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White bass are running wild in Lake Michigan

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Updated: November 4, 2012 6:22AM

Chris Barcelona knows goofy fish on Lake Michigan. Working years at Chicago’s water filtration plant will do that.

But even he can be surprised. Say, by a white bass run on Lake Michigan off downtown Chicago.

“I worked the south filtration plant for 25 years and know every inch of the South Side end of the lake and caught three-foot salamanders to anything you can name,’’ Barcelona said. ‘‘When we dropped the intake basins, there would be gar and buffalo that were five-feet long because they lived their whole lives in there. I caught everything out of that lake.’’

But he was surprised a couple weekends ago to run into a school of white bass off the Chicago breakwalls east of Navy Pier while fishing blade baits for smallmouth bass with his fiance Nora Ciciora. (Fishing blade baits for Lake Michigan smallmouth is something different, too.)

He and Ciciora have continued to catch white bass on their weekend outings, including one of several pounds the past weekend.

“Any time there is shad in the water, there is white bass,’’ he said.

Carl Vizzone, one of Chicago’s top and well-traveled shore fishermen, said he caught white bass this summer from nearly all the harbors at times.

Lake Michigan program biologist Steve Robillard has a theory.

“It’s been a goofy year,’’ he said. “We even got redhorse, I mean five or six, in Calumet Harbor; buffalo at Jackson Park and Cal Harbor. The rivers are so warm. It might be an odd year where they are coming out. Temperatures have driven a lot of things this year.’’

It’s been a fascinating and surprising year.

But it’s also good to hear Barcelona describe a wonderful journey sharing the beauty of the Chicago waters as well as the goofy fish in a goofy weather year.

Barcelona and Ciciora launch out of the “Port of Summit,’’ motor downtown in his 16.5-foot ProCraft with an 85-hp Mercury motor, then through the Chicago Lock.

“Nora works at the Board of Trade and has never seen the city from that vantage point,’’ Barcelona said. ‘‘I couldn’t have scripted it any better.’’

That’s fishing in Chicago.

Hunting notes

At least one hunter wondered, after the Monday opener for archery deer season in Illinois, if the full moon had deer moving nocturnally more than normal. . . . The youth deer hunt is this weekend. Check details at There are some over-the-counter permits. . . . Crop harvest continues at an unbelievable pace. Through Sunday, corn harvest is 71 percent complete; the five-year average is 33. . . . A report on the epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) outbreak, through September, in Illinois is expected shortly. At least 73 counties have had some reports.

Stray cast

The first Stray Cast on April 2, 2003 was about Steve Stone’s return to the Cubs broadcast booth; savor his Sox broadcast tonight, I fear he and broadcasting are going the way of herring and the North Avenue pier.

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