Well, we got a hint of winter, though far less than the hysteria suggested beforehand, and that leads the options for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors, an extended one because of the long Christmas holiday weekend.
PERCH FISHING: Plenty of smaller perch, by plenty I mean they are in the harbors in balls, are being caught from shore in Chicago: Montrose, Belmont, Diversey, Navy Pier, the pipe at Burnham and even 31st Street.
And by smaller, I mean like the one above in a photo Carl Vizzone sent.
I think weather finally ended the perch fishery out of Indiana for boaters, but it was good up until the winds of Thursday.
I will not be here, otherwise I would probably sample the traditional perch fishing at Navy Pier on Christmas.
WATERFOWL HUNTING: Geese really moved around and are thick around the suburbs, especially with the heavy snows to our north and the freeze finally beginning. I probably blew it. I cancelled a trip for this morning because I did not want to be driving a couple hours through blowing snow. Then the storm fizzled.
As to ducks, they should be moving well with the freeze coming. Tuesday is the final day for ducks in the central zone. I expect the weekend to be busy.
ICE FISHING: Greg Dickson at Triangle Sports and Marine expects things to ice up fast in the backwaters as soon as the wind lays down. I will bet there will be ice fishing on the Chain this weekend. I should not have to add this, but will: Use caution, ice is just building.
INDIANA STREAMS: The snow and rain was substantial enough to kick in the winter steelhead in the streams.
Here's what Capt. Rich Sleziak of Slez's Bait in Lake Station told me for the Post-Tribune: ``It ain't a fall salmon run, it is no 200 or 300 kings; it is 20 or 30 steelhead. But they are beautiful and they will bite. You have to know what you are doing.''
Some will stick with floating spawn. But Sleziak said the more successful fishermen lean toward micro steelhead flies tipped with a piece of shrimp. Then they cover water.
Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.
YOUTH TURKEY PERMITS: Youth (younger than 16 years old before turkey season) may apply now for outdoors access for youth turkey hunting in one of 23 counties. Click here.
WATCHING SANDHILL CRANES: The remains a pile of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, southeast of Valparaiso, Ind. The count on Tuesday was ``22,669 sandhill cranes and 1 whooping crane counted.'' I love that whooping crane.
The best times to view them and fully grasp the wonder of them is near dawn or dusk. I realize this is a trek, so take some time to explore Valparaiso, just a wonderful town, or do a leisurely drive on back roads through the Indiana countryside. This is the weekend to do with an extra long Christmas weekend.
UPLAND HUNTING: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and gray partridge is underway. At least some places got some snow, so that might be a little better.
POWERTON SHORE FISHING: Shore fishing reopens Monday at Powerton Lake. It is the usual winter hours, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
SNIPE: Hunting for snipe ends Sunday in Illinois. OK, I just wanted to type that. I honestly have never met anyone who went snipe hunting. Might be fun to do that with somebody some year.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: There are still BOTW nominations coming in. And I love them. BOTW, the celebration of big bucks taken around Chicago outdoors, runs Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Considering the arrival of the perch bite, now is a good time for a reminder that the $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available now at Henry's Sports and Bait, 3130 S. Canal.
PERSONAL PICKS: It's a long Christmas weekend and I am mainly going to be long gone with the family. Listeners/readers keep sending ideas for my Outside radio show on WKCC-FM (91.1). I am enjoying pulling shows together.