings for spring turkey permits in Illinois is underway. Click here . . . Resident Illinois deer hunters may apply online for first firearm and muzzleloader permits through April 30. Click the ``Online Services'' tab at dnr.illinois.gov.
RADIO WAVES: I am doing Mike Jackson Outdoors Radio at 6:30 Sunday morning.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
PERSONAL PICKS: I will keep looking for morels. I even made a quick spin through my wild asparagus route last weekend, but the weeds were barely up. . . . I haven't decided where the family hike will be. . . . I should check smelters some evening, but frankly don't feel much compulsion to do it. . . . This feels like a weekend when I will mainly stockpile good will for coming adventures and do such family things as a drive-in movie tonight at the Harvest Moon in Gibson City in central Illinois. . . . I will be on Mike Jackson Outdoors Radio at 6:30 Sunday morning. Otherwise, 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 nears the end on a writing project.