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oh buoy: r4 a lake landmark

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Updated: July 20, 2013 6:47AM



Sometimes you want to know where you R and what 4.

As “The Drive’’ played rock classics while we passed the R4 buoy on the Leprechaun III, Capt. Bill Kelly said, “It’s always been my favorite. There’s deep and shallow water.’’

That’s the reason the red buoy is the key landmark for boaters in Chicago fishing. The R4 sits in about 27 feet of water off the North Shore, but drops to nearly 80 feet a quarter mile to the east. In other words, it generally holds fish in all conditions. And it offers great views of Chicago and the Baha’i Temple.

On Monday, I rode with Kelly out of Diversey Harbor in the Gary Zilian Memorial Tournament, which targets the five salmon and trout species common in Lake Michigan: coho, Chinook, brown trout, lake trout and steelhead. Along were Zilian’s daughter Deb, her son Shawn Phillippi, her fiance Mike Hoag and her friend Heidi Sila.

Fishing was tough, other than for coho and lakers. That’s the reason Kelly tried the R4 for five hours, hoping to pick up a brown, king or steelhead while getting the two easy species.

The day was perfect for a boat ride and for asking Kelly for a primer on Lake Michigan landmarks. He’s in his 30th year of chartering.

“The Pigpen’’ once was the ultimate fishing spot ‘‘for tapping the bottom’’ for lake trout, as Kelly put it. The arrival of zebra mussels made the spot near the corner of Indiana, Illinois and Michigan less important.

Do not confuse that with “The Playpen,’’ the clotting point for decadence and debauchery by boaters north of Olive Park and east of Lake Shore Drive.

“Chicago Light’’ is the lighthouse east of Navy Pier. The “Four-Mile Crib’’ isn’t mentioned much, but it is east of Navy Pier. The “Carter Harrison Crib,’’ more correctly the “Harrison-Dever Intake Crib,’’ is sometimes called “The Candy Stripes’’ for the distinctive red and white coloring, according to Kelly. The “Wilson Crib’’ is east of Wilson Avenue. The “68th Street Crib’’ is off 68th Street.

The “P-marker’’ (east of downtown) was once a favorite early-season fishing spot. The “T-marker’’ is just north of Wilson Avenue. Both markers are for sailboat racing.

Another day, we’ll go through some landmarks on Lake Michigan for Indiana and to the north.

Fishing was tough enough (the storm Saturday night scattered fish) and no one caught a brown.

Kelly weighed the big fish of the tournament, a laker of 11 pounds, 15.5 ounces, caught in 120 feet east of downtown.

Overall winner and winner of the non-charter division was Bruce Kalinowski on Simon Sez with three species. Capt. Dave Fors of Full Circle won the charter side with three species, including the biggest king (11-21/2). Capt. Al Skalecke of Many Times II had the big coho (6-11) and Capt. Kevin Bachner of Kingfisher had the big — relative term — steelhead (3-5).

Wild things

Mulberries ripen, south to north; raspberries are close behind.

Stray cast

The White Sox season feels like casting a favorite X-Rap behind the boat and snagging on old line; the Cubs season is like throwing a Skitter Pop in a derecho (topwater! Woo, topwater! Woo).



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