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Lakefront fishing is hit-or-miss

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Updated: November 3, 2013 6:29AM

Carl Vizzone catching a 26-pound Chinook on
Saturday at Belmont Harbor brings us closer to a 30-pound king from shore.

Vizzone was using spawn under a float with 8-pound line.

‘‘Thank you nature for taking care of me on this one,’’ he posted on Facebook. ‘‘This was close to a half-hour battle.’’

But fall slips away. And nature is variable at best, as Chicago’s fishing history shows.

Steve Palmisano of Henry’s Sports and Bait pulled the weights of the biggest kings from the 13 years of the Richard J. Daley Memorial Sportfishing Derby (open to Chicago waters or boats from Chicago harbors). It now ends in September, which means a better chance at
4-year-old kings. In 2008 and earlier, it ended in the summer.

This year, Joe Compton caught the biggest salmon in Daley Derby history (28 pounds, 15 ounces) on Aug. 3 on Capt. Ian Stewart’s Salukis Pride out of Diversey Harbor. Eric Fuller caught the big shore king (21-14) on Sept. 22 at 63rd Street.

Many big kings were caught this year in Illinois waters, including numerous 30-pounders reported by boaters. I hope there will be a 30-pounder caught from shore.

But a look at Daley Derby history shows even 20-pounders are rare. There were no 20-pounders registered last year, in 2010 or in 2008.

The previous-biggest king in the Daley Derby was the 28-pounder Charles Davidauskis boated in 2001, the first year of the event.

In 2011, Joseph Palumbo caught a 26-8 on Aug. 13 on Capt. Bill Kelly’s Leprechaun Charters. Shore anglers had many 20-pound kings in September 2009, led by Ed Buckley’s 24-14 on Sept. 28.

Even with the early ending in 2002 and 2003, there were ‘‘tons of kings over 20 pounds’’ registered. Wayne Scaraino had the best at 23-12 in 2005, and Manuel Ortiz led with a 21-2 the next year.

A couple of years — 2007 (Joe Suiro) and 2004 (Jeffery Kantor) — just hit 20 pounds.

Sunday brought another piece of Chicago fishing history. Henry’s 10th Salmon Classic was held at Northerly Island. The winning 12-8 king, caught by Todd Carlander, was one of the heaviest in its history.

‘‘I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but I dedicate tonight’s tournament victory to the memory of Paul Wells,’’ Carlander said.

Mr. Wells, one of Chicago’s pioneers in bank and carp fishing, died last week at 55. Maureen O’Donnell did a stellar obituary Tuesday in the Sun-Times.

Carlander had some this-world strategy. He respooled with 12-pound NanoFil and used a three-quarter-ounce K.O. Wobbler for longer-range casting. He replaced the treble hook with ‘‘a mini-barbed Gamakatsu upgrade for penetration’’ and scented the hooks with nine spikes.

‘‘Fish were surfacing over deeper water toward the boat ramps, out of normal casting range,’’ Carlander said. ‘‘After three hours of experimenting with presentation, I finally got one low and slow as far out as I could cast.’’

Places and faces

With the government shutdown, campgrounds, day-use parks and boat ramps at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites are closing.

Stray cast

Firing Dale Sveum is like arrowing one bighead carp.


Twitter: @BowmanOutside

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